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Old July 3rd, 2011, 03:34 AM   #1
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Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

My grandson Angus. He has a lovely voice, is taking lessons, sings in a choir, so I offered to record him singing to upload to Youtube (and my web site of course).

He is very excited about this. Iím not of course!

Question: which microphone? I have the following:

Rode Lav (EX1 recording)
AT 897 (EX1 recording)
Rode Podcaster USB (laptop recording)

I searched this forum and note a mention of the Audio-Technica AE5400 as being as good as it gets. A lot of money, not that the kid isnít worth it, but... I donít know. I donít want to be silly...

Iíd like to do it right and do justice to his voice. I also know about the law of diminishing returns and, letís be realistic, he is not a Placido Domingo; at least not yet.

Suggestions much appreciated.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 07:13 AM   #2
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

The Audio-Technica AE5400 is a hand-held vocal mic designed for on-stage use. Unless he is already comfortable with hand-held mic techniques I'd suggest looking further.

How about some more details as to what you're going to be recording and how it's to be staged ... a capella, with a band, classical, operatic, rock, jazz with piano? There are a lot of mics suitable for vocals and which you might choose depends as much on what and how you're recording as much as it does the voice itself.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 07:13 AM   #3
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

How about a Rode NT1A package at roughly half the cost?
Cracking vocal mic complete with pop shield etc.

EDIT: Now that I have a bit more time, here's a more considered reply.
I think Steve's suggestions (which I didn't see until after mine was posted) are very sensible. I was assuming a certain style of music - and video production come to that - which might not necessarily be appropriate. If you don't mind seeing a large condenser mic with pop shield on a stand in shot then I stick by my suggestion of the Rode NT1A which is excellent value for money..

The large condenser/popshield setup is very common in studios but it might not be the look you are after. To give you an idea what it looks like, here's a quick iPhone photo of a "young boy" I recorded (just the audio) using that setup:
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Recording an 11 year old boy singing.-nt1a_setup.jpg  

Last edited by Colin McDonald; July 3rd, 2011 at 11:33 AM. Reason: Added a bit and a photo
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 04:14 PM   #4
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

Thanks Steve and Colin for your replies. Great shot of the Rode NT1A in front of that handsome lad who no doubt has a deep sonorous Glaswegian voice.

And of course I should have provided more information regarding the proposed set but I hadnít thought it through. In as much as the proposed clip will be shot using my EX1 and uploaded to wherever I guess looks do matter and a studio approach is probably not what we want. But if we decide to go that route the Rode NT1A is top of the list. How might it compare to the Studio Projects C1 which seems to be considered good for the money?

No, he has never had a hand-held mic in his hand and mic technique is limited to that which he sees on TV. Nevertheless he is very smart and learns quickly so Iím inclined to keep that option on the table in as much as the Ďlookí of the hand-held mic faking on stage is quite compelling and he just might get away on the concept, Iím thinking, and be encouraged. I just watched ĎSinťad O'Connor - She moved through the Fair - Sult 1997í on Youtube again and her mic technique seems clear and effective. How difficult can that be to learn? So a mic suggestion for that scenario would be appreciated indeed.

The third scenario is a close head and shoulders of him singing with a mic close by but out of the frame. Is that where the AT897 might be a good candidate?

Again, many thanks gentlemen for the input.
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 09:52 PM   #5
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

Hullo again, John.

Another option which might achieve better results is to record the audio of him singin in the best audio environment possible without the camera adding to the stress, then getting him to lip sync without need of a mic at all but just shoot video in the best visual environment.

A lot of buggering about, but very effective if done well.

Regards,


CS
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Old July 3rd, 2011, 11:07 PM   #6
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

An even simpler method Chris: after further consultations with the boyís mother we have a plan. Seems he has found a backing track at Youtube which he has downloaded and will listen to wearing headphones plugged into an ipod and sing the melody which I shall record using a studio microphone complete with pop filter and shoot a nicely lit profile shot of his handsome young face eager and concentrated to be placed on the time line in Vegas Pro 10 and synced with the original backing track, sweetened appropriately, and rendered off for uploading. Simple eh!

Move over Justin Bieber.

So maybe the Rode NT1A as you suggested Colin. I presume that mic is fine for a boy soprano voice?

You do realize how incredibly important this project is, we are talking about a future Pavarotti here, and I thank the contributors again.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #7
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

The NT1-A offers extremely low self-noise capabilities, and with the included shockmount and pop filter you get a nice kit.
It does however have a very hot output and a substantial bump above 10kHz.
It could certainly work for your project, but you'd need to make sure you weren't overloading your input and that you get the final EQ the way you wanted it without too much high end.
I might also consider a neodymium stand-mounted vocal mic like a Sennheiser e835, older AKG D880, Shure Beta58 or Beta57a, or EV N/D767. With correct technique and positioning in relation to the mic stand (like about 6 inches distant), these could certainly work and have a good balance without too much proximity effect or too much high end.
Then this mic could be his next birthday present if he keeps with the singing and wants to use it for handheld or stage work as he grows into it.
Let us know how it turns out!
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Old July 5th, 2011, 05:36 PM   #8
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

Thanks Jay, I like the idea you suggested of a hand-held neodymium stand-mounted vocal mic. Makes a lot of sense and looks to the future. For his last birthday I gave him a laptop so Iím thinking he might plug such a mic into his laptop via a USB interface of some type. I shall look at the mics you suggested.

Is entry level wireless an option to get the sound into his laptop without costing an arm and a leg?
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Old July 5th, 2011, 05:38 PM   #9
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

I thik setting up in a space that sounds nice, and using the AT897 about 2 or 3 feet away from his mouth, and above his head, and out of the shot would be just fine. There is no need to purchase a new mic just for one free video of a kid singing. And attempting to overdub a performance is simply going to be too much work, with fake looking results.

If the kid is just singing solo, with no backing tracks then how I described will be just fine. If it's going to be something where he is singing along with backing tracks, then your USB mic should work well, and you can record him in the "studio" whatever that may be.

As an example, here's an "in the studio" clip of my niece singing as he listened to a karaoke backing track.

YouTube - ‪Raven Calypso - The Climb Karaoke - Sony EX1 Test‬‏
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Old July 5th, 2011, 06:17 PM   #10
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

Chad, loved the Youtube video of your niece. Well done, both Raven and you.

And where Iím at with this - itís not just about one free video of a kid singing. He has been singing for quite some time, is in a choir and taking the whole thing somewhat seriously, as seriously as an 11 year old takes anything, but I believe this is more than a flash in the pan situation. So my role is to encourage, support, enable and generally helpfully nudge him in the direction he is already headed, which I totally approve of, by the way. Isnít that what grandfathers are supposed to do! I have no hesitation in spending a few hundred dollars on this project.

Like your niece he plans to sing to a backing track and like you I plan to shoot him singing with my not-so-new EX1 him listening to the backing track with my well worn 7506 headphones too. The ĎStudioí will be the family lounge.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 06:48 PM   #11
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

Alright then John, I believe a nicer mic like the NT1a (or even the NT2a which is better sounding and comes with a shock mount, cable and pop filter) may be an investment he will use for the next 20 years. You are basically setting up a recording studio for him. He'll need a mic stand too. I suggest the type with a boom arm for better positioning. And for any regular mux with XLR cables, you'll need an audio interface to get the voice into the computer. A 2 channel interface can be had for a reasonable price from Foocusrite. I recorded my video with my EX1, but I only used the audio going into the camera as reference to line up the video to the audio. When you record into the computer you can then properly mix the audio, and add reverb or compression and generally sweeten the track before putting it with the video.

Maybe that's too much? You could record an NT1 into the EX1 I suppose, but that will record at 48k, vs the usual 44.1k used for recording music. The backing track will probably be 44.1. I assert that since singing is this kid's passion, then having a modest audio setup for recording audio-only is in order. That's a mic, stand, cable, pop filter, audio interface, and software.

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Old July 6th, 2011, 04:32 AM   #12
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

I'm with you Chad, singing is his passion and I'm going with the set-up you suggested above, and that along with his new laptop and the appropriate software he will have a modest entry-level home recording studio. Thanks folks one and all for the input; much appreciated.

Cheers...
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Old July 6th, 2011, 01:58 PM   #13
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

Glad I could help John. It's good that he's getting a nice start at a young age. I would also suggest learning an instrument he can accompany himself with , like guitar or keyboard. That way he won't need other people in order to sing, and when he hits high school, playing an instrument will put him way ahead in the "cool" spectrum, not to mention he will use that talent all his life. Playing music as well as singing will give him many more job opportunities than singing alone.

Cheers

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Old July 6th, 2011, 03:24 PM   #14
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Re: Recording an 11 year old boy singing.

For his 10th birthday I gave him a keyboard and speakers. He was taking lessons but the Christchurch earthquakes disrupted that project. He and his family, and their house, are all fine but the teaching establishment is in the red zone. But yes, thanks; great idea already in place.

Cheers...
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