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I have a project I'd like to do involving video (and sound) recording of street musicians.

I'm wondering what the best type of mic to use in this type of situation would be.

I probably want it to be directional, but not as tight as a lapel mic. I want it to be able to pic up some ambient sound, but mostly the musicians. I'll also want to be able to interview them and have both of our voices picked up by the mic, but not have myself on-camera.

I also want to be able to record them from about 5-10 feet away if possible. I don't want to be all up in their space. I'll need protection from the wind, but I want the camera and mic setup to be as low-profile (obtrusive) as possible.

I won't know any of the musicians personally.

Sorry if these are basic questions. I'm new to sound recording. I have a Canon EOS 77D camera, that if possible, I'd want to mount the mic to. I understand I could use a separate sound recording device, but the less work in post the better for this project.

Thanks!

3 Answers 3

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You've hit the typical "I want to do this solo" wall.

Really, you want a good shotgun mic, with blimp & dead cat - on a boom, so it can be turned to point at you or them for the interview portion. A boom op would be optimising positioning at all times, keeping the mic just out of shot, yet close enough to eliminate a lot of the background noise - street musicians, almost by definition, are in noisy environments. Your ears can tune this out, a mic cannot. Solo, you just don't have this flexibility & 10 ft on a noisy street is going to be a tough ask sonically.

Wanting to mount directly to the camera will also mean you have to use a mic suitable for the camera's mic input, which eliminates most of the 'pro' solutions & leaves you with probably something like the Røde on-camera mic

Whilst this may be [just] acceptable to record their performance [the sound is going to wander as the camera moves, which isn't really what you want for a live music recording], it's going to be worse for the interview. It's pointed at them, but you're 10x closer. The mic should reject a lot of sound from behind, but this is likely to result in your voice being dull & muffled, yet quite loud due to proximity.

Note I've avoided lav mics. Lav miking is an artform unto itself. You'd need at least one per person, & a guy to run the board, to multitrack. You'd still want a boom too. Definitely not solo gig territory.

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I heart this question! It's very relatable. For the "least amount of friction and smiles with minimum fuss" path, do you have an iPhone? I ask because I wonder if you've considered a Shure MV88. It should fit your qualifications of "5-10 feet away", and with a lil' furry windscreen on it, will reject wind.

I've used it to record street musicians (and Broadway-type stage plays and concerts) before, both in passing and lingering around awhile, and it captures far more nuance than one might think. Anyway, it's really versatile for speech and music, and you can adjust the stereo spread... might be an alternate one-handed path to get the results you want.

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  • I was thinking of this as an option (the recording to iphone bit). I even got as far as looking into what programs to record with. What program would you suggest I record with? I want to make sure that it isn't processing the sound before saving like a voice recorder would...
    – pixelearth
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 0:26
  • @pixelearth The Shure MV88 comes with its own dedicated MOTIV app which lets you customize onboard settings and save as lossless. Check it out, shure.com/en-US/products/microphones/mv88
    – TORLEY
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 3:09
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I would suggest ZOOM's products - to me, it is the best choice so far. Especially if you're recording in all kinds of environments.

But as you mention, you don't know these street performers and you don't want to be up in their business - the H5 has an unidirectional microphone and unidirectional microphones are used in applications where the target sound source to be recorded is directly in front of the microphone, and all other sounds in the room that may be on the sides and rear do not want to be recorded.

But I am sure if you ask them politely if it's ok for you to record audio, they'd be thrilled and you would get the space for your microphone(s) to be set up.

I have the ZOOM H5 - recommended!

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