I must congratulate Mr. Nair for his stepping up and trying the car audio thing. He put together some fantastic examples of what can be done with limited gear, and got some surprisingly good results. Be sure to check out his full blog report. The little Suzuki Swift gave its all and sounded pretty good considering. Here’s some of what he was up against:
Limited equipment – my Sennheiser MKH 416, Audio Technica BP4025, Cold Gold buffered contact mic, Zoom H4n, USBPre2 and Amit’s Zoom H4n and very useful Fat Gecko Suction Mount
A city with only live sound rental companies – limited choice of equipment
A limited budget
Lack of quiet locations (everybody in this country feels it is their fundamental right to sound the horn every few seconds)
NO GAFFER TAPE! (extremely tough to source gaffer/duct tape here)
NO GAFFER TAPE!?!!!! (High speed -> MKH 416 -> DANGLE -> DRAG -> SCRAPE -> OUUUCH!!!)
He also mentions using a tracking program called BoomRecorder which is mac-only but looks very compelling. A “Lite” 2-track version can be had for $20, and the “pro” 128-track version is $260. I’m going to be giving this a try as I’m intrigued by its notetaking abilities, which is something I need to do better.
Here’s what I learned from reading and listening to his experiments:
1. Have lots of mounting hardware. I’ve detailed some options before, but a Manfrotto F1000 suction cup, plus a C-stand to 3/8″ adapter, plus a Eur to US thread adapter, plus the boom off your closest boom stand can be all you need to get a mic anywhere.
2. Always, always, always have gaff tape handy. By the boatload, if possible.
3. Windjammers for everyone! Rycote is about to love me.
4. When it comes to dynamic mics, cheap-o mics can still yield very impressive results.
5. Be very aware of RF interference in and around the car. A car’s electrical system is almost completely unshielded and the alternator can put out quite a bit of engine-rpm-matched whining. You can use as many shielded cables as you want, but most microphones are not internally shielded.
6. Take thorough and comprehensive notes.
7. Take thorough and comprehensive notes.
Then, go to his blog and give the trials and errors listens as well.
One critique I might offer, is to tape the cables running along the car down so they don’t rub against the paint. Not doing so can lead to scratching which makes for unhappy clients.