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Old February 28th, 2004, 08:15 PM   #1
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Wedding Audio - Extremely frustrated. ?!?!

I'll apologize in advance for the dis-organized rant, but I've been trying to build a list of audio gear for over 6 hours now, and I'm more confused than when I started.

I will be shooting mainly weddings. I currently have a GL2 and an Azden shotgun which I plug directly to the GL2 via. one of those XLR to mini adaptor deals. Works great for family stuff, but will need better sound for weddings.

I need some sort of wireless or abillity to record the wedding party w/out wires strung all over.

1. First question - been asked here MANY times but never a straight answer - is ONE single lav mic (omni) placed on the groom enough to pick up the groom, bride, AND officient, or does this REQUIRE a second lav on the officient?? I'd rather not burn another $500 on another wireless rig if I don't actually need it.

My first plan was to use a simple minidisk type (by minidisk I don't mean some $1000+ recording studio console rack that accepts minidisks, I'm talking about the small consumer jobbers from BestBuy for $200) and just run a lav mic to it and drop in a pocket. Problem is the whole "pre-amp" vs "line level" vs "mic level" problem. Basically, as I understand it, I can't just plug a $40 lav into a $200 minidisk player and just have the d*mn thing work. That would apparently be too simple.

I've found MP3 type recorders (such as the Nomad) and another player that encodes MP3's from a microphone, cost about $100, but can't for the life of me find it again - they work like a consumer MD as I understand, but it sounds like this is a less than reliable solution.

So I switch gears... forget the "simple" way to do it, now I'll just go the hard and expensive route - whatever - I just want it to work, but even this route isn't simple.

Being I can't use an MD or MP3 recorder on the person's body, I now have to purchase a true wireless system. B&H has the Evolution 100 system for $450. I guess if I want to use 2 lav's, I have to purchase TWO of these systems. And of course, I'll then require a mixer. And after the mixer, I must teather my camera to it via a cable to my mini audio in, OR buy yet ANOTHER unit to record the mix from the mixer. I hear from some people consumer MD's work fine for this, others say you need a DAT and still others say you need a laptop computer running soundforge or something to live capture the whole mess.

And to top it all off... what if they do a reading from a podium or something and I need yet A-N-O-T-H-E-R wireless setup (or a wire strung down the whole isle to the back of the church) to record the reading from the separate podium.

I could go on and on.

The point is... what do you wedding pros use for audio? Please by VERY specific (what do-hickeys plug into what adaptors into what cords into what recorders, and so on). Going this route, it looks as if I'll end up spending $3000+ for audio. I'm not running a d*mn recording studio here, I just want to record the vows and readings. Pretty simple really.

Would the average couple even notice if I just used the tin-can onboard mic on my camera and said "screw the whole mess". j/k. That's the most humor I can muster right now.

Thanks so much everyone. Someone always comes in to rescue clueless idiots like me. Thanks.
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Old February 28th, 2004, 08:25 PM   #2
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I'll say first, I don't do weddings. But I've trained a lot of folks that do.
First, I recommend a wireless omni combo for the PASTOR, not the bride or groom. For 2 reasons.
1. He's facing both of them and has equal exposure.
2. He's not emotionally screwed up and likely to accidentally walk off with your wireless and mic.

The pastor can wear it on his gown, place the mic in his bible or other book, it can be hidden in his boutenier, or even over his ear.

An Audio Technica, Samson Airport (never worked with one) or other video-designed wireless will work great for this. Then you have a mono cable running from the wireless receiver to the audio input of the GL2. You also now have a free channel for a second mic that's either wireless or wired. Or you can simply record mono audio, which is separated to 2 channels of mono in the GL2. You can also adjust the GL to have 2 levels, one lower than the other to save your butt in case of overs.
You could also go the budget route and put an MD or Nomad or iRiver in the pocket of the pastor, leaving your GL2 mic free, and recording straight to the digital device.
And IMO, yes, the average couple would notice if you used the on-camera mic and let it be hollow and boomy. Good audio is the benchmark of a professional, IMO.
Douglas Spotted Eagle/Spot
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Old February 28th, 2004, 10:14 PM   #3
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I will only address the issue of mic placement as Spot is much more qualified to answer the other questions.

I do weddings and have for 20 years. I have never had a mic walk off with a groom and have only had one problem with losing the vows in the last 5 years and it was my fault.

I mic the groom for a number of reasons.
1) Many officiants that I have worked with really don't want to be bothered
2) it's easier for me to mic the groom than the officiant
3)many time there are very cute comments made by the B/G during the wedding as they forget they are mic'd and much of that ends up on the finished product. If the officiant is mic'd I wouldn't get that.
4) I use ME66's with both the PD150's and 2 Azden 500UDR units and the audio is very good. Besides micing the groom I mic the podium for the readers and pickup the officiant and music off the shotguns. It works well for me. I shoot many events in the same churches so I'm familiar with the acoustics and what I can get away with. I run 1 wireless to 1 camera and the other to the 2nd cam. I used to mic the officiants but got away from that only beecause I felt the podium was more important.
That's what works for me but then as Spot said he would do it differently. So just goes to show, no right or wrong, just different.
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Old February 28th, 2004, 10:41 PM   #4
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Difference there Don, is you DO weddings. I admire you guys. I could never do them. That said, I've gone to a few of them with companies we've trained, here in Utah, weddings are kinda weird, and the LDS weddings can't be videotaped, but the few I've helped with that can be, we've used this method, and it's worked great. But they're run n' guns, too. Almost never in churches here, either outside, or in a variety of buildings. LDS weddings take place in their temples, where no one is allowed in unless they meet certain requirements. Cameras under no circumstances, same for recording gear.... I suspect it's different in many places around the country.
You bring up excellent reasons for mic'ing the groom. Comments are invaluable. Kevin's questions were about the vows, etc, and this is the one thing I've been brought in to catch at a few weddings as a consultant. Never considered what the groom might be saying before/after though. It wasn't brought up by the video company we consulted with either. thanks for the pointer. If I ever do weddings, I'll remember it. But I don't think I'll ever do them. I don't have the patience.
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Old February 28th, 2004, 10:47 PM   #5
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Kevin all the devices you have talked about work. They all work differently in function and quality and all are better than a shotgun mic for a wedding ceremony. I do weddings all the time and I use all the devices you and SPOT mentioned. If you have only one external recording device you could place it on the officient as Douglas mentioned if the officiant allows it. Sometimes they do not. If not they usually have a lav which broadcasts through the house system so you'll get something but it will be pretty boomy usually. If the officient does allow your mic you will have nice clean audio of him/her, which is important since they do most of the talking. Usually the officiant is near the bride and groom when the vows are exchanged but they are not always close enough to pick up the vows really well. If you place just one mic on the groom you will get the bride and grooms vows just fine but the officiant is not always close to the couple, especially in a Catholic ceremony. Ideally you should have a unit on the officiant and the groom and the podium where readings take place.

I'll tell you what I use and have used. I have used a hard disk recorder (Roland VS-880) which I plugged in my Samson Micro 32 wireless mic into and also used it to plug a feed from the churches system when they allowed it. I would not recommend patching in to the house system for you. It can be done on occasion but not very often.

At the moment I have a cam with a good XLR inputs so I plug the my wireless ($400)

which I place on the groom into the cam and the other channel catches the ambient audio. This unit has multiple channels in case there is a conflict with a similar frequency on a house systems wireless mic. You can get a cheaper wireless without multiple channels like the Samson airline model SPOT mentioned ($270)

On the officiant I use an iHP-120 hard disk recorder with the manual recording level set to 4> This is a good unit because I can instantly cut and paste the audio to my PC ($350)

with this mic ($80)

but this mic also works well with the iriver ($20)

On the podium I use a Sony MZ-N707 with the manual recording level set to 1/3 of full volume. You can find this model on ebay for from about $50 to $160. I use a radioshack $20 lav mike with a battery that works well with the minidisc but this mic should also work well with the minidisc($30)

If you decide to buy a minidisc wait until April when Sony releases their new models that allow you to upload recordings instantly to your computer. The lowest model with a mic input will be the MN-NH700.

You can use any combination of these devices for good audio at weddings. To get three recording units you could get by spending as little as $500 for three used minidiscs or a wireless and minidisc and iriver for $1000.
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Old February 29th, 2004, 07:33 AM   #6
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I forgot you were in Utah. Things do work a little different there for ceremonies. I'm just trying to point out that there are different ways to do things and we do what works best for us. Heck, if it was up to me, I'd probably mic everyone and then use a boom mic running back to a mixer then to a DAT recorder and have them repeat the vows about 4 times just to be sure I have a choice. Ahhhhh in a perfect world ;-)

Yeah, outside ceremonies are pretty but they are also a pain for audio AND video. I did one last year on the Chicago lakefront early AM maybe 10 o'clock-A Sunday, you can't imagine the challenges of not just the video, sun glaring off the lake but the audio-cars and trucks and people OH MY! not to mention the wind. I did mic the groom, the officiant and the little music stand they had as a podium and I placed a mic on a stand on the ground by the harpist. 3 cameras, each 150 had 1 wireless feed and the 370 had 2. All I can say is the big guy was smiling that day. For 10 minutes the wind died down, the traffic dissapeared and the people nearby stopped shouting. Audio was very good, I became a believer in the big audio guy in the sky.

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Old March 3rd, 2004, 12:25 PM   #7
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I use two Nady wireless lapel mics, which were really inexpenseive. One I paid about $70 for on e-Bay, and the other was vestigial equipment gifted to me by a DV board member.

Granted, they probably won't sound as good as a $500 UHF set-up, but I find the audio quality darn good for the price, and since it's capturing voices, I question if it is critical to have a high-dollar wireless. I would submit a low-cost approach is maybe also more tolerable given it is the second mic, and not your primary tool.

Now having said that, on the one mic versus two issue, I definitely prefer to use two, with one on the groom and one on the officiant. It just seems to me that if it's only one on the officiant, the couple seem too faint, and vice versa. (Maybe thats a function of the lower quality/price of the mics I'm using, who knows. )

An added benefit of the two-wireless set-up, (aside from the insurance aspect), assuming you are running them to two discrete channels, is you get directional "realism" in the sense that the couple's voices will come from one side and the officiants from the other.

Hope this is useful.
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