FAQs - Frequently asked questions
Q: Would your mics work with a Zoom H2?
A: Any recorder will work with the mics since they have a standard 3.5 mm (1/8") stereo output plug and standard mic levels, so use whatever recorder you like. Some folks use $1,000 broadcast quality ones, while others use cheapie $39 flash based SD card units - its all about what you like. Suffice to say the mics will not be the limiting factor.
Q: My recorder has four different options to record with an external microphone. They are: 1 - powered ST, 2 - powered mono, 3 - dynamic ST, and 4 - dynamic mono - what do I use?
A: Well, first off, you want stereo, so now your choices are down to two, #1 and #3 - (the "ST" means stereo). Next, we consider whether "powered" or "dynamic". Since we have the mics powered by the battery box, that narrows the choice down to one - choice number 3! Ta-daaaa, we're done! Now, try it out and practice your recording before you do it "for real"!
Q: You must get this all the time but I have a couple of concerns I'd like to express. (Why, yes indeed I do get this all the time!! - jr) The recorder I am using is a Sony ICDPX312 Dictation Machine I purchased about a year ago for €50. It has a plug for attaching external mic's but I'm unsure if the recorder itself would overload or if the microphones will take care of that. I'm recording at a huge indoor gig at Dublin's biggest indoor venue so the pressure on the recorder would be even greater. I'd appreciate it if you got back to me as soon as you can with any advice you have.
A: Short answer, yes, the mics will work fine with any recorder, but in every instance, one must be aware of the recorder's limitations and operating nuances (I cannot personally test each one and note the exact settings and buttons that need pressing). Suffice to say that you will need to look at record levels and ensure you are not overloading (if using MIC input) or too low (if using LINE input, if your recorder has such an input). Also do a dry run testing your setup before the big date.
Q: I've been admiring your mics from afar for a few years now and I think I'm ready to pick them up. I just wanted to know where to hide the equipment? I know the mics can be taped to glasses for optimal quality and that won't be a problem, but I don't know what do with the recorder. Do you place it in a hat? Perhaps a hat with a secret pouch above it?
A: Gee, a question I’ve never been asked before! (really…) Considering I have no idea whatsoever the build of your body, your style of dress and other such variables, I simply cannot answer that. But, I can tell you where I put my recorder and battery box – in my front jeans pocket. I put both in there and sure its a tight fit, but it did fit. I entered the venue with the goodies in front pockets – as in plural. And yes, the glasses placement for the mics is the ideal spot.
Q: My live recording seemed to have very little dynamic range, it wasn't distorted but it just sounded flat but loud.
A: It is easy to overload the recorder input and it's auto level feature "potted down" the input, thus removing dynamic range. Remember live music is LOUD even though it may not sound that way to you at the event! Our ears have huge dynamic range and astounding aural processing, the mics and recorder will record the levels exactly as they are present, so be aware that you will need to set you record levels accordingly. Try speaking at a normal conversation level during an event and see how your voice is drowned out by the ambient sound level, this gives you a clue as to how loud these events can be.
Q: Can you please help me better understand what device you would recommend for recording a concert and then plugging it into my Mac or PC to convert to MP3 or other format to listen to?
A: You can use any recorder you feel comfortable with, from cassette tape to SD card memory recorders, the mics do not care what you use, it is up to your budget, technical savvy, audio purism desire! After you record, you can convert to mp3, aac, audio cd or whatever format you want using your computer and whatever encoder or sound editor you like. Audacity is a free open source audio sound editor, remember - google is your friend, search and you can find many audio editors and format convertors. Once again the mics don’t care what you use.
Q: What setting should I use on the high-pass filter switch inside the battery box? I usually record music at clubs?
A: In most venues, the 150 Hz position works the best, you can't go wrong using it for 95% of your recording. If you are recording vocals or strings, the 30 Hz position is used since there will be very little bass frequencies. Remember, live concerts have plenty of bass, we may not hear it while in the concert, but believe me, its there and your recording will suffer, so use the 150 Hz setting for that!
Q: Can the battery box be made smaller for me?
A: No, sorry, the box has been selected to be rugged and large enough to hold the battery and electronic circuitry. Attempts to miniaturize the box has resulted in failures in the field due to mishandling the delicate tiny box and limited battery life due to smaller cells.
Q: Why do I need to use the battery box? I see that my recorder will accept the mics directly.
A: The battery box serves a couple of purposes: 1. to hold the higher voltage battery needed to power the mics for maximum dynamic range in high intensity sound environments, and 2. to enclose the proper circuitry for the high pass filter and switch. While the mics will operate from a recorder that provides a powered mic input, they will not provide the same performance as when used with the battery box.
Q: How you think the mics would work with a hd video camera with a mic input?
A: Actually, the mics really don’t care or even know what they are connected to! Any device which accepts a microphone input will operate with my mics. They will provide excellent performance with respect to standard microphones, especially self contained mics inside a device.
Q: I am an avid concert goer and have been looking for the best i could grab for under $200. those clips were great on the site were great. they work just being clipped to your shirt as well? I'm not much of a hat wearer.
A: Be aware that the mics will pick up any and all sounds, and if they rub against your clothing, you will hear it and it can be very annoying, much like those chatty girls sitting a few rows over! So, it is best to find a location where there is little possibility for anything to brush against them. This is true for all microphones, try it and see – rub against your existing recorder microphone and play it back.
Q: I am interested in a set of your microphones but, was interested if you could make any recommendations on a MD recorder. I saw you had the Sharp 702 in your pics on your website. I have been looking at Sonys as well. Is there a big difference or is it just that the mics make that much of a difference.
A: Virtually any recorder will work fine, it is all a matter of what features and style of user interface you prefer. Technically, you will be extremely hard pressed to detect any difference between devices within $50 of each other. There is a new crop of solid state memory recorders, they also offer features like MD recorders but smaller size and benefit of longer recording times and no moving parts. Google “Zoom recorder” for example. Using my mics with one of these is a great set-up.
Q: I have read all of your Q&A. If I taped these mics to my glasses wouldn't they pick up noise as you move your head or body (ie: clapping)
A: They will hear everything as you would and if you hear clapping, they will also. It’s the curse of live recording from sitting in an audience!
Q: Perhaps hanging them out of my bag placed on the floor under the seat would work?
A: Imagine yourself crouched down under the seat listening, do you think it would sound good down there?
Q: I'm at a loss as to where to place them if I stand the whole concert.
A: It is best to place the mics – any mics – is as free and clear position as possible. Ever notice that real sound engineers always place the mics as such? There’s a reason for it, unfortunately you do not have the venue or the groups permission to place the mics is such a location, thus the trade-offs!
Q: Hi you seem to know your stuff. What is the best way to record a live show non-stealth without using the board feed? I see guys with stands with 2 mics but I'm not sure what mics are best.
A: Although you say I know my stuff (thanks…) its tough to be the go-to guy regarding recording in every instance (I get tons of assistance requests and questions, and much too little time to be able to attend to every question with expansive detail!) To use your words, the guys using mics near the board are recording, “the best way to record a live show nonstealth without using the board feed” ! Just use whatever mics you like and whatever recording system you like, just be sure the mics and recording setup can handle the large dynamic range and accentuated Bass.
Q: I’ve got a Sony PCM M10B which I’ve used recently at a number of concerts. I’ve tried, on set up, to use the manual level setting on the unit for the internal mikes but have found that they “peak out” really easily (even with mike sensitivity set to LOW and Low Cut filter on) and I can’t maintain a -12dB level without the setting being on 1 or even lower out of 10....so I’ve resorted to using the Auto Level function- which to be honest has been quite good. My question relates to your mikes and how they compare with the Sony internal ones – and whether or not I will be able to better utilise the manual recording level set function with your mikes than with the internal ones that come with the Sony device.
A: Internal mics are generally made to record conferences or voice notes, not anything remotely approaching concert sound levels, thus the overloading. The audioreality mics have an external battery box which contains extra circuitry to allow more microphone level headroom before overloading and distorting. Generally, the auto level function will function much better using these mics since they will not be the weakest link in the recording chain. In some cases depending upon the venue and recorder used, the mics will even work great into the Line level input of the recorder.
Q: I am excited to try them out. I guess I would just plug the battery pack into my "line in"? No voltage conversions to worry about right? Also, what can I expect for quality on recordings other than music (rock shows mostly)?
A: Generally, you would use the mic input, but if it is too sensitive, the Line in. Experiment and see as there are many different recorders and variables. Always experiment and become proficient before the big concert ! Yes, just plug in the cable included, no additional "voltage conversions" or anything else. You can expect as good a quality as your environment, remember you are capturing sound as heard by an unbiased or experienced ear – ie: the mics WILL pickup noisy people nearby or mics rubbing on clothing etc. so placement is important – ie: do not hide the mics inside a shirt or inside a hat, that’s common sense!
Q: How big is the battery box? I live in Australia and t shirts and jeans is the usual attire when going to concerts. The Sony PCM M10 is about the size of my iphone so goes in my jeans pocket without issue – the battery box is now going to be an additional bit of kit to get in.
A: Battery box is 3.5 x 1.5 x 1.2 inches
Q: I’m assuming that the cable from battery box to mike powers the mikes and transfers the stereo audio signal back to the box – then the lead from the battery box feeds the PCM with just the audio signal? My guess is that this signal is powered a little and so should go into the Mike 3.5mm jack socket on the PCM rather than the line in?
A: Cables are exactly as shown in the instructions (http://audioreality.com/your_audioreality.htm) mics cable to battery box and jumper cable from battery box to recorder input. As stated before, recorders vary and generally one uses the mic input however some recorders work better if connect to Line In, you can try and see what works best while you are experimenting before the big concert.
Q: Do you have any clips or mounting devices for the mikes? I’ll need to fasten them either to my glasses or a baseball cap?
A: I don’t use any clips as they generally are the weakest link in the stealth setup. They have been larger than the mics are are prone to becoming unclipped or lose. Simple masking tape or black electrical tape works very well to affix to glasses (which are the best way to use the mics).
Q: Is there any risk of impedance mismatch – or any kind of mismatch between the mikes and the Sony device?
A: You have no worries about impedance mismatches, etc. the mics are designed to work well into both high impedance mic input and the line inputs found on recorders.
Q: So I've also ordered a Tascam DR-07mkII. If you don't mind me asking if you are familiar with these recorders - can you recommend settings for a semi-loud rock show? I'll experiment at a test show before the main event at year's end.
A: Sorry I am not privy to your recorder, basically the show will be louder than you expect so better to have levels set for way louder than you expect and not clip in the recorder.
Q: What about (my seating at the venue) location? I have the option of 10th row floor, or first row center balcony seats. I've been impressed with balcony sound at some theatres - so I'm leaning towards that.
A: Where you elect to sit is what you'll get when recording, the mics will accurately record what they hear, so where you sit is what you'll hear - as well as record. By saying that I mean that I am not familiar with the venue or the acoustics so I cannot comment on the best place to sit based upon your two selections, it’s a matter of taste as well as venue, and.... the noisy people around your seat - which in most cases determines the quality of the recording!
Q: How often should I change the battery in the battery box? I've had your mics since 2007 and I think I've changed the battery twice - only to make sure things don't fritz out at a critical time.
A: It depends on how much you use the mics. For maximum life, you should pull all plugs from the battery box when not in use, since it is powered when the mics are plugged in. However, the battery box can sit unused for months at a time, even years if in a cool environment. Typically a fresh battery will last well over a month - even if powered on continuously!
Q. I noticed you make no mention of windscreens nor do they appear to be offered. Is that because you do not recommend your mics's for outdoor use?
A. The mics will work fine indoors or out. I don't supply a windscreen since I haven't really felt the need to do so since most are used indoors and if one was to use a foam style screening, the size required to mitigate the wind would be far larger than the mics themselves. The wind screen effect is a result of redirecting the airflow through the many pores found in the foam. While one could use a more dense foam to compensate for the fewer amount of pores which would be the result of a smaller sized wind screen, this would also impact the mics response to sound. In short, I have found that the tiny wind screens found on tiny stealth mics to be more window dressing than actual performance enhancement. Note that broadcast quality mics have windscreens that are much larger than the mics found on these stealth style units. If size is of no concern for you, then feel free to cut a piece of foam and slip the mic inside.
Q: Any tips you can give us from an expert user? (Didn't know you were an expert user, did you, Steve M. ? ;-)
A: One thing I wanted to mention in answer to the guy who wanted to know where to place the mics is a tip that I got from a group of established tapers who use stealth mics clipped to glasses.... Whether you're sitting or standing and you want to "get into the music", the preferable thing to do is bob your head up and down. Try to not move from side to side because that will give your recording a sound of swooshing back and forth from channel to channel. It may not be as much fun as moving around wildly, but if you are trying to get a good recording rather than just watching the show, this would be the sacrifice you make. Another point that was brought up to me was that in a stealth environment, standing there like a stone statue can make the folks around you feel ill at ease. So at least a head bob makes you seem a bit more human :-) (My wife is already upset that she can't talk to me during a show !!!!) My thanks to Steve for posing these questions and graciously answering them!
Q: Here's a great tip (thanks again to Steve M - who lives the middle of the Pacific!) regarding the Sony PCM-M10 recorder that seems to be quite popular. What sort of levels and how should I connect?
A: Connect the "R" jack on the battery
box to the recorder's LINE IN, I eventually needed to record at around
6.7 on REC LEVEL. I still was not hitting the -12db indicator LED's.
That's totally fine. The audio came out great and I boosted the audio
about 4.5 db using Audition 3.0 (successor to Cool Edit Pro) for a
little extra punch. BTW, the original recording was done at 24/48. The
show was converted to 16/44.1 for posting. The folks at
taperssection.com recommended starting out at about 5 on the REC LEVEL.
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