After my first few recordings utilizing only the internal microphones of my Zoom H1, I understood the need for external mics not only for better audio capturing, but also inconspicuous placement. While my recordings of Guthrie, and Garfunkel were fair during softer parts, everything louder/denser peaked and became much harsher than I’d like to listen to. Also, it was becoming apparent that keeping the recorder on my lap facing the stage wouldn’t be ideal for most concerts. How did all the great boots I’d listened to get recorded under these conditions? Well, fairly simply, they used external microphones. Problem solved!
Again, I returned to the internet for a grueling round of research. As fortune would have it, I stumbled across Audio Reality. F.Y.I- This is an unpaid/unsponsored review of my personal use of the device.
Audio Reality’s microphone has the ideal construction and components. In comparison with the more commonly suggested company, Church Audio, this device has the same input ranges/features for audience recording, with smaller, hand-crafted profile, and at a more reasonable price tag ($120)!
From the personal manufacturer:
“Audioreality.com’s John Ramsey Signature Series
Binaural Stealth Recording Microphones
Inspired by numerous trips to Korea and more too!
Binaural microphones are ideally suited for stealth taping at concerts. I have been hand building these microphones for years for many tapers around the world and their sonic quality speaks for itself. My previous company, which I sold after 27 years, specialized in electronic measurement and test, so don’t think that I don’t know what I’m doing! I purchase the microphone elements direct from Japan, test each one and the grade-offs are sold to hobbyists who use them in wireless microphones and hobby kits.
So, what the heck is a binaural microphone? Like your ears, a binaural mic hears what you hear and when played back through a high quality system, accurately captures what you heard at the concert. The stereo and imaging effect is startling, very clear and transparent – provided that the recording and playback gear is of good quality.
Ideally the microphone element should be very low mass (for best transient response) yet mechanically solid (for resonance free response). The electret condensor element used in these mics meets these requirements admirably. However, normal electret microphones do not and thus the constrained, boomy, harsh sound we’ve all heard from bootleg recordings made with normal microphones.
Included is a rugged die cast battery box which holds a battery (duh!) and a filtering system that rolls-off the low end to compensate for the boosted bass that is found in most live concerts. If you are recording classical music, let me know so I may retune the knee of the roll-off curve. the battery box is important since it powers the microphone elements allowing for much improved headroom and overload characteristics – if these mics overload, then your eardrums will be bleeding long before that! The battery is a regular 9 volt type and will last hundreds and hundreds of hours, the mics automatically turn on when their plug is inserted. Folks have asked me to build a smaller battery box, but I have yet to find a smaller box that I am happy with – something that is rugged, yet big enough for a couple of solid jacks and the battery.
I have a very supple over 4 foot long cord on the mics, allowing you to hide the mics on an eyeglass frame, hat or even in your hair! Molded rubber strain reliefs on each mic protect the delicate element. A short connector cord also comes with the set to connect from battery box to the recorder. Hey, I even give you a battery too!”
Payment was PayPal easy, and I quickly received the microphones in a well protected package. On inspection, these are extremely well made and includes thorough instructions, even though their use is very intuitive and not complicated at all.
Worried about a small manufacturer? Don’t be. This is a very professional product. I’ve had several very pleasant correspondences with the maker, and he seems very knowledgeable and happy to help should you have any questions/concerns. Support small businesses. It’s worth it!
Using them reaped even better results than I could have hoped for. These mics are without exaggeration, the difference between a muddled, headache-inducing recording, and a crystal clear tape that can rival an official release. Of course, field recording comes with so many variables that affect the final product, and nothing will be a perfect soundboard. With that said, having your input levels set appropriately and minding not bumping the mics too much, the results are truly amazing. I’ve found that recordings sometimes capture more dynamic separation and clearer vocals than in person even!
Don’t believe me? This weekend I’ll be posting shows I taped since I started using these microphones. Compare to my first few. Million times difference in quality between them!
I can not overstate just how much I love these! Beyond highly recommended- they are essential. They are honestly the yin to my Zoom H1 yang. If you want to start audience concert taping, you absolutely NEED Audio Reality microphones and a Zoom H1.