Learning to Record Acoustic Instruments - RODE TF-5 and Harp with Riley Johnson

In this week’s Sound for Video Session, I put my very first efforts at recording acoustic harp on display to illustrate that the best learning happens when you do a bit of research, then go try to do it yourself.

Hear more of Riley Johnson’s music over at Bandcamp.

Please consider my sound, post processing, and recording classes.

Gear used to record this episode:

RODE TF-5 Cardioid Condenser Microphone - Used to record the reverb dialogue sample



Shure SM7B Dynamic Broadcast Microphone - My voiceover



Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder


Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Record Live Event Sound from a Mixing Board

How do you record sound from a mixing board at a live event? Here are the basics!

Recorders I’ve used and that can record line level from a mixing board (links to B&H, Amazon, or DVeStore):

Zoom H4n Pro (use 1/4” input only)
Zoom H5 (use 1/4” input only)
Zoom H6 (use 1/4” input only)
Tascam DR-60DmkII
Tascam DR-70D
Tascam DR-701D
Zoom F4 (use 1/4” input only)
Zoom F8 (use 1/4” input only)
Sound Devices MixPre-3
Sound Devices MixPre-6
Sound Devices MixPre-10T
Sound Devices 633

1/4” to 1/4” TRS Cable

XLR Female to 1/4” TRS Cable (XLR connects to mixing board, 1/4” to your recorder. Good choice for Zoom recorders)

XLR to XLR Cable (do NOT use this cable for Zoom recorders)

RCA to 1/4” TS Cable

Anker USB A & C Battery Bank

Radial Engineering Ice Cube Line Isolator/Transformer (need 2 for stereo mixes, one for mono)

Blackmagic design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - used for the talking head shots in this episode

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount for the Ursa Mini Pro)

Panasonic GH5 - Used for some of the product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

There are more sophisticated live show recording techniques. We discussed some of these with Mike Stranks here:

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission

Sound for Video Session: Recording Dialogue in Mono vs Stereo vs Surround

Should you record your dialogue audio in mono, stereo, or surround?

Short answer: Record dialogue in mono to save yourself a lot of headaches. You can still use a lavalier and a boom for each person, but in your final mix, generally just use one or the other mic (i.e., use the lavalier as the backup just in case the boom track has a problem for that particular dialogue line).

Why record mono? Phase issues are much more likely to arise in stereo and surround recordings. This can result in constructive or destructive interference - comb filtering. It doesn't sound good.

Huh? Are you serious? What about every movie that has been produced in stereo or surround in the last several decades? They actually record 99% of the dialogue in mono and then mix that into the overall stereo or surround mix. And in most cases, they mix the dialogue to the center front speaker in a surround mix or equally to both speakers (center) on a stereo mix.

Links for the articles we looked at on constructive and destructive interference as well as comb filtering:

Sound for Video Help Session: Noise Sources and Measuring

This week we spent a while talking about the potential sources of noise in audio recordings and how to measure it using Adobe Audition. When I first started recording audio, I didn't realize how important the recording location was to ensuring a clean recording. One of the biggest things you can do to reduce noise in your recording is to either find the right location or hang sound blankets (or any blanket that will dampen audio reflections off of the walls).

But here we also talk about signal chains and where noise can creep into your recording along that signal chain. While the noise performance of your microphone and preamplifier are important considerations, they're not the only consideration so don't stress too much about those. Make an informed decision before buying but then move on and don't stress if your noise floor sits at around -60dB.

Most of the new recorders and microphones will easily get you into this realm, even prosumer mics and recorders. Let me know if you have any specific questions on which may be a good fit for your particular situation.

Next week we'll cover options for reducing noise.

Interview with Location Sound Recordist Scott Vanderbilt

If you've ever wondered what its like to be a location sound recordist/mixer for film, here's an opportunity to get the perspective of Scott Vanderbilt. He records sound for feature and short films, commercials, and corporate pieces. He's based in Los Angeles and has some good insights for those trying to improve their sound recordings for film.