2019-06-10 22:07:26

Hi everyone.

so I was testing out my new recording gear and I noticed some problems with it.

The recordings seam to distort and sound strange. The 3D effect works fine, but I still want to improve on the recordings.

Following are two links to two recordings i have made. it would be cool if you could give me feetback on what I can do better, I will describe my recorder below the recordings.

First one, roadside atmosphere.
http://anyaudio.net/listen?audio=fulceyVFxsq51j

Second, bad weather with thunder in the distance.
http://anyaudio.net/listen?audio=FPuwoWN6lzdb

My recorder is an olympus ls14 and here are the settings I have, I am still unsure on what does what.

Mik gain, is set to medium.
Limmiter, set to off, can be switched to music and voice.
lowcut filter, set to off, can be set to 300 or 100 HZ

There are also a different array of recording settings, quick which just starts the recording, manual which puts in some kind of pre recording monitor, sadly doesn't work if I have the mics on my ears, and smart which listens for a defined time, and sets the recording to a level which it thinks is appropriate.

so, any tips on what I can improve?

Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-06-11 02:44:52 (edited by musicalman 2019-06-11 02:45:25)

I've only listened to the roadside recording, but you might want to check that the limiter is off. I can definitely hear some agressive limiter action taking place there.

This is going to be a long post, but this should be everything you should need to know about setting the microphone gain, and the limiter and low cut settings.

I have an lsp2 which is fairly similar to your LS14 I think. Just a bit of general advice: regardless of recorder choice, the first thing you should do when recordings come out distorted is to lower the volume, so setting your mic gain to low might be of benefit. Iirc medium mic gain on Olympus recorders is meant for speech-level recordings with the internal mics, and I have a set of in-ear mics similar to what I think you have, and medium is probably going to be far too loud for those mics as they're considerably louder than the internals when using the same microphone gain setting. Admittedly I haven't tried setting to medium with those mics to actually see what I get, so I'm just going off of memory and some speculation here.

You can also probably set the Olympus to manual mode, which basically lets you fine tune the microphone gain between the low, medium and high settings, except you can do it in much finer steps. On my lsp2, for example, the manual mode gives me 30 steps of adjustment, from very low to very high. I generally set all my recorders to this mode if possible because I like having fine control of the gain. If something is a touch too loud and I fear it will be distorted or is coming close to being distorted, I can just lower the gain by 5 clicks or so and feel reasonably safe that the levels will be better, but not too low.

Hypothetically, the solution to avoid all distortion is to just use the lowest microphone gain available in manual mode. I used to do that, in fact, and while that is generally fine on Olympus recorders from my brief testing anyway, on other recorders you have to be careful, sometimes especially so.

If you record at a level that's too low, you will end up with an inaudible recording, especially if there are no loud sounds. That's not really a problem, as you can boost it as much as you want with audio editors. But when you do that, a big problem can surface. Along with the audio you recorded, you may also begin to hear hiss and circuitry noise (and quantization noise if you're recording at 16 bit, and other compression artifacts if recording in mp3). You don't hear these when recording at normal microphone gain settings because the sounds you're recording cover it up, but at lower microphone gain settings, all that quiet crud isn't being covered up anymore, and once that happens, there is no clean or magical procedure that can save it.

Fortunately with most Olympus recorders, or at least the few I've seen, they won't let you set your microphone gain low enough to put you in any real danger of that. You'll certainly be able to go low enough to avoid distortion in all but the loudest of situations, but there's a reasonable limit as to how low it can go. I haven't extensively checked to see whether really quiet recordings on my LSP2 sound as clean as they would at a more reasonable microphone gain. I might check this out in detail one day, as I really do want to know.

As for the limiter and low cut settings. First I'll explain what they are, and then where I stand on their use. The limiter setting helps to prevent distortion by lowering the microphone gain automatically when the sound is just about to be distorted, then raising it gradually when the loud sound has passed, until it is safe again to record at the gain you have set. The low cut setting removes low frequencies such as deep rumble of wind/traffic that will make subwoofers and big speakers/headphones go crazy.

I generally recommend keeping both settings off. Not because they aren't useful, but because they remove a lot of control you would otherwise have over the sound of your recordings. Using them is fine when you're in a pinch, or if you want to alleviate yourself the task of doing these things later in audio editing. But if you're like me and you like to edit and tweak using audio editors, then it's best to leave them off, since you can always add limiting to your heart's content in an audio editor, or cut the bass, but it is far more difficult to undo a limiter or a low cut after the fact.

If you do elect to use the limiter on the recorder, make sure your microphone gain is reasonable. If the microphone gain is too loud, yes the limiter will still avoid distortion but it'll be caught between a rock and a hard place. It'll constantly be lowering the microphone gain to avoid distortion, then trying to bring it back to where you set it. If you set the gain high, then the limiter may hardly ever make it all the way up before something pushes it back down. The gain will be changing in an erratic up-down up-down cycle, which leads to an unnatural sound. To avoid this unnatural sound, lower the gain until most things are not distorted, then the limiter only has to step in on the unusually loud bits.

So to sum up and to bring this back to the simple question you proposed instead of continuing to lengthen my already 5000 character dissertation: First, try lowering your microphone gain before doing anything else. Then, maybe try investigating the manual microphone gain setting if you want to fine tune the gain. Keeping the limiter and low cut turned off is a good idea, at least in my opinion, but if you think you'll need them, give them a try.

Few, I believe that's everything. Feel free to pose more questions or yell at me if I completely went over your head lol

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2019-06-11 03:27:27

Hi.

wow thanks for the post.

You said that you can hear some limiter action. I actually checked again, the limiter was defenitly turned off.

I will try the manual mode, this could get problematic though. The microphones are set up in the way that you have them lying on top of your ears, so right the microphone capsule is located right over your ear opening. Placing a headphone on top of this would be impossible and be a lot of cables which, for a field recording can get pritty stressfull if you have to watch for cables not falling down or flying away.


maybe the smart mode is another option, or setting the mic gain to low, I will try that tomorrow.

Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-06-11 04:05:20

What microphones do you have? I can look them up, and compare to mine,, and with a bit of luck, be able to advise you if you run into problems. Just using low instead of medium I think is a good first step. I'm just afraid that will be too quiet, and that's why I recommend manual. With manual, you can set the level in between low and medium.

But before I get ahead of myself, I'm getting a small suspicion that the ls14 and lsp2 are more different than I thought. Maybe manual on the ls14 is something completely different from what I'm thinking, or maybe you are mixing up the terms? If things end up getting confusing I'll try to find an ls14 manual and read about how it does things so I can put things in better context.

When I'm not sure where to put my gain, I normally make a few test recordings with the microphones placed in the way you intend to actually record, then put the files on pc and listen to them. The  quick and dirty way to check whether the gain is adequate would be to see if a recording of your voice or normal sounds around you is about half the volume of your speech, provided your speech is louder than most other sounds. This gives you a bit of room for things to get a little loud without making a super quiet recording. The more scientific way to do it would be to checck the file using Gold Wave or some other audio editor that can tell you the peak volume of the file. In general I aim for -10dB for normal sounds like my voice, and possibly lower such as -15 or -20 dB if you're gonna record something potentially loud. Or maybe switch on the limiter as an extra safety net if you want. If the peak is -5 or higher for just normal speech recording, then you should turn the gain down some. I feel more comfortable using headphones for this, but once the gain is set appropriately, you can just leave it and all of your recordings will be at that gain, unless you change it later. So, no need to take headphones with you smile.

Make more of less, that way you won't make less of more!
If you like what you're reading, please give a thumbs-up.

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2019-06-11 23:28:53

Hi.

Nope, I checked again, manual is what i thought it to be. You hit the start button, set your levels of the recording with that little 4way button, and hit record again to finally start. but as I said, this only really works with the internal mics because you can't fit a headset over or under the microphones.

The microphones are a handcrafted model from Germany called Ohrwurm 3d, you cann find them here.

https://www.ohrwurmaudio.eu

You possibly need to translate the page if you don't speak German.

I will do some more testing tomorrow with the lower gain and limiter settings, let's see how that will work out.

Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-06-12 00:31:45

I have a pair of in-ear sound professionals. I use a zoom, and I have to have the levels set so low when using the in-ears that it's ridiculous. They're extremely sensitive. I haven't had a sighted person read the meter to me for a while, but I think the level is less than 20 out of 100, and they're still too hot at times.

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2019-06-12 00:48:11

@6
Dang that's loud, but I'm not acquainted with Zoom's volume scaling. I have an h1n which I just got, and an h5. The latter doesn't techncially have a number, since the gain is set by a knob and not up/down buttons, but I'm pretty sure it still has discrete steps since I can hear clicks as it changes. I'm not surprised that the Sound Professionals in-ear mics are hot, though. I know mine are pretty hot too.

Make more of less, that way you won't make less of more!
If you like what you're reading, please give a thumbs-up.

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