I'm starting to dislike shotguns. What's up with them? - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old January 4th, 2004, 10:58 PM   #16
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Beasleigh : If it's a reasonable "chain" as you put it and a direct comparison, if you don't like the tonal qualities of the mic then that's game over. -->>>

To start with, whether the "game is over" would depend on several circumstances and the soundman attitude towards what he is trying to get.

If the circumstances are that you have no option but to use that mic, then the game can't be over if you want to pick your sound.

But if you have the time, and pre-production should ensure that you do to get a quality job, you will certainly use the mic that you like.

When I talk about the whole chain, is because nowadays you can't really be sure what is or will be in the middle. In fact that's one reason why I always recommend for people to do double system sound if they can. At least then you can predict what you will get.

But if you want to put it rough, yes the game should be over if the soundman does not like the sound of the mic. But it never gets there, because you work as a team and you should support and respect what the main pros in a film/video production are asking for. You are paying for their experience, and if they say we won't use that mic, end of the story.

<<<-- I listen to mics on my marantz pmd670 as well as my 302 mixer. The traits that i either dislike or like follow the mic. I would hardly call the procedures that some of the supposed golden ears use scientific. -->>>

We are not talking golden ears here, we are talking professional attitude. That attitude requires that you take serious decisions that cost money. Here they are even more serious because they cost your money.

Most professionals in the audio business started their work as boom men, at least in the film/video area. So they started working with the mics picked by the sound man they were booming for, probably a Sennheiser, a Neumann or a Schoeps. Those have been the standard brands of the industry for the last 30 years or more. The MKH416 has been a workhorse for all, even if they later picked a different mic that suited their tastes better.

So the soundman's taste is what sets things in the end, but I would hardly call him a "golden ear". Their methods may not be scientific, but they are empirical and they work.

Now someone comes, as Matt did, and says: "what's the problem with shotguns and why I dislike them?"

An answer to that might be: "Then you don't like the sound of 100% of the films you see in your TV and at a film theater, because all of them were miked with shotgun mics".

As that probably is not the case with Matt (right?), then there might be something else affecting the sound he listens to. If there is not then let's keep investigating.

Matt mentioned three mics he tried: the MKE66, the AT4073a and the MC012. And what he is saying is the he prefers the sound of the Oktava over the other too. Well, I must say I agree on the Oktava. The MKE66 I don't like (and never recommend) and the AT I never tried but will.

But Matt IS using terms "golden ears" use, like "warm" and "flattering to voice". Golden ears are primarily subjective in their comments, and I don't think they are totally wrong. In the end you have to be subjective in these things

<<<-- Keeping it at it's most basic component, "If I don't like the sound then I don't want the mic". That's very simple and to the point.-->>>

When he declares his dislike on all shotgun mikes it maybe to the point, but it's not simple.

<<<-- I've listened to the examples that Matt and Dave have recorded and their recordings follow my findings . Their voicers and example are different, which is good but the results are the same.-->>>

OK, but what are the findings? Also that shotguns should be ditched?

<<<--Lets not make this some magical science. -->>>

What magical science are we talking about? One thing you get to do by listening hour after hour booming or mixing audio on location is develop an audio memory. You get to identify a mic just by listening to it.

Mic technology is based on tube/slot handling and diaphragm. Shotgun mikes are specialty mikes, developed for dialogue. You are not supposed to record certain musical instruments with it, or you may not get the sound you want (as Matt complaints on the 416 for cellos). Shotguns, as all mics on some aspects, have design compromises. The soundman judges on the compromises which are important for him and which he doesn't care.

<<<--By the way, i listen to the clips on Sony 7506 phones and yorkville monitors. Even when i use my AKG 271's the sound may be slightly different but it doesn't change my judgement. -->>>

A good start. The next should be to get a mic reference to judge from it. A reference doesn't need to be a great mic, but the Oktava should be good enough.

BTW: the Oktava is not a shotgun, just hypercardioid.


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Old January 4th, 2004, 10:59 PM   #17
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Bryan, I totally agree and understand why Matt is trying to get good mics and not waste money buying stuff he doesn't want/like (I do that too). I was just a bit confused as to why Matt was still stressing about the need of a short shotgun when all the basic differences (reach, directionality, off axis colourisation etc) had been summed up here and elsewhere, with regard to shotguns (short and long), cardioids and hypers. I would have thought it's now just matter of building a matrix of those capabilities, filtering by your needs and then trying them out and seeing which ones he likes the best.

We all know that short shotguns, if you look at the polar patterns, do have more off axis colourisation than cardioids. I guess it's different for me as I rarely would get the chance to try out a mic first, so I have to buy from advice and generalities. If I was thinking I needed to mic for a specific purpose I'd look at what the "types" offer me, and based on that ask around for a good one of those. That might not get me the best mic but it's the best option I have.

Definately no offence meant! Buy away! ;)

Also, where is a good place to get these Oktava mics and is there a way to get those audio tests you guys did of the various mics. I'd like to hear them myself.

Aaron
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Old January 4th, 2004, 11:50 PM   #18
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Which mics would you like to hear? We'd need an email addy though.

We've pretty well agreed that the AT 4073 is the best sounding shotgun at this point. We also understand that there are times that a shotgun is necessary.

Aside from the shotguns, for the price and it's sound the oktava is the best bang in my opininion. I bought my oktavas through the canadian distributor. We a/b'd these mics t'ill we were sure that they were ok. There is some strange quality pecking order with Oktava and i'm not sure i understand it. My mics also came in a matt black and not the gunmetal, I also got the 3 capsule kit.

The canadian distributor is saying he's never had a problem. This same company deals with gefell, as well as a few other eastern bloc manufacturers.
So far as other mics we have all found that a few of the mics have a special appeal but more on that later. Dave is still working on his horde of test subjects.

You haven't lived unless you've listened to Matt enjoying a Bourbon and Coke in stereo or his buddy the rapper. My wife is still laughing uncontrolably at all of us.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 12:42 AM   #19
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Bryan, I take it there are only a few mics, so if possible I'd love all the samples if you can spare them and they're not gigs of data. I have not compared my ME66 to anything so it'd be interesting to get one of those in the mix, against say an oktava but of course I'd like to hear some other types of mics too - non shotguns.

Sending to blitzed at paradise dot net dot nz would be fine.

Thanks
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Old January 5th, 2004, 12:50 AM   #20
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Thanks guys! This has been the most enjoyable week for me! I RACE to my computer when I get home to see what you all have to say and also to see if I have something else to listen to!

I'm sorry that I'm not as effective a communicator as I perceive myself to be.

I don't have experience with the mkh416. I'm sure it's a GREAT mic.

My "complaint", if you could call it that, is just that SHORT SHOTGUNS... SHORT... SHORT... SHORT... are we clear yet? No? SHORT... SHOTGUNS... in the sub $1K price range, seem to be odd choices for many people.

Jay DID answer my question WELL. HOWEVER, he also said that when there is control of the soundstage that the Schoeps is the mic of choice... NOT... NOT... NOT... a shotgun.

Also I KNOW the differences between short and long shotguns. I would consider a long shotgun to be a proverbial "zoom mic"... and I'm considering getting one.

When I posed the thought of "should I trade my 4073 for a 4071" I didn't mean for the same purpose. I was thinking that maybe I will just use the Oktava for the times I used to use a short shotgun (me66) and return the 4073 for a 4071... because I'd expect a 4071 (long gun) to be better at the things you get a shotgun for in the first place.

Since I don't have the luxury of buying every mic I want I have to knowingly make choices I.E. compromises.

My initial post was directed at people like myself who look at the stable of "mainstay" choices under $1K... and lately I've been thinking those people MIGHT be a lot happier with a sub $200 cardioid.

I really DON'T want to offend anybody here. I don't claim to be an expert and I just want to get the best sound I can for the amount of money I can budget to new gear.

Also, and I can't speak for Beas, but I think when he said that if he didn't like the sound of a mic then "game over" that he meant this in the context of choosing a new mic... I don't think he meant that if he's on a shoot, and doesn't like a particular mic, that he'll refuse to make that mic work to the best of his ability.

I guess we're all wallowing in the fountain of info we have going here, as it relates to choosing new mics.

At least that's what I'M doing.

Again, I want to say that I wanted this to be mainly a "Short shotguns vs. Cardioids and Super Cardioids... ALL UNDER A GRAND"... thread. This segment of the market is the only one I'm struggling with... really you need to HEAR the sound files we're talking about to understand. I'd have called you a nut if you came to me with this stuff a month ago.

Also I'm coming from years of thinking that a SHORT SHOTGUN is the mic to cover MOST camcorder audio needs. I think that MOST NEW DV ENTHUSIASTS THINK THAT SAME THING... so:

Sure I can see times when a SHORT SHOTGUN may be needed, but it just seems like a cardioid or super cardioid would bring superior results for 90% of the situations where "said person" had been using a short shotgun. Now are we all good?

One last note. I just want to welcome all of you who are commenting from such a vast expanse of the globe! I hope all is well and your life (and weather) is good in your respective countries.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 04:51 AM   #21
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Hi Matt. Just got the audio files from Bryan and had a preliminary listen. VEEEEEEEERY interesting. From the test Bryan did with the ME66, it sounds very distant compared to the NT1a (So much so I want to now sell the ME66 ;) ). The oktava in your test was very close to the AT4073 from what I could tell too. Those tests with ambient noise going on might be another thing to try also, to see which has more off axis rejection.

I wish I had some more different mics as I'd love to do some off axis test and some reverb off the ceiling tests too (As you would have the mic boomed from above in real life). If they cardioids performed well enough with off axis rejection and colouration then I would definately get the MC012 and use that in preference to my ME66 most of the time under controlled circumstanced. Guess that's what you were saying all along ;)

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Old January 5th, 2004, 06:39 AM   #22
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I love to hear those samples.
Where can i find and hear them?

Jan

If you have to send them by email: my email is: janjcl@janjcl.com
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Old January 5th, 2004, 08:31 AM   #23
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Matt said:

"I guess we're all wallowing in the fountain of info we have going here, as it relates to choosing new mics."

I'd substitute the word "bathing" for the word "wallowing", and please keep it coming!
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Old January 5th, 2004, 10:59 AM   #24
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Aaron,

In that comparison between the Oktava and the 4073 I had both mics mounted on a boom stand 2.5 feet overhead, in my normally reverberant bedroom. My bedroom is carpeted and I have a queen sized bed in it, so it's not as live as say, a kitchen... but it's no studio either. I had my 7506's on to find a position with the least room effect I could manage. As it ended up, the mics were around 2.5 feet from the ceiling, aiming down at me at a 45 degree angle. I had both mics right next to each other and ran them directly into my DVX. I ran the 4073 channel at about 1/4 turn up from zero, and I ran the Oktava at just a little past 1/2 turn... so looking at the DVX the 4073 dial pointed at 9 o'clock and the Oktava was at 1 o'clock.

So the point is that the 4073 is clearly MUCH more sensitive, so as Jay puts it, combine that with low self noise and you should get reach... however, you are right in saying that I need to try this in an area where it's hard to hear one person clearly over others. As it relates to room acoustics, they seem to be on the same level... but I'll do my best to get a GOOD test of directivity today.

Boy I'm loving this thread. Thanks guys!

BTW... the sound of my buddy "beat-boxing" is supposed to be funny, so I hope anybody that hears it laughs their ass off... but it also says something about that NTK mic... no pop screen, and the hollow sound is because he had his hands cupped in front of his mouth to enhance the bass. At the start of that you hear him wipe his hand across his mouth fast and nervously, then you can hear him lower his voice to a clear whisper as he starts. He'll die when he finds out I sent this out... lol.

I've sent Beas some other files where you can hear the air blowing through a vent across the room... you would at first think it was my equipment, but it's this low "shuuuuuush" that just runs seamlessly in the background... On some other recordings you can hear a truck pulling away from a neighbor's house. These details are so faint that you'll never hear them unless you have something like a pair of 7506's... but the point is that all this unbelievable detail is coming from an audio chain that consists of a mic and a camcorder and uh, umm, that's it.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 01:15 PM   #25
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I've already put this in the pd150 forum for obvious reasons, but it seems highly relevant to what's going on here as well....

www.alanbarker.com/
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Old January 5th, 2004, 02:04 PM   #26
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Matt, thanks for more details on the setup of the MC012 and 4703a test you did.

I haven't got the beat box samples from Bryan yet as he's away for a couple of days, but can't wait to hear them.

Shawn, thanks for that link too. Very informative.

Cheers
Aaron

Also, loved your real world audio tests. Taking a normal everyday set of actions and recording them ;)
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Old January 5th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #27
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<<<In house, on quiet location, utilizing controlled circumstances. THAT'S what I had in mind when I asked this. And that is why I'm still wanting some additional input. Jay instantly mentioned the Schoeps MK41 (hyper-cardioid) as the STANDARD for real film-making. I'm sure he was referring to situations where there is a controlled set. Why didn't he mention the mkh416 or mkh60 or Neumann kmr81i...? >>>
_
He didn't mention the 416 or the 60 because they are both "shotguns."
The Schoeps is a hypercardioid capsule NOT a shotgun. A shotgun mic has
a hypercardioid capsule and a housing designed to turn that capsule
into a supercardioid and reject off axis noise/sound. In doing that,
the housing heavily 'colors' the sound. Real studio audio guys don't
even own a shotgun.
_

<<<I guess I can see the need for a short shotgun in a noisy environment where you need short range capture. I imagine that a CS1 or AT4073a would be good on-camera in an area full of people, especially when you need to mainly hear ONE or TWO individuals and you don't have a newsmic... so is that it?>>>>

_
Don't get too hung up on short vs. long shotguns. The MKH416 (short) has
better 'reach' than the long gun ME67. The short is usually chosen
for its size rather than its wider pickup pattern. Shotguns are usually
passed by because of their (poor) sound quality.
That is why some HATE the 416. I think it is a great _shotgun_ myself,
but then I know the difference and what to expect. The 416 is a very
bright mic. I don't think they make a shotgun that sounds "warm"
and "phat". If you could actually see The shotgun "sound" waveform, it
would look like a hideous saw blade with deep valleys and peaks, especially
when compared to a plain old cardioid cap with a ball head on it.
_

>>>Boy I don't know? I'm still struggling with the purpose of a short shotgun... (snip)
If it's not REALLY better I'd rather get a good boom pole or else exchange it for the AT4071a... l o n g shot.<<<<
_

Getting closer to the talent with your mic is ALWAYS better.
The inverse square law cements that fact. IMO, a longer shotgun won't
impress you much. What you want is a better shotgun.
The 416 BLOWS AWAY the 66 or 67 IMO.
_


>>>I should add that I have 8 mics total already... half of them lavs, so it's not like I haven't had experience with mics, and I'm not asking for a "one size fits all" solution... I just want to know why I should choose a SHORT SHOTGUN over a good cardioid or super cardioid mic.<<<
_
The short shotgun *should* get you better off axis noise rejection and pickup of
signal than a cardioid, BUT the Schoeps MK41 is going to have a better
sound quality than any shotgun IMO. This is due to the physics
of *shotgun housing design*. That's why the MK41 is THE film
mic of choice. You have to understand that the MK41 will also have
problems with humidity before the Neumann or a Sennheiser.
You should also realize that 90% of the time the "stage" audio
from all these shoots is only used as a guide track for audio dialog replacement
later in post. It is pretty hard these days to shoot outside without
major issues of noise pollution. That is why most EVERYTHING sounds
so nice, big, quiet and phat. It was done in a studio VO booth, NOT on site.
_
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Old January 5th, 2004, 07:18 PM   #28
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Jacques, thanks for your information... I'm sorry that some of these discussions get bent into new directions and suddenly one of my comments is pulled out of context.

When I asked why Jay didn't mention the high-end short guns, I was asking a rhetorical question. I'm kind of bashing short shotguns in this thread... but not to offend anybody. I wanted to point out that Jay didn't mention the shorts. His response wasn't to say shorts are fine, it was to say that a hyper is Hollywood's mic of choice. And I just want some of the guys on this board, especially ones on a really tight budget, to know that.

I got serious about DV a few years ago. When anybody gets serious about it they realize that expensive mics are inevitable. I had no problem with this as I saw a clear upgrade path which started at an me66, then a 4073a, and eventually a 416 or better.

As it turns out, for as good as the 4073a is, and it IS good for a shotgun... It's not much better then a studio hyper cardioid... and in many cases, it's slightly worse. (at a far higher cost)

I'm crystal clear that ULTIMATELY you really do need intelligibility more then actual sound quality. And I'm clear that a shotgun is the best insurance to meet that requirement. But it's surprising just how capable a hyper cardioid IS at doing a shotgun's job while still sounding more natural and pleasing.

So my frustration is in the fact that I think many people, including myself, visualized a pricey shotgun to be somewhat of a magic wand... I used to think, "If I only had a 416 that sound would have been great!"

The truth is that people can get theater quality sound on a very limited budget. How limited? UNDER a hundred bucks.

My latest mic test is between a 4073a and the Oktava... this time I mounted them RIGHT next to each other, high on a boom stand, in my EXTREMELY reverberrant garage... and then I started my motorcycle, which was parked about 8' behind the mics, about 100 to 120 degrees off axis. I was going for the sweet spot to maximize the directional pick up and side rejection of the mics. Under this test there is a WIDE range of LOUD frequencies trying to muffle my voice. Sure a motorcycle (sportbike) is bassy, but it's also metallic and obnoxious and it FILLS the garage completely with reflected sound.

The 4073a is $530 at B&H and it's supposed to be one of the best sounding shotguns, with really high directivity, that you can get. I have it in a Rycote suspension/grip/softie... The Oktava was so cheap it's crazy... I think I peeled it off a box of Lucky Charms...

Anyway, when you hear the recording there is NO doubt that the 4073a does a superior job at isolating my voice... but the difference doesn't even come CLOSE to justifying the price difference... it's maybe 10-15% better, and more importantly, the Oktava is with a CARDIOID cap... I'm going to order a set of Oktava hyper caps tomorrow and return the 4073a.

Let me add one more important point:

I do expect that on some shoot within a few months, something will happen that makes me think, "Dammit! THAT'S why I needed that short shotgun!" I mean it's obvious that they fill a role or there wouldn't be such an evolution and quantity of them to choose from. Somebody posted that I thought we should ditch shotguns... That's not what this is about, but I think a shotgun may be more of a specialized instrument then most DV advice suggests.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 08:50 PM   #29
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Matt, thanks for the update and will be interesting to see if the Hyper caps on the Oktava end up being as good at isolating your voice in your carage as the 4073. There seems to be a buzz about those oktava's at the moment and ones that have been quality controlled seem to do well for people at an awesome price. I will probably look at getting some myself soon.


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Old January 5th, 2004, 08:59 PM   #30
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I may weaken and go for a matched set of THE hypercardoids. It's tempting with the Canadian dollar so high right now. They're supposed to blow the Oktavas as well as having some impressive off axis attenuation (-10 db at 90 deg.

(I'm not home yet)
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