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Recording for Online Competitions

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  • Recording for Online Competitions

    I'll be participating in a couple online competitions for the first time and I was curious about how folks are recording themselves. I've combed through posted videos on YT of competition submissions and I see a variation in audio quality. Some videos seem to have chanters which seem to play well over the drones. Others have a nice quality, with no static or background noises.

    I'm sure judges can look past certain inconsistencies among recordings but I'd like to have a decent setup.

    Is everyone using smartphones?

  • #2
    Re: Recording for Online Competitions

    I've been recording with my phone. The chanter sounds better if I don't face the phone directly, but face about 45 degrees off to one side.


    • #3
      Re: Recording for Online Competitions

      Phones do good with video and can do OK with audio. If you want to significantly improve the quality of sound, you can get Zoom u-22 audio interface and plug a CAD M179 microphone into it and put it in your room. The phone (most phones at least) will recognize the zoom. Like if you have an iphone, you just use the Camera Connection Kit to let you plug a standard USB cable into the phone. Now the camera phone will route the audio from the interface to the video recorder.

      Another option that would be less expensive but also less versatile would be to buy a Shure MV88 microphone to plug into your iphone (assuming you have an iphone -- the MV88 is only iOS).

      If you're recording indoors, then you should try different rooms. Some will sound worse than others. Generally a large room that's not too live is best. If you're recording outdoors then you need something to tame the wind -- unless you can record on a still day.


      • #4
        Re: Recording for Online Competitions

        While I haven't recorded recently for online competitions, I record regularly. My setup is a

        1) Zoom H4n Pro or summat (

        2) Long cable headphone jack male (plugged into Zoom H4n headphone jack) to female; for length so I don't have to put the camera near the recorder if I don't want to; I usually put the mic up high and behind me or off to my drone side so I don't end up with chanter heavy recordings.

        3) a Rode TRS male (plugged into the cable above) to TRRS male adapter, SC7 I think, the red one ( - this is required because Apple is TRRS (tip ring ring sleeve), not the usual TRS (tip ring sleeve = normal stereo)

        4) Apple TRRS (plugged into the Rode) to lightning adapter into my iPhone using just the video mode in the camera app (

        Looks like the H1n at $120 would be a good option for excellent audio without the H4n price.
        My Piping Blog (recordings, articles, reviews, etc.) - Homepage - Pekaar's Tune Encyclopedia - Convert BMW to ABC


        • #5
          Re: Recording for Online Competitions

          If you have some money to invest, I'm sure Patrick's suggestions above would be great.

          I've had some pretty good results with contests I've submitted to (been complemented on it many times actually). And my recording location is actually rather subpar (storage unit with metal walls). I use my iPhone, with some additions.

          My approach might be a little cheaper than Patrick's. I also do a little work on editing and exporting afterward.

          Anyway ... devil's in the details, so-to-speak ... so this is gunna be lengthy. Hopefully it'll help though.


          Trick overall for recording is to make sure that the loudness of the pipes doesn't overpower the microphone, causing all sorts of distortion. The built-in microphones on phones generally aren't designed to handle that. And when it comes to handling files, video files are generally really big. So I take the time to export final files that are much smaller—I make sure it retains decent video quality but maximum audio quality, since it's the latter that matters.

          1. I use a Blue Snowball iCE USB microphone (this one: ... it's a condenser mic, so it does a pretty good job of helping to balance levels. But I also use a USB extension cord so that I can position the mic farther away.

          2. I hook it into my iPhone with this adapter (Lightning to USB Camera Adapter):

          • If you have Android or something, then you'd need a different adapter. That'll depend on whatever you have.

          3. And I use an app called "MoviePro" to do my recording. I think it's only for iPhone, so if you have Android, you'd need to search around for something comparable. The key bit is to look for an app that allows "microphone level control."

          4. That's where the separate microphone is key for me .. the MoviePro app allows me to adjust the level of the microphone, but only if I plug in an external mic. If I try to use it with my phone on its own, the volume control isn't available/showing.

          5. Do your recordings .. I like to set it going and just do a few runs, knowing that I'll be adjusting the clip later. But whatever works for you.

          6. Then you need to transfer your videos to your computer to edit. You can do a lot of the essentials on the phone if needed, but that's cumbersome, and limiting. The transfer process can be a pain sometimes ... though I've recently found that I can access the MoviePro files through iTunes. If you can't seem to get that to work, the other way I've found to transfer videos is to send the files to a folder on Google Drive, and then I download those onto the machine I'm using (but this takes a LONG time).

          7. From there, I use Abobe Premiere to do some basic editing. Other programs I'm sure will do the trick too, but Premiere is what I have/know:
          • I cut the clip down to the run I like the best
          • Add some slight reverb to smooth out the sound
          • Then I do a final tweak of the overall volume level, as needed. Frequently, adding reverb brings the volume level down, so I'll need to bring the level back up a touch.
          • For final export (other programs will likely have this too if you don't have/use Premiere) ... there's an export setting (which makes an ".mp4") called "h.264" ... in short, it's awesome. Quality seems no different from the original, and the resultant file size is about 1/10th of what it was before. For example, my piob video is usually about 2 gigs off of my phone. After exporting with h.264, the mp4 that I send is about 200megs.

          8. Cautionary note on reverb .. it's easy to get carried away. Don't go crazy with it. Technically, some might argue that by altering the sound of the video, you're thus altering what you sounded like. Frankly, anyone who says/thinks so is "full of it." BUT .. that doesn't mean they don't have a point if you take it too far. Adding responsible levels of reverb is not being done to augment. It's really only to add some warmth to the sound, since raw pipes over a microphone tends to sound really, really harsh. It's just not an accurate reflection of how the pipes actually sound in a live setting, and that's what you're trying to do in the first place. Most programs offering reverb will usually have presets for simulating different echo/reverb effects from venues like Cathedral, Large Hall, Large Room, Medium Room .. etc. Out of such things, I think "Large Room" is quite sufficient, and the largest you should use. I'll attach a screenshot of the reverb panel, which shows the settings I've been using, in case that helps. So to sum up, "a little" reverb is good ... "a lot" is asking for trouble.

          Ok, that's the process I use. Hope that helps.



          • #6
            Re: Recording for Online Competitions

            Originally posted by Pppiper View Post
            Technically, some might argue that by altering the sound of the video, you're thus altering what you sounded like.

            I agree about taking it too far, but also, no microphone is as good as a human ear, and it's important to recognise that what it picks up is only part of the puzzle. Pretending the dry signal straight out the mic is the "true" sound of the instrument is just as untruthful.
            -- Formerly known as CalumII