For capturing audio at events, loud ambient noise can become an issue when you’re trying to get the best signal to noise ratio during your audio recording. Elvin and I cover some basics on setting your levels, application and the dreaded- damage control.
Setting Your Levels
Digital sound recorders typically will have metering of sound levels. You want to set your meters to around 50% to 60%. Test the source first and try to hover around 50% to 60%. You also want to be sure to give yourself enough head room so your signal is not distorted if a sudden spike occurs in your audio.
Boom Microphone – Booming with a shotgun microphone is one way to capture sound at an event. We’ve done this in the past for covering a convention with the Que Audio Sniper PRO DSLR Shotgun Microphone Kit and Boom Pole. There were pros and cons. Some cons were that we needed an extra person to act as a boom operator, we needed him to monitor the audio to make sure there was no handling noise introduced and we also needed both the boom op and the cameraman to be aware of each other so the mic was not in frame. Some pros are: due to the directional and tight pick-up pattern of the shotgun mic, we were able to get a nice signal to noise ratio, we didn’t have a microphone being passed back and forth and even though we were shooting into an external digital recorder, we still were able to monitor our levels with the boom operator.
Lavalier Microphone – A lavalier mic will give you the best signal to noise ratio, as the microphone is as close to the source (person’s mouth) as possible. When covering events with this application, I use the Rode PinMic Wearable Microphone because it is discrete and I’m able to hide it in more visible areas where my hair will not rub against it and create and rustling. I suggest using a lav mic that is an omnidirectional microphone so the sound is being picked up from all directions. One pitfall with using a lavalier mic is that they can become time consuming when having to mic up each person being interviewed. If there are many interviews, this is a hassle. Lavalier microphones are typically for more sit-down style interviews.
Handheld Digital Recorder – We’ve been very successful with capturing quality audio using the Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Handheld Digital Audio Recorder in place of a stick mic. These types of digital recorders are made for outdoor field recording, they sport an XY Stereo microphone and sometimes come with a windscreen. In my personal experienced, I’ve learned that the windscreen was IMPERATIVE in avoiding plosives, distortion and handling noise. You cannot monitor your audio when recording and using the recorder as a microphone so you really need to be sure to set your levels properly. You also want to be certain to hit record and stop for each interview and I usually engage the hold button so I don’t accidentally stop recording in the middle of an interview. Since you will be shooting double system with this application, you will need to sync audio and video in post.
Stick Microphone – Coming in at about the same price as same price point as the Zoom H1 is the stick mic that we’ve been using recently for event coverage, the Audio-Technica AT8004L Handheld Omnidirectional Dynamic Microphone. A stick mic like this is generally used as an interview microphone. This Audio-Technica AT8004L has an internal shock mount so you shouldn’t hear any handling noise from the microphone being passed back and forth. You can also get a mic with a built-in pop filter or be sure there is a windshield on your microphone to prevent pops from plosives. With a stick mic, you can monitor your levels if recording directly into the camera. You’ll also need the addition of a preamp, like the juicedLink RM333 Riggy Micro Low-Noise Preamp that we use, to boost the signal to the camera and replace the noisy gain from the camera with clean gain from the preamp. You may not need to sync audio and video in post if you’re recording directly into your camera.
Damage Control – Well, if you find yourself in this category and are desperate for solutions, I have good and bad news for you. The good news is that there are plugins that may help. The bad news is that it’s not common to fix distortion in audio. The lesson- get it right the first time!
Let me know your questions, what issues you’ve run into while capturing audio in the field or at events, what has worked for you, what has not… we want to hear it all! Elvin and I are here to help you so please, give us your questions, comments and feedback in the comment area below!audio technica, AUDIONEER, boom mic, boom pole, capture audio at events, external recorder, fixing audio in post, handheld digital recorder, How To, how to record audio into a DSLR camera, lavalier, microphone, Rode, RODE pinmic, tips, tutorial, Zoom, Zoom h1