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Old August 10th, 2009, 03:15 PM   #1
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Watch Out - Mic Return Nightmare --

Greetings to all -- just wanted to mention something I just found out - as somewhat of a "newby" when purchasing a new microphone.

Just got a new Canon 5 D MarkII - and thought a new mic would be nice. So -- I ordered a mic from a dealer in Midland Park, NJ -- a Rode Stereo SVM -- I just got the mic - opened the box - read the specs - and saw that it is only good at capturing up to a six foot distance. Not too good I thought as I wanted for wildlife - but a grizzly bear within six feet is a bit too close ! So -- I called the dealer and inquired about a "return and refund" of the purchase price.

I was told that it was store policy NOT to accept returns and refunds on mic's as it is an item that comes in close proximity to "mouths" and "ears" -- and is therefore a "health" risk and cannot be accepted for return. Anyone else out there ever encountered such an issue before ? I mean - I didn't even put a battery in it -- and I certainly did not put it in my mouth or in my ear -- or anyone else's !!

Would be interested in hearing from others and their experiences like this -- " BUYER BEWARE !!"
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Old August 10th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ Gutshall View Post
Greetings to all -- just wanted to mention something I just found out - as somewhat of a "newby" when purchasing a new microphone.

Just got a new Canon 5 D MarkII - and thought a new mic would be nice. So -- I ordered a mic from a dealer in Midland Park, NJ -- a Rode Stereo SVM -- I just got the mic - opened the box - read the specs - and saw that it is only good at capturing up to a six foot distance. Not too good I thought as I wanted for wildlife - but a grizzly bear within six feet is a bit too close ! So -- I called the dealer and inquired about a "return and refund" of the purchase price.

I was told that it was store policy NOT to accept returns and refunds on mic's as it is an item that comes in close proximity to "mouths" and "ears" -- and is therefore a "health" risk and cannot be accepted for return. Anyone else out there ever encountered such an issue before ? I mean - I didn't even put a battery in it -- and I certainly did not put it in my mouth or in my ear -- or anyone else's !!

Would be interested in hearing from others and their experiences like this -- " BUYER BEWARE !!"
It's all too common and it's usually ridiculous. Really professional dealers usually don't have a problem with returns. The best bet is to ask the dealer before purchasing.

As far as the specs where it's only usable "out to 6 feet" that's not unusual at all, nor half-bad for a shotgun at any price. BUT do take it with a grain of salt and the real working distance will be much, much less - but that's not unusual or a reason to return it .... read on. There is simply no such thing as an audio equivalent to a telephoto lens, a mic that magnifies distant sounds the way a telephoto magnifies distant images. A shotgun mic, even a very expensive one costing several thousands of dollars, is really no more sensitive to faint sounds than is any other mic. What it is, is directional. Because it's LESS sensitive to sound arriving from the sides and rear than it is to sound coming from the front, you're able to pickup desired sounds that might otherwise be partially obscured by unwanted ambient noises. But a usable range of 6 feet is actually pretty liberal ... my $2000 Schoeps hypercardioid is at its best at about 20 inches, my Rode NTG-3 shotgun, like it's doppleganger the $1400 Sennheiser MKH416, excels at about 24 to 30 inches. If you're looking for is something that will let you record that grizzly out at 100 yards sounding up close and personal, there isn't a mic made at any price that will do that. Your only solution is a wireless lav and a tranquilizer dart gun ... shoot the grizzly, strap the mic on him while he's out, and run like h*ll when he starts to wake up but stay within range of the radio LOL. So the long and short, returning the SVM isn't the solution. There are lots of reasons it's a budget mic and lots of reasons why you might want to look for something better, but looking for a mic to pickup sound at a long distance isn't really one of them.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 05:43 PM   #3
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Shorter answer:

ZZSounds and some other retailers warn about no returns for health reasons on their website, it is a valid propositon as they don't have any way of really knowing what headphones or mics have come in close proximity to.

Either keep the Rode SVM or sell it on one of these forums, I'd keep it. I have one and used inside of 6 feet (or CLOSER) it is a pretty good, clear, clean sounding mic. I've had a couple of folks I recorded video auditions for request that I use my "good" mic, the Rode. It's kinda my "general purpose" mic but I NEVER use it on camera; it's on a stand or a stand and boom so I can get it in close (2-3 feet) to my talent.

I don't know what kind of audio level control you have on the 5D MkII but check that forum on this site to find out what audio workarounds folks are using.

The Rode VideoMic (monaural) is a shotgun type mic that out in the wild with gain turned up may have enough side rejection to get you more selective audio you are looking for but as Russ pointed out all mics need to be close to get clean sound. You'll have to "take what you get" from wherever you shoot.

No "magic" mic solution exists.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 08:31 PM   #4
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Everything Steve said.

Or, to sumarize:

A shotgun mic is not a magic wand.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 11:05 PM   #5
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When it says "6 feet", that's really for dialog.

The real key to recording natural sounds is a clean preamp and recorder, as well as a low-noise, high-sensitivity mic. You'll pick up the bear, but you'll also pick up birds, the creek, and the wind through the trees. You'll also pick up your own noises, if you aren't really quiet.

One problem with the SVM is that the signal isn't all that hot, and it has an unbalanced, 1/8" output. If you run it directly into the Canon 5D2, it will be noisy, unless you connect to an XLR adapter and use a clean preamp, like a juicedLink. Given enough signal, the 5D2 does a nice job though...

Check out this review: 2. Canon 5D Mark II Audio Exposed - On Camera (juicedLink, Zoom H4n, Microtrack II, BeachTek) on Vimeo (Note the wave file that you can download. Make sure to listen to it on nice monitors in a quiet environment, or use headphones.)

Though the AT815b is not a very sensitive or quiet mic, given a clean preamp, you can clearly hear birds in the distance that I couldn't even see.

Also, you will definitely want to run the Magic Lantern firmware. Otherwise the analog gain in the camera will be at +31 (noisy!) and the digital gain will go up and down with the automatic level control.
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Old August 11th, 2009, 02:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Russ Gutshall View Post
...but a grizzly bear within six feet is a bit too close !...
But think of how great the sound quality would be! :-)

On the sidelines of football games there are a few folks holding parabolic mics. You might look into something like this to get better sound. It's not very portable but it must be fairly effective if producers are willing to pay people to stand around all day with these things.
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Old August 11th, 2009, 02:29 AM   #7
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Hi...........

Can't help with the return travails, but what Dean was describing was these:

crystal partners | B&H Photo Video

You wanna get sonically "up close and personal" with a grizzly, the only way to go if you can pay the entry fee and have a strong back.

Their web site - not exactly logical..............

Big Ears Parabolic Microphones


CS

Last edited by Chris Soucy; August 11th, 2009 at 02:37 AM. Reason: +
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Old August 11th, 2009, 06:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ Gutshall View Post
I was told that it was store policy NOT to accept returns and refunds on mic's as it is an item that comes in close proximity to "mouths" and "ears" -- and is therefore a "health" risk and cannot be accepted for return. Anyone else out there ever encountered such an issue before ? I mean - I didn't even put a battery in it -- and I certainly did not put it in my mouth or in my ear -- or anyone else's !!
I would go back to the store and question this.

The whole point of a video gun microphone is that it does *not* ... come in close proximity to "mouths" and "ears".

Only a microphone specifically designed for stage vocal use would do this.
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Old August 11th, 2009, 06:39 AM   #9
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Buyer be educated!
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Old August 12th, 2009, 08:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Can't help with the return travails, but what Dean was describing was these:

crystal partners | B&H Photo Video

You wanna get sonically "up close and personal" with a grizzly, the only way to go if you can pay the entry fee and have a strong back.

Their web site - not exactly logical..............

Big Ears Parabolic Microphones

CS
Those are the ones. These sideline sound guys would annoy the heck out of us news photographers and cameramen because they'd STAND in FRONT of where we were shooting! We kept asking them to shift to the end of the camera lineup but they just wouldn't cooperate.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 11:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dean Sensui View Post
Those are the ones. These sideline sound guys would annoy the heck out of us news photographers and cameramen because they'd STAND in FRONT of where we were shooting! We kept asking them to shift to the end of the camera lineup but they just wouldn't cooperate.
As a parab operator of over 15 years I had to respond to this. I've done this for Fox and CBS including Super Bowl 29. If its a major network gig, the only people that have greater priority to position themselves where they need to be other than the parabs are the network camera people and/or NFL Films. We have specific direction from a submixer as to where he/she wants us be be depending on the play on the field. That being said usually parab is considered a utility position (I'm an audio professional of 32 years, and just enjoy the challenge of it) meaning you may or may not get someone with experience. They may not realize there is a way to play nice with the rest of the people on the sidelines, or they just might be arrogant and not care. Only a bad crew person will just stand around. It takes effort and concentration to be in the right place at the right time to get the crunch that will make the coveted audio replay. When the announcer screams: You could hear that hit all the way up here! Our crew always tries to work with the other professionals on the sidelines as best we can.
Now a comment on the parab as a pick up for wildlife. For sure you would get the distance ( I can pick up sounds 3/4 of the way down the field) with pretty good level depending on the volume. I just don't know if it would have the fidelity you would want. Keep in mind we're getting quarter back calls, crunches, catches etc and fidelity isn't a priority. The dish is expensive and doesn't include the mic element (usually an omni condenser or lav mic). I happen to have just the dish without the handles or mic mount and would be willing to repair it to get it ready for use for a reasonable price.
Thanks,
Bernie
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Old August 14th, 2009, 11:33 AM   #12
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Wow Bernie. One of the things I like about this forum is that out of nowhere someone will step forward with super relevant comments like this.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 04:08 PM   #13
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Russ I live right next to midland park, nj ... if you want me to go over there to ask in person just PM or email me the info .. sometimes someone in person is different than just a voice on a phone
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Old August 14th, 2009, 08:36 PM   #14
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Russ-

The RODE SVM is an awesome all around mic for the Canon 5D Mark II. Just get a boom pole and the VC1 Extension cable. Listen to all the sounds I recorded with it from helicopters, to live bands and even a lady speaking in a 20mph wind gust.
YouTube - RODE SVM Stereo VideoMic for camcorders

If the New Jersey dealer will not take back your mic, our company, a sponsor of this site will give you full credit towards any other RODE mic. We'll take care of you. Just give a ring or PM me.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 08:56 PM   #15
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I was about to chime in and comment on the fidelity (or relative lack thereof) of parabolic mics and read Bernie's wonderfully appropriate appraisal and thought to myself: "self, all you can add to this discussion is 'I concur'!"

And I do.
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