Discuss gear and techniques for recording and stage performance
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By the kid
hi, i'm wondering what peoples opinion and experience is on recording material in west africa

what medium has been used for most of the recording in the past
i presume some recordings have been done in studio but probably a lot of cd's in circulation have been recorded with just one mic and recorder

so i'm looking for info on a one mic job

i guess the positioning of all the players has to be carefully planned

next is the micro phone, i have mini condensor

and next is the recording device, mp3, mini disk, pc

have you advice on whats good and bad and for what reason
advice appreciated
i'mgoing to gambia soon for classes with Koto Bangoura formerly with National Ballet of guinea, he has 16 piece band there(guinean) and wants to make video and cds to sell so he, we and they can be happy

peace, cheers
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By James
Minidisc is great quality. Add a good microphone, especially one that can pick up the deep bass and you get great quality. You'll still have background ambience, but I like it :)

Bubudi was telling me about a pretty fancy set up when we were talking on on skype before. It involved some piece of hardware I can't remember now and 2 microphones.

I'm sure he'll stop by and fill in the gaps at some stage.
By bubudi
mdr is ok for classes. they are also not very hardy so you have to be super careful with them. the mic that comes with it is rubbish and after a while will go crackly so you'll need to get a decent external stereo mic for it. the preamp on md recorders doesn't compare to a professional recorder though. you'd be better off with a hi-md but unless you get a used one, it's about the same price as a pro recorder anyway, and the zoom h2 is actually cheaper!

the zoom h2 is the smallest portable recorder out there (other than md), is cheaper than hi-md and has 4 internal mics that will do a 360 degree sound image that can be converted to 5.1 surround sound. the sound is quite decent and a lot of drummers as well as classical musicians are really happy with this setup without external mics. there is a line input and one 1/8" mic input so you will need a high quality stereo mic to plug in if you want to improve the sound, which is recommended if you want to produce a cd. the unit takes high speed sd cards capable of 8GB which is more than most people need, records 24 bit 44.1khz wav files as well as mp3 files. for those on a real budget that is what i'd suggest. it is more than enough for recording lessons, live music from crowd or direct line to soundboard, and for a demo cd.

for a professional recording or a full cd release for your band i would recommend the edirol r-09 with a high quality stereo external mic. the main differences between the edirol r-09 and the zoom h2 are significantly better preamps (although the ones in the h2 are not bad at all, i could really hear the difference), and roland's price tag. still only one 1/8" mic input on this unit.

a compromise between the two is the zoom h4. the preamp is better than the h2 and it has two 1/4" xlr mic inputs which gives you more mic choices. the preamp is not quite as good as that of the edirol r-09, but not too far off. the screen on both the zoom h2 and h4 is really small but if you're not going to use any of its advanced features, that may not be an issue for you. if you are thinking of recording nature sounds with it then be aware there is a slight noise caused by the write light on this model, which happens only when you use it with battery power. this noise is only audible in near silence (such as when out in nature). i don't think that this will ever be an issue when recording west african music and definitely not with most bands. also the h4, like the edirol, has 2 internal mics. no internal mic on an mdr. again the internal mics will do the job nicely for most things, but for the professional sound the 2 hq ext mics (or 1 hq stereo mic) on the h4 or one hq stereo mic on the r-09 are needed. if there is only about $100 difference between the h4 and the r-09, you may as well get the r-09, unless you are specifically wanting a setup with 2 ext mics or your mic(s) of choice use phantom power (then get the h4).

whatever you get, don't skimp on the external mics. prepare to spend about $400 on a set of two mics. the best mid-budget choice for a single stereo mic is the audio technica at822. the adk sc-1 and sc-2 are very decent mics that i believe you can get for around $100 each and will work with the h4 (need an adaptor to work with the other 2 units which is not recommended). also the shure sm57 is a popular choice and cheap as the sc-1. akg make some pretty good mics. rode NT5 (and NT4, their single stereo equivalent) is a great mic but is a little pricier. no doubt others will be able to recommend other good mics for this purpose.
By bubudi
the olympus ls-10 recorder has been out in the states for about 7 months now and was released in australia last month. i've had mine for a few months and am very happy with it in an ad-hoc recording situation. am yet to test it with a good mic setup, but others i've talked to (who also used the r-09 and h4) have, and prefered the result with the ls-10. when i get a chance to use it to record some live music with a rode nt4 mic, i'll post a sample of the result. there are other pocket pcm recorders out there, but the size (looks and feels a bit like a cell phone) and cost of the olympus, along with its sound quality, make it a winner so far. edirol have responded by re-releasing the r-09 with 24 bit capability and a partial fix to preamp noise. in the end it's a larger, heavier and more expensive unit than the ls-10.

moving onto mics, you can go with one single-point stereo mic or several mics. i haven't seen any single point stereo mic around $500 or less which can touch the rode nt4. if you're after a pair of mics, go for a matched pair. this usually means two of the same and usually that will get you a good discount. some pocket recorders have only one mic input and some have 2. there are different ways to get a 4 mic system with the pocket recorders. some people simply use y-splitters, other people use pre-amps equipped with 4 mic inputs, others use a combination of the two.

i've had limited experience in recording and so i hope others will add their input on recording techniques, mic placement, recorder settings, etc. there are a lot of factors involved and a lot of guesswork if you don't know. recording a full acoustic instrumental ensemble is different to recording percussion. folks, please share your knowledge.
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By bops
There are a lot of ways to approach it... depends on what kind of project you're willing to undertake and what kind of budget and equipment you have. Not to mention whether you're willing to learn a new skill. Keep in mind, there are people who do this for a living, and who are good at it. If it's your first project, it's a good idea to practice first - with a group. Actually run through the process so you get an idea of what your recording will sound like when you're done. Then you'll have an idea of what you like or don't like.

Maybe those of you who are trying to do some recording could describe your objectives a little, or some specific questions...

I think mic placement really depends on the microphone - sensitivity, unidirectional/omnidirectional, etc. It's a good place to start.
By bubudi
bops wrote:Maybe those of you who are trying to do some recording could describe your objectives a little, or some specific questions...
you stole my line, bops :rofl:

i guess most of us are either trying to record our own groups, record live percussion gigs, also any live musical event in africa. let's start with the last one, because that's more to the point of this topic (recording west african ballet) and i think also that being able to handle this situation well will make you better equipped to record in other settings.
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By Dugafola
if you are going to do a ballet, you'll need a lot of mics. 6 would be a good number to cover all the instruments: duns, djembe, bala, strings and then you'll need some for vox. all ballets have singing...it's going to be hard to pick up decent vox with a sole stereo mic or even some spaced omnis.

your best best for a ballet would be to close mic the instruments and then have some spaced omnis or wide cards to pick up vox and to add a nice soundstage. you'll need a mixer and a preamp and a recorder to handle all the tracks. check out the Sound Device 788t. then you can mix down the multi track into 2 stereo tracks in post production and you'll have a nice fat recording with plenty of depth and presence and great representation of all instruments and vox.

smaller ensembles are a lot easier. multi-track is the way to go imo.