Become a Site Supporter and Never see Ads again!

Author Topic: Low noise recording without breaking the bank  (Read 2175 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline dramatolog

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« on: November 15, 2018, 02:40:07 PM »
Hi people,

Another newbie  here. :alert: ;D

I am photographer and visual artist. Tought by my previous experiences in my field I know that some things should be handed to professionals, but due the nature of the project these soundscapes have to be made by me. So here I am, and I hope some of you could help me.

I would need to make recordings of ambiances, environmental sounds of certain locations, mostly nature but also some industrial locations. All of these should be exteriors. I would like to catch distance sounds (dogs barking, cars passing buy, etc,...). I assume I could make all of these in post, but due to the project itself, I would like to keep it authentic as much as possible.

Now, I tried recording with Zoom h2n, and the result was disappointing thanks to, what I learned later, zoom's noisy preamp. Further reading led me to conclusion that the only(read cheapest) tool I could use for this is the Sony D100, which is already double the price I would be ready to pay.

So folks, I am open for all solutions and advice.

Thanks!!
Igor

Offline heathen

  • Trade Count: (17)
  • Needs to get out more...
  • *****
  • Posts: 2013
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2018, 07:23:41 PM »
Maybe check out the Tascam DR-100mkIII.
Recordings on LMA: https://archive.org/search.php?query=taper%3A%22Lucas+Lorenz%22
Mics: Core Sound TetraMic | AT4031 | AT AE5100 | AT853 (C/SC) | Line Audio CM3 | Sennheiser e614 | Sennheiser MKE2 | DPA 4061 | CA-14 omni | Studio Projects CS5 Pre: CA9200 Decks: Zoom F8 | Roland R-05 | Tascam DR-2d

Online dyneq

  • Trade Count: (12)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 383
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 10:11:52 PM »
Howdy and welcome. Most folks here are recording amplified music where preamp and mic noise aren't as critical. If you search, there are threads about nature/ambience recording here and there.

This site tests preamp noise for portable recorders: https://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm

Then there's the microphone self noise to consider. For ambience, I would think some baffled or spread omnidirectionals would work well. Many like the Primo EM172. Here's more info: https://www.zachpoff.com/resources/low-noise-binaural-mics-primo-em172/

Since you'll be recording outdoors, budget for some wind screens too or DIY them to save money.

Offline mnm207

  • Trade Count: (5)
  • Taperssection Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 56
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 11:13:40 PM »
Hey Igor, I'm a photographer and visual artist, too. I came by recording sideways, as it were; my interest is in field recording primarily.

Have you read Paul Virostek's interview series with sound recordists and the resulting equipment guides he produced? If you've not already come across his blog, you might find this useful: https://www.creativefieldrecording.com/2016/11/16/community-field-recording-equipment-microphones-and-favourite-kits/

Is your audio going to stand alone? Or is it part of a video, slideshow or installation accompanying images? You mention authenticity--is this documentary or journalistic in nature? You might that find this film on foley work shifts your perspective on authenticity in regards to matching sound with image: https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2016/06/16/secret-life-foley/.

And to second dyneq--whatever direction you choose be sure to budget for wind protection. Without its furry windjammer, the D100 sounds like crap the moment there's even the merest hint of wind. 

And, because I can't resist making a recommendation: My Tascam DR60dii paired with LOM Usi omni mics gives good quality recordings. (LOM is one of several small manufacturers making mics based on EM172 capsules that dyneq suggests for DIYing.) The recorder's preamps aren't as quiet as my D100's, but the combo is half the price. So long as you can get the mics close enough to what you're recording, this set-up would be a pretty good fit for what you want to do.

Online jerryfreak

  • Trade Count: (12)
  • Taperssection All-Star
  • ****
  • Posts: 1914
  • I'm a llama! (taboot)
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 11:31:50 PM »
a more sensitive mic would help, like a dpa 4060

Online DSatz

  • Site Supporter
  • Trade Count: (31)
  • Needs to get out more...
  • *
  • Posts: 2644
  • Gender: Male
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2018, 03:27:07 AM »
Small electret microphones, such as the ones built in to most recorders, can be rather noisy. It's not always a matter of sensitivity as such, since sensitivity and noise are two independent aspects of microphone performance, and the word "sensitivity" when used w/r/t microphones, doesn't mean what many people might expect. A microphone can be noisy relative to what you're trying to record, or not noisy (in that same context), or anything in between--and that's the most important factor.

Can you use outboard microphones, or perhaps a single, outboard stereo microphone?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2018, 02:15:20 PM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline illconditioned

  • Trade Count: (7)
  • Needs to get out more...
  • *****
  • Posts: 2731
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2018, 04:05:46 AM »
Re: Built in mics
Most are poor,but I noticed some recorders, such as Sony PCM-M10, have low noise capsules.I believe they use the same Primo EM17x series in the mics referenced above.
Also, the Sony has great battery life and low noise preamps.
A good place to start.


Please DO NOT mail me with tech questions.  I will try to answer in the forums when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Sample recordings at: http://www.soundmann.com.

Offline Ozpeter

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection All-Star
  • ****
  • Posts: 1111
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2018, 04:26:33 AM »
The M10 has dreadful stereo imaging.  Ok, I'm repeating myself but the OP may not have read my view on that subject.  It sounds like he needs a good stereo image (mentions cars passing for instance).

Frankly I am surprised that the H2N appeared noisy.   I wonder whether the OP encountered the problem that if you record something that is really quiet, and play it back at the authentic level (so that it still sounds really quiet) there is no problem, but if you amplify the recording so that (for instance) a distant dog sounds a whole lot more obvious, you will indeed be amplifying the background and system noise too.  The only way round that is usually to spend a whole lot of money.

Standing beside a road with an H2N recording passing cars, I would be very surprised if system noise was at all evident.

I'm amazed but my ancient recording (from 2011 I think) of ambient sounds recorded on an H2N when I was out walking with our dogs in a local park is online still at https://soundcloud.com/ozpeter/zoom-h2n-out-with-the-dogs - listening to that now, I'm chiefly aware of replay system noise (evident here when I press pause, and the noise keeps going, must fix my system..) but not recorded noise - unless you listen at unrealistic levels.  The first half of that recording should be quite hard to hear at normal replay levels - it gets louder later when I'm driving home - the record level wasn't changed.

Sadly bith dogs have since gone to heaven but the H2N lives on...

Offline goodcooker

  • Trade Count: (26)
  • Needs to get out more...
  • *****
  • Posts: 2841
  • Gender: Male
  • goes to 11
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2018, 12:35:43 PM »
Maybe check out the Tascam DR-100mkIII.

I agree with this - the internal mics are not terrible and they will give you a decent stereo image. It also provides phantom power on XLR inputs so if you decide that you want to get some condenser mics later (or have access to borrow some for your project) then you are set. When this recorder came out someone did a side by side comparison with an expensive Grace preamp and it sounded remarkably good.
Schoeps MK41 > nBob > PFA || MBHO KA300 > PFA || Sennheiser me40-k2u
Aerco MP2 || Grace Lunatec V2 || RAD MS2 || nBox Platinum
Marantz PMD706 || PMD620

http://www.archive.org/bookmarks/goodcooker

"Are you the Zman?" - fan at Panic 10-08-10 Kansas City

"I don't know who left this perfectly good inflatable wook doll here, but if I'm blowing her up, I'm keeping her." -  hoppedup

Offline mjwin

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • Gender: Male
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2018, 05:39:51 PM »
I don't have much to add to the excellent advice which you've already received above, except for a few technical notes further down.  But I would definitely add my voice to the endorsement of microphones using the EM172 omni capsule.  No only does this have low noise (14dBA spec.) but a high output, which makes it a good match for the inputs on many  small hand-held recorders. Omni mics are also ideal for ambient capture &, with a bit of ingenuity, can be arranged in a variety of configurations, depending on how much stereo spread you require. e.g. wide-spaced, baffled with Jecklyn disk,  etc. Most of the commercially available mics using these capsules terminate as a pair or via an adapter into a 3 pole 3.5mm plug, suitable for a "plug-in-power" mic input.

If you're inclined towards a DIY solution, & you are good at soldering electronic components, the bare capsules can be bought online very cheaply. There shouldn't be much difference in sound quality between a capsule mounted in heatshrink sleeving and one in a machined housing, except for the fact that some manufacturers select devices for best frequency response and close matching.  For outdoor use, a fur windshield is a necessity and, again, you can make or buy.   

Now for the slightly more technical stuff.

A few posts back...
This site tests preamp noise for portable recorders: https://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm
This excellent site is almost the definitive guide amongst nature sound recordists.  The table linked to is based party on manufacturers specs (where given)  and partly on measurements made on single devices by Avisoft, so you should take the figures as a rough guide only.  Also, for some of the recorders with both XLR & 3.5mm mic inputs, it's not clear which input is referenced (though probably XLR). Although the "best" spec devices (i.e. least noise) are at the top of the list, what you will see is a column of numbers which might themselves not be completely intuitive.

The noise which you will hear when making a recording will be the sum of the mic noise + the recorder noise + the ambient background noise. And, because you can't subtract one source of noise from another, what this means is that even the quietest recording device won't help if your mic is the dominant noise source.

OK. So how quiet is our recommended mic, the EM172? It's specified as "14dB(A) SPL", but translated into the same units as column 1 of the Avisoft table The EM172 has an  equivalent noise voltage which works out at about -108dBu(A).  As a general rule, the recorder needs to be around 6dB quieter than this for its own noise contribution to become relatively unimportant.  So that suggests that the best recorder to use with this mic will have a noise of  -114dBu or better.

That's about halfway down the table, so it appears that you have a good choice. However, annoyingly most of the smaller recommended recorders have now been discontinued: Sony PCM M10*, Roland/Edirol R-05, R-09, Olympus LS10, LS11... If you can find one of these used, this is probably the best option.

Otherwise, the higher spec units such as the Tascam DR100-III, Sony D100, are excellent but more bulky & expensive. As for the latest devices such as Roland R-07, Sony PCM-A10, they look promising, but as yet we just don't know about the noise level...

Good luck with your art project & ambience recordings: experimentation is the key!

--
* As has been mentioned, the M10's internal mics are indeed EM172s. But they're mounted too closely to give much of a stereo effect. If you do end up with one of these, you'll find somewhere on TS some info I posted on making a baffle to help with this.

Offline IronFilm

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 143
  • Sound Recordist for Film/TV in New Zealand
    • IronFilm
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2018, 03:07:01 AM »
Now that the price of a brand new Zoom F4 has plunged to only US$350, then I'd highly recommend that. (the F series is in a completely different league to anything Zoom ever made, and are jaw dropping outstanding for how much value they offer for such a small price)

Then pair it with a decent mic, something like the Deity S Mic 2 Kit is very good value.

Offline dramatolog

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2018, 12:42:42 PM »
Wow!! Thanks for the advice and info, awesome explanations and links. If any of you happen to be in Vienna, Budapest or Belgrade, please message me, I own you a beer!   :cheers:

I guess I made up my mind. I'll go for the Tascam
DR100mkiii and try out some DIY stuff with the EM172. Some soldering and crafting shouldn't be a problem.

My intention was to create an ambiance soundscape to exhibited photos. The project is artistic, but I would like to have authentic sound anyway.




 

Offline if_then_else

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2018, 12:52:35 PM »
Wow!! Thanks for the advice and info, awesome explanations and links. If any of you happen to be in Vienna, Budapest or Belgrade, please message me, I own you a beer!   :cheers:

Incidentally, a couple of days ago there was a discussion about some "new" ambience microphones from Bratislava.

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=188540.msg2281715#msg2281715

Offline dramatolog

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2018, 05:40:20 AM »
Wow!! Thanks for the advice and info, awesome explanations and links. If any of you happen to be in Vienna, Budapest or Belgrade, please message me, I own you a beer!   :cheers:

Incidentally, a couple of days ago there was a discussion about some "new" ambience microphones from Bratislava.

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=188540.msg2281715#msg2281715

Indeed! This is in my neighborhood, an hour drive, a beer and another hour back :)

Offline Roger Gustavsson

  • Trade Count: (1)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 423
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2018, 06:38:39 AM »
I guess I made up my mind. I'll go for the Tascam
DR100mkiii and try out some DIY stuff with the EM172. Some soldering and crafting shouldn't be a problem.

Reading the table presented on https://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm , it seems the Tascam DR100 Mk II will overload easily with the Primo EM172 capsules. If the EM172 puts out -28 dBV at 94 dB, is that not 40 mV? 94 dB is not much if you are about to record outdoors. Maybe things change for the better while lowering the micpre gain? It is not tested by Avisoft. I am surprised how bad some of the recorders listed there measures. Sure, we want to see a dynamic range of 90 dB or more. In the case of the EM172, in theory it can do 105 dB. The EM173 can do more, 121 dB.

Offline dogmusic

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 729
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2018, 08:54:19 AM »
I guess I made up my mind. I'll go for the Tascam
DR100mkiii and try out some DIY stuff with the EM172. Some soldering and crafting shouldn't be a problem.

Reading the table presented on https://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm , it seems the Tascam DR100 Mk II will overload easily with the Primo EM172 capsules. If the EM172 puts out -28 dBV at 94 dB, is that not 40 mV? 94 dB is not much if you are about to record outdoors. Maybe things change for the better while lowering the micpre gain? It is not tested by Avisoft. I am surprised how bad some of the recorders listed there measures. Sure, we want to see a dynamic range of 90 dB or more. In the case of the EM172, in theory it can do 105 dB. The EM173 can do more, 121 dB.

He’s talking about the Tascam DR100mk3, not the mk2.
"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

Offline Roger Gustavsson

  • Trade Count: (1)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 423
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2018, 05:51:30 AM »
According to Avisoft the Tascam DR-100MK III is about the same as the Mk II.

Input Noise: -126dBu or -124dBu(A)
Input clippling: -53dBu or 1.8mV
Dynamic Range: 73dB

Offline dogmusic

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 729
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2018, 08:45:25 AM »
According to Avisoft the Tascam DR-100MK III is about the same as the Mk II.

Input Noise: -126dBu or -124dBu(A)
Input clippling: -53dBu or 1.8mV
Dynamic Range: 73dB

It's not been my experience with the mk3.
"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

Offline mjwin

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Taperssection Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • Gender: Male
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2018, 07:32:39 PM »
I guess I made up my mind. I'll go for the Tascam
DR100mkiii and try out some DIY stuff with the EM172. Some soldering and crafting shouldn't be a problem.

Good choice. This is a great deck & hard to beat for sound quality. It will also open up the possibility of using XLR mics at a later date.

Just to clarify the point about recorder clipping levels:  the Avisoft "clipping level" column is specified at max recorder gain, which doesn't make it a particularly useful figure. (They do actually mention this in footnote 2 at the bottom of the table)

From the horse's mouth (Tascam DR100-III manual p50):

EXT IN jack (can provide plug-in power)
Connector:   
3.5mm (1/8”) stereo mini jack
When EXT MIC input source selected
Maximum input level:    -2.8 dBu (PAD on) <<<<< max input before clipping
Minimum input level:    -62.8 dBu (PAD off )
Input impedance: 50 kΩ or more

Which is a much more reasonable spec. In fact, at LOUD sound levels, the biggest cause for concern is clipping of the mic itself when run on the Tascam's 3V plug-in-power.   But there certainly won't be an issue when recording most ambient soundscapes!

Offline Roger Gustavsson

  • Trade Count: (1)
  • Taperssection Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 423
Re: Low noise recording without breaking the bank
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2018, 07:12:50 AM »
It is a pity that Avisoft is not giving us figures for gains below maximum. Seems to be done for a few devices but not all.

 

RSS | Mobile
Page created in 0.143 seconds with 47 queries.
© 2002-2019 Taperssection.com
Powered by SMF