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Stereo microphone for accordion playing recording

Acon

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Hi guys I used to use a standalone audio recorder + a video camera to record the sound and video separately from my piano and accordion playing and then combined them together with a video editing software. The camera I use now is Olympus E-M5 mark II and I got some good lenses. I was a professional video editor before so the video part is never a big problem to me.

I always used Zoom H2 recorder for the audio part before, but it's an old model now and the internal battery has gone bad so the dates of the files are never right which is super annoying for me. The interface of Zoom H2 is hard to use as well. It uses an SD card which is another pain for me too because you need to transfer the video and audio files from different SD cards from the camera and the recorders separately and never see the end quality before you actually combine them (and delete the original audio track from the camera one) in the video editing software.

The only advantage of using separate devices for video and audio is you can put them in different places to get the result you want (usually the audio recorder is in front of the instrument of course).

I've searched reviews of some products to combine a professional microphone and a video camera together like the Zoom Q4n, Zoom Q8, Sony HDR-MV1 but neither of them is good enough in terms of the video quality or the design. Sony HDR-MV1 is so far the best I can find but the design is just too bad (no articulated screen, low resolution, fixed focal length, unfriendly menu, etc), so I am thinking to get a good stereo microphone specifically designed for music instrument recording and can be connected to my E-M5 Mark II so I can get the videos recorded with the audio input directly from the microphone.

As far as I know, my E-M5 Mark has a 3,5mm phone jack input so I guess I need to find something with that thing. Has anyone had any experience with similar setup and some suggestions?

Thank you.
 

jozz

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Suggestion: try before you buy.

It will greatly depend on your camera (does it have a decent pre-amp?) if a beaufitul mic will be worth it. I've seen/heard very expensive camera's produce a lot of hiss on the audio because they have fixed input gain and really are not made for audio.

Other option: the Olympus LS series is an industry standard, with today the LS-P2 that has a 3-mic array in a very small package. We've used the LS series at work for ages. You probably can screw it to your camera.
 
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Geronimo

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It's probably worth noting that a "stereo microphone" will not do a good job separating an accordion's sides since polar characterics break down at low frequencies, meaning that your bass notes will appear on both channels. If you want to get a stereo image useful other than for headphones, you need to work with physically separate mics.

Preamps in cams will at best provide plugin power, that rules out "proper" condenser mics requiring phantom power. If you are looking for high quality recordings, doing the audio separate from the video gives you a lot more options for fine-tuning your toolbox.
 

debra

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Most cameras and video cameras will use agc (automatic gain) which causes everything to come out at the same volume. It may be hard to turn that off if even possible.
The setup where you record the video separately from the audio may be cumbersome but is bound to give you the best results. I also use the Zoom H2 and I'm happy with the results so far. I will move one to separate microphones and a better recording device in the future, but certainly not because the Zoom H2 doesn't satisfy my needs at the moment.
For a "nice looking" video you want to not just put the camera in a single static position: you want to move and zoom. But for the audio you need the microphones and recording to be in a single position. So really it's a good idea to keep recording audio and video separately.
 

JerryPH

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Geronimo post_id=54193 time=1515336461 user_id=2623 said:
Preamps in cams will at best provide plugin power, that rules out proper condenser mics requiring phantom power.
There are NO preamps in all but the most high-end video cameras. This is why when you see external mics, they are all battery driven so that they can boost the sound up enough to be usable by the camera. 99% of these kinds of mics are made for interview and speaking, not capturing music with any great level of quality. I avoid those like the plague.

Geronimo post_id=54193 time=1515336461 user_id=2623 said:
If you are looking for high quality recordings, doing the audio separate from the video gives you a lot more options for fine-tuning your toolbox.
That is the acknowledged and tested best way of doing things. By separating the audio and video, you get maximum control and ability to define what equipment you want on each side without disturbing the other. It is a pain to need to deal with several audio sources, but the results are always better, as long as you know what you are doing.

One thing Acon should know (I am pretty sure he does!), being a video editor in a previous life... you ALWAYS record audio on the device that captures your video (camera, camcorder, etc...). It is important because its sole use is to make sure that your QUALITY captured audio matches in length to the original and the poor quality audio from the video recording device (a bug often seen using ZUNE and ZOOM products for some reason), and also it is the perfect source to synch your high quality audio to. Of course, after its synched, you dont remove the bad audio, you simply mute it in the video editor. ;)

For me, I also tend to really prefer a dSLR camera (Nikon D4) to video cameras or camcorders for my video part. Though I have several camcorders to use to create my B-Roll with, I cannot get a higher quality result with any other camera that I own, and like Acon, I have an incredible assortment of lenses at my disposal if I ever want to go crazy with the special effects, though I am experimenting a lot now with green screens, they are FUN to use! :)

About mics, I think that if one wants to get serious about the quality of their recordings, there are simply 2 things to do:
1. Look at your budget, define it clearly
2, Buy the best quality microphones that this budget can afford. This means researching and looking for deals, because there are always deals out there, if you take your time to find them.

That said, there is a LOT more to getting good recordings besides good microphones. Things like room acoustics, method of capturing the sounds and of course quality and knowledgeable post processing. At this level, things can get quite expensive real fast if you are not careful. :)
 

JerryPH

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debra post_id=54195 time=1515337685 user_id=605 said:
For a nice looking video you want to not just put the camera in a single static position: you want to move and zoom.
... which means that you need to have at least 2 people involved, one playing and one moving around. In this instance, you also need a special location because if moving around in a small tight studio, this makes it impractical.

Also, for someone like me, that works alone 100% of the time, a moving camera is simply impossible, but the use of multiple cameras for different angles, is nothing more than an added inconvenience to consider at the time, but it is doable. It is the closest thing to motion that happens. Besides, I dont see myself making videos with me walking and moving around or needing a camera that moves. I am in a relatively small basement, this is my primary recording venue.

A full music DVD is in my future, but that is a project that is going to involve several people, the big wide outdoors and a LOT of planning. I am looking forward to that, but for now... I am concentrating on getting my basics down, and even before that, I have a lot of practicing to do!
 

Acon

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Thanks everybody for giving me such practical and useful information! It looks like I should save the money and keep the setup to record the audio and video separately. My Zoom H2 always does a good job actually. It's a quite famous model 10 years ago because of the recording quality. My one has lost its power of the internal battery so it never remembers the dates of the files after being turning off and they always go from 1st Jan 2007 again which is super annoying. I need to reset the date and time every time before the recording. But you know, all these setups (video, audio, setting, wires, position, lighting, composition, etc) make me tired before I can actually play and I don't have too much right mood after all these messes. I guess I just need to have more patience... :|

Thanks Jerry for your tips. I DO know that audio sync trick :) (I think everybody does it after he/she messed up his/her first separate recording with the audio mute on the video camera :p). I used Nikon D3s and D4s before. It looks like you are a Nikon user too. I used to have lots of different lenses and gadgets for the Nikon system, even some designed and made by myself (I run my 3D printing and laser cutting business before so I took advantage of my profession :p), but sold them all to save some money to move to Australia. The Nikon full-frame system is also too heavy for me so I've switched to micro 3/4 to give me more portability. Still I miss how powerful my Nikon cameras were.

Living in Australia is great but you always get birds/bugs singing and possums running across your roof to add some flavours to your audio recording. :lol:
 

debra

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Acon post_id=54205 time=1515358852 user_id=1429 said:
Thanks everybody for giving me such practical and useful information! It looks like I should save the money and keep the setup to record the audio and video separately. My Zoom H2 always does a good job actually. Its a quite famous model 10 years ago because of the recording quality. My one has lost its power of the internal battery so it never remembers the dates of the files after being turning off and they always go from 1st Jan 2007 again which is super annoying. ...

To keep the date and time all that is needed is to keep charged AA batteries in the H2 at all times. Make sure you have power connected when you replace the batteries. This way it remembers the date. Mine is in the same state as yours: take out the battery and disconnect power and it loses the date. But keep batteries or power and the time keeps ticking on.

If you want better sound quality you can connect microphones to the H2 but its not made for using high quality mics. I now have a small Tascam which has XLR connectors and can provide 48Volts phantom power to the mics.
 

JeffJetton

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If the H2 is anything like the H1 (which I have), there's a mode where you can simply use it as a USB-connected microphone.

That is, you could hook it directly up to your computer and record using whatever audio software you want, rather than using the Zoom's internal recorder. No need to fool with an SD card and transfer it over to the computer or anything (since the file will be on your computer already), and no need to worry about internal timestamps.
 

debra

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JeffJetton post_id=54232 time=1515423075 user_id=1774 said:
If the H2 is anything like the H1 (which I have), theres a mode where you can simply use it as a USB-connected microphone.
...

It is somewhat like the H1, the biggest improvement being that it does not generate a constant high-pitch tone when used on batteries (caused by the dc-dc convertor).
 
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Geronimo

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debra post_id=54233 time=1515423957 user_id=605 said:
JeffJetton post_id=54232 time=1515423075 user_id=1774 said:
If the H2 is anything like the H1 (which I have), theres a mode where you can simply use it as a USB-connected microphone.
...

It is somewhat like the H1, the biggest improvement being that it does not generate a constant high-pitch tone when used on batteries (caused by the dc-dc convertor).
Well, Ive used the H2 as an audio interface. 48kHz and 16 bit only (not really a restriction since anything beyond that is only noise anyway). But the main point of something like the H2 is its worriless dropout-free small-size standalone operation.

Sound quality of the H2n is better than the H2 I think (it also has 5 rather than 4 mic capsules in order to be able to do a more convincing M/S recording). Ive seen it and found it appealing, but I havent had any opportunity to actually test it. I just have some recording done with it on my computer, thats all, and no direct comparison with the H2. It probably has less audio interface problems and likely makes it a lot less necessary to juggle with SD cards since it is a USB 2.0 device (I think) and thus should be able to pose as a card reader at tolerable speed.
 

Glenn

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I have the Zoom H4n and you can use its USB connection as a sound card straight into a piece of recording software. It works really well. I use disposable batteries but rechargeable work as well. The microphone has two arrangements and you can plug in a replacement if you have one.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
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Geronimo

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Acon post_id=54205 time=1515358852 user_id=1429 said:
Thanks everybody for giving me such practical and useful information! It looks like I should save the money and keep the setup to record the audio and video separately. My Zoom H2 always does a good job actually. Its a quite famous model 10 years ago because of the recording quality.
I made a video featuring the Zoom H2 as one option for accordion. I think that youll find that similarly priced video cameras will not be a reasonable replacement of it.

You can check at this link. With regard to more expensive microphones, there are a number of options. Personally Id go for small diaphragm condensers but still want to try out ribbon mics as well: I imagine they might work for not making tremolo sound significantly worse than the original. But thats at best a vague handwaving hunch without any data to back it up.
 

JerryPH

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Options, it is all about options. :)

#1 - The H2 is always your best bet... Who cares what the flle name is? Sync it and be done with it... you are a video editor, this is SUPER easy to do (like you already mentioned :) )

#2 - The only reason I would negate #1 is if the E-M5 Mark 2 has a STEREO input and can capture a recording to at least 44.1 kHz. Your camera has a stereo input and captures audio to 48khz (see pg 160 of your manual), so you are good for that. Unfortunately, you have NO way of disabling AGC (automatic gain control). This effectively removes the camera as an audio capturing device for you... sorry, you are back to option #1.

video and audio files from different SD cards from the camera and the recorders separately and never see the end quality before you actually combine them (and delete the original audio track from the camera one) in the video editing software.

Not sure if I am understanding you right, but I see the quality of each individual file before even importing in to the video editor software. Yes there are many segments, but a lot fewer than making a 2-3 hour video... and why are you deleting the audio track... if you dont need it to sync to anymore, just mute it! That is a one-click job in most video editing software and is what I do all the time. ;)

Microphones... so that you do not need to purchase mixers or other sources that have 48 volt phantom power, stay away from condenser mics and stay away from video camera mics, those are designed for dialog, NOT music... stick to dynamic mics and an easy to make custom cable. If you already have a mixer with integrated 48 volts and super clean preamps, sure go the condenser mic route.

Best affordable dynamic mics for your use are the Shure SM58 at around $100 each, or around $50-$75 each used. You can find old SM58 clones on eBay made by Radio Shack (Realistic), they are acoustically identical and are around $20US-$30US for used units (no new nits available anymore, they are discontinued).

No matter what, get two mics for a stereo effect. Two mics with a custom cable (a fun and easy DIY project that should not take you more than 30 minutes to make) means you can have the best sound possible.

Shooting video... one thing is going to make your videos stand out more than anything else, and that is having good lighting. Pretty god kits can be found on Amazon, eBay or in places like CowBoy Studios for very reasonable amounts. I find that good lighting can make a nice video in to a VERY nice video. Make sure you use manual settings on your camera to properly adjust things like focus, white balance, framing, etc... You know this drill being a video editor. ;)

Your other options start to get more expensive... like getting another camera. dSLR cameras have advantages such as a shallow depth of field, but you are not making documentaries or movies here, so you could go for a camcorder. Canon Vixia are a good choice. I find having a slightly deeper DOF a big advantage in terms of clarity in my videos while moving forward or back a little.

I have a good high end dSLR with top of the line lenses and on a tripod I dont lift them. What bugs me is the length of time limit that by law dSLRs have to have (max 15 minutes at a time), which is why I just recently picked up a Sony FDR-AX33 camcorder and its picture quality is kick ass... (reference my Mild to Wild video), and I can go as high as shooting 4K videos if I want (I stuck to 1080p for these vidoes... the files way more than good enough for my needs) and I can record non-stop for hours then just chop out the parts I dont want.

That said, even though this camera does capture audio at 48khz, for serious use, I capture all music externally going straight in to my DAW via a Mackie 1640i FireWire mixer at 24-bit 96k quality in to Reaper on my PC for processing and sync it to the movie. For good quality voice, I record using a $5 lavalier mic going in to my smartphone using RecForge II and capturing at 44.1khz and clean it up in Reaper and again, sync the file in my video editor. Easy peazy. :)

All that said... what you will find that is WAY more important than whatever mics, or recording device or what ever... is the acoustics of the room where you are making your recordings. This will make the biggest difference as to how good or bad your recordings turn out.

I am both super lucky and super unlucky in that my basement is acoustically very dead thanks to the dropped ceiling of fiberglass ceiling panels, full room carpeting and a full wall of cloth that is my backdrop so there is NO reverb in that room at all. The bad news is when the furnace or AC turns on... it is LOUD, so I can only record serious stuff with the HVAC turned off (no biggie I found out, my house is really well insulated... lol).

You may need to do some research on room acoustics if you start to get very serious about making good quality recordings. ;)

Just recently, I was playing with these super-cheap $19.99 condenser mics, and the sound I get out of them is surprisingly and deceptively good... and even a lot better now that I turned off the furnace and removed all need for noise reduction when recording with them. These *DO* need 48 volt phantom power and clean preamps to sound acceptable, though, and you will have to do some playing with EQ, compression and possibly some minor noise reduction if needed. For the money they are a bargain, but again, if you do get serious about recording... stay away from on camera mics, get mics designed to capture music.

For example, I am seriously looking at getting a matched pair of Rode M5 condenser mics... super affordable (about $350 for us Canadians... about $200US in the USA), and excellent quality sound (I rented a set last week for 4 hours... I was very impressed!). Those will give you some seriously good sounding recordings under the right circumstances!

Set up... that is a tough one. I am lucky to have a basement and can leave most things set up for an entire weekend, so I set up on a Friday night, do tests and then record and play with the results for as long as I want. I currently have 2 lighting setups in my basement, one for the desk photos and one for the videos with backdrop, and I now have 2 backdrops... a nice mottled one and a big and new green screen, big enough for 2 accordionists at the same time!

Anyways... options, options, options! You have a lot of that available to you!

Good luck!! :D
 

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