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Old July 15th, 2013, 10:14 AM   #1
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Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

I'm looking for an external mic for my new Canon XA20 that came handle loud live music /concerts. My Rode NTG-2 just can't handle that kind of volume. I want to record directly to the camera to avoid editing and save time. There are times I can't get a feed off the sound board. Recording locally live music is mostly a hobby but there are times I get hired to record a concert, usually pretty much on the cheap. I just recorded a show, warm up bands for Jackyl,
using my new cam and the audio has too much distortion using the NTG-2 mic. I had the audio settings in manual, AGC off, set the meters from going in the red and turned on the attenuator. I was set up next to the sound board about 50 feet from the stage. I found that I'm better off using the on camera mic than my Rode mic. At least I didn't have clipping with the on camera mic. But I need to improve my audio so that's why I'm here looking for help. My budget is around $300 and will consider buying a used mic.
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Old July 15th, 2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

There is always that "lowest-common-denominator" rock-music standard the Shure SM57. It appears to be impervious to overload and rock-music type abuse.
They can typically be found at a low price on Craigslist, etc.
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Old July 17th, 2013, 10:58 AM   #3
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

on the other hand, the SM57 and 58 are almost impervious to physical abuse as well. Though I've had some incidents with drum stick hits on 57s.
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Old July 17th, 2013, 11:21 AM   #4
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

Thanks for your help guys! I got a friend that has the SM58 he said I could try out. I read that with the 58 i'd have to be right next to the speakers and that the 57 would pick up better. Not sure when I'll be filming my next loud rock concert though. But when I do I wand to get decent live audio. What about using a Zoom recorder for extremely loud concerts? Can the built in mics handle that situation? And can I use the Zoom to record directly into the cam?
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Old July 17th, 2013, 04:26 PM   #5
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

One thing about the SM57/58 is that they are have a limited frequency range. Great for vocals and guitars, not so good for a bass drum or cymbals. (My son once made some interesting recordings with the combination of an SM57 and a nice bass drum mic, which is heavily scooped. He could mix the two channels to taste to get a full, balanced sound.)

There are many condenser mics that have a wider frequency response and can handle over 140 dB. As long as you're not recording too close to the front-of-house speakers, they'll do fine. You'll get a better frequency response, though you might get more harmonic distortion.

Often, concerts are mixed in mono so the audience on both sides of the stage hear the same performance. If that's the case, you could try the SM57 + bass drum mic approach - even very close to the speakers. The ability to capture the mids at one level and the bass (with it's high levels) at another is quite nice. Just make sure that the mics are close to one another to avoid phasing issues.

If you record in stereo with dynamic mics further from the stage, you'll have a stereo result (due to the room, even if the source is mono), but the sound will be muddier due to room reverb. If you record right next to the speakers, you'll have a less muddy sound, but potentially a mono soundstage. Ideally, you'd record all four channels (left, right, mids, bass/treble) and mix to taste. That lets you get a nice frequency balance along with the "space" of the room. You can also mix to the x-y mics between songs to get a good crowd sound. In the past, I've mixed camera audio with audio from the board to get a "live" sound as well as to capture the crowd. Audio from the board alone often sounds too clinical without giving a feel for the live space.
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Old July 17th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #6
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

It's gonna be a crapshot no matter how you look at it. It depends first on whether you are shooting in a space with full cooperation from the band and the audio staff.

I would always say str8 from the board would be my number one choice, but as Jon pointed out you miss that live natural sound. It would still be my preference.

This is some audio straight from the board from what was supposed to be my b camera. Camera guy left the iris wide open on th A cam and the audio sucked so save the day with the b cam.

One thing about str8 out of the board is that it will never be objectionable.

Often times the nat sound alone can be not so great.

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Old July 19th, 2013, 01:45 PM   #7
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

The problem is almost certainly NOT your microphone. It takes a heck of a lot more than what a concert can deliver to distort a microphone. Where the problem almost certainly sits is with your gain structure. Turn it all the way down and see what you get.

Do you have the camera automatically setting your levels or are you doing it manually? Are you monitoring levels as you record? You should set levels to make sure that you have plenty of headroom in a loud show, even more headroom if the show is very dynamic.

While I haven't used the XA20, I haven't found a camera out there with XLR connectors and a manual level control that doesn't have the ability to deal with just about anything that's thrown at it. The only problems I've had are with cameras that can't handle professional line inputs (which are usually cameras w/out XLRs)

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Old July 19th, 2013, 02:04 PM   #8
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

Rich,
I shoot bands strictly as a hobby. But I almost always can get a feed from the audio board.

I have been using a Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro going into the second channel on my Ex1R.

I will mix it in just a little at times if it's good. It's at it's best when your'e real close to the stage.

If your Rode mic is distorting it sounds like a sensitivity setting in your camera or on your mic.
Sometimes if the audio board is far from where I want to be I use a butt plug out of a senny wireless to get a feed from the board.

But I almost always prefer one channel from the board.

***This first video below is 100% Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro all by itself. It gets the job done but it's lacking.



This is a 90% board and 10 percent Rodes stereo Video Mic Pro

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Old July 19th, 2013, 02:54 PM   #9
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Maas View Post
The problem is almost certainly NOT your microphone. It takes a heck of a lot more than what a concert can deliver to distort a microphone.)

--Ben
With all respect intended to your experience, a colleague with a NTG2 found that it overloaded badly at loud sporting events, regardless of the settings on the camera, or use of attenuators. Perhaps it is a characteristic of the particular model.

That said, I know of a couple of people who use the AKG Perception 170 at loud venues with good success. With its dB pad engaged it can handle 158bB. Price is around $100US.
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Old July 19th, 2013, 03:19 PM   #10
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

I guess what really needs to be said is that a shotgun mic is not the best choice for this type of job to begin with.
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Old July 19th, 2013, 03:20 PM   #11
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

I have a Sennheiser MD431 II that I'm looking to sell in your price range. Like new and if It can handle Dave Groll vocals they can handle anything.
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Old July 19th, 2013, 08:02 PM   #12
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

Thanks for for all your input. Ill let you know what mic I get and how it works. Tapping into the soundboardis the way to go but its not always possible.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 11:44 AM   #13
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battle Vaughan View Post
With all respect intended to your experience, a colleague with a NTG2 found that it overloaded badly at loud sporting events, regardless of the settings on the camera, or use of attenuators. Perhaps it is a characteristic of the particular model.

That said, I know of a couple of people who use the AKG Perception 170 at loud venues with good success. With its dB pad engaged it can handle 158bB. Price is around $100US.
I don't doubt that your colleague had issues with distortion. My point is that the distortion is usually somewhere else in the chain.

The specs (according to Rode) aren't that dissimilar to many condenser microphones: 131dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load) It is rare that you'll find a rock concert that is pushing more than 115dB (which is above the pain threshold for most people). That is still giving you another 15 dB before the microphone is distorting. Even in the loudest loud football and basketball stadiums, I've rarely measured more than about 120 dB. (still giving you another 10dB of headroom)

Now, there are plenty of other places in the signal chain that an overload can happen. Most often, you'll find it either in the preamp of the camera or in the Analog to Digital converter. Careful gain structure will get you around both of those. I find that these days, there are way too many cameras that don't really have control of input gain. DSLRs are the worst, but there are plenty of other cameras with a lack of control or line inputs that are really mic inputs with a pad. Another place that is very easy to overload is a wireless transmitter. I see problems with wireless (especially the cheap ones) all the time. Even with a great quality rig (say Sennheiser 5000 series in the music/live sound world), you can still overload the transmitters easily without overloading either the element (mic) or the receiver or input. In the original poster's note, he mentioned using a camera that has XLR inputs. While these inputs are almost certainly a mic pre with a pad for line it, you should be able to get a clean input with any source, mic or line, if you set the gain structure properly.

At the end of the day, if you really care about your audio, you should be going into a real audio recorder where you can adjust your settings. Just like you wouldn't want to leave your camera on full auto to shoot something, you probably don't want to leave your audio on full auto either. Correct gain structure is critical to any audio recording.

--Ben
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Old July 29th, 2013, 01:00 PM   #14
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

Amen to "Gain Staging". I was very lucky to have two very knowledgeable Audio Engineers take pity on me and help me understand 'Gain Staging' and it's still a subject that requires my constant attention. It all begins with the mic. Each 'stage' in the audio string has to be adjusted to provide listening experience we all hope for. Each 'Stage' building upon the last.

A good Mixer will help with your audio capture enormously, of course at the price ($$, too) of more equipment to carry, set-up, breakdown, etc. Since I own it, I feel comfortable recommending the Sound Devices SD-302 Mixer. There are many out there and most are excellent products. If, you do a search on 'Mixers' you'll get a multitude of recommendations and opinions.

As you've discovered, DVInfo has some of the most knowledgeable Video and Audio folks available, their council should be considered carefully.

One final recommendation and that is to obtain a copy of "Ty Ford's Audio Boot-camp Field Guide". I've made this same recommendation several times, people are probably tired of hearing it. However, I find myself referring to it quite often when I have an audio question. And, I might add, Mr. Ford will occasionally chime-in on these discussions.

Best regards,

J.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 09:39 PM   #15
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Re: Advice for choosing mic for recording loud concerts

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Originally Posted by Rich Woodrick View Post
Thanks for for all your input. Ill let you know what mic I get and how it works.
So Rich, what mic did you end up going with? I would be interested as i plan to start doing a similar thing, possibly with the same camera you use
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