On the road: Movers Mindset field recordings

I’m leaving!

I’m leaving to begin a road-trip, making a dotted-line of field recordings for the Movers Mindset podcast. Starting on Sunday morning, and then all through next week, we’ve arranged for 6+ recording sessions all in different locations, some with hours driving between.

I’ll begin with a shout-out to @clevpt who, after we recorded an awesome conversation, asked me about field recording. And I went, “well, interesting you should ask about that…” Thanks Carole, for prodding me to show my work. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Field recording


Wait! I can explain…

In the past, whenever I start talking about field recording, everyone has been endlessly curious. This topic will probably get enormous and I encourage everyone to jump in with questions, comments and ideas.

:thinking: Any time you are not in a for-purpose set-up, sound treated space, you are recording “out in the field.” See!? You’re already, basically, doing field recordings. :laughing:

If you’re new to the Craig experience, you’ll want to at least glance at my classic-Craig post, Evolution of My Field Recording Kit over on the 'ol blog.

The photo above is simply the state of my desk at maximum chaos this evening. I share it just to be sure that no one is under the false impression that I’m always organized. :wink:

New wrinkle, flying solo

Normally—as in, for about 70 episodes—I’d have an awesome person named @melissa along on the field trips. Things get stupidly complex, very quickly. Melissa was an early guest here on the PodComm podcast, Platform were she talked about what we’re doing with the Movers Mindset project; among other things, we’re creating a platform for the guests to be heard.

As a team, backpack lugging all our stuff, we do a bunch of things that go unnoticed to the guest, but which are fanatically tested and continuously improved. Normally, Melissa would take notes, (a lot of notes,) while we are recording. She then uses those notes and the transcript of the recording in multiple things we do in post-production. There’s also what we sometimes call the “Craig and Melissa Show” which the guests experience where we’re setting up the space, as I unpack and setup a pile of stuff Melissa helps me carry on a conversation with the guest, we’re warming up our conversation muscles, finding interesting topics, gauging the mood, triple-checking they like their introduction (which we don’t actually record until post-production), and then there’s the coaching on how “use” the mic, how to “perform” being on a podcast, how to relax, coaching on the standard question… and there’s a sort of exit-interview we do after we press stop.

It’s a lot. And I’m flying solo for all of these.

But, Zoom!

For some of the recording sessions, Melissa can join us via Zoom. (And for some of them, I’m entirely on my own, and she’ll have to post-create her notes by listening to the raw recording.) But to be sure that she can hear the guest? …cue long complicated experimenting with every cable and adapter under the sun. And I cannot figure out how to get the output of the live mix into my phone for her to hear on the Zoom call.

About the mix: My Zoom H6 “Handy Recorder” records each mic separately, (one of my upcoming field recordings in this trip has two guests, so three channels.) I have little level-meters, and knobs for controlling the gain on each channel. The H6 also creates a real-time “mix down” to a mono signal. That goes over to a small headphone amplifier, where I can give each person their own private volume control. The dream was to feed the “mix” back to my iPhone and into the Zoom call. But alas, it no worky. :man_shrugging:


Shotgun!

So instead we have this wackiness. Strapped, with some velcro straps, to side of the usual mic, (I :heart: my Shure SM58 mics,) is this little Moukey directional microphone. It’s got a standard headphone-extension cable (you should see the mess of cables I have :roll_eyes: ) and eventually into an Apple adapter for accepting the old-style 3.5mm male plug, of an external microphone.

What does the Moukey sound like compared to the SM58?

…Here, which which witch?

Questions?

What would everyone like to know more about?
What do you want to see from behind the scenes?
What are you curious about?

ɕ

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As I’m packing everything up today, this is the perfect time to take these shots. Here’s the entire field recording “kit” that I’m taking. If all I had was this, I could record a podcast. There are other things I’m taking—paper work, notebooks, Mac, phone, etc.; but this is all the audio recording gear.

Packed up


Bags!

The cylindrical bag is some random purchase from Amazon. It’s just the right size to swallow both of the full-size mic stands.

The other bag is an Aeronaut 30. Tom Bihn makes amazing gear. This is my second-most-favorite bag. (My “Puffin” from Mountain Hardware being my absolute fave.) The bag itself is very light, and it has backpack-straps (on the side you cannot see in the photo) which can be tucked away inside the face. It’s comfy enough that I can lug this stuff around all day if I have to.

Partly exploded


I’m a child of Tetris

At right are my two AirTurn mic stands with boom arms. They get even shorter if I unthreaded the boom arms from the stand, but it’s not worth it. These open up to be full size—Picture a singer on a stage… that size. They are just a wee bit wobbly, but there’s no way I’m lugging around the really heavy, full size stands. You’ll surely see these set up in later photos in this topic.

There are five small containers. Yes, every single thing is in a particular place. I have to be able to get this out, set it up, record— and then put it all away and get out of the guest’s home, or whatever location we’re at. I jokingly refer to this as “the explosion” when I unpack, and then “the real magic trick” when I put it all away.

Bottom right: Three SM58s with pop filters, mostly to pad them for travel. I have other fresh/clean pop filters that I regularly cycle through. There is also—slipped onto the uppermost mic—a teeny tiny desktop sized stand that can hold a mic for me. If I have two guests, they get the mic stands, and I can either hold my mic or use the tiny stand.

Bottom left: Two pair of AKG headphones. The pair on the left I found at a steal-price of like $70usd on Amazon, case included. They “open back” meaning you can hear the outside world. This is the guest’s pair. They’re comfy, and the “open back” doesn’t sound quite as weird to people not used to fancy schmancy headphones. The pair on the right are my beloved AKG 271’s—had them for many years now. “Closed back” meaning it’s pretty darn quiet in there when you put them on. Gives me the best chance to actually hear what I’m really capturing. These two headphone cases are huge, they’re about half the entire volume in the bag.

Top right: The Zoom H6 Handy Recorder. You can also find these on eBay a smidge cheaper. It comes with it’s own travel case and some other components. But I’ve stripped down what I carry with it. Bottom right is the Behringer headphone amplifier. It accepts input (from the “line out” on the chin of the H6) and provides four separate headphone jacks, each with a volume control. Just above it are the size adapters that convert the amp’s 1/4" size as needed. Top-middle in the black bag is an X-Y mic “capsule” — it’s a pair of directional microphones that record a stereo field of sound. It plugs into the top end of the H6 (which has a plastic cap on it in the photo.) The capsule let’s me point-and-record if I want to. In the center are extra SD RAM cards in the flat plastic cases. At the top you can just see the side of the white Apple adapter that lets me connect an SD card to Apple IOS—so in a pinch, I can copy data files from the SD cards to my phone. Normally, I’d use a similar adapter to move files to my Mac.

Top left: I know, right? All the cables. 3 XLR cables to connect my mics to the H6. The battery brick that powers the H6 and the headphones amp—no wall power connections when recording! (60hz hum, bad!) The fist-sized bundle for connecting the H6 and headphone-amp to power and to each other. Random velcro straps for making cables stay on the mic stands. Also the tiny Moukey mic mentioned above. In the lid is a $8 pair of crap Sony folding headphones. If I have two guests, someone gets those. Also coils of headphone extending cables. Lower-left in the lid is the wall adapter for charging the battery.

Simple :slight_smile:

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Thanks, Craig for taking the time to document your process and your equipment. Each sentence and photo needs my full attention so that I can process in my non-tech, full of fear-based habitual tendencies, brain of mine, that generates clamminess in my hands, just reading and looking at pictures that involve plug-ins and connections.

Ironically, I have an H6, though mine did not come with a nice case like yours. I use it very simple to connect my headset. I have yet to use it more on the field or with other mics, or with its mic that it came with. Again, fear paralyzes.

Thank you for putting it down on paper in words and photos…I will work to conquer my fear…and march forward…to get to that next step of fieldwork, outside my closet, kind of possibility that I now only have in my imagination. You didn’t know you were a therapist on the side? or did you??

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Wow, @Craig! I used your earlier post to help guide a bit of my travel gear, but you’ve ramped it up a bit, it seems! @clevpt, my travel gear all fits in a pretty small backpack. I’ll try and take a few pics soon. Depending on how I’m traveling, I might put some of it in my carryon and put a small purse (Craig doesn’t show us his man purse!) in the backpack with some other things, then swap out once I’m at location to record, if that makes sense.

@Craig , when I saw the two mics taped together, I wondered about feedback. I hear a bit of buzz in the second recording above. Safe travels to you!

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You only get feedback when you have some sort of speaker, near a microphone. Two mic’s together don’t cause a problem.

I hear some buzz, or clipping or… I think it’s distortion of some sort — that’s the Moukey little cheapy mic. The moukey is also connected to the little record app in my iphone, so it generates an MP3… it’s not high end tech, but it’s certainly good enough for someone listening in via Zoom :slight_smile:

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I learn something new from you regularly! :slight_smile: Thanks, @Craig!

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I’m well on my way, but here’s the final “everything that I’m taking for a week on the road” shot. Just before I loaded all of it and got on the road.

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Today (Sunday) I had a 9am recording session with a guest, in Maryland. From there I’m heading south to North Carolina.

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Here’re a couple shots of the kit in action from earier today…

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@brucedevereux, the small headphone amplifier is readily visible in these shots. (All: something that got discussed in today’s #campfires .)

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Thanks for sharing! Have a good road trip.

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busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy

5 days, 9 recordings. One of them is already published (it was a “short” form, like I do here for our community podcast) — recorded, mixed, published from my little van. :slight_smile:

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@craig IWhat would everyone like to know more about? I would like to know more about what each thing in your picture is called so like have labels like beginners audio name that cord, that ending, that box that mic, that insert, you get it i’m sure. my vocabulary is so limited. what are the cords called, how is the big pointy one going to get into a hole , c to b to blah blah What are you curious about? what to consider when going on the field. having some choices like a kit for beginners(less expensive) more sophisticated then ideal sound/equipment. I will start a savings account accordingly. I have an H6 zoom and would love a tutorial in real life recording for the different scenarios. as i write this, i coudl start the ball rolling and explain everything i do understand about it, on video, and share here, and start off a study session on the H6 if that is a good idea by Craig’s standards and you are the boss…I am a quirky learner and that is how I learn…then we could discuss attachments…this way people can learn what tis the h6, hear from you how you use it, listen to my learning process, and go deep with this instrument and then can move on to another one…and someone else can do the same… i have no ego here so go ahead and say yea yea carole no thanks…but don’t throw me out of this forum please. I need you all

@craig whoops didn’t finish from behind the scenesI’d like to see you set up every detail from plugging in to where to put things, to what exactly you are plugging in and what are teh holes called and the points on the wires called, why are you doing what you are doing, like you are letting us read your brain when you are teaching a first grader how to do your set up adn then we become media professionals when you explain why why why

Hey, I’m in Asheville… let’s have lunch!

Oh! I’m in Tennessee…. just following Siri :stuck_out_tongue:

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@craig Just bought an H6 :slight_smile:

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@Craig @AnetteCarlisle @clevpt Well I just tested the H6 and WOW. I am amazed at the clean sound of the pre-amp. I tested it with my Aston Stealth Mic and I’m sure it sounds better than my Focusrite 2i2. Do you feel the pre-amp would be better @Craig ? So clean. Looking forward to experimenting more with it.

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Glad you like it! My last recording via Zoom software, though I also recorded to the H6, seems I had the sound level too high and my sound was clipped, so watch out for that!

Do you have a “lifter” that you use with the Mic and the Scarlet? Cuz, having a lifter not in the line might be a big difference in quality. I do love my H6…

Skimming the comments (didn’t watch video tho) it sounds like the 2i2 and the H6 should be pretty dern close…

Now I really want to know if you have a “lifter” in use with the 2i2.

/end-geekery

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…do you have your headphones in the Zoom H6 or in your computer?

I have the H6 USB to the Mac. Mac has input and output set to H6. Then I can hear my mic, and the output from the call. After a while you can hear when you ‘hot’… and with the display you can see the colored meter… and the little LED for the channel with your mic will flash quickly red when it’s clipping.

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Probably in my computer, @craig. Haven’t had issues with my sound before. Just a one-off of bad settings. Gotta hear the guest! Probably need to set up like you’ve done. Thx!

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