Is there a moto experienced audio engineer or band member in the house?

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7/25/2018 8:27 PM

I am planning to do some audio recordings of motorcycles and am looking for advice on mics. I recently fell into a good deal on three mics I picked up on a whim that I am hoping will work. I got an Audio Technica AT2020, an Audio Technica AT2021 and a Sure SM57. I know my way around a studio from working with electronic music and understand the various process of recording but haven't messed with mics all that much. Any info, recommendations, ect that can be offered on these mics in relation to recording motorcycles would be appreciated.

Here is some background on the project, specs and stuff:

Frequency bandwidth, db and accuracy are what I'm after. db max on all three seems like it would be good. AT2020 has a frequency wider response but I've heard it introduces more background noise and is best used in studio. Wondering if getting down to 20Hz and over 15k matters considering the majority of motorcycle sound being more centrally located frequency wise. Looking to record stationary running bikes as well as bikes traveling on trails, track and road with mics being ridden past as well mounted on the bike.

Audio Technica
Cardioid Condenser
144db max


Audio Technica
Cardioid Condenser
145db max


40-15k, maybe as high as 20k
max db may be as high as 149db



7/25/2018 8:42 PM

I know nothing but, if a mic were a racer, a 57 is Ricky Carmichael.


7/25/2018 9:09 PM

IMO the condensor will give you better sound.


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7/25/2018 9:28 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/25/2018 9:35 PM

Any quality mic will get you what you need, the biggest issue is cutting out the background noise or any sound that isn't the exhaust note. So I think most of your work will be in post processing eliminating the tire/wind/whatever else.

But like a previous poster mentioned, go with a condenser for sure. Keep your levels tight so you're not flat lining.

I think for your application, you'd want to go with the 2021. That style will allow sound to enter from only one direction. So facing the tip of the microphone will "only" record what it's aimed at while decreasing the pick-up of other unwanted sounds. The 2020 style will pick up sounds from other directions, meaning it's more ideal for a sound-proofed room where catching more sounds coming from your voice or whatever is fine. I used the 2020 a lot in previous work, though it was all voice stuff, but AT makes really good shit.

What's this for, if you don't mind me asking?


7/25/2018 9:40 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/25/2018 9:41 PM

If you are in a more controlled environment (bike on stand, out on trails) without alot of secondary noise or harsh conditions I'd use the condensers. If there are alot of other bikes, wind, dust etc. I'd use the SM57.


7/26/2018 3:35 PM

I have the AT2020 and really like it for recording music, but honestly you cannot go wrong with a Sure SM57 or SM58. Any of these options will work for ya. Personally, I would go with the SM57.


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7/26/2018 4:20 PM

Not an audio expert by any means but I have been working sound and video in Las Vegas for about 20 years and have worked with techs from numerous Cirque shows, national acts etc. I lean towards the video side of things but have access to guys who i call audio experts who can ring out a room or theater and instantly know which frequencies need to be attenuated or brought more forward in the mix to give the best sound without worries of feedback etc.

My first thoughts are you should definitely research the reception patterns of the mics you're using.... you should be able to strategically place mics that are not omnidirectional and have a cartiod or hypercartiod reception pattern so allot of the work eq'ing out unwanted background sounds and frequencies is already done for you. You should also be able to quite easily isolate the frequency spectrum the bikes you're using are giving out to attenuate frequencies outside of that spectrum with a 32 to 64 band EQ that takes very narrow slices out of the 20Hz to 20KHz frequency range we can hear without affecting wide swaths and killing all the harmonics as well.

Good luck and if you have any specific questions I can queries one of the guts who knows moor than i. I'll check on the mics though and see what they suggest.


7/26/2018 4:27 PM

For moving bikes, have you considered how much dynamic range and Doppler effect you want to capture as the bike moves past?


7/26/2018 4:55 PM

Back in highschool i was really into guitars and i buillt my buddies studio for him. We used SM57s mainly and blue condenser mics. They all were really good. Throw a filter on your audio track to cut background noise and that should do it. The benefit of a filter is fine tuning what gets cut out. A mic that has a filter built in basically takes whatever is below a certain db and cuts it. Filters in FL studio or ableton are way more adjustable with things like attack and release times.


7/26/2018 5:05 PM

The LDC is a no go, the SDC would be a good option, I would suggest a sm7b which is pretty close to a sm57. You would want a nice clean pre amp with a heap of head room and not too coloured. Solid state over tube. If you have a hardware gate I would use that or you could do it in post. Low cut the pre amp or mic at 75hz should take out a lot of the rumble but leave most of the low exhaust notes intact.