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Old October 4th, 2010, 02:51 PM   #1
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College football game: Need mic that can withstand loud screaming

Hi,

Long story short, the shotgun mic I use with my Canon XHA1 did not work so well at a loud college football game along the sidelines. Almost everything was clipping.

Last year, some nice folks on this forum recommended this mic:

AKG Perception 170 - Small Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone

I finally have the spare cash, and was wondering if the above mic is still a good pick? Would it fit well on my Canon XHA1?

The next time I shoot a football game, I really want to capture some good audio (i.e. I need a mic suited to the loud environment).

Suggestions?

Many thanks in advance, I really appreciate it!

Cheers,
Micky
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:33 PM   #2
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Have you got a friend in a band with a Sure SM57 or SM58? Or you could probably pick one up in a pawn shop anywhere in town. I would use one of my Electrovoice 635s. Autzen stadium doesn't seem like the kind of place you need a sensitive mic like any kind of condenser.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:45 PM   #3
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Do you have to mount the mic on the camera? Are you moving around or in a fixed location?
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:46 PM   #4
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More than likely the clipping occurred at the pre-amplifier stage of your camera, and not the mic.
Your mic as well as the one you ordered should be more than capable to handle the volume levels however the dynamic range of your camera's audio system cannot handle it well, most broadcast games you hear have the microphones going to a truck where the signal has dynamic compressors/limiters that compensate for the loud volumes.probably if your camera has AGC this is probably one of the good times to use it.

hope this helps.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:50 PM   #5
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Hey Richard! Nice to chat with a fellow Oregonian. :)

Thanks for tips! I have no friends in bands, but I would not mind dropping the cash on new/used equipment.

Pretty good prices:

Shure SM57-LC Microphone

Shure SM58 Cardioid Microphone Kit - Includes SM58 Cardioid Microphone, Star-Quad Microphone Cable and Matching Color Windscreen (Black)

This one looks interesting:

Electro Voice 635A/B - Omni-Directional Handheld Dynamic ENG Microphone (Black)

Heck, maybe I should pick up both? If you had to pick, which one would you say is better for a (Duck) Football game? :)

Thanks for the suggestions!

Cheers,
Micky
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Old October 4th, 2010, 03:58 PM   #6
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Hi Jay and Gerry! Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate the help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill View Post
Do you have to mount the mic on the camera? Are you moving around or in a fixed location?
Doh, sorry, I should have specified. More often than not, I am moving around (typically with a mono-pod). So, the mic would be mounted to the camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Gallegos View Post
More than likely the clipping occurred at the pre-amplifier stage of your camera, and not the mic.
Your mic as well as the one you ordered should be more than capable to handle the volume levels however the dynamic range of your camera's audio system cannot handle it well, most broadcast games you hear have the microphones going to a truck where the signal has dynamic compressors/limiters that compensate for the loud volumes.probably if your camera has AGC this is probably one of the good times to use it.

hope this helps.
Thanks for that info! I forget if the XHA1 has AGC, I will have to re-read the docs. I typically shoot manual everything, including audio levels (but I have never played around with any AGC switches/settings).

If this is of any help, the mic I have (er, for the company video camera) is:

Rode NTG-1 Condenser Shotgun Microphone

Thanks all for the help, I greatly appreciate it! :)

Cheers,
Micky
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Old October 4th, 2010, 04:04 PM   #7
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Maybe I'm just cheap, but I wouldn't go out and buy a new mic for a specialty application like this. (High-level ambiance.) Unless you have $$$ to burn, I would save my microphone budget for more demanding applications: Like having a good shotgun with boom and wind protection for outdoor dialog, a decent hyper-cardioid for interior boom, and a lav or two (depending on what kinds of things you shoot.) THOSE are the applications where you need to spend some $$$ to get good quality, low noise, etc. Loud background noise can be done with a $10 microphone in my philosophy.

And, as Mr. Gallegos reminded us, this is certainly a prime application for the built-in limiter.

I have a long-standing preference for Electrovoice over Shure and I would take a 635 any day over a 57/58, It is just a more solid product. But the Shure products are popular with amateur musicians and I'd bet there are half a dozen in local pawn shops.

OTOH! The Rode NTG-1 is rated for "139dB SPL" Even Autzen Stadium doesn't get THAT loud! So the microphone should be able to handle it. Your problem is in the next stage or two. The mic input settings on the camcorder.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 04:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Maybe I'm just cheap, but I wouldn't go out and buy a new mic for a specialty application like this. (High-level ambiance.) Unless you have $$$ to burn, I would save my microphone budget for more demanding applications: Like having a good shotgun with boom and wind protection for outdoor dialog, a decent hyper-cardioid for interior boom, and a lav or two (depending on what kinds of things you shoot.) THOSE are the applications where you need to spend some $$$ to get good quality, low noise, etc. Loud background noise can be done with a $10 microphone in my philosophy.
Interesting! Excellent advice. I think I have a tendancy to buy the cheaper stuff when I have the cash, vs. saving for the really good/diverse equipment. Some of this stuff my work provides, but due to the economy, if I want to make my videos better, I have to pay for the extras like the right kind of mics for the different type of situations I might shoot.

I will definitely check out the local pawn shops for the mics you mention... But, then again, it is sounding like the problem is not the mic, it is the camera itself... It is looking like I need to learn how to use its audio features better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
And, as Mr. Gallegos reminded us, this is certainly a prime application for the built-in limiter.
Now that I know what to Google for, I found this thread:

XH-A1 Audio Limiter

No audio limiter unless you use AGC.

I typically shoot manual audio levels... Should I bite the bullet and use the AGC instead? Looking like I might not have an option.

This might be a silly question, but could I connect an external limiter/attenuator between the shotgun and the XHA1 XLR input? If this would be a viable option, what equipment would you suggest?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
I have a long-standing preference for Electrovoice over Shure and I would take a 635 any day over a 57/58, It is just a more solid product. But the Shure products are popular with amateur musicians and I'd bet there are half a dozen in local pawn shops.
Thanks for the advice. I like the idea of saving a few bucks also. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
OTOH! The Rode NTG-1 is rated for "139dB SPL" Even Autzen Stadium doesn't get THAT loud! So the microphone should be able to handle it. Your problem is in the next stage or two. The mic input settings on the camcorder.
Yah, it is looking like that is the case. :(

Thanks so much for the help!

Cheers,
Micky
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Old October 4th, 2010, 04:32 PM   #9
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You might also consider the AT8004, it's a low-sensitivity omni dynamic similar to the EV635. It's $79 everywhere online.
More importantly though, do check the mic input attenuation settings on your camera.
Generally shotguns don't sound good when surrounded by loud noise coming from all directions, but it's also critical that you have matched the camera's input sensitivity to the sensitivity of your mic and the loudness of your environment.
The mic input sensitivity can be overloaded before the signal gets to the recording level controls, that's why it's so important to have this set correctly for each situation and mic.
Some cameras have either attenuation or sensitivity controls built-in, sometimes as switches and sometimes in a menu.
You can also add an external inline attenuator. They are available in switchable or fixed values, usually -5db or -10db is adequate unless you have a really powerful mic connected to a really sensitive input.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill View Post
You might also consider the AT8004, it's a low-sensitivity omni dynamic similar to the EV635. It's $79 everywhere online.
Nice! Thanks for suggestion:

Audio-Technica AT8004 Handheld Omnidirectional Dynamic Microphone

Not a bad price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill View Post
More importantly though, do check the mic input attenuation settings on your camera.
Generally shotguns don't sound good when surrounded by loud noise coming from all directions, but it's also critical that you have matched the camera's input sensitivity to the sensitivity of your mic and the loudness of your environment. The mic input sensitivity can be overloaded before the signal gets to the recording level controls, that's why it's so important to have this set correctly for each situation and mic. Some cameras have either attenuation or sensitivity controls built-in, sometimes as switches and sometimes in a menu.
Interesting... I have never done this before.

Is there a trick to doing this?

For example, with the XHA1, it looks like there is not a limiter unless using AGC; If I am using AGC, don't I lose the ability to match the camera's input sensitivity to the sensitivity of the mic and environment loudness? I guess this hits on your next point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill View Post
You can also add an external inline attenuator. They are available in switchable or fixed values, usually -5db or -10db is adequate unless you have a really powerful mic connected to a really sensitive input.
So, in my case (XHA1, AGC off, and the NTG-1), I should experiment with a -5db/-10db inline attenuator... In other words, when I am on location, if I need to limit the audio, I would then plug-in one of the two attenuators? This sounds like a pretty decent solution.

Would you also recommend an inline XLR audio mixer? If so, any suggestions for a brand? Of course, I am not sure if I would want to be lugging around something much larger than a pack of cigarettes. :)

Thanks so much Jay!!!!

Cheers,
Micky
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Old October 4th, 2010, 07:37 PM   #11
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Typically AGC (Automatic Gain Control) is disliked due to the fact that it not only lowers the gain when the noise is too loud but it also turns it up when the ambient noise is too low, (double edge sword) but in your scenario it is unlikely that the noise level will be so soft that it turns the gain up and introducing hiss.
AGC in your scenario is like having a guy riding the gain for you as things get louder.
There isnt going to be a microphone on earth that will solve your problem other than just being better sounding, or having a lower output. adding a limiter or compressor not likely to work as most arent portable not to mention most have line level only, requiring you to have a pre-amp to turn your microphone's mic level to line level for a compressor to work. not to mention the additional cables required.

or

you can just turn on AGC.

GG
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Old October 4th, 2010, 11:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micky Hulse View Post
No audio limiter unless you use AGC.
I typically shoot manual audio levels... Should I bite the bullet and use the AGC instead? Looking like I might not have an option.
This might be a silly question, but could I connect an external limiter/attenuator between the shotgun and the XHA1 XLR input? If this would be a viable option, what equipment would you suggest?
Camcorder AGC and limiter are identical cousins. Yes, absolutely I would use the built-in facilities of the camcorder. Chances seem excellent that that will completely solve your problem.

I see no reason to use any other external equipment, unless an additional inline (passive) attenuator is needed because you can't crank the gain down far enough on the camcorder. IMHO, a mixer is NOT indicated for this problem. Maybe for some other kind of problem at the other end of the dynamic range.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:02 AM   #13
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Hi, Micky..............

The salient question, neither asked nor answered, is "what sounds are you after"?

Crowd sounds (behind you), grunts/ collisions on the field (in front), what?

A mixture of both, perhaps?

I can't hazard an answer to a question that hasn't been asked, so, spell it out.

What, exactly, do you want on the soundtrack?


CS
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Old October 5th, 2010, 07:07 AM   #14
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I would suggest just flicking the AGC on for one match and listening to the difference it makes. I think you'll be happier with the outcome than if you bought a new mic and left the audio on manual. Saying that, it's always good to be able to afford a better mic than the stock ones you generally find coming with cameras, but for shooting a football match I think AGC will make a more positive difference.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 09:19 AM   #15
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The salient question, neither asked nor answered, is "what sounds are you after"?
Indeed. I was assuming that Mr. Hulse was simply wanting the ambient sounds of the spectators, and not specific sounds like interviews or on-field speech or noises. My assumption was based on the reputation of Autzen Stadium for being one of the more noisy venues in the league.
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