Recording interviews

Hey guys,

I have an opportunity to do business with a video production company that needs someone to handle interview recordings (I would do the sound and they would do the images). They want to do this in the customer’s offices. They have been warned that the sound will be as good (or as bad) as the acoustics of the room in which the recordings will take place and they are ok with it (after a first test).

I need to purchase a small audio interface and a mic specifically for this. Any advice on the mic? Has anyone had to do that kind of things before? Any advice appreciated.

Is this a situation where you need to use a room mic or would lapel mics be an option?

I believe some journalists use things like the Zoom H4n or H6. It’s got built in stereo mics, can also take two XLR inputs IIRC. Records to SD card (size of your choice), on board ability to edit audio files with LCD screen, can record in multiple formats. USB connection to dump audio files to computer. I think they run a few hundred dollars, but are very versatile and portable, and you’re getting multiple capacities in one rather than buying several pieces of gear to cobble together. Can be mounted on camera or tripod too, I believe.

I use the H6. The thing is incredibly poorly shielded from handling noise so the tripod is important. I have all of the extensions mics that fit the H6, but the main one I use for interviews is this:

Both the transmitter and receiver are battery powered. I don’t have the wireless hand held adapter piece though.

I use them both. Your signal chain for the lapel mic is

mic (hardwired) -> Transmitter (wireless) -> Receiver (1/8" cable) -> channel 3 input of the Zoom (XLR).

Channels 1-2 (stereo) are dedicated to the proprietary field mics. Channels 3-6 can receive any XLR. But all 6 inputs can be simulationsouly activated and recorded. The difference between the ball looking capsule and the XY is the pattern and how you aim it. So when I’m recording someone outdoors and I want to pick of some of the ambience, I pull from the XY or fig 8 mic. Direct dialogue, from the lapel.

You’ll want to wear headphones or in-ear monitors to previews the level of the lapels in the field. The H6 has a built in compressor/limiter which is useful if your source gets loud before you have a chance to adjust the gain.

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That “ball looking capsule” is actually a Mid-Side mic isn’t it? It’s hard to see from looking at it where the “side” (fig 8) is located (unless it’s those Frankenstein “neck bolts” :slightly_smiling_face:), but that’s what they call it in the product description.

Also, is it possible to connect the H6 to a DAW (with USB) and use the Mid-Side to record direct? I know it may not be an ASIO device, but as long as the DAW sees it as an input it might work? Setting a buffer might be challenging though if you want low latency?

Oops! You’re right. That’s what I meant lol.

Ah. You wanna use the mic direct into the DAW. Not that I know of. But this defeats the purpose of the mobility of the H6. The only computer connector is the USB port and when you plug it in, all the drivers do is allow you to transfer the audio files directly from the flash card instead of removing it from the side and putting in a card reader. Works just like a digital camera. Hmmmm. Interesting thought though!

I do really really like that H6 microphone. Now you have me curious if I could buy a standalone.

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Ya know whats funny. I have HORRIBLE memories of the cheesy little floor board pedals and reverb units that Zoom made back in the day. Nasty cheap little awful sounding guitar pedals. It like… took me a dose of cognitive therapy to accept that the H6 was a usable professional tool. (I think I’m over it though).

Sound Design USB Pre2

I have a friend who owns this unit and it has a great low noise preamp. It’s not low cost, but seems to deliver no noise recordings on all mic types.

How many people are interviewing? I personally would put a lav mic on each person, and try other room mics as a backup or for reinforcement. An untreated office could be really bad (you can hang blankets or stuff outside the camera to cut down on a ton of room reverb).

But even in my room, which is covered in room treatment, if I bring the mic back by 3 feet, it sounds pretty distant.

One thing that I’ve found interesting to do is use a lav mic and another mic, then mix the two together by taking just the low end from the lav mic and the high end from the other mic. It keeps any room ambiance out of the low frequencies, so it still sounds like it’s close mic’d, but also keeps some of the natural sound in the high frequencies, which makes it sound less like a lav mic.

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That’s the way this is supposed to work. Lav’s are for direct audio, shotgun for instances where something glitches in the lav. Most commonly due to cloth noise or wind.

Some shotguns are designed to compensate for proximity variables like this. Choosing the shotgun is similar to choosing the lens on a camera. Its important to know the distance to the source your’e working with ahead of time. When I go into the field I carry all 3 capsules on the zoom for interviews. When I go on location for broadcast, there are several mics we can swap out for the boom just incase.

The EQ matching feature Izotope RX advanced automatically compensates for this. It does a pretty good job, but the editor has got to know a thing or two about EQ to make further adjustments when the intelligent mixing algorithms don’t quite cut it.

And remember that field recordists usually have very little control over the acoustic environment. Audio guys in newscasting, live broadcast, and cinematic post all have to get really good at editing out unwanted noise.

I’ll start a new thread about this.

Turns out I was right. It even comes with DAW software:

The H6’s USB port allows it to send and receive digital data. Connect the H6 to your laptop or desktop computer via USB, launch your favorite DAW or use the included Cubase LE software, and start laying down your tracks. You can even connect the H6 to an iPad (camera connection kit required).

When the H6 is set to “Stereo Mix” in the USB menu, it acts as a 2-input / 2-output interface; when set to “Multi Track,” it acts as a 6-input / 2-output interface. The H6’s onboard INPUT&OUTPUT mixer allows you to create a custom stereo or six-track mix for output via USB, with independent control over the level and panning of each track, as well as access to effects like low-cut filtering, compression and limiting. In addition, signal that is input to the H6 can be monitored directly before it passes through the connected computer or iPad for zero latency (that is, without any delay). There’s also a handy Loop Back mode that allows you to blend stereo signal coming from the computer or iPad with signal coming into the H6 inputs, useful for live streaming via the Internet or for adding narration to a musical backing track.

WOW!!! How on earth did I miss that!?!?

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Tunnel-vision? :grin:

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Thank you so much guys, as usual your input is invaluable.

It appears I will mostly have to record only one person. As of now, I’m thinking of using a Tascam DR-40 (similar to Zoom H4) and a lav mic because that’s what I already have, and purchase a shotgun mic.

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I would be interested to hear how it goes, when you have a chance.