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Old November 30th, 2004, 04:01 PM   #1
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Buying First Mic

I own a GL2, and am looking to improve my audio quality by transfering away from onboard sound.

Now, pretty much everything I do is done alone or with one other person, so I don't have a team, thus I don't ever have a "sound guy". I need to be able to manage everything myself, so would it be a better option for me to purchase a hotshoe mic instead of an XLR adapter and mic? Or would the XLR adapter still be a better purchase? I was thinking that the hotshoe mic would be less hassle, but I don't know much about microphones so I come here for advice.

And whichever direction you advise me to take, could you suggest some good models? I'm a college student, so cheaper is better, but I DO want decent quality, and am willing to spend a little more for it. My main concern is filtering out background noise, as it is present in everything I record with the onboard mic. Any tips or information will be appreciated.
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Old November 30th, 2004, 06:27 PM   #2
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If by "hot shoe mic" you mean Canon's DM-50 shotgun, I own one. It's okay, I'd say a step above the built in omnidirectional mic, and it's a shotgun so it emphasizes the sound in front. But I only use it when I have to "run and gun" with the camera. And yeah, it is less hassle.

But to reject background noise the most effectively you need not only to have a directional mic (and preferably a better one than the DM-50), you also need to get it close to the source. Usually closer to the source than you want to get with the camera. That calls for XLR cable and an XLR adaptor, or a wireless mic and (depending on receiver type) an XLR adaptor.

If you decide that camera mounting is the way to go for you, then consider Audio Technica's AT897, a $10 XLR to mini plug adaptor cable, and a $30 Beyerdynamic EA86 shock mount. [I just looked at B&H and they offer those three items as a kit for $279.]
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Old November 30th, 2004, 09:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input. With the AT897 you recommended, does that 10$ cable allow it to plug into the small "MIC" jack on my GL2, so I wouldn't need an XLR adapter? How well does the wind-screen it comes with work for outdoor filming?

You mentioned wireless solutions... Will wireless microphones produce higher quality sound than shotgun mics? What are some recommended models?

Should I buy the AT897 with the XLR to mini-plug adaptor first, then (as budget allows) buy the XLR adaptor and start building my microphone collection there? XLR allows you to use multiple mics to create one composite sound, correct?

Sorry about all the questions; I don't know about anything but onboard sound as of right now :)
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Old November 30th, 2004, 10:52 PM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by James Duffy : Thanks for the input. With the AT897 you recommended, does that 10$ cable allow it to plug into the small "MIC" jack on my GL2, so I wouldn't need an XLR adapter? -->>>

Exactly.

<<<-- How well does the wind-screen it comes with work for outdoor filming?-->>>

I haven't done much outdoor filming myself. If you search this board for the keyword "wind" you'll find that most people who do shoot outdoors invest in costly wind screens.

<<<--You mentioned wireless solutions... Will wireless microphones produce higher quality sound than shotgun mics? What are some recommended models?-->>>

It's rarely a simple answer with microphones. For voice frequencies it's hard to beat a wireless lavaliere (lapel) microphone on a subject. But for audio coverage of a larger area and/or when musical content and/or ambience is important then the pick up pattern and frequency response of a good directional mic (shotgun, cardiod or supercardiod) is better. You're going to need more and better advice than mine before you invest too heavily. Do searches in this board and ask more specific questions and I'll step aside while the real experts answer.

<<<--Should I buy the AT897 with the XLR to mini-plug adaptor first, then (as budget allows) buy the XLR adaptor and start building my microphone collection there?-->>>

Yes, if you're going to start with a camera mounted shotgun that would make sense. The AT897 kit at B&H is a good deal.

<<<--XLR allows you to use multiple mics to create one composite sound, correct?-->>>

XLR adaptors allow you to use two inputs, one to each of the camera's stereo channels (or one input to both channels). They also allow you to connect to higher end microphones placed a good distance away over noise-free XLR cable. To use more than two inputs and/or to alter and blend inputs you need a mixer.
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Old December 1st, 2004, 06:09 AM   #5
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I use an AT 897 and a Sennheiser G2 wireless. If you get the Beachtek box, you can use both mics simultaneously through the separate xlr inputs on the Beachtek.I did this the other night and kept the wireless (talent) on channel1 and the rest ( ambience, other people) on channel2. this way I can mix and balance in post.
My sugestion
at897
senn g2
beachtek
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Old December 1st, 2004, 09:55 PM   #6
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budget

i think many good options have been laid out.

what you really need to do is set a budget for this. then get as high as quality as you can for the SET (I did say set) amount in the budget.

Define what you want. Then list out a coupe of configurations plus the actual products that will get you there. (which you have already seen on this thread)

Then. If you are cost conscious, never buy new. Be patient (if you can) and sooner or later the goodies you need (or like equivilents) will apear on eBay.

I purchased my Beachtek phantom powered 2 input preamp and two AKG blue line plus CK98 shotgun capsules that way. I paid half of the new price and got very good quality stuff. Very happy. I'll never buy new again.

My two cents.
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Old December 2nd, 2004, 08:18 AM   #7
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Re: Buying First Mic

<<<-- Originally posted by James Duffy : I own a GL2, and am looking to improve my audio quality by transfering away from onboard sound.

Now, pretty much everything I do is done alone or with one other person, so I don't have a team, thus I don't ever have a "sound guy". I need to be able to manage everything myself, so would it be a better option for me to purchase a hotshoe mic instead of an XLR adapter and mic? Or would the XLR adapter still be a better purchase? I was thinking that the hotshoe mic would be less hassle, but I don't know much about microphones so I come here for advice.

And whichever direction you advise me to take, could you suggest some good models? I'm a college student, so cheaper is better, but I DO want decent quality, and am willing to spend a little more for it. My main concern is filtering out background noise, as it is present in everything I record with the onboard mic. Any tips or information will be appreciated. -->>>

Damn it Jim! I'm an engineer not a (insert your favorite profession).

Sorry, I had a Startrek flashback.

If you are SURE you don't want to work with a sound person, you will eventually hit the wall in terms of the complexity of the shoot and how good a job you do. At some point there will be just too much stuff to pay attention to. Typically, audio is the first to suffer.

The first phase of better audio is getting the mic off the camera and nearer to or on the person (persons) speaking.

The first step to the first phase is a hardwired lavalier. You will soon become bored with it and realize it's great for locked down documentary interviews, but you want to make movies now and that means tracking shots from a distance. That'll push you into some sort of wireless rig.

Oh I forgot to mention, there are very good reasons for using a mixer instead of plugging the mics into the camera. For a starter, I like the Sound Devices MixPre.

There's more info on my site about all of this. Help yourself.

Finally, it's better to show restraint and save a bit more to buy better audio gear than to realize what you bought with what you could affford is not so good. Unlike camera gear, good audio gear won't obsolete itself in 18 months.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 01:05 PM   #8
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I'm not doing anything professional, I'm just a random guy who makes videos in his spare time for entertainment. I don't have a crew; it's always either my tripod operating the camera, or my girlfriend :P. I realize this puts limitations on me, but it's not something I'm particularly concerned about.

Thanks all, I've been getting some really good advice in this thread.

Now, how selective exactly are shotgun mics? If someone is speaking behind the camera, will it not pick up the sound at all? (this could be advantageous). But how straightforward is its field of sound that it will pick up? Like, if someone is not completely straight in front of the camera, will it pick up his voice? I noticed the canon DM-50 has an option to switch to omnidirectional sound, and I'm wondering if I'm going to regret not being able to have omnidirectional sound without using the onboard mic (as far as I know, the AT 897 doesn't have that feature).

Thanks for the information on preamps/mixers (are they the same thing?). I'll definitely consider getting one when I get another mic.
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Old December 3rd, 2004, 10:27 PM   #9
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Ty is bang on. take your time and spend money wisely.

Read Jay Rose's article on Mic Patterns

Buy Ty or Jay's book. (or both) From the looks of it Ty's book may deal more with the field use and be the most practicle.

Ty's Audio Bootcamp


Jay's book
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Old December 6th, 2004, 11:13 PM   #10
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Thanks for the links, Bryan. A few days ago, I was set on getting the AT897. Since then, I've been doing a lot of reading and listening to samples and such, and now I'm less convinced than I was then.

Everyone has been giving rave reviews to the AT4073a. After what I've read, naturally this is my dream mic. However, price is a large factor in what I decide to purchase, and it IS twice the price of the AT897. I couldn't find any sample clips of the AT897 either, which doesn't help my situation. The AT4073a is definitely out of my price range as of right now. My question is, is the AT897 a good enough mic that I won't regret buying it in a year or two? Whatever I buy needs to last me for a little while. Of course the ideal answer is "save up and buy the AT4073a, it's a better mic". I'm in college and funds are very limited -- DV is a hobby for me, and doesn't turn any profit. Therefore I don't need the best of the best, but I also don't want to buy a piece of shit. What it comes down to is, is the AT897 a good enough mic that I will be happy using it until I have enough money to buy the AT4073a (which might not be for a while), or should I keep using onboard sound until I can afford the AT4073a?

And if anyone has sound clips of the AT897, I'd love to hear them.



EDIT: 11 inches for the AT897? Is that going to poke into the top of my shot when mounted on my Canon GL2?
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Old December 7th, 2004, 01:02 AM   #11
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If you insist on camera mounting the mic, there are ways to ensure the mic and it's wind screen don't show up in the picture.

I've used a Mighty Wondercam Mini rover. It's $50 at B&H and it gives you something to grip and enables you to lock the camera to your upper torso. This results in a very steady camera.

I've never been one to try and overload the shoe area of the camera. It's better to spread the load out. Well, the Mini Rover does that. You can mount your shock mount and mic to the top of the pistol grip. You can also buy an adapter plate to hold a wireless mic transmitter.

Always get a good quality shock mount, if you can't afford one , then wait. Better to do without for a while, than try and make do with cr@p

Look at the examole for the mini Rover at the bottom of the linked page. Dpon;t have heart failure, the prices are Canadian. The site has the best image of the mini Rover, that's why i use it.
Mini Rover
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Old December 7th, 2004, 03:56 AM   #12
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James,
I used the 897 camera mounted on my gl1 ( and now on my xl2), and there is no problem with the mic ending up in the frame. i do like the "mini rover" ( i bought one) that bryan reccomended, because you can use more accessories without loading up the shoe. I've use the mic, an on camera light and my Sennheiser wireless at the same time, and the mini rover is really helpfull.
As far as the sound of other mics- I never heard the swithcable canon, but it sounds interesting. I listened to lots of clips, and then sat down with a local sound guy and tested out some of the best mics. My favorite shotgun was the Sanken cs-3, and the Senn and neuman hypers sounded great. But I hadn't bought the xl2 yet, and phantom power ( along with price) were issues. After i bought the 897, the sound guy and I tested it against some others and we were both please with the results. My next shotgumn, however, will be the sanken.( i hope to get a chance to test out the famous Shoeps hyper one of these days).
have fun.
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