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Old September 21st, 2004, 03:59 PM   #1
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Help Picking a Mic Please - thx

I need a mic that im holding up on a boom pole above the actors head, yet still get clear crisp voice that has alota bass.

Curious... in movies like... hmm, the Matrix. where neo is standing outside and he half-whispers "whoa~"

was that mic still over his head? is it THAT great at pickup?! there was bass, u could hear all the details of the whisper, i need a mic like that. an overhead "boom?" mic. what are a few. price range from 0-500. ?

thanks!!


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i want it but i think i cant afford it... sheesh, how much should that thing go for anyways?

thanks again
-arthur
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Old September 21st, 2004, 07:06 PM   #2
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Re: Help Picking a Mic Please - thx

<<<-- Originally posted by Arthur To : I need a mic that im holding Curious... in movies like... hmm, the Matrix. where neo is standing outside and he half-whispers "whoa~"

was that mic still over his head? is it THAT great at pickup?! there was bass, u could hear all the details of the whisper, i need a mic like that.-->>>

No, this is the movies we're talking about. Most outdoor scenes are ADR'd (dialog re-recorded in a sound studio to loops of the movie being projected for the actor), and then mixed in with the "environmental" audio, which may be actual recordings of the site or, as is often the case, created entirely from soundfx and foley artists in the studio.

In movies, live dialog is usually only used when the scene is shot on a set that can be controlled, and even then, many scenes with specialfx (wind machines, etc.) require ADR.

There are a ton of threads about boom mics if you read back a page or two that should answer your original question, but don't count on a $500 boom mic to give you multi-million-dollar movie-quality audio. They can be pretty good, but rarely great, and certainly not the same as ADR dialog using $2,000-5,000 studio mics.

-Troy
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Old September 21st, 2004, 10:00 PM   #3
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Arthur,

the rolls royce of boom mics is the schoeps mk41. It's not a shotgun,
but a hypercardioid.

Troy is correct however in that almost all dialog is replaced in the studio.
That said, the schoeps mk41 is a fine mic that does rival large diaphragm
condensers that cost more than the mk41 and thrashes those that cost less.
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Old September 22nd, 2004, 09:39 PM   #4
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If you are looking for a large diaphragm condenser mic to attach to a boom check out the Studio Projects line of Mics. For a budget you really can't beat their C1. In the recording studio we used it for tracking vocals, and also as a room mic for bass drums. We placed it about a foot off of the ground about 6 feet+ in front of the bass drum, and MAN it sounded nice!

Those Studio Projects sound nicer than many large diaphragm condensers that are 3 times their price! They make several different models as well.

I have no clue how it compares to the Schoeps mentioned as I've never used one. Is the Schoeps a small diaphragm condensor?

Generally for LD Condensors most studios use Crown, Shure, Neumann, etc. but we are talking about $500-$1000 for a single mic here. The Neumann's are the "holy grail" of LD Condensers (these are tube mics too, BTW - the $1000 Neumanns).

For smalll diaphragm condensors, there are lots of choices. Akg, crown, Audix, oktavia, etc., etc. For the REALLY nice ones, think brands like Royer, Rare Earth, etc. These too are around the $1000 price range. You can get good small diaphragm condensers for MUCH less though.

I'll have to research those Schoeps though and check them out.

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Old September 23rd, 2004, 03:05 AM   #5
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The large diaphram condensers are not really suitable for boomed dialog. Music and dialog/ambience are two totally different animals. Certain large diaphram may work well for voice over while others won't even be suitable for that.

Dialog , foley (sound effectss) and room or area ambience need a greater amount of neutrality and precision.

Dialog depending on where it takes place requires a directional mic. Most production sound people use the following mics

The Schoeps and to a lesser extent the Sennheiser MKH50 are the holy grail of close set dialog micing. These mics cost between 1150 and $1350(schoeps), the variable high pass filter for the Shoeps is another $500.

The more directional short shotguns are small diaphram and at the top end include The Neumann KMR81i, Sennheiser MKH416, MKH60, Sanken CS-3e, AKG CK69.

Moving down to the next level of sound and equipment quality we have the Sanken CS-1, Audio Technica 4053a, AKG 480b/CK63 which are all hypercardoid. The CS-1 is a unique mic in that it acts as both a shotgun and hyper yet it has no rear lobe.

The next level of hyper is the AKG blue line C300b with a CK93 capsule. The bottom end price wise also has remarkable sound but can be a little iffy ijn the QC dept. None other than the Russian Oktava MCO-12 with hypercardoid cap.

The lower end shotguns start at mid level pricing with the CS-1 and the Audio Technica 4073a.

The basic "starter" but still professional quality shotguns are the AT 897 and 835, the Sennheiser K6/ME66.

You can read more and listen to clips that Matt G and I have posted. I do an informational walk through as well with links to manufacturers and suppliers. My mic clips and info and Matt's mic clips
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 07:01 AM   #6
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The Studio Projects mics are promo mics that Guitar Center uses as loss-leaders... they get dirt cheap... If they're really decent then you'd find some real bargains there... but I don't know how they really stack up.

Most people outside of these audio forums have never even HEARD of Schoeps... for the uninitiated a $1400 small diaphragm hyper is surprising.

Just like the other mics in that class... such as the Mkh60... Perfection 'aint cheap.
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 10:43 PM   #7
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Bryan, thanks for the info. Very educational.

I am a bit confused... You mention that you need directional so Lg Diaphragm condensors will not work, but then mention hyper cardoid mics....

BTW, most of the Studio Projects mics have switchable patterns...

As for Matts comments:

"The Studio Projects mics are promo mics that Guitar Center uses as loss-leaders... they get dirt cheap... If they're really decent then you'd find some real bargains there... but I don't know how they really stack up."

My reaction is "???????"

I am guessing that you don't know that much about Studio Projects or their equipment.

First off, they don't sell Studio Projects stuff at Guitar Center.

Second of all, even if they did, would it matter? Guitar Center sells Royer ribbon mics (very nice, very expensive - upwards of $2k on some models), Neumann tube mics (also very nice and very expensive), Blue mics (also upwards of $2k+ for some of their models).

Third, they are not "promo" mics. That is just ridiculous. I have seen these used in a WIDE variety of places such as top notch studios, and even for recording voice over work (my old drummer worked in a studio where they did a lot of voice over work and they used the Studio Projects C series mic extensively, and to very nice effect).

Fourth, either you are confused, or you just know nothing about the Studio Projects stuff. Talk to REAL recording engineers. People that have used a LOT of stuff. Sure they will tell you that a Neumann lg diaphragm is better, but it is also 5 to 10 times the price. Ask them what they like in that price range and how it compares to stuff in *higher* price ranges, and if they are at all experienced with the Studio Projects range of mics, they will tell you how nice they really are.

Studio Projects makes more than mics too. I plan on getting their VTB-1 tube mic pre-amp. I already have a decent Meek mic-pre/compressor/EQ, but I need more mic pres and would really like to get a VTB-1 because I have heard so many wonderful things about them and can't really afford the RNP.

Next you are going to be telling me that the RNC Compressor that sells for $200 is just a loss-leader that is nowhere near as good as a $500 Focusrite. Ha!

Seriously, if you really doubt the quality of these mics, go looking for some old copies of TapeOp magazine and read the reviews. Look in mags like Mix or EQ and read about them. Go over the prosoundweb.com and ask in the RecPit about the mics. There you can have REAL world engineers and producers tell you how nice they are for the price range. Just be careful and don't mention Avid or ProTools over there, or you'll get a real "earful" (most are *not* fans of ProTools or Avid the company).

Last thing... you can talk about the expensive mics all you want (and so can I), but the ORIGINAL question asked for mics in the 0-500 range. My guess is that from Bryan's comments, the Schoeps is out of that range.

Alex F
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Old September 24th, 2004, 12:16 AM   #8
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wow...... i luv this site, thx a grip guys!

-arthur
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Old September 24th, 2004, 02:35 AM   #9
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Large diaphram are generally only used as Voice over in DV. The mics you speak of are used as instrument and vocals. Go to the links i gave you, there are some clips using the NT1a as a dialog mic. It picks up too much of the room. You can hear a flea fart at 20 paces.
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Old September 24th, 2004, 07:36 AM   #10
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Alex... oops, sorry... GC has a line of mics that only list as "studio condensers" and THOSE are the loss leaders. BTW "loss leader" isn't an insult anyway... that means that they sell 'em at a loss for promotion.

Studio Projects does in fact have a BROAD range... with street prices from $150 to $800 (or more)... I'm sorry for confusing the "Studio Projects" brand name with the generic listing that Guitar Center uses for a particular NAMELESS promo simply called "Studio Condenser".

My mistake.
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Old September 24th, 2004, 09:26 AM   #11
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Re: Re: Help Picking a Mic Please - thx

<<<-- Originally posted by Troy Tiscareno :
No, this is the movies we're talking about. Most outdoor scenes are ADR'd (dialog re-recorded in a sound studio to loops of the movie being projected for the actor), and then mixed in with the "environmental" audio, which may be actual recordings of the site or, as is often the case, created entirely from soundfx and foley artists in the studio.

In movies, live dialog is usually only used when the scene is shot on a set that can be controlled, and even then, many scenes with specialfx (wind machines, etc.) require ADR.

There are a ton of threads about boom mics if you read back a page or two that should answer your original question, but don't count on a $500 boom mic to give you multi-million-dollar movie-quality audio. They can be pretty good, but rarely great, and certainly not the same as ADR dialog using $2,000-5,000 studio mics.
-->>>

Are you a production mixer? Because your statement on outdoor sound picks not being used on the actual film and later ADRed is not entirely true.

Why do you think wireless mics and lapel mics went through such an intense development in the last 20 years? To allow a better sound pick on location audio.

It's quite a sign of incompetence, with the present tools, not to be able to pick about 90% of the actual audio on a movie. And I also know cases where 80% of more was picked mainly with a short shotgun mic. 100% total location audio used are not rare.

How do think TV series are shot nowadays? Time or budget would not allow to ADR them later, and if you listen to it through a proper audio system you won't find any difference with "big movies" sound, particularly now when most shows are broadcasted in Dolby, surround or digital. So why do it different for the big screen? In fact it is not done different, except on very noisy environments (street noise, machine brawl, etc.).

If you listen to early 80s series or older, where location scenes were many, like Miami Vice or Starsky & Hutch, you will probably listen to a more "muffled" dialogue than more modern series like Law & Order or The Shield. Things improved quite a lot since then.

That doesn't mean that certain expressions, like the one or Matrix or similar, are not added later. Whispered dialogues are very hard to record, if the environment is noisy, so sometimes they are dubbed later. But they are the exception, not the rule.


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Old September 24th, 2004, 07:20 PM   #12
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Re: Re: Re: Help Picking a Mic Please - thx

<<<-- Originally posted by Carlos E. Martinez
Are you a production mixer? Because your statement on outdoor sound picks not being used on the actual film and later ADRed is not entirely true. >>>

It may not be *entirely true*, but it IS true many, many times.

<<<Why do you think wireless mics and lapel mics went through such an intense development in the last 20 years? To allow a better sound pick on location audio.>>

I am not sure what you mean by this Carlos? Would you like to go into more
depth? Wireless mics have gotten better and smaller, but ambient sound
like traffic and airplanes is worse now than 20 years ago. Simply having
a directional or more sensitive mic does NOT eliminate ambient
sound sources roaring the in background.
In fact, those better mics have greater issues
with ambient noise than the crummy old mics.
If you know of a special lav mic that
has the ability to sound great and record only those
voices within 2 feet of it while cancelling a car horn being blown down the
street or a Harley going past, please let us know about it.

<<<It's quite a sign of incompetence>>>

Hmmm. Watch out here Carlos. You might be treading on thin ice imo.
I think we have some miscommunication here. Let's try to understand
what each of us means.


<<<with the present tools, not to be able to pick about 90% of the actual audio on a movie. And I also know cases where 80% of more was picked mainly with a short shotgun mic. 100% total location audio used are not rare. >>>

AND this movie was shot on the public streets with traffic going by only a couple
of feet away, cars honking horns, airplanes roaring overhead, radios
pumping rap music, and no humans shouting at their children, no dogs
barking? (Boy, I should move to Brazil where it's quiet! :)

Either that or the audio guy, director and producers didn't care about that
type of noise drowning out or competing with the vocals?
(I don't believe it.)

<<<How do think TV series are shot nowadays? >>>

To my knowledge, most are shot on a SOUND STAGE. That's a place
that is specifically designed to be as sound proof as possible? I work in and run
a sound stage 5-7 days a week. It cost well over 5 million dollars to build and equip
(minimally). Most of those people on this list do not have, nor can they afford to
shoot their films on a sound stage. Even so, if the air handler kicks into high or
someone close by one of the air returns fires up an air hammer or drill, we can hear it.

<<<Time or budget would not allow to ADR them later, and if you listen to it through a proper audio system you won't find any difference with "big movies" sound, particularly now when most shows are broadcasted in Dolby, surround or digital. So why do it different for the big screen? In fact it is not done different, except on very noisy environments (street noise, machine brawl, etc.).>>>

Except? How many movies have you done the sound track, dialog and
foley on? Yes, on a sound stage/interior location (you rent and control completely and are lucky enough to turn off all the offensive stuff)
you do not have to replace the audio
unless one of the crew bangs into something or coughs when they should not.
Most movies shot outside DO have to replace a lot of the dialog.
That depends on LUCK and how isolated the outdoor location is from humans and their noise.

<<<If you listen to early 80s series or older, where location scenes were many, like Miami Vice or Starsky & Hutch, you will probably listen to a more "muffled" dialogue than more modern series like Law & Order or The Shield. Things improved quite a lot since then. >>>

That's because most of those shows used Nagra analog tape machines.
Though very good, there are better tools for recording location audio today
and the fact that digital is fairly lossless means that the audio stays clean
from initial recording to final output. The old days you lost fidelity with
every step. That helped reduce the amount of dialog replacement because
the noise in the background got foggy and was covered by hiss.
The other thing to consider is that professional actors know how to project
their voices. That really HELPS A LOT. Most of us are dealing with friends
and non professionals.

<<<That doesn't mean that certain expressions, like the one or Matrix or similar, are not added later. Whispered dialogues are very hard to record, if the environment is noisy, so sometimes they are dubbed later. But they are the exception, not the rule. >>>

Again, I think you are referring to things shot on a sound stage/interior location. Most anywhere else except the deep woods has a lot of ambient noise which is
almost impossible to keep from plaguing the audio, especially with todays digital recorders. Even interior locations have TERRIBLE issues with heating and
cooling systems, florescent and other kinds of lighting, workers,
and all kinds of other noise. Maybe I've been severely unlucky, but
in my experience, when you get a quiet room, THAT'S the exception.
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Old September 24th, 2004, 09:10 PM   #13
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Help Picking a Mic Please - thx

To start with I do know what I am talking about, because I was a location audio sound recordist for many years, in Argentina and Brasil.

So I am not treading on thin ice when I say what I said. Of course I was not calling anyone incompetent here. My intention was really to stop the creation of new myths around things that should be handled professionally and at the highest level, and get the best results if the right methodology and tool is applied.

Brasil is noisier than many countries, but I have been to so many places to know that sound recording is the same everywhere.

My background in sound had a very good base, luckily, because where I studied filmmaking (Argentina) sound is handled for the whole film by the same person: the sound director. That role seems to have been "discovered" by filmmakers of other countries with Apocalypse Now, where the "sound designer" concept seems to have been invented. But I was doing that in 1973, and that job had already its own film title since the late sixties in Argentine films.

The advantage of handling the sound in such a way is enormous, because you solve the problems before they become so. And you also have the chance to use sound to tell the story through it.

Sound went through three great revolutions: the shotgun mics, the Nagra recorders and the wireless/lavalier technology.

Of course you are absolutely wrong when you say that digital technology is a better tool than the analog Nagra. If you planned things well, hiss was not a real problem. Digital recording has not yet reached the levels analog audio did.

Digital is just more practical, and I certainly think that is a significant advantage.

Shotgun mics became a demand when filmmaking "went to the streets", following the French filmmakers of the '60s. In the US the revolution came with films like "The naked city" and others like it, which in the '50s started using real locations (instead of studio sets) to bring autenticity to films. The Arriflex IIC and other lighter cameras started to be used by young filmmakers of the time, to replace the better but too heavy Mitchell cameras.

The formula was set for a more dynamic shooting when Kudelski released the Nagra III recorder (replacing the heavy sprocketed mag film recorder used at those times). Portability in cameras never stopped and gave us better tools.

Arriflex, Nagra and Sennheiser were kings for almost 20 years for location recordings, and took filmmaking several steps ahead from where it was.

That still did not cut the ambient noise in the street or on real locations. And it's there were lavalier and radio mic technology came to help. The lavalier mics got smaller and lost the "presence effect" they had, always sounding as if in close up. And radio mics got smaller and interference free, allowing a flexible mix up of individual mics with shotgun pick.

All this doesn't mean that if you are shooting by a street with lots of cars passing by or on a noisy place you will be saved by miraculous tools, but those are the exception, not the rule. Those are the 10% I ruled out for ADR. You still have to shoot another take because of a plane passing by or a honk nearby. But that is the price for shooting on location.

There are no special lavs, but there are techniques on how modern lavs should be used and pick an absolutely clean sound.

The series I mentioned had large portions done on the street or on real locations, and even if they still have studio shootings they are mostly for lighting and production reasons than for audio limitations. That doesn't mean that a location should not be approved by the sound recordist during pre-production, as it is for the director or the DP. If it's noisy or needs acoustical treatment (interiors), then it needs to be improved.

So this is the competence I am talking about.

For the record: I was sound recordist in about 100 films, between features, shorts and commercials. And on them I handled the whole process, including directing the editing, final mix and A copy. Then I went on to produce and direct, and I now rent location audio equipment in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.


Carlos
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Old September 24th, 2004, 10:58 PM   #14
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I appreciate your clarifications Carlos and I believe we agree on 98% of things.
I was pretty sure there was a bit of a communication gap.
As you have pointed out many factors go into capturing great audio AND
then being able to create a great soundtrack out of it. There are a million
ways to go wrong and only a couple that work. And when it's perfect?
No one notices because it is seamless ;)

The 2% I might question is that analog tape is "still" better than digital.
In a way yes. If you take the analog outputs of a 1/2" machine
turning at 30ips and run it into your monitor system
it sounds darn good.

Digital? To match that analog tape sound
you need several things other than a simple plug and go.
You need great A to D converters with high sampling rates/formats
and great D to A converters that usually exceed what most folks are
willing to spend. But, imo, if you have this stuff, you actually get better
sound than analog tape (and we're not talking 16bit 44.1Khz here).
But this is audio, and even if you and I may disagree, we can still
stay friends and respect each other.)

Viva the old audio dogs!
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Old September 24th, 2004, 11:37 PM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matt Gettemeier :
sorry... GC has a line of mics that only list as "studio condensers" and THOSE are the loss leaders.


confusing the "Studio Projects" brand name with the generic

-->>>

I kinda figured. I too was confused by the name when I first heard of them.

I also wanted to mention something that no one else has that I feel is important... The mic cables.

DO NOT skimp on mic cables! We were using some akg c430 overhead mics (iirc) in a recording studio once for getting cymbals and toms. They certainly sounded better than what we had used previously. We were using generic XLR Mic cables. However, they were not quite long enough, so we searched online for a place to make custom length cables. We ended up getting some from a company and rather than a generic cable, we got custom-length Mogami brand cables. We didn't expect much difference, but when we plugged in those longer Mogami's, we were shocked!

If you get generic speaker cables, the sound really doesn't suffer too much. Ditto with instrument cables, butr apparently w/ mic cables it matters a great deal!

The difference was literally like night and day. There was MUCH more clarity and crispness and responsiveness, and less of that "boxy" sound than we had with the generic cables.

Needless to say, we will never skimp on XLR cables again.

My old drummer uses Mogami exclusively for his drum mic'ing, and I use Blue Kiwi cables for my stuff ("Blue" is the brand, "Kiwi" is the model of cable). I think my Kiwi cable is something like 10', and cost $50.

Alex F
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