Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Technique › Sound › Help! Better on camera mic for shooting rock / metal live gig from the audience › If this helps… To answer
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 90° (preferred) or 120° 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!