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Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

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Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby ssilverm » Mon May 10, 2021 6:46 am

I would appreciate some recommendations for a suitable microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano in a small space. (It's approaching audition season, and the opera companies are currently working off home made videos rather than seeing candidates in person.)

She has an extremely powerful and resonant voice, with a wide dynamic range and lots of harmonics. The room is 4.9m x 3.7m with soft furnishings. The microphone can't be in shot, so will be positioned about 2.5m from her. It will be connected to the pre-amp of a Zoom Q8 video recorder.

I've no idea where to begin with this, so all advice is gratefully received.

Steve
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon May 10, 2021 10:35 am

Welcome! :thumbup:

The key thing is budget... and yours is? :)

Personally I'd go for a Large Diaphragm Conderser (sic) microphone...

However, I'm concerned about the 'small space'... big voices need big spaces...

So, before we delve into the delights of 'what mic?' tell us how much you've got to spend...
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby ssilverm » Mon May 10, 2021 10:41 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Welcome! :thumbup:

The key thing is budget... and yours is? :)

Personally I'd go for a Large Diaphragm Conderser (sic) microphone...

However, I'm concerned about the 'small space'... big voices need big spaces...

So, before we delve into the delights of 'what mic?' tell us how much you've got to spend...

The budget is up to £200.
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon May 10, 2021 10:47 am

ssilverm wrote:It will be connected to the pre-amp of a Zoom Q8 video recorder.

In your situation 'd just buy and attach Zoom's SGH-6 (mono) or SSH-6 (stereo) short shotgun mics which are specifically intended for the Zoom video recorder. They are decent quality mics, easy to fit and use, and remove all the faff from an area of technology and application which is obviously not your forte.

The SGH-6 is about £85 and the SSH-6 is £130 (both prices from PinkNoise in the UK where both mics are currently in stock. Given your budget, I'd probably go for the stereo SSH-6 model.

The biggest compromise by far on your recordings will be the room you're recording in, not the mic. So keep the camera (and thus mic) as close to the soprano as you can to remove as much room sound as possible.

The recordings won't win awards for sound quality, but they will suffice for audition purposes.

Just be careful in setting the recording levels as sopranos can get very loud!
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby ssilverm » Mon May 10, 2021 11:47 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Just be careful in setting the recording levels as sopranos can get very loud!

Tell me about it!

Thanks for the recommendation.
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Arpangel » Tue May 11, 2021 7:35 am

With covid restrictions easing, I’d really make an effort to find a bigger space, you need to get further away, to allow the sound to breath, and benefit from a bit more acoustic, it will also be a tiny bit more forgiving on levels.
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That would be an ecumenical matter.

Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue May 11, 2021 11:20 am

I notice the Q8 has a 160 deg lens which is verging on a fisheye. This would allow you to place the camera fairly close to the singer but perhaps at the expense of considerable visual distortion (distorted face or body). To reduce visual distortion, it would probably look better taken from further back but then the singer may seem too far away in the shot, so cropping/zooming of the picture in post might be needed.

Usually the camera is better further back and using a more normal or even a telephoto lens, while as Hugh says, reducing the bad acoustic of a small room requires the mic to be much closer to the singer. "One size fits all" gear which tethers camera and mic to each other tends to poorer results. Ideally a camera with a zoom lens and an external mic on a lead would allow more options to place camera and mic in their own optimal locations.
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 11, 2021 12:02 pm

This is all true.

However, sound recording is not the OP's forte, the room they want/need to use is relatively small and heavily furnished, and he already has the camera.

So while there are myriad options for achieving a technically 'better' recording, they are all far more involved, require far more equipment, and need far more experience and expertise to use effectively.

In a modestly sized room, a camera with a zoom lens which can cover a wide-angle is likely to be an asset, and using a camera-mounted mic in this situation is clearly the easiest option since it requires no additional equipment (stands, cables, etc), will inherently be out of shot and, given the soft furnishings, should give a reasonably good-sounding result (as good as the room allows, anyway) despite it's distance from the source.

I'm rarely a fan of camera-mounted mics, but in this situation -- where the camera can't be that far away anyway -- I think it would be a benefit rather than a disadvantage. And if the OP finds a better sounding acoustic space, a camera-mounted mic will still give good results given the nature of typical operatic sopranos. :D

That was my thinking, anyway... ymmv.
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue May 11, 2021 12:50 pm

Yes in the circumstances the fixed lens camera and attached mic may be the best or only option. I just touched on some of the compromises that may be involved.
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Ariosto » Tue May 11, 2021 12:55 pm

But what is wrong with the mic being in shot? I used to work a lot (25 hours a week) with professional singers, and opera companies, like the one I worked for, do not worry about a mic being in shot. They are only interested in the singer, the sound, and "perhaps" how she looks. (Trying to avoid anti female and sexist comments relating to how she looks. If she is a great singer, looks matters little, the voice is what counts).
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 11, 2021 1:01 pm

Ariosto wrote:But what is wrong with the mic being in shot?

Perhaps they just don't want a 'pop studio' style video with a LDC and pop-screen covering half the face! :lol:

Unlikely for an experienced operatic soprano, perhaps, but I bet they get all sorts sent in and have just come up with some simple guidelines to rule out the most obvious silliness!
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Re: Microphone for recording a classically-trained soprano

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue May 11, 2021 3:19 pm

I have a couple of cameras with fixed ultra wide-angle lenses. Fortunately my video editor has an adjustable software tweak to fix barrel distortion; my latest camera even has an onboard 'fix it at source'. It need not be a problem... unlike the Biden and Carter pic last week. :lol:
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