I record university lectures for podcasting, but I'm finding I can't rely on plugging in to the lecture hall audio system to get a clean recording. Given I have a digital field recorder with XLR inputs, what sorts of equipment (mics, mixer, etc.) could I pick up for $500 total that could allow me to make a decent recording of a lecture?
First thing to note: I don't know much about audio. I record things, I clean them up in Audacity, I dump them to MP3s, and I update our podcast feed. The process of recording audio I don't have a lot of knowledge of, other than what I've learned by trial and error in recording 30+ lectures the last 3 years.
I have a Marantz PMD660
and have been using a 1/4"-1/8" cable to plug into the board out in lecture halls. What I'm discovering, though, is that either the jack has been turned off (with no one in the A/V knowing how to turn it back on), or the equipment is so old that I get a lot of static. The last recording was a sea of static and buzz.
I could set the recorder on the podium and used the internal condenser mics, and I've done so in the past, but not only do omnidirectional mics pick up every last squeak and cough and "this lecture sucks" in the room, they also don't work well when the lecturer is on a lavalier and is walking all over the whole dang room.
The last three recordings I've made have been absolutely rotten. Something has to change.
The org seems to be okay with the idea of upgrading the equipment. I want to float $1000 and $500 spending proposals for buying more equipment. Due to budget constraints, though, I'm assuming that $500 is what I'll probably end up with.
So. I have a battery-powered field recorder with XLR and 1/8" inputs. I need to effectively, though not perfectly, record lecturers without pulling in too much ambient or crowd noise. I also can't assume that I can just unplug the lavalier and plug mine in -- I don't want to dink with the current setup.
I would also like to be able to do two-mike interviews eventually, so I'll need a mixer or a board. Again, this isn't high-end stuff -- the MP3s will be 32-64kbps mono.
Any ideas? Is $500 too low, and if so, what should I ask for if I can talk them into a $1000 upgrade?