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Tech: Recording: microphone problem

Phil Edwards 28 Jan 12 - 10:35 AM
Will Fly 28 Jan 12 - 10:57 AM
Tootler 28 Jan 12 - 11:09 AM
Will Fly 28 Jan 12 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 28 Jan 12 - 11:20 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Jan 12 - 05:32 PM
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Subject: Tech: Recording: microphone problem
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 10:35 AM

For 52 Folk Songs I'm recording songs using Audacity (running on a Mac) and a Zoom H2 digital recorder. Some of the time I use the Zoom standalone and transfer the WAV files onto the Mac, but mostly I use the Zoom as a microphone, connected to the Mac (and powered) by a USB lead.

Just recently, the Zoom and/or Audacity started malfunctioning intermittently: it records what sounds like a massively overdriven & distorted version of what I'm singing/playing, at the right volume level but sounding like something out of Dr Who (and with blocky square waveforms).

I haven't been able to find any rhyme or reason as to why and when it does this, except that it doesn't go wrong while it's actually recording; it usually happens when I do one bit of recording, leave it for a while and then start recording again. It doesn't seem to be connected with listening back to the previous recording, as it's happened without my doing that. I can generally fix it by unplugging the Zoom and then re-establishing the connection - which is laborious, as it has to be done at both ends, the Zoom and Audacity - although sometimes I have to do this twice.

Anyone seen (or rather heard) anything like this? Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording: microphone problem
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 10:57 AM

Mmm... haven't come across this one. I get some recording distortion if I've set the Zoom recording level at maximum (3-way setting at "3" and recording level at max) and play or sing too close to the Zoom. Other than that, all seems to work OK.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording: microphone problem
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 11:09 AM

I had a similar effect recently when trying to mix two separately recorded tracks. At first, I thought the levels on the individual tracks needed reducing (via the amplify effect) but when I checked again I found that I had inadvertently turned the volume slider on the track view in Audacity up to maximum. Turning it back down again solved the problem.

I'm not sure that is your problem but it might just be worth checking, though. Also, as Will suggests, check the record levels in your Zoom recorder.

Finally would it not be better to simply record into the Zoom then transfer the wav to your computer for further processing? That's what I do with my Edirol sound recorder and I get pretty good results. I have recorded directly into my computer using a separate mic, but the recordings are rather noisy and, although the noise reduction in Audacity is pretty effective at reducing it, I suspect there is a loss of audio quality in the process.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording: microphone problem
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 11:18 AM

Yes - forgot to say and Tootler has reminded me: I never record directly into the Mac with the Zoom - I either record directly in to the Zoom as a stand-alone device, or use it as a mic attached to an 8-track digital recorder. Audacity/Garageband is always a second stage process.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording: microphone problem
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 11:20 AM

Definitely over-driving. I've often found sending a lot less 'hotter' signal, from whatever you got 'plugged in', and using the EQ to cut or boost the areas of the signal, that 'splatter' (clip), and boosting the ones that need fattening up.
Sometimes for good, fat 'clean' sound, send in a nice fat sound INTO the unit, but turn DOWN the input level, and let the fat signal 'Work' to move your 'needles'. If you are more concerned with the audio level dynamics, ie. your piece has a lot of 'dynamic range', you would have to find your happy medium, as not to overdrive.
A compressor would serve you well....using the 'output' level, more than the compression side.
When I was both playing, and engineering, often we could pre-set levels...now, I tend to use a separate engineer...and by the way, a GOOD engineer, is as important, and should NOT be considered 'less', than one of the actual playing musicians!...and compensated equally...whether it's a live gig, or otherwise.

GfS


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Subject: RE: Tech: Recording: microphone problem
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 05:32 PM

Overdriving is certainly the general area the bug is in. But it's not overdriving as in "I'm putting too much dynamic range into this microphone" - when it happens, the Audacity waveform is a weird shape but with the rough dimensions I'd expect, peaking well below the maximum. The sound is as if it's been massively overdriven & then magically un-amplified back down to the level it should have been.

The point about using the Zoom as a mike is that it lets me overdub onto an existing track; I lose that (or have to go around the houses to achieve it) if I'm using the Zoom stand-alone. It's also handy to see the waveform as I sing, to make sure that I don't go too loud.


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