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Help with Minidisc recordings (again)

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by thrash_jazz, May 7, 2003.


  1. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hi everybody,

    Lately I'm having more annoying problems with my MD recorder. I've been using it with a tabletop Sony mic to record the jam sessions I've been going to, but for some reason I always get some clipping in the recordings, even though I manually set the levels waaay low (roughly -20 db; the manual recommends a peak of -12).

    The weird part is that the clipping is ALWAYS in the higher end of the spectrum (guitar, sax, vocals, stuff like that). The low end is clear as a bell. It almost sounds like it's feedback, but I'm not sure.

    Why is this happening, and how can I deal with it?
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    My minidisc recorder allows you to set a level or go for automatic level setting. I found that I nearly always got clipping (distortion) when recording bands on the former, but never on the latter.

    The automatic function can sound a bit strange as it brings up quiet passages and especially close audience noise when the band has stopped - but I decided to live with it as overall, the recording quality was always better - I dont know why!!
     
  3. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    The mic I am using is far too sensitive for automatic function. I almost always have to use the manual setting and bring the levels far down, but the high-end clipping happens even at very low input levels.

    Is this a common problem with very sensitive mics? Another fellow at the jam has the same MD as me, but a smaller, line-powered mic. Might a less sensitive mic be the answer?
     
  4. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Where is the mic in relation to the sound sources in the room? I once recorded a gig where the first half was somewhat painful to listen to because I had the mic too close to the guitar amp... a little repositioning and the second half sounded much sweeter.

    At recent concerts, I've taken to sticking the MD recorder in my pocket and clipping the mic to my shirt or waistcoat - that's worked pretty well.

    FWIW, I use the manual recording setting, with the recording volume set down to about a quarter of the maximum (I don't have time to stop and check the dB meter while I'm playing). I've got a Sony NZ-707 Net-MD with a Sony ECM-717 electret mic.

    Wulf
     
  5. Do you have a mic sensitivity switch on the MD? My Sony MZ-R909 allows you to switch from low to high presumably depending on whether you have a powered mic or not. If it is expecting a passive mic and you are feeding in a powered one it may be just too much signal.
     
  6. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Both times, the mic was relatively close to the sound source. I suppose I could try moving it further away, but then there is crowd noise as well as the possibility that it will be swiped.

    Might it work if I pointed the mic away from the sound source, in stereo mode?

    So, if the mic is pointing at the source... is it actually feeding back then?

    I don't think I have a sensitivity switch (I use a Sony MZ-707). However, if the mic IS too sensitive, is it a hopeless cause?

    EDIT: I should clarify - my MD is a Sony MZ-707, my mic is a Sony ECM-ZS90.
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    We're all using slightly different Sony mics! Mine is an ECM-MS907.

    My MD Recorder has a switch for high and low mics?
     
  8. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    No switch on mine but I have got the option of line and mic inputs. I think the mic itself gets a nominal amount of power from the MD unit and doesn't need it's own batteries.

    Back to the problem at hand - I think experimenting with mic positioning is a very good idea. One of the reasons I've taken to clipping the mic to myself at gigs is so that it's got a good chance to 'hear' what I hear (and also because nobody's likely to swipe it from my pocket or tread on it by accident).

    Try putting your ears near where you've got the mic - what do they pick up? Are some sounds really loud compared to others?

    Wulf
     
  9. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    It could be that - my mic was fairly near the PA. Still, I am confused as to why the high end was clipping. Did this happen to you when your mic was pointed at the guitar amp?
     
  10. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'd have to listen back to check - it was certainly very overloaded.

    How loud was the bass in the PA? If you had an amp as well, it might have been turned down, which would explain why the other instruments were the ones you heard clipping (loud signals through PA) while the bass was okay (reasonable signal from bass cab).

    Wulf
     
  11. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I was only going through the PA, and the bass was apparently VERY loud in the FOH. The guitarists were using amps, but the sax and vocals were going through the PA, and those were clipping the worst of all.
     
  12. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    How long until your next jam session?

    Wulf
     
  13. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    The ones I tend to frequent are every Tuesday, but it depends.
     
  14. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What I'd suggest then is taking your MD set up along and changing the position of your mic from time to time. That way, you can figure out if positioning helps or if you might end up having to spend $$$ on upgrading your gear.

    It might also help to briefly speak into the mic each time you move it, describing the settings on the MD (auto / manual levels) what instruments are playing and where you're putting the mic down. That will give you a few clues so that you can recreate the set up when you hear a section that sounds really good.

    Wulf
     
  15. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    You may need to get a more expensive microphone one that's designed for high SPL. Most of the recording I do is in mono and I use an Audio Technica ATM35. I use this mic because I also use it to amplify my double bass, it has a good frequency range, 20hz - 15Khz or so it has worked quite well for me.