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Old December 22nd, 2007, 09:33 PM   #1
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Budget direct from mic recorder

Hello all,

I've always belived the mantra "70% of what you see, is what you hear". I'm pretty sure I picked it up from these forums somewhere way back when.

All my past movie projects have been shot with a decent enough DV cam for the piece, but I ALWAYS made sure that the audio was top notch. Everytime I presented it, no matter the quality of film, as long as the audio was up to par, the experience was close enough to "film" like.

I've been using a cheap boom connected directly to the camcorder to get my audio. It's been working as well as I would expect from such a set up, but for my next project I really want to step it up, without stepping up price of course :)

I was wondering if anyone can suggest a good entry level boom/recorder combo? I want to have a completely seperate audio channel this time, apart from the one on the camera so I can better manipulate it.

Any info would be greatly appreciated!

Best,
Jack
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 02:13 AM   #2
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Hi Jack,
It would help us make a few recommendations if we knew the brand and model of your camcorder and if you have a budget? US$200 US$500 US$800?
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 04:08 PM   #3
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Hi Hsien,

Sorry, completley forgot to include the essentials here...

For this project, I'm experimenting with an Canon HV20. I'm trying to keep this one as financially minimal as possible. So somewhere around <$200 for both mic and recorder. Beyond using an external mic hooked up to the camera, I'm a bit lost in seperate audio..so you're going to have to excuse my na´vetÚ. I'm trying to learn as much as possible!!

Thanks for any help!

Best,
Jack
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 05:09 PM   #4
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OK,with a budget like that what about considering the Zoom H2? (digital audio recorder with built in microphones.) Just read the posts on this forum (some by me as I have it and love it!) for more info but basically you can get high quality audio (stereo or 4 channel) from it located close up and personal to your subject. Has 4 built in mics and comes with a 512MB SD card (but anyway 4GB ones are now cheap.) Google it for the official Samson website with good video clips and technical info & the H2 & H4 forum with tons of user's experience/info and see if it might work for your needs. It offers a lot of audio flexibility and is close on your desired budget.
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 06:42 PM   #5
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Yikes, less than $200! You are not leaving yourself much leeway to get quality. The H2 alone is $200 and if I understand your original post you also need a boom mic.

Do a search here for boom mics, you'll turn up hundreds of posts to read through for education. Are you shooting inside or out? "Boom" doesn't tell us how you'll be using the boom....it makes a difference.

I'm on a similar journey as you: trying to get the best out of the little HV 20. There are no cheap shortcuts that will produce good quality, I'm affraid to say. Between wireless, a mixer and other do-dads, I've exceeded the cost of the camera but---and here's the important part--I would have needed that stuff regardless of what camera I bought. So I hope you can find room to increase your budget because $200 will get you just the recorder.

Cheers,
Bob
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 10:50 PM   #6
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What about putting the H2 on a boom? :) Seriously, it's small and light enough. If you're able to get it pretty close to the action, you may be able to get some good results.

BTW, I haven't used the H2, but it's been getting rave reviews from knowledgeable people:

http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2007...-recorder.html

http://www.substation.co.nz/blog/?p=170

That last link in particular has some amazing samples from temples in Japan... If the boom scenario doesn't work out, at least you'll have a great little travel recorder. :)

Otherwise, $200 is pretty slim, but maybe doable. One option would be to get a used Microtrack on eBay for around $150, and a new CAD GXL1200 mic ($50 shipped). I can already hear the groaning from Ty and company, but hey, we're talking $200 here!

http://www.cadmics.com/GXL1200.htm

The 1200 is a Chinese mic that is rebranded by several US companies. It's a true condenser (not electret) with a tranformerless design. Avant sells a very similar version with interchangeable caps as the "CK-1" :

http://www.avantelectronics.com/CK-1.htm

The CK-1 has been reviewed fairly well, and those reviews should largely apply to the 1200 as well. The internals of both are apparently based on old Schoeps circuits popularized by audio guru Scott Dorsey -- and while I'm sure the similarity ends there, the Chinese factory has succeeded in making a basic, solid mic with low self-noise and a surprisingly flat/neutral response, even off-axis.

I bought a 1200 for $44 on eBay because... it was $44. I stuck it on a boom pole and was kind of impressed! (Note: I may be easy to impress.) It was very clearly WAY better than my Sennheiser ME66 at booming indoor dialogue. Of course, the ME66 is not designed for that, but still... If your only mic is a shotgun, it's nice to know you can pick up a much better indoor mic for $44 while you're saving up for a Schoeps. :)

And if your only mic is no mic, you could easily do worse than starting with a 1200.

If you go the CAD route, you'll want a recorder like the Microtrack that can provide phantom power -- the H2 is mostly cool for its built-in surround mics, IMO.

Happy Holidays!
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 11:06 PM   #7
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One last thing. If you decide to quadruple your budget to $800 (which you should, since you spent that much on your camera), there are some crazy deals out there.

Search eBay for "Fostex FR2 LE" and you can find it for around $450 (!), which is totally insane. It's a pro-level 24bit 96khz recorder that has been used on "real" film/TV projects.

Mic-wise, the Audio Technica AT4053a is around $400, and has also been used on "real" projects. You can find it used for under $250.

Sure, as a combination, the AT4053 > Fostex FR2 LE is no Schoeps CMC641 > Sound Devices 722. But the Schoeps > SD combo is around $3600, as opposed to $800. And it will probably sound much better than a CAD GXL1200 > Microtrack.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 05:53 PM   #8
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Hey all,

Thanks for all the advice and responses.

Andy: I really like what I'm reading about that H2, I'll def. need to look more into it to see if it can fit my needs.

Bob: I know that $200 isn't much, but its all I have to work with right now unfortunately. In the end I may just pick up a $200 shotgun and attach it to a boom, which would go straight into the camera instead of a seperate recorder.

Ben: Thanks alot for all that info! Its alot to digest, but Ireally like your suggestions. I was thinking of going with the H2 attached to a boom and see how that would work out, but what I've been reading is that the H2 isn't really suited for video work, more for live performances and such.

Do you guys think instead of going for a recordeder, I should just invest in a decent boom/mic set up and go directly to the camera?

Thanks for the advice guys!

Jack
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Old December 24th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #9
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Jack, I think I'd invest the money in a mic and bring the signal directly to the camera for now. When you have more money you can investigate a mixer and or stand-alone recorder. Having an expensive recorder will do you no good if the mic feeding it is crappy.

Are you recording inside or out? as this will determine what type of mic you should be looking at. There's no all-purpose boom mic. The general rule is shotgun outdoors, hyper indoors.

I'm a big advocate for renting stuff before shelling out cash. You might try renting a shotgun and a hyper to see what best suits your needs. It's $40 well spent and many places will ship it to you if you can't get to the shop. And you might ask if they have something in stock that they'd sell to you used.

But for the time being you should be fine bringing the signal direct to camera. Many many people do that with the camera mounted shotgun made for the HV 20 and lavs.

Bob
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Old December 24th, 2007, 07:20 PM   #10
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Hi Bob,

The porject will be shot both indor and out. I'd say a pretty good 50/50 split. Any specific mics you would suggest?

I will def. look into renting that stuff since I agree that putting out that much money for a weak setup isn't the wisest of ideas.


Thanks!

Jack
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Old December 24th, 2007, 10:23 PM   #11
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Others can offer hands on experience as I'm using a the DM 50 shotgun for now. For indoor work, I think the Audio Technica 4053 was mentioned earlier and gets good reviews. The next closest things in terms of quality are considerably more expensive >$1500 for just the mic and that doesn't include any wind protection.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 11:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Derman View Post
Do you guys think instead of going for a recordeder, I should just invest in a decent boom/mic set up and go directly to the camera?
for the advice guys!
Jack
Hello Jack,

It sort of depends on where you are and where you think you want to go in doing video production. If you're just having fun at the consumer level, buy what ever you want, have fun.

If you envision yourself turning pro, it may be better at this point to put the $200 in the bank and start saving for gear that will serve you better.

I can't think of much you can get for $200 for a pro rig. Some cables and good headphones. Sony MDR 7506 or Audio Technica ATH-M50.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 25th, 2007, 04:56 PM   #13
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I think even if you're planning on going pro, it makes sense to get something and just start shooting. You'll learn more about filmmaking by getting out there and making stuff with "sub-par" equipment than you will by sitting around doing nothing while you save money.

Not buying a $50 mic because you're saving for a $1600 mic is sort of like not picking up a violin at all while you're saving for a Stradivarius. You wouldn't know what to do with it! You gotta start somewhere...

Happy Holidays!
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Old December 25th, 2007, 08:32 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ben Syverson View Post
Not buying a $50 mic because you're saving for a $1600 mic is sort of like not picking up a violin at all while you're saving for a Stradivarius. You wouldn't know what to do with it! You gotta start somewhere...
Happy Holidays!
I wanted to be a professional actor, so I got a job with a catering company. Was this the wrong approach? After all, I received a beautiful gold-colored-plated cork screw when I retired as a Senior Elite Party Bartender after 22 years with the company.

Regarding the problem at hand. What/who are you recording in what situation.

One option with the HV20 might be the Audio Technica Pro88 wireless system:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...8W_Camera.html

The mic is very good... much better than the price. They system works very well. I have used one on many times for several years.

The mic is easy to mount hidden. (Search lavalier, mole skin). I should mention that the mic that came with mine was riveted to the tie clip, creating an slight issue. I have seen the same mic that is removable. I don't know what comes with the Pro88 now... but the mic is a very decent one. It is side address, just like the Tram TR50/Sonotrim, and the same size, too.

It can be worn. I can be hung from a boom. It can be used a a plant mic. It is very versatile. It has a 1/8" mini plug like the HV20. You can add an adapter to use it with an XLR input later if you want.

Are you alone, or how many are their in your crew?

For dialog for your shoot it is unlikely that you will be able to improve the quality of sound with an external recorder. (Though I like the $50 mic above, and even more the $150 set. I personally have the AT4051a and 4053a capsule. They work well for me, in addition to the AT4073a. For my use I believe the Colette mics are too sensitive to deal with in a one man band show.)

The HV20 sound can be converted immediately to WAV and worked on without much problem.

The Pro88 uses 9 volt batteries, but they last a long time. If you have a local store that carries Audio Technica, see if you can look at and try the Pro88.

Even if you upgrad equipment, it can come in handy later to record an extra wild track into a separate recorder, for example. I have used one to put on a stage manager backstage. I then used pieces of the audio for introductions and transitions in the final show DVD.
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Old December 25th, 2007, 09:47 PM   #15
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Thanks alot for all your suggestions! I'm getting a good idea of where I should be heading now!

Ty: I think my level of shooting right now is begginer-intermediate(3+ years), still much much more to learn though. It's a hobby right now, but I'm hoping with this film I can fatten my resume just a bit more, so I'm realling putting 110% into it. So hopefully down the road, when I get a raise :) , I can save up for a really nice rig, but the time table for a $1500 rig is unknown at this point.

Ben: I completley agree. Right now the set up I'm going with is a hand-me-down shotgun/boom from a buddy of mine, nothing spectacular or decent by any means. I've been working with it, but I think its time for a better investment. I'll be taking a closer look at those set-ups you proposed for sure.

Jack: Thanks for the input, that mic system seems to be at a decent enough price. I'm going to def. have to check it out somewhere. Hopefully Ritz can let me borrow one if they got it.

This project specifically has 3 main characters. So most of the dialogue will invovle 3 people talking at the same time. So knowing that, do you think I should be going with a shotgun or something different?

Also can you guys direct me to a good source for handling a boom/mic set up? I've followed some simple rules I've read about, but I want to see what more I can learn about the subject. Hopefully I can get a dedicated audio guy on the set, but you never know!

Thanks alot guys! I'm really greatful for your help!

Best,
Jack
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