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First time posting on here. My mother's apartment complex like to record their board meeting and are on a small (< $300) budget. There should be four board members speaking, each should have a microphone. In addition, there should be one camera. And of course, I have a laptop. The only problem is I don't really know anything about sound equipment. Someone recommended that I use a mixer of some sort, as in http://www.amazon.com/Alesis-MultiMix-USB-Four-Channel-Mixer/dp/B001T9O5VG/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431716148&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=multi+channel+usb+audio+interface+mixer ,

Alesis MultiMix 4 USB Four-Channel USB Mixer:

Multi channel usb audio interface mixer

but I've never used a mixer before. My only microphone is a laptop microphone, but apparently I'm supposed to use something with a non-usb like plug, like this: http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-ULTRAVOICE-XM1800S-Cardioid-Microphones/dp/B000NJ2TIE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1431717049&sr=8-5&keywords=microphone

Behringer ULTRAVOICE XM1800S Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone:

BEHRINGER ULTRAVOICE dynamic microphone

Also, the microphone says it doesn't come with a cord or an amp. I don't know anything about microphone cords or amps. What kind of chords should I get? Will this work?

CBI MLC20 Low Z XLR Microphone Cable, 20 Foot:

Low Z XLR Microphone Cable

The four channel mixer says it only has 2 XLR holes, does that mean that I will need to supplement 2 XLR-F to XLR-M cables (like in the picture above) with 2 XLR to 1/4" jack cables (like in the picture below)? Note that the picture below depicts an unbalanced cable, not a balanced one. Would I need to use a balanced cable/jack, or will an unbalanced one do? Please help me make my mother's board meeting recording a success.

Will this Hosa Technology PXF105 XLR3F to 1/4-Inch TS 5-Feet Unbalanced Interconnect Cable work with that mixer?

Unbalanced female XLR to 1/4" jack

Or will I need a balanced cable, like this one:

Hosa HSS005 Pro Balanced REAN 1/4-Inch TRS Interconnect Cable, 5-Feet

Hosa HSS005 Pro Balanced REAN 1/4-Inch TRS Interconnect Cable, 5-Feet

Or maybe an XLR cable hooked into one of these balanced adapters:

HOSA GXP-143 XLR Female to Balanced 1/4 inch Male Adapter:

HOSA GXP-143 XLR Female to Balanced 1/4 inch Male Adapter

UPDATE

The way my mother explained the board meeting is set up, the four board members set side by side on a rectangular table in a room and all face in the same direction, towards a (relatively quiet audience). The board members face the audience and the audience members face the board members. People in the audience are supposed to be able to post or ask questions to the board and the board is supposed to be able to reply to repeat those questions or concerns into a microphone. I was thinking a $80 4-output usb mixer (see link/picture in question) with one end connected to a laptop and the other end connected to relatively cheap (

  • Firstly, welcome to sound.SE!! You've got a cool half dozen or so questions going on here. That makes it tough for any one answer to really 'answer' the question. Have you tried searching for some of your individual questions...? Either here, or just googling? If you really don't know anything about sound equipment, or how to use it, forgive me (I don't mean any disrespect), but why are you tasked with this? A few of your questions here are already answered on this site. Give the searching a try. You'll probably narrow your questions down substantially. – JoshP May 19 '15 at 0:40
  • It's a retirement home. When they tried to do it the residents literally tried to record the meeting with a built in laptop speaker, so this is a big step up – Sacha T Red May 19 '15 at 1:57
  • Can you just tell me if this equipment will work or not? I'm very comfortable with Audacity, I just don't know hardware. – Sacha T Red May 19 '15 at 1:58
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I don't have enough rep to comment, so I'll answer as best I can.

First, I think the biggest thing you're going to need to deal with is the room in which the meeting takes place and the arrangement of the people speaking, physically, within that room.

If the meeting can take place in a room that's relatively small, has some thick carpet on the floor and has absolutely as little ambient noise and reflective, hard surfaces as possible, you can get away with very little hardware and be quite successful recording the meeting. This = very little $ overall and a small setup learning curve.

If you have to meet in a big room with an audience and it will be loud, then you have to start taking more drastic measures to capture only that which is important while trying to attenuate and mitigate all the excessive, distracting noise. That = lots of $, time and very steep learning curve.

If you have the first scenario or can make that a reality, then I would suggest this mic or similar because it provides the input, the processing and the correct pattern for this situation (omni or at least bi-directional).

I would arrange for two small rectangular tables to be placed so that two people could be seated side by side at each and each table could face each other with a couple of feet of space between the tables.

In that in-between space, I would place the microphone on a sturdy stand or hard-top bar stool (basically get the microphone off of either table and by itself so there's no handling noise), run its input into Audicity or into any recording software on a mono track, set the level and let them have their meeting.

You can take a direct output from your recording software via your sound output on your laptop and run it into the audio input on the camera and thus the same sound that you're recording is used for the camera, too.

If you have no control over where they meet or how they sit and it's super noisy, I would suggest appealing to them and if still no avail, then remove yourself from the equation and spare yourself from lots of frustration.

I hope that helps.

  • That isn't how a board meeting works (see update at the bottom of the question). I think I can do better than a single omni-directional USB microphone that four people talk into. Will the setup depicted using the pictures above work? – Sacha T Red May 21 '15 at 15:21
  • Look. I'm not having four people huddle around a USB microphone while an audience of over 20 people watches them take turns talking into it. I'm really interested in Audio, but all my prior experience has been in software, not in hardware. Can you just tell me if I need a balanced or unbalanced cable and if I can just plug my laptop into the mixer and expect it to mix the inputs from all the mics into a single record-able audio channel? – Sacha T Red May 21 '15 at 15:31
  • Hi Sacha, can you tell me about the room in which the meeting takes place? How high are the ceilings? Of what material is the floor (carpet, tile, etc.) Is this a big room, small room, a lively reflective room or a hushed, quiet room? Also, won't you want to record the questions posed from the audience, too? – Eric Young May 21 '15 at 15:31
  • Sacha, nobody would need to huddle at all. That's what an omni mic is for. It records in all directions and is very open and airy. The Yeti mic has its own processing (and very good processing, too!) and that mic will pick up ALL of the speaking with no problem and it will be very clear and crisp. BUT, it depends on the room. Can you answer my questions about the room, please? Then I can give you a much better answer. – Eric Young May 21 '15 at 15:34
  • I believe that the room that the board members have been using and intend to use is not specially designed for acoustics. It has an average appartment complex height ceiling and I believe that there is both a tiled floor room (with ceiling fans, slightly higher than average ceiling height) that is available as well as a room with carpeting. Neither room is specifically designed for audio recording or acoustics. – Sacha T Red May 21 '15 at 15:35

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