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My folks own a real estate business. I'm basically the social media and marketing manager, but we're branching out now into making videos (pre-recorded for now, but we plan on moving into live seminars/webinars and vodcasts eventually). Now, I did go to Full Sail for film production about 12 years ago, but it was such an incredibly awful school I might as well be beginning this endeavor with zero experience.

We have two cameras we'll be using to record our seminars, a Canon Vixia HF R800 and an (old) Canon Vixia HF10. One will be used to record the speaker and the other the audience.

What I'm looking for advice on is a recommendation for mics to record the audience with (basically any questions they ask). We expect a maximum of about 20 - 30 people in a room size of about 15 x 30 ft.

I'm not sure if we'd be best served passing around a basic vocal mic or using something like a condenser mic pointed at the audience to record them as a whole. I'm also not sure if we can get away with using mics connected to the cameras (I believe only powered mics work with them) or if we need to record the audio with a computer or dedicated recording device and sync it all in post later. I'm not expecting to have a computer with an actual video capture card until we start doing live stuff, but I thought it might make sense to use a computer to record audio now since we'll need to use one at some point in the future anyway.

Basically, any suggestions would be great, either for actual specific mics we could use or overall suggestions in terms of which type of mics and recording devices to use / look for. We have an ideal budget of below $150 USD - I realize mics can get expensive and I've mostly seen recommendations of mics in the $300 - $500 range in my own research, but I simply can't get them to expand the budget by that much at this point.

Thanks!

  • I can't really turn this into an answer, because I have no specific recommendations - however... your budget is too tight to get good results. You might get away with a cheap lavalier mic on your presenter, but what you really need for the audience is a boom mic... & experienced operator. The operator alone will break your budget. An inexperienced one will waste your time. – Tetsujin Aug 2 '17 at 19:36
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I would recommend passing around a wireless vocal mic. I've been watching a lot of lectures and talks online and most of them suffer from terrible, most times incomprehensible sound during questions from the crowd. Since the amount of people you are expecting isn't very large, organizing for the mic to be passed around shouldn't be too much of an issue. And as far as audio quality is concerned, you'll often run into the problem of bad mic holding but you will avoid the greater problem in my opinion - incomprehensible sound.

As a final thought, a compressor/limiter might help you with level issues. Some people have much louder voices than others and there is no way of knowing how much gain you need before they speak. So if you set your gain for a quiet speaker, the loud guy will sound distorted. If you set it for the loud guy, the quiet person will hardly be heard. This will also help with people who hold the mic too far from their mouths.

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How much does quality matter to you? With that budget- I suspect not much. For the easiest (set and forget) I'd say, if you can stand tons of reverb, then just get 2 or 3 of any Mic in your budget, put one facing the crowd and one to be close to the presenter. Then you can boost that signal and get noisy gross audio.

BUT I RECOMMEND: If you are able to, definitely pass the Mic around when people have questions. This will be way more clear, need way less mixing after, and it's fairly common in presentations I've been to.

At your budget just get cheap Mics. Maybe the sm47-lc for around $50USD. That would mean you could have two mics standing or being passed around and one for the presenter.

Oh, you are going to have to consider how you record the signal. Do you have an interface that can accept xlr input? If not, check out the CAD u1. It's also sub $50USD but this one connects via usb. THEN you need to think about the cords going around, maybe needing to carry a laptop close to the audience.

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Where do you plan on recording? What is the context of the recording in terms of expected noise from the audience members?

If you use multiple room mics in a room, you can expect lots of ambient noise from A/C, restless audience members, echo from the room itself, squeaking from chairs or shoes clacking against the floor (unless carpeted), and so on. If the audience member asking a question has a strong voice this doesn't have to be an issue, but if these are people not used to speaking in front of others, you can expect a low signal/noise ratio.

20-30 people isn't much; if you can have a person shuttling a mic around for the people asking questions the end result will be so much better. Any decent vocal mic is likely to do, but be aware that some picks up handling noise more than others.

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It's in now way a perfect answer since it's not as direct or high quality as the boom mic Tetsujin mentions in his comment, but depending on your venue have you considered mass audience mics?

The two types I'd say to look into are either hanging microphones that can be safely flown in above the audience and in turn fed back to your main mix (for the audience to hear) or just to the speaker, or alternatively you could follow a similar approach with boundary microphones.

Examples (not necessarily specific recommendations given the UK prices):

Hanging Microphone (can sometimes be found in budget on eBay or in clearance aisles)

Boundary Microphone

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