Equipment to Record a Loud Concert? October 22, 2007Posted by Jeff in Podcast Audio Equipment, Technology.
I got this question in an email:
For personal use only, I want to record rock bands that I see in clubs. I want something small that I can have on my body. I’d prefer to be able to use built-in microphones only but I’d be willing to do one external microphone if that would make a dramatic difference. I’m not looking for perfect recordings but I need something that would not distort at the high sound volumes. I just want to be able to later again listen to some incredible music performances that I witness in person. So, looking for recommendations from you for what would be appropriate.
Besides the obvious response of “you’re not allowed to record concerts” a mention of “copyright” and a warning that you could be fined if you try to do anything with the recording… here’s the scoop:
There are a bunch of great recorders out there that will do the trick. See:
- this post
- and this one
- here’s another
- and one more :)
- and search portable podcast recorder on the blog for more
The thing you have to do though, is use an external mic. Most built in microphones on recorders cannot handle the extremes of a concert (i.e. either very loud music and/or distance away from speakers and other people around talking/screaming).
If you want to do it right, I have a friend who swears by this little unit: Sony MZM200 HiMD Recorder, (add it to the list) but again, any recorder that you feel comfortable with that has a mic in will do. The important thing is the microphone.
Both omnidirectional and cardioid mics are capable of recording very loud music if you are close the speakers and not much is going on around you. If you’re back from the speakers, say 20 to 50+ feet, a cardioid would pick up less noise. If you will be even further back, 75+ feet, I’d go for a shotgun mic. I shotgun would be my pick for recording concerts… you can point it at the stage and be done with it.
I also know of people who carry a wireless mic around and clip it close to the sound source and walk away. The signal gets picked up by the mic and sent wirelessly to the recorder. When the speaker is done / concert is over, you go pick up the mic.
Whatever recorder or microphone you get, remember to always set the input levels yourself (don’t take the auto settings). Monitor the levels on the recorder to make sure it’s not getting overdriven or you’ll come out with a horrible recording. My advice is to set the levels at about 80% at the start of the concert and try not to touch it. Usually, a music set gets softer (which should be okay) and then louder… which would account for the other 20%. If you’re good with a mixer / editor afterward, then you can play with the levels between songs and normalize when you get home.
Hope this helps.