Help setting up an audio recorder - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-26-2014, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Help setting up an audio recorder

Long story short, we need to set up some sort of sound recorder in a window in our house to record the neighbors playing loud music at night so we can turn it over to our homeowner's association and the police. I thought about using a microphone connected to a PC but think that's probably designed for close contact with the mic in order for it to record the audio. Same thing with one of those handheld voice recorders. If anyone has some suggestions on how we can set this up, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-26-2014, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by DivotMaker View Post
Long story short, we need to set up some sort of sound recorder in a window in our house to record the neighbors playing loud music at night so we can turn it over to our homeowner's association and the police. I thought about using a microphone connected to a PC but think that's probably designed for close contact with the mic in order for it to record the audio. Same thing with one of those handheld voice recorders. If anyone has some suggestions on how we can set this up, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
An appropriate high quality microphone connected to the line input of your PC by means of a good mic preamp or an equivalent USB microphone should be a workable solution.

http://www.guitarcenter.com/USB-Micr...icrophones1.gc

I can't generalize about handheld voice recorders, but many of the less costly ones have a feature called AGC that tends to equalize the level of all sounds that the recorder picks up.


I think that this fairly inexpensive unit lacks AGC and should have enough quality to possibly do what you want to do:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Zoom-H1-...68-i1712732.gc
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-26-2014, 09:34 PM
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If you're recording only the music reaching your window then there will be no point of reference on the recording to judge how "loud" it actually is. I don't see how such a recording would be useful for your intended purpose.
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-26-2014, 10:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
An appropriate high quality microphone connected to the line input of your PC by means of a good mic preamp or an equivalent USB microphone should be a workable solution.

http://www.guitarcenter.com/USB-Micr...icrophones1.gc

I can't generalize about handheld voice recorders, but many of the less costly ones have a feature called AGC that tends to equalize the level of all sounds that the recorder picks up.


I think that this fairly inexpensive unit lacks AGC and should have enough quality to possibly do what you want to do:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Zoom-H1-...68-i1712732.gc
Thank you, I'll give these folks a call tomorrow.


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Originally Posted by skriefal View Post
If you're recording only the music reaching your window then there will be no point of reference on the recording to judge how "loud" it actually is. I don't see how such a recording would be useful for your intended purpose.
Not for how "loud" it is, but they want me to be able to timestamp it as well. They yell and scream at each other at all hours of the night, so this will also help me in building my case that will eventually be presented to the homeowner's board.
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-27-2014, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by DivotMaker View Post
Thank you, I'll give these folks a call tomorrow.




Not for how "loud" it is, but they want me to be able to timestamp it as well. They yell and scream at each other at all hours of the night, so this will also help me in building my case that will eventually be presented to the homeowner's board.

If you want to timestamp it, you will probably have to use a video recorder with a builtin microphone.
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-27-2014, 05:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skriefal View Post
If you're recording only the music reaching your window then there will be no point of reference on the recording to judge how "loud" it actually is. I don't see how such a recording would be useful for your intended purpose.
Good point. Now we are getting into the messy business of collecting evidence in such a way that it is convincing to a legal authority.

I'm not a lawyer, but for a first cut, a look at filings relating to excessive noise complaints might be a good first step. There are no doubt such things are on the web. Google is your friend.

From a technical standpoint there is a reliable way to calibrate a mic so that there is a fixed point of reference. It's called a microphone calibrator. You have to be sure that you have a microphone that will properly interface with whatever calibrator that you acquire.

You use the calibrator to record a reference SPL level that it generates, and then anything that you record without changing level or gain settings explicitly (with a manual gain control) or implicitly (with an electronic limiter or AGC feature, or by running the mic or recorder into clipping or other severe nonlinearity) will have a reliable reference.

Last edited by arnyk; 06-27-2014 at 05:46 AM.
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-27-2014, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post
If you want to timestamp it, you will probably have to use a video recorder with a builtin microphone.
Those usually have non defeatable AGC.

A voice announcement of time, date, and person supervising the recording equipment at the beginning of each recording seems to suffice.

If it comes to court, the announcement and associated evidence is played, someone asks the witness who that voice belongs to and is the time and date accurate, and that is pretty much that.
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-27-2014, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by DivotMaker View Post
Long story short, we need to set up some sort of sound recorder in a window in our house to record the neighbors playing loud music at night so we can turn it over to our homeowner's association and the police. I thought about using a microphone connected to a PC but think that's probably designed for close contact with the mic in order for it to record the audio. Same thing with one of those handheld voice recorders. If anyone has some suggestions on how we can set this up, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Just thinkin' out loud here, but have you considered recording a video trained on an SPL meter whilst the cacophony goes on next door? You would have a time stamp, audio, and SPL levels all in one video file.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-27-2014, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by koturban View Post
Just thinkin' out loud here, but have you considered recording a video trained on an SPL meter whilst the cacophony goes on next door? You would have a time stamp, audio, and SPL levels all in one video file.
That's a really good idea. This won't reach a court of law by any means. What will happen is we'll sign a form with our local PD and they'll issue a citation against them. Then, our homeowner's association will have a hearing and if they're found at fault, there will be fines levied against the property (there currently are fines on the property for something else). Once the fines reach a certain point, the association can begin the eviction process. It's a shame it's come to this, but we're tired of feeling like a hostage in our own home.

Thanks again everyone for the help. I think we've learned quite a bit!
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