Vox Pop Equipment and Set-Up Tips: Perfecting Audio with Keith Alexander

By | March 13, 2020

In this episode we’ll learn about the recording of Vox Pops. Vox Pops are a term for going out to record interviews in the field, and an incredibly important part of radio podcast videos and lots of other types of presentation, let’s look at the best way to get a really efficient system together for recording your Vox Pops. There are lots of ways to record Vox Pops, you have to figure out the best way for you. Do you want to use a failed recorder or some other equipment that may suit your workflow a little better. Let’s look at a couple of options and see how they might work for you. Option 1: A proper microphone plugged into a field recorder, and of course the other thing you will always need is a quality windshield, you’ll need to look at Rycotes vast collection of products, to see what is best for you. You don’t want anything destroying your beautiful recordings like wind noise, the advantage of having a field recorder with you with a proper microphone plugged in is, that you have super high quality recordings. You’ll also have the option to use any mic or microphones you wish and you have a solid machine on which to record, security all the way. The downside is that you have a lot of gear and leads, and that may affect your mobility and durability if you’re carrying them around all day. Option 2: is carrying a handheld recorder, totally mobile, light, and depending on the machine the recording quality is top grade as well. You can get a handheld recorder from lots of different companies such as Tascam, Zoom and Roland. If you need just a recorder you may get something like the Zoom H1n, it is a simple stereo recorder, but for more bang for your book you can get a recorder with extra mic and instrument inputs such as the tascam DR-40X, or the zoom H4, H5 or H6. Remember to use a quality handle for your handheld recorders as they reduce the amount of handling noise through the recorder and onto your recordings. One small drawback about handhelds are, that you are generally using the built-in mics, which might be an issue for you if you have a favorite dynamic mic, one that does not need power then you might look at the Tascam DR10X which is a neat little recorder that plugs directly onto any dynamic mic, one super feature on this recorder is that it simultaneously makes a copy of your recordings but at a lower level, so if there are any loud bits that might distort on the main recording, then it could be safe on the lower level version. Option 3 is totally simple and totally connected – it’s a quality microphone that plugs straight into your iPhone, our other iOS device, via the lightning connector. Rode make the iXY, Sure the Mv88, and there are a few more, again if you have a favorite dynamic then you could use the Rode iXLR, which plugs directly into your mic, and straight into your iOS device, most of these type devices come with dedicated apps that allow you some basic editing and control over the parameters of your recordings. If you are considering getting one of these devices, do consider that you will need to fix your windshield on to the mics and still be able to plug in some headphones to monitor your recordings as they happen, the serious advantage of these iOS recording devices is that they are light, portable, and you can carry them always, not just when out in a job, with the option to edit the recordings in your iOS device and deliver them back to the studio from wherever you are, is a real advantage especially when you’re under pressure to deliver, be careful when looking at some mics that connect directly to your headphone or TRRS socket on your phone, this connector is not a professional connection, the quality is not good for professional applications, also by the nature of the connection the mic can only be mono. Voxpop and interviews are an essential addition to any production, it’s important to get your interview and recording technique right. In this situation you have to keep a few things in mind, firstly most people are not used to having microphones shoved into their face every day, go gently, tell them what you’re doing as you setup the record, if you’re using a handheld recorder, tell them what it is so they can distinguish it as a microphone, and not some alien technology to suck their brains out. Explaining things engages them in the process, and they’ll want to give you their best. Use eye to eye, humans communicate face-to-face and if your head is buried and playing around with your recorder, then your interviewee will drop off in performance, whilst you’re disengaged with them. RRemember to always use the quality windshield to protect your recordings, even when it’s not windy out, always use headphones to monitor what you’re recording, if you use bud headphones you will not hear some low-frequency noise on your recordings, watch where you’re placing your microphone, if you’re playing with your recorder, then you might be missing the interviewees mouth. A nice proximity to the mouth without shoving it down the throat is all good. Finally mind yourself, if you’re out in the street for a long time recording, remember a couple of things, check the weather, make sure you have the right clothing so you’re comfortable. There’s nothing worse than being soaked through when you’re trying to work, have liquids to keep yourself hydrated, bring a snack in case you’re at it longer than you expected, even being out for a couple of hours doing Vox Pops, it can seem like days. To lessen your load you got to think about the location you’re in, will you need extra equipment or permissions from the relative authorities or owners of some of the properties. Your battery situation.. have you spare batteries or a battery bank. Your storage situation do you have a spare SD card to record to that has enough room for all of your recording needs, will you need to back things up, or will there be mobile data or Wi-Fi available to you to send your files back to the studio, all serious considerations before you head out to the job. If you are a solo you may also be responsible for the release forms from the subject, don’t take this for granted. Make sure you stay legal. Check the laws in the country that you’re filming in. Finally and most importantly enjoy yourself. Talking to humans on the street can be an amazing source of energy, joy, and the making of your show. I’m Keith Alexander and you’ve been watching Adorama TV. Don’t forget to subscribe to Adorama TV for more great videos, and tell us what you think, you can like comment or share this video and please come by the Adorama Learning Center for more great tips and tricks.

6 thoughts on “Vox Pop Equipment and Set-Up Tips: Perfecting Audio with Keith Alexander

  1. Phil eMotion Post author

    Thanks Keith ! 👍 Very interesting Tutorial !!! 👏 👏 👏

  2. Michael Finn Post author

    Great content, as always, Keith but there's one problem for iPhone users. The newer phones do not have a headphone socket.

  3. Alan Tutt Post author

    Good info, but it would have been nice to see how to do this while also handing a camera. Ideally, we would have another person to run sound, but what about the situations where you're truly a 1-person interview crew? Seems to me the only real option here is to mount a mic on the camera and hope for the best, unless you're comfortable mounting a wireless lav on your subjects.


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