Skip to main content
forums, blogs, song critique, support & more...

Recording music outdoors

I have been researchig this everywhere and I can't seem to find the answer.
I would like to record song covers outside but I do not want any ambiant or car noise. I would like the audio to be focused on the music only without having to pre-record anything.
I have a Sony camcorder and was wondering if an external microphone would be the best choice. However after researching shotgun mics, I read that it is purposly used to capture ambiance noise.
Any tips to outdoor recording??


Profile picture for user paulears

paulears Wed, 07/16/2014 - 12:54

Multi-miking is the only way, as outside is, well, er, outside - and full of noise - cars, birds, aircraft etc. Even if the location is quiet, a light breeze can make a mess of the audio. Live music PA techniques work fine - but it needs plenty of kit, depending on what style the music is. One man and a guitar won't be difficult, but a rock band, somewhat more complex!

pcrecord Thu, 07/17/2014 - 09:53

Agree with Paul, every instruments should be closed mic with a wind protection. Then you send the direct outs of the main mixer to a recorder with enough inputs for the number of mics. Bring the recorder in studio to be mixed at a later time. That's the way to do it !
Taking the main out put or sub mixes won't do it well because the mix is done to make it sound good through the PA and not recording. One with good skills could send the direct-outs to another mixer and do a recording mix.. but any mistake there you need to live with.

Profile picture for user paulears

paulears Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:16

I'll share this video - it shows the absolute worse case situation you can get. To be honest, this is a bit of fun, cobbled together from a number of sets - day and night, just a go pro, but shows very well how awful to a camera outside sound can be. To do it properly is very complicated, in terms of cabling and kit unless the system is designed to do it. Our own PA can have 32 outputs shoved into my macbook and we can mix it later - one cable and it's done. An unknown PA might need a pile of cables and kit to do the same thing.

DonnyAir Fri, 07/18/2014 - 04:34

Recording shows like this outside can be a nightmare... as mentioned previously by Paul and PC, you've got things to deal with that you have little-to-no control over... traffic, wind, conversation, construction, and just random noise in general.

My two cents... have a separate mic for each instrument, sent through a separate mixer... keep the mic patterns as tight as possible.. forget condensers... use 57's, 58's, Audix OM's or similar models with good null points; and also, whenever possible, keep the null point towards the monitors, because you don't want that bleed to deal with, either.

Live/Remote recording is its own craft and process. You don't have the luxury of "studio quiet". If you do end up using a multi mic array to capture the FOH, make sure it's far out of reach of the crowd, because if it's not, I guarantee that at some point, you'll hear "Hi Mom!", "Is this thing on?" or any number of other smart-assed comments made by a drunk who yells into one of the mics for "fun". ;)

IMHO of course.


Profile picture for user dvdhawk

dvdhawk Fri, 07/18/2014 - 07:03

You haven't really given us much information about what you intend to record. A full band, small group, a solo performer? An outdoor stage, a corn field, a street corner? Is the video going to be used for professional promotion, for laughs on YouTube? Is a well-shot video the goal, or is the camcorder just the only recording medium available?

In any case, as you've already been counseled, this is all about real-world signal to noise ratio. Your microphone has to be in a position to hear the signal you want, 10 times louder (for example) than it can hear the unwanted noises. That's why everyone is suggesting you get the mics as close to the sound source as possible.

I live in a fairly rural area, and I'd be hard pressed to record outside without hearing; crows, cardinals, and a thousand other assorted birds, crickets, a small stream, and barking dogs, harleys, jake-braking trucks, and road noise in general, small engine planes, jets, and the occasional med-evac helicopter. All things I cannot control. And THEN there's the wind…