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Old July 7th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #1
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Hanging mic for wedding cermony

My friend is a photographer and his daughter is getting married. To keep costs down, he's snapping the photos and will author a Blu-ray disc slideshow. He'll use music for most of it, but he also wants to capture the vows.

He bought a Tascam DR-100 and would like to hang a mic about half a meter above their heads. The wedding is outdoors, so there could be some wind. He'd like the mic to be somewhat inconspicuous. And, he wants to keep costs down, probably under $200. And, no, he doesn't expect perfection. And he has no interest in rigging people with lavs and wireless units.

I'm thinking that he'd be better off with an omni than a cardioid in this situation. A foam wind protector is all he can expect, so a HPF switch would be nice. Distance to the speakers could be about a meter, and they might speak softly, so high sensitivity and low noise would be ideal.

In this case, my friend would be happier to ditch the audio if it's a wind-blown, noisy mess than he would be happy to part with more than his budget.

Any specific mic recommendations?
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Old July 7th, 2010, 07:20 PM   #2
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Jon, outdoors? I'd rig lavs on the couple and just have the vows plus music.

At HARS we surveyed the members and visitors and DVD beat Blu-ray something like 70-1.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 07:27 PM   #3
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Personally, I would use lavs too, but it's not my show. He wants a hanging mic.

Regarding BD vs. DVD... his daughter has a BD player, and she's the client. He can always scale it down for a DVD version if needed.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 07:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
My friend is a photographer and his daughter is getting married. To keep costs down, he's snapping the photos and will author a Blu-ray disc slideshow. He'll use music for most of it, but he also wants to capture the vows.
Just a comment... but not on the mic question. Weddings tend to be family occasions is the father / photographer going to be in any pictures? I would have thought that the father of the bride has enough to do on his daughters special day rather than taking photos.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 09:15 PM   #5
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Jon, being outdoors with any kind of wind would really be bad sound with a hanging mic of any kind especially at about 3 feet away or so. IMO a setup like that he might as well not even bother. Maybe you could convince him to just mic the groom with a stand alone recorder. That'll take all of about 30 seconds to do and will insure (as much as possible) of clean audio for the vows.
On another note I have to agree with Brian about trying to be father of the bride and photographer. When my daughter got married 14 years ago I set up 2 stationary cams, walked her down the aisle and at the reception set 1 camera on a tripod by the dj booth on a MW shot and partied. Remember this was s-vhs days so I could pretty much set it and forget it but it doesn't work that way. I spent half my time checking the camera so I missed a lot of her wedding. When my younger son got married 8 years ago I hired a friend of mine to shoot and I did the edit, much less stressful. Maybe your friend could hire a friend just to shoot it so he can enjoy the day. Just a thought.
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Old July 7th, 2010, 10:32 PM   #6
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Beelzebub's advocate here, at your service. Your friend wants to save money so he's dropping $500 on recording equipment that he doesn't know how to use. He also doesn't want to take two minutes to perform the standard, and only acceptable, method of getting audio of the vows at a wedding. He is going to spend all day taking pictures and wrestling with an unnecessarily complicated audio setup instead of being there on his daughter's (hopefully only) wedding day. He is then going to only remember the day based on a technically flawed recording of the events. His daughter will only remember his presence during times for which there is no photographic recording. The devil approves! Green light.

I could get better audio with my $100 Olympus recorder with lav mic and nobody would remember it being there.

It sounds to me like your friend is avoiding the day by playing with gadgets. Maybe this is just projection on my part, but I wouldn't shoot an event for which my emotional presence was expected. When I'm operating camera and sound, my mind is in technology land and I have to struggle to work with emotions. This whole scenario is perfect for the saying "penny wise but pound foolish".
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Old July 8th, 2010, 12:48 AM   #7
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I totally agree with everything said. I've recommended rentals and lavs. I've asked about the way he is choosing to spend his time. All I can say is that he has a strong vision about what he's going to to. Sometimes, we have to burn ourselves on the stove before we learn not to touch it.

That said, he is dead set against lavs. Just assume that "no lavs" is one of the hard requirements, whether it makes sense or not.

Let's also assume that there is no wind, the mic is only a foot or so above their heads, and everybody stands close to it.

Given that,

1) Can we agree that an omni beats a cardioid?
2) Assuming omni, can anybody recommend an omni with, say -35dB or better sensitivity, relatively low noise, and a max price of $200.

And I promise that I'll give him the lecture again before I tell him the model name. ;)
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Old July 8th, 2010, 04:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
...1) Can we agree that an omni beats a cardioid?
Not really. Cardioid would provide bettter isolation from interfering environmental sounds. On the downside, cardioid would be more susceptible to wind noise. If it's go to hang over the heads of the celebrant and couple, they will be in the hemisphere of pickup for a cardioid. Anything coming in from the sides and down from above is going to be unwanted distraction. An omni would pick that up while a cardioid would minimize it. How about an AT3031 (or the current equivalent)? I'm concerned about getting adequate levels - it's unlikely that they're actors trained to project their voices toward the back or the audience. They will probably be speaking in a pretty low voice and a couple of feet distance to the mic is going to result in a pretty low recording level.
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Last edited by Steve House; July 8th, 2010 at 07:23 AM.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 08:55 AM   #9
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I agree with all that's been said before... but if he insists on an overhead mic, the Audio-Technica U853R hanging cardioid comes about as close as I think you'll get for this requirement. It's the phantom-powered-only version and has a little hotter sensitivity than the models that can go either battery or phantom. Still it's only -39db sensitivity and signal to noise is listed as 70db. Online price is about $170 (cheaper than the battery/phantom counterpart also). I'd add a tiny furry windscreen designed for lav mics even though that would make it a little more visible.

If there's no wind, and if it's placed perfectly, and there's nothing nearby like a water feature with a cascading flow, then it should work, but those are all big "if's".

In a standard small-diaphragm mic, the AT4021 is listed as -35db sensitivity and 80db signal to noise but it's $249 online and is certainly larger than a hanging mic even though it's relatively small as mics go. It could be planted in a nearby (as close as possible) flower arrangement and if ambient noise is low it could be boosted cleanly if the DR100 preamps are also clean. It would definitely need wind protection also.

What does he plan to hang the mic from?
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Old July 8th, 2010, 12:58 PM   #10
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Thanks Steve and Jay!

It looks like the AT3031is discontinued with no replacement. The 2021 looks inadequate, and the 4021is a bit large and slightly out of budget. The U853R looks like the best bet. It's interesting in that it can accept various capsules for hypercardioid (100°), omnidirectional (360°); and "UniLine®" (90°). Cardioid (120°) is standard.

I'll mention that cardioid is probably the way to go, but it will be more susceptible to wind noise.

I believe that one of the long-term reasons that he wants a hanging mic is to use in his church for choir recordings. I assume that he would get a second mic for stereo.

FWIW, would people recommend cardioid or hyper for the choir application? I guess it would depend on the size of the choir and the height/spacing of the mics.

Apparently, the garden where the wedding will be held include a wooden framework with a large crossmember directly above the ceremony area.

Then again, I wonder if he wants to avoid lavs because he's a Gordon Brown supporter. ;)

Though it's far from ideal, I think he'll be happy with the results as long as wind noise doesn't ruin it. That's not to say that you or I - or a paying client - would be happy with the results. I think he's expecting consumer camcorder level results with some hiss and background noise (America's Funniest Home Videos level), rather than professional (no obvious flaws) or audiophile (great sound) results.

Thanks again for the suggestions. And I will reiterate that pro wedding shooters use omni lavs almost without exception.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 01:42 PM   #11
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Don't worry too much about mic sensitivity - the wind noise will be far higher than any internal self-noise.

If he's a real friend, why not show him this topic, then he'll realise that you are giving him the best advice. Half a metre above their heads is close enough for a cardioid or an omni to produce decnet enough sound, as long as the couple stand immediately below this. So if the day is calm, so no wind to move the mic around, and they stand in the right place, it could be fine. If I really had to do this, I'd probably use a small radio pack style lav mic with one of the hairy covers - this would sort the wind noise out, and wouldn't be too intrusive (well, I guess it would look like a furry spider - but better than a hand held size mic!)

It's a bad news job really. Too much riding on fingers crossed techniques.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 01:48 PM   #12
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Jon -
Any chance you can get him to drop by the DVi wedding threads (or this one) to do some research? I appreciate that he may have in mind "dual use" in the future, but to completely ignore what 125 out of 100 professionals use in real life is a serious potential mistake...

Giant Squid lavs are not expensive, nor is a used 7 or 8 series iRiver or two, and they could be resold easy enough after the wedding dust settles. It's very easy to hide a lav on the groom (you can get GS mics in WHITE if it would help!), and the officiant - at least as discreet as a mic hidden in an arbor, but likely to actually get the audio...

And as much as I admire the "DIY" spirit and what he's out to do, is there ANY chance he would at least have a close relative "shooting" some of the pictures - most brides will want "daddy" to be a big part of their special day, and this would be the one time that "if you want it done right..." might be better left aside, though I TOTALLY understand where he's coming from!

If he shoots weddings professionally, odds are at least he won't keel over with a heart attack, but why add to an already "stressful" day by trying to be 3+ people at once? He's got one vitally important job that his little girl has probably been planning since she was "little"! Focus on that rather than "focusing" woulc be my honest advice.

Even a novice shooting a few hundred shots should be able to get some decent shots that would be turned to magic in post (some of the best shots from my wedding were from a simple point and shoot I handed to an "artistic" friend and said "shoot everything"...). This is his daughter's big day, there's a time to "let go", just my .02.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 04:03 PM   #13
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It turns out that I confused two events: this is for his friend's daughter's wedding. His own daughter is getting married next year. Sorry for the mix up. And he's doing this as a freebie with no expectations. This is primarily going to be a photo gig.

And before I could give him the specific mic advise, lecture him, and show him this and other threads, he had already purchased an AT Pro 45 for $80 + shipping.

Audio-Technica - Microphones, headphones, wireless microphone systems, noise-cancelling headphones & more : PRO 45 Cardioid Condenser Hanging Microphone

Frankly, the specs and price aren't bad, though, as we all know, you don't listen to a mic's spec sheet.

And, yes, wind is the big variable. Apparently, the area is surrounded by trees on three sides, so he'll be less likely to get mic rumble and more likely to get noise from the leaves.

Keep in mind that this \audio is to go with a photo slide show. He doesn't need sync. So, he will record the rehearsal as well as the wedding. And he can do some closer mic'd sound tests of "I will" and "I do". The minister is more likely to be recorded well, since he/she will be projecting toward the guests. If the "I do's" are unusable, he'll have a back up recording. (How romantic! :) )
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Old July 8th, 2010, 04:44 PM   #14
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Thanks again for the suggestions. And I will reiterate that pro wedding shooters use omni lavs almost without exception.
Apples and oranges ... you're right if you're talking about omni versus cardioid in a lav but a lav pinned to the chest is a totally different acoustic ballgame from a mic suspended several feet over the head of the speaker. One uses an omni lav because with a cardioid the slightest head movement causes the voice to go off-mic with a resulting level and timbre change. That doesn't happen when a mic is suspended over the speaker. Cardioid lavs exist to help control feedback in a sound reinforcement scenario where reducing feedback is a paramount objective. What you're doing here is rigging a conventional boom mic for dialog, albeit to a stationary boom, and similar considerations are operating.
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Old July 8th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #15
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I totally agree. By "reiterate", I meant that I would tell my friend that the standard is to use an omni lav on the chest for exactly the reasons you mention.
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