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Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

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Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:01 am

I am going to be recording a conference where there will be a panel of three to six individuals sitting on bar stools at the front of a room with about 50 to 100 others in the audience. There will likely be a small round table right in front of the panelists, in the middle. I am trying to figure out the best mic to use in this situation. Also, I'll be at the back of the room recording, so I'll need to run the signal a good distance from the mic, possibly as much as 100 feet.

What setup do I need?

What mic or mics do you recommend?

Do I need a preamp to push the signal that far?

Any specific cables? Maybe a cable snake?
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:49 am

This reply will have more questions than answers I'm afraid!

What's your budget and where are you based - UK or somewhere else?

I'm also assuming that you don't have responsibility for amplifying these speakers; will they be amplified?

Before making suggestions - which, of course, are budget-dependent - for clarity of the recording you'll really need one mic per speaker. I'd suggest tie-clips would be the best - and probably most economic way to go.

BUT, will you be using a mixer or were you intending to record straight to the recording device of your choice? And if you have a mixer, does it have phantom-power?

That'll do for starters! :)
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:17 am

Is someone else taking care of PA? Can you hook into his system?

You'll get an intelligible recording from a couple of mics aimed in the general direction of the barstools. You'd get better quality from individual body mics - but amateur "talent" has a genius for misusing and just generally breaking these. I guarantee that out of 6 body mics, at least one will malfunction.

Will there be questions from the audience?


KISS. Sit in the front row with e.g. a Zoom H4 and aim it intelligently. This is a serious suggestion.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:04 pm

Thanks for the quick replies and the excellent questions.


  • I'm in the U.S.
  • I can spend up to ,500 USD on as much or as little gear as needed. I think that's about 988 British Pounds Sterling.
  • I'm not sure about the PA system, but that's a really good point. I'll have to ask around. All I know for sure is that I'll be responsible for recording it. The audio will also run into a video camera.
  • I saw a video of the last conference, and there were three table top mics for 10 people. Some of the speakers were a little quiet, but most could be heard quite well. There wasn't too much room noise, so the mics themselves must have been pretty sensitive.
  • I would run a mixer, then output the final mix to a recording device.
  • The speakers will change up pretty frequently without a stop in the event, so I don't think it will be feasible to mic each person individually. The panelist groups will consist of the leaders of various breakout groups reporting on their groups' findings, so it could be as many as 20 - 30 who would need to be mic'd up. Needs to be stationary mics in front of the panelists.
  • I do not need to plan for questions from the audience. If there are questions, the panelists can repeat them so that they're on the recording.
  • I have an H1. Would that work?
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:35 pm

First question: do you have consent from everyone attending the conference (speakers and delegates) to record them; sound and video?

Secondly, breakout sessions (in my experience) are usually quite challenging enough anyway and recording them may be enough to limit their usefulness by changing them through the act of recording.

I organise many conferences (healthcare related) and am also invited to speak at them. For the ones I run and speak at, there are professional companies who provide up to date (usually Sennheiser) wireless lapel microphones for the speakers plus individual handheld microphones for the plenary sessions. There is always a member of the AV company present to work the desk and troubleshoot. The microphones and PA system are run into, and out of, a mixing desk which you could 'plug in' a recording device. Contracting a professional company will cost less than your budget and be much less stressful, as organising and running conferences have their own challenges, particularly on the day. Your budget would not buy the equipment you need to properly fulfill the task you have set yourself, but would be enough to rent it, if you know what you are doing.

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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby RegressiveRock » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:02 pm

akbigdog wrote:I am going to be recording a conference where there will be a panel of three to six individuals sitting on bar stools at the front of a room with about 50 to 100 others in the audience. There will likely be a small round table right in front of the panelists, in the middle. I am trying to figure out the best mic to use in this situation. Also, I'll be at the back of the room recording, so I'll need to run the signal a good distance from the mic, possibly as much as 100 feet.

What setup do I need?

What mic or mics do you recommend?

Do I need a preamp to push the signal that far?

Any specific cables? Maybe a cable snake?


Do you want to go lavalier or spot / table mike?

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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:01 am


  • Yes, we have permission. It's all one company, so that goes through the HR department.
  • Yes, your point is well taken that having a camera present may affect the effectiveness of the breakout sessions. They're pretty small conference rooms, so it's not like we can just sneak in the back of the room unnoticed.
  • For individual speakers, yes, wireless lavs would make perfect sense. But for large groups of people coming and going, what should I use? They'll be all lined up in a row with small, round tables in front of them.
  • I'll look at renting, but I still need to know what to rent.
  • I think I would prefer the tabletop mics rather than a bunch of lavs.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:02 am

And thank you so much for all of your helpful replies, everyone!
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:06 am

Here is a still from the video showing the mics that were used previously. Any idea what these are?

Image
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:22 am


Looks from the fuzzy picture a bit like a Crown boundary mic but cant be sure.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:12 am

I looked up the mic you mentioned, and yes, it does: the Crown PCC-160, to be exact. Would a few of these mics make sense for this application? It looks like they're mostly used for on-stage productions.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:01 am

Didn't have time to come back yesterday on your response to my questions, but in the light of what you'd said I was thinking that cardioid, boundary mics could well be the way to go. There are numerous makes available - doesn't have to be Crown. I've used 'boundaries' before in exactly this type of situation. Not as good as 'clip-ons' but would meet the requirements you've previously set out.

Oh; and on a practical note: with all the coming and going on stage make sure your cables are as out of the way as possible and securely taped-down.

HTH. Mike
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:59 am

I received confirmation today that they are Crown PZM mics. If not Crown brand, what are two or three other good brands for these types of mics? I'll also be looking into places I could rent these locally.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Jim Lockhart » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:11 am

The Crown PZMs are certainly good. Another possibility is the Shure MX391 series of surface-mount microphones. These have an in-line preamp module that converts the microphone output to a balanced, low-impedance signal on an XLR connector. A cable run of 100 ft. or more would be no problem. They require phantom power from your mixer.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby akbigdog » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:15 am

That's great feedback. I like the lower price point. ;) Do you mean the omni, cardioid or super-cardioid model?
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby Jim Lockhart » Thu Jun 06, 2013 7:15 am

The best choice of pickup pattern would depend on the angular spread of the panel members relative to the microphone location on the table. The omni will of course pick up a full 360 degree spread, but that might give you too much audience/room noise. The cardioid has a 130 degree acceptance angle and the supercardioid a 115 degree angle. If you can afford it, a good choice would probably be two of the supercardioids placed together in an X-Y configuration. That should give you a 180 degree or so acceptance angle (capturing the front half of the room) without the phasing problems of separated multiple mics. You could mix the two mics, or else record them to two tracks. If you need to also pick up audience questions, a third mic might be needed.
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Re: Which mic for recording panel of speakers?

Postby david11jones » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:28 am

hi everyone i m new here
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