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Thread: Help choosing mic for unusual studio setup

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    Help choosing mic for unusual studio setup

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    Hi everyone! I've been the "sound master" for my company for a couple years now, which means managing recording sessions, editing the audio, and producing CDs. The audio content is entirely spoken dialogue. The CDs are for teachers to use with students learning English as a foreign language, and contain samples of native English speakers having conversations, reading texts, etc.

    Up till now we've been using a RODE NT2-A microphone (condenser). We originally had two, but one died over a year ago and we switched to just one. Now the second one is dying as well (getting a lot of weird noises in recordings, quality is degrading, etc.). I've been given permission to purchase two new microphones as replacements, but unfortunately I know very little about the hardware.

    The recording studio is unusual and far from ideal. It is just a small closet at one end of the office, where our writers and editors are working at their computers. It is far from soundproof. It has the foam on the walls, but all that does is reduce echo. The current microphone picks up every single tiny little sound in the office, including typing, walking, coughing, etc. One of the most difficult parts of my job is trying to remove the background noises from the recordings. There is no way to stop people from working during these recording sessions. Our voice actors can't come in during the weekends, and deadlines are too tight for people to just not work for a day while we record.

    I've therefore been looking at dynamic mics, which I've read pick up much less background noise. This sounds ideal to me. On the other hand, I've also read that they are quieter. Unfortunately, our voice actors are not professionals - they just happen to be the only native English speakers in the area who are available. Some of them shout into the mics. Some of them alternate between shouting and mumbling. Some of them talk so quietly that even with the volume turned all the way up, I have to boost it further in editing to make it properly audible. Will a dynamic mic pick them up properly? Will I need some kind of external amplifier to make the sound audible?

    In terms of quality, it's not necessary for it to be particularly high. As long as the dialogue is clear and understandable and free from background noise, it's fine. These CDs are used mostly in classrooms with old, poor-quality CD players. The main concern is that the microphone can pick up our voice actors clearly and without too much background noise.

    I'm currently looking at the Audio-Technica ATM610 and the AKG D7 (apparently I can't post links yet because I'm new here), which are both in stock at the shop I'll be purchasing from. Both seem to have good reviews, but again, I just don't know enough about them to know if they're right for our setup.


    Any feedback, advice, or ideas are most welcome. Thanks so much for reading my message and thanks in advance for any help.

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    It's unusual for Rode mikes to die. How long have you had them?

    It's worth getting in touch with Rode and explain your circumstances.

    If you are looking for a replacement, you might stick with Rode and consider a Rode Procaster. This is a dynamic mike that is used for broadcasting, and should do what you want.

    ROEDE Microphones - Procaster

    By examining how the mike is positioned, yo may be able to reduce the amount of unwanted noise picked up. If you can, try facing it away from where the noise is.

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    Thanks very much for the response!

    I'm not sure how long we've had the mics, but it's been quite a long time. I've worked at the company for 5 years (only done the audio 2 years though) and I'm pretty sure they were here for a while before that. I wasn't involved in buying them and I don't think we have any paperwork from the purchase (I will try asking my boss just in case they do have a receipt or warranty somewhere, but I'm doubtful). They have, unfortunately, not been treated gently. The office has moved several times and I don't think they were given any special attention during this process. They have been dropped on the floor, bumped into, and generally banged around. They have died slowly. The first one started having strange sounds coming through it for a couple of months before it go to a point where any audio recorded on it sounds crackly, tinny, and distorted, as well as very quiet, as though it is being played on a phonograph in a neighboring room. We had complaints that it was unintelligible and stopped using that one. Now the second one is slowly starting to have the same problems. We have tried changing cables and such, and it's definitely the microphones.

    They are already facing away from the noise. Facing away from the noise, inside a small room, with soundproofing foam on the walls and pop filters on the mics, several meters away from the sources of the typing, etc. The mic still picks up every single little bit of it, and sometimes even noises of talking or walking from neighboring rooms, and now the quality is degrading as well.

    Thanks for the recommendation of the Procaster, but unfortunately it's outside the price range I've been approved for. I can spend a maximum of 4,000 kč (about $175 / 135 pounds / 155 euros) per microphone. The two microphones I listed above are basically the most expensive ones I am allowed to look at (which are in stock). I will be purchasing from the web site kytary.cz (there is an English version if anyone wants to take a look), where the Procaster is listed at 4890 kč. It's also out of stock and would take a few weeks to order, and unfortunately I'm in a bit of a rush - we need a new mic for the next recording session which is in less than 2 weeks.

    Do you think one of the two mics listed above (the Audio-Technica ATM610 and the AKG D7) would be suitable? Or am I making a terrible mistake looking at dynamic mics, and I should just live with the laborious process of removing background noise from every recording (and apologizing to teachers for sounds we can't remove)?

    EDIT: I've checked with my boss and he has confirmed that we've had the microphones for probably more than 10 years, there is no paperwork, and in any case they were purchased by the "old" company (I wasn't around but there was some big change) so technically our company doesn't even "own" them now. So no chance for help from Rode, I'm afraid.
    Last edited by aira; 02-14-2019 at 03:49.

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    I would look for a dynamic mic that has a cardioid pattern vs super- or hyper- (as the models you listed have) because the latter have a small area directly behind the mic that will also be picked up. Plus they often have a slightly tighter pattern that can make them less forgiving IME when used by someone with limited mic technique.

    What about the venerable Shure SM58?

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    That's just the kind of thing I'm looking for - I wouldn't have considered that. Thanks!

    Wow, that one (Shure SM58) is quite a bit cheaper. And it's in stock. My boss will surely be happy if I can get a good pair of microphones for less than the maximum approved amount. There are two versions in the store, the LCE and the SE - is there any difference other than the on/off switch on the SE?

    I'll probably have to make a choice and place the order by Monday, so I have a few days more to look into things. Any other input is still appreciated.

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    Not sure what the "E" adds (Europe?), because the difference is as you noted. S = switch, while LC = Less Cable (at least here).

    SM58 Vocal Microphone | Shure Americas

    If your cables are also 10 years old, you might splurge on a couple new ones with the saved money, though if they're statically mounted and haven't been plugged/unplugged a thousand times and walked on they could still be fine.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Dang, I'm still not allowed to post links. You can find the LCE and SE versions on kytary.co.uk and just search for them, I suppose.

    The price is pretty close, so unless there's some advantage to the LCE, I'll go with the one I can turn off.

    And yeah, it's not a terrible idea to get some new cables. The ones we have are basically never plugged or unplugged, other than when we moved offices a couple times and now and then lately when the microphones start acting up and I "turn it off and on again", but I do seem to recall one of the cables acting up a while back, it's probably about time to get new ones if we have the funds. I wonder if I can get away with sneaking in a pop guard for my personal microphone at home. :P

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    Even with a dynamic mic that has a screen and inner foam Id use a pop guard in any non-live situation. Besides doing what it says and saving time in post, it will keep the mic cleaner. (Do hose down the pop guards from time to time, though.)

    Buy your own stuff would be my suggestion. You might ask if you can have one of the old mics. Who knows, a little TLC might bring it back to life.

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    Oh, we have pop guards at work. I have a Blue Yeti at home which I use for recording videos for YouTube. I very rarely have any problem with the plosives, but now and then I do get that spike. I keep meaning to get a pop guard for it, there's just not a convenient place to get one where I live (I got the mic from an electronics store but for some reason they don't sell the pop filters), and it seems a little silly to pay a huge delivery cost for something as small and inexpensive. I won't really try to steal one from work, but my boss might give me permission if I ask. If not, I'll probably add one to the order anyway, just for the convenience, and pay for it myself.

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    Not sure we have a good picture of your recording situation. At least I do not.

    You mention recording conversations and say you are down to one mic. Does that mean you are capturing a discussion in a room with just the one mic and two or more people are contributing to the conversation?

    Reason I am asking this is, a dynamic will capture less background noise because the performer or person speaking is able to get his/her mouth close in to the microphone. If you have two people having a conversation, it would be best to have each person speaking into their own microphone up close. A dynamic won't do what you want if you are just going to have your voice actors sit around it and speak toward it, but still be two or three feet away. Catch my drift? I may not be explaining this well.

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