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Old April 4th, 2004, 12:45 AM   #1
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AT897 - Best mic to buy?

I had originally planned on buying an Azden SGM-2X, but too many people say it is not a professional mic and will be obsolete very quicky. I believe I have decided to buy the AT897, but since I can not afford any additional mics yet, I'd like to know if this mic will suit all my needs for the time being (untill I can afford a wireless lapel mic, etc).

I will be using the mic on camera for:
1. Weddings. Will this mic do a decent job at picking up wedding vows as well as music, etc? In other words, if I were to record an entire wedding ceremony with just this mic, would the results turn out ok? I would also use the mic for receptions.

2. Marching Band. I will be creating a season overview DVD of the high school's marching band next year. Will this mic pick up good sound from the band while standing far back by the bleachers? Also, in this case (and weddings for that matter), how well does the mic block out unwanted noise?

3. Interviews. Occasionally I will do a video project that involves interviews (in a controlled environment). Will this mic pick up good sound for an interview? I have heard that in close range it may tend to echo... if this is true should I consider buying an inexpensive wired lav mic as well?

I understand that you cannot purchase one mic to suit all of your needs, but for now this will have to do.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old April 4th, 2004, 01:58 AM   #2
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What camera will you be using it with?
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Old April 4th, 2004, 08:06 AM   #3
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As long as you understand that this is a relatively short shotgun mic, which means that it won't be quite as directional as say, the 835b, you will be happy with the results. It would be a better choice than the Azden.
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Old April 4th, 2004, 08:06 AM   #4
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It will be used with a GL2. For weddings, I will also have a second GL2 recording audio from the built in mic.

Thanks!
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Old April 4th, 2004, 11:35 AM   #5
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If you have a second GL2 recording audio of the ceremony, why not buy a wireless lav system like the Sennheiser Evolution 100 series?

This will work great for capturing the vows and any interviews you conduct, won't work to great for the marching band, but I think overall this would be the approach I would take.
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Old April 4th, 2004, 11:43 AM   #6
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Hey Chris,

For the money, the azden is hard to beat! Ok, it is not as good than the At 897 but it is a very decent mic, highly directionnal, and with the removable super cardioid barrel, it is like having two mics in one.

If your budget is limited, I would go with the Azden. More bang for the bucks.
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Old April 4th, 2004, 12:26 PM   #7
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A shotgun has about 2.5X the reach of an omni. By reach I mean that a shotgun will give the same background rejection at 10m as an omni at 25m. see http://www.audio-technica.com/using/...e/pattern.html

With a wireless lav you can get quite close, whereas with a shotgun you're going to be futher away. Depending on the situation a wireless lav will do better. The mics themselves differ in their sound quality- a shotgun has poor off-axis response so any echoes that hit the mic will sound weird. A lav is going to have more electrical noise than a shotgun.

A lav will work great if you can plant it on the groom/(bride)/official/priest unless you get radio interference. I don't think a shotgun will do well in as many situations, although you'll need it for run and gun work (i.e. receptions). But then you'll also need a good shock mount for it.

2- You could pick up a Sony MS907/908 (one of them is the camcorder version) and it'll do ok. It's a M/S (mid-side) stereo mic that sounds really good IMO but the mount that comes with it isn't too great so it'll likely pick up handling noise. It's $100 or so at B&H and you should be able to preview it at any Sony store (which I recommend).

It may not work if you're shooting in the bleachers and everyone around you are loud or even just chatting. I haven't done this myself so I can't say.
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Old April 4th, 2004, 12:32 PM   #8
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I like the Azden shotguns–I've never used them but they appear to be a good value. However, I don't want to spend the money on it if I will find out in a couple months that I should have spent the extra money on the nicer AT897. I'm still not sure what I want to buy... its a hard decision :)

The other option, as Jeff pointed out, is to buy a wireless system (Evo 100), however, I will need to record audio from other things like marching band performances which you can't use a wireless lav mic for. If I bought a wireless lav system for weddings, would the GL2's built in mic be sufficient enough for a marching band performance and other general sound pickup?

Also, I am still somewhat confused on what to buy when it comes to wireless mics. Some of them are sold as a kit, others you have to buy seperately, etc. Can someone give me links to product pages (preferably B&H) of complete wireless systems? Keep in mind I'm on a very limited budget... I'm looking for something in the $300-$400 range, but i'll look at more expensive systems if the extra cost is worth it.

One last question: Can I buy a wireless mic system with a receiver that can handle two wireless mics at the same time? I'd like the ability to add another mic when I can afford it, and would rather not have two receivers.
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Old April 4th, 2004, 01:11 PM   #9
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The Azden may appeal to your credit card balance but they are not a professional quality mic. It's relatively easy to be impressed when you switch from the on board to a separate shotgun. Then you start comparing.

There is a reason why most people will advise against the Azden and it's not to be nasty or snobbish
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Old April 4th, 2004, 04:27 PM   #10
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GLENN,

Exactly where on the A-T page do you see that comparison between an omni and a shotgun?

What do you mean that a shotgun has "poor off-axis response"?
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Old April 4th, 2004, 05:26 PM   #11
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Chris if your looking at wireless you should check out the Samson Airline stuff. I haven't heard much on the negative side about them, they are not as expensive as the Senn Evo systems. You can get lav's or XLR plugs, or both. The channels are not switchable, so that could possibly pose some reception problems in a worst-case scenario.
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Old April 5th, 2004, 08:56 AM   #12
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***Disclaimer*** I don't do weddings, but...

The biggest initial difference between what "Uncle Fred" gets on his video camera that he sets up on a tripod at a wedding, and what someone that's actually getting paid to record the event is the quality of the audio.

And while as I said above, I don't do weddings, most churches I have been in are fairly big echo chambers, which means that you need to get close to the sound source. An inexpensive mike close to the source(less than 5 feet) is better than a Sennheiser 416 at 20 feet (in my opinion).

So for paying gigs like weddings, I would either purchase or rent a wireless lav, or use a minidisc recorder in the grooms pocket with a lav to record this.

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Old April 5th, 2004, 05:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Exactly where on the A-T page do you see that comparison between an omni and a shotgun?

What do you mean that a shotgun has "poor off-axis response"?
http://www.audio-technica.com/using/....html#distance
That's the link which compares the various mic patterns.

Shotgun has poor off-axis response:
http://www.dv.com/features/features_.../2003/rose0203 That link explains it fairly well. I don't know any good clips that illustrate crappy off-axis response off-hand.
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Old April 5th, 2004, 09:04 PM   #14
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I still don't see where you get those particular numbers, but your explanation is very misleading. Perhaps you are just not saying it correctly.

An Omni mic offers no background rejection at all. It picks up sound equally well from all directions.

A shotgun mic, AKA hypercardioid, interference tube, line mic, etc., rejects sound best at approximately 120-150 degrees behind the front grille. The ratio of accepted sound to rejected sound (at any given angle) varies with the length and design of any particular shotgun mic.

The off-axis rejection is frequency dependent. Not all frequencies are rejected equally. The best mics will have a every even off-axis frequency response. Sound coming in from off mic will sound natural, though at a greatly reduced level. The farther off axis, the greater the attentuation. On-axis sounds will be heard from farther away than with inferior mics.

Inferior mics will have a very uneven off-axis rejection response, allowing certain frequencies in and not others. Off-axis sounds will sound very un-natural and on-axis sounds from farther away can be overcome by off-axis ambient noise in the poorly rejected frequency regions.

All directional mics also have a "rear lobe", where they pick up sound coming from directly behind the mic. Hypercarioid /shotgun mics have the largest rear lobe, but not all are the same.

You can see all this by closely examining the directional "Polar Pattern" plot of any microphone. They will plot the pattern at various frequencies. Hint: since left and right sides of an actual mic are a mirror image, they will show different frequencies on the left and right sides of the plot.

Shotgun mics work best against point-source sounds. That is, sound coming from a specific direction. This can only be found outdoors, or in a large acoustically treated room known as a sound stage. They do not work well indoors with reflections from walls, ceilings, floors and furniture. You would use a standard cardioid or short hypercardioid for best results.
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Old April 7th, 2004, 01:37 PM   #15
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Not trying to hijack this topic, but I've got a couple questions regarding this same issue....


I'm basically stuck between the AT-897 and the SGM-2X. AT897 is a bit out of my reach pricewise so how much better is it really over the sgm-2x?

Also, at the BH website, they say the polar pattern of the At897 is "line+gradient". Is that the same as hypercardioid? If not, what is it?
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