Noise + Pictures: Sight vs. Sound

In video production, is picture quality really less critical than sound quality?

Here’s a video that I think makes two points effectively: (1) it’s true — audio quality trumps picture every time, and (2) cheap mics can be amazing.

The mics used are two AKG 202’s that you can buy, used, for as little as $100 online. I don’t want to know how the picture was recorded!

p.s. For those more tech savvy than I, I had the following exchange with UK tuning specialist David Pinnegar who recorded the concert:

runbei

Glorious. Oh, well, this proves forever that sound quality trumps picture quality always. 🙂 David, were the AKG 202 mics hooked up to the house recording equipment? (Sorry to ask a rude question; I’m learning audio recording at age 78 and am apt to do that.)

latribe

I used the pair of AKG D202 with a Tascam DR70 recorder. This has low enough input noise to be able to use dynamic mics. However I used the other couple of channels to do a concurrent recording with a Frankenmic upgraded Chinese mic, upgrading the amplifiers and capsules, with a mid-side configuration in the same mic. This provided a little bit of “fizz” to the top end and ambient sound of the acoustic and I mixed this into the final sound track using 90% the D202 and 10% the Frankenmic. The Tascam DR40 doesn’t have low enough noise for dynamic mics but the Takstar CM60 are remarkably flat. Recording “in the field”, however, I value dynamics without need for phantom power to enable batteries for recorders to last longer.

The AKG D200 and D224 are also very competent mics, as also the UHER M538, but it’s difficult to find any of these mics available working to original specifications. Matched pairs, and working to spec, are hens’ teeth. Of other dynamics I’ve measured, Audio Nova Soundcheck are good, and Takstar TS-5 dynamic capsules even better. One can insert these into other cheap Chinese bodies.

runbei

Thank you, David. So kind of you to answer my question in detail. Wonderful sound, and it deserves some study. I found a D200 in our small community music studio and was curious to know what it can do – so thanks for your comment there. I will relay your views to our music director and singer/instrumentalist/audio recorder folks.

latribe

You’re welcome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wdMbiOlw9s was recorded with a D200 on one channel and a UHER M538 on the other. Reputedly the same components but I think the UHER goes up higher. These mics are very flat. It may be worth cutting the label band and taking off the front cover to remove disintegrated foam at the front. New sets of inserts are available on ebay. On this recording in Nice, with the mix from the two pairs of mics I think there is a sense of depth with the piano in front of the orchestra. May have to listen on headphones to hear this. It isn’t a phenomenon I usually experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpOIk7Cx_m0 is another interesting recording video. The D202 is more natural and through good speakers more as one hears in real life.

runbei

Thanks, David. Yes, I realize the sense of depth with the piano in front accounted for a good measure of my enjoyment – what to speak of the wonderful artists! I did listen on decent headphones. This video was such a find, for how it lifted my spirits. Also wonderful that the D202 can be found on Ebay for $100 or not much more. Thank you for the tip on cleaning the D200 – I’ll pass it on. I do “field record” rehearsals and am finding it a bit annoying how many nice mics there are for not much money – because it’s tempting to buy just one more. I have a CAD GXL3000, Nady SPC-25, Behringer XM8500 – all bought used based on Amazon reviewers who found that they hit well above their weight class. I also have a Shure VP64AL for interviews, but that doesn’t come into the discussion here. I will listen to the recordings you mentioned. Many thanks again for the valued tips! – George

latribe

Thanks – and it’s good to know that the sense of depth is audible to others. It’s clearly a technique I will have to repeat. Whilst one can be very snobby about the heritage of one’s microphones treasuring them in proportion to cost, the Takstar CM60 takes the prize for value for money and being quite flat and neutral in sound.

 

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