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Old August 30th, 2007, 04:57 PM   #1
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Lav mics vs Booms

A basic question here but Ill throw it out there all the same. For documentary projects what are your views on the sound quality of a lav vs. boom mike and what are the implications of sound perspective ect if you are shooting with a wireless lav? Where I live there its difficult to get hold of equipment to actually try so this forum is a good option for me. Thanks.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 11:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ben Hillier View Post
A basic question here but Ill throw it out there all the same. For documentary projects what are your views on the sound quality of a lav vs. boom mike and what are the implications of sound perspective ect if you are shooting with a wireless lav? Where I live there its difficult to get hold of equipment to actually try so this forum is a good option for me. Thanks.
A boomed mic is much better if you can get it close (2-4 feet), a good boom op, and you can control environmental noise (reflections, A/C, etc.).
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Old August 30th, 2007, 11:53 PM   #3
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You could easily do a two week course on just this question.

Here's the shorthand in a single post.

First principle - mic to sound source distance is usually the most critical factor in sound recording.

Second principle - any mic will EMPHASIZE the sounds closest to it.

Given that we're talking DIALOG recording (voice) and not music, etc...

A boom rig will naturally, MIX the sound of the environment and the sound of the voice(s) by virtue of the boom position and direction. The closer the boom to the actor, the more actor you get verses background sounds. The farther, the more the background comes up. Too much boom to actor distance plus noisy location equals BAD SOUND, unless you WANT to have the dialog burried in the location sounds for some reasons.

A boom approach is often excellent, but usually it's excellent because you have a qualified BOOM OP - who knows how to listen, isolate, and balance things properly so you have a usable mix.

Lavs, on the other hand, ISOLATE the voice from the background. Simply by virtue of the fact that they're a lot CLOSER to the source (voice) than they are to environment. (that's why you want to place them up around the subject's MOUTH instead of clipping them to, say, a shoe.)

So the bottom line is that if you want a lifelike and environmentally accurate recording that places the speaker IN THE ENVIRONMENT sonically, a boom is often preferable. (Unless the location is noisy or has something in it like a jackhammer that you DON'T WANT to hear)

A lav will get you more PERFORMANCE and less background. And you can mix in the background sounds later if you like.

So like most of professional production, it's NEVER a "this is always best" thing.

You need to judge where you're recording, what you're recording, and what you want to DO with that recording, in order to pick the correct TOOLS for the job.

Hope that helps.

Last edited by Bill Davis; August 30th, 2007 at 11:54 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old August 31st, 2007, 10:43 AM   #4
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Mix lav and boom

Bill - thanks for your reply there, nicely put and it clarifies the concept for me. Having read your reply, it seems like a pratical solution for location sound/dialogue would be to have a wireless lav on subject on one channel and an on-camera/boomed hypercardiod on other channel for environment. This would then be mixed in post. Am I right here? Cheers.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 03:50 PM   #5
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Ben,

Yes, the concept of running a boom into one channel and a lav into the other is a time tested and oft repeted solutions.

But you typically want to use ONE or the OTHER not mix both. If the boom and the lav get too close together (as on a tightly boomed close up) you can get comb filtering due to the source (voice) hitting two separate mics with a small delay.

Mic both ways. Listen to each. Use the one you like best for everything. The second track becomes the "savior" - getting you out of trouble if you've decided to use the lav track but get a bad RF hit on your wireless or the boom track gets momentairily unintelligible - and you want to use the wireless track to support it.

Good luck.
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