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Old December 29th, 2007, 02:21 PM   #1
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Wired Lavalier Mics and XLR Cable Question

Hello All,

I took a look at the FAQs but didn't see an answer to my question about "wired" lavalier mics. There was plenty of good info on "wireless" mics, though.

I'm planning on using a Canon XH A1 (has XLR inputs) and want a wired mic for interviews. I'm on a budget (aren't we all), but don't mind paying for a mic that'll give me great audio. I'm only interested in a lav mic with XLR inputs for balanced cables. I know I can get a $35.00 lav with a 20' wire and an 1/8" unbalanced plug, but you get what you pay for, and I don't want bad audio because of line hum. Where should I start to look?

My other question has to do with good quality balanced cables and what some of you recommend. I've looked at the Canare site and have looked at their "Star Quad Series" and their LE-46s line. Does anyone have experience with this line of cable and is the 4 wire system any better than a 3 wire system for simple audio interviews? I'll be running the XLR cable from the lavalier to a simple Behringer mixer. From the mixer I'll use a balanced cable with a 1/4" plug to an XLR jack straight into the camera. I'm using the mixer as a source for mixing two or more lavalier mics at the same time.

Thanks,
Jack
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Old December 29th, 2007, 02:51 PM   #2
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Here is a roundup of pro wired lavs, in no particular order:
Sony ECM 77
Sony ECM 88
Sanken COS-11
Tram TR-50
Countryman B6

The Sonys seem to get more respect in the broadcast world. There are also less costly Sonys that have a built-in eq curve suitable for voice.

All the mics listed above are designed for full audio spectrum pickup, which is what most sound people want for recording in film & video. Many swear by the Sanken, but the Tram & Countryman are also great mics.

Canare makes good cable, star-quad or not. Some people's experience has been that star-quad style cables are not as durable. IMHO in most circumstances you don't hear a difference between a good quad and a good standard cable. If you're in an RF-heavy environment there can be some benefit to quad.

I do have numerous Canare star-quad cables, they've never dissapointed and have been durable - I bought a 500' roll about 7 years ago, I'm down to my last 70'.

More importantly, don't lay your cables parallel to power cables.

Avoid Radio Shack and very cheap XLR cables & adapters - the XLR connectors have screws that fall out in regular use and then it doesn't work any more. Neutrik makes the best XLR connectors, period. Switchcraft is OK, but not much less cost than Neutrik. There are some Korean knock-offs of Neutrik that are quite good.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 02:58 PM   #3
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Are you going to use a 1/4" or a TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve)? big/Huge difference...

Canare Starquad is great cable , is it worth the money? sure , if you can justify it (youre not likely to hear any difference) but it is built fairly tough, so it can take a good amount of abuse. but if you have a problem its a bear to solder.

using this level of cable on a Behringer is like putting top of the line racing tires on a Yugo. your run of the mill Mic cable will suffice if it has good connectors (Neutrik or Switchcraft), not to insult the Behringer but a couple of 25' cables made with Starquad are worth about as much as the mixer. but if youre growing your system, then by all means get them, good solid cabling is allways worth owning, and with proper care should last a very long time (even as you upgrade the rest of your gear).

Most Wireless lavs have a wired counterpart. Use the "search" option to look into this. and go looking around the B&h site and go to their wired mic section.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 03:00 PM   #4
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The Sony ECM-44B lavalier is a standard lower cost lavalier mic many have used and use. It is larger than the tiny ones at .6" x .34". It runs on a standard AA battery which is convenient. It has a nice sound with some isolation even though it's an omni. It costs $195 from B&H new, and used ones can frequently be found on Ebay or elsewhere in the $100 range:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Lavalier.html

I'm not sure there is a cheaper mic that would give you as good sound. I'm sure others might have other suggestions.

As far as cables, for your use any professional XLR cable from a major supplier should work fine. Canare wire is used in a lot of cables.

Some of the higher priced cables are stronger, more flexible, etc. for handheld stage use. The double wiring (4-quad) is supposed to minimize handling noise and have increased RF rejection.

For sit down interviews any professional quality XLR cable will work fine.

Perhaps someone with cable expertise has names and numbers.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 03:22 PM   #5
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As far as "pre-made" cables you can't really go wrong with these, keeping in mind they all have different levels of quality (good, better, best):

Whirlwind
Proco
Rapco

and the good brands of "raw" cable

Gotham
Canare
Gepco
West Penn
Belden

and if you want to go esoteric you got:

Kimber
Monster

and as far as connector, both Switchcraft and Neutrik have different levels of connectors as well, for Switchcraft go for the models A3f or A3m (the last letter being the qualifier) then you have the AA series (budget)and the AAA series(even more budget), not to mention they just introduced a screw-back series (dont remember the part numbers on that, but thats my new favorite). As far as Neutrik use the ones with prefix NC3, this is their better type, and have different suffixes based on case color, Male/Fem, Gold or NIckle. The Switchcrafts can take a bit more abuse but have some screws that can fall out of the strain relief if not tightened, The Neutriks use a Plastic screw down backside that doesnt tolerate being stepped on well, not to mention they need Tons more solder to fill their solder cups. I personally prefer Switchcraft myself, just my opinion.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 05:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Colmenero View Post
.... I'll be running the XLR cable from the lavalier to a simple Behringer mixer. From the mixer I'll use a balanced cable with a 1/4" plug to an XLR jack straight into the camera. I'm using the mixer as a source for mixing two or more lavalier mics at the same time.

Thanks,
Jack
Careful with the lower-grade Behringer mixers because a number of them have unbalanced main outputs. Double check the specs before deciding on one and when planning your mixer to camera link.

Depending on the distance your subjects are from each other, mixing multiple lavs on-set can be a problem. The issue is a speaker's voice is first picked up by their own mic then the other person's mic slightly delayed. Because of the delay the two signals are slightly out of phase with each other and when mixed together can give rise to comb filtering distortion. If possible, try to record each mic to its own isolated channel.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 05:41 PM   #7
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What do people think about the AT899? It looks like a solid mic.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 06:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Depending on the distance your subjects are from each other, mixing multiple lavs on-set can be a problem. The issue is a speaker's voice is first picked up by their own mic then the other person's mic slightly delayed. Because of the delay the two signals are slightly out of phase with each other and when mixed together can give rise to comb filtering distortion. If possible, try to record each mic to its own isolated channel.
This is a real problem for me. I often record 2 person interviews using Sony ECM-44Bs. My interviewer has a strong well projected voice, but most of the interviewees are are soft spoken for one reason or another. I have to crank up the gain on the interviewee which means that I get plenty of bleed from the interviewer. Even with the lav as close to their mouth as possible. As you said the bleed is slightly delayed and gives a reverb type of effect - even with separate channels. My solution is to mute the interviewees channel when the interviewer is speaking in post. If they are both speaking I have to live with it.

I have considered a cardioid lav but worry that the audio would be uneven as the speakers head moves about. I suppose the best solution would be a boom op, but I don't have the resources for that option.

Regards,
Jerry

Last edited by Jerry Jesion; December 29th, 2007 at 06:19 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old December 29th, 2007, 06:12 PM   #9
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Here is a review of the AT899:
http://www.proaudioreview.com/june03...ca_at899.shtml

I also would like to hear how people who use the Sanken and Countryman find this one compares.

Here it is at B&H:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Lavalier.html

At $199 (including the power module) it is the same price and the Sony I mention above, but it is much smaller. It may also produce better sound. It is less half the price of the Sanken.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 06:45 PM   #10
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Cool, thanks for the link to the review, Jack!

I'm interested in the AT899 because I've read some favorable comments from people who have used it as a plant mic. Whatever lav I get will have to do double duty as a plant and body mic, so this looks like it might be a good option...
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Old December 30th, 2007, 05:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Jesion View Post
This is a real problem for me. I often record 2 person interviews using Sony ECM-44Bs. My interviewer has a strong well projected voice, but most of the interviewees are are soft spoken for one reason or another. I have to crank up the gain on the interviewee which means that I get plenty of bleed from the interviewer. Even with the lav as close to their mouth as possible. As you said the bleed is slightly delayed and gives a reverb type of effect - even with separate channels. My solution is to mute the interviewees channel when the interviewer is speaking in post. If they are both speaking I have to live with it.

I have considered a cardioid lav but worry that the audio would be uneven as the speakers head moves about. I suppose the best solution would be a boom op, but I don't have the resources for that option.

Regards,
Jerry
Yep, cardioid lavs aren't really a solution because the speaker's head movements will take them on and off mic. A professional interviewer, presenter, or newsreader can learn to control their movements but it's just too much to ask of the interview subjects. Iso tracks and careful attention in post is pretty much it. Try to work with your interviewer to help make them aware of the subject's responses so they don't step on them.
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Old December 30th, 2007, 10:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gerry Gallegos View Post
As far as "pre-made" cables you can't really go wrong with these, keeping in mind they all have different levels of quality (good, better, best):

Whirlwind
Proco
Rapco

and the good brands of "raw" cable

Gotham (SNIP)
Lew Frisch at Gotham has a quickly disappearing roll of Gotham GAC-3 that he found in East Germany. He'll put whatever plug you want on the ends or sell it in bulk. This is a really nice cable at a reduced cost, while it lasts.

It's been sitting on a reel for 10 years. Its slightly thicker brown jacket (sort of retro look) makes it easier to identify during shoots in which several people bring cable and you have to look hard during wrap-time to find your own stuff. I got four 25s and a couple of 50s two months ago. (Geek comment: The jacket on this cable has a really nice feel.)

http://www.gothamaudiousa.com/analog.htm

I don't see the brown cable on the main list, but ask Lewis how much he has left. Gotham GAC-3 is great cable.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 30th, 2007, 11:47 AM   #13
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odd colored cables really let you keep track of which cables belong to you on a busy gig, where others have their cables about as well, not to mention sometimes the people cleaning up after are not trained in what type of cables are laying around. so odd colors let you keep yours yours.
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