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Can't get my mics to work right

Member for

21 years
Hey all, I've been producing a weekly show for work, and I am unsatisfied with my audio quality. I have:

Shure Beta 58A

Plugged into my:

I record from my laptop using a program called Wave Pad (I've tried using Adobe Soundbooth as well and have had similar frustrations).

While the set-up works great when recording one person whose mouth is very close to the microphone, for my weekly show I need to record two people from a distance of four or five feet (and the microphone is about two feet lower than their mouths). Because of this, the actor with the lower voice is hardly audible (while the higher-voiced fellow is picked up just fine).

To remedy this, I purchased two lapel mics:

I clipped one to each of my actors, around the middle of the neck, three inches or so below their mouths. I first tried plugging the receiver directly into the camera.

This is my camera:

This picked up one of the voices just fine, but the other one was hardly audible (I was trying to have both of them transmit on the same channel). I quickly realized that this would not work, so I switched one to channel B, but my camera only has one microphone jack, so I had to plug both receivers into my pre-amp (one receiver set to channel A and the other to channel B).

The problem is that, while both microphones work, and while my amplifier picks up both voices, the sound is incredibly low in volume. I cranked up the channel 1 and 2 signal all the way, and it was only then that I was able to hear the faintest whisper (with a whole lot of background noise). I tried using two different computers, and recording with two different programs, and I have the same problem--the amplifier records at a horribly low volume, which it does not do for my Shure.

Last week, I ended up recording one voice with the wireless lavier mic while also recording with my Shure mic plugged into my pre-amp. They both ended up recording audio at slightly different speeds, and I found it impossible to mix the two tracks together to get a full sound. I ended up using my Shure microphone audio because it is the only one that picked up both voices, and yet I still have my audio-quality problem (I hate having to amplify all the audio to get anything to sound reasonable).

My question is, what do I need to do to set myself up with a good audio capture set-up. I would prefer to keep using the things I have, or add to them, rather than buy a whole new set-up. I can spend money, but I'd like to find a moderately priced way to do it (I don't need the absolute best on the market, though knowledge of what the best is would come in handy). Considering my boss jokingly talked about hiring a "professional" to figure out how to do it, and that there is a hint of truth behind every joke, I would really like to figure this one out, heh.



Member for

19 years 10 months

Kev Fri, 04/11/2008 - 15:41
welcome to the world of location recording
and recording for video

too many things in your post to deal with all of them one by one

computer record ... the camera may be at 48l smaple rate so your computer should also be at 48k and not 44.1k
which would be typical for music recording

the camera is an MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video codec,
and so does not use PCM audio as is typical with miniDV.
when importing pcm audio files to the video editor I have had issues.
I have not found the solution as I still use miniDV and am not into MPEG-4 HD yet

this may solve the time/speed issue
I don't know the video editor you are using so this may not be the solution

Get a shotgun mic
but you probably can't afford a real one
one day you will need one

you already have the two lapel mics
lets get them working
does the camera have facility to input TWO microphones ?

you may need a dual Mic-pre and combined mixer to get the signals mixed before the camera.
The miniDV cameras I use have TWO separate inputs for microphone
even so
I use an external mic-pre with user set limiters and then feed this to the camera.
I also do a room backup onto the wave recorder.

both units set to 48k
in the editor the FREE running machine does need some bumps ... depending on the length of the clip

you have much to learn grasshopper
good luck

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 04/10/2008 - 14:19
Hmm, I hadn't considered doing that, but my concern with it is that the 58's were designed more for up-close audio recording, rather than having them below the speaker and off-camera. While I could probably get a sound out of it that is acceptable, it would take a bit of tweaking with amplification and noise reduction. I am wondering if there is a way to do it without having to do that.

Member for

15 years 5 months

BobRogers Thu, 04/10/2008 - 16:32
I hope the Video/broadcast experts chime in soon. You probably need to supply more information. It's not clear what kind of show you are doing, what kind of software you are using for the video, how is the audio and video being combined.

Without all of that information, my uninformed guess is that wireless Lavs are a good choice. (No idea about the AT mics in particular.) What you probably should be doing now is working with the two Lavs with the two inputs of the Mobilepre.

You need to experiment to get the gain structure right. You have gain adjustments on the transmitter, the receiver, and the preamp. These need to be set correctly so that each element is not sending too strong or too weak a signal to the next link in the chain. A search on "gain structure" will give you a lot of reading material, but the most important thing is to remember that those three gain settings are interrelated and need to be balanced correctly

I don't know the software you are using, but with most pieces of audio software, you can record the two mic inputs to two separate mono audio tracks. There is a lot of video editing software that could take import those tracks and you could sync it up with your video.

While the suggestions above might work with the equipment you have now, another possibility is to get a small mixer and the two (or more) mics and send a stereo output to the camera. Then the audio and video would be linked and all you would need to do is edit the video. The first method has the potential for better audio quality. The second may be easier and faster.

P.S. If you could embed those links in a piece of text it would make this thread a lot easier to read.

Member for

21 years

Member Thu, 04/10/2008 - 17:05
Thanks for the responses!

I just checked my receivers and transmitters, and there are no gain adjustments anywhere. I have gain adjustments on my pre-amp, but even when cranked up to the maximum, I get only a whisper.

Yes, with one receiver plugged into channel one and the other into channel two of my amplifier, I do record the vocals on two tracks, one on mono and one on stereo. I have no trouble synching it up with my video--I have a good eye and ear for that, thankfully.

I use Wave Pad to do my audio editing, primarily:

I have used Adobe Soundbooth too, thinking that it would solve my problems, but alas, to no avail.

I do my recordings on Thursday nights (am about to do one here in a few hours). I record a video review for the website I work at--we review videos submitted to the website. Myself and a co-worker are the hosts, and we sit in a small room with the camera about five feet away and the Shure mic on a table below us. There are no baffles in the room and we have to wait until the air conditioning in the building turns off before recording.

I basically record the audio using Wave Pad on my laptop. Then, when the shoot is done, I transfer it to my desktop and edit it. I will usually have to amplify it by 200% or so. Then I will grab an audio sample from the noise and then weed out all the noise. And that is basically all I do--I'll then i import it into Premiere and match it by frame to my video until it looks right.

Member for

21 years

Member Mon, 07/28/2008 - 14:02
BRH wrote: Shure 58 is the wrong mic from 4-5 ft away. Low output.
Combined with the m-audio pre which probably only has 40dB gain.

It's not the's the nature of the microphone. He's using a Beta 58A which is a supercardioid mic. Too tight of a polar pattern to get anything usable that is off axis and at a distance.

An omnidirectional microphone placed equally from anyone speaking will probably be the best bet. Or anyone who will speak will need their own lav.

The problem isn't the microphones...the one you selected (the Beta58A) is the wrong tool for the job.