Skip to main content

live recording and combating wind

Ok guys I need a little advice.

I was just hired to record a live Native American (politically correct) Pow Wow. (Don’t ask me how I got this job, as these guys are like 13 hours away from me)

Anyways, there will be 8 singers dancing around a huge drum. I plan on close mic-ing the drum and stereo mic-ing the singers (can’t get them to wear lapels. It would be good to catch the acoustics anyway)

The problem is, the job is outside with lots of wind. Now I have thought of getting some of those big muff type wind filters for the mics, but I am not too sure if it will cut some of the higher freq out or not. What is your experience with these things?

I was also told that sliding an un-lubricated condom over the pen condenser will combat wind too. This seems quite strange to me. Have any of you ever used a technique like this?


RemyRAD Tue, 05/30/2006 - 20:43
nihility0000, I have done a lot of recording outdoors under some very windy conditions. I have found that the Shure SM58/Beta 58 with an additional foam pop filter does reasonably well. Sometimes a little high pass filtering is a necessity as well. If you want to use any condenser microphones, I recommend using omnis with foam pop filters, as they are a little less susceptible to the raucous low-frequency noise you get from cardioid microphones. Although I did use my Shure SM 81 cardioid condenser microphones for drum overheads with their included hard plastic and foam pop filters for a live Bobby Caldwell show where the winds became so brisk, it toppled one of the overhead microphones and nearly blew off his toupee! The recording came out great in spite of that and the wind noise was negligible. With the foam pop filter, your loss in the high-frequency response is usually not much more than 1/2 DB down at 15kHz, which is really not much of a factor.

Mic-ing the dancing "singers" will be your biggest challenge. I would use a series of 3-4 spaced SM58 cardioids for that. I really don't think that ORTF or XY will give you what you want in that unique situation, unless they are staying in one place as they perform?

I hope you have a great WOW at the POW session? (no, that's not prisoner of war)
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member Wed, 05/31/2006 - 05:58
Remy has good advice. The more directional your mics are, the more wind will be a problem. Use Omnis wherever possible. If you need directional mics, use dynamic cardioids. Some basic foam wind filters will probably suffice for those, but for condensers and/or more directional mics, you'll need some high quality (and expensive) wind screens like those from Rycote.

Incidentally, this is NOT from experience. I was preparing to record an outdoor show last fall and I asked some questions about this same topic on I got some very good answers, which is where I learned the information above. But I wound up not doing that show, so I didn't have to put it into practice.

You may be able to find the thread on Google.

JoeH Wed, 05/31/2006 - 13:35
This would be a good question to ask over on the acoustic music forum, FWIW.

Personally, I'd rather use a foam windscreen and/or a sock on a condenser than use a dynamic, at least for the drums. There's transients that can be lost or smeared with a dynamic vs. a good condenser.

Of course, if we're talking about 35 mph winds, then yep, all bets are off; you simply have to find what will work for you, and the SM58 is a can't-miss choice in that department. As Remy already pointed out, its' got an internal windscreen to start with, and you can always cover that as well with another foam screen.

Rycote makes some great wind screens and filters.

There is an excellent article on the subject of rumble and wind noise by Fred Ginsberg, and you can read it all here:

He makes a good point about the difference between wind noises - acoustic and contact. (Acoustic Wind Noise is simply background wind noise, from gentle rustling to howling in the distance. This is all OK and generally not a problem. Contact Wind Noise is when the air itself is moving so fast and hard that it literally strikes the microphone element, and ruins the rest of the sound that the mic is picking up.)

He mentions the blimp windscreen (again, Rycote and DPA sell verisons of this), plus there are many other varieties, including fur.

And when all fails, you can simply "put a sock on it".

JoeH Wed, 05/31/2006 - 13:47
One more link to show you:

Canadian Location sound supply company. Looks like this link has just about every known type of foam, fur and zeppelin-style mic cover, hand grips, shock mounts, etc. I'm surprised to see the fur covers costing so little - about $150 or so. (Well, it IS Canadian dollars, though....not sure what the rate of exchange is these days.)

FifthCircle Thu, 06/01/2006 - 09:03
I would suggest a good look into the film world for tips on how to record this... I would probably go with a setup where you have omni lavs near your drums (I've use wire twist ties for mounting them when I've used these on film sets). Then use a Mid-Side pair on the entire ensemble. If you are outside, a mic such as the Sanken CMS-7, Neumann RSM191S or a Schoeps Pair.

With these mics, to deal with high wind, place foam over the ends, and then place the entire rig inside a zeplin with a furry cover. I've heard the DPA will work just as well, but neither will be cheap. If you aren't in need of this all the time, I'd suggest calling Location Sound, Coffey Sound, Trew Audio or one of the major location sound houses to arrange a rental of what you need.


Member Thu, 06/01/2006 - 14:17
Thanks for all the great advice everyone.

I have decided to not use pen condensers and stereo mic the group, instead what I plan to do is place three mics in a triangle pattern around the singers to catch the big stereo field and record their movement in the mix.

I plan on taking two AT4040’s one for hard left and one for hard right, then a single SM81 for the center. This way you will be able to hear their movement.

I did a couple tests on wind filters. The conclusions were a bit odd, but the un-lubricated condom works best. I was a bit skeptical at first but after trying it was very surprised with the results.

Thanks again for all the suggestions. Once again, it proves this is the best recording forum on the net.