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wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright (Read 1071 times)

Offline kalospiano

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wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
« on: January 26, 2017, 07:50:00 PM »
Hello!

I hope this is the right section to ask this question.

I've read other discussions concerning the best mics to record music on piano, but I don't seem to find anything concerning wireless microphones and outdoor performances.

Please consider that I am total complete utter ignorant when it comes to recording technologies, cameras, mics, everything!

In the upcoming summer I might have to record on some street upright pianos in order to participate to a small local video competition in my city.

I'm probably buying a GoPro5 to record the video with good quality (I suppose) but I'm thinking that I should also buy a microphone to record the audio with the minimum possible amount of ambient noise.
And since I'll be outdoor and the camera is supposed to move around, I believe it would be good to have a wireless mic.

Don't have a fixed budget (yet). Of course I'd prefer to spend as little as possible, but I don't wanna sacrifice the recording conditions and I want the sound to be as clear and background noise-free as possible, so I'm ready to pay for the quality.

Do you have any suggestion on microphones models that might satisfy these requirements?
Also tips on mic positioning and on recording performances generally speaking would be very much appreciated.

Thanks a ton in advance!


KP

Offline indianajo

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #1 on: January 27, 2017, 06:50:21 AM »
You've seen videos of movie sets where they have a mike person hold a boom with a huge pink fluffy sock on the end of it near the actors?
Well, that fluffy sock is an important part of the rig outdoors.  The microphone is in there.  The sock cuts wind noise.  since Piano has significant high frequency content, you'd want a mike with a high frequency rise to make up for the loss in the sock.  Sometimes the sock is bright green and occasionally ultra-cool black.  
Adding wiresless to that makes  a mike  unaffordable too, IMHO.  Most popularly priced wireless mikes ($300) are SM57 or Audiotechnica copies that are supercardioids with not much HF  or LF response for voice recording right near the mouth.  Look at craigslist to see what people are selling off.  They sell off used radio mikes because they dropped it or the electronics got old and it doesn't work very well anymore.    Neither of these mikes has the right frequencies to make a piano sound good.  Super cardioid doen't work on piano, I've tried it and the result was hissy because the piano has to be too far away from the mike to get all frequencies and eliminate action noise and bench and clothing noise.  
So I think a cable is an important part of the rig.  Broadens the choices of mikes.  
The  cheapest cardioid mike I've found with a HF rise for a filter, is the $80 to $150 used Shure KSM27.  Audio Technica 4033  4035 and 4050 seem equivalent but I haven't used one. They have been $300-350 used in my market, and that mostly 165 miles away in Nashville.  Shures get a bit of dis-admiration because everybody has used a SM58 starting out and they sound good only for voice stuffed right in your mouth, not for any instrument.    Both KSM27 and 40xx require phantom power and XLR connector, so make sure the recording device has it.  
Be sure to have or build a shock mount as piano requires low frequencies too, and handling the mike produces a lot of that.  A shock mount is a frame for the boom and other frame for the mike, connected by rubber bands.  They can be bought for about $100 but I bent up and drilled mine.  The one I got used was broken but a rubber band worked as a substitute.  
You can see mike reviews on recordinghacks.com but be aware their tests are done either with guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, or voice. None of the above requires the extended frequency response that piano does. They do have extensive specs, but different brands have different "tolerances" on meeting the specs they publish.   I looked for a decent sounding mike for 40 years before I found my Shure KSM27, one for $80, the mate for $130. Shure has a good reputation for meeting their specs, but they have a budget line made in ***** that may be more variable performance.   As I use a cheap used PC as my data acquisition device, a $100 mixer with phantom power is part of my ensemble.  If you buy a Zoom or Optimus or Roland portable recording device, these can have the phantom power.  I don't like spending that much money in ***** new and you sure don't want one of these things used.  
The boom is also an important part of the rig, and why many one man travel shows use a sound man.  
If the wide angle view of a go-pro is adequate for your purposes, look at the 4k line video camera from mcmelectronics (US) or farnell worldwide, for about $60.  Other than the wide area covered, I like mine.  Do not mess with the 1000 line devices looking similar that I saw for example for $40 in the lumber yard last holiday.  
There are portable stereo mikes built into the Zoom optimus and Roland portable recorders, which allegedly sound okay, but don't expect much in the way of channel separation with the two channels 4 cm apart.  I've heard organ recordings made with a Zoom and the result was much better than my amateur efforts with the cheap dynamic mikes that came with my tape recorder in 1972. 
Have fun with your project.  

Offline kalospiano

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #2 on: January 27, 2017, 09:41:55 PM »
thanks Indianajo!
I would lie if I said that I understood everything you said!  ;D I feel like my 90-years old auntie when my family first gave her a cell phone  ;D but I've been already recommended the Zoom, which indeed seems interesting, but I've been told that I should put two external mics as the built-in ones would get too much noise.
So I guess zoom + shure or similar with "fluffy sock" should do the trick. Hopefully!  ;D
Thanks again!

Offline indianajo

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #3 on: January 28, 2017, 03:18:24 AM »
While you're shopping look for the stereo mike bar accessory shure is selling reviewed in this article:
http://recordinghacks.com/2012/01/25/shure-a27m-a75m-review/
Unless you have a drill vise drill set and threading set, this is handy to put two mikes on for stereo and have them point the right way without rotating around.  How you mount the camera I don't know, the video people must have figured this out but the go pro and imitation cameras like I have bought from mcm are getting so useful in the $100 category, there ought to be a commercial solution out there. 
What I do know, recordings made with "camcorders" and posted on U-tube are mostly garbage when piano or organ is the subject.  Pianos produce sound from 55 hz to 16000 hz or higher, and leaving out some of those frequencies makes a piano or organ sound like a $35 boom box. Most guys are deaf and can't tell the difference, including rock musicians, but classical musicians tend to have not blown out their ears with fireworks, firearms, unmuffled motor vehicles, or amps cranked to 11 in a small room. 
OTOH there is a lot of 50-200 hz in handling noise made by humans holding things and walking around, so the KSM27 and similar mikes have built in filters to get rid of that.  If you subject is not playing the bottom two octaves you can use the filter with the switch, but if the performer is playing low then you need to figure some way to minimize noise of handling - like a tripod. 
Phantom power is something KSM27 and 4033 etc need, suppiled by the recording device. They are "condensor" mikes.   Dynamic mikes like SM58 don't need it, but those are for voice only and are useless for pianos. 
The KSM27 is "cardioide" pattern which means it records only what is in front of it.  You the handler are behind in the dead area, as is the audience who is talking and walking around making annoyng noises usually.  The KSM27 also has some high frequency emphasis, which is necessary if you are going to use a wind sock or sibulence screen on it. (those round black things in front of the mike to keep the spit off it you see on tV.  Also kills hissy S sounds.)
Download and read the shure guide al1568 "recording sound" to get some idea of what you want. 
Best of luck shopping.  Took me 3 years to find a mate for my $80 KSM27 on my budget, but if you still have a real job you might not have to wait so long checking craigslist weekly.  Be aware some of the mike sellers on e-bay charge $72 freight for a 2 pound box, so read carefully before clicking - the E-bay price was okay, but I get 2 lb boxes shipped all the time for $8, so I suspected hanky-panky. 

Offline quantum

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #4 on: January 28, 2017, 04:35:51 AM »
For a rather straight forward setup a camcorder or DSLR with 3.5mm jack for external mic would be the simplest to operate.  There are affordable plug-in power mics made for video setups like this.  It will need either a tripod or another person to hold the camera.  This would be good quality video, and decent audio.  No sync needed in post.  However, the audio may leave you wanting more, specially for a music application.

Example of an on camera mic:
http://www.rode.com/microphones/stereovideomicproc


Wireless audio is an animal in itself, I would suggest exhausting all wired options before considering wireless mics.  This is especially true for equipment rated for consumer use.  Consumer wireless audio (gear that does not require licensing for frequencies) has to share the air waves with all the other wireless devices out there.  

Separating the camera and microphone usually produces better results in music recording.  If you want to do that without wires, it is probably better to consider a two device solution before thinking about wireless mics.  A portable recorder like a Zoom, Roland, Tascam, Sony, etc., plus camera.  Syncing audio in post is easy, and doesn't have to cost anything if you prepare the recording session well.  All you need is a clapper, or just use hands to clap.  What you do is record audio on both devices, camera and recorder, then film yourself clapping for every single take.  In post, you just line up the spikes in the wav to the point of contact in the clap.

If you are a DIY person, this may give you some ideas.  It is just one example, search around:
http://www.theblackandblue.com/2011/07/21/diy-film-slate/

Choose a GoPro if you want to use it as a POV camera.  For example, strapping it to your head, your body, somewhere on the piano that is impractical to place more conventional cameras. It is also good for placing in a highly visible area that needs a low profile.  If you do not intend to use a GoPro like this, then you really have to think hard why you want to get one.  You will be paying a premium for a camera that excels in certain scenarios, yet not using the camera in those said scenarios.  

An example of the perspective an action cam can give:



A camcorder or DSLR, would offer far more flexibility in focal range than an action camera like a GoPro.  Not to mention they will likely have larger imaging sensors, which generally equates to better video quality.  If you want to save some money, you could go search for a used DSLR and some nice lenses.  You mentioned you are looking for quality, and that is part of the reason I am suggesting the DSLR route.

Also think about how you will review your footage on site.  A camcorder or DSLR have typically have a decent sized screen.  What about the GoPro?  Or will you be lugging a tablet or laptop around with you to pop the memory card in to review the footage.  

As for microphones, to echo indianajo, please don't use SM58 or SM57 to record piano.  Just don't.  These mics are everywhere, they are good at recording some things, it's just piano is not one of them IMO.  There are portable recorders that offer phantom power, so going with better mics than the built in ones is still an option.  It is a balance between isolation and ambient.  Considering you want to do a street recording, I would think some ambient is acceptable to establish context.  Close micing will bring more isolation, but doing that on pianos has the potential for hot spots or a boxy sound.  Ambient mic recording could work if the surrounding noise levels are reasonable.  You might want to search around for mics designed for field recording.  

Also checkout this thread I made recently.  There are some examples of portable recorders here.
http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=63279.0


To summarize:

All-in-one camera.  Easy to operate, not optimal quality.

Camera and portable recorder.  Allows independent positioning.

Camera, portable recorder with mic preamps, discrete microphones.  Potential for the best sound out of these options, more gear to deal with when working in the field.

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline kalospiano

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 11:41:04 AM »
I wanted a wireless mic so that I could connect it to the cam and have audio and video already synced, but I guess I will use normal mics and take care of the sync myself in post.

I'm not too keen on a camera mic as the camera should be moving and I guess that would affect the sound: I'd like to keep the music volume and quality constant all along the video.

Also, I hope the external mics will have their own battery as I've been told they would take a lot of power from the recorder.

Would you have a suggestion on where to put the mics?
I'd like to avoid ambient noise as much as possible and I've read that they should go on the ground, behind the upright, on more to the left and one more to the right, but I have no idea if this would be correct.

@quantum: since I do not intend to use the gopro as an action cam, and I guess I was tricked by the quality of the advertising videos on youtube  :-[ Do you know any better HD camera at about the same price range as the gopro?

Thank you very much to you both!


KP

Offline indianajo

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 01:22:16 PM »
I say, before dropping $$$ on a go-pro, look at this action camera for $60
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/DISTRIBUTED-BY-MCM-82-22070-/82-22070
I have the predecessor http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/DISTRIBUTED-BY-MCM-82-19749-/82-19749 which is only 15 frames per second at the 4K resolution.  
The latter came with a nice adapter that changes the mount to 1/4-20 for standard camera mounts.
I'd say a SLR camera is very nice, at the cost of $$$$ which is out of my budget.
In addition to the mike mounting bar above from shure, look at the camera mounts from https://snakeclamp.com/Category/camera-snakeclamp-with-flexible-gooseneck-arm
I don't like the gooseneck idea much, it would be noisy, but the clamps and adapters etc look useful.  
I've found tripods frequently at Salvation Army resale for $10-$25.
Thanks to quantum for explaining the function of the "clapper".  I've seen them used dozens of times in films of filming, with no idea what the clapping was for.  The software I intend to use, unbuntu studio, also has separate programs for video and audio capture which must be synced somehow for final edit.  I knew about timecode tagging which we used in physics, but the equipment that produces it is priced for people recording on government science grants.  
I dont' have any video to show yet.  About two weeks after I bought my second microphone and camera, I injured my shoulder tendons and couldn't practice for five months.  Nine months later I'm just beginning to regain my accuracy in note performance.  Meanwhile, the computer that had ubuntu studio loaded up on it has died.  The new one doesn't have a line level input. For that people buy some sort of audio capture accessory, which I haven't even spotted or priced yet.   Oh, well.  I think I'll concentrate for now on buying pipe organ wiring parts, which project has to be done by April.    
BTW, zoom, olympus roland and similar sim card recording devices provide the power (check your particular model) for phantom powered condensor mikes which use XLR cables.  If you go looking for a "self-powered" microphone I'm afraid you will end up with some sort of non-professional computer accessory totally lacking full frequency response of the KSM27, KSM44, AT 4030, 4033, 4035, or 4050.  The 82-19749 camera I bought has built in monophonic microphone, but I don't expect much fidelity from it. 

Offline kalospiano

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #7 on: January 30, 2017, 09:30:03 PM »

Offline indianajo

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Re: wireless mic for outdoor recording on upright
«Reply #8 on: January 31, 2017, 12:41:06 AM »
Congratulations on starting your recording adventure.
The 24-75 mm zoom lens will certainly zoom in better than my wide angle camera.  I'm glad you had a budget to work with.
The zoom recorder is standard.  Your microphone is a cardiode condensor mike, which meets the basic requirements.  Marantz is a mike brand that doesn't get reviewed in USA, so I don't have an opinion on the sound of it.  Best of luck.