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Old June 14th, 2004, 07:56 PM   #1
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Trouble Recording Bands: Where's The Crowd?

We're a two-man crew with on-board mics
trying to get decent recordings of bands
playing gigs in the field.
Here's the problem. We've experimented using
attenuators going "mic in" and also using
a preamp going "line in" in an attempt to
avoid distortion, as these have been
loud rock bands. We've been able to
keep the distortion in check, but we're
getting very little ambiant
crowd noise and consequently, the result
is a recording that seems kind of sterile.
It seems unreal, too, to *see* the crowd
yelling and cheering but you can't *hear* them.
The lack of crowd noise cuts down on the
"excitement" of the performance.
Anyways, would appreciate anyone's thoughts on
how to deal with this.
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Old June 14th, 2004, 08:44 PM   #2
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Unfortunately this is to be expected given the dynamics involved. You might be able to use audio recording at the far end of the concert hall, stadium or whatever, and the music will usually sound good as well since this is the target area where the house engineer usually monitors the mix from, however you will need to get back there with a portable DAT and a stereo mic which can handle the SPL. You could also do that with a camera with good audio (i.e. a Sony PDX10) on a tripod and with a good stereo mic, and get a decent wide shot from the back as an extra bonus.
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Old June 14th, 2004, 09:26 PM   #3
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Mike the audience. When molded in-ear wireless monitors came out for performers, they often complained that they could no longer hear the crowd reaction. The solution is to mike the audience.
Usually you will see a shotgun mic on each side of the stage pointed at the audience. For your situation I would recomend a dynamic stero mic and a small mixer to add in ambient noise as desired.
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Old June 14th, 2004, 09:46 PM   #4
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Remember, if you place mikes at different distances from the stage you may have an issue with audio delay. In that case, use separate audio tracks so you can put them into sync when you edit. For about every 35 feet you move back you can advance that track by one video frame to regain sync.
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Old June 14th, 2004, 10:26 PM   #5
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Do you think I would have better luck using a low
sensitivity mic that wouldn't need an attenuator?
Would this pick up more crowd noise? Is there
any effective difference between using a
high-sensitivity mic with an attenuator
and using a low-sensitivity mic without
attenuation?
The volume levels have not bothered the
mics themselves, the distortion I've had
to tame is at the cam preamps.
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Old June 15th, 2004, 10:31 AM   #6
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I would mic the crowd with a lower sensitivity dynamic cardioid (or pair of cardioids) like the AKG D770, Shure SM57 or Audio Technica ATM41a.
The problem with using a regular stereo mic is they have a very wide pattern which makes it difficult to reduce the pickup of the band's speakers and they are also condenser mics and would probably need attenuation or might even distort regardless since you'd be using them near the stage pointing back at the audience.
With a pair of dynamic cardioids, you can set your own angle to keep the rear of the mics facing the speaker stacks (or a single stack if for convenience and phasing you place both mics together at one side of the stage).
If you're willing to go to the effort, you can also build a vertical plate with one mic on each side. This allows you to get a stereo recording while maintaining a single dead zone behind the mics.
As already stated, it would be best if these mics can be recorded separately so you have control over them in post. You'll definitely want to control the levels, EQ, sync and phase separately from your main tracks.
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Old June 15th, 2004, 09:49 PM   #7
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Ronald, I don't know of any single dyanmic mic that records
in stereo. Did you mean just to use two coincident mics
in an XY pattern?
And, Jay, the mic's you mentioned sound like some I'll
look into. I'd like to get all three side by side.
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Old June 16th, 2004, 09:26 PM   #8
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> With a pair of dynamic cardioids,
> you can set your own angle to keep
> the rear of the mics facing the speaker stacks

Good idea. But, as Boyd suggests, don't try to mix them in real time, record the crowd seperately and add it in your NLE so you can control time alignment with your other mics and/or the line out from the house mix. Otherwise you will get wierd phasing effects.
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Old June 18th, 2004, 09:40 AM   #9
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I see that this thread is older and I assume that you've resolved your issues but I figured I'd add my opinion/experience.

I bought an AT822 stereo condensor and a Sony PCM-M1 DAT deck about 5 years ago when I was traveling to Jamaica to see my favorite Ohio band. I wanted a simple setup that I knew would get good sound in case no tapers made it.

For the next couple of years I used that same setup in indoor and outdoor venues with what I consider good success. I saw guys with their preamps and shoeps (sp?) mics doing all sorts of goofy things and many times their recordings were better than mine, but sometimes my recordings made it into the archives. If I set up centered between the PAs at a good height, I consistently got great audience recordings.

Now flash forward to my current role in a partnership with another videographer of this same Ohio band and we were looking to get the same stuff that you're talking about. She gets an XLR feed from the soundboard into her XLR box and feeds it into her GL1 and I fly that same AT822 on it's bogen shockmounted stand and do my best to point it at the right spot and fly it at a decent height.

We then edit on post and for the most part the mix is 80/20 or 90/10 except in the areas where crowd participation is more obvious visually or because of the specific song we can boost my audience based recording.

We're not pros, but we seem to get a really good sound that adds to the overall feel of the shows.

Hope that helps? :)
Kevin
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Old June 18th, 2004, 06:45 PM   #10
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Thanks, Kevin. I have not yet resolved this issue. How is that
822 around loud volumes? And do you get good "crowd response" (e.g. yelling, cheering) with that mic? Do you get a good stereo seperation with it?
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Old June 18th, 2004, 07:13 PM   #11
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When I was using a Korg D12 to capture audio from the house board, I would use the onboard mic to capture ambience. I would then lay it down as background, and the cleaner tracks as main.

You could try the same thing, mixing down from the house board into one cam, and use the onboard mic from the other cam as ambient audio. The onboard usually picks up everything around it pretty well... just not the subject right in front of it ;)
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Old June 21st, 2004, 07:19 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dave Largent : Thanks, Kevin. I have not yet resolved this issue. How is that
822 around loud volumes? And do you get good "crowd response" (e.g. yelling, cheering) with that mic? Do you get a good stereo seperation with it? -->>>

Well as long as you don't set it up right next to a PA or point it at the drunk yelling guy it does great. And as long as you get it centered between the PA's the seperation is great. And yes, it does get good crowd response. It may take you one show to figure out how to point it but if I'm centered I basically fly it high and point it lower than if I were trying to get less crowd.

If you're getting soundboard feeds anyhow and you have the access is might be worthwhile to try and get it mounted on stage pointing at the center of the crowd and get the soundguy to feed it back to you through the snake.

-Kevin
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Old June 21st, 2004, 03:55 PM   #13
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> If you're getting soundboard feeds anyhow and you
> have the access is might be worthwhile to try and get
> it mounted on stage pointing at the center of the crowd
> and get the soundguy to feed it back to you through the snake.

Great idea, because the loudspeakers are meant to be as directional as possible so this will give you a good crowd-to-PA ratio, and also because a mike in the middle of the stage will be in phase with the electrical feed from the console, so you can try mixing it in real time and might not need to time correct it in post.
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Old June 21st, 2004, 05:03 PM   #14
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but then again, its a mic in the middle of the stage, which, unless being used by a performer, is likely going to annoy everyone.

The guys that have suggested a seperate MD recording of crowd noise have hit it head on. Bottom line is, the crowd noise is something you will want to control later, so don't lock yourself into it at the time...

Crowd noise is not generally the most sonically important audio you're ever going to record, so you could get away with a consumer MD and one of sony's stereo mics that go direct to 1/8"
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