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Thread: Help Recording Vocal Solos from the Audience

  1. #1
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    Question Help Recording Vocal Solos from the Audience

    Hi all – I’ve got an inexpensive Olympus VN-702pc (see pic) handheld digital recorder that I use to record my daughter’s live vocal solo performances….recitals, plays, coffee houses, etc. The vocalists are usually not miked, and there’s usually a piano accompaniment. I’m often sitting 40-50 feet away (or more), and would like to optimize what I pickup from my seat. It does ok most of the time, but it's not stellar. The Olympus has a built in microphone and a mini-jack for an optional external microphone. Would I be better off with an external mike? If so, what type? I'm wondering if a directional mike might help me get more vocal and less ambient piano. I’m not really interested in forking out $200 on a mike for a $30 recorder, so are there any decent $20 microphones that would make sense for what I”m doing? I've even thought of using a wireless lapel mike, and attaching the receiving unit to the recorder....though I'm not sure she'd like the transmitting unit attached to her! Other thoughts?

    There are times when I could set the recorder near the stage and just capture the whole event, but it's not practical to do at many of the events...some I'm not supposed to record at all, but it's usually hard to resist!

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    Last edited by scott spencer; 02-03-2016 at 12:21 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Have you looked into a parabolic microphone? Kinda like you would see on the NFL games where they are listening to the players from a distance, but they make hand held ones, but can get up to the $200 range. My kids used to have one similar to this, but mic only...http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...45X98SWN595X21 , but the don't have a lot of control over background noise with them, but for $25 it might be worth a shot.
    Darren

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  3. #3
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    Could try a shotgun micropohone.

    http://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Photogr...gun+microphone

    This one looks like it's geared more for using for video, but has a directional setting.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. Olympus make the MW-52 that plugs right into the 3.5mm jack, but I'm not sure it's enough better to justify the $15-$20 cost. I might see if I can find one of those shotgun mikes that's not 10" to 14" long.
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  5. #5
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    Get a really big hat, and put a small hole in the front for the shotgun mic to poke out of slightly. I'm sure no one would notice.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    Get a really big hat, and put a small hole in the front for the shotgun mic to poke out of slightly. I'm sure no one would notice.
    It's got me written all over it!
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  7. #7
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    A better mic will potentially improve the sound quality, but the performance will still sound like it was recorded from a distance. I believe a shotgun mic will help some of the "far away sound" issues. I suspect the
    bionic ear" type of mic will not be a good full, flat response, and that could mess with a musical performance pretty badly. I'd also be suspicious of a $20 external mic. It's likely the same audio quality as the one built into your recorder, so it's probably not going to add much improvement if any.

    I've heard some pretty respectable live recordings done with various Zoom-style digital stereo recorders. I've got the Zoom H4n, but I've used earlier models and gotten good results with them, too. One of the drummers I play with has a similar Teac or Tascam. The real basic model will sound about as good as the more costly ones. (Most of the extra price goes into ectra features that you're not as likely to need as some people.) That said, this type of recorder is typically not directional (actually they're very directional, but in two separate directions for the stereo effect) so the closer you can get the recorder to the sound source (the stage) the more natural it'll sound and the fewer background room noises you'll hear.
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  8. #8
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    I have a recorder Sony ICD UX523 that I use at all sorts of things. It also by the way works with dragon but it has amazed me by how well it records at conferences without hall effect.
    It has stereo mics but with an omni directional sensitivity pattern.
    So don't discount what Vaughn is linking to these small devices are amazing. Mine is nowhere near a match on the unit Vaughn linked to.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
    cheers

  9. #9
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    +1 on the H4N. I've got that model and it does an excellent job.
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  10. #10
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    A friend of mine used to have one of those Zoom recorders. From the online pics I think it's an H2N that goes ~ $160. I'll ask to borrow it sometime and compare how it does vs the Olympus...maybe even this Sunday at her next recital. If it sounds like a $100 difference, I'll aim to get one. Thanks guys!
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