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Tascam DR-100mkiii with live Indian Chanting Condenser Microphones
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Tascam DR-100mkiii with live Indian Chanting

I'm in India recording live chants with a Tascam DR-100mkiii. Loud percussion; tambourines, bells, khol drums and harmonium. So far I've been using the built-in mics with the Tascam mounted on a small gorillapod, on the floor, infront of the musicians. The results have been ok, but the vocals get drowned out, at times, depending on the loudness and INTENSITY of the percussion. I thought a pair of external mics, placed closer to the vocalists would work best. Can someone recommend a good pair of mics to use in such a situation? And give suggestions on correct placement?

Cheers,
T
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
I'm in India recording live chants with a Tascam DR-100mkiii. Loud percussion; tambourines, bells, khol drums and harmonium. So far I've been using the built-in mics with the Tascam mounted on a small gorillapod, on the floor, infront of the musicians. The results have been ok, but the vocals get drowned out, at times, depending on the loudness and INTENSITY of the percussion. I thought a pair of external mics, placed closer to the vocalists would work best. Can someone recommend a good pair of mics to use in such a situation? And give suggestions on correct placement?

Cheers,
T
Try getting it off the floor, up higher if you can, aimed at the vocalists.

Are you sure you are using the cardioid internals (UNI MICS)?
Old 2 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
Try getting it off the floor, up higher if you can, aimed at the vocalists.

Are you sure you are using the cardioid internals (UNI MICS)?
Thanks for the tip, and yes I’m using the UNI MICS. Any thoughts on other mics/configurations?
Old 2 weeks ago
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Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
Thanks for the tip, and yes I’m using the UNI MICS. Any thoughts on other mics/configurations?
As Lou Reed said, "the possibilities are endless", and I don't know what you might have available in India.

Are you in an enclosed space? Spot mics might disturb the authenticity of the performance.
Old 2 weeks ago
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Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
As Lou Reed said, "the possibilities are endless", and I don't know what you might have available in India.

Are you in an enclosed space? Spot mics might disturb the authenticity of the performance.
It’s in a fairly large, enclosed space with 4 old wooden JBL PA speakers in each corner. The speakers look like they’re 12”s.

Mic availability isn’t an issue as I can get stuff brought over from abroad.
Old 2 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
It’s in a fairly large, enclosed space with 4 old wooden JBL PA speakers in each corner. The speakers look like they’re 12”s.

Mic availability isn’t an issue as I can get stuff brought over from abroad.
Are the musicians using that PA?

As far as mics are concerned, what is your budget?
Old 2 weeks ago
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Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
Are the musicians using that PA?

As far as mics are concerned, what is your budget?
It’s the general PA of the hall. Budget’s up to 1000 USD give or take a little more
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
It’s the general PA of the hall. Budget’s up to 1000 USD give or take a little more
But are the musicians miked? Is any of the music you are recording being reinforced on the PA system?

There are many more qualified people on this forum to advise you on mics. I myself really like the Beyerdynamic MC930 and you can definitely get a stereo pair for under $1000 USD and have some left over for stands and wind protection.

Or you could get a single stereo mic like the Audio-Technica BP4025 which I also really like. It's a much cheaper option, and if you plan to do a lot of field recording, it's very convenient.
Old 2 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
But are the musicians miked? Is any of the music you are recording being reinforced on the PA system?

There are many more qualified people on this forum to advise you on mics. I myself really like the Beyerdynamic MC930 and you can definitely get a stereo pair for under $1000 USD and have some left over for stands and wind protection.

Or you could get a single stereo mic like the Audio-Technica BP4025 which I also really like. It's a much cheaper option, and if you plan to do a lot of field recording, it's very convenient.
Thanks for the recommendations. The musician are miked yes.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
Thanks for the recommendations. The musician are miked yes.
I think once you get the recorder off the floor and at the height of the vocalists, you won't need external mics to better record the vocals.

If you spot-miked them, with a two-track recorder, you'd lose the balance of the group.

Do test recordings all around the room, further and closer to the band. There's probably a sweet spot in that room.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
I think once you get the recorder off the floor and at the height of the vocalists, you won't need external mics to better record the vocals.

If you spot-miked them, with a two-track recorder, you'd lose the balance of the group.

Do test recordings all around the room, further and closer to the band. There's probably a sweet spot in that room.
The reason I’m asking about external mics is because I’ve read reports about the in-built mics not being so good.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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I wrote this in the original thread over in the live sound forum earlier today:

With no real technical information about the acoustics of the performance space and the setup of the musicians it will be really difficult to give an opinion, plus I doubt many people here would understand what constitute a good balance in regards to this type of traditional music. I think your recorder is too low/close to the ground and probably too close to the performers in general, sometimes you need to step back a bit to get a really nice balance/blend of what's coming from all the musicians.

Make sure you're recording and listening with the ears of a local expert, not that of a western tourist, the balance of some traditional music are often different from what is considered 'good' by western standards.

I suggest you in the same general area as the audience keeping your microphones at about ear height and aimed in the same general direction as the rest of the audience...at least your recorder should receive the same sound the general audience is supposed to receive. The other solution would be to go to a rehearsal of the group and take test recordings while the band is playing and see which you like best and use that setup.

Or, you could just ask someone who knows the music and venue well where they think you will get the best recording and then confirm the quality of your recording with them after the performance.

Just some thoughts....
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
The reason I’m asking about external mics is because I’ve read reports about the in-built mics not being so good.
They're actually not that bad.

Stand in the middle of the auditorium. Make a recording of the music while holding the DR100mk3 by the gorillapod (so that there's no handling noise) at about chest height aimed at the band. Check that the levels don't go much above -12 db. Then listen in a quiet room on good headphones. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Be sure to record at least at 24/96.
Old 2 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
They're actually not that bad.

Stand in the middle of the auditorium. Make a recording of the music while holding the DR100mk3 by the gorillapod (so that there's no handling noise) at about chest height aimed at the band. Check that the levels don't go much above -12 db. Then listen in a quiet room on good headphones. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Be sure to record at least at 24/96.
Why at chest height while standing in the middle of the room and why at least at 24/96 pray tell...?
Old 2 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
I'm in India recording live chants with a Tascam DR-100mkiii.
Hey tk1, what part of India are you in and which culture are you recording?

I’ve made many recordings throughout India over half a dozen or more visits (each around a month long). I’ve solved a lot of recording challenges along the way. I’m not saying I have a solution for you, but if you can tell me which culture/region you’re recording in I might have some helpful suggestions... or, at the very least, some empathy!

Last edited by Simmosonic; 2 weeks ago at 09:09 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 2 weeks ago
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The recordings im referring to above were call and response kiirtan from West Bengal - typical kiirtan really, loud and klangy. I’m going to try a taller tripod next time with external mics. Back home I have a couple of little blondie omni mics, the older wooden type with the 4 capsules. I’m going to get a friend to bring them over and see how those work.
Old 2 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
The recordings im referring to above were call and response kiirtan from West Bengal - typical kiirtan really, loud and klangy.
I have recorded some of the dynamic style of this music in a small community hall in Kolkata. It was like a community gathering so it was a larger ensemble than I’d seen before, maybe 20 people in total, all jammed into a very reverberant little room.

No PA, thankfully.

Not easy to record. In my case they were sitting down, but I have seen this type of stuff played standing up and moving around.

The Tascam is capable of very good results for what it is. A participant on one of my recent Burma sound recording expeditions had one and was getting some good sounds with it.

I would definitely follow the approach you mentioned in your original post and get a couple of mics for the vocalists. I’m not sure about using omnis as you recently suggested, however. They’ll be better than nothing and might be all that’s required, but might also make the nearby instruments too prominent. You might get a better result with a tighter polar response. I would often use bidirectional to spot vocalists when doing a lot of the Indian stuff when the vocalists are not out front of the musicians but in among them with loud instruments to their sides (e.g. Carnatic ensembles from Chennai, Langars from Rajasthan, etc.).

The rest of the music will tend to take care of itself reasonably well with the Tascam mics, and nobody is going to notice small balance issues between instruments if you can get the vocals right, LOL!
Old 2 weeks ago
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Originally Posted by Simmosonic View Post
I would definitely follow the approach you mentioned in your original post and get a couple of mics for the vocalists. I’m not sure about using omnis as you recently suggested, however. They’ll be better than nothing and might be all that’s required, but might also make the nearby instruments too prominent. You might get a better result with a tighter polar response. I would often use bidirectional to spot vocalists when doing a lot of the Indian stuff when the vocalists are not out front of the musicians but in among

The rest of the music will tend to take care of itself reasonably well with the Tascam mics, and nobody is going to notice small balance issues between instruments if you can get the vocals right, LOL!
Thanks for the advice man!

Would it be possible to use a bidirectional mic just for the vocalists? And a separate an omni to capture the rest of the band?
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
Would it be possible to use a bidirectional mic just for the vocalists? And a separate an omni to capture the rest of the band?
I’m sorry tk1; my previous suggestion was based on the assumption that the Tascam can record four tracks at once: two tracks for the in-built mics, and two tracks for external mics plugged into the XLR inputs. I think I’m wrong about that. I’ve just had a cursory glance through the manual (on line) and cannot find any mention of it being able to record from more than two sources at once. My earlier suggestion was based on the idea of using the Tascam’s internal mics to capture the overall ensemble, and using one or two bidirectionals to spot the main vocalists.

If that’s not possible, then you’ve got some thinking to do!

You’ve already tried recording with the Tascam’s internal mics, and others here have made good suggestions about distance and so on. (I particularly like the chest height with yourself standing behind the mic. Among other things, your body will be a nice big baffle behind the mic so you could possibly use the internal mics in omni mode for better low frequency response at a distance and still minimise outside/non-music spill and/or room sound from behind with your body.)

However, having recorded this type of thing myself I know how the vocals can get buried by the percussion, and moving further back doesn’t help that. Many of my recordings of this type of stuff were made with a Schoeps MS pair in a Rycote, by subtly moving it around as necessary to focus on the vocals or whatever was playing.

If you were to persist with just the Tascam’s internal mics, I think you’ll want to be handholding it with the internal cardioid mics (uni) and trying to aim it at the voices as much as possible - getting right in there among the musicians (the old ‘ethnographic’ approach).

If you cannot make that approach work, then your idea of using a bidirectional for the vocals (assuming one is enough) and an omni back further to capture the ensemble might be your best bet. It will be mono, of course, but in situations like this we often have to switch our goals from ‘perfect’ to ‘acceptable’ - where ‘acceptable’ means you can hear everything reasonably well under the circumstances.

Do you have any control over this performance and the placement of the musicians?
Old 1 week ago
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I have no control over the placement of the musicians and standing in front of them won’t work either as there’s no room to do that. Also the band is sitting down. I guess I’ll try the 2 different mics approach and see how that works. Mic suggestions welcome
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
I have no control over the placement of the musicians and standing in front of them won’t work either as there’s no room to do that. Also the band is sitting down. I guess I’ll try the 2 different mics approach and see how that works. Mic suggestions welcome
I you're documenting the performance you shouldn't try to affect it, and in that case controlling the placement of the musicians should not even be considered as an option.

Your problem is balance, this suggests mic placement, not mic type or quality. Despite what everyone has said about the internal microphones you seem set on using external mics, I'm going to suggest that if you can't get a good balance with the internals then chances are you will not automatically get a better balance with external mics. More or different gear is not always the solution to problems...

The two main microphones of the machine are cardioid so there is little to no benefit to having the recorder at chest height and standing behind it. Find a good sounding seat or standing position in the audience area, elevate the recorder/microphones to at least head height...sitting or standing and your recorder should at least capture the balance you hear during the performance.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
I have no control over the placement of the musicians and standing in front of them won’t work either as there’s no room to do that. Also the band is sitting down. I guess I’ll try the 2 different mics approach and see how that works. Mic suggestions welcome
Are you saying there’s no audience area? A little more description of the space and the arrangement of the musicians would be helpful.

I suggested holding the recorder at chest height because I know from experience that hand-holding it at head height gets tiring really quickly. At chest height you can brace your arm against your body.

But if you can access a tripod, put the recorder above your head aiming down toward the vocalists.
Old 1 week ago
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It’s a large square shaped hall and the band sits in one corner of the hall with an ample amount of space between them and the walls, which is where the PA mixer sits. There is no audience area as such because at the edge of where the band sits is an area where dancers/performers move in a circular direction. I can’t stand there because it will obstruct the performer’s movement. I could place a tripod on top of them though. Sounds like a good idea,
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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Sounds like a job for a dummy head recording...or just glue some lavalier mics against the sides of your head, or onto your shoulder lapels, or the sides of your neck...stretch-elastic helps a lot.... and then wrestle/elbow your way to the optimal listening position, stake and defend your position, and just record it all in stereo.

Keep your head verrry wverrry still, though....

Don't overthink this stuff, it's stereo-verité ..... walk tall, and carry a big limiter !
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
It’s a large square shaped hall and the band sits in one corner of the hall with an ample amount of space between them and the walls, which is where the PA mixer sits. There is no audience area as such because at the edge of where the band sits is an area where dancers/performers move in a circular direction. I can’t stand there because it will obstruct the performer’s movement. I could place a tripod on top of them though. Sounds like a good idea,
You say all the musicians are miked. I wonder what the recording would sound like from getting a feed off of the PA mixer line out.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
You say all the musicians are miked. I wonder what the recording would sound like from getting a feed off of the PA mixer line out.
I thought I’d try, but the mixer and mics aren’t very good and the guy operating the desk doesn’t seem to care much about levels, almost always pushing the desk into the reds, for this reason I thought I’d capture the band directly instead.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk1 View Post
I thought I’d try, but the mixer and mics aren’t very good and the guy operating the desk doesn’t seem to care much about levels, almost always pushing the desk into the reds, for this reason I thought I’d capture the band directly instead.
Makes sense.
Old 1 week ago
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I’m keen to hear what you come out with, tk1. If nothing else, it will be a great learning experience.
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