Microphone Showdown Part 2 - sj

Solo or group recordings that are finished and fully available for listeners
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Algy Pug
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Joined: December 26th, 2009, 10:07 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Algy Pug » February 26th, 2011, 12:47 am

Recordings on MP3 Players and Other Portable Devices Part 2 - I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud by William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850).

This project is now complete. All audio files can be found on our catalog page: http://librivox.org/microphone-showdown-i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud-by-william-wordsworth/
This is a project which will allow readers and listeners to compare the recording quality of a wide variety of recording devices. It is a sequel to a project (http://forum.librivox.org/viewtopic.php?t=12222) in which readers submitted readings of a poem on a variety of portable recording devices.

We are aiming to present the widest possible range of recording equipment. The following list includes some of the many devices that readers can use:
USB microphones
Dynamic microphones
Condensor microphones
MP3 players, including Ipods
Portable digital recorders
Video recorders
Webcams
Cell phones
Audio cassette recorders

We are interested in featuring equipment of all levels of quality. Whether it is a state of the art recording studio set up or a simple portable device it can be used as long as the minimum recording standards detailed below are satisfied.

The book-coordinators are particularly interested in hearing recordings made on the following microphones:
Blue Snowflake
Blue Yeti
MXL (any model)
Samson C01U
Samson G-Track
Samson Q2U Handheld Dynamic USB
Behringer C1U Condenser
Shure - any model
Apparently there is a brisk trade in counterfeit Shure microphones - if any reader has anything to report on this issue we would be interested in hearing about it.

(Summary by Algy Pug)
  1. How to get involved in this project
    Simply record the poem given below with the specified Librivox intro and outro. Each reader can submit up to seven recordings as long as each is made using a different piece of equipment. When you upload please also indicate the length of your recording.
  2. New to recording?
    Please read our Newbie Guide to Recording!

    The target completion date for this project is 30 June 2011.
  3. Where do I find the text?
    Source text (please only read from this text!): http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/words01.html#3
    I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Outdid the sparkling waves in glee;
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company;
    I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
    What wealth to me the show had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.
  4. If this is your first recording, please let me know under which name or pseudonym you'd like to appear in the LibriVox catalogue. We can also link to a personal website/blog.

    Magic Window:



    BC Admin
  5. BEFORE recording:
    Please check the Recording Notes:
    http://librivox.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6427#6430

    Set your recording software to:

    Channels: 1 (Mono)
    Bit Rate: 128 kbps
    Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz
  6. DURING recording:
    Please leave no more than 0.5 to 1 second of silence at the beginning of your recording!

    Make sure you add this to the beginning and end of your recording:
    Start of recording (Intro)
    • "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth read for librivox.org by [your name] on [your recording device].
    • Say:
      "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth"

    End of recording
    • At the end of the section, say:
      End of poem. This recording is in the public domain."
    • If you wish, say:
      "Recording by [your name], [city, your blog, podcast, web address]"
      [
    Please leave 5 seconds silence at the end of your recording!

    Also, please remember to check this thread frequently for updates!
  7. AFTER recording:
    Special instructions for this project
    Each reader may submit up to a total of seven readings. Each reading should be made on a different piece or configuration of equipment. For example, a reader could submit one reading on a portable digital recorder using the inbuilt microphone and another recording using the same recorder with an external microphone.

    Equipment should be described in full detail eg. model numbers should be stated.

    Readers may use any recording device they choose, including Ipods, video cameras, webcams, cell phones and even phone answering machines. However, the device must have a recording time long enough to contain the entire reading. Some answering machines and other devices have a limited maximum recording time. Any recording which does not contain the full text, intro and outro will not be accepted. Time required for the full recording should be between 60 and 90 seconds.

    Readers may record in any audio format they choose. However, editing should be restricted to the following operations:
    1) Conversion to the standard Librivox format - monaural Mp3, bit rate 128 kb, sampling rate 44100
    2) Normalization to 0 Db with DC offset.

    No other modifications, including additional amplification, levelling or noise removal should be used. The purpose of this project is to allow listeners to make a honest appraisal of the various types of recording equipment currently used by Librivox readers.

    Even though this is a "technical" rather than an "artistic" project, readers will still be expected to give a fair rendering of the text and the standard PL practices will apply.

    Save files as
    128 kbps MP3
    lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_[device name]_XXX.mp3 (all lower-case) replacing XXX with the reader's initials eg. lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_olympusws400_klh.mp3

    ID3 V2 tags
    (To find out more about ID3 tags, go to our wiki: http://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/What_is_ID3)
    Add the following tags to your .mp3 file (how you do this depends on which software you use – if you are unsure about ID3 tags, send me a message). Please mind upper and lower case!

    Title: [Device name] - I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud read by [reader's name]
    Artist: William Wordsworth
    Album: Microphone Showdown Project
    Please ignore tags for Genre and Track Number - these will be filled in automatically at the cataloguing stage.

    Transfer of files (completed recordings)
    Please always post in this forum thread when you've sent a file.
    Also, post the length of the recording (file duration: mm:ss) together with the link.
    • Upload your file with the LibriVox Uploader (when your upload is complete, you will receive a link - please post it in this thread):
      http://upload.librivox.org
      Image
      (If you have trouble reading the image above, please message an admin)
      You'll need to select the MC, which for this project is: sj - smijen
    • If this doesn't work, or you have questions, please check our How To Send Your Recording wiki page.


Any questions?
Please post below or PM me. :)
Last edited by Algy Pug on May 15th, 2011, 8:32 am, edited 11 times in total.
Algy Pug

My Librivox page

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Algy Pug
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Post by Algy Pug » February 26th, 2011, 12:51 am

Here it is - bring out your dead (pieces of recording equipment)!

Algy Pug and Frank K will be joint co-ordinators of this project. Frank will do the PL.

If there is sufficient interest I will ask our MC (whoever that turns out to be) to add more sections.

Have fun everyone!

Cheers

Algy Pug
Algy Pug

My Librivox page

_________________________
Let me recapitulate backwards to what happened previously.
- Rex Mossop

Starlite
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Joined: April 30th, 2006, 2:17 pm
Location: Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada

Post by Starlite » February 26th, 2011, 5:53 am

Hi Algy. Thanks for setting this up. I think it will be fun and enlightening.

This paragraphs needs modification:
How to claim a part, and 'how it all works' here
To find a section to record, simply look at point 5. below at the sections. All the ones without names beside them are “up for grabs.” Click "Post reply" at the top left of the screen and tell us which section you’d like to read (include the section number from the left-most column in the reader list, please). Read points 6. to 8. below for what to do before, during and after your recording.
This will work in the same way as the poetry collection where readers simply record and upload the result. No claiming necessary.
Short Story collection wrote:You are welcome to contribute as many as you wish, and there is no need to "sign-up" before recording
Let's see how many different devices we can collect! YEAH.

Oh and I would also ask if the device has a limit on how long the recordings can be. Cell phones and mp3 players often limit the recording to a minute or so. So those would be unsuitable for LV.

Esther :D
"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable
people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress,
therefore, depends on unreasonable people." George Bernard Shaw

Algy Pug
Posts: 6266
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 10:07 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Algy Pug » February 26th, 2011, 6:51 am

Thanks Esther

Opening post has been modified. I think I have now covered everything.

This project should be fun.

Cheers

Algy
Algy Pug

My Librivox page

_________________________
Let me recapitulate backwards to what happened previously.
- Rex Mossop

smijen
Posts: 6678
Joined: May 14th, 2007, 7:34 am
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Post by smijen » February 26th, 2011, 5:10 pm

Hello - I'll MC as promised, but I hope Esther will be around for questions. She MC'd the last showdown and I'd like it to be as consistent as possible. Back soon with a magic window.
Android users - try Orthografiend, a free word game from the maker of Checker.

smijen
Posts: 6678
Joined: May 14th, 2007, 7:34 am
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Post by smijen » February 26th, 2011, 5:17 pm

First question - since you've called this part 2, I assume you want people to associate it with the previous project. That project was called "Recordings on MP3 Players and Other Portable Devices". Can we use the same here? "Microphone Showdown" may have more panache, but we can't call it Microphone Showdown part 2, since there was never a part 1. Change to the other for consistency?

ETA: second question. The first project used the standard poetry intro and outro.
Intro: “Written in March by William Wordsworth read for librivox.org by [your name] on [your recording device].”
Outro: "End of poem. This recording is in the public domain."
Again, for as much consistency as possible, I'd recommend using this. What we currently have is not standard for books or poetry, but is the disclaimer that soloists are allowed to use for chapter 2 and on... this is OK because they've already read the standard disclaimer in chapter 1.
Android users - try Orthografiend, a free word game from the maker of Checker.

Algy Pug
Posts: 6266
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 10:07 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Algy Pug » February 26th, 2011, 5:53 pm

smijen wrote:First question - since you've called this part 2, I assume you want people to associate it with the previous project. That project was called "Recordings on MP3 Players and Other Portable Devices". Can we use the same here? "Microphone Showdown" may have more panache, but we can't call it Microphone Showdown part 2, since there was never a part 1. Change to the other for consistency?

ETA: second question. The first project used the standard poetry intro and outro.
Intro: “Written in March by William Wordsworth read for librivox.org by [your name] on [your recording device].”
Outro: "End of poem. This recording is in the public domain."
Again, for as much consistency as possible, I'd recommend using this. What we currently have is not standard for books or poetry, but is the disclaimer that soloists are allowed to use for chapter 2 and on... this is OK because they've already read the standard disclaimer in chapter 1.

Thanks Sarah

I have amended the opening post as you have suggested.

Now to do some recording.

Cheers

Algy Pug
Algy Pug

My Librivox page

_________________________
Let me recapitulate backwards to what happened previously.
- Rex Mossop

Algy Pug
Posts: 6266
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 10:07 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Algy Pug » February 27th, 2011, 2:54 am

Algy Pug

My Librivox page

_________________________
Let me recapitulate backwards to what happened previously.
- Rex Mossop

Algy Pug
Posts: 6266
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 10:07 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Algy Pug » February 27th, 2011, 4:37 am

Here are my remaining five:

Cheap Kareoke microphone with USB mixer - 1:30
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_cheapmikeandmixer_ghs.mp3

Logitech USB5730 - 1:33
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_logitech5730_ghs.mp3

Sennheiser Pc146 headset microphone - 1:27
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_sennheiserpc146_ghs.mp3

Olympus Digital recorder WS400S - 1:28
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_olympusws400s_ghs.mp3


Olympus Digital recorder WS400S with external Optimus condenser microphone - 1:40
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_olympusws400sandmike_ghs.mp3


For me, the clear winner out of this lot is the Logitech. I would be interested to hear the views of other listeners.

Cheers

Algy Pug

edited by admin to fix file name
Algy Pug

My Librivox page

_________________________
Let me recapitulate backwards to what happened previously.
- Rex Mossop

smijen
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Joined: May 14th, 2007, 7:34 am
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Post by smijen » February 27th, 2011, 2:59 pm

Wow - you've been busy!

Moving us over to Readers Wanted: Short Works. :)
Android users - try Orthografiend, a free word game from the maker of Checker.

smcn
Posts: 7
Joined: February 21st, 2011, 4:09 pm

Post by smcn » February 27th, 2011, 3:17 pm

How specific should we be about non-microphone peripherals, i.e. pop screens? Could a microphone with and without a pop screen count as separate entries? And what about microphone settings? I use a Snowball, which has three settings: Cardioid, Cardioid (-10dB pad), and Omni-directional.

Algy Pug
Posts: 6266
Joined: December 26th, 2009, 10:07 pm
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Algy Pug » February 28th, 2011, 3:23 am

smcn wrote:How specific should we be about non-microphone peripherals, i.e. pop screens? Could a microphone with and without a pop screen count as separate entries? And what about microphone settings? I use a Snowball, which has three settings: Cardioid, Cardioid (-10dB pad), and Omni-directional.
The on-off pop screen distinction is probably stretching the envelope a little - you would be using essentially the same device. Separate recordings using one of the cardioid settings (which ever one sounds better) and the omni-directional would be OK because the device is capturing sound in different ways. For the same reason it would be OK if a reader make a recording with a single non-USB microphone and another recording using a pair of microphones including the first one. I was tempted to do that myself, but my seven spots had already been used up.

Cheers

Algy Pug
Algy Pug

My Librivox page

_________________________
Let me recapitulate backwards to what happened previously.
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frank k
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Joined: January 12th, 2011, 3:44 pm

Post by frank k » February 28th, 2011, 12:24 pm

Since we've changed the title of the project, should the ID3 tags change as well? I'm starting to PL Algy's recordings, the ID3 tag goes by "microphone showdown project" (album). Do we need to revise it to match the new title, or ok to leave it as is?

One problem with the new project title of "recordings on mp3 players and other portable devices" is we really want to test all types of microphones, not just portables. If we're going with that title, then we should make it clear to potential readers we want all microphone types. I'm especially interested in hearing some of the popular USB mic's, like the Yeti, Samson, Snowball, etc.

frank k
Posts: 73
Joined: January 12th, 2011, 3:44 pm

Post by frank k » February 28th, 2011, 4:36 pm

Ok, here's my collection of mic's


cheapie 10$ wand labtec (no model # found) that plugs into pc microphone jack
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_labtec_frk.mp3

palm pre smartphone (should be of similar quality to iphones and ipod touch)
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_palmpre_frk.mp3

toshiba satellite L640 series laptop built in mic
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_toshibalaptop_frk.mp3

zoom h2 built in front mic (90deg)
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_zoomh2front_frk.mp3

zoom h2 built in rear mic (120 deg)
http://upload.librivox.org/share/uploads/sj/lonelyasacloud_wordsworth_zoomh2rear_frk.mp3

recording conditions: all were recorded in my room, hardwood floors, bare walls, I kept my door open and with several of the mic's I spoke in that direction so sound saves could escape without too much echo.

labtec 10$ wand: I had laptop on desk, facing window. If I actually try really hard and experiment with different distances and angle from my mouth (usually between 3-6 inch), I can almost get sound quality that might work for a librivox recording. For this reading, I just did it in one shot and didn't try to dial in the best quality, with the intention that the microphone should showcase what a typical effort looks like, not an ideal one.

palm pre smartphone (should be of similar quality to iphones and ipod touch)
Other than the sibilance, I'm pretty impressed with the sound quality of this device. Palm os doesn't have a built in voice recorder, so I used their built in HD movie camera, loaded into my pc as an MP4 movie file and imported the mp3 portion of the movie using audacity. It was almost a completely wireless process - the phone's movie maker can upload directly to youtube or your email account over 3g network. Unfortunately in that process it trimmed the intentional blank space for intro and ex-tro, so I had to load the mp4 file over as a usb drive.

toshiba satellite L640 series laptop built in mic
This laptop has a built in webcam and mic, and I was curious to hear how the mic sounded. It sounds horrible! I wasn't sure I would be able to best Algy's 3$ karaoke mic, but this one definitely is the worst mic I've ever heard. For the remaining submissions in this project, I don't think we need to hear any more laptop built in mic's unless you believe it is close to usable quality for a librivox reading.

For both zoom h2 readings, I had it mounted on a camera tripod about 18in from my face, maybe 5 in below my mouth, I'm sitting in a chair in front of the tripod and reading on to a paper printout of the poem, which kind of served as a windscreen. The mic built in amp gain is set to the lowest level (of 3 possible settings). I recorded them as raw WAV files, loaded them into audacity, normalized, converted to mono, trimmed intro and ex-tro padding to required amounts and then exported as mp3. If you hear a click to start or end the recording, that's the sound of me pushing the record or stop-record button. There's something poetic about hearing the last gasp of the digital recorder as it protests the termination of the reading. I encourage others to similarly be retentive when trimming their samples. For the purpose of mic tests, it's great to hear non-distracting environmental noises to see what the mic can pick up, and how it sounds. In one of my samples, my housemate downstairs is drinking coffee and it picked up the sound of the spoon clinking the cup.

zoom h2 built in front mic (90deg)
zoom h2 built in rear mic (120 deg)

If we weren't required to do mono, I would have done a 4 channel surround test and read the poem as I circled around the tripod slowly. Note the rear and front volume normalization level is not quite matched, one is about 15% louder than the other.6
In this group of test, the palm pre sounds the best to me overall. This is because I held it about 6 inches from my face, whereas the zoom h2 was about 18 in, so the normalization process is going to amplify echos and background hiss more. When I record with the zoom h2 holding it like I do the palm pre smartphone a few inches away, then it clearly gets better results.

edit on 3/6/2011 : I added 4 more supplemental Zoom H2 recordings on this archive.org page:
http://www.archive.org/details/ZoomH2MicrophoneTest
To compare to the one I did above, in the supplemental tests my mouth is less than 6" from the mic (versus 18" or so in the tests above). I also spoke in a softer voice, with a result of much less room echo, lower background hiss, and less sibilance. At least that's my opinion. I'd like to hear feedback. I'm also planning to construct a Foam Muffler like SJMarky's, and then add a few more supplemental recordings to see how that improves things.

edit on 3/8/2011
===========================================================================================
(a list of some of the mic's on this project and amazon link to see price and customer reviews)
AKG perception 120 USB 130$ http://www.amazon.com/AKG-PERCEPTION-120-USB-Microphone/dp/B003DSI62U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=musical-instruments&qid=1300118824&sr=1-2
perception 120 not USB 78$ http://www.amazon.com/AKG-PERCEPTION-120-Professional-Microphone/dp/B00160PRBU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
audio technica at2020 99$ http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-AT2020-USB-Condenser-Microphone/dp/B001AS6OYC/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1300118759&sr=1-1
blue yeti USB condenser 105$ http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Microphones-Yeti-USB-Microphone/dp/B002VA464S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300118591&sr=8-1
logitech AK5370 USB wand 19$ http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Desktop-Microphone-Black-Silver/dp/B00009EHJV/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1299642050&sr=1-2-fkmr0
logitech H530 USB headset 40$ http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Headset-Premium-Laser-Tuned-981-000195/dp/B003NREDG4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299641288&sr=8-1
logitech clear chat comfort headset USB 32$ http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-ClearChat-Comfort-Headset-Black/dp/B000UXZQ42/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299641932&sr=8-1
sansa clip plus portable mp3 player , 35$ - 60$ range depending on storage size: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sansa+clip+plus&x=0&y=0
Last edited by frank k on March 14th, 2011, 9:25 am, edited 8 times in total.

frank k
Posts: 73
Joined: January 12th, 2011, 3:44 pm

Post by frank k » February 28th, 2011, 4:41 pm

feedback for Algy:
Yes, I agree the logitech usb sounds the best in comparison to the batch of 5.
The iriver sounds very nice as well.

Did you record the zoom h4 using the built in mp3 coversion? I was surprised when I looked at it in audacity and didn't see any background noise.

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