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Recording an organ

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  • Recording an organ

    I'm trying to make some decent you tube videos of my progress of restoring / converting my pipe organ. However I'm having trouble recording audio, while I don't feel that the organ is very loud. (I've only completed one rank so far) It still over modulates my DV cam in a heart beat, same goes for all the other low end mics I've used. The best recording I got was done by standing outside of the garage where I'm rebuilding it, and recording the audio though a window. But it still turned out like garbage.

    Can anyone recommend an affordable mic I should look into buying, and also a DV camera that has the ability to use an external mic? Those seem hard to come by.

    Thanks for any input,

  • #2
    It's not your mic, it's the camera. Your DV cam has circuitry called an Automatic Volume Control, or AVC that adjusts the recording level of the incoming audio signal to a value short of overloading so that a decent recording can be made. If it "hears" a low level sound or silence, it kicks the volume level up. When it hears louder sounds, it turns the recording level down. There's a built-in lag that fills in the gaps between loud and soft. On some units the lag is shorter or longer - it all depends on the design.

    Piano, organ or percussion presents a big challenge to a system like this, especially if the notes are far apart with lots of silence in between. If the recorder is hearing silence and all of a sudden a key is pressed, for the duration of the lag time the recording will be overloaded until the AVC "catches up". One of the terms used by recording engineers for this is "pumping" and it sounds terrible. But one of the reasons it is used is that the dynamic range (the difference between the softest and the loudest portions of the recording) of the recording equipment does not need to be very large.

    What you need is a system that allows you to set the recording level so the the loudest portions are correctly set manually and everything below is appropriately softer, just like the old recorders that required you to adjust the level with a VU meter and keep the highs out of the "red". Many digital recorders allow either manual or automatic volume control depending on the situation. I use a software package called Total Recorder that can take separate audio and video inputs and record them however you want. If I were using it to do what you are attempting I would run just the video from the cam into Total Recorder and use a separate mic and manual volume control for the audio.
    Last edited by jkrusel; 03-07-2011, 11:04 AM.
    Jerry in Leslie, spinning around trying to find my way

    1990 Korg M1 - moved on to a new life
    1981 Lowrey MX-1 - giant box of bad connections
    1975 Lowrey TGS - gathering dust
    1973 Hammond T-524C w/mods - fun machine!
    1972 Hammond XTP - moved on
    1971 Gulbransen Premiere PR (1154) - awesome sound!
    1965 Hammond E-133 w/mods - her name is Emmanuele, and we are in love


    • #3
      Thanks Jerry!

      I was able to make another attempt but with my HD webcam where I could work with the audio better. I used audacity instead since its free, and I'm cheap. 8) Audacity doesn't have the auto adjust feature like the program you recommended so I still over modulated in a few spots, but Ill get better at it.



      • #4
        ^ Nice job!

        Hammond M-102 #21000.
        Leslie 147 #F7453.
        Hammond S-6 #72421


        • #5
          I use a Marantz PMD6660 recorder and a couple of Rode NT3 mics. It takes experimentation to get the best mic positions, but the results are good enough to broadcast.