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Old April 1st, 2004, 02:48 PM   #1
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Best PZM for the money?

This is for small stage dramas. I could them run into my mackie, then to the camera. Any decent sounding mics for under $200? I see *so* many different models, I just don't know how they compare.
Thanks in advance,
Tony
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Old April 1st, 2004, 02:55 PM   #2
 
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The 'branding' of PZM is owned by Crown, but you can get any number of boundary mics from a variety of manufacturers. I've had limited experience with them until we did the recent "Now Hear This: Superior Sound" DVD. We demo two different AT mics in the DVD, plus a Crown PZM model. The AT 871 sounded good, the 851A was awesome in our testing/demo. Crown PZM's are quite good too, you can mount any of them on a variety of surfaces for maximum level/pickup.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:29 PM   #3
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Thanks. I guess I should broaden my question a bit to "Best Boundary mic for the money?". Also, what is the coverage area I should expect? The average stages I'll be using are probably 30'-50' wide. Should I assume I need two?
-Tony
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Old April 1st, 2004, 03:39 PM   #4
 
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At 50', you're gonna need at least 4. On the show we designed for "My Way" (life of Frank Sinatra) there are 4 players. They wear AT 899's on wireless, but we supplant FOH with the boundary mics, not to mention the footwork we need to hear a little of. Boundary mics are decent but the distance makes anything a little difficult. You'll always be dealing with a little boom due to the distance and house acoustics.
I'm not qualified to answer which boundary is best for the money since I've only worked with a few models. I was really excited years ago about PZM's for choir miking, and used them in that situation on sheets of plex. Years later, my only experience with them is the 2 AT models I mentioned, and my older pair of Crown PZM's. The AT's blew the Crowns away, but they are also newer models. Perhaps Crown's got something newer.
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Old April 1st, 2004, 07:55 PM   #5
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You can always make your own if you don't need them very much. A couple of small electret microphones mounted very close to a plate (or wall or floor) makes them act like a 'real' PZM. I've even used a pair of Sony 44B lavs taped to a board with reasonable success.

Once in a while you will run across the old Radio Shack boundary microphones. They were made by one of the big names, forgotten who. They have 1/4" mono plugs on them. But they have a balanced (transformer) output so I bought a pair for $70 each and replaced the plugs with XLR connectors. They sound good to these ears. Best of all, because they say Radio Shack, people will sell them for less. These have a battery compartment for self-power which is even nicer for those who do not have Phantom Power available.

It looks like the Crowns are going for around $100 on ebay. $75 for a Shure.

As Douglas says, they are going to sound a bit boomy.
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Old April 3rd, 2004, 01:31 AM   #6
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I had heard that the Radio Shack mics were made by Crown

I also own an AT851 and really like it.
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Old April 3rd, 2004, 06:11 AM   #7
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I have an AT851 unidirectional and AT841 omnidirectional. The 851 has slightly better sound characteristics than the 841 - even with rolloff on. Never tried the 871, but I've been told it's also pretty good.

I use the mics for taping focus groups and depositions. Generally they're conducted at long conference tables. My rule of thumb for coverage area per mic is one every 8-10 feet. That seems to keep adequate levels.
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