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DSLR Sound Recording – Capturing Sound for an Acoustic Session Video

In our previous post we talked a little about the new products that recently come to the market that make live band recording much easier. Products such as the Allen & Heath ICE-16 or the Cymatic Audio LR16 allow for 16 channels of simultaneous recording on to a memory stick or hard drive. Once this audio has been captured, you can then pop it in to your favourite recording software and mix to your heart’s content. Both units also double up as USB 2.0 interfaces but that’s studio recording and not what we are talking about. When making an acoustic session video, you are often out and about with no power sockets and the gear that can be used needs to be portable. Most of the time you simply record the overall sound rather than individual channels for mixing later. Most people with a DSLR camera will know that the audio from the camera’s inbuilt microphone is pretty unusable and will not make your video sound good. For that reason you will have to use either an external microphone connected to your camera or capture the audio in portable recorder and sync the sound in post-production. Syncing audio to video may sound daunting to someone that hasn’t done this before but it’s pretty simple really. I use Apple’s Final Cut Pro X to edit my videos and that has a simple one click process that when you select your audio file and video file, it syncs them up for you. If your software doesn’t allow for that,  you could use the old Hollywood clapper board or simply clap a few times before you start performing and match the audio peaks up from the external recorder to the ones on your camera audio (I’ve done that successfully many a time).   External Microphone For DSLR Sound Recording If your DSLR camera has a mic input, you may choose to go down the route of an external microphone that captures the audio and records it on to the video in the camera. This obviously saves any syncing time in post-production. The most popular mic for people needing a quality solution without spending a fortune is the Rode VideoMic Pro. I own this little beauty and also seen it used in pro world hundreds of times. It isn’t the only mic on the market and our range of Audio Technica Broadcast microphones may be a better choice depending on what you want to capture   Handheld Recorders For DSLR Sound Recording Many companies make handheld records and I’m sure they are good bits of kit however, I’m personally a Tascam man and their range of portable digital recorders are fantastic. I own the Tascam DR40 and this bad boy allows me to record using its on-board microphones or use any microphone I want to capture the sound thanks to the two XLR inputs on the device. In the past I've taken a couple of AKG C1000s out with me, popped in batteries (the unit doesn't supply phantom power) and I've had full studio quality microphones in the middle of nowhere. Typically you record the audio on to an on-board memory card and you can choose the quality or format. This is my preferred way of capturing sound for an acoustic session video as I believe the quality is superior, it allows me to get the recorder nearer the sound source as it isn't attached to the camera and because it isnt attached to the camera, I could move the camera around whilst recording and it wouldn't affect the sound.   Wireless Microphones For DSLR Sound Recording Using a wireless microphone for DSLR recording is not really something that would be used to capture a live band recording however, I felt I should just mention that this technology is available. Usually this equipment would be more suited for interviewing or capturing general speech. Sennheiser make a broadcast version of their popular EW100 G3 series of wireless microphones and you can see the EW112P Lapel System and the EW135P Handheld versions on our site.   Here is a video I recorded of my acoustic duo performing in a lovely summer garden last weekend. I’ve not posted this for some vain self-promotion reasons but rather as I know how it was recorded. I’m no video expert and not claiming this video is great quality but it was perfect for what we wanted. The intention is to do loads of these whenever we are out gigging and because of this, I need an extremely portable set up that can be ready quickly. I had my Rode Video Mic Pro attached to the camera as my “backup” audio recorder and the Tascam DR40 just out of shot on the floor in front of us. I was using the mics built in to the Tascam recorder to cut down on gear and using a setting that recording the audio twice, once at the set gain level and once at -6db below that. It was a one take wonder and all done in 5 minutes. Could I have made the audio better…..Yes, I could have played around with the mic placement, used some better mics plugged directly in to the Tascam recorder and maybe put the recorder on a tripod to have it level with our mouths but hey, it’s an acoustic garden session and I felt the sound was good enough for what I wanted. Let me know what you think and feel free to give EAV Pro Audio a call if you want to discuss recording equipment.

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