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Recording an interview

Discussion in 'Recording' started by drumist69, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    I wasn't sure where to put this, so here it is! I want to record an "interview" with my father. He was involved with the Hungarian Revolution, and I want would like to get a good recording of his experience. I will have at my disposal a wide variety of studio mic's (both condenser and dynamic, too many to mention), a laptop, a small Mackie mixer (4 mic pre's, a VLZ12something), and all appropriate mic cables, stands, headphones, etc. I have a small home studio, which is a PC with a pair of Delta 44 cards for in/out, and monitors, etc.

    The main point being, I don't really have a dedicated mobile rig, but I do have use of a laptop for this project. Assume I have enough decent mic's to do the job, as well as the Mackie and assorted other pre's, what would be the best and most cost effective way to get two mics (i.e. two channels) recorded into this laptop. As far as I can tell at this point, this is my best bet...


    I know it's a cheapo unit, but this is probably all I would use it for, then sell it. If anyone knows a better way to get this done, for less money, I would love some suggestions. Thank you! Andy
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    If you're going to be doing this on location, yeah, a laptop and that relatively inexpensive interface is a good way to go.

    A decent cardioid condenser microphone with an optional foam pop filter is highly recommended. Don't forget the pop filter. This has nothing to do with your father or Hungarian soft drinks. And you don't need one of those nylon stocking lollipops. Foam is great. You also really don't want him to be more than 18 to 20 inches away from the microphone. Conversely, you don't want him eating it either. Either way, you want him in a comfortable position for an extended interview. A la TV style. Of course, ambient background noise will be a huge problem. Air conditioning, sirens, dogs barking, kids screaming, TVs blaring, all that. You'll want to include some dynamic range compression and/or limiting. After that, you'll want to utilize a noise gate/downward expander/ducker device or one in software. This will allow you to reduce the background noise below the threshold level of his spoken word. So it's a careful adjustment which requires a little more tweaking than most compressor or limiter settings. But highly effective if you get your attack, release, threshold level & amount of DB's of downward expansion, properly set.

    I've done lots of narrative & commercial recordings and these kinds of life experience interviews are really the most gratifying to do. Of course in television, we use lavalier "tie tack" microphones which allows for greater freedom of movement while keeping the microphones in a fairly consistent position. This won't be the case with a table/boom stand, which won't move around with him. But that's where your dynamics processing really helps. And it makes listening to spoken word so much easier to listen to. That is as long as you don't overblow the processing. It's not a guitar solo. It's an intimate account and should sound appropriate to the genre. I.e., it shouldn't be too aggressive sounding. So keep your release times long and your attack times long. Not much more than 10 DB of gain reduction in his loudest passages. A ratio of 4: 1 is generally great. Large diaphragm versus small diaphragm, only you can be the judge of what your dad sounds best on?

    That particular interface is an easy one-stop shop, along with a laptop, for this kind of recording. Your other options could be to utilize your Mackie mixer for your microphone preamps. You can purchase yourself and $80 Edirol by Roland UA-1EX. I have one of these and have had for a couple of years. But it's only line level in & out. No crappy microphone preamps. So you probably end up with better results with that, your microphones into your Mackie. My unit is fed by API 3124m's & Neve 3115's and I'm quite happy with the audio quality. The Edirol unit is capable of 24-bit, 96kHz. But I generally only run it at 16-bit, 44.1kHz. Why? Because it's 100% adequate. Microphone preamps don't need 140 DB of dynamic range. 96 DB is adequate. Besides, you're recording will only be as quiet as you can make it. It won't have anything to do with the equipment.

    Blah blah recording specialist
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    Thanks for the advice Remy! I will probably go with the Tascam unit, just to keep things simple. I will be taking the train from NC to NJ to do this interview, and want to keep gear to a minimum. So it looks like a laptop, the Tascam USB interface, a pair of LDC's (probably an AT 4040 for my dad, the main voice, and an AT2020 for me to ask questions, make comments into), and my headphones to check it all out with. I suppose I'll be recording into Reaper, then bring it home, dump it into my actual recording PC also running Reaper, and mix, compress, etc. The tips on noise gating are appreciated most. Ambient noise won't be much of an issue, but never hurts to know how to deal with it! Thanks! Andy
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Save all of your raw files, as well. Make separate copies of whatever you're going to work on, and put the originals away. If you're just learning about all this, you may want to make sure you have something to go back to, a month, a year or even longer from now should your chops or your tastes change.

    All that noise gating and compression makes me nervous to hear about for working on something that should be fairly straight forward like voice recordings. With those two mics you desribe and a relatively quiet room, you shouldn't need much more than a little peak limiting when you work on it; maybe a little EQ as well. Compression and noise gating is for seriously flawed material, or making sonic paintings. Get the best/loudest/cleanest levels on location, before you do anything else. Make sure you and your subject are close enough to the mics without p's popping, etc., and just go for it.

    FWIW, I use the M-Audio MicroTrack II for just this sort of thing, and it's amazingly good. It's a little more expensive than the Tascam, but worth every cent, IMHO.
  5. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    I'm not new to recording, just "mobile" recording! The actual recording will be done straight-up, no processing. The room should be pretty quite. A little incidental background noise won't be an issue. And yes, I always save my raw files and edit things as a separate file/project. I've done some work running location sound on film projects, boom mic and all that, so I think I have a pretty good handle on what to expect. I'll look into that M-Audio unit, though. I am a big fan of their gear, in a bang for buck way. Andy

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