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Live Recording Usage Faq(s).

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Originally written by forum user A440, but bear modifications by kurisu and dex Otaku.

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MYSTERIES OF REC-SET

Record settings make all the difference in MD recording. And Sony doesn't make them particularly logical. Here's a primer, based on the settings for 1st-generation Hi-MD units but pretty much applicable back through regular MDs.

If using a Hi-MD unit, before you go into REC SET go into Menu/Option and set DISC MODE. You can choose Hi-MD (not compatible with regular MD playback) or MD (not uploadable).

REC-SET under the Menu offers different options depending on whether a disc is in the player and whether you're recording.

With NO DISC, you can set:

1) Rec Mode: how much will fit on the disc and what quality it will be. For Hi-MD, your choices are:

PCM: best-quality recording, 94 minutes per 1GB disc or 28 minutes on an 80-minute regular MD.

Hi-SP: very good quality recording. 7:55 on 1GB, 2:20 on 80-minute MD

Hi-LP: decent quality recording (not recommended for live music). 34 hours on 1GB, 10:10 hours/minutes on 80-minute MD.

For MD, your choices are:

SP: best-quality, 80 minutes per 80-minute MD.

LP2: good quality, 2:40 minutes per 80-minute MD

LP4: marginal quality, 5:20 per 80-minute MD.

2) Mic Sens: how much the preamp built into the mic jack will amplify the signal coming in through the mic jack

LOW: for just about everything from a close-up interview to loud music

HIGH: for extremely quiet sounds, ambient recording, etc.

3) Group Rec: whether the recordings you're about to make will go into a separate folder. On or Off.

4) Sync Rec: this is a widely misunderstood setting that is often mistaken as a way to enable/disable auto-trackmarking while recording - which it is not.

Sync Rec is only applicable when recording with the optical input. It will automatically start/stop the recorder when you start/stop the playback source.

This is its only function, and it does not affect the behaviour of recording from either the microphone or line inputs.

As a corollary to this:

* when recording from the microphone input, there is no auto trackmarking unless you have AUTO TIME MARK turned on.

* when recording from the [analogue] line-in, track marks will be inserted during quieter passages of at least 2 seconds' length. You can partly defeat this by using Time Mark as below.

* this information is in your manual.

The unit will hold these settings as defaults until you change them. A440's usual settings are Hi-SP, LOW Sensitivity, Group Off, Sync Off.

With DISC INSERTED you can ALSO set:

1) Mic AGC: Auto Gain Control: Standard or Loud Music

This attempts to keep the volume of the recording steady. It is very useful for recording speech. It can't handle the sudden impacts of music, although Loud Music tries to be smoother. Use Standard if you are recording speech.

AGC is the default setting, and each time a disc is Stopped or a new disc is inserted the setting goes back to AGC. This is the bane of music recorders.

2) TIME MARK: To automatically place a (silent, gapless) track mark at fixed intervals from 5 to 60 minutes. Turn to ON, pick your interval. Also useful for interviews. This overrides Sync Recording.

With DISC INSERTED AND REC/PAUSE (||) PRESSED SIMULTANEOUSLY you can set;

1) REC VOLUME

This is the key setting. You can leave it on the default of AGC or switch to Manual. Under Manual you'll see a bar graph (NetMDs) or a number: x/30. You can set it with the pointing stick (>ENT) on Hi-MD, with the wheel on Hi-MD, or with the |<< and >>| controls on Net MD.

If you have previously set Manual to a level above 13/30 it will go back to that level. If you have set it below 13/30, it will go to 13/30.

This overrules AGC and MIC AGC settings.

If you are recording music, Manual is essential. The proper setting depends on your mics, the volume of the music, etc. Some tips are here (WHEN THAT FAQ GETS WRITTEN), but your goal is to keep the incoming signal between the two little dashes on the level meter (Hi-MD) or at about 3/4 of the peak on MD.

TIP: Remember that if you push STOP the MD will revert to AGC. If need be, use Pause during live recording.

With DISC INSERTED AND RECORDING you can:

1) CHANGE the manual level with the pointing stick (>ENT) or the wheel. But every change will make the volume of your recording fluctuate, so it's better to start with a good setting and leave it throughout the recording.

Using manual volume is an annoyance but well worth it.

Here's a step-by-step, courtesty of jadesmar:

1. Press T.Mark/Rec(+>) and pause (||) at the same time.

2. Hold Navi/Menu until Edit menu pops up.

3. Using Wheel, scroll to REC set.

4. Press Enter (>' Ent) in middle of wheel.

5. Scroll down to RECVolume

6. Press Enter (>' Ent) in middle of wheel.

7. Scroll to Manual

8. Press Enter (>' Ent) in middle of wheel.

9. Use wheel or pointing stick (>ENT) to select a recording volume.

10. Press pause (||) to start recording.

11. Wheel will now allow you to manually set recording level.

It sounds complicated, but you can do most of it in the dark--Menu, five clicks down with pointing stick, Enter, one click down, Enter, pick a level.

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Originally written by forum user A440, but bear modifications by kurisu and dex Otaku.

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Live Recording: A Quick Start Guide

You'll need:

1) MD or Hi-MD recorder.

2) A microphone and some way to secure it: clips, a stand. Microphones are discussed here (LINK TO MIC INFO).

The microphone plug should be stereo, with two bands around the plug like your stereo headphone plug. One band means it's mono; if all you have is a mono mic, get a mono-to-stereo adapter or you'll only get sound on the left channel

3) A blank MD.

4) Your ears.

5) Common sense. (You have to supply this because Sony has none.)

There are two jacks on your MD recorder: Mic-in (Red) and Line-in (White). The Mic-in jack has a preamplifer behind it to boost the low signal that comes from a mic. The Line-in has no preamp and expects a louder, amplified sound.

Mic placement:

A microphone is nowhere near as smart as your ears and your brain. It can't focus its attention on a certain sound among many; it can't tune out talking, noise, etc. So you have to put it in the best possible place. If someone is speaking, obviously you want the mic close to the speaker, not far away where it will pick up room reverberations or other noise.

If you are recording music, you want to place the mic where you get the most balanced sound. Often, that is next to the soundboard. If you press up close to the stage, you are likely to miss the sound of the PA system, which is pointed over your head. Listen with your eyes closed, so you are not lip-reading the singer, and try different locations if you can to locate the best spot.

What are you going to record?

1) Speech: Lectures, interviews, conferences, etc.

This is about as easy as it gets. Plug in the mic, point it at the person speaking and push Record.

It's easy because the default settings on the MD are all geared for this. The mic default setting is AGC: Auto Gain Control, which adjusts the level to keep things fairly constant. The Record Mode default setting on Hi-MD recorders is Hi-SP, which will pack 8 hours onto a 1GB Hi-MD disc. On regular MD recorders the default is LP2, 160 minutes on an 80-minute MD.

2) Music

Music is the trickiest thing to record. The preamp in the MD recorder is pretty good except for one main problem: It can't handle bass. So for most music the signal coming into it has to be lowered so that it won't simply overload.

There are a few ways to do this. The cheapest and most portable one is to use an attenuator, which attenuates (lowers) the signal across the board. Say hello to the Radio Shack Headphone Volume Control, $6.59 anywhere.

Plug the mic into the RSHVC plug. Turn its volume knob all the way UP (it's still attenuating because you're running it backwards from its usual function) and plug it into the mic jack. Unfortunately, these little gizmos are flimsy and wear out, turning staticky or losing a channel; get a spare. The SP-ATEN sold by Sound Professionals is exactly the same thing without the Radio Shack logo. Someday one of the companies catering to MD recording will make a more reliable attenuator.

Another method is to use a bass roll-off filter, available from recording-gear places like Sound Professionals, Microphone Madness, Church Audio, Giant Squid Audio Labs, Core-Sound, etc. This fights the bass problem by limiting the amount of bass that gets through. The downside is that the bass is then absent from the recording, which can sound tinny.

A third method is to get a battery box, which provides power to the microphones that improves their response to loud sounds. For loud music, Mic-->Battery box-->LINE-in provides a good sounding but relatively quiet recording. For quieter music, you can try Mic-->Battery box-->Mic-in but you still risk overloading with bass. Many battery boxes and preamps also include bass roll-off for this reason.

Bottom line: Start with mic and RS attenuator and see if it works for you.

Settings: Go via Menu to REC Set. Under Mic Sens, select LOW. On Hi-MD, make sure Rec Mode is better than Hi-LP (Hi-SP or PCM); on regular MD, make sure it's LP2 or SP.

Plug in the mic. Press REC/Pause(||) (time display will blink) and go via Menu to Rec Set and choose Rec Volume. Switch from Automatic (the default) to Manual, Enter, and look at the level meter. (AGC can't handle sudden impacts, like bass-drum thumps, and makes a bad whooshing noise, so Manual Volume is a must.)

Adjust the volume (with pointing stick >ENT or wheel on Hi-MD, |<< and >>| on NetMD) so that the level meter is visibly changing with its maximum between the two dashes on Hi-MD or about half to three-quarters to the peak on MD. Un-Pause to start recording.

The recording volume setting depends on your mic, the music's volume, and what's in the circuit between the mic and the mic jack.

If you are using basic binaural mics (Sound Pro BMC-2 or similar) and the RS attenuator, then try a Rec Volume of 20/30 on Hi-MD (or 2/3 of the way up on the bar-graph display of a standard MD) for a typical rock concert.

3) Ambient Sounds/Quiet Sounds

Settings:

Go to Menu/REC Set. Under Mic Sens, select High. On Hi-MD, make sure Rec Mode is better than Hi-LP (Hi-SP or PCM); on regular MD, make sure it's LP2 or SP.

Plug in the mic. Press REC/Pause (||) (time display will blink) and go via Menu to Rec Set and choose Rec Volume. Switch from Automatic (the default) to Manual, Enter, and look at the level meter. Adjust the volume (with pointing stick >ENT or wheel on Hi-MD, |<< and >>| on NetMD) so that the level meter is visibly changing with its maximum between the two dashes on Hi-MD or about half to three-quarters to the peak on MD. Un-Pause to start recording.

Alternate method:

If you want the cleanest, clearest recordings possible of quiet sounds, then get a microphone preamp from companies like Sound Professionals, Microphone Madness, Church Audio, Reactive Sounds, Microphone Madness, Core-Sound, etc. Run the mic through the preamp and into Line-in. Check levels as above.

TIPS:

Before going out to record something crucial, CLEAN your plugs, either by wiping them or with a little rubbing alcohol. Twist them in the socket after plugging them in. And TEST your setup at home by recording your voice or stereo.

And always, always START WITH A FRESH BATTERY.

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This was sent to me by our good friend, Reactive.

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Clean your microphone plugs and jacks before recording

Hi gang,

I have made a habit of always cleaning my microphone plugs prior to inserting them into either my Boost box pre-amp or my Minidisc recorder.

Why should I bother with this?

Dirt, the evil that coats all metal and plastic parts, making a good contact connection- not so good. What does it do to your recording? It reduces signal quality and make contribute to some frequency loss throughout your recording. Agggg the unthinkable.

The solution:

Carry a small section of lint free cloth in your recording gear kit. Eye glass cleaning cloths are ideal. Wipe the plug clean before inserting it. The object is to remove all oil and grease from normal day to day handling.

Long term effects:

If you make this simple cleaning step a habit, your gear will always perform like new. A build up of oil and dirt inside your recorder can be reduced substantially by cleaning your plugs.

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