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Old 05-21-2020, 10:50 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is online now
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Default What Matters More, the Mic or the Room?

For all of us who are now having to contend with a worldwide shortage and delayed delivery of USB mics and webcams and such, some food for thought.

Except for the keyboard, this was entirely recorded and shot with cellphones. Point being that the room you're in matters more than the gear you use. And you can do pretty well with what you've already got.

Also, please "view on Youtube" and take a look at the link at the bottom of the notes. These folks could really use your help. Thanks.

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Last edited by Brent Hahn; 05-21-2020 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 05-21-2020, 04:50 PM
Chipotle Chipotle is offline
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In fact, you could argue that the better mic you have, the more important the room becomes. But yeah, having a good space and knowing how to use what you have trumps lots of expensive equipment.
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:13 PM
Martin Maniac Martin Maniac is offline
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A cheap mic will give a poor recording, a noisy room will give a poor recording, both are important.
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Maniac View Post
A cheap mic will give a poor recording, a noisy room will give a poor recording, both are important.
Not necessarily. A cheap mic in the hands of someone who knows their job can make a good recording of a great performance in a great room

A cheap mic or an expensive mic will make a nasty sounding recording in a nasty room and this will detract from the experience of the performance.

We're doing multiscreen recordings of an acoustic country band I tech for and I'm telling them to hang duvets and position around furniture and curtains, then a decent camera phone will be fine.
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:36 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is online now
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^^^ Things that become apparent when you learn by doing. ^^^
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:55 PM
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The $98 SM57 is one of, if not the, most recorded mics ever. It's even on the lead vocal of some of the biggest recordings in popular music -U2 is often mentioned.. You can do a lot to almost any mic to at least get something interesting out of it. But it's really really hard to get a bad room out of a recording.
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Old 05-21-2020, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
For all of us who are now having to contend with a worldwide shortage and delayed delivery of USB mics and webcams and such, some food for thought.
Hi Brent…
Do we have to choose?

I know most of us do have spending limits, but I'm not sure there is such a thing as either:
  • A great room in which to use a crappy microphone
  • A great mic to use in a crappy room

Nice collab by the way with make-do-recording…which I suspect was your point of the thread.

Were the phones all fairly close to sources? Did anyone record directly to the input of the phone?

And to paraphrase you "It was pretty well done…"



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Last edited by ljguitar; 05-21-2020 at 07:20 PM. Reason: added a thought
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Old 05-21-2020, 07:29 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post
[size=2]Hi Brent…
Do we have to choose?
I think some people think there's no point in recording anything until Amazon finally gets around to delivering whatever they haven't delivered.

Quote:
I'm not sure there is such a thing as either:
  • A great room in which to use a crappy microphone
  • A great mic to use in a crappy room
Between those two, the first option wins by a landslide. I mean, that thing I posted was all done with phones in good-sounding spaces, and phones are arguably a step below crappy microphone.

Quote:
Nice collab by the way…definitely seems like 'close placement and manage the clipping' style of recording. Were the phones all fairly close to sources?
Thx! The phones on my and "the drummer's" bits were far enough away that you can't see them. The one for the drums was actually about 7 feet up, which made for the best balance between the drums and the harmony vocal. Couldn't tell you about the electric guitar. You can't really see much, but they're all extremely dead spaces.
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Last edited by Brent Hahn; 05-22-2020 at 11:24 AM. Reason: first option, not second. duh.
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:27 PM
lkingston lkingston is offline
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Default What Matters More, the Mic or the Room?

The reason the phone mics sound so bad is that they are omnidirectional. They pick up sound in all directions and that means there is a lot of room mixed in with the voice.

A cardio mic will do much better. A cardiod USB mic will blow away the built in phone mic at minimizing room reflections. The very best you can do is a high end cardiod dynamic mic with a quick falloff as the distance from the mic increases.

My favorite mic in a room at home is the Shure SM7B. It is a high end dynamic mic with a great sound but a quick fall-off as you get further away from the mic. I use it for two things: minimizing the sound of a crappy room at home, and separating the sound of my voice from the guitar. It is a really low output mic, so you need some sort of external preamp to make it shine. I use a tiny phantom powered FetHead. A lot of podcasters use the SM7B for this exact reason.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:31 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lkingston View Post
My favorite mic in a room at home is the Shure SM7B. It is a high end dynamic mic with a great sound but a quick fall-off as you get further away from the mic. I use it for two things: minimizing the sound of a crappy room at home, and separating the sound of my voice from the guitar.
That's great. But the point I'm trying to make is that if you find or create an uncrappy spot to record in, you don't need to spend SM7B+Fethead money and wait on Amazon. You don't even need a second mic to separate the voice and the instrument(s). In the video I posted, the lead vocal/acoustic guitar and harmony vocal/drums were both done with one phone in one pass. It may not sound like Abbey Road, but it's certainly better than sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself and wishing you could record.

Here's another one that's just me. Same method, same phone.

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Old 05-22-2020, 10:43 AM
lkingston lkingston is offline
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Default What Matters More, the Mic or the Room?

I see what you are saying now. Yes, that sounds great! Spectacular even! Great tune! Great arrangement! Great performance! Great recording!
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:22 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is online now
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Originally Posted by lkingston View Post
I see what you are saying now. Yes, that sounds great! Spectacular even! Great tune! Great arrangement! Great performance! Great recording!
Thanks so much. I think reckless abandon counts for a lot. Although it gets a bit over-abandoned at one spot in the verse.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:20 PM
lkingston lkingston is offline
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I heard a live streaming session with just the built in phone mic, but it was outdoors so there was no lousy room acoustics either. Just a beautiful blend of crickets and music!
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:43 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Originally Posted by lkingston View Post
The reason the phone mics sound so bad is that they are omnidirectional. They pick up sound in all directions and that means there is a lot of room mixed in with the voice.
I've often thought that it's the noise gate that's built into the phones that is the culprit in getting a bad sound. My logic is based solely on the fact that I've had really bad recordings with my phone when playing acoustic, but some great recordings when playing electric, loudly.

With the acoustic in my atrium (stone floor, high ceiling, lots of windows, etc) there seems to be a lot of 'reflective' sounds that the noise gate tries to filter out. They're getting to the mic 'a little late', as it were, and are perceived as 'noise' instead of ambiance.

With the electric, on the other hand, I'm overwhelming the room with sound so the noise gate circuit hasn't got a moment to make a decision when to cut in or out, so it takes a nap.

This is all conjecture on my part, but it's based on observation.

I don't take any chances now: I bought a Shure MV-88 and the software that runs it does a great job no matter what I throw at it.

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Old 05-23-2020, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
It may not sound like Abbey Road, but it's certainly better than sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself and wishing you could record.
Well one thing is constant---- tick tock, we sure as heck ain't gettin' no younger
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