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Recording exhaust notes
Old 16th September 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Recording exhaust notes

First, to clear a few things up. My knowledge of sound engineering and gear is very, very limited. I'm basically a noob.

I'm looking for advice on how I can set up my future rig for said purpose, and also what components I should choose for my budget.

What I'm looking to do is be able to record automotive/bike exhaust notes. This will strictly be for hobbyist/enthusiast purposes and will not see any professional use outside of the internet realm. Mainly youtube/vimeo and the like. Please keep a reasonable budget in mind. I'm not looking to spend more than $400 on the mic. Most of the videos will be of louder, modified exhausts, so the mic needs to be able to handle loud volumes.

The setup needs to be able capture the tone and details that you hear in person. I'm not sure how realistic this is, but it does need to be better than most of the stuff online that's usually recorded with the on-board mics. I don't want a mic that overboosts the lows, just one that is accurate and easy to use consistently. I don't have much experience with settings and gains, so maybe a setup with AGC will work in my favor?

Also, by consistency what I mean is that I will be recording the same car, but with various different exhaust systems installed on the car and I need the setup to be consistent in a way where the spotlight is on the change of the exhaust note itself, and not so much the other factors.

I will be using a DSLR (Canon 7D) to capture video, if that matters? The microphone doesn't have to connect to the camera as I can mate up the sound in post. I'd actually prefer a setup where I don't necessarily have to record onto a laptop since I don't want to throw that in the trunk and it just seems like a bulky option. Do I have any other mobile solutions for this?

There are a few positions this setup will see most often.

Mounted on the rear bumper/trunk by the exhaust, while the car accelerates away. This requires the setup to be mobile, and could also use suggestions on what mounting/wind noise reducing apparatus I can use.

Drive by, while recording from still outside location.
Drive off, while recording from still outside location, behind car.

Drive along, while recording from window of another car.

Don't know what other details to include, but please ask away and I can post more details.

In short, what equipment should I buy and how should I be mounting it for ideal results? Please assume that I don't have any equipment. I will be needing suggestions on anything from deadcats to cables.

Thanks in advance!
Old 16th September 2011
  #2
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
You can get small portable recorders that may be suitable. Like these:

Portable Recorders | Sweetwater.com

That way you wouldn't need cables, or a separate computer/preamp/interface etc.. for recording, and they are suitable quality for what you need, and you could stick one to the back of the car as you need.

There is a mic made by BLUE for iPhone that could be an option too..

I have never tried any of the above suggestions.

one thing though, microphones have to have their capsules (the part that pics up the sound) protected from dust and small particles. You should be careful when being around exhaust fumes.

You will also need a wind sock or foam to stop that rumble you get when you have a microphone in moving air.

Matt
Old 16th September 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Howie J's Avatar
H4n and one of these:

RedHead Windscreens — Eliminates wind noise on Zoom, Tascam, Sony, Edirol, Alesis, Yamaha and Korg Portable Digital Recorders

Could work. Then, if you wanted to add a different mic to it later you have the extra mic inputs for a bit of expansion.

Howie J
Old 17th September 2011
  #4
I'm not sure what you are wanting to do, but I've done a bit of this and it seems that there are lots of factors that can change the recorded sound. I've uploaded a few samples that were done both in my garage, just outside, and in an open area. I've found i like to have some hard walls or structure nearby. It really helps define the sound.
415Motown-InCar.mp3 is recorded with the car in a 3 car garage - nose out - with all doors open. Mic position is 6' away at side of car.
415Motown_EngineTestStand.mp3 is recorded while the engine was on a test stand, about half way out of the garage. Mic is about 4' from the engine, at the rear.
415Motown_InCar-WalkAround.mp3 is recorded with the car outside, and the mic is moving around the car. You can hear fans at the front, then the rear exhaust, then back to the front again.
Most of the recordings for, let's say a muffler company website, are pretty lame. Unless you know someone with the system you want and can hear it live, it's really hard to tell what it will sound like.
In-car recordings are the most unexciting as far as exhaust sound. There is so much other noise along with it. Now some of that can be really nice, tranny whine, tire squeal, etc., but exhaust sound is much more subdued ( unless you're running open pipe heh)
I really like to be stationary and have the car do it's thing.
Just my $.02
Old 17th September 2011
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matt thomas View Post
You can get small portable recorders that may be suitable. Like these:

Portable Recorders | Sweetwater.com

That way you wouldn't need cables, or a separate computer/preamp/interface etc.. for recording, and they are suitable quality for what you need, and you could stick one to the back of the car as you need.

There is a mic made by BLUE for iPhone that could be an option too..

I have never tried any of the above suggestions.

one thing though, microphones have to have their capsules (the part that pics up the sound) protected from dust and small particles. You should be careful when being around exhaust fumes.

You will also need a wind sock or foam to stop that rumble you get when you have a microphone in moving air.

Matt
Thanks Matt.

Do you think I would be able to get a higher quality/detail of sound if I went with a setup involving a pre-amp/interface? Or would that setup generally require a much larger budget? If so, what is a reasonable budget I should be looking at, and what exact components are needed?

Thanks for the tip on the capsules. This may be a bit different subject, but I believe there are several different types of microphones (condenser, dynamic, etc.) I recall reading that some of these are not meant to be for loud noises, such as exhausts, and it susceptible to blowing. Which ones should I definitely stay away from?
Old 17th September 2011
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howie J View Post
H4n and one of these:

RedHead Windscreens — Eliminates wind noise on Zoom, Tascam, Sony, Edirol, Alesis, Yamaha and Korg Portable Digital Recorders

Could work. Then, if you wanted to add a different mic to it later you have the extra mic inputs for a bit of expansion.

Howie J
Howie,

Thanks for the suggestion. I actually have seen the Zoom h4n come up frequently so it's definitely a possibility. My friend has the Yamaha Pocketrak CX which I'll be experimenting with as well. One concern I do have is that I'm not sure if the RedHead Windscreen will be adequate enough to eliminate wind noise. If it doesn't, do I have any back up options?

Also, I have a Shure SM57 mic laying around, could I directly plug that into the H4n?
Old 17th September 2011
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I'm not sure what you are wanting to do, but I've done a bit of this and it seems that there are lots of factors that can change the recorded sound. I've uploaded a few samples that were done both in my garage, just outside, and in an open area. I've found i like to have some hard walls or structure nearby. It really helps define the sound.
415Motown-InCar.mp3 is recorded with the car in a 3 car garage - nose out - with all doors open. Mic position is 6' away at side of car.
415Motown_EngineTestStand.mp3 is recorded while the engine was on a test stand, about half way out of the garage. Mic is about 4' from the engine, at the rear.
415Motown_InCar-WalkAround.mp3 is recorded with the car outside, and the mic is moving around the car. You can hear fans at the front, then the rear exhaust, then back to the front again.
Most of the recordings for, let's say a muffler company website, are pretty lame. Unless you know someone with the system you want and can hear it live, it's really hard to tell what it will sound like.
In-car recordings are the most unexciting as far as exhaust sound. There is so much other noise along with it. Now some of that can be really nice, tranny whine, tire squeal, etc., but exhaust sound is much more subdued ( unless you're running open pipe heh)
I really like to be stationary and have the car do it's thing.
Just my $.02
Thanks Bill,

I'm not looking to do any in-car captures at all. Purely outside sounds both in the open, in the city, drive by's, and drive along. My goal is to capture various different scenarios so people can gather a "close" sense of sound and tone via the videos. Obviously, it's a bit hard to do but I think it's possible

I agree that in general, muffler website sounds are pretty dull and lack reference to the true sound. But I've seen a handful of clips that give me a close enough sense of what it will sound like. Not the clips that are full of wind noise and peaks, but the ones that are a bit higher quality.

As far as the equipment/setup you used to record your clips, would you care to share?

Thanks again.
Old 17th September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Howie J's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by M1KESTA View Post
Howie,

Thanks for the suggestion. I actually have seen the Zoom h4n come up frequently so it's definitely a possibility. My friend has the Yamaha Pocketrak CX which I'll be experimenting with as well. One concern I do have is that I'm not sure if the RedHead Windscreen will be adequate enough to eliminate wind noise. If it doesn't, do I have any back up options?

Also, I have a Shure SM57 mic laying around, could I directly plug that into the H4n?
I would think it would be sufficient. If you watch the "beach" demo on the Redhead site I was kind of blown away by it. (no pun intended...well..maybe a little) It seems to kill a lot of wind noise. I guess you'd just have to find a bigger screen. Rycote makes a kit for the portable recorders that includes a wind jammer. They are kind of an industry standard for that kind of stuff.
Portable Recorder Audio Kit » Rycote

As for the 57: yes you can. I've plugged dynamics, condensers, shotguns, etc. into my H4n for various uses.

Howie J
Old 17th September 2011
  #9
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
Quote:
Thanks Matt.

Do you think I would be able to get a higher quality/detail of sound if I went with a setup involving a pre-amp/interface? Or would that setup generally require a much larger budget? If so, what is a reasonable budget I should be looking at, and what exact components are needed?
You would be able to get a higher quality sound, but not so big a difference as I think it would be worthwhile. Your listeners are not listening on audiophile systems. And it would require a lot more budget, knowledge and hassle with the equipment. The higher end of what you want to do would be buying the type of equipment they use to record audio for films. This will cost many thousands.

Quote:
Thanks for the tip on the capsules. This may be a bit different subject, but I believe there are several different types of microphones (condenser, dynamic, etc.) I recall reading that some of these are not meant to be for loud noises, such as exhausts, and it susceptible to blowing. Which ones should I definitely stay away from?
Some mics are better at loud sounds. The mics will have an "SPL" rating, which stands for Sound Pressure Level. It will be measured in decibels. I would consider anything around 120 dB or greater to be good enough so you don't have to worry about it. (although I just searched for the rating in one for the portable recorders manuals and couldn't find it.. I would have thought it should be there, I'm sure most of them will be fine though)

Also, if you get condenser microphones you need to be able to provide them with phantom power (48v), this capability is built in to most preamps, or recorders that you can plug a microphone into, but not all. The portable recorders have it built in.

matt
Old 19th September 2011
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matt thomas View Post
You would be able to get a higher quality sound, but not so big a difference as I think it would be worthwhile. Your listeners are not listening on audiophile systems. And it would require a lot more budget, knowledge and hassle with the equipment. The higher end of what you want to do would be buying the type of equipment they use to record audio for films. This will cost many thousands.



Some mics are better at loud sounds. The mics will have an "SPL" rating, which stands for Sound Pressure Level. It will be measured in decibels. I would consider anything around 120 dB or greater to be good enough so you don't have to worry about it. (although I just searched for the rating in one for the portable recorders manuals and couldn't find it.. I would have thought it should be there, I'm sure most of them will be fine though)

Also, if you get condenser microphones you need to be able to provide them with phantom power (48v), this capability is built in to most preamps, or recorders that you can plug a microphone into, but not all. The portable recorders have it built in.

matt
Thanks guys. I ended up picking up a Zoom H4n. Tried a few small tests with the included windscreen (foam) and it's pretty crappy. Is there a preference about which (Rycote vs. RedHead) is a better windscreen that reduces the most wind?

Lastly, is there any further options (such as adding more windscreens) if the Rycote/RedHead windscreen is insufficient?
Old 19th September 2011
  #11
I have nothing to add except I'm amazed there is apparently a subculture of folks that record engine exhaust. Very weird and cool at the same time.
Old 26th June 2013
  #12
Gear Maniac
Hi. Cool project. Just keep in mind that an engine emits quite a bit of its sonic character from the intake. Especially high performance engines

Regards /Bo
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