Sound for Video Session: Lav Mics, Recording to Phones, Presets in RX, Headphone Volume

This week we have a question and answer session. These are the questions submitted:
- Best lav mic for recording in very noisy environments?
- Best microphone for recording to phones?
- Universal presets in RX?
- What do I set my headphone volume to so that I can tell whether I’ve set the gain correctly?

Links to gear we discussed or used to record this session:
Countryman E6i Cardioid Ear Set Microphone:

RODE VideoMicro - miniature cardioid microphone you could use on a smartphone rig (with the adapter below)

RODE SC4 Adapter (Use the VideoMicro with your phone)

Aputure A.Lav Lavalier Microphone:

Previous Sessions where we’ve covered how to process dialogue audio in Izotope RX:

Izoope RX6 demo:

Reduce reverb with RX6:

Loudness normalization in RX:

Process dialogue demo with RX:

Clean up extreme noise in RX and Audition:

Electrovoice RE20 (recorded this session)

Antelope Audio Orion Studio Audio Computer Interface

Copyright 2017 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!

3-axis motorized gimbals have become incredibly popular camera tools to smooth out movement while shooting video with a mirrorless or DSLR camera. The problem I’ve run into with the larger cameras is that many of the single handle gimbals don’t have quite enough power to really work with the larger cameras. That’s where the Zhiyun Crane 2 comes in - perfect for larger mirrorless and DSLR cameras and even has a follow-focus knob which works with Canon 5D (mkII through mkIV).

Links to Gear Discussed and used to shoot this review:
Zhiyun Crane 2 for larger Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras (pre-order starting September 15th) at MomanPlay International Shipping, Crane 2 at Amazon US, UK, FR, ES

Zhiyun Smooth 3 (at Amazon, for smartphones)

Zhiyun Smooth Q (at Amazon, for smartphones)

Zhiyun Crane V2 (at Amazon, original version for small to medium mirrorless and DSLR cameras)

Schoeps CMC641 Super-cardioid Microphone (Recorded this review)

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder

Panasonic GH5 Camera (at Amazon, for product shots)

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 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!

Sound for Video (Lesson): Live Sound Recording - Notes from the Field

This week rather than the typical Sound for Video Session, I wanted to share with you some notes from Martin Lebel, one of our community members, with his permission of course. He recently recorded a series of live performances over 11 nights with lots of different performers. Here are his notes, many of which made me smile, chuckle, and nod my head in agreement. It is also helpful if you happen to be on the other sides as the live sound engineer or as a performer. I hope you enjoy Martin's notes and observations as much as I did. Thank you Martin!


Hi Curtis,

Regarding your last email (recording a live concert), I just wanted to say that this was exactly the last contract I accomplished from Aug 11th to Aug 20th 2017 and maybe I could bright some thought for you to keep in mind when you will prepare your next session with Mike Stranks.

Event : 11 night of various show form 6pm to 12h00, all night were different performer, sometime DJs, Lip sync, live signer, live band…

Here’s my story:

The sound engineer was feeding his “live stereo mix” directly onto a “Meyer Sound Galileo” (used as a matrix) and then from the matrix we run 2 XLR cables onto my equipment.

  • Bad XLR cable
    Unfortunately, one of my brand new 50’ Digiflex XLR cable was defective on arrival, at first we were blaming a misconfiguration (sub routing) on the Zoom F8 for not receiving any sound on one channel and, I was arguing that my cables were good (of course because they were new) but it turned out that the cable was the issue. Always start the trouble shooting at the physical layer first.
  • Buzz in the sound chain
    This one took 4 hours to solve. Part of my job there was to live stream the concert so I had Video and Audio equipment in my rack. 
    Here’s the sound chain : Yamaha CL5 mixer -> Meyer sound Galileo (used as a matrix) -> XLR@XLR cable -> Zoom F8 ch1 and ch2 -> Sub 1/2 - 1/8 TRS @ 1/4TR Y cable -> Pre-Sonus HA6 (to split the signal onto multiple output) -> 1/4 Y cable @ 1/8 TRS -> Streaming device (2x Teradek, 1x AJA HELO)
    *Not mine / managed by other
    *Mine / managed by me
    We tried different approach using RADIAL DI, passive 3pin to 2pin ground lift to solve the buzz issue, none worked.
    After ungplugging everything and plugging one device at the time, we figured out that the issue was coming from the Kramer HDMI 1:4 Distribution Amplifier, everything hooked-up to an HDMI cable (all the streaming devices) had the buzz, actually just touching an hdmi connector onto the metal housing of the F8 would cause a buzz.
    We solved the issue by using ISOBLOX devices in-between the Galileo and the F8, amazing devices to have in the toolbox.
  • Line level input on the Zoom F8 needs to be 1/4 jack, not XLR. There’s no “PAD” configuration on the F8 so if you want to use live level, you need to input your source as an 1/4 jack. Have good quality XLR to 1/4 patch cables in your tool box.
  • Tone Level for proper gain adjustment Ask the sound engineer to send a tone at line level, that way you can configure your gain pretty easily. I forgot what was the frequency of the tone but it really helped me out.
  • Other Journalist/video artist will see your recording device and will ask for a copy of your files. 
    That’s annoying
    They’re just lazy, we were providing an “Octopus” in the media lounge for them to bring their own recording device.
    Next time I’ll try to avoid exposing my recording device on the top of my rack!
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  • Sound engineer laughed at me because I was recording at 24-bit 48 000Hz “You’re just wasting space for nothing, my board is not event sending you that wide”… He was right : L+R + L+R safety track + L+R Mix * 6 hours * 11 days = 180Gb worth of recording ☹
  • (for outside concert) Never Never Never assume your tent is weather proof
    I was leaving all my gear on site every night, cause you know, I had 11 days in a row to be there but, even though you're in a tent that closes, water will find it’s way in. Electronics get wet and die.
    Never leave a thing directly on the floor
    Always put your own tarp (cover-up) on your stuff.
    Even though the tent in this picture seems pretty tight, water managed to screw up this 269$ camera charger that stayed on the riser (floor) during the night.
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  • (for outside concert) Leave everything running during the night. It dries out humidity. But don’t forget to reboot everything the next day, some equipment get a lag when they’re under power for too long.
  • Artists will get you in trouble if you trust them
    Many artist came at me requesting a copy of their video (from the billboard) or “live mix recording” because they want to see/hear themselves to find errors in their performances and try to get better… 
    Ya right, next thing you know is they published everything on Youtube, without the proper permission or proper sound adjustments (eg: chan 1+2+3+4+ L mix + R mix all togheter)
    And you are the one to blame.
  • MC: "Always leave my microphone ON, no matter what!"
    Some MC/Host were requesting the sound engineer to always leave their presentation microphone ON, ALWAYS. I understand that, I saw it myself where performers ended their prestation abruptly and then the MC get on stage speaking in a microphone that is muted.
    With “always on” the thing is they leave the microphone on the table backstage and this pick-up everything, like them blackmailing each other.
    It may not be noticeable on the PA system at 105dB while a music track is playing but you will hear it on your recording
    Next time I’ll ask to have this routed as another separate output into my recorder so I can mute it myself in post-production 
  • Crowd microphone (it’s like room tone)
    That’s my fail, I had no crowd microphone, neither the production nor the sound engineer had one.
    Because I was recording the “live mix”, when the music is out, the performer does their salute while the crowd applause, I have nothing in the recording, except for the MC microphone picking a little bit of applause.
    I’ll need to get stock sound of people applauding for post-production
    And bring a crowd microphone next time!
  • Zoom F8 will not switch to SD2 when SD1 is full
    Or, I did not found how to do it.
  • Have a bin to put notes of what people borrowed from you. Or next time just say “I don’t have this” 
    While everything is live, shit happened, people will run at the FOH to ask for a specific cable, iphone charger, extra SD card, headphones, anything. Because you want to help, you hand them what they need. But on everything I lend to people, NOTHING came back.
    I’m sure the artist that have my LEXAR 256Gb 300mbps SD card does not know what it cost or will never use it at its maximum potential but now it’s my loss.
  • Idenify all of your gear.
    When you load your van, you should hold in your hand everything that comes out of your warehouse/office and look for your name on it. It’s easy to do, and will avoid a mess when it’s wrap-up time.
    To Identify, use a p-touch, heat shrink and a Sharpie Paint (oil, not water).
    Many cables comes with heat shrink tube already installed for you to use.
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  • Time code. I have 198 hours of videos (3 cameras) and 66 hours of sound to sync in post. And I did not use Time Code even though all of my gear supports it. Please think before being lazy
  • AVOID Wireless !
    Even though I listed every frequency and wireless equipment I planned to use on this event months in advance and got approval for everything from the production. I got threatened to get kicked-out of the FOH if I use wireless gear on day 1 of this event.
    I understand this, I mean they also have wireless equipment and they never know in advance what is the site survey for FR noise. And this one site was very noisy.
    You are not important, the sound is. Without the sound you are nothing (as the video guy / recording guy). 
    So no Motorola radios, no Telex BTR-800, No Sennheiser in hear monitor, No Teradek Bolt-3000. Everything had to go back in the van.

I think that’s all  Hope it helps

Martin Lebel


That does help a lot, thank you Martin!

Audio Loudness in Final Cut Pro X with Free Plugin from Youlean

For those who edit in Final Cut Pro X, ensuring that your audio was loud, but not too loud, and consistent from video to video has been a challenge. Of course you could buy expensive plugins to help with this and often what the pros do (it’s the cost of doing business and broadcasting your pieces on TV). But for those who are mainly publishing to the web and working on VLOGs or passion projects, the budget for expensive software or hardware loudness meters just wasn’t there.

Recently I found a free loudness plugin by Youlean which you can get over at Youlean. **NOTE** Several notified me that the Youlean site appears to display spam types of messages and opens new tabs. Close these windows and do NOT click on the links in them. I have notified the site owner and hopefully they can fix this soon.

And once you have that installed, you can get the right loudness consistently with the technique we show here.

For those not familiar with loudness normalization, here are a couple of other pieces where we go into some detail on how it works:

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record the VT500 lavalier review (which we use as a demo piece in this tutorial):

Voice Technologies VT500 Omni-directional Lavalier Microphone

Voice Technologies VT500 O Eco (same microphone without the waterproof case or extended accessories and lower price)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro - for talking head shots. quite a lot of moire with this particular shirt

RODELink Wireless Lavalier Filmmaker Kit

Sennheiser EW 112p G3 Wireless Lavalier Kit (516-558 MHz)

Panasonic GH5 Camera - for product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 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!

Sound for Video Session: Recording Live Sound with Mike Stranks

One question that has come up quite often in our Sound for Video Sessions is, “How do I record a live concert?” I have done a tiny bit of this, but wanted to bring someone on to the show who has a fair bit more experience and in this case, that someone is Mike Stranks. Mike is based in the UK and has been recording live sound in various forms since the early 1970s. Thanks to Mike for generously sharing a bunch of information to help us get started on recording concerts!

Links to gear we discussed in this session:

Line Audio CM3 hypocardioid and OM1 omnidirectional mics:

Line Audio's Website

Pink Noise Systems - UK distributor but ship worldwide

The “public face” of Line Audio

SRS 3D-printed mic clips

Rycote Invision Shockmounts

K&M Slimline stand extender

K&M wide stereo bar

Isolation Transformer (to eliminate buzz or hum)

Zoom F4 Audio Recorder (Mike’s primary recorder)

Copyright 2017 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!

Voice Technologies VT500 Lavalier Microphone: Pro Quality Lav

We’ve had several requests to spend some time looking at pro-level lavalier microphones. In this episode we take a quick look at and listen to the omni-directional VT500 lavalier from Voice Technologies, a Swiss microphone company. For reference, we also have some sound clips from the Sanken COS-11D lavalier, one of the very common lavalier mics used by pro location mixers for film and video. And we include samples with male and female voice.

I was really impressed with the VT500 with it’s unusual front facing capsule and found it’s audio quality to be very good and its form factor easy to hide. The foam windscreen is thoughtfully designed with hard plastic backing to prevent noise from rubbing against clothing, and the RF shielding worked nicely to avoid those annoying interference issues. There’s also a waterproof model for those recording more exciting pieces in or near water.

You can find our previous review of the Countryman B6 lavalier microphone here:

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:

Voice Technologies VT500 Omni-directional Lavalier Microphone

Voice Technologies VT500 O Eco (same microphone without the waterproof case or extended accessories and lower price)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro - for talking head shots. quite a lot of moire with this particular shirt

RODELink Wireless Lavalier Filmmaker Kit

Sennheiser EW 112p G3 Wireless Lavalier Kit (516-558 MHz)

Panasonic GH5 Camera - for product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 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!

Sound for Video Session: Q&A Safety Track vs Limiter, Which Camera, Which Mic and More

In this week's Sound for Video Session we discuss several questions submitted by you!

  • Safety track or limiter?
  • Clipping at -2dB?
  • Is there a better way to rig a Zoom H5 to camera?
  • What’s a good camera for video and photo with a 3.5mm mic input and headphone jack?
  • Which other microphones should I get?
  • When should I use a hyper-cardioid mic instead of a shotgun mic?
  • AT4053b outdoors?
  • Why is my Zoom F8 picking up an FM radio station?

“Homeless” recorded outdoors with an Audio Technica AT4053b Hyper-cardioid microphone:

Session on how to match levels on audio recorder and camera so you can monitor levels from camera:

Audio Adapter comparison

Links to gear we discussed or used to record this session:

Sennheiser MKH416 Shotgun Microphone - Perhaps the quintessential pro shotgun microphone

Audio Technica AT4053B Hyper-cardioid Microphone

Schoeps CMC641 One of the most commonly used super-cardioid microphones by the pros for indoor dialogue

Rycote Cyclone Wind Shield & Shock Mount

Zoom F8 Audio Recorder

Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone

beachtek DXA-Micro Audio Adapter for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras

Panasonic GH4 Camera 

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Copyright 2017 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!

RODE VideoMic Pro+ Overview

RODE just updated their very popular RODE VideoMic Pro to the VideoMic Pro+ here in late summer 2017. The new version of the camera-top shotgun microphone includes several new features which make it a very worthwhile upgrade or option for those looking for a simple way to improve their sound quality.

In this episode we have a closer look at the new features and provide comparison sound clips from the older VideoMic Pro and the new Pro+.

Remember that to get the very best sound out of your microphone, you really need to get it off of your camera and boom it over the person speaking like this:

Also, if you do use the new safety track feature on the RODE VideoMic Pro+, this is how you use that safety track in post when the main track clips and distorts to save your audio:

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:
RODE VideoMic Pro+

Adapter Cable to use the VideoMic Pro+ with a smartphone (RODE SC7)
(Note smartphones have a mono mic input so the safety track feature will not work with smartphones)

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 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!

Immersive Sound Recording: Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset

Sennheiser introduced their new Ambeo Smart Headset and were kind enough to send an early version to us to try out. I took it along on a recent canoeing day trip and put together a little sketch to get a sense for how it works. Pretty impressive, immersive sound with this set of binaural microphones/earbuds.

For those not familiar with binaural recordings, this is a stereo recording where the microphones are placed at your ears. So the recorded sound is much more lifelike and immersive, and results in a more three-dimensional type of recording.

Please listen with the best set of headphones available to you!

Canoe sequence shot with iPhone 7+ and Ambeo Smart Headset

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:

Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset for iOS (iPhone and iPad) - Coming Soon

Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset for Android phones and tablets - Coming in the future

Music in canoe sequence: "Cosmos" from Meta-Music - Save 10% with coupon code JUDD

Talking head sequence shot with:

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera

DPA 4017B Shotgun Microphone

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 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!