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Jennifer

Jennifer

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I'm going to record a live viola solo recital in an auditorium with my Android phone. I'd like to use a lapel microphone at the phone location rather than on the person. Does anyone have experience with that? Any suggestions? Thanks.

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It will sound more distant and reverberant, and probably noisier as well. You can demo this for your self by plugging in the mic, setting it at some distance to your self and then singing while you walk toward it.  Does the more distant pickup work for you?  There are other, somewhat more sophisticated mics that can plug into your phone...https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones/mv88

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If it needs to be a lav mic, try putting it right on the instrument. Try out various positions there. You would have to put the phone into the players pocket though

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What Phil and Constantin say, ... and also

 

First I assumed you were playing the viola, then thought no, maybe I assume wrongly?

 

I play viola. A quality lav mic can give a decent result - mounted, say, on or behind the bridge, or on a short 'arm' clipped to the body (technically I would say pointing to the sound holes but actually being a lav, an omni, and up so close, just being out of the way of the player/playing would be how to go about it). Such a close mounting will give a more direct 'in your face' sound but if instrument, player and mic are all good it could / should be good.

 

The other option, a more distant micing, will give a result which includes more reverberance of the concert space, if that's what you're after. The only problem is that it is dependent on the positioning of the mic to get a nice balance of instrument and room and the probability, if not finding or being able to get a good position, is that the balance will favour 'room' and the recording will be much too 'thin' sounding. Recording mono with a single mic rather than finding a good stereo (say, two cardioid mics) position for a room recording will also lessen a potential advantage of going 'distant', that of placing the instrument in a perceptive space for the listener.

 

I would definitely follow Phil's advice and try to do some tests (find a player if not yourself) and see what works or doesn't in the room you're going to record in. But knowing no more than what was said in your original question I would personally go with a mic mounted on the instrument since it will have the 'easiest' decent result.

 

Best and good luck,

 

Jez Adamson

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Most lavalier mics are to sensitive for an applicaiton directly on the instrument, unless you get special ones with low sensitivity. As your smartphone app is limited in setting the gain your recordings will clip in most cases. The idea to use your phone with an lavalier will work if you can position your mic close enough to the musician to get more direct sound from the instrument than reflected one. So it mailnly depends on the limitations you have in placing the mic. Distant micing with a lavalier usually won't work well.

 

Greetings

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, pillepalle said:

Most lavalier mics are to sensitive for an applicaiton directly on the instrument, unless you get special ones with low sensitivity. 

 

That‘s not true. DPA 4060, 6060, Sanken COS-11, Countryman B6 and others are all perfectly fine for this (assuming 126 dB SPL max, as per the link in another thread). Even the unpleasant Sennheiser ME-2 can withstand sufficient SPL for this. On the other hand, a mic like the Rode SmartLav would probably be too weak for this (depending on player and piece). But it very much does depend on the mic chosen. We’d need more info from the OP

However, the mic itself clipping does not depend on any gain setting.

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@ Constantin

 

It's not about the max SPL of the microphone. The recording clips because in most apps you can't lower the gain enough to avoid clipping. With Pfitzingers Field Recorder App it might work. It has a low recording gain for loud events (especially for Samsung smartphones). Usually the signal is too hot when you use it on an instrument, because the amplification of the smartphone (from manufacturer side) is very high and can't be lowered enough via the app.

 

Greetings

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On 6/10/2019 at 9:15 AM, pillepalle said:

It's not about the max SPL of the microphone. 

 

It may well not be, but it’s what you originally said and what I was referring to before. It’s very possible the following recording chain clips before the mic does, because most lav mics are not too sensitive for this. Maybe something like the DPA d:vice might be useful here. 

 

Anyway, it does really come down to what Mike said: try it beforehand 

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Quote

It may well not be, but it’s what you originally said and what I was referring to before

I don't think it's what he said at all. he said this

Quote

Most lavalier mics are to sensitive for an applicaiton directly on the instrument, unless you get special ones with low sensitivity

Mic sensitivity defines the electric output signal against a reference sound pressure level of 1 pascal/ 94 dB, usually expressed in -dB  or mV/Pa, in a nutshell the  higher the voltage , the less gain need be applied = more sensitive.

 

I have recorded violins, violas, cellos, double-basses and a host of other stringed instruments with lavs, mostly dpa and pillepalle is correct, those mics can be too "sensitive", meaning that their output level as it relates to the SPL to be recorded exceeds the input stages' (mic pre) maximum input. It has nothing to do with the max SPL the mic can handle and everything to do with the maximum input the recording device can handle. Unless you have either external PSUs and pads or a mixer that lets you apply a pad on an input capable of phantom powering (like SD 6xx set to line with phantom power) you have to reach for a mic with lower sensitivity. 

I also would point out that the placement on the instrument does not yield a pleasant reproduction of the sound of the instrument. It is great for providing detail and perspective but without a main mic setup it sounds like fingernails on chalkboard. The sound of these instruments "comes into its own" only at a distance, curiously enough the higher quality of a concert instrument we're dealing with the more "zerklueftet" ( hard to translate: "riddled with peaks and valleys" might be close) the timbre becomes at close range, only at a distance does it become whole.

 

To answer the OP's question, I'd suggest mounting the lav on the player, preferably somewhere on the head (assuming the head doesn't move wildly during playing) like behind/ above the ear or the forehead / hairline. That way you'll get some distance between the mic and the instrument while staying within the critical distance.

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If placing a mic on the instrument or player won't work (or the player objects), maybe:

 

-Mount the mic to a music stand in front of the player.

If there will be a music stand and if the sheet music leaves room

(perhaps on the lower lip if pages will only be turned between pieces).

 

-Place the phone on the floor about four-to-six feet in front of the player.

 

-Sit in the front row with your phone.

 

Just some quick ideas working off the assumption this is a fairly informal recital. If I'm wrong, let us know a bit more about what you want to do with the recording (momento, part of audition for a school, etc), and how complex you want to make this...

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Jennifer, please come back to us! We are getting too excited at the prospect of recording a viola without any information as to who is playing, what they're playing, in what circumstances, in what kind of room!

 

Will it be Brahms or Scelsi? Dvorak or Xenakis? Let us know what you are doing!?

 

Jez x

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