Hat Mics on the road

I recently went on a San Juan River fly fishing trip with my dad and brothers, my brothers traveled separately, so it was just my dad and I for the 3 hour drive from Rio Rancho to Navajo Dam, NM.

My dad was visiting from Florida for more than a week, so it was a great opportunity to interview him and ask random questions to help me and my kids understand his family history as he knew it.  All total I have about 6 hours of recording just talking with dad, I learned many new things that I did not know before.

Since both my dad and I wear baseball caps, it was a excellent chance to use the Hat Mic technique and my Olympus LS-10 as detailed in a previous post here.

There was a fair amount of road noise in the recording from the Toyota Tundra truck.  I also noticed that the road noise level changed as the truck went over bridges and rougher patches of road.

Here is a sample of the recording so you can hear what this particular setup sounds like.


– Dom

Direct link to the MP3 audio:  http://tribalgrowth.com/files/2010-09-04_HatMicsOnTheRoad.mp3

How to record and produce a MP3 file from a 2 person interview

When I record audio interviews, I usually choose between 2 hardware setups depending on the situation.

The first setup is for ultra-light portable field recording without any power nearby or audio mixer to plug into.  This comprises primarily of a Olympus LS-10 digital audio recorder, 2 lavalier/lapel wired microphones with 1/8 mono connectors, and a Y connector which connects each mono connector to the right or left stereo input on the LS-10.  Click on the image to see a larger version.

The second setup is also for field recording that gives me more options to either plug into an existing audio mixer, or use higher quality phantom powered wired or wireless microphones.  It’s made up of a Marantz PMD661 digital audio recorder and paired with a couple Shure Beta58A microphones (as pictured) or a couple Shure PGX wireless lavalier/lapel microphones (these require AC power nearby).

One of the more important points about recording interviews is microphone placement.  I prefer to use the lavalier/lapel microphones when I can because it allows me to place the microphone at a consistent distance from the mouth of the person talking and there is little chance for handling noise.  With hand-held microphones, moving of the hand on the surface of the mic can cause audio noise to be picked up by the recorder.

One tip on using the devices, the Olympus LS-10 can be setup to use Auto-Gain or Fixed-Gain, the gain applies to BOTH left and right channels at the same time, there is no individual gain for each channel.  On the Marantz PMD661, each channel has it’s own gain and can be adjusted independently depending on the person’s speaking volume.

Once I am done with the recording, I take the WAV file from either recorder, run the file through the Levelator, and edit them using Audacity (remove parts I don’t want).  Once all the editing it done, the audio is then rendered (or produced) into MP3 format.

Below is a video I made of the production process using Audacity & the Levelator (the audio used was recorded using the Olympus LS-10 setup):


– Dom

Here is the video link for those who can’t see the embedded viewer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxR2Jik8oHM

Here is the MP3 file so you can hear it outside youtube:

Here is the direct link to the MP3 file:  http://tribalgrowth.com/files/DomJo.output.mp3

The video was made and rendered in 720p using Tech Smith’s Camtasia Studio 7.