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budget travel setup for recording own classical chamber music concerts Condenser Microphones
Old 12th September 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

budget travel setup for recording own classical chamber music concerts

Hi everyone!

Newbie here and I would really appreciate your knowledge and experience with the following.

I am a classical clarinetist often traveling to perform. I am looking for a recording set up for recording my own classical chamber music concerts (normally between 2 and 8 acoustic instruments in medium-sized venues with widely different acoustics).

The equipment should be:

- light, small and as portable as possible
- easy to set up and operate (I will be playing in the concerts, so I don't have lots of time to set up and cannot rely on another person to operate the recording machine, check levels etc).
- as high quality as possible for my 300-500 euro budget (natural sound but rather on the warm side).

The final purpose of these recordings is to have archival audio which can be shared on social media, soundcloud etc. and sometimes sync'ed to concert footage.

I have done some research online and right now I am thinking of a Zoom h4n pro or a Zoom H5.

I am wondering if it would be worth investing in external microphones?
I read great things about Aston Origin cardioid microphones, but I would only be able to afford one, resulting in a mono recording, so I don't know if it is worth it?

Also, would I get the best results by setting the mics on or close to the stage, or rather by setting them up in the back of the venue?

Thank you in advance for your inputs!
Old 12th September 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Will there already be microphones on stage for amplification?
Old 12th September 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I've recorded a lot of things my wife has done (she plays violin in a variety of situations.)

We have used a zoom H4n a lot, and it's pretty good. I just ordered an H5 for her, because the headphone jack on the H4 wore out. The H5 has better mic preamps, so it has less self noise. Probably sounds better in general. Given the difference in cost, it's probably worth it.

If they're live concerts, then you don't want to record mono. Here's why: noises. If you have a mono recording and someone coughs, then you're going to hear it loud and clear no matter where it is, but with stereo, if the cough is on one side, then you won't notice it nearly as much in the playback because the main sound will be in the center and your brain will kind of ignore the other stuff. It will still be there just as loud, but it won't be as objectionable when you hear it.

Recently I've started using two figure 8 mics to make Blumlein pair recordings of her quartet. They sound a lot better, but setting it up takes some doing. You can use two Cad M179 mics to make the pair (us$230 each), but you need a stand and cables. I've started using a LP Claw so I can mount both mics on one stand, and that makes it a lot easier, but it's still probably more than you want to deal with when you have a concert to prepare for. And the Blumlein configuration probably isn't the best when you have audience noise anyway. But with the Cad M179 it's an option because they're multi pattern mics.

The H5 is small enough you can put it in a lot of places without causing a distraction. Get an Trid Orbit iOrbit clamp and you will be able to attach the H5 to any music stand or other vertical pole of the same size or smaller. If you get the H5 now, you can start making recordings now, and you can always buy more microphones later. It will be good to practice with the recorder. It's easy to do something like set it up and turn it on but forget to actually start the recording.

Get some Panasonic Eneloop batteries. They're some of the best for this application.
Old 13th September 2018
  #4
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by foscolo84 View Post

I am wondering if it would be worth investing in external microphones?
probably not at your budget. The Zoom built ins are pretty respectable for the money especially for recording ambient stuff like classical. But you should get a unit that can accept full sized XLR mics with phantom power for some future time when you can afford external mics.

Quote:
I read great things about Aston Origin cardioid microphones, but I would only be able to afford one, resulting in a mono recording, so I don't know if it is worth it?
I suppose with some of these units you could record with 3 mics, the zoom mics as your ambient pair, the mono mic as a spot mic - but spot what? If you have a chamber music group you should be balancing yourselves anyway. You have a stereo pair with the Zoom. Save your money and buy two mics when you have enough.

Quote:
Also, would I get the best results by setting the mics on or close to the stage, or rather by setting them up in the back of the venue?
I always try to get close to the stage when recording a live concert. Not only is the back of the room usually swimming in reverb, and the sound starting to get muddy, but every cough, sniffle, chair squeak and program rustle is closer to the mics than the ensemble is! Even when I have the whole space to myself for a recording session, I like to get quite close.

Don't worry, you will get plenty of "concert hall" in your recordings even if you are hanging over the stage or set up on the apron.
Old 13th September 2018
  #5
Gear Nut
I get quite good archival results from a pair of LineAudio CM3 into a Zoom H6 (same preamps as the H5, if I’m not mistaken)... it’s ok for soundcloud and YouTube samples, I think... For a more commercial approach, I’d lose the Zoom, but that would be way out of the price range, with better pre-amps/recorder.
Old 13th September 2018
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Thank you!

Thank you all for your input!

Our concerts are never amplified... so it is always a matter of catching the acoustic sound as naturally as possible.

Your suggestions were very informative. I will probably just go for a Zoom H5 as an archival recording device and rather save some of my budget to hire a sound engineer where/when possible to make a high-quality recording of a couple of projects per year.
It sounds like the equipment needed for a high-quality recording (including mic stands etc) would not be so portable after all when my hand-luggage is already taken up by my instruments and laptop).

Greetings from Denmark and thanks again!
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