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Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 | 2 comments

Interview: Randy Coppinger

Randy Coppinger has been dealing with voice and microphones for over sixteen years and is currently Dialog Production Supervisor at Disney Publishing Worldwide. He is active on twitter and his blog with studio anecdotes and thoughts concerning asset management, microphones, acoustics, recording and anything else related to audio and voice. In this interview we tackle topics ranging from microphones to voice talent, organisation and quality.


DS: Randy, thanks for giving us your time. Let’s start with your background. What got you started?

Thanks for asking me. It’s an honor and pleasure to share with you.

I was fascinated with my father’s reel-to-reel tape recorder as a child, which seems like the beginning of my love for audio production (I still have the Astatic microphones he used to record his singing quartet). When I was in college I worked at the radio station as a DJ, and eventually a student leader for all of our audio production. I became interested in the people who put the music on the discs we were spinning, which lead to an internship at a recording studio here in Southern California. I started out answering the phone and making coffee in the evenings. Then one fateful evening after all of the sessions ended my mentor, Chris Austin, poked her head around corner and asked me, “Would you help me put the microphones away?” After a few times striking mikes I learned their names and where they were stored. That meant I could also help get microphones for setups. Doing those setups allowed me to learn how each of the engineers positioned microphones for different instruments. I became a full time employee, assisting on sessions and learning from all of these talented people who worked at the studio. Eventually I was engineering my own sessions, and audio post production had become an important revenue stream for the studio including working on some of the early DAWs.

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Posted by on Feb 15, 2013 | 2 comments

Experiments with Digital Microphones

While AES42 compliant digital microphones are relatively new to the audio world, they’re not “brand-spanking” new. There have been several on the market for a few years now, and new ones are slowly being added as well. For all the time they’ve been available though, I had never heard one in action…not in a controlled environment anyway (the AES show floor is hardly the place for a comprehensive demonstration). I also didn’t know anyone who had spent time evaluating any. There’s always a lot of excitement about the feature set and manufacturer stated capabilities for this category of microphone, but just how much of that is genuine…and how much is the marketing machine up to its usual tricks?

At the AES convention in San Francisco this past October, I spoke to the people at Sennheiser about this very issue. They were more than happy to set me up with some demo gear that I could try out. I recently received nearly $8,000 worth of their top of the line equipment from them, and my biggest regret is that I had to send it all back. Part of that regret is because the gear truly is impressive, but I also feel like I’ve only started to scratch the surface. That’s the larger regret for me. Life waits for no man (or woman), and schedules have a way of moving forward with or without you. So I restricted myself to testing a limited set of features, in the hope that it would give me a view that would be representative of digital microphones in general.

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Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 | 0 comments

Using Shotgun Microphones Indoors

Javier Zumer has a cool post up on his blog about Using Shotgun Microphones Indoors.

I have been researching an idea that I have been hearing for a while:

It’s not a good idea to use a shotgun microphone indoor.

I want to check this question out and, eventually, make some tests. Here we go!

Shotgun microphones

The main goal to these devices is to enhance the axis captation and to attenuate the sound coming form the sides. In other words, make the mic the more directional as possible in order to avoid unwanted noise and ambience.

To achieve this, the system cancels unwished side signals delaying them. So, the operating principle is based in phase cancellation. At first the system had a series of tubes with different sizes that allows the axis signals to arrive in the same time but forces the off-axis signals to arrive delayed. This idea, created by the prolific Harry Olson eventually evolved in the modern shotgun.

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Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 | 0 comments

Crash Course In Location Sound, Special 2 Hour Webinar with Ric Viers

Crash Course In Location Sound is a two hour live webinar that will give you an overview of location sound for film and television taught by Ric Viers, author of The Sound Effects Bible. This is your opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade as well as insider secrets to lav placement, booming techniques, plant mics and more. There will be a Q&A session, so bring your questions!

Registration is only $29.99 per person with limited seating.

Sign up for Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 9am PST
Sign up for Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 6pm PST

One attendee will win a FREE Microphone Kit from Rode Microphones (valued at $1,200*) that includes:

  • (1) NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone
  • (1) Blimp
  • (1) Boom Pole
  • (1) Boom Pole Bag

More info at The Sound Effects Bible

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 | 69 comments

Tim Nielsen Special: MS Recording

[Written by Tim Nielsen]

I’ve been recording with MS since I started in this industry, about 12 years ago now. There are of course many other recording techniques available, and I own microphones suited to most of them. I tried to elaborate a tiny bit on some of the other stereo techniques in my previous article, and that’s when I realized that MS really needed it’s own article.

Of all the stereo formats I record in, MS is my favorite. I find it to be the most compact, and by far the most versatile, of all the stereo recording techniques I know. It’s also a bit tricky to wrap your head around the first time you try to understand it. I remember at USC the day I asked Tom Holman, creator of THX, to explain something about MS that had been puzzling me (probably the entire idea behind it and how it worked at all). For the next hour or so, he proceeded to draw math equations on the dry-erase board. I sat, staring and dazed, occasionally nodding to feign understanding. The fact is, MS is a strange recording method.

I’ve had quite a few people, even ones I work with, tell me they don’t like MS, but many times it seems to me that they can’t tell me why. Maybe it’s simply that it’s a bit too much like voodoo. But properly done, MS recording is basically another form of XY recording. David Farmer and I, while both in New Zealand, did some tests between his Schoeps XY microphone, and my MS rig. Neither of us could hear much difference, and my memory is that both of us slightly preferred the MS rig when we felt we could hear any differences. There is really nothing to be afraid of with MS.

For those who don’t know, an MS rig consists of two microphones (or more, as there is a Schoeps Double-MS setup and I’ve personally set up and tried a Triple-MS rig of my own Frankensteinian devising). In the stereo version, there is a Mid microphone, and a Side microphone, hence the name MS Recording, or Mid-Side Recording. The mid microphone faces forward, and can be of any pickup pattern, although almost always a cardiod or hyper-cardiod microphone is used. The side mic is always a Figure-8, or bi-directional microphone, whose polar pattern is perpendicular to the front facing microphone. The two microphones are ideally very well matched, and most of us use mid microphones that have in their family a Figure-8 version as well, for instance the Schoeps MK series of capsules, the Sennheiser MKH series, or the Neumann KM100 series with AK capsules. All of these have cardiod, hyper-cardiod and Figure-8 mics available and are ideal to use in an MS setup. There are also self contained MS microphones, made by companies like Pearl and Sanken, or the Neumann RSM-191, which I know several people here use. The only reason I tend not to like microphones like the RSM-191 is that they use external powering and matrixing boxes, which I find cumbersome. But the RSM-191, the Sanken CMS-7 are very nice sounding MS microphones as well.

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