Advice for Induction recording Newbie?


I have a telephone pick-up mic, and want to try my hand at some induction recording, but Im not sure what to do? Do I stick the mic TO the speaker, or just lay it on the speaker? And where is a good place to stick it? Behind? On top of? Right in front of the speaker?

Im sure we've all been there, does anyone have any advice, tips, or stories to share? Maybe this could be a mini library of knowledge for myself and anyone looking for advice on "Premo" Induction recordings.

Thank you!
I'd say, generally speaking, there aren't really a lot of rules when it comes to induction recording. Those rules that there are often have exceptions- it really depends on the speaker and how clever you are.

Each of us that do it has our own style and our own methods we've developed. Not to be difficult, but I think the best way to learn is to try it out for yourself. Start out at home, go around to different speakers in your house and do some test recordings. Move the pickup around, try different placements, see what sounds good. Then bring it out to the park and start trying things out. Most of the techniques I've developed were designed to tackle a particular problem- a particular speaker I needed a way to record. Or just to make things easier.

If there is any hard and fast rule I can give, or advice, it's this: be smart. Be discreet. Don't do things that are likely to get you in trouble or affect other guests. For the time being it's possible to do induction recordings without drawing the attention of CMs or park security for the most part- but you have to be politic about it. In other words, don't do anything stupid.

There have been people who have gotten in trouble with park security for recording things. I myself have been accosted by CMs (a few fellow MouseBitters were there when this happened, it was at Soarin last summer).

There is a reason that no exhaustive tutorial on how to do induction recordings has been posted. Having throngs of people going out and doing recordings would likely attract Disney's attention, particularly if there were people being stupid about it. Induction recording is unique in that it requres the pickup to physically touch the speaker (though, as I said, there are exceptions to that rule). So far Disney has yet to enact any specific policy banning audio recording or induction recordings- probably because there are very who people who do it and they generally aren't that aware of it. So long as we're not getting in the way of other guests or going places guests aren't supposed to go, likely we'll be able to continue doing it.

Don't think I'm trying to discourage you. I'm not. Recording has been a fun and unusual hobby for me, and I enjoy it. But it requires above all things ingenuity and patience, and patience in particular. Often times people are under the impression that you just wave the magic pickup by the speaker and you get a great recording. That's because all they hear is the finished results. It can often take dozens of attempts to get just one good recording, which even then has to be cleaned up and edited. I have hours upon hours of recordings frought with noise, overmodulation and other sound issues. Even just doing one recording can be a challenge, especially when you're trying to record a 60 minute music loop.

So that's the best advice I can give. Induction recording isn't a science, it's an art. We all have our own ways of doing it and I suspect the way that will be most satisfying and most efficient for you will have to be one you develop yourself. Every individual recording presents a new and unique challenge and getting a good recording requires experimentation and thought. Get to know your pickup. See what new and different things you can do with it. Once you get the hang of what you can do with a basic pickup you can start modifying them, using multiple pickups, some have even built their own. It's a strange and magical bit of science that makes it work and the results can be quite spectacular.
C33 said:
Don't think I'm trying to discourage you. I'm not.

I certainly Dont! :D Cautionary advice is important.....One final wrong move can be the end of it for all of us. So recording smart is paramount!

Thank you for the advice, I hadn't though of trying stuff at home first...thats a great idea. I tend to be fairly impulsive :)
I did my first induction recordings at DLRP this last summer and, although they could have been better, they turned out far better than I expected (and much better than "live").
I agree - be discreet. That actually adds to the fun of it. It makes it all a bit "cloak and dagger" ;D
Half the fun can be finding the right speaker to sneak a pickup onto without being seen ;)
As C33 says, try it at home first and, if possible, use an earphone to find the best signal rather than rely on any recording level indicator you may have. A very slight shift of less than half an inch can make a difference in the quality of the signal and what works with one speaker may not work with another of the same type. Again, part of the fun and learning curve.
In a very basic level, you need to place the pickup where it will pick up the magnetic field from the big magnet in the speaker. Finding where that is is the art and only practice/trial and error will tell you the best place for a particular speaker.
Do note that some speakers can be rubbish and nothing YOU do will improve the results. Again, part of the fun.
I just laid the pickup on some speakers, held it by hand on others and some stick them on with glue dots - whatever works for you.
I only did very short samples as a test (didn't expect it to work) but was really delighted with the basic results - yes, it really does seem like magic - and it's highly addictive. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED ;D.
I can't wait for my next visit. I already have several speaker positions noted ::)
Oh...  where to start...

The advice given so far is good.  There really isn't a tutorial for induction recording.  It really does depend on the speaker (and results vary based on the speaker) as to what needs to get done.  The general rule is, you need to get that pickup as close as possible to the actual speaker magnet as possible to get the best recording.  In my experience, even a fraction of an inch can make a HUGE difference.  I also believe that the alignment of the coil to the magnet makes a difference.

Practicing at home is a good start, but the different types of speakers you'll encounter at the parks makes a lot of that useless.  You'll understand the mic more, but not necessarily the speakers themselves.

I would concentrate on building a significant toolbox of gizmos to aid in your quest.  Mine includes, but is not limited to the following:

1.  Several slightly altered RS Telephone Pick-Ups.  Cord lengthened and replaced with a shielded cord
2.  One stereo induction pick-up
3.  One extension rod for moving the pickup into less accessible areas.
4.  Extension cables to increase the distance the mic can be from my recorder.
5.  Permanent Glue Dots
6.  Selfstick velcro strips/dots
7.  Rubber bands
8.  Toothpicks
9.  Several pairs of homemade binaural mics for live recordings.
10.  Battery box for above mentioned mics (NOT my recorder)
11.  Volume attenuator

There are probably a few other things snuck away in a pocket I've forgotten.  And each time I figure out something else that might make my life a little easier in the future.

Also, you really need a good recording device and plenty of time for post processing when you get done.  While many of my recordings have been good out of the box, they have all needed some work to make them releasable.  They are like night and day.

And a final reminder, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure you respect the parks.  Do not break any rules during the recording process.  We don't need anyone making it harder than it is to make these recordings.
Wow that's quite a McGyver-esque tool box!

The Permanent glue dots and Self stick Velcro strips don't do damage do they?
s8ntmark said:
The Permanent glue dots and Self stick Velcro strips don't do damage do they?
Glue dots, no, velcro, depends...  Know your limits...

My extension has velcro (hook) on the end, so I can attach the loop part to my pickups and it helps it stick.
You absolutely cannot have the pickup move during recordings.  Movement is recorded as part of the recording, even very slight movement.  There was some discussion on here before about the bass coming from some of the speakers causing enough movement to be picked up as distortion.  My thought is, yes, it can happen...
What are the best recording devices? I'm thinking mini discs recorders, because I keep hearing about them. But is there something else also?

What do you guys use?
I use a minidisc recorder but they are a little old now (try getting the discs!!!! :eek: ).
There's lots of great new stuff out that does the job (if you can afford them) a lot better.
Being a little (!) old-fashioned (read "old"), I like the minidisc and you can still get them from places like ebay pretty cheap. The newer ones are, alas, too expensive for me (or so my wife says ;D ).
Start small and cheap and, if you like what you get, invest as you would in any hobby.
It takes a lot of patience to get recordings - and a LOT of time. Sitting for an hour to get a BGM seems a LOT longer - especially if you are with a family and the kids are getting fed up (and even more so if the weather isn't good).
Kirky is a real pro at this so, as you would expect, has all the latest stuff and a lot self-invented as well to suit the locations. Don't let the list put you off. Go for it!
Oh please, I'm far from a pro...  Just a tinker...  ;D

I really like my Sony RH-1.  It's I think the last minidisc recorder they made, but honestly, when I make a purchase like that, i stop looking as prices seem to fall  shortly after and that makes me mad.  The benefits for the minidisc format are capacity and the ability to change disks quickly/easily.  Battery life is outstanding, and some of these loops are approaching a couple hours now, so all of these are huge considerations.

There are some great solid state recorders as well, prices have seemed to hold steady on those.

I'm the type that likes to jump all in for things.  Many recording devices just don't have the ability to record at decent quality.  And for the time investment in doing the recordings I didn't want to purchase something I would probably not be happy with.  I used to use my camcorder, which was OK, but I quickly outgrew it's capabilities.

I get to the parks maybe once a year these days.  The investment is tough to justify with that type of use, thankfully I do actually use it around home.

I would also suggest starting small, BUT understand that equipment does matter, and unelss you plan on really doing it, don't bother spending your money on equipment.  I have many many hours of material that's just crap.  That's many many hours of my vacation "wasted" wiating around for a recording to finish.  So, in addition to the outlay of money for equipment, you are out vacation time which is often many times more valuable that the money spent on gadgets.
By "small and cheap", I didn't mean "buy rubbish", of course. More on the lines of "second hand" to keep the price down.
Should have made that clearer (difference in language the Atlantic makes!).

If I remember correctly, this one was spoken of well in a previous thread. ($300+)
Ebay is selling Minidisc recorders around $50

I'd go for the minidisc and, if I enjoyed doing the recordings, upgrade for the next visit if you wanted better :)
I can't believe that people are recommending minidisc recordings - they record in ATRAC format, meaning that you need to double compress them to distribute/playback on devices, right?

This is 2008, people, there's got to a be a solid MP3/Wav recorder with good quality line inputs for less than $99 and enough storage/battery life for a number of very long loops.
fbueller said:
I can't believe that people are recommending minidisc recordings - they record in ATRAC format, meaning that you need to double compress them to distribute/playback on devices, right?
ATRAC3+ 256 isn't all that bad.  All of mine have been ATRAC3+ 256 converted to WAV then MP3.  ATRAC3+ gets me about 20 hours of recording time on a single 1G disk as opposed to about an hour if recorded in WAV.  For induction/live recordings, the limit is the quality of the speaker/attraction, not the limit of the format for sure.  But yes, to answer your question, yes...  There is technically a generation loss.  MP3 would be the same thing...

One of the big reasons for not going with a solid state recorder was I didn't want to reinvest in a ton of memory cards.  They were and probably still are more expensive the minidiscs.

Now, many of the older minidisc recorders were unable to transfer recordings directly, so you would need to use a patch cable and record the audio on your PC which was just horrible.  You not only got the noise from the actual recording, but whatever noise your computer created during the process was now part of your recording.  For this reason, you really need to pay attention to what you're buying in terms of minidisc recorders.  There are a ton of choices out there, many are bad choices.

fbueller said:
This is 2008, people, there's got to a be a solid MP3/Wav recorder with good quality line inputs for less than $99 and enough storage/battery life for a number of very long loops.
If you can find one, let me know, I would certainly like something as a backup for my RH1...  ;-)  From my experience, quality comes at a price.  The RH1 has very good quality preamps which was the bane of many of the previous model, and honestly still was an issue with many of the devices when I was looking.  A noisey preamp can really kill your recordings and is easily more pronounced than any artifacts the compression introduces.

I'm far from a Sony fanboy...  It pained me to purchase a RH-1, but I have been nothing but impressed with the quality of the recordings and the control.  Control over the recordings really is a big deal.  Mobile recordings really is a niche market, which I'm sure if the reason why there just aren't many [quality] choices.
I would be up for a mini disc, but I don't want to buy something I can't get discs for in future, or arent be made anymore :( Im a little surprised by that, about a year ago I saw a Sony mini disc at Frys for $250 I'd think they would bring the price down..

Especially if I'm going to using it for a while. I seem to remember the iPod has something where it can made into a recorder? Does anyone know about that or know about the quality? I guess they use them a lot for podcasts and stuff.
Yeah, you would think the prices would drop, but I havne't seen it either...  Probably because there's not much competition...

I tried the whole iPod thing.  Check out iPodLinux and/or RockBox .  I wasn't impressed with the quality and got sick of watiing for them to fix some of the issues.  My iPod was newly supported so it's understandable, I just couldn't wait for them to fix some of the issues.  Not even sure if they ever were.
The $300 I paid for the Edirol R-09 was one of my best investments (in fact, I have two).  It works great and if necessary, I can record up to 20 hours of 320k .mp3 on my memory card.

I agree on the mini-discs, I would skip them.
Remember that minidiscs can be erased ;)
Once you have transferred the recordings to the PC (mine just plugs in from the aux socket to the line in on the PC - not USB) and, of course, made a backup to CD/DVD just in case - you just erase the stuff and record anew - just like a tape.
A decent pack of a dozen or so minidiscs should last a lifetime.
They are still available but you need to find somewhere that sells them - in the same way that Hi8 and VHS-C tapes are getting harder to find nowadays.
Stores tend to stock only the most modern accessories now.
Most iPods and MP3 players have a recording facility but (mp3 players certainly) often don't have anywhere to plug in the mic.
There's a balance between getting a decent recording "in the field" at a reasonable cost and trying for studio quality, I feel.
I'm playing my stuff on a CD player so a minidisc recording is fine for that.
Maybe if I had a super-duper HiFi costing thousands, I'd have another thought.
If you are happy listening to MP3s, there shouldn't be a problem ;D
Of course, if you have the $300 to spend (or do serious work like Horizons) then fine.
I didn't and don't. ;D
If Karl's gonna post his equipment list than so am I :D This is the stuff I bring with me whenever I go to a Disney theme park:

1. 2 unmodified induction pickups
2. 1 induction pickup without suction cup
3. 1 induction pickup without casing
4. Telescoping pen magnet
5. Popsicle sticks
6. Electricians tape
7. Glue dots
8. Rubber bands
9. Dual Mono to Single Stereo Y Adapter

And of course my recorder. All of this stuff was bourne out of advice I was given by others and also crazy ideas I had about how to do certain recordings. And to tell you the truth- most of my ideas were really bad. I put myself in a lot of uncomfortable situations (physically and socially) in the interest of getting recordings. And I used the wrong recording equipment, which severly held me back.

Let me add an additional endorsement for the Edirol R-09HR- it's expensive, but it's opened a whole new world for me when it comes to recording and you wont find anything better.

Also, I believe eyore mentioned what is probably the only absolutely solid rule when it comes to induction recording: bad speaker = bad recording. Always. Whatever the speaker sounds like, that's what your recording will sound like. If the speaker sounds bad your recording will sound bad, no matter what.

As for the iPod thing- don't do it. I started out using an iPod voice recorder attachment with a line in (I think it was made by Belkin). The quality wasn't bad but there are several other issues. One- the iPod has a tendancy to lag and the recorder never seems to start when you want it to, which can be a problem. Two, if you use your iPod as an iPod as well you'll run into battery issues most likely. Three, you can't set or even see levels or any other settings (HUGE problem). And fourth and worst of all, the attachments usually use the dock connector, which is extremely unreliable. Often the iPod wouldn't recognize it was there or it would come lose during the recording (which isn't hard when you're on, say, Space Mountain). In both cases, the result is no recording.

I cannot stress enough: don't buy a voice recorder. Buy an audio recorder. Voice recorders are made for recording just that- voice. They are designed to adjust for volume and such to produce an audible recording of the human voice. They are not designed to record music, and are not designed with audio quality in  mind. If you want to be recording music you need a recorder that was designed for that purpose. The ability to manually set levels is a MUST. Also, you want to be able to record to an uncompressed format.

And by the way, I went out a few weeks ago and bought an 8gb SD card for my Edirol. I can now record something like 60 hours at 320kbps MP3. I even did some recordings at 98khz 24bit WAV- and let's just put it this way: I tried playing them on my iPod and it crashed. Good quality though! :)
The cost of cards is minimal nowadays. I just picked up a 16GB SDHC for $24 on special this week. That's about 25 hours of uncompressed .wav recordings on a single card.

Lots of podcasters use iRivers, I know that. But I don't know about the music recording quality. I've tried a Creative Zen V Plus and it's not terribly good, despite recording 160kbps MP3's.
OK, here goes.
One induction mic.
Sharp MT280E(S) Recorder.
One pack minidics.
(don't need adapter, option to record mono to both channels from mono mic)
One finger (to hold mic in place).  ;D
OK, I'm only starting out so that's in fun as it's good to have this list.
I did notice that there was lots of stuff I could have used to extend my reach in the trash bins (had I had some tape with me) :-[ I have bought some glue dots for next time.
Apart from the above, I'm also carrying a camera, a video recorder, spares for the above, packets of batteries, a waterproof, a drink, spare cigarettes, spare lighter, mp3 player and earphones (with pre-recorded BGMs), a notepaad to jot down what it was I recorded .....the list goes on.
Somewhere I also have passports and money plus my insulin pen and glucose tester.
I need a bigger bag :mad:
Eyore, you need a suitcase. I thought I was bad with my camcorder, DSLR, zoom lenses, extra batteries, DVC tapes, Tripod, index cards for autographs, pen, list of pressed penny machine locations, roll of quarters, roll of pennies, money, sunglasses, poncho, etc. etc. etc. My husband complains about lugging that packback around with us. I tell him that I will carry it, but he doesn't want to look like a jerk carrying nothing while his wife is saddled down with this huge bag on her back. I could care less, as long as I get my pics and videos. I had thought about getting into doing some recording too. I am not sure that I am ready for it. I may have a trip where I will be alone for 2 days in the park while my husband is at a conference. If I am ever going to try it, that will be the best time. I am taking a look at the lists from members above and checking into some equipment, just in case.
Don't laugh but we now have this down to a fine art.
My wife also has a collection of stuff (usually much more practical like a change of shirt, her camera, my son's stuff which he hates to carry etc).
What we do is pack them all in our backpacks, pack these into our hand luggage so, when we get to the hotel, we just take the backpacks out, leave the baggage (and half empty hand luggage) at the hotel (room is never ready when we get there and we're not hanging around for it) and off to the park. Saves hours of messing around.
We unpack after it's closed ;D
The usual place is somewhere like Radioshack.
You buy  it for recording telephone conversations. (telephone pickup).
magic said:
Wow whats cheap, now whats the best and cheapest way to bet good quality recording
Depends on how you define good and cheap.  Usually they are two different things.  Expensive = good, cheap = not good.  There are a few thread if you do a search where we have gone over our equipment, costs, and strategies.  Be advised, just getting a $7 mic and a good recorder do not euqal good results.  You're looking at hours and hours of recording and audio editing to get something that may or may not be good enough to really listen to.

And in all honesty, chances are, you won't even get close to the stuff that's already in circulation.  Probably if it's not in circulation, it's not going to be possible for a rookie to get it done either.  But don't let that discourage you.  I just want to make sure people understand the process and how difficult and time consuming it is.  We've got some people who have spent more time recording stuff than most of us have spent in the parks, period, and still have trouble.
I agree with kirky.
It's a complicated hit-and-miss thing BUT it's also great fun even if you just want to take back memories and that "perfect" recording isn't your aim.
There's a great sense of satisfaction at making an induction recording of your own.
The results here are from people who have spent hours learning and refining technique and you are listening to all that experience (and dedication).

If you listen to a professional singer, you'll probably never achieve that standard.
Doesn't stop you enjoying singing in the bath though ;D
Try it and have fun. Keep your costs down until you learn (but not too cheap) - something within budget that you can afford to consign to a drawer if you don't find it fun.
You can always get better equipment if you get hooked (very easy) ::)
Lets see, i never go to Disneyland for it being too expensive, and i could afford the audio stuff, and i have done audio auditing.
The go for it! ;D
Take note of what the people here who make great recordings (not me) say and read the reviews for the equipment they suggest.
Fortunately (unless you want to make your own like some have), the induction mic is standard - there isn't a more expensive (or better) version.
have fun.

I want to do a suggestion (please tell me if I am kicking this topic or what so ever).

I do induction myself and I have a digital WAVE/MP3 recorder from Olympus (don't know the type, but can look up for you).
I also have a induction mic from maplins (we haven't got it in Holland:()
I can give you some links if you like, just let me know via this topic.