Help! Better on camera mic for shooting rock / metal live gig from the audience

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    • #91462

      First of all… Hello everybody, I’m new here.

      …And new to DSLR audio other than that I now know it sucks in my camera.
      Any and all the help would be highly appreciated. I tried to make this short yet specific but uh… didn’t turn all that short.

      I don’t have the chance to hide a load of mics around the arena or get sound off the mixer table or anything like that. It’s just me shooting video (and stills) as a one man band in the crowd.
      from the middle but very likely not from the first row but rather something like 30ft (10m) away from the stage.
      I don’t have a team, clients or planning. Just stuff for my own (somewhat demanding) fun and at times something to show on vimeo/youtube that I want it to sound as good as it’s possible without some crazy complexity or making my budget super big.

      Here is an example of a set where I should be recording some quite loud live heavy metal:×340.jpg
      on the opposite side from the stage, on the other side of the pool, next to the life buoy where we can see somebody (not me this time) standing with a tripod would be the ideal place I think. Not a long distance, but not what some mean by short either.

      So… I have been reading reviews and forums over and over and I don’t think I’m moving in any direction with this stuff without asking you fellow video makers…

      It would be nice for it to be an “on camera mic” of some kind. My friend recommended a Rode Stereo (or mono) VideoMic Pro (around 200 EUR) only for other to recommend that weird V-shape Sennheiser MKE 440 stereo shotgun (around 350 EUR and actually almost 400 EUR with the separate accessory wind fur). I was on the edge of buying one of these but I found it disturbing that I could not find enough information on this Sennheiser mic and the fact that by adding the wind fur thing would rise it to some totally another level of budget inevitably bringing more options and possible alternative devices into the game.
      …Then after googling I found this:
      Seemed totally like an answer to my calls. After reading that, the Rode Stereo VideoMic X (~595EUR) started to sound like a valid option and something of a probably better idea than paying 400EUR for Sennheiser MKE 440 that probably relies on the same actual quality as the cheap MKE 400 although this is far from confirmed as it really is hard to find information on that new V-shape mic.

      So, my budget overblew and I _ALMOST_ pulled the trigger for Rode Stereo VideoMic X.
      The praising by Schneider was convincing and the idea that you could plug it right from the box to your DSLR with a 3,5mm jack _and_ and option to use XLR and phantom power after an upgrade to a recorder/pre-amp at later date etc sounded just perfect.
      but then I saw this B&H Photo review:
      ” Not good for music!
      By Nicholas Engineer
      I do video documentation of live music shows. This mic has a clear and detailed sound quality, but I found the sound to be quite harsh and unmusical. With a lot of processing in post I was able to make the sound for the one video I did with it usable, but ultimately decided it wasn’t ever going to sound great. My default mic has been the (discontinued) Audio-Technica AT822, which does need some EQ to sound clear but otherwise is a very musical sounding mic (most of what I record is rock music). Listening to many YouTube demonstration videos, it seemed maybe the Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro might actually be better for my needs, so I bought one. That mic does not have the unpleasant harshness of the SVMX, but its sound is quite “blurry”/undefined. I have made one video with that mic and I think the sound turned out better than the video with the SVMX, but I’m still not thrilled with the sound. All of the Rode stereo mics have diaphragms with very wide polar patterns so you need to be up close to the sound source if you want meaningful stereo separation. I’m thinking I might keep the SVMP in case I need to be super close to the band.”

      And after reading that I’m so very confused… As somebody _NOT_ experienced in the world of mics, who doesn’t even know for sure if I need shotgun or cardioid polar pattern and/or mono or stereo and what are the optimal distances for small shotguns or that cardioid polar pattern and what are the not so recommended distances.
      I don’t even know what exactly that reviewer meant by “harsh” or “musical” microphone…

      I have made this hard for myself, I know. But advice would be great.
      – Something else as a recommendation (reasoning included)? I have heard good of Audio Technica for example, but I don’t know how exactly they compare to these and which models might be what I should be looking at…
      – Convincing me at Stereo VideoMic X actually being good/best for my purposes and this B&H Photo reviewer “Nicholas Engineer” having weird opinions?
      – Convincing me at Sennheiser MKE 440 being really the thing here? Or those cheaper mics Rode Stereo Videomic Pro or Rode VideoMic Pro?
      – Just commenting / giving opinions on that Schneider’s mic round-up review or that B&H Photo review or overall my situation/problem here or _anything at all_ related and possibly helpful? πŸ™‚

      Thank you all in advance… If I manage to clear this mess up and actually buy myself a mic that I feel is a good purchase, I will be very happy indeed. Especially now when my first opportunities to film some gigs are getting closer and closer.

    • #214674
      AvatarKevin Mc

      I can help narrow the field for you… You definitely want a stereo mic for recording live music (no question about that). Now it comes down to choices. I think the best research you can do, is on YouTube – to give you a chance to hear the mics in action. There are quite a few on-camera stereo mics out there to choose from. Sorry I can’t offer suggestions on which mic is right for you. I just wanted to set you in the direction of stereo mics (only) for recording live music. Hope that helps…

    • #214676
      AvatarKevin Mc

      If this helps… To answer the big question of why stereo over mono, especially when recording live music: We have two ears. As such, a stereo mic recreates a “full” sound environment placing the various instruments on stage into their position in the stereo field. While a shotgun will narrow down the field to what is directly in front of the camera. In truth, the band covers the entire width of the stage, from left to right. And, the singer’s vocals are actually being piped through the speakers on the far left and right side of the stage. So narrowing your audio recording field down to just a straight line of sight in front of a shotgun mic will cause you to lose much of the music being played. It also cheapens the listening experience by placing all singers and instruments into a single audio channel.

      When we mix audio in the studio, we always separate the instruments by panning each one separately into their own space in the stereo field. Music IS a stereo experience (period). The way that we perceive it, as humans with two good ears, is in stereo.

      I’ve been recording bands live since the early 1980s, and can say that I would never even consider using a mono shotgun mic. It’s going to favor the center of the stage, making the drums louder than everything else. For what it’s worth, small condenser mics already love the drums. They tend to pick up the drums better than other instruments. I’ve been drumming for over 40 years, and have recorded hundreds of practice sessions. The smaller mic capsules, such as those found in on-camera mics, tend to put the drums in the foreground of the sound. As most drummers are located in the back, center of the stage, a mono shotgun would only amplify them even more. Plus, as your shot changes – say you are focusing in on the keyboard player located on the far left or right of the stage, a narrow field mic like a mono shotgun, is not going to pick up the entire “sound” being created by the band. Instead it’s going to focus in on the keyboard player. If their amp is off axis (not directly in front of the mic) you’re going to miss out on getting a good recording of anyone on the stage. Whereas a stereo mic, set to 90Β° (preferred) or 120Β° will continue to pick up the entire band, along with the house speakers, where the vocals are present.

      All I can say is that I’ve been doing this for a very long time as a camera operator, a musician and as a guy who owns over 40 mics, and there is no way I’d ever even consider recording live music in mono on a shotgun mic.

      Finally, be careful about product reviews. It appears that you are relying heavily upon them to help you decide. I’ve seen reviewers bash good equipment; equipment that those in the industry already know to be the best for its intended use. You also have to question the person writing the review – be it a good review or a bad one. When a review starts with, “This is the first mic I’ve ever owned…” Run! That’s not someone who has any basis of comparison to actually know the difference between a good mic and a bad one. At the other extreme, you’ll get the guys who run a spectral analysis of the recorded audio and tell you everything that’s wrong with it. Sure, they sound like an expert, but they’ve over analyzed the product. Finally, be careful when evaluating a recording on YouTube. Most of us tweak our audio in post production. Some people are good at it, some are terrible at it. So you’re not really hearing the raw mic anymore, but rather what the user did with it in post production using various VST plugins.

      Hope that helps!

    • #214678

      Okay, I really appreciate the long answer. Didn’t expect to get a story like that for free, so thank you!

      Yes, all I have is reading forums, reviews and asking opinions. Be it any set of new equpment it’s always a hell to end up buying the right product with no personal experience. Some people settle to whatever the guy in the store wants to sell them, but personally I can’t understand the logic behind not trying to buy what works the best for your use for the money you’re willing to pay. especially if it’s not tens but hundreds of euros/dollars. I don’t want to buy something I will change after a week of use because it’s the wrong item…

      So, hmm… What style of mic should I be looking for here for this?
      Stereo but what type of mic and what kind of “polar pattern”.
      In my example the distance is 10 meters (32 feet). There is a swimming pool in between me and the stage so I can’t be closer (in the pool) but on the plus side I will be above those in the pool…
      According to the information I now have the “highly directive” Sennheiser MKE 600 mono mic is definitely out of the question…
      But I have no idea what would be good then. I don’t know if that distance is too much for a cardioid polar pattern such as the Rode Stereo VideoMic X pictured here
      or if it is likely to capture the screams of the drunken audience on the sides and drown the music.
      Then there are stereo shotgun mics I have no idea if ideal either… and probably a whole lot of mic types I have never even heard of.

      Here is another pic of the stage, pool and the opposite side of the pool where I’m hoping to be able to film something:

    • #214680

      Don’t forget that a loud band on stage is balanced to be heard from a fair distance. Even if you could put a stereo mic on the camera, you would not then be able to pan it – because the stereo image would move with the camera, sounding very odd. When we record bands we use 3 or 4 proper cameras and then go pros dotted about. The cameras in close when they point in the direction of the guitarists amp, pick that up, loud and clear. Mover to centre and you hear the drums, move again and it’s bass – the vocals are missing because they come from the left and right PA stacks only. We always record the stereo desk output, and normally now, multitrack the band, as we often provide PA service too – so we plug in a mac, and record every track. The stereo mix is pretty good usually, but drums can be tricky in the live mix – sometimes they’re so loud for real, they don’t have much gain in the mix. At our most common venue – one camera on the centre line – 10-12m from the stage gets the best sound, as it’s in the right places and doesn’t move being on a locked off wide shot. All the cameras that move have useless sound. Good enough to use for sync, but hopeless for audio quality. Also beware that some cameras simply cannot handle rock levels. One of ours has preamps that distort really badly on the built in mic, even when the gain knobs are very low – the preamps just distort, before it gets to the level control.

    • #214686

      I’ve not been impressed with any of the so-called stereo shotguns – they just sound odd, but the Rode stereo mics are quite pleasant for the price – and use X/Y as the stereo technique – which is sensible for amplified recordings.

      Sometimes, you get unusual results if the gig is mega loud – because you hear things the band didn’t – like out of tune-ness, and strange noises that got missed! Good luck.

    • #214691
      AvatarKevin Mc

      One other thing to consider is a dedicated audio recorder. At venues where I am not able to mic up the whole band, I’ll put my Zoom H4n in a centered position at the proper distance from the stage; close up for acoustic gigs, and further back for rock shows. I take a live feed from the mixer when possible, but only as an additive to the more balanced recording coming into the mics directly from the stage. Now, all of my cameras are free to be placed wherever I want them. Like Paul said, the audio recorded by the cameras is used only for syncing purposes.

    • #214675

      Thank you for the reply. Although, not sure how much it did help.
      I’m not questioning your or anyone’s expertise as I have not used even one single microphone myself, except integrated mics. I never had the interest to buy a mic that is bigger, better and more expensive than my camera. Now that I finally have a camera that is capaple of nice video but my excitement was immediately crushed because of the audio that sucks in my videos…

      And unfortunately, no, it wouldn’t be for b-roll or dual system or production with actually having someone helping me, unfortunately. At this point the whole video I will ever have would be what my camera + mic combination gives me.
      Without press card and any kind of permission I don’t dare to build my setup _too_ professional looking. Not every concert allows even taking pics. A miced DSLR on gorillapod stand shouldn’t be too terrible for events that allow DSLRs in general I think, though… Sound guys with boom poles and me with a large camera would be a different story in most situations…

      I did read many concert related threads on this forum but I didn’t find anything that ended helping in my decision even though I learned something about more advanced possibilites and such.

      But, to your answer: I don’t know why exactly stereo. Many web pages seem to recommend mics like Rode Videomic Pro, Rode NTG4 and Sennheiser 600 etc, stating that the PA are mostly pushing mono out anyway.
      Also, this video:
      made me afraid of that stereo vs shotgun comparison by showing the possibility of hearing the people on right and left more so than the band. After all, it’s the music I’m trying to capture.

      In case I turn into needing stereo the Sennheiser MKE 440 might be strong contender as it’s dual shotgun. So it’s supposedly both, stereo and directional. Hard to find much information on how it performs because it’s not been out for long, though. However one video kind of gave the impression that it’s not blocking the sides all that well and therefore not so directional after all, while another video also had the Sennheiser MKE 600 mono shotgun that had better quality at the same price point, neither having the cheapest possible price point.

      Very frustrating to wander around in circles with this. I’m very sure I could pick the right mic if only I had at least some experience.
      Right now I’m thinking of buying the Rode VideoMic Pro (mono mini shotgun) because it’s so popular, not huge and doesn’t break the bank.
      But then I immediately turn into thinking of Sennheiser MKE 440 (stereo dual mini shotgun) for it’s stereo, but I don’t know about it’s sound quality (even compared to the cheap Rode VideoMic Pro) as it’s hard to find comparisons that convince me… and I can’t help but think that mono mics like Sennheiser MKE 600 and Rode NTG4+ have similar pricing to MKE 440 and supposedly have better sound quality even if only mono.

      I don’t really know how exactly cardioid polar mics do their stuff but at least it seems like the Rode STEREO VideoMic Pro and Rode Stereo VideoMic X are out because of that pattern not being so useful in the use I described. But even about this, I’m not sure if they’re perfect or not. Heh…
      And then there are tons of other brands I haven’t even looked all that much into. Like Audio Technica and Azden…
      Very confusing…

    • #214681

      Thanks for the reply.
      I am indeed going to put my camera 10 meters from the band in the center line (gorlillapod on the railing or something) and not move the camera. Now I really am interested in what type of mic would be good for this? As you mentioned a camera like that is the one that gets the best sound.
      If I change my mind a bit and intend to pan or tilt the camera, I will have another gorillapod for the mic for it to still not move around, but as I don’t have a decent video head or rig or even image stabilization, I will most likely simply not touch the camera at all.

    • #214694

      Kevin Mc:
      I’m now aware that external recorder would give freedom to film around and have better pre-amp than having the mic on camera, but that’s something I might be looking into some other time in the future πŸ™‚
      The recorder can be added later if I decide to upgrade my “work” into something that’s more than just fun and games while shooting my favorite band alone. And having someone to look after my recorder, having permission from somebody to setup stuff around the arena, proper budget and willing for the tradeoff of “nicer video>less fun”.

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