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Old April 17th, 2014, 03:33 PM   #1
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H4n and stage events

I have just come off a 6 performance in 10 day recording marathon and I'm so disgusted with the outcome that I've just got to do something different. In two weeks I'll have 4 shows to shoot in one weekend. I need to do something different.

Everyone (except us) thinks that taking a feed from the board somehow provides us with great audio ... even when the sound guy is the dad who got drafted the week before the show. (I do mostly high school productions.)

Last week I took a feed to one channel and a shotgun mic to the other ... camera two with on-board mic ... then I used two digital recorders in selected locations. Crap!

In one case the house sound was SO bad that every microphone picked it up and I'm just hoping the parents don't kill me. Luckily even the director knew it sucked. I need to capture the sound before it gets to the house.

This is where I think I'm headed ... I'll still tap into the board when possible, but only as back up or perhaps it turns out good? Then ... I'm considering purchasing two - Bartlett boundary mics for recording and run them directly into the H4n.

In my older years I'm finding that the directions in the manual are not sinking in like I'd like them to, so I've been searching for on-line videos that might be able to help explain it a lot better, but that hasn't happened either.

Essentially I'd like to know ... if I'm putting the recording mics on stage and running them to the H4n, what settings on the H4n would I use ... concert setting, general? These will not be run through any type of mixer ... just directly to the recorder located at the base of the stage. I'll have to set them during a sound check or rehearsal as they won't be able to be monitored.

Thank you.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 10:14 PM   #2
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Re: H4n and stage events

Your situation is a no win situation if dads are doing the audio. I've also had similar experiences with bad audio. The closest remedy I could think of is to use the Bartletts at front of stage, and this for house audio:

JoeCo BBR1-B BLACKBOX RECORDER - Multi-Track Recorder BBR1-B B&H

It connects to the house mixer PRE FADER which means 24 channels are always being recorded at full level even if the mixer sliders are at zero. You can remix the audio to perfection later. I'm very seriously thinking about getting one for myself!
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Old April 18th, 2014, 11:15 AM   #3
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Re: H4n and stage events

"JoeCo BBR1-B BLACKBOX RECORDER - Multi-Track Recorder BBR1-B B&H
It connects to the house mixer PRE FADER which means 24 channels are always being recorded at full level even if the mixer sliders are at zero.
"
- Many options available with this. Pre/post aux, mains, subs, directs, matrix... However in any of these configurations, if the board operator overloads the preamps, distortion would still be present.
That said, even with a skilled house mixer, they're mixing for the house which likely will not be a good record mix. For instance typically in a small venue, mostly vocals, little to no electric guitars, drums and bass, who knows. So it's good to have a live stage and room mics as well.
An ISO'd mic split would be the preferred method, but that takes a lot more gear and time in set-up and post..
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Old April 18th, 2014, 02:20 PM   #4
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Re: H4n and stage events

I'm sure these are great solutions, but I don't have unlimited funds. I figure I can purchase two of the recording mics from Bartlett and run it to the Hn4. That's probably the most I can invest at this time.

I'm going to somewhat assume that I need to put it into concert mode to be safe.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 03:25 PM   #5
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Re: H4n and stage events

You haven't told us what kind of performances you are trying to record - dramatic plays, jazz ensemble, brass bands, classical orchestra, soloist recitals, choir, chamber music, acoustic folk, stand-up comics, what? It makes a difference.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 03:42 PM   #6
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Re: H4n and stage events

Sorry about that ... 95% of them are musical in nature ... mostly jr. high and high school musicals.
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Old April 19th, 2014, 10:31 AM   #7
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Re: H4n and stage events

If "concert mode" is a compressor setting, that should work.
I can't hear much difference between studio, concert or general in my POS H2.
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Old April 19th, 2014, 10:44 AM   #8
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Re: H4n and stage events

Thanks Rick. I just found out yesterday that I'm going to have an opportunity to go in and test record something next Monday. I have some Shure PZM microphones that I want to see how they perform, but I don't think they'll be the quality of the Bartletts. I doubt that they'll reject the orchestra sound from behind as well, either. But hey, who knows ... maybe they'll be fine.

Oh yes ... and I'll try that concert setting out. It can't hurt. :-)
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Old April 21st, 2014, 05:18 AM   #9
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Re: H4n and stage events

Although I do not use the H4n, I do record a lot of school productions from nativity plays through to full high school musicals. I have two portable recorders one at stage left the other stage right Sony PCM 50 and Zoom H6, usually located high up at about the third audience row in. I also have a second camera operator usually seated in the front row recording the production through the Canon XF305 mikes (these are very good) I have the main camera located at the back of the hall (Sony EX3) which is also recording the sound, this is only used as a guide for syncing up the other audio devices and Canon camera. I then bring all the audio into Adobe Audition and use the mixing feature to raise voices, lower songs etc. It does take an extra day to perfect the sound, but it is time well spent. Some productions use radio mikes, this makes life a lot easier. It is well worth attending a dress rehearsal and finding the best location for your mikes, or recorders.
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