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Hi

I have regularly been asked to record talks and speeches at a private members' club.

In the past the most successful recordings were made with my Sony ECM907 on 120 deg setting into my Edirol R-09HR. The two unamplified speakers were sitting in tall-backed armchairs on either side of a small table where the mic was placed (a distance of about 1m from the heads). This worked well with the interview taking place with a hushed audience listening to every word.

Unfortunately latterly the room has been rearranged for a Bose radio mic system and the room is much more reflective, acoustically. In fact the speakers often stand up using the radio mic which has been set so badly that its preamp is overdriving, yet the level is barely louder than the acoustic voice. Couple that with audience noises of coughing, glasses, chairs, etc and you have a far less satisfactory recording.

I have also recorded an awards ceremony in another room where there were a couple of hundred people in the room and the MC/recipients were using a similar mic but through a PA. It was OK but in these latter cases I was thinking that I could maybe get a feed from the mixer - also set up hurriedly without an expert in the room ;-)

Of course BBC quality isn't expected from the management but I would prefer something better myself!

I know shotguns aren't recommended indoors but I was thinking of something more directional. I was thinking of experimenting with my gear a bit.

My front end gear is the Sony, an AT877 shotgun, a v cheap wired lav, or a Sennheiser Evolution E855 dynamic. I have an old but still (mostly) working FP32A mixer (and a few other bits), into my Edirol.

The recordings are done on a sort of amateur basis and are pretty ad hoc since I never really know exactly what will be involved until I get there, and I probably don't have too much time to experiment and set up in advance...

Any sensible ideas that might make the end result better? The use is podcasts and the club's website eventually.

Many thanks in advance - I know you are all busy people.

Regards,

P

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Oh jeez. You mean the speaker's handheld wireless runs into the speakers in the ceiling? I bet there's a million of them up there.

That's why it's sounding more refelctive. The more sound sources you have in a room (depending on how it's been designed, and I'm guessing this is a fairly normal, rectangular meeting/ballroom) the more sources for reflections you have. The more reflections you have, the more confusing the sound of the space is.

Those systems are primarily designed (or so I assume) to play music at a relatively low level, and to be as unobtrusive as possible, just to provide a bit of ambient noise to fill in the uncomfortable silences between sentences while people try and think of something to say. Not so good for public speaking.

I'd recommend that you insist (as politely as you can) that they drag out the old PA whenever they plan to have a speaker in. Also, if they have speakers very frequently, you should ask them to let you buy a relatively inexpensive wireless lav setup (Sennheiser do a good one that consists of two small battery powered pocket-packs). You can then split signal from the receive pack and pipe it directly into both the mixer and your recorder (respectively). That will take care of both the reverby room, low amplitude/crappy sounding signal, and allow the speakers to gesticulate as wildly and freely as they like.

You could then set up your shotgun a little further away to get a bit of room around the voice, then mix the two together.

  • Thanks for your answer. The room in question is actually only about 30ft x 20ft and about an 8' ceiling. I haven't counted but I would guess three or four drivers in the ceiling. The reflectivity was caused by new laminate floor and furniture changes, not the Bose stuff, unfortunately. The last two talks were recorded in a different-sized room with a setup similar to the Bose and the other time the PA. Due to practical reasons and the 'relaxed' approach, I am usually not near the PA drivers, so delay with a few mS slap as well! Anyway, the last two sounded OK considering... – Pim Dec 19 '12 at 12:24
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How about purchasing an inexpensive lavaliere mic and plugging it directly into the Edirol? Then just ask the speakers to pop the recorder into their pocket.

http://www.waeplus.co.uk/product/1606851/SONY-ECMCS3-Tie-clip-Microphone

We use this technique with an old Aiwa mic and a Zoom H2 with surprisingly good results.

If the speakers don't have pockets large enough for the recorder get a cotton pouch made with straps wide enough to go around even the largest waist.

  • HI. That lav idea sounds interesting, and I wouldn't mind spending a little more for a wired mono one. Unfortunately (or not) I sold my Edirol and bought an H4N which is much heavier and relatively bulky. A longer cable leading to me may be fine tho. I don't use my 'big rig' with the mixer etc for these, just a small cycle-friendly setup ;-) At least I learn something new each time I do one of these talks! – Pim Dec 19 '12 at 12:28
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It's a bit difficult to diagnose these things without seeing the space and knowing the setup of the audio system. Maybe post a diagram and go into more detail about the setup (speaker models etc)

When you say the preamp is overdriving, do you mean you have problems with feedback or is it actual distortion of the sound? Also, is the radio mic you describe an omni directional lav mic?

I've done a bit of live sound here and there and generally I find that if the participants aren't moving around then gooseneck mics on a table works well. These Shure ones are pretty good:

http://www.shure.co.uk/products/microflex/mx412_mx418

The cardioid has quite good rear rejection so this could help with your feedback problem (if that's what it is).

For a Lectern setup maybe try to pick up some second hand AKG c747's. They're really small and two on a lectern (one either side) will sound great.

It sounds like the PA has not been set up so well though. Is it more of a music system rather than a purpose installed PA? It's really important for a PA to not be flooding the stage with sound.

Mark

  • Hi - thanks for that answer. The problem with the (handheld) radio mic is that it is distorting, not feedback. It may have been sorted out by the next time I go in there, but if not the temptation is to get involved in fiddling with the Bose system but I| have no idea how simple that may be. My description of the 'speakers' standing up referred to people not cabinets - sorry if that was unclear. The Bose speakers are mounted in the ceiling, however. The PA mentioned later is a small one used mainly for music and dragged out of the cupboard and set up wherever it is needed. cheers – Pim Nov 4 '12 at 21:40
  • Ah, I see. Sorry, I didn't read your question thoroughly enough. Assuming your speakers aren't shouting excessively perhaps it's a bad choice of mic which can't handle the SPL's or perhaps it's simply faulty? Probably your only choice is to have a tinker with it. Maybe try plugging in your Sennheiser and check nothing is clipping at the mixer. – Mark Durham Nov 4 '12 at 22:54
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From the live audio work I've done, I've learned that the best PA is the PA that only provides coverage for where the audiences heads are, and nowhere else.

That's basically the PA tech's job on a show, is to put the speakers in the best place with even SPL throughout the audience, and nothing hitting walls, aisle ways, back walls, the stage, etc.

I would suggest looking where the speakers are and if you're getting slap from walls and other reflective surfaces and adjusting the PA to only hit the audience, if there is a problem.

What exactly is the PA setup?

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