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Old January 24th, 2015, 08:25 PM   #31
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Re: recording railroad audio??

FWIW, I recorded this (1948 Greenbrier 4-8-4 monster locomotive) steam train on an excursion run back in 1996 or 97, using a three-mic array.
Locomotive, photo links and recording details are there as well.
Freesound.org - "Steam_Train.wav" by knufds
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Old January 25th, 2015, 04:11 AM   #32
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Re: recording railroad audio??

That does sound good Rick! Back in my sound days, we used SM57's for just about everything, they seemed a great all round mic.Thanks for the reply, hope I get some nice recordings on my visit.Cheers Gregg
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Old January 25th, 2015, 04:21 AM   #33
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Re: recording railroad audio??

That does sound good Rick! Back in my sound days, we used SM57's for just about everything, they seemed a great all round mic.Thanks for the reply, hope I get some nice recordings on my visit.Cheers Gregg
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Old January 28th, 2015, 02:58 AM   #34
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Just to share a bit of my own experience with recording trains, here are a few points you may find of interest.
Firstly I wouldn't attempt to record any sort of "quality" audio with a mic mounted to a camera. If you are operating a camera and also the audio recording, then mount the mic or mics on a stand.
If possible also try to use a separate audio recorder with XLR inputs rather than a camera's mini jack inputs.

As far as mics go, a shotgun mic old be fine for certain types of sound gathering, but the pattern may be too narrow to get a good overview of the sound of the train. A hyper-cardioid pattern mic would give a slightly wider and possibly more natural sound if you a re only going for mono. For a stereo sound I would recommend using a pair of cardioid micas mounted on a bar in an X-Y pattern. If you want to get the sounds of surrounds with people and other incidental sounds then you might even want to consider omni mics. It could be beneficial to invest in a pair of small diaphragm condenser mics with interchangeable screw-on capsules. For example, the Oktava MK012 has hyper cardioid, cardioid and omni capsules and also a -20 db pad attachment that screw on and off the body. NO shotgun is available for them though.
AS far as a recorder goes, when if you can get one ( for example Marantz PMD661) that allows you to record in dual mono mode, where one channel records at -20 dB below the other channel it can save your bacon at times. With trains it can be amazing how loud they can get really quickly, and if you are unprepared they can overshoot and clip. Having the backup audio at a lower level can save you at those times.

For more general info on getting a good audio sound for video, you may find the following tutorial to be helpful:

Sound For Film and Video: The Importance of Getting Good Audio

Sound For Film and Video: The Importance of Getting Good Audio | Rocksure Soundz
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Old January 28th, 2015, 09:48 AM   #35
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Re: recording railroad audio??

"For example, the Oktava MK012 has hyper cardioid, cardioid and omni capsules and also a -20 db pad attachment that screw on and off the body."
Not to nit pic, but the Oktava 012's screw-on pad is 10dB. In addition, the 012 is infamous for wind and handling noise, so Zeppelin style wind protection would be needed, preferably with a shock mount. Though some 012s can sound decent, it's not a good mic for outdoors, especially with the card capsules.
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Old January 28th, 2015, 01:04 PM   #36
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Reineke View Post
"For example, the Oktava MK012 has hyper cardioid, cardioid and omni capsules and also a -20 db pad attachment that screw on and off the body."
Not to nit pic, but the Oktava 012's screw-on pad is 10dB. In addition, the 012 is infamous for wind and handling noise, so Zeppelin style wind protection would be needed, preferably with a shock mount. Though some 012s can sound decent, it's not a good mic for outdoors, especially with the card capsules.

Yes you are right..I meant -10..not sure why I never noticed I had written that wrongly. As for wind protection...well that should go without saying regardless of what mic is used! A shockmount should be mandatory for anything hand-held, and is also beneficial too for stand-mounted mics. I have gotten some very good outdoor recordings with those Oktavas. Most of the time using the hypercardioid capsule.
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Old January 29th, 2015, 11:42 PM   #37
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Thanks Tony, I wish I could carry more gear, but I will be on foot and public transport for most of the trip, so a compromise is in order. I've looked at many shotguns and read heaps of reviews (totally confused now) and I've opted for a Senheiser MKE-600 and wind shield for the camera and a Zoom H5 recorder which will be mounted on a small tripod to catch stereo ambiance? I hope this will be a suitable combination and not too much hassle to set up quickly?

Cheers Gregg
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Old January 30th, 2015, 12:27 PM   #38
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Remember to bring along a good set of headphones to monitor audio. Any time an external mic is used, a good idea to monitor recording to avoid surprises later.

Thanks
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Old January 30th, 2015, 05:04 PM   #39
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Thanks Jeff! More stuff to buy..LOL, I assume I plug the headphones into the camera while recording or doing a test shot to get levels?..sorry silly newbie question!
Gregg:-)
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Old January 31st, 2015, 07:42 AM   #40
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg Malmborg View Post
Thanks Jeff! More stuff to buy..LOL, I assume I plug the headphones into the camera while recording or doing a test shot to get levels?..sorry silly newbie question!
Gregg:-)
Not exactly. You use the camera or recorder's meters to set levels. You use headphones to listen for quality, extraneous noises such as an airplane going overhead or noise from a loose cable, and to make sure you're really recording in the first place. Your subjective impression of the levels through the headset really tells you little or nothing about what the actual recording levels are. For example, you could find yourself recording at a lower than optimum level yet at the time it sounds more or less okay because you've cranked the playback volume control full-up.
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Old January 31st, 2015, 06:55 PM   #41
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Thanks Steve! I get the picture, or the audio! After many more hours of research and watching you -tube reviews, I 've decided to get a pair of Sony MDR 7506 headphones form B&H. Even with freight and the Aussie dollar dropping , they are still $50.00 cheaper from the US..???. I have a lot of practicing to do before I head over the States..LOL As a one man band, I can't easily adjust levels and shoot at the same time, so I guess some test shots first, play back and pick a level somewhere in the middle while listening for clipping etc, that's where the phones come in I assume? I fi I keep going with gear, I'm gonna' need a truck..LOL

Thanks again for the advice.
Cheers Gregg
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Old February 1st, 2015, 09:21 AM   #42
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg Malmborg View Post
Thanks Steve! I get the picture, or the audio! After many more hours of research and watching you -tube reviews, I 've decided to get a pair of Sony MDR 7506 headphones form B&H. Even with freight and the Aussie dollar dropping , they are still $50.00 cheaper from the US..???. I have a lot of practicing to do before I head over the States..LOL As a one man band, I can't easily adjust levels and shoot at the same time, so I guess some test shots first, play back and pick a level somewhere in the middle while listening for clipping etc, that's where the phones come in I assume? I fi I keep going with gear, I'm gonna' need a truck..LOL

Thanks again for the advice.
Cheers Gregg
Careful, you might not hear clipping in the phones even if it's occurring. It all depends on where in the signal chain it's happening and where the headphone signal is tapped off the chain. An overloaded input might be audible while clipping at the A/D conversion stage due to setting the recording levels too high might not be. That's why they put meters on recorders.
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Old February 1st, 2015, 09:37 AM   #43
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Re: recording railroad audio??

On the other hand, if the clipping occurs at the input preamp, and the subsequent gain is set low enough, the meters won't show any indication that the audio is clipped.
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Old February 1st, 2015, 10:07 AM   #44
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Re: recording railroad audio??

"On the other hand, if the clipping occurs at the input preamp, and the subsequent gain is set low enough, the meters won't show any indication that the audio is clipped."
- Indeed, and this is a common occurrence with folks feeding line-level into a mic level input... and not monitoring (at all) or the device prior to the recorder.

This may be after the fact for Gregg M, but the Sony MDR-V6 (consumer version) is pretty much identical to the 7506 (in sound and design) at a lower cost.
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Old February 1st, 2015, 10:57 PM   #45
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Re: recording railroad audio??

There was some video of trains, mainly steam, in the US Northwest and I think British Columbia that aired on Public Television but I can't find it. The video was very nice but the audio was terrible. By terrible, I mean that whenever they had the steam locomotive in the video they'd tone down the locomotive sound and up the background music, or talk over the top. So in one way, maybe it's good that I can't find it or it might be disappointing.

Here are a couple other videos I did find and to some degree they aren't a whole lot better:

Video: All Aboard | Watch Idaho Public Television Specials Online | PBS Video "All Aboard" - about some trains in Idaho. Note ~ 8 minutes (forgot what was important there) and again at ~ 25:00 minutes (trestle).

Video: STEAMING HISTORY | Watch Northwest Profiles Online | PBS Video "Kettle Valley Railway" - This is a BC steam train video.

There is one train that runs across Vancouver Island that would be good to visit and also see what the West Coast is like there. Tofino would be an interesting place to visit if there is a chance.

There are a small number of live steam trains still around.
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