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Old November 27th, 2007, 12:33 AM   #1
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Mic + preamp choice for narrative audio

Hi all,

Reading through the discussions in this forum, I see that there are some serious audio fiends here. :)

I'm trying to determine what I would need audio-wise if I were to undertake a feature project... There are a lot of interior dialog scenes. I have an inexpensive pre-amp and a Sennheiser ME66 short shotgun. It's a good combination, but I don't know -- it's a little noisy.

I also have a very cheap powered lav (thanks, Radio Shack!) and two large diaphragm condenser microphones. I once heard from the Chicago audio engineer James Bond that he'd prefer a large diaphragm condenser to a shotgun for interiors, but at more than about two feet, mine aren't picking up very much...

A lot of people recommend the Schoeps CMC641 set, but that would easily outclass my M-Audio preamp. I guess my questions are:

- Would a Sound Devices MP-1 be a good investment? Or is there a quieter portable mic preamp that you guys like?

- Do I need a new mic for interiors? I'm either going to shoot with the mics I have or jump all the way to the CMC641 -- there's no point in spending money on some other mic that only partially solves my problem when I know that $1600 would solve it once and for all.

Thanks!
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Old November 27th, 2007, 04:06 AM   #2
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get the best you can afford or you'll end up buying things again. go for the schoeps. you may want a sound dept onboard in order to get the best out of it though.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 04:34 AM   #3
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Narrative audio as in a Voice over ? So the mic won't be in shot? or dialogue with talent on screen?

For the dialogue on screen I really don't know enough about shotguns etc to be able to help. However, if it's off screen get a large (2") diaphragm mic, Neumann are about the best for the cash. Also if you want a decent preamp I'd suggest Focusrite, TLAudio or something similar. They're expensive but worth the money. If you go Focusrite get the green or red range, not the cheap platinum jobbies.

Remember large diaphragm Mics are designed for close micing techniques and won't work over a distance of more than around 24" like you mention, I tend to use mine as follows. Mic - 6-8" - Pop Shield - 6-8" Source.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 06:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Syverson View Post
...

A lot of people recommend the Schoeps CMC641 set, but that would easily outclass my M-Audio preamp. I guess my questions are:

- Would a Sound Devices MP-1 be a good investment? Or is there a quieter portable mic preamp that you guys like?

- Do I need a new mic for interiors? I'm either going to shoot with the mics I have or jump all the way to the CMC641 -- there's no point in spending money on some other mic that only partially solves my problem when I know that $1600 would solve it once and for all.

Thanks!
The SD MP1 is a good choice but you also might want to consider the MM-1 to get both a preamp and a headphone monitor for your boom operator. Or kick it up a notch or two and go with the MixPre or 302 mixers.

The Schoeps CMC641 would certainly be a very worthwhile investment if you can manage it and will be a piece of kit you can use for years to come. If you've got the budget by all means go for it. But if its price is a little rich for your blood right now, hypercardioids from Audio-Technica or AKG can also serve very well. Don't forget you'll need a boom pole, shock mount, etc to get the mic close to the talent - 1.5 to 2 feet is a normal working distance for hypers, 2 to 3 feet for short guns.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 06:26 AM   #5
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The new mic(s) that looks interesting is Sennheiser's MKH 8000 series. Basically very similar in design and usefulness to the Scheops CCM/MK series line. According to one mixer in LA I know who has tested it, it's a winner for people who want to use one body and multiple capsules. In the end, this could be something people here might want to look into. Unfortunately, the pricing is similar to the CCM/MK pricing (high), and rumour has it, that it will increase in January because of the Euro vs. Dollar. Still something people here might want to look at.

Wayne
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Old November 27th, 2007, 06:33 AM   #6
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The SD MP1 is a good choice but you also might want to consider the MM-1 to get both a preamp and a headphone monitor for your boom operator.
Just last month, I used the MM-1 on a TV pilot where we went totally wireless and I'm not sold on the MM-1. For starters, you have to get use to hearing your boom in one ear and the mix in the other (if you are using a comtex to monitor the mix), or you have to simply use MM-1 as your source. The problem is SD placed the dip switches underneath the belt clip, and there is no easy access to them. I also didn't like that the gain adjustment affected the headphone volume. With some microphones, the gain on the unit had to be reduced to the point where the boom op couldn't hear very well because the gain on the unit had to be reduced to the point where it made the headphone gain pretty useless. The quality of the amplifier was top notch (as you would expect from SD), but I found it's usefulness for a boom op just so-so.

Wayne
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Old November 27th, 2007, 01:27 PM   #7
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Thanks for all your input!

What do you all think about the Sennheiser ME64 module, since I already have the K6? I know it's not on the level of the Schoeps, but would this be an improvement over the echoey ME66 indoors?
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Old November 27th, 2007, 03:19 PM   #8
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I just looked at the Oktava MK-012 mentioned in another thread... Just to add another variable to the mix, :) what am I looking at when comparing the Sennheiser ME64, Oktava MK012 and Schoeps CMC64?

I know that little selection covers roughly one order of magnitude pricewise, but what's the spread quality-wise?

Thanks again!
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Old November 27th, 2007, 05:12 PM   #9
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Ok, not to make this into an extended conversation with myself, but after doing a lot of searching and reading, it seems like just about everyone who has ever owned an ME66 has had this same dilemma (ie "why did I buy this thing again?").

The Oktava from sound-room.com sounds promising, and from what most people report, it has a significant edge over the ME-64 module. I'll probably wind up picking up an Oktava.

I am a little curious about the ME-65 however, even though it's listed as a handheld module. I wonder how it would fare on a boom 3 feet away from an actor...
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Old November 27th, 2007, 07:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ben Syverson View Post
Ok, not to make this into an extended conversation with myself, but after doing a lot of searching and reading, it seems like just about everyone who has ever owned an ME66 has had this same dilemma (ie "why did I buy this thing again?").

The Oktava from sound-room.com sounds promising, and from what most people report, it has a significant edge over the ME-64 module. I'll probably wind up picking up an Oktava.

--Yuck!

I am a little curious about the ME-65 however, even though it's listed as a handheld module. I wonder how it would fare on a boom 3 feet away from an actor...
--Yuck!

The difference between them and the CMC641 is like the difference between VHS and betacam.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old November 27th, 2007, 07:51 PM   #11
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Ha, okay :)

I guess it's time to start saving my pennies...
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Old November 27th, 2007, 08:18 PM   #12
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Mics

Other mics you should consider that are way better than the Oktava.

Shure SM81
AKG C480 (modular, you can get different capsules)
AKG C451 (modular" "" ")
Neumann KM185 (super cardioid)

these are cardioid but will have a much better tonality. if you look at the patterns the frontal lobe of the pick up is not that much different except for the holes at roughly 45 degree of center from the back.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 08:47 PM   #13
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Thanks Gerry! I was excited momentarily about the prospect of paying $150 or $200 to get something "good enough," but if I'm going to put down $1000 on a mic, I think I might as well spend a tad more and spring for the CMC641...

Really, it's funny. The CMC641 seems expensive at $1600, but imagine going into one of the camera forums and saying "Hey, I'm hoping to buy a Hollywood-level camera that will last a few decades. My budget is $1600."

My main concern now is figuring out a mic preamp to feed into a digital recorder... I take it the SD MP1 is mostly good for monitoring but not recording?
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Old November 27th, 2007, 08:56 PM   #14
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Ben,

Congratulations!!! You passed the test!

Gerry tried to push a lot of mics in your face and you did not flinch.

Good for you.

Please tell us what camera you now have.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old November 27th, 2007, 08:59 PM   #15
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A good mic will outlast at least 3 good cameras, I think the Schoeps has been in use at least 20 years.
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