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Old 16th October 2010, 05:01 PM   #1
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Default Shuttle Launch Audio - DIY?

Hi, I'm going to be attending these final three Space Shuttle launches from various locations/distances and shooting HD and high speed video of them. I'd like to be able to capture some really good audio while I'm at it, but I have really never invested much (time/money) into audio before. I'd like to keep the audio side of this project around $100, so DIY is my friend.

My goal for this audio is to capture all of those gut-trembling low frequencies that really make these large heavy-lift launches special, I know that speakers that can reproduce that level of audio are very rare nowadays, but technology keeps marching on...

What I've got so far:
An XLR to 3.5mm cable so that I can use my iPhone as basically a Zoom-type portable audio recorder
A cheapo bird spotters "gun" microphone with a parabolic dish
A Shure S57 (borrowed from a friend)

I did a lot of looking around at cheaply available mics, and I'm currently debating between:
A) Getting a large diaphragm condenser mic that'll pick up anything from 20hz on up, rigging up a phantom power circuit and then plugging it into my iPhone and praying there isn't much background noise
B) Getting a large diaphragm dynamic mic (like an AKG D112) and mounting the parabolic dish I have to it to try to minimize background noise and amplify the noise of the Shuttle, hoping that the mic can handle the spl
C) Just keeping the money (and my sanity) and using the S57 and praying afterwards I can clean up the audio to extract what I want

Which plan do you recommend? Do you have any other ideas? I know that despite the chincy design the cheap gun mic really does pick up long distance audio pretty well, is there just a cheap mic capsule I could swap into it that would allow it to pick up super low frequencies?

Thanks!
-Liz
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Old 20th October 2010, 02:13 AM   #2
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Default WM-61A's!

The Panasonic WM-61A Back Electret Mic Capsule, available from Digi-
Key, <USD 2, will give great results, if you have time to build them
into complete mic's. There's a high SPL mod where the case-to-
negative terminal trace is cut and ground is brought out on a third wire
or connected to the positive terminal. They give 20hz-to-20khz
response, +/-3db, I think, over the whole range. They truly sound great.
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Old 20th October 2010, 12:50 PM   #3
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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The parabolic mic won't get the lows, or not the way you want, anyway. It has more gain in the mids and highs than in the lows. The SM57 is a classic, but may not have the bass response you need.

Wind socks will be very handy, no matter the mic.

Even a few miles away, the low freqs from the launch are massive. You want to be able to monitor the gain so that you have enough level, but are not overdriving the recorder. You will not have a chance to test beforehand!

The Panasonic capsules could do very well. But all of the above applies to them, too.
It's going to be hard to do well for $100.
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Old 30th September 2011, 10:34 AM   #4
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I recalled that Bob Katz had such a video on his website, seeing it there many years ago. I thought it had gone away with his redesigned site, but it's there. Digital Domain. In the Downloads section. Unfortunately, I can't get it to work on my PC. But I haven't given up.
I thought it might interest some of the LF crowd. The warning doesn't accompany the video anymore, but I seem to remember it is something like mid-100s dB at 10Hz. No kidding. So turn down the volume before you push play.
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Old 6th October 2011, 02:55 AM   #5
benb is offline benb  United States
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There's a description of the Katz recording on this page:
We Have Lift-off!! (NOW IN SURROUND)

One goal in life is to have speakers which accurately reproduce that sound (I'm thinking of that Eminent Technology rotary woofer). Most regrettably, I've lived much of my life an 8 hour drive from the launch site but never made it to a launch, thus (and this is a minor part of the regret) I don't have the experience of the original sound to compare to.
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