ME80 vs. AT835b for Documentary use at

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Old June 9th, 2004, 12:42 PM   #1
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ME80 vs. AT835b for Documentary use

Hi group, since this is my first time posting I want to say hello to everyone and i've read some great postings and advise. I recently bought a Sony Pd-170 for a documentary and this group helped me with my decision. I bought it from B & H and so far i'm really happy with them. I have my camera, now comes the tough decision of audio. I've read a lot of past post but i don't feel confident making a decision yet. I know, due to budjet, that i want to only buy one mic and put it on a boom. My needs require a mic that would work well for the interview on the street to the chair in an office. Since i want this movie to have a live 'Michael Moore' slash '60 minutes' feel, versatility is essentail.

Right now, i'm really leaning towards the Audio-Technica 835b, with a AT8415 Shock Mount. Reputation & Value are two main factors to why I like this mic and i feel that this would be the closest mic to my needs. I'm leaning towards the AT because i've read more then a handful of people say the Senn ME80/ME66 can get destorted in loud situations and the AT835b doesn't have that problem. This concerns me because my audio guy will have minimal experience
and the AT seems like more "user friendly" then the senn.

My question to the group is, Is this the best middle of the road, generalized mic for my documentary? I realize that i'm not getting the BEST mic out there and i'm fine with that. Any advice or stories i would really appreciate. What do you use? WHat factors am i ignoring or overlooking?
Tim Kay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 9th, 2004, 01:45 PM   #2
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What is your documentary about and how loud a situation do you think you'll be recording in? The PD-170 can benefit from a hot mic like the K6/ME66 if you are working under conditions no louder than the average street scene or as quiet as an office.
It's not the greatest mic indoors due to the off-axis coloration that it can pick up, but in an average carpeted office with someone speaking in a normal voice and with proper booming distance, it will work fine.

Other things to be certain of in the total budget are:
Shockmount (with premium bands for a few dollars more)
Good Cables
Good Headphones x2
Wind Protection!!!!!! (this can get expensive)
optional but helpful- Boosteroo headphone amp for $25

After you've calculated all that, how much do you have left for the mic? One of the best of the "$600 and under class" is the AT4073a. It's also a hot mic like the K6/ME66 so it can also overdrive some mic inputs, but it seems less prone to having absolute distortion at the mic itself. It also sounds better overall and especially indoors.

Next down would be the AKG blue line, but they are much harder to find dealers and good deals on.

Then the K6/ME66. You can add an attenuator for about $30 if you are working in moderately loud environments. If you're truly planning on something loud like live music or sports, I would avoid it totally.

Some people prefer the newer AT897 over both the K6/ME66 and the AT835b. It falls between them in price, but in quiet situations it might not have enough gain for clean recording on the PD-170. I think alot depends on your specific camera and how its mic inputs are performing. If you're planning on working in loud environments and this is the max of your budget, I'd choose this over the ME80 (used) or the AT835b.

It is possible to do this less expensively with a hypercardioid or cardioid mic rather than a short shotgun. You can have better sound indoors, but you won't have as much isolation outdoors.
If you boom closely and pick your locations you can get away with this, but in a documentary you may not have that luxury.

So, there are still a lot of choices for you. When do you plan to start shooting?
Jay Massengill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 9th, 2004, 06:39 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,483
Beas shared with me a sound clip from the AKG blue
line and it *did* sound pretty good, so I think that is one
to consider, also. The marketing of the AKG is not real clear.
It's a base unit with three different heads?
Anyone have any thoughts on the blue line versus
the Oktava 012? From the bit I've heard, the AKG may
be a bit more open, with the Oktava being a bit
As to the 835b versus the 897, on paper the 897 looks
better, and I'd imagine they'd have a similar AT sound.
For just a bit more than the 835b in price, I think the 897 would
be worth taking a look at.
Dave Largent is offline   Reply

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