Setup for mobile recording with wireless mic?

Hi all,

Work have asked me to research and obtain equipment to record live presentations given to audiences in our seminar rooms for conversion into webinars/podcasts. The first one is on Tuesday.

The budget is around the $300 mark.

I’ve got a Samsung NC10 NetBook and was hoping to use the following:

AKG WMS40 Pro Presenter Set Flexx UHF Diversity CK55 Lavalier System or Sennheiser FreePort Presentation Set wireless mic kits;
Behringer UCA202 for input from the wireless receiver and output to the PC.
Audacity for recording/processing

Three questions if I may please:

  1. Will this be sufficient for wireless voice recording, or will I need additional equipment, ie pre-amp?
  2. Will the sound quality be sufficient and isolated for podcasting purposes?
  3. With this setup it looks like I will be able to add another wireless mic later down the line for recording interviews etc. - is this correct or am I mistaken?

Many thanks in advance, and any other tips or suggestions will be very gratefully received.

Regards,

Marc

If you have one presenter, you can always stuff them on either left or right of the stereo capture show and put someone else – guest – on the other side. Mix and apply effects and correction to each channel individually as needed and combine for the final show. Most talk work is mono, enhanced by stereo music or other embellishments. Obviously, this doesn’t work over two.

This isn’t enough money to get a “true” diversity microphone system (plus everything else you’re buying) so there will be times when you will have dropouts and minor signal distortions. Even the best radio systems have problems. Most pro audio people only use radio systems when there is absolutely no other way – and then spend many mutiple hundreds of dollars for it.

Radio microphones were pretty simple to buy up until the Digital Television Revolution. Usta-was you could pick a dead television channel in your area and put your microphones there. This wasn’t entirely above board, but that’s how we did it.

Not any more. The channels got scrambled and you need to be really careful you’re not buying a radio system sitting on one of the new data carrier systems – or conflicting with One Life To Live, General Hospital, and As The World Turns.

Netbooks have an interesting design criteria. Strip off everything but email and surfing and see how small and light you can make it. Generally, they make terrible production computers because, to quote Dorothy Parker, “There’s no there there.” People have troubles making a full size computers behave when doing live audio (or video). Trying to do it with a highly stripped-down computer could be interesting. I understand the attraction to a small, light computer, but it actually has to work.

Koz

I’ll probably drop in and out as I think of problems.

What kind of battery does the transmitter take and how easy is it to change? Does the transmitter have a method of testing the battery without taking the transmitter apart? Does the transmitter disconnect from the microphone and can you buy more than one microphone? Actors/Presenters are considered hostile environments.

Is the receiver battery operated? Can you go commando with the whole operation and not use shore power at all? For how long? What does the receive antenna look like and how big is it? Does it easily fold up?

Have you done any radio microphone work before…or are you fresh meat ?

Koz

Hi guys, thanks for the quick response.

I’d simply use the NetBook to record the audio, then process it later on my far more advanced PC.

The bodypack transmitter takes a single AA, can be separated from the microphone and is multichannel.

The receiver is DC operated.

Just to clarify, when I mean mobile I mean going from one seminar room to another within the same building as our high-end equipment which includes wireless mics etc. is permanently set up for amplification/video conferencing and I’m told it can be output to an aux port, otherwise I wouldn’t be looking at purchasing any additional equipment!

Done some radio mic work before just not directly into a PC.

What might not help is that there’s a regional TV station next door! However, the wireless mics used for amplification and videoconferencing have been fine before.

Alternatively, could people recommend:

  1. Wireless USB mics,
  2. Bluetooth headsets for decent quality voice audio?

Mobility is key as the presenter will usually move around and whilst some of the rooms have podiums, we need to have the capability to capture audio for speakers who use rooms without podiums/move around in front of the presentation area.

Cheers,

Marc

Will Audacity run on your netbook? You need about 1.4GB of space to capture 2 hours of work at 44100,16-bit, stereo. Nowhere is it written you have to capture with Audacity, but it’s nice to edit later.

In all conditions you will need to maintain about 10% free space on the hard drive just to provide enough elbow room for operation. Once you start crowding the hard drive, the operating systems slows down and there’s your show in a hat. Live sound isn’t a spreadsheet. When that guitar note arrives it has to be stored somewhere right now or it’s lost.

Does your netbook have a solid state drive? you can do pretty well in both battery life and production speed with an SSD – but they’re not cheap.

Does either the netbook or the wireless receiver have a place to monitor with headphones? I use the computer headphone port even though it’s late compared to the real live show. It tells me what the actual data stream is going to sound like.

Are you terrified yet? What’s the show? What kind of lectures are they?

Koz

NB has a 160gb HDD and I’ve got a 320GB external USB drive lying around somewhere, so space isn’t a problem.

I’ll have headphone out on the PC and have a decent pair of studio headphones.

I’ve done audio work since I was 16 on and off, but mainly self-taught and using existing equipment. This is the first time I’ve had to source it from scratch. The presentations are on developments in various areas of law. Work also wants to start recording all training sessions as a matter of course for posterity.

Ideally once I’ve got it figured out I can create a workflow and train up others on it since this isn’t my main role.

My main concern is the equipment as above - will a pre-amp be needed? Some websites say yes, others no. It is purely voice which will be processed later and I just want to capture it live.

Cheers!

Dueling posts.

<<>>

That goes a long way to success. We have posters whose only audio experience is turning up the volume on their iPod. “How do I capture a 37 piece orchestra? It’s this afternoon. It’s important!”

In that case my only concern is the computer have enough fast horsepower to deal with the work. If there was enough time, I would buy the UCA202 first and see if you can record it for two hours without damage. Plug a radio or something in so you have something to listen to.

If you’re taking a known working system and changing it slightly, you’re probably fine – or as fine as radio microphone systems ever get.

What’s the operating system for the netbook? It’s required that it recognize the UCA202. Audacity gets its sound from the computer, not the audio adapter.

Koz

We’ve got to stop colliding like this.

The UCA202 is line-level only. No microphone preamplfier at all. I need to look at the microphones to see what their delivered level is. Typically you put microphpone level in one end and get microphone level out the other. Is there a Mic/Line switch at the receiver? It’s typically very dangerous to do that.

I need to look at the microphone specifications.

Koz

You can’t do live audio (or video) on external USB drives.

Koz

http://www.akg.com/site/products/powerslave,id,308,pid,308,nodeid,2,_language,EN,view,specs.html

Mic.

OK, survey’s done. The AKG delivers microphone level audio to the microphone-in of a mixing console. So yes, you do need a microphone amplifier.

This is where I start lunch and leave the other elves to it. I have almost no experience with separate microphone amplifiers. I’m partial to the Peavey PV6 mixing desk – I’ve done similar jobs on it, but it’s not battery operated. I also have a Shure x2u preamplifier, but I’m not in love with it for normal day to day operation. Not enough gain. I wrote a review here…

https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/firebox-or-inspire/174/1

Koz

Many thanks. So I’ll need to add a preamp along with the UCA202. Just to clarify with a previous post - I can’t record live audio to the USB external drive (intending to put the captured audio there in order to transport to the desktop PC for processing). But I can record straight to the NetBook HDD can’t I?

<<<But I can record straight to the NetBook HDD can’t I?>>>

My opinion is yes. But try it. Again, this is a netbook not a full boogie computer. Shortcuts have been taken. Slow internal drives are used on netbooks to save battery life – even if there is a hard drive at all.

Slow and Live Capture tend to not go well together.

Koz

Great kozikowski, thanks!

All, further to kozikowski’s great responses, I’m looking at the following preamps, which can arrive for Tuesday:

http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/behringer-mic100-tube-ultragain-vacuum-tube-preamplifier-with-limiter--9212
http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/behringer-minimic-mic800--34428
http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/blue-icicle-usb-converter-and-mic-preamp-combo--62178
http://maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=29908

I will of course ensure the appropriate cables are used.

As previously posted, I’m looking at the Flexx kit: http://www.dv247.com/microphones/akg-wms-40-pro-flexx-presenter-set-eu1-wireless-microphone-system--33365

Given this, can anyone recommend one preamp over another or has any experience to share or suggestions?

Thanks,

Marc

People here tend to like the Art preamp reviewed here…

http://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=9477&start=10#p80431

Koz

I didn’t check the specs for the mic, but I’d recommend the Art USB Dual Pre, you can read my short review on the link koz mentions on his previous post…

I bought mine for 100 euros. If you’re in europe that’s probably the average price you should find it. If you’re in north america you might be able to find it slightly cheaper… ($100 USD or so)

The only limitation is that you only have 2 inputs maximum… But, as long as you don’t need to connect more than 2 mics at a time, this won’t be a problem.

Got the kit and tried it - getting low recording levels on the ART, with both phantom power and preamp turned on. Have to turn the gain up to max, at which point I get lots of hiss. Any suggestions please? Cheers.

You should be getting “shed loads” (lots) of signal without turning the ART pre-amp anywhere near full volume. How do you have them connected, with what sort of leads?
Are the LED’s on the receiver showing the correct colours?

On the back of the ART you should have the “MIX” button fully turned to the left (where it says “preamp”).

For my guitar recording I usually have the gain between 30 and 40 dB (depending on the mic distance from the guitar), which is almost near the max. I don’t get much hiss, even if I turn it to max gain (48dB). If you’re getting hiss, either you have a faulty ART or it’s coming from somewhere else…