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Guide 1: Making Good Recordings.; A guide for newbies.
Topic Started: 30 Apr 2011, 10:18 AM (10,859 Views)
Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Ok, so call me a snob, but I honestly can't stand a lot of videos where webcam mics are used to record sound samples, not only in the ocarina world but other instruments in general. This is the reason my own Youtube channel has stopped with the videos for the time being cause I want to invest in a good mic first.

The purpose of this guide will be to tell you why I think this is important, the potential investments you will have to make in order to have a quality video/audio sample and how to go about recording.
I haven't seen a guide about this stuff so I'm going to post one. I apologize if there is one already and I somehow missed it.

So! Moving On!

Section 1: Why you would want to make 'proper' videos

1) Webcam mics suck.
Webcam mics, typically have a rolloff on the frequency spectrum where the low frequencies from about 250Hz get cut off at a rate of 6dB per octave. This is done because webcam mics are usually used for voice conversations on softwares like Skype and MSN, and since the human ear is most responsive to the middle frequencies from 2kHz to 4kHz, the low frequencies are not needed. This helps in reducing the cost of the webcam mic. Combine this with the fact that computer speakers also cut out low frequencies, especially on laptops and well... you've got a bad sound sample.
If you're going to showcase an instrument, you need low frequencies. Simple as that.

2) Distortion is a b***h.
Webcam mics, more often than not are what are called "Condenser Mics". Condenser mics, save for the Ribbon Mic are sensitive as hell. They're so sensitive you can't put them inside a kick drum because the sound pressure level will blow the diaphragm. You can't put them in front of a cranked up amp for the same reason. Combine the sensitivity with the fact that these mics are often quite cheap. And you get the bane of all audiophiles. Distortion.

3) Protect people's ears.
People use earphones/computer speakers. People have ears. People's ears are sensitive.
Now take a distorted, loud sound sample of your soprano oc that you just recorded on your webcam mic, and well... you do the math.
(Yes, unlike what guitar stompboxes will have you believe, distortion while recording simply means you've gone above the threshold that the mic can handle as far as volume goes.)

So how can you fix this? Read on!

Section 2: What do I need to make proper videos?

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but when people watch music related videos, they're looking to see what it sounds like more than it looks like. So you don't have to buy a crazy expensive camera, but you will need atleast a decent mic.

1) Get yourself a microphone.
USB Microphones nowadays are quite inexpensive and I will say there are some fantastic ones out there. Please keep in mind, none of these are "Professional" mics despite what the product might have you believe. Professional standards include an XLR cable and the second they have a USB cable, this type of mic becomes a consumer mic.
Examples of good USB mics which range to about $100 are:
1) Audio Technica AT2020 USB Model. (This one is my personal favourite.)
2) Samson C01U/C03U
3) Rode Podcaster
4) Blue Snowball

(Note, some dynamic mics will do an excellent job as well. Some inexpensive, great mics include: Shure SM57, Shure SM58. I personally recommend these.)

The Shure SM 57 is what David (docjazz4) can be seen using in his "Hey, Soul Sister" cover video. Here is a picture and the link.

Spoiler: click to toggle


docjazz4's Cover of Hey, Soul Sister by Train

Now, you might be thinking "but he's using reverb!". Truth be told, reverb will only help me backup my point even better because reverb increases the potency of frequencies in the higher register, specifically 8kHz onwards. Now despite using reverb, a simple microphone can make that recording not sound annoying especially with a soprano ocarina... how cool is that?

(Thanks to Sig for this next bit)NOTE: Please note, that all of these mics have what are called "Cardioid" polar patterns. This is to say that they capture all their sound from the front and somewhat from the sides, which is why it is ok to tilt the mics at a slight angle (read on for more details on this).
A visual representation to help you out is as follows. This is once again, the polar pattern of the AT2020 USB.

Spoiler: click to toggle


The blue lines, defined by the Legend, represent the frequencies that are picked up by the microphone. See how they converge at 0 degrees? However, if you notice, they have actually finished conversion by 30 degrees. So it is infact, safe to tilt your microphone 30 degrees, and still achieve optimal frequency response.
Also note, that 5kHz is being picked up from the back of the microphone. you want to avoid placing electronic equipment behind this since they emit mid-range frequencies which fall in that range.

EDIT: Here is a perfect example of a comparison between a camcorder mic (better than a webcam mic) and, in this case, the Samson C01U. The lady in this video is using a Focalink Tai Chi Soprano G.

Without a Mic

With the Samson C01U

Here is another example this time, comparing Mountain Ocarinas.

With a Camcorder Mic

Notice how the tone is quite thin, especially on those high notes, where it can get pretty ear piercing?
Remeber how David's was not? Just by using a good microphone.

Here is one with a Nady RSM-4 ribbon microphone by Ubizmo.

Mountain Ocarina with a Ribbon Mic

The audio for this video has been attached so you can hear it without YouTube's compression.

So! How is using one of these microphones different from the webcam mic? Well let me show you.
Spoiler: click to toggle


The chart shown is the frequency response of the AT2020 USB Mic.
Do you see the blue line? That represents the frequencies and at what levels they are captured. See how it is pretty much a flat response? There is a roll off after 10kHz because the frequencies from there on cause 'sibilance'. Sibilance is the phenomenon where you hear a lot of "sss" or "tss" sounds when you speak and is associated with pretty annoying frequencies.
Now in a webcam mic, that roll off would be on the opposite side of the spectrum and it would lower everything from 250Hz till 20Hz. 250 Hz is usually where the body and bassiness of a sound comes from. Also, in order to facilitate voice conversations there would be a small bump in the 2kHz to 4kHz region.

I hope you see why webcam mics, do indeed, suck.

2) Audio Editing Software
The reason you need this, is because a mic will not 'just work' simply cause you plugged it in. The microphone is simply capturing acoustic signals, and converting them to electric signals, or in the case of a USB microphone, binary code. You need somewhere to record this binary code. In addition to this, if your new awesome microphone is distorting, the software will allow for you to pull down it's "input gain" or recording level.
Some good softwares are:

Windows:
Audacity
Wavosaur

Mac:
Garage Band

3) Video Editing Software
Once again, depending on what platform you're working on there's a bunch of good free softwares that you can use. And if you're feeling rebellious there's always the word which begins with T, ends with T and has the letters "orrent" in the middle.
The reason you need this software is if you're making videos. You need to have.. well... video. And assuming you're camera is separate from your mic, the main purpose of this software is to sync up the audio and video. So what softwares can you use?

For Windows:
Sony Vegas (Highly Recommended)
Final Cut

For Mac:
iMovie
Final Cut

So, now that you have everything you need, how exactly would you make a quality recording? Onwards! to Section 3!

Section 3: Making an awesome sound sample or video clip.

Step 1: Setting up.
The first thing you need to do, is setup your camera and mic. Camera positioning doesn't really matter in a music specific video, but your mic positioning does. If you've gotten a mic such as the Snowball or the AT2020, I suggest keeping it about 1/2 - 1 Foot away from you. The reason this is done so that you can capture the full bass response of the microphone as well as the instrument. Like I said, you're using audio editing software to pull down the levels now, so you won't have a problem with distortion. Also, keep your microphone at a slight angle from you so that you don't capture what are called "plosives". These plosives occur when you speak fat "p's" or "b's" and air hits the diaphragm of the mic from the front.
Also, setting up your audio and video software is a must! Ensure that the audio is set to 44.1 kHz and 16 bits and that the video software accepts sounds at 44.1kHz. MAKE SURE THIS IS THE SAME OR ELSE THE VIDEO AND AUDIO WILL NOT SYNC.
To do this, there is usually an option when you start up the project.

(Thanks to Tonkatsu for this next bit)NOTE: If you are still distortion despite what's written above, I suggest trying to use what's called a "Pop filter", they're quite inexpensive and can actually even be made at at home. These things help reduce energy levels of a sound wave before it carries to the diaphragm.

Now if you find, that you are still distorting despite being at the very lowest input gain. There is often times a little button on mixing softwares called "Pad" or "-20dB" or "-10dB". Use this and now you might have to even raise your gain a bit to get optimum recording levels. (If the meter is consistently hitting the "yellow" colour and not going into "orange" or "red" you're at optimum recording level.)

Also, condenser mics, if they're on the table might pick up some irritating noise from your desktop/laptop whirring loudly, the a/c in your room, etc. The all add to the "noise floor" and eventually your recording. To reduce this take all precautionary measures. In order to reduce the computer whirring noise, remove the mic off the table and use a separate barstool or something to keep the mic levelled with ur mouth/instrument.

Step 2: Test your recording levels
I cannot stress how important this is. Make sure you're not distorting before you record. If you are, rather than pushing the mic away from you and making your recording sound thin and annoying, find an option on your audio editing software called input gain, or gain and reduce this before you start recording.
For example, I use Pro Tools but have taken a screenshot from Garage Band to show you what I mean.

Spoiler: click to toggle


Do you see where it says 0.0 dB? Well if you test your recording and it distorts at this level, then what you need to do, is pull down that little slider with the speakers on either side, till such time that it does not distort at the highest or loudest note that you play/sing.

Step 3: Ready your camera and software
Get your camera on timer mode, hit the record button, get in your seat, hit the record button on your audio software, and you're ready to go. Simple.

Step 4: Edit your final take.
Now, this is the final step in making an awesome recording. To have a good video with good audio, what you need to do is take the sound from your audio software and export it as a .WAV file. Please use this and not .Mp3 even if your software allows it (some don't) because .WAV is uncompressed and raw unlike Mp3 in which redundant frequencies are literally 'erased' to make the file size smaller.
Export the video from your camera and load it into your Video software, export the audio from your audio software and load it into the video software.
Sync up the audio, which can be tricky if it's an instrumental. Here's a tip to help your syncing. Say something in the beginning, even if it's just the song title so you can match the sound of your audio to the motion of your lips.

And Bam. Good recording that will not kill people's ears, make them appreciate your music more and you won't have to deal with having irritating videos with shrill annoying sounds.

I hope this guide helps! Please let me know what you think. Any and all feedback is welcome! =D

Cheers,
Achint



Attached to this post:
Attachments: mountain_ocarina_comparisons_audio.mp3 (4.56 MB)
Edited by Achint, 2 May 2011, 06:52 PM.
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Philip
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KypSyd

Thanks for the guide GA. Something like this has been missing from TON
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Thanks for the feed back Kyp. =)

EDITED: I've added 2 links to show the difference between an ocarina played on a camcorder mic (which are still better than webcam mics) and the same ocarina played by the same lady on a Samson C01U.

EDITED: Added a few checks for distortion. (Thanks Tonkatsu!)

EDITED: Added the importance of knowing your polar pattern. (Thanks Sig!)
Edited by Achint, 1 May 2011, 09:40 AM.
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TimGreen
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Play what makes you happy. - Achint
Wow, thanks a lot for this! I have been planning on possibly making ocarina videos sometime in the future once I get proper equipment, Ill keep this page commited to memory so that I will have good instructions to follow before making a video so that I might hopefully be able to stand out and do well.
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kissing
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tyrannical dictator

Great guide! Reading this made me glad that I'm doing some things right!
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Hyunwoo
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Double Ocarinist x 4
I just got a new condenser mic. A samson c01u. I still get distortion when I record.. Why is this?

Do I need a shock mount for my mic?
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Thank you! I'm glad it's helping people!

@tonkatsu
Ok, distortion can happen for a couple reasons.

1) Your input gain is too high. The recording level is basically through the roof. Find an option or a knob or a slider called "Input gain" and bring it down enough to reduce ur distortion.

2) You're too close too the mic. Condensers are incredibly sensitive, and so aren't the kind where you have to be 'kiss' them like dynamic mics. I would suggest keeping the mic half a foot to a foot away from you. Another option to reduce sound pressure levels is to use a pop filter. This is so that sound waves don't hit directly and it goes through a 'grill' to reduce its energy level.

3) Now if you find, that you are still distorting despite being at the very lowest input gain. There is often times a little button on mixing softwares called "Pad" or "-20dB" or "-10dB". Use this and now you might have to even raise your gain a bit to get optimum recording levels. (If the meter is consistently hitting the "yellow" colour and not going into "orange" or "red" you're at optimum recording level.)

4) Also, condenser mics, if they're on the table might pick up some irritating noise from your desktop/laptop whirring loudly, the a/c in your room, etc. The all add to the "noise floor" and eventually your recording. To reduce this take all precautionary measures. In order to reduce the computer whirring noise, remove the mic off the table and use a separate barstool or something to keep the mic levelled with ur mouth/instrument.

5) Keep the mic angled away from you so that none of the sound waves hit the diaphragm head on, rather at an angle.
Edited by Achint, 1 May 2011, 08:52 AM.
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Sigurthr
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Flutist and Ham Radio Operator. Talarðu Íslenska?

It's also important to know the spacial reception pattern of your mic, sometimes just turning your mic 15degrees will reduce the levels to the perfect amount (obviously doesn't work for an omnidirectional mic).
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Ah yes, thanks for that, I'll add that in!

@Tonaktsu, I just heard your Rurouni Kenshin recording, and it sounds pretty great! Your distortion is not from the ocarinas, rather from your piano. I suggest pulling down the gain on the track for ur piano next time, and also you can afford to move the mic away by about 2-4 inches. Hope that helps! I look forward to hearing your next recording!
Edited by Achint, 1 May 2011, 12:23 PM.
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Jack Campin
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Opener of Catfood Tins

I suggest you calculate how much you're expecting people to spend.

For my budget, dream on. Final Cut? You have got to be kidding.
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crumpy
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very very crumpy
*cough*torrent*cough*

He has provided the information, it's up to you what you do with it. If you want to pay for a legal copy he also list imovie which is free and Sony Vegas which he suggests as his favourite option.
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Yoshi
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Triple Ocarinist
Thank you so much for this guide! I'm sure it will really help a lot of people (including myself)
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Sigurthr
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Flutist and Ham Radio Operator. Talarðu Íslenska?

You know, Audacity and Windows Movie Maker really aren't too bad if you are determined to use them well.
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

@Jack There are tons of good free software out there, I've only listed the ones I know to be... workable.
If you wanna get good software, you have to pay... and yea, for windows, windows movie maker isn't bad. Quality of the video gets reduced a bit as well as audio but its ok, it works.
And like crumpy said, there's always torrents.

EDIT: Just checked the price for Sony Vegas... it's $80 on amazon for a platinum pack of Sony Vegas 9. That is highly affordable... just forego one of ur next ocarinas perhaps? =P
Edited by Achint, 2 May 2011, 07:51 AM.
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Kuwabara
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16-Bit
Thanks for the guide!

.......I have been doing everything possibly wrong with my videos! ^_^; Dear lord, its already been a while since I've made a video, but now it will be longer so I can get the proper equipment.
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Squawkers23
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Inline Ocarinist x 5
Well, this is probably going to make me sound like an idiot/newb/music vandal, but here goes. For those of us who can't exactly afford those high-end microphones, how well does a logitech headset work? I understand that it wouldn't be nearly as good as those, but is it at least better than a laptop/webcam mic?
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Well, looking at the Logitech headset's specifications on their website, the frequency response of the microphone seems to be 100Hz to 10kHz.

Here are the Pros and Cons of that frequency response.

Pros:
1) Higher frequencies above 10kHz are masked out, which means soprano mics won't sound toooo harsh, but there are irritating frequencies around 8kHz, so you'll still have a bit of trouble with the higher notes, but hopefully not as much.
2) Because the headset mic is adjustable, you'll be able to position it such that you don't record directly into the diaphragm, which is great for reducing the harshness of sounds.

Cons:
1) The frequency response is a bit inaccurate. While I don't doubt that 100Hz is being captured, there is most definitely a rolloff such that the response at 100Hz is lessened and subsequently, other frequencies that are within the same "range". These frequencies are responsible for the body on a instrument, so your ocarina may sound a bit thinner than it actually is.
2) Once again, it is a microphone meant for chats and such, so there is most definitely going to be a boost around the 2-4kHz range which means the instrument may end up sounding a bit harsher than it actually is.

So yea, personally, I wouldn't advise using it at all. But since it's all you have, I'd say it's most definitely better than webcam mic, but still not the best you could get.

However, I will say that it does sound decent enough if you were to play outdoors where the sound from the ocarina is dispersed a lot more and there is no danger of forming sound pockets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9Iu1NBtLOY&feature=channel_video_title

That's a video of Ubizmo using a logitech headset to play his MO, but note that it is outdoors so it sounds a lot better than it would were he indoors.
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Squawkers23
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Inline Ocarinist x 5
Ah, okay. I may do a test video outside at some point. If that doesn't sound decent, I'll probably just forgo Ocarina videos until I have a more steady source of income, and can buy things online for myself. My dad would probably question why I was buying a microphone when I already have a headset.

Thank you!
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

You're most welcome! :D
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A1dan
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Triple Ocarinist
Hey Achint! Loving the guides. I just got myself a RODE Videomic Pro to go with my Canon HF S21. The VMP has a +20 dB gain switch on it, which allows me to tone down the inbuilt amp of the HF S21. When I start making some vids at home (vids at concert will be taken with the VMP directly to the HF S21, vids at home will have the VMP connected to my computer), I'll definitely find these guides useful! I just have to teach myself how to solder stuff, so I can replace the mic opamps on my XFi card with these LME49860s I got as a free sample :D
Edited by A1dan, 3 Jun 2011, 08:35 AM.
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bluebell
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Compulsive collector
yay!!! i have a good mic. i have a blue something ball :) it has a camera attached to it, but i leave the camera hidden, so i cant accidentally film myself.

this is a really useful guide, and building my confidence enough to try my hand at videoing soon. thanks
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

@Aidan: My gosh dude, that is a lot of expensive equipment! Yea, the Rode may be a tad sensitive seeing how it's meant more for on-location recordings and such. So you mayyyy need to use the -10dB switch that it has instead of the +20... the +20 might be overkill for live performances. But I haven't tried it out so I can't say for sure. I've tried a RODE-NTG before, and it needed the gained to be backed off by quite a lot despite having padded it with the -10dB switch. Then again, I was using it to record a band playing at a pub... circumstances were totally different xD But yea! I'd be very interested to hear a sound sample! A video of ur next performance perhaps :D

@Bluebell: Yea, the Blue Snowball is actually quite good! I love that it has 3 settings which allow you to change it's frequency response. I personally would use setting "3" for recordings at home. You may need to do some EQing (I'll talk about this in my upcoming 5th guide) in order to get rid of sibilance, since setting 3 has a boost in the 10kHz region, but it's definitely what you should use once you start recording :D
(Setting 1 undercuts all the frequencies and Setting 2 has a boost in the range of what are commonly labelled the most annoying frequencies, i.e., 2kHz-4kHz. I suggest using Setting 2 if you're talking to people on Skype.)

EDIT: Just realized you said it had a webcam, which probably means you have the Blue Eyeball.
Thaaat microphone is more for voice convos and such, so you may have to EQ differently but the frequency reception overall seems to be the same. So yay! No problem there! Just instead of EQing 10kHz, you're going to have to EQ 2kHz a tad.

For anyone who has a Blue Snowball! The advice above is for you! =P
Edited by Achint, 3 Jun 2011, 06:51 PM.
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A1dan
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Triple Ocarinist


Here's an unlisted video of mine with the VMP and HF S21. The VMP was set to +20 dB, without the low pass filter. Disregard the dodgy playing, though :p Anyway, I noticed some sound 'break-up'. Is this due to the VMP on +20 dB, or the amp circuitry of the HF S21? I've recorded a video with it on +0 dB, which has noticeable less 'break-up' but much more noticeable noise, due to the amp circuitry of the HF S21, so it might be due to the +20 setting.
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brunocbreis
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Inline Ocarinist x 5
Wow, you have no idea how useful this is to me. Thank you! :D
I was actually thinking of buying the AT2020 and now I can be sure to, hahaha. Great guide!
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Flonas
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Eccentric Ocarinist
Great guide! :D

I have used a logitech guitar hero microphone for some little recordings and it actually picks up both ocarina and guitar nicely.

Sound sample below: (original song named "under the spruce") :music:
Attached to this post:
Attachments: Under_granen___Ocarina__gitarr_och_bas.mp3 (1.38 MB)
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Thanks! :D

Yea, that's actually not too bad! There is a bit of noise that's generated but that's alright... you could be doing a lot, lot worse xD
Also, I'm pretty sure there's a bit of either a boost around the mid frequencies, or else a cut on the bass. It's most likely a cut on the bass but I'm not entiiirely sure.

If you guys like this guide, be sure to check out Guide 2-4 in this series! :D
Aidan, that is an awesome video! Yes, there is definitely some break-up and I can't quite place my finger on it because it seems to be an odd sort of distortion.

I looked at the specs of the camera and it says that the built-in mic is meant for stereo recording. This could be the reason because the Rode only records in Mono. So if I'm not mistaken, the camera is actually duplicating the input signal (since it's mono) in order to make it stereo. What happens when you play 2 identical waveforms together is that the volume doubles, which is what is adding to the distortion.

The only other possibility that I can think of is that because of the +20 setting, the sound goes past the threshold and this is where it should distort but yours cuts off. That can happen because of a limiter setting (The site didn;t say whether the camera had a limiter). The job of a limiter is quite simply to cut off any sounds after a particular dB level. So what's happening is that the sound is getting really loud and the camera is cutting the sound off once it hits anything past 0dB. But this is only a guess.

Also, as far as the noise goes. The Rode VMP is a super cardioid. This means that it picks up frequencies from behind the mic a lot as well. According to Rode, it picks up about 1-2kHz from behind the mic. And also, the actual frequency reception include 10kHz. These frequencies are all where typical "machine" sounds lie. They're annoying mid/high frequencies, which could contribute to the noise.

So yea, try the -10dB setting to see if it helps and check for a limiter setting. As for the noise, unless you wanna detach the mic from the camera, there's not really any way of reducing the pickup of the annoying frequencies from the back of the mic.
Edited by Achint, 5 Jun 2011, 04:57 PM.
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Zero Tolerance
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Tamer of beasts, Anything on Ocarina-ist and TON Secret Santa Organizer!
Very informative.

Sadly I'm not very computer savvy so some of the video and audio software you recommended really intimidates me. :(
I use an Acer laptop (with Vista >_>), I have a Blue Snowball mic, an audio program called "Free Sound Recorder" (yes it can output .WAV) and I use Windows Movie Maker.

Do you think this setup is "Okay" or do you think I should upgrade? I have several videos up already and I think the audio is pretty considering what I'm using.

advice please?
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

I think the Blue Snowball is a great Mic, especially for home recordings. It's not really studio material, but for home it's fine.

As for the software, I haven't really tried the software you've spoken of so I can't advise you on whether to upgrade or not.

However, my 3rd and 4th guides have focused on how to use Audacity to record and as of now I am working on a guide to teach how to use the effects. So I suggest getting Audacity, which is free, and using that for your recording purposes =)
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Zero Tolerance
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Tamer of beasts, Anything on Ocarina-ist and TON Secret Santa Organizer!
Thank you T_T
I do have Audacity but it makes no sense to me what-so-ever so I'll definitely look into your guide for Audacity.

Windows Movie Maker is a standard Windows program.
It's capabilities and difficultly are entry-level. I'm not skilled enough to use anything more complicated... :(

As for sound quality you can watch one of my ocarina vids.
(I highly recommend Mononoke, Path of Wind or Bamboo in the moonlight)
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Windows movie maker should be fine.

All softwares, to a certain degree, add a little noise to the recording but it's almost negligible. I think WMM is fine for editing videos.


Edit: Just heard your review of Wind in the Willows. I think you're using the mic pretty well. There was no peaking, i.e. distortion when you spoke at higher volumes which is a great start. As for the ocarina playing, the playing itself was good, but the backtrack and the arrangement are not in the same key (Mononoke hime, bamboo in the winds 2nd half), so it's out of tune. Just keep that in mind xD But the other videos sound pretty nice!

Soooo yea!
Edited by Achint, 8 Jun 2011, 12:05 AM.
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Zero Tolerance
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Tamer of beasts, Anything on Ocarina-ist and TON Secret Santa Organizer!
Thank you for your constructive criticism.
Sorry that the backtracks aren't up to snuff :(
but it's REALLY hard to find good backtracks so I'm just trying to do the best I can with what I got.
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

You can always transpose and play the songs to match the backing tracks =)
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Zero Tolerance
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Tamer of beasts, Anything on Ocarina-ist and TON Secret Santa Organizer!
Transpose? Can you elaborate?
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Link.
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Arcane Defender Of Hyrule!
Thanks for the guide, I've actually been wondering what kind of mics would be best to record ocarina playing. I've got a Blue Snowball on the way and...

-prepare for stupid question from a non-audiophile-

... when you mentioned that placing a mic on a table can pick up the whirring of the laptop fan, etc... what I get from that is that the vibrations would transfer from the wood up to the microphone, so could I place a small towel or something padded to remove such noise?
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

You're most welcome! The blue snowball is great! It's got 3 settings that you can switch between. I recommend using setting #3 for recording instruments as it has the flattest frequency response.
You will need to equalize frequencies around 10kHz though. I'll be putting up a guide soon enough about what that means but yea, once I'm back from vacations =P

Also, what I meant by the whole table on mic thing was two-fold.
You're exactly right about the first one. The vibrations will most certainly carry up the microphone stand and it will be picked up by the diaphragm. However, the towel solution will help absorb the higher frequencies to an extent and reduce this noise.

The second is due to the polar pattern of the microphone. Most microphones have what is called a "Cardioid" polar pattern. This means that largely, it picks up frequencies in a sphere in front of the microphone. However, to a certain degree, frequencies (usually the higher ones) are picked up from the back of the microphone, especially condensers like the Blue Snowball.
So if you had electronics behind the microphone, then some harmonics and frequencies from the whirring sounds would be picked up and they'd add to the noise in your recording which you don't want.

To address this issue, I recommend getting yourself a mic stand and keeping it on a carpeted floor away from the table your laptop or PC is on.

Hope that helps! Good luck! :)
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Jack Campin
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Opener of Catfood Tins

Somebody with similar issues, using a recorder with a heavy metal band:

http://www.windkanal.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=107&Itemid=105&lang=en
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Cheers Jack!

I've actually recorded a violin in a similar fashion. I got a $50 lapel mic from sennheiser and clipped it near the Sound Holes on the violin. It was much better than using any condenser or dynamic microphone that I had available to me at the time.
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Jonny Sutton
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The Lonely Ocarinist
Achint, would 30-16k Hz be enough range for an ocarina recording? If not, what would be the minimum range you would recommend?

Sorry if I've missed this information elsewhere on this page! >.<
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Hmm, while I would say it's enough at the same time there's a part of me that disagrees with it.

The average human can hear between 20Hz - 20kHz. But it's been proven on several recordings that humans are capable of detecting harmonic content in frequencies higher than that, and those frequencies in turn make the recording sound fuller.

What that frequency range is essentially doing is cutting out a bit of the Sub-Bass frequencies and the higher 4kHz.
If it's all you have I feel it'll get the job done, but at the same time I would want something that atleast encompasses 20Hz - 20kHz.

Hope that helps!
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Jonny Sutton
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The Lonely Ocarinist
Okay, thank you! C: Eventually, I want to buy a very good quality mic, like the ones you've suggested, but currently my funds prohibit me, so I'm going to have to settle for less than good... Thank you very much for your help and your comprehensive guides! :)
Edited by Jonny Sutton, 10 Jul 2011, 11:53 PM.
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

I'm glad they're helping you :)
Thanks so much! and you're most welcome :D
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passaggio
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♪♫ Je veux vivre dans ce rêve qui m'enivre. ♪♫
GreaterAnticipation
30 Apr 2011, 10:18 AM
1) Get yourself a microphone.
USB Microphones nowadays are quite inexpensive and I will say there are some fantastic ones out there. Please keep in mind, none of these are "Professional" mics despite what the product might have you believe. Professional standards include an XLR cable and the second they have a USB cable, this type of mic becomes a consumer mic.
Hey Achint! Great guides. :) So...I haven't been actively looking for good recording equipment, but noticed this Tech Pro Podcaster Kit on Ebay Deals today. Says MSRP is $149.99 (sale for $59.99).

I remember you saying that pro standards include an XLR cable. And this kit has XLR. So in your opinion, would it be worth giving the Tech Pro kit a shot? For ocarina recording, specifically? Or would the USB consumer mics you recommend be a safer choice still?

I've never heard of Technical Pro (nor any of the brands you've mentioned, actually). Would greatly appreciate your expert insight!
Edited by passaggio, 29 Jul 2011, 02:16 PM.
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Haaiiii Passy! (can I call you Passy? xD)
Right, so I've never heard of that particular brand either but I googled the product and was going through the technical specifications and I wouldn't recommend buying it. Yes, it's only about $60 and you get an interface and a mic, but here's why I would personally still go for the USB condensers.

1) The microphone supplied is a dynamic microphone, i.e. not as sensitive as the condenser microphones.

2) That particular microphone as a frequency pickup range from between 80Hz to 15kHz. While the bass response is just about ok (I would prefer to have atleast 60Hz at the low end.) The higher frequency response is not. As explained above the average human ear can hear between 20Hz to 20kHz at the very least if not more. If you were recording soprano ocarinas you would actually miss out on the higher end and the ocarina won't sound as true as it should.

3) The headphone has "Bass drivers". This means that when you listen to what you've recorded, you'll be able to hear more bass than you should. If you decide to EQ a bit, you might just cut out the bass because of what's in your headphones, when in reality, it didn't need any touching up.

4) The mixer has provided with 1/4'' Microphone inputs. This means that it is a piece of consumer equipment. Yes it has an On/off XLR switch, but the fact that it has 1/4'' Microphone inputs is just wrong. The reason I say this is because the 1/4'' inputs are meant for instruments (such as electric guitar) and typically are meant for High Level Signals. Microphones generate Low Level Signals, which means that within that tiny box there is some amplification happening. Usually, professional mixers would give you an XLR input and then a Gain knob so you can control the input volume of the microphone. This particular mixer doesn't have the gain knob and that bugs me.

5) The mixer has a 2 Band EQ with no frequency specification. On the website as well they call it a "treble" and "bass" EQ. While this may be considered nitpicking I think it's important because I would like to know which frequencies I'm affecting with I equalize them. Most likely they are what are called "Shelf EQ's". This means, for example, that the Treble EQ knob will take a particular frequency then boost (or cut) that particular frequency and all the others above it.
Similarly the Bass knob will boost or cut that particular frequency and all those below it.
Without knowing the frequencies that will be affected and at what "gradient" they will be affected, I wouldn't dare touch those knobs.

Soooo yea, there are the reasons I'd stay away from it and stick to what is safe xD
AT2020 USB FTW! :p
Edited by Achint, 13 May 2012, 01:34 PM.
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passaggio
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♪♫ Je veux vivre dans ce rêve qui m'enivre. ♪♫
lol Passy sounds like I sorta passed...I could go for that! Certainly nicer than Faily. XP

What an awesome response! I didn't realize there was so much to consider in buying a mic & mixer interface. Thanks so much, Achint! :) Learned a lot. Will come back to this page when I eventually buy a good mic.
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Achint
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Fat Mouse >^_^<

Haha awesome!

Glad I could help! :D
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