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Filming guitar instructional videos. Currently have a RODE NTG-1 mic positioned above and in front of the teacher. Problem is that the mic not only picks up the teacher's voice, but also the sound coming out of the monitor speakers, as well as that annoying pick snapping against the strings sound that makes the guitar sound thin and tinny on the video. Someone said I need to use a head/ear set mic to avoid this. What type should I be looking for so that the mic only picks up the voice and nothing else, or as little as possible of anything else?

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paulears Sun, 04/01/2018 - 04:43

Right mic, wrong place. If you think about microphones being lights, then the spot/flood adjustment some types have is a very good example of how mics work in reverse. Think of the microphone's sensitivity as being the wattage of the light and the flood/spot adjustment as the polar pattern, from near omni through to long shotgun. Your problem is that you have a bright light, too far from the subject - the brightness makes the levels fine, but you can see the teacher, and the guitar, and the monitor speakers. If you narrow the angle, the speakers are in darkness, and the guitarist's right hand might be much dimmer, but you can still see it. The secret would be two lights - both in quite close, one lights the face, leaving the rest of the scene in darkness and the other mic has it's main brightness between the sound hole and the fingerboard, with the light off to one side so the pick area is not visible, but the left hand side of the guitar is, although the finger board is fading out rapidly as it is further away.

Seriously though - one mic means you hear everything. If you mic up the guitar properly, you also have to mic up the voice. One just cannot do everything. If the player uses a pick, it makes a noise - the good mic hears it. The task is to minimise this using it's distance and polar pattern.

MC208 Sun, 04/01/2018 - 08:30

Thanks for the reply. I only want the mic to pick up the voice, nothing else. The guitar is not mic'd at all, nor do I want it to be as it's going direct into the system which is fine for this application.

The other mics I have available are the

Audio Technica ATM41a and Shure SM58

Would one o these be better to use for just getting the voice and as little other sounds as possible? If so, which one, and how would you position it to achieve the desired goal?

paulears Sun, 04/01/2018 - 09:02

In that case, you need proximity - move the mic in from where you have it so the wanted sound (the voice is closer) and the guitar becomes out of it's capture area. You can also use the mic's polar response to put the unwanted source in the nulls. I suspect you are just too far away, because it's a big mic, so you need it in closer. If for aesthetic reasons, you can't get it in close, then you've nowhere to go. If the mic sees the noise source, it hears it. This could be a case where an SM58 on a boom stand, almost on the lips sounds better than the others. The Share and the AT are both hand held mics, and sound thin at a distance, but work nicely close in. Is the look of a mic on a boom stand acceptable. The Rode, mounted perhaps horizontally, looking up towards the mouth would put the guitar in the less sensitive area. You'd need to try to see if the pick reduction is sufficient for your needs.

MC208 Sun, 04/01/2018 - 10:49

Interesting, because I moved the mic on the boom stand farther away because the voice is louder than the pick on the guitar strings so I figured it would get more voice and less guitar strings. So you're saying the opposite is true.
The problem with getting the mic close to the lips is that it could get in the way, so the only place I thought to place it was slightly above and out of the picture frame. Will try different placements and see if it helps.
So you don't recommend the earset style mic at all then?

paulears Sun, 04/01/2018 - 11:14

You didn't mention them? You have too remember that there's a thing called the inverse square law. If you have the mic a foot away, and move it to 2 feet away, the volume drops to a quarter, not half. The upshot is that if you move in towards the wanted sound and away from the unwanted one - the ratio of wanted to unwanted improves drastically with small movements. If the mic is out of frame, then the guitar will be similar in volume to the voice. A small headset mic works brilliantly, because it's very close to the wanted sound. The ones I tend to use are DPAs, or Countryman types - but they'e expensive and relatively fragile. They need a power adaptor to plug into a standard mic input - mine are used on radio packs.

MC208 Sun, 04/01/2018 - 11:18

Yes, in my first post, I said: "Someone said I need to use a head/ear set mic to avoid this. What type should I be looking for"
As this isn't mission critical, but in an effort to pick up more voice and less guitar, what would be a good low price small head/earset mic that I might want to look into?

paulears Sun, 04/01/2018 - 11:33

Well - there's two main choices in headsets now - the usual Share, Senheiser and DPA offerings that are NOT cheap mics. These are going to cost $500 upwards, and frankly, I doubt you'll get your money's worth. There are plenty of cheap Chinese ones that people use for wireless packs that come in much, much cheaper. However - they're best treated as disposable. They sound actually pretty good, but they're very fragile. Mind you - so are the expensive ones too! Power supplies tend to be fairly cheap - and they have a mini XLR on one end and a normal XLR on the other and are just longer length than normal.

If the room has very low reverb - nice and damped and few hard surfaces, a short shotgun - AKG416 and similar could be worth trying. They are much tighter in their pattern, but MUST be aimed very carefully, otherwise the room sound swamps them and they sound horrid and boxy - but they would work with your out of camera shot requirement. Sorry I missed the headset but in the first post. I just saw the two handhelds and the Rode - and missed the rest.

paulears Mon, 04/02/2018 - 14:37

This just needs the power adaptor XLR converter - and audio wise, they're surprisingly good. For my pro show work, we tend to stick with DPAs on the Sennheiser radio systems we use, but they're far too expensive for things like amateur shows and dance stuff, and of course education. When the students destroy a £40 one and we re-charge it at £40 they complain, imagine if it was £500! The 10 week run we did a while back got through 7 of the DPAs - that's a lot of money. You can get these things (Chinese sourced) with tons of different brand names and similar prices from the usual suppliers.

MC208 Mon, 04/02/2018 - 14:45

Thanks! I see that you're in the UK. I'm in the US so need to find a US supplier. But if I get something with the specs listed, I should be ok? What is the "power adaptor XLR converter" that you mention?

  • Telescopic microphone boom
  • Miniature condenser microphone
  • Wide transmission range
  • Beige finish
  • Supplied with matching foam windshield
  • Microphone capsule: 3mm diameter
  • Directivity: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: -47dB ±2dB
  • Output impedance: 2.2Kohm
  • S/N Ratio: >=63dB
  • Operating voltage: 2-10V DC
  • Cable length: 1.2m (1.8mm diameter)
  • Connector: 4 Pin mini XLR
  • Weight: 15g

paulears Tue, 04/03/2018 - 00:31

These mics are designed to draw their power from a radio pack - so you need a phantom power adapter to convert your 48V phantom to something the mics can use.

Google is always your friend - I searched on Amazon US and found these - virtually the same product even cheaper - Pyle-Pro PMHMS20 Wired Headset Boom Mini XLR Omni-Directional Microphone

Try this link for the adapter

MC208 Tue, 04/03/2018 - 11:49

I was doing some reading, It says that omni directional mics pick up sound in a 360 degree radius. Isn't that what I'm trying to avoid? IOE, if the mic is by the subject's mouth, I wouldn't want it picking up sound from below, i.e. where the pick is striking the strings.

My NTG-1 is Supercardioid. Unless I'm misunderstanding what I'm reading, it reads as if the omni directional pattern would be worse for what I'm trying to avoid?

paulears Tue, 04/03/2018 - 12:09

Headsets are always omni - two reasons really, the few cardioids that are about are much bigger and need very accurate aiming, which won't happen on a bendy little wire. You are quite correct in saying that omni are normally avoided like the plague, because gain before feedback is not so good, but that inverse square law thing I mentioned works for you - it's just a few mm from the corner of your mouth, just out of the breath line - and as a result, we can do loud musicals with them with no real problem. the same mic clipped to clothing is too far away and would be a feedback nightmare.

The Rode you have is a short shotgun - not too tight, so if you can aim it at the mouth, it will do OK. The danger is simply shotguns indoors are usually considered problems - because if there are hard surfaces, you can end up with a very boxy sounding recording.

MC208 Tue, 04/03/2018 - 12:32

The only place I can position the RODE is on the boom in up and in front of the subject's mouth, angled down from out of the picture frame.

Would it be better to move it farther in front of the subject and angle it more horizontally than down to try and avoid the guitar picking?

I'm pleased with the sound of the voice recording itself from the mic, it sounds just fine for the job. Just hate that picking sound because it comes in just as loud as the actual guitar signal on the other channel.

paulears Tue, 04/03/2018 - 14:05

If the mic is a torch, then the spot of light needs to be on the mouth and absolutely none on the guitar, so looking down from above is going to include the guitar sound. Stick a pair of headphones on, turn the gain up and move the mic around and try it out. If you can find a position out of frame that works - then fix the mic there.

MC208 Fri, 10/09/2020 - 13:03

paulears, post: 456425, member: 47782 wrote: Headsets are always omni - two reasons really, the few cardioids that are about are much bigger and need very accurate aiming, which won't happen on a bendy little wire.

"You are quite correct in saying that omni are normally avoided like the plague, because gain before feedback is not so good, but that inverse square law thing I mentioned works for you"

What do you think of this headset mic, the spec indicates it's unidirectional, not omni:…

When you say that the inverse square law works, do you mean that omni headset mics work fine for just capturing voice because the capsule is right alongside the cheek, and it won't pick up sounds that are a few feet away?

bouldersound Fri, 10/09/2020 - 13:28

MC208, post: 465712, member: 49667 wrote: When you say that the inverse square law works, do you mean that omni headset mics work fine for just capturing voice because the capsule is right alongside the cheek, and it won't pick up sounds that are a few feet away?

Inverse square law means the level of a sound at the mic decreases by 6dB each time you double the distance, which also means it increases by 6dB every time you halve the distance. Moving the mic closer to the desired source and farther from the undesired source is one way to increase the isolation. It's not binary as in "won't pick up sounds that are a few feet away" but will reduce those sounds in favor of the voice.

paulears Fri, 10/09/2020 - 14:01

If the price, and the XLR adaptor meets you budget it's fine. Certainly it sounds Ok on speech. Cardioids are rare really though, so as long as you can live with the rather chunky tubes, and can keep the mic to mouth distance constant so the tone doesn't change - it's probably OK. Drummers tend to need cardioid headset mics but they're often very big - this is bigger than an omni by some degree, but if the look is livable for you - it's your call.

paulears Mon, 10/12/2020 - 09:03

Well I bought something from Amazon for £800 on the 4th, and it hasn't arrived. Amazon then mysteriously emailed me to say that I needed to contact the supplier and cancel it, but not to worry, as my money was safe. Odd, I thought - it was one of their external sales links. I contacted them and got nothing back. Amazon said that it would automatically cancel by 12.30 today, so at 1pm I checked back to discover it had not cancelled - so I did one of their on line chats. They transferred me to somebody else who took over, who then mysteriously told me their people would need to email me. Which they did to reveal the seller went into liquidation in August - and that I needed to contact my bank to prevent the liquidator drawing the visa debit. My bank of course report they cannot do this, so I'm stuck. Under British law, the liquidator can recover money to service debts, which gives them the right to draw my money if they notice the order. It's great being scammed, but not being scammed and having to wait is even worse. My bank tell me I can ban Amazon totally if I wish, which will prevent any payments being taken by amazon, but they cannot guarantee that the payment will not be taken by whoever the company bank account is held by, which might not of course be amazon at all, but dodgydave ltd - and I don't know who to try to prevent taking the money. I'm effectively in limbo. If they take the money, then i become an unsecured creditor. What a mess! Amazon of course say it's nothing to do with them, and the chat transcript has vanished where they said not to worry, I was safe - luckily I was canny enough to save it before it vanished!

paulears Tue, 10/13/2020 - 15:05

Update - Amazon told me they were liquidated in August, but their sale items are still being offered on amazon. Clicking on the company page - the owner seems to have added "Please don't buy from me - email first" and there are loads of complaints.

Here's the page I didn't;t check before I ordered!

MC208 Thu, 12/10/2020 - 11:05

Arrrgh, I can't seem to win here.. Got the unidirectional J-MIC that I mentioned, it did seem to work better as far as not picking up as much other sound and mainly the voice. However, the thing didn't properly fit the subject's head (not adjustable really) So now I'm looking at the type that just go around one ear, and not around both ears. Can't seem to find any that are unidirectional. Should I try an omnidirectional one or do you think it's going to pick up the other sounds like the RODE NTG-1 is doing?

pcrecord Thu, 12/10/2020 - 12:26

MC208, post: 466216, member: 49667 wrote: Should I try an omnidirectional one or do you think it's going to pick up the other sounds like the RODE NTG-1 is doing?

Omnidirectionnal headset will pickup alot of ambiant sounds and the NTG-1 would need to be very close if you want to have only the voice..

pcrecord Thu, 12/10/2020 - 16:05

MC208, post: 466225, member: 49667 wrote: Because it's easy to tell the difference between amplified guitar and acoustic guitar? And the sound of pick click on the strings is part of the acoustic sound too..

I've done a few production with a guitar player who just started his youtube channel. On the other hand I've recorded some live perfo with a voice and a guitar and the end result was fine. I just needed to get used of the polar paterns wisely.
At post production, I'm always muting the vocal mic when he plays and vice-versa. Unless you put the head in another room, there will always be some bleeding. If you can tune the bleeding to sound good, then it won't mather.

Some muted tracks back an forth (the vocal mic is above the head about 3 feet away pointing down at the mouth)

Live recording vocal and classical guitar.