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Old October 6th, 2007, 08:46 AM   #1
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Building basic audio package -- $1,000-$1,500

I'm looking to purchase an audio setup to cover most situations, and was looking for some input. This is for narrative work, and I'm mainly capturing dialogue both indoors and outdoors (but want something versatile enough to do a decent job capturing sound effects and voice overs as well). I'm looking to buy with upgradability in mind -- i.e. get a decent shockmount, boompole, windscreen, etc so I can in the future worry about upgrading just the microphones and not have to repurchase everything. I can spend around $1500, but if I'd strongly prefer to save money if possible so I can purchase some other equipment for camera stabilization and lighting -- I don't do professional work, so I don't care about having the best equipment, just keeping production values acceptable. If anyone could help me throw together a kit, it would be much appreciated. Some questions:

-I'll be recording to the camera (Canon XH-A1), so I don't have to deal with syncing -- is it advisable to invest in a mixer at this point?
-Should I upgrade the shotgun now, or is the AT897 decent enough to hold me over until my next upgrade?
-I've heard good things about the Oktava MK012 from sound-room, aside from the fact that it picks up handling noise. Would this be a good choice, since with the savings I could buy a better boom pole/shockmount/BBG to cut the handling noise, or should I invest in something better from the get-go like the AT4053?
-Technical question -- For boom micing two people on screen having a conversation, should I be using a cardioid, or a hyper with the sound guy moving the mic back and forth between people as the conversation shifts? What if they're arguing or talking at the same time?
-Is there some sort of boom mic stand I can purchase for instances where I'm filming myself and don't have someone to hold the boom pole?
-Lastly, since I just make movies with my friends under my direction and have no official sound guy, would it be a better idea to scrap the boom micing altogether and invest in a wireless lav setup?

Thanks.
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Old October 6th, 2007, 10:10 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Duffy View Post
I'm looking to purchase an audio setup to cover most situations, and was looking for some input. This is for narrative work, and I'm mainly capturing dialogue both indoors and outdoors (but want something versatile enough to do a decent job capturing sound effects and voice overs as well). I'm looking to buy with upgradability in mind -- i.e. get a decent shockmount, boompole, windscreen, etc so I can in the future worry about upgrading just the microphones and not have to repurchase everything. I can spend around $1500, but if I'd strongly prefer to save money if possible so I can purchase some other equipment for camera stabilization and lighting -- I don't do professional work, so I don't care about having the best equipment, just keeping production values acceptable. If anyone could help me throw together a kit, it would be much appreciated. Some questions:

-I'll be recording to the camera (Canon XH-A1), so I don't have to deal with syncing -- is it advisable to invest in a mixer at this point?
A mixer's forte isn't anything to do with sync but it is a big help in controlling levels, etc.
Quote:
-Should I upgrade the shotgun now, or is the AT897 decent enough to hold me over until my next upgrade?
Reputed to be a decent mic. Hang on to it for situations where a short gun is appropriate and look towards adding a hyper to your kit.
Quote:
-I've heard good things about the Oktava MK012 from sound-room, aside from the fact that it picks up handling noise. Would this be a good choice, since with the savings I could buy a better boom pole/shockmount/BBG to cut the handling noise, or should I invest in something better from the get-go like the AT4053?
Most people consider the 4053 to be the better mic but a lot of folks use the Oktava. Even some major league players with multi-kilobuck mics in their kits have said they use the Oktava for situations such as recording gunfire where they feel it's too dangerous to risk a delicate Schoeps etc.
Quote:
-Technical question -- For boom micing two people on screen having a conversation, should I be using a cardioid, or a hyper with the sound guy moving the mic back and forth between people as the conversation shifts? What if they're arguing or talking at the same time?
Depends on the situation - generally the hyper is preferred. That sort of scene is sometimes shot with two booms and two operators, one on each character, with each mic recording independently to separate channels.
Quote:
-Is there some sort of boom mic stand I can purchase for instances where I'm filming myself and don't have someone to hold the boom pole?
That's the easy one - you can get a mic stand with an extension arm for under $50 at most music stores.
Quote:
-Lastly, since I just make movies with my friends under my direction and have no official sound guy, would it be a better idea to scrap the boom micing altogether and invest in a wireless lav setup?

Thanks.
Wireless lavs might be more trouble and expense than you want to deal with. Decent ones aren't cheap and require a bit of care and attention on-set. There's an old Hollywood adage that says "When you are able, always use a cable."
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Old October 6th, 2007, 11:14 AM   #3
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so I can in the future worry about upgrading just the microphones and not have to repurchase everything
If I had to do it again, I'd just get the best mics I could up front and let the rest take care of itself. Like Steve pointed out, a couple of good wired lavaliers are very useful.
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Old October 7th, 2007, 12:19 PM   #4
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If I had to do it again, I'd just get the best mics I could up front and let the rest take care of itself. Like Steve pointed out, a couple of good wired lavaliers are very useful.
The problem with that is if I buy a Schoeps, I have no money left for a boom pole or shockmount, which doesn't really do me any good in the meantime :P

Thanks for the answers to the questions, Steve.

Here's what I've thrown together based on advice at DVXuser:

-Oktava MK012A -- $165 (sound-room)
-Boom Pole (Gitzo 7680c? KTek KE110cc?) -- $225
-K-Tek KSSM with soft bands -- $109
-Rycote 19/20mm BBG -- $125 trew audio
-SONY 7506 headphones -- $99
-2 x 25' Canare StarQuad XLR -- $70
-Rycote Softie (for the AT897 -- which size? 12cm?): $110 b&h

That puts me at just over $900, leaving me money for shopping in other areas. Am I missing anything integral in the above list? Concerning the boom pole, I've never held a proper boom pole before (just a lightbulb replacement pole). Gitzo 7680c or KTek KE110cc? What's more important, the internal cabling and the lightness, or the length? Someone was posting in an old thread that they don't recommend the Gitzos to anyone, because they don't last. Thoughts?

Anyway, with that list, my next purchase could be the AT4073, and after that I could start worrying about a mixer, lavs, and wireless. Will the softie for the AT897 be the same for the AT4073 so I don't have to buy a second one when I upgrade the mic?

Thanks.
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Old October 7th, 2007, 01:37 PM   #5
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For your softie on the the AT897 -

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...le_Softie.html

This one came in the kit I bought that included my AT897. Does well under fairly windy conditions and just slips on the mic.

Best wishes with your foray into narrative...

Kevin
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Old October 7th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #6
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My tuppence (it seems building up your kit never ends - always buy the best you can afford or you will end up buying it again):

-I'll be recording to the camera (Canon XH-A1), so I don't have to deal with syncing -- is it advisable to invest in a mixer at this point?

I almost exclusively deal with double-system PSC shoots, but for the times I send to camera I send from my mixer (a Sound Devices 302). You can do a full-scale calibration, tape the levels down on the camera then control from the mixer. I hate being tethered to cam by cable though and always try to persuade the director/producer on the advantages of double-system.


-Should I upgrade the shotgun now, or is the AT897 decent enough to hold me over until my next upgrade?

The AT897 is slightly cold, but overall sounds good to my ears. I sold mine on to fund a second-hand 416T (and have since got a 415T pair which are better than the 416T). The Sennheisers are hotter than the AT897 and I think they sound much better. But you'll do okay with the AT897.


-I've heard good things about the Oktava MK012 from sound-room, aside from the fact that it picks up handling noise. Would this be a good choice, since with the savings I could buy a better boom pole/shockmount/BBG to cut the handling noise, or should I invest in something better from the get-go like the AT4053?

I've no experience with the AT4053 but own a Oktava MK012 with the three caps. I like it so much I'm saving to get a stereo pair with caps so I can junk my Fostex cardioids. The BBG is pretty obligatory with these mics unless the mic remains stationary.


-Technical question -- For boom micing two people on screen having a conversation, should I be using a cardioid, or a hyper with the sound guy moving the mic back and forth between people as the conversation shifts? What if they're arguing or talking at the same time?

Depends. I end up working alone a lot on micro-budget shoots. I'd drop a cardioid in there if I couldn't cue the mic in time. Make sure the director does a standard master with reverses (recorded with a hyper/lobar) and you're pretty well covered for dialogue editing in post. If not then c'est la vie.


-Is there some sort of boom mic stand I can purchase for instances where I'm filming myself and don't have someone to hold the boom pole?

I still need to get around to getting a couple of these myself. Sandbags can also be useful.


-Lastly, since I just make movies with my friends under my direction and have no official sound guy, would it be a better idea to scrap the boom micing altogether and invest in a wireless lav setup?

IMO, no.


You could always hire someone to record your production sound??
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Old October 7th, 2007, 05:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Duffy View Post
-Oktava MK012A -- $165 (sound-room)
-Boom Pole (Gitzo 7680c? KTek KE110cc?) -- $225
-K-Tek KSSM with soft bands -- $109
-Rycote 19/20mm BBG -- $125 trew audio
-SONY 7506 headphones -- $99
-2 x 25' Canare StarQuad XLR -- $70
-Rycote Softie (for the AT897 -- which size? 12cm?): $110 b&h
areas. Am I missing anything integral in the above list? Concerning the boom pole, I've never held a proper boom pole before (just a lightbulb replacement pole). Gitzo 7680c or KTek KE110cc? What's more important, the internal cabling and the lightness, or the length? Someone was posting in an old thread that they don't recommend the Gitzos to anyone, because they don't last. Thoughts?
boom boy to hold the pole $29
C stand with grip head, $129

and lose the 7506's for senn HD280's. same price MUCH better headphones because they have isolation the sony's don't have, and a bit hotter output. they do need break in though, about an hr playing itunes before you listen to them will do.

as for your choice in poles, I used a gitzo a few months back and liked it better then the K tek I have. for length, depends on what you shoot, but I'd suggest a 9 or 12ft one. anything shorter is more for ENG and you have to get the support stand too close to the stands holding lights. internal cable if you do a lot of fast moving work, travel a lot. if all you do is sit down stuff, external is ok.
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Old October 8th, 2007, 11:13 AM   #8
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Since you say you don't do professional work, I'm inclined to disagree a bit with the consensus here. Non-pros are unlikely to have the time and the control that pros often have in various situations. Two Sennheiser G2 wireless sets, and a boom pole set-up using the AT897 would give you a lot of quickly set up versatility within your budget. You can upgrade the mic later, as you said. The Senns will give you good quality inside or out, you can wear one yourself, and if the talent is ever going to be moving around, especially two people moving around you'll be glad to have wireless. I you want to economize and can tolerate an increased risk of radio interference, you might replace one or both of the $500 Senns with a $120 AT Pro 88W set.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 12:45 AM   #9
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Since you say you don't do professional work, I'm inclined to disagree a bit with the consensus here. Non-pros are unlikely to have the time and the control that pros often have in various situations. Two Sennheiser G2 wireless sets, and a boom pole set-up using the AT897 would give you a lot of quickly set up versatility within your budget. You can upgrade the mic later, as you said. The Senns will give you good quality inside or out, you can wear one yourself, and if the talent is ever going to be moving around, especially two people moving around you'll be glad to have wireless. I you want to economize and can tolerate an increased risk of radio interference, you might replace one or both of the $500 Senns with a $120 AT Pro 88W set.
If I were running two G2's and the boom pole, would I need a mixer, or is there some cheaper way to get both wireless on the same channel? Also, do the G2 sets come with decent lavs? If not, would I be better off going with a good lav like a countrymen and the AT Pro 88w, or a cheaper lav with the G2 set? I know ideally I'd get both, but a pair of each would already put me at what, $1600? Then I have no money for the boom setup, so I need to compromise something.

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Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
and lose the 7506's for senn HD280's. same price MUCH better headphones because they have isolation the sony's don't have, and a bit hotter output. they do need break in though, about an hr playing itunes before you listen to them will do.
Can anyone else verify this? I only ask because I keep seeing the 7506s discussed everywhere. I'd actually prefer to not buy Sony if there's another option, since I don't like their business practices, but I'm not stubborn enough to sacrifice quality for ideology.

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Originally Posted by Mike Peter Reed View Post
I almost exclusively deal with double-system PSC shoots, but for the times I send to camera I send from my mixer (a Sound Devices 302). You can do a full-scale calibration, tape the levels down on the camera then control from the mixer. I hate being tethered to cam by cable though and always try to persuade the director/producer on the advantages of double-system.
Unfortunately, the mixer and double system are way outside my budget this time around, so I'll have to make do for now. The 302 is definitely on my to-buy list in the future, though.



Thanks everyone for the discussion and recommendations. I've been reading dozens of old threads the past few days, and am slowly zig-zagging toward a final purchase. Another thing -- how well does the Rycote softie work? Should I just get a k-zepp instead?

Also, is it advisable to invest in a high pass filter like this one? http://www.shure.com/ProAudio/Produc..._A15HP_content
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Old October 10th, 2007, 04:53 AM   #10
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Can anyone else verify this? I only ask because I keep seeing the 7506s discussed everywhere. I'd actually prefer to not buy Sony if there's another option, since I don't like their business practices, but I'm not stubborn enough to sacrifice quality for ideology.
There are several other options, but on location you will see pretty much one of four headphones being used.

Sony MDR-7502 ($)
Sony MDR-7506 ($$)
Sennheiser HD-25SP ($$)
Sennheiser HD-25 ($$$)

I use the HD-25 headphones myself, but I wear them off and on all day long (usually 12 hour days) when I'm on set. The SP version of this headset is very similar to the non-sp version, not nearly as configurable, but not a bad substitute for the 7506. You will see a slight increase in price over the 7506 ($30 or so depending on where you shop), and the Sony headphones are more rugged, but if you're looking to avoid Sony you might try the Sennheiser headphones. The only reason I am going to disagree with Steve on the 280's is their weight. Granted you're probably not going to wear them as much as I do, but when you have to wear them all day long, the 280's are way too heavy.

Wayne
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Old October 10th, 2007, 05:19 AM   #11
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...Can anyone else verify this [Sennheiser 280 phones instead of Sony]? I only ask because I keep seeing the 7506s discussed everywhere. I'd actually prefer to not buy Sony if there's another option, since I don't like their business practices, but I'm not stubborn enough to sacrifice quality for ideology.....
FWIW Trew Audio did an online poll of clients visiting their website, mostly working mixers from feature film and broadcast, and their results showed 54% preferred either stock Sony 7506 or a modified version made by Remote Audio. Senn HD-25 was second at 23%. Beyer DT-48 had 8%, Ultrasones had 6%, and the remaining 10% included everything else.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 10:19 AM   #12
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If you are planning to buy an Oktava mic, DO NOT purchase it from the Soundroom. Buy the mic from Oktava USA, www.oktavausa.com
I bought my Oktava mic from the Soundroom and after owning it for a short time, it failed. The Soundroom does not answer their phone nor do they return messages. Ken at Oktava USA is a professional, who will assist you in your purchase decision.
Unfortunately for me, my Oktava mic (purchassed from the Soundroom) is junk and not repairable.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by James Duffy View Post
If I were running two G2's and the boom pole, would I need a mixer, or is there some cheaper way to get both wireless on the same channel? Also, do the G2 sets come with decent lavs? If not, would I be better off going with a good lav like a countrymen and the AT Pro 88w, or a cheaper lav with the G2 set? I know ideally I'd get both, but a pair of each would already put me at what, $1600? Then I have no money for the boom setup, so I need to compromise something.
I don't see where you're getting the $1600 figure. A G2 set includes a transmitter, a receiver and yes, a decent lav for $500. So two sets is $1000. Some people upgrade the lav to something like the Countryman.

If you want to use three signal sources a mixer is the best way to go, but you could probably use a Y adapter to get two Senns in the same channel. Mics sometimes don't work well in that arrangement, but since the Senn receivers have adjustable output levels I think they would work that way.
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Old October 10th, 2007, 04:57 PM   #14
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I don't see where you're getting the $1600 figure. A G2 set includes a transmitter, a receiver and yes, a decent lav for $500. So two sets is $1000. Some people upgrade the lav to something like the Countryman.

If you want to use three signal sources a mixer is the best way to go, but you could probably use a Y adapter to get two Senns in the same channel. Mics sometimes don't work well in that arrangement, but since the Senn receivers have adjustable output levels I think they would work that way.
The $1600 was if I buy a pair countrymen mics in addition to the G2 sets (the mics are around $300 a piece, if I'm not mistaken). If the lavs that come with the G2 sets are good enough, then that isn't an urgent purchase.

Doing some research, I found the ENG-44 mixer getting very favorable reviews with 4 inputs for only $529, so that's definitely the mixer I'll buy when I can afford it. However, the boom setup, the two wireless kits, and the mixer puts me at around $2500, which I don't have, so some part of that kit has to be set aside for now. If I can get by using a Y-adapter until I get another $500 to spring for the mixer, then that would be great. I'm sure by that point I'll start to see the limitations of working without a mixer, anyway.

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Originally Posted by Dennis Kane View Post
If you are planning to buy an Oktava mic, DO NOT purchase it from the Soundroom. Buy the mic from Oktava USA, www.oktavausa.com
I bought my Oktava mic from the Soundroom and after owning it for a short time, it failed. The Soundroom does not answer their phone nor do they return messages. Ken at Oktava USA is a professional, who will assist you in your purchase decision.
Unfortunately for me, my Oktava mic (purchassed from the Soundroom) is junk and not repairable.
D Kane
I thought the soundroom was the only place in the US you could buy the Russian Oktavas, which were for some reason superior? I'm just going by things I've read in dozens of old threads, so if anyone knows a better distributor, let me know.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 05:08 AM   #15
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Great success with SoundRoom

Actually, I've bought two Oktava MK012A mics from SoundRoom and both were definitely genuine products, complete with waveform graphs (amplitude versus frequency). I've called them, EMAILed them, etc and always had good service, even if it's a one-man operation.

That isn't to say there are others that are ripping off customers by selling junk as though it was the real Oktava. We've heard of others getting duped buying online from questionable sources. But I've seen dozens of testimonials on other forums giving cudos to SoundRoom and would give them two thumbs up. You can call them at 888-529-0128 or email them at sales@sound-room.com If you are seeing other phone numbers or email addresses, beware of potentially bogus websites.

Incidentally, I've also had good luck with Sennheiser G2's and Countryman E6 mics (over the ear, E2 is typical lavalier); be sure to get the right connector for the Sennheiser. If you're interested in hearing the various mics that come with the Sennheiser versus the E6, I have a token test here (meant to illustrate the distance range of the Sennheiser):

http://www.bridgehands.com/audio

Good luck, Michael
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