Recorder not picking up soft sounds?

I sing with a local chorus and lead a team which records all pur rehearsals as WAV files and posts them as exported MP3s. The recorder I use is a TASCAM-DR05, the computer I do the work on runs Windows 10.

Recording is fine when the speaker is projecting or when the group is singing, but soft sounds are not picked up very well and normal conversation is almost unintelligible. Unfortunately we rehearse in an old building, in a large room with a very high ceiling. On previous advice, I put the recorder as high as the stand will take it (maybe 8 feet) and stand it back away from the piano (because the piano overrides the singers if it’s too close.) Does anyone know about TASCAM-DR05 settings that I should play with? Any other suggestions?

This recorder has several automatic tools for music recording so you don’t have to play the Recording Engineer during the performance.

Export a short segment that includes both performance volume and low volume poor speech. Post it on the forum. It’s the bar with the up arrow in the text window tool strip.

Sometimes we can tell from the sound of the error what the problem is.

That’s not to say the computer can’t be at fault. Do you like Skype, Zoom, Meetings or other chat apps? Multi-Player Games? Those applications take over your computer sound services and you have nothing to say about it. They have background noise suppression so a multi-part meetings don’t get swamped with 9 different traffic noises, for one example.


Koz, Thanks for the quick response. I’ll pull that segment together and post it but it may take me a few days, the big file is about an hour and a half and I have a lot going on this weekend.

As for those things on the computer: I don’t like any of those options but I sometimes have to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams. I’m not a gamer. I hadn’t thought about background noise suppression, interesting. And I have used Zoom on the laptop I use to do the podcast recordings. I’ll look into Windows settings too.

Dynamic range compression with make-up gain will selectively increase the volume of the “soft” quiet sounds. However that compression will make the reverberation of the room more obvious.
Perhaps more reverb is good for singing, but not good for intelligibility of speech.

If you want clear speech in a reverberant space, the microphone would have to be within arms length of the people speaking.

Trebor, you read my mind. I developed and documented this process, and today I did the whole thing without running Chris Capel’s Dynamic Compressor! Have now redone both MP3s with that and they’re MUCH better. However when people speak from the back of the room, we still can’t clearly understand. I plan to borrow your statement, “If you want clear speech in a reverberant space, the microphone would have to be within arms length of the people speaking.” I’ve already told the woman who spoke from across the room that if she wants her speech to be clear on the recording, she has to be standing near the recorder. Should I also reduce the height of the recorder and move it toward the center of the room? I put it way at the back to pick up all the singers across the big (reverberant) room.

I don’t think there is a one-mic solution to your problem.
TASCAM-DR05 has 2 channels and can accept external mics.

You could then construct a stereo-image to your own taste from 2 mono mics …

Nobody wrote you can’t have two recorders.

That’s more of a dance, but that can be done. You will have to synchronize two or more tracks. At the beginning (or under duress, the end) of a recording, somebody yells “Mark” and claps once loudly. The Hollywood version of that is the clap board.


That’s so the movie camera and the sound lady have a fighting chance of getting back in sync later (so that’s why they do that).

Ideally, you do it at both ends of the recording in case one (or both) of the recorders is running off-speed. Hollywood gets around this with atomic-level timing generators.

And nobody wrote you had to use formal microphones, either. This is me doing a voice recording on an old iPhone SE in Voice Memos.


I’ve never played with external mics, I’ll have to look into that. It’s kind of secondary, as the main reason for this is to record the music, and the conductor’s instructions. And there’s no issue understanding him, he projects!

One fair warning about using your phone. The quality can be terrific, but make sure you can get the work from the phone into Audacity.

I also have several stand-alone formal sound recorders such as the Zoom H1n and the H4.

Here’s the H1n shooting a voice track. It has a USB connector in the side, so transferring sound files from the on-board memory is a snap.


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