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Recording spoken word on the go

Discussion in 'Recording' started by j_doe, Nov 30, 2015.

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  1. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    Hi dear All,

    I want to record some of my grandfather stories and looking for an advice how to better organize it.

    Last year I were able to get Tascam DR100mkII and do couple of records. It was quite tricky as inbuilt mics are rather noisy and to achieve reasonable volume, gain knob was almost at "max" setting. Also, I were not very happy with it picking all ambient noises one can imagine.

    Here is the link to slightly processed recording:

    My main concerns so far:
    • Going to a studio is out of question, so the best possible environment would be a living room.
    • From past experience - constant lack of microphone gain.
    • Environment noise.
    • Whole setup should look not very "scary" and massive. E.g bringing large condenser and portable shield/box is undesirable as it makes all this idea look too official and formal.
    As for today I see two main options:
    • Decent handheld recorder (PCM-D100?). +1 to inconspicuous look.
    • Laptop + USB interface + dynamic mic. I like Rode Procaster sound, not sure about interface though. Should provide way better sound/control, but not very convenient.
    I'd be glad to hear suggestions about techniques/approach/equipment/etc. Thanks :)
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You're problem seems to come from the fact that you placed the mics too far from the man.
    I could understand you don't want to impose on him but in a sens he still needs to agree of the recording, right ?
    If getting closer is out of the question, you will always get gain and ambiant noise problem.
    The only thing I see could help, is using a lavalier or a shotgun mic (if he ain't moving much). Both could be used with the Tascam DR100mkII.
    What do you want to do with the recordings ? sell them ?
     
  3. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    In the recording above mics were literally like 10-15cm from my grandfathers mouth.
    Relatively small shotgun to use inside the house? Haven't considered them. Suggestions?
    Not sure I've got your questions about my intentions regarding the records. He is my grandpa..


    Thanks.
     
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  4. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    Forgot to mention, I don't have this recorder anymore.
     
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Well, expectations are all that mathers when gearing up. If you want to put a story CD and sell it, you'd want to get the best quality sound. If it's just for fun, I won't propose highend preamps and mics.. I record in a controled environement and I still have challenge with some customers, chosing the right mic, make them speak or sing at the optimal distance etc.. It's easier to suggest things when you know where the OP is and where he want's to go..
     
  6. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    I expect to record the best possible sound in the given conditions considering mentioned limitations. Something like that.
     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Well, this doesn't help understanding how professionnal the recording should be but we're getting there ;)

    Have you thought of using a DSLR with a shoemount mic ? You could have a visual and audio memory of him..

    If not, it could be a field recorder with a shotgun.. Yes, that wouldn't be my first choice but if you are working in an untreated space, it would be better than a large condenser.
    Many film maker use shotgun mic because they are Hypercardioid and the have great rejection to room reverbs and noises. Of course it would work only if the speaker doesn't move much. This was the easy setup. you could use a computer to edit the recordings (EQ, Gate, comp etc)

    Now a better setup would be using a brodcast mic like the EV RE20, a good preamp like the Focusrite ISA with the digital out option and an audio interface with digital input + a computer of course. One could shortcut the preamp if the interface's preamp are good enough.

    What's cool about the EV is that it is a moving coil so there is almost no proximity effect. I could be used with a portable recorder but, most affordable wouldn't have the clean gain to do the job.. the output of the RE20 is pretty low so you need a good preamp.

    There you go, hope it's not too many suggestions already ;)
     
    kmetal likes this.
  8. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member


    Thanks for a patience :)

    To my very average ears Rode Prodcaster sounds quite similar and price is less than 50% of RE20. Would you think it could be an adequate replacement?
    I'm really looking into RodePc + Zoom UAC-2 combo (+laptop of course). UAC2 provides up to 60db of input gain which should be enough for Rode.
    Then, I'm leaving laptop and Zoom box at some distance, attaching mic with 2m XLR cable. Voila. Done. Applause.

    Am I too optimistic?
     
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Honestly I never heard the preamps of the UAC. The specs says 60db of gain which is nice.
    For less money you could go with this one : http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBox22 which has 65db of gain and sound very good for the price.

    As for the Prodcaster, it could be an alternative, but the difference is that it will have a proximity effect. The sound will tend to become thin the furter away you are from it.
    The RE20 will stay constant up to about 1 feet or 2
    Go to 3:55 of this video
     
  10. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    320 sounds better on this video :) After much of reading I've found that plugging my 250Ohm headphones directly into the DAC/Amp would likely to be a trouble as most of them are 32-40Ohm out (35*8 = 280 > 250). It's getting a bit frustrating... I'm even foully thinking about using decent USB mic (are they exist?..)
     
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Usb mics do exists and you can actually buy a USB Prodcaster. But believe me, we get usb mic questions/problems very often here.. I wouldn't recommand it.
    The UAC is unknown to me, I'm surprised that the headphone output would be a problem to any headphones.. but hey
    BTW What model of headphone is it ?
    If I were you, I'd go for the presonus and for the mic, test a few in a store. Try to replicate the volume and distance you're grandpa will be and listen to the results. Obviously each voice is different, some have more bass or are more nazal, but if you buy something well balance and natural, you can do the rest at mix time..

    Don't get discourraged, it's a lot easier now. 10 years ago it could take me 2 weeks of tweeking before getting acceptable latency with my DAW.
    The performances and drivers are a lot better these days.. ;)
     
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Where did you read that this would cause trouble? The only problem you could have is that you would not get enough acoustic volume in your phones.
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  13. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    http://nwavguy.blogspot.sg/2011/02/headphone-impedance-explained.html

    Quote: "...the idea is to follow the '1/8th Rule'...If you multiply the output impedance of your source by eight, that’s the lowest impedance headphones you should use with that source."

    DT770pro 250Ohm. See the link in my reply to @Boswell.

    Same in our industry, don't want to go 10 years back.

    22vsl?..
     
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    A shure sm58 into a zoom recorder, or into your smartphone via a basic phone interface would get the job done. If you want to go into your computer then something like a presonus audio box would be fine. Make a tent with blankets to take the nasties from the room out of it.
    Imo your asking for trouble sonically with a low cost condenser mic, usb, or otherwise.

    If you insist on a condenser and have a little bit of cash to indulge, an AKG 214 is a nice 'budget' condenser. If your short on cash the audio technica 3035 is killer. Discontinued but cannot be beat for $100 used, in the entry level large diaphragm condenser category.

    But really a 58 is the way to go. As Marco alluded to, condensers can be picky, and fairly voice specific.
     
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  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    These old wives' tales are put about by those who don't understand the engineering principles behind what they are saying. Your 250 Ohm headphones will work fine with almost anything you plug them into that has the right sort of jack. They may be a bit quiet with some battery-powered gear.
     
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    And more susceptible to extraneous noises.

    As a side note, and to support what Kyle is saying, I think it's worth mentioning to the OP that the roster of RO is made up of audio professionals who spend their lives trying to get the best sound possible, so of course, our preference is always going to be for great gear, and when you ask a group of professionals what they would use, they are looking at their own inventory of equipment, and making recommendations based on what we've become accustomed to using, as professionals.

    It's a kneejerk response, we are all used to talking about gear that can be quite expensive, because our own criteria for what sounds good is different from that of the "common" listener.
    In short, what we would use for a project like this, isn't necessarily what the OP needs for this project.

    Thousands of dollars don't have to be invested in order to archive his grandfather's stories with decent quality. The content is what will matter the most; and while it's never a bad thing to have the best possible fidelity - for any recorded source - this is a narrative project, with the interest being on the stories, and not whether or not it meets certain professional sonic expectations.

    As Kyle mentioned; an SM58, ( $100) a decent entry level USB pre ( Focusrite, Presonus, $100), a laptop with a basic free DAW platform ( S1, Reaper, etc.) and perhaps a packing blanket or two to dampen some upper frequency reflections, ( which you might not even need, @ $20) is all going to be just fine for a project like this - and sonically, it's going to sound more than just acceptable.
    It's also very physically "subdued" and unassuming. The mic would really be the only device your grandfather would even need to be aware of.

    (You might consider not even telling him that you are recording at first. Just converse with him, a relaxed talk between grandfather and grandson, just like you would if you had stopped over for coffee and a friendly chat.
    Start with generic topics... the weather, sports, whatever. Get him comfortable, and let him lead the conversation, or, ask him about something you heard him mention in a previous conversation.
    I wouldn't say "okay grand-dad, I'm going to start recording now." Just start talking with him like you normally would).


    It's also an easy signal chain to deal with. Find the "sweet-spot" mic location for your grandfather's voice, get a decent gain setting on the preamp, and hit the record button. There's no need to have to deal with complex staging, different levels of gain or gain reduction, or EQ, etc.
    Editing, EQ and even subtle GR ( if needed) can all be handled in any DAW software during post-pro.

    Total investment: $220, max, (assuming the OP already has the laptop computer).

    IMHO of course. ;)
    -d.
     
    kmetal likes this.
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Excellent point, I never knew how loud I breathed when playing acoustic guitar, until I put a condenser up on it. LOL
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  18. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    Picking and whezzin' :)
     
    Sean G and kmetal like this.
  19. j_doe

    j_doe Active Member

    Hi all and thanks for your answers!

    I've been reading quite a lot about it and have found plenty of topics where people who bought SM7B or similar dynamic microphone are complaining about low input signal (aka not loud enough). Most common answer is that majority of USB interfaces are providing ~50Db of clean gain in a best case case scenario, while dynamic mics need at least 60.

    After thorough research of the market I've found very few devices that provide >60db and are compact enough. One of them is "ART Tube MP project USB" which is in fact a preamp where USB is more like a bonus. Unfortunately it's only capable of 16b/48Khz output, while I'm looking for 24b to have more freedom in post.

    Question: which DAC would be a good pair for it? All I need is the line input (XLR or 1/4) which will pick-up the signal from TubeMP and deliver it as 24/96. USB or Thunderbolt.


    Thanks :)
     
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    It's actually 70db of gain but how clean is it ?? That's the question !!! Being a tube design, I fear it'll be noisy if you push it enough to get a good level with a SM58/57/7 unless you speak very close of it. I'd still recommend a RME, Presonus or focusrite interface, either with or without this ART preamp

    Honestly, I've been where you are a long time ago. I asked a question here expecting to confirm that the budget I had in mind was enough. I went and bought cheap against what the RO members said and was desapointed.

    BUT, I'm not against starting small/cheap to learn. It's a nice thing to spend a little to determine if you like recording enough to buy more serious gear. Even then you could buy affordable equipement to get you going until your skills and ear training ask for better.

    Ultimatly, you'd ask yourself, will I record for a very long time and is renting pro equiment for a week or a month is not a better choice ?
     

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