School Band recording

FAQ #2167 Updated August 29, 2017

Question:

I would like to purchase a pair of microphones to record my middle school band in my band hall. The room is approximately 50x60 with a 15 foot ceiling. The floor is asbestos tile and the top 6 feet of three walls is covered with peg board. The back wall is cover with shag carpet. There are instrument storage bins covering most of the front wall and 2/3rds of the back wall (over the carpet). I am using a Tascam double cassette deck or a Sony mini disk to do my recording. I would like to also be able to use them in our theater which seats 2300 people. Getting a good recording in the theater is a must.

Having been in several rock bands and big band jazz organizations I am familiar with the SM57. Would it be a good mic for this type of application or would something live the KSM series do better.

Answer:

The SM57 is not a good choice for this type of recording. Please go through the following steps:
1. Read below:

What specifications determine if a Shure microphone will properly operate with your camcorder or your tape recorder or your radio or your computer sound card or your anything!

Shure is often asked "Will microphone model X work with my …….?" While we would love to have the microphone input specifications of each and every device in the world that needs a microphone, it is an impossible task. So for us to help you select the proper microphone, we need you to provide the following three vital specifications for the microphone input of your device. Typically, these specifications will be provided in the Owner's Manual for your device or you may have to call the manufacturer of the device.

VITAL MICROPHONE INPUT SPECIFICATION #1
Typically called "Input Sensitivity" or "Nominal Input Level", this specification indicates how large of a signal the microphone must supply to satisfy the microphone input of your device. This specification might be given in millivolts (mV), or volts (V), or in a minus dB form (-dBV, -dBm, -dBu, -dBs).
In the Shure product line, there is a wide variation of signal levels available depending on the microphone model. If you select a microphone whose signal level is too low for your device, the audio will be noisy and low in level. If you select a microphone whose signal level is too great for your device, the audio will be distorted and unintelligible. Proper matching of the microphone's signal level to your device's required input level is imperative.

VITAL MICROPHONE INPUT SPECIFICATION #2
Typically called "Input Impedance" or "Actual Input Impedance", this specification is important as it will determine the proper impedance range of the chosen microphone. This specification will be given in ohms. Contrary to popular audio mythology, the impedance of a microphone does not need to match the input impedance of your device.
In the Shure product line, there are multiple impedances available depending on the microphone model. If you select a microphone whose impedance is lower than or equal to your device's input impedance, the microphone will work if it provides the proper signal level (see #1 above). If you select a microphone whose impedance is greater than your device's input impedance, the microphone will not deliver its full signal level to your device and the audio will be noisy and low in level.

VITAL MICROPHONE INPUT SPECIFICATION #3
This final specification is the type of microphone input connector on your device, how many connection points are in the connector, and what is the function of each connection point. This specification will be the name of the connector, such as: XLR female, 3.5mm mini-phone plug, TRS 1/4" female phone jack, screw terminals, TINI QG connector. Each of these has at least two connection points and most have three (or more) connection points. It is imperative that the function of each connection point be known so that the proper microphone wiring can be determined.
In the Shure product line, there are many wiring schemes available depending on the microphone model. If the microphone connections are not properly matched to your device's input connector, there may be no audio, or funny sounding audio, or the microphone might be damaged if there is an unknown voltage appearing on your device's connection points.

CONCLUSION
As you can see, there are many variables that affect whether a particular microphone will work with your device. Shure will be happy to assist in your microphone selection, but to do the job correctly, we need you to provide the pieces of this technical puzzle that Shure does not have: the audio input specifications of your device.


2. Read the books about recording at: Education Articles - Online Booklets and Bulletins
3. Use a tall mic stand like the S15A.

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