I’ve been pondering the audio quality of the recent church services I’ve captured and put on YouTube. I wondered if part of it was down to having too low a recording level so, today, I not only used the Zoom Q2N-4K, which is our main camera and sound capture device, but also my trusty Zoom H1, making a second, audio-only recording where I could keep an eye on the levels (the camera is at the front of the stage — I can’t check it during the recording without disrupting the service).
It turns out that I was partially correct, with the volume captured by the camera about 12dB lower than the the H1. I got the latter sitting happily around the -12dB ballpark which is generally recommended as not to quiet but giving room for unexpectedly loud sections. You can boost a quiet recording but you can’t recreate material that has been lost to digital clipping of the input signal. The trouble was that this still has a lot of noise. It is partly the natural reverb of the church building, which hampers legibility in itself, but also an artifact of the heating system — hot air blowers and ceiling fans. I think the problem is at least partly down to both microphones being too sensitive and picking up noise I’d rather they were deaf to.
What next? I think I need to look at taking a feed off the sound desk. For our Tuesday morning services, that is just running a couple of dynamic mics. We don’t really need the volume but it does mean we can provide a signal for those with induction loop compatible hearing aids. Dynamic mics characteristically have a sharp drop off in what they pick up over distance — they aren’t ideal for the purpose we are using them for but they work okay and I wonder if that might mean they pick up very little from the heating?
It’s certainly worth a try, although I’ll probably still have to blend in some of the audio in order to capture the congregation.