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Old December 5th, 2004, 10:25 AM   #16
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Re: Microphone for VO AND Music

<<<-- Originally posted by Dennis Liu : Hi,

Right now I have an XL1 and a minidisc recorder. In the short films that I will be making, I will be doing a lot of voice-over work.

In addition to that, for most of the music of the short films, I will be finding local musicians or myself to play the music and be recording either directly into the camera or into the MD recorder.

On a side note, I also have the M-Audio 2496 sound card... Is it possible for me to record voice-over work directly into the computer?

My question now is, if I'm on a budget, what's a good microphone to get that could be good for recording instruments (esp. piano, guitar, violin), AND be good for voice-over (and also interviews in very controlled environments)? Just to note, this is NOT a microphone I will be using during shoots, it is purely for recording things in post production.


Thank you,
Dennis -->>>


Dennis,

You're in NZ. Get a Rode NT2-A for studio work. I've heard it.

Regrards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 5th, 2004, 10:32 AM   #17
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art

Ty, do you mean the NT1-A ($200) or the NT2-A ($400)? Either way, I agree, but it outclasses the alternatives.

Quote:
As for preamps, now, I'm not a fan of ART equipment, but maybe that's 'cuz I've never been exposed to their higher quality stuff, so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt... but I'm of the mind that if you're going to spend $300 on a preamp, you might as well go for the RNP, which is killer in build and output quality, while it will last you a LONG time
No amount of salt can restore the flavor of an ignorant opinion. You've never used it. Isn't that "end of story?" I have used the RNP, and agree that it's a good preamp.... however, you are comparing a $500 solid state preamp to a $300 tube channel strip, including preamp, compressor and EQ. Is that a good comparison?

At least read the review/description here:

http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/files/052CE8CB2FAAC9818625687A00752A7B

As I mention elsewhere, the desktop ART gear is worthless. But their blackface rackmounted series is unbeatable at the pricepoint. If you replace the Chinese tubes with Telefunkens, you have yourself one steal of a deal.

I'm not choosing it over my Universal Audio + Manley's, but that's a $4,000 investment.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 04:01 PM   #18
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the suggestions. Now I have a few mics written down that I could consider, the next thing is trying them out. Also I guess you're all right in saying, if I have a good story and am really careful and methodical with what I have right now, I'm still going to get a quality result. For example dialogue, while audio people might immediately tell it's not a 'high quality' microphone, the audience will be engrossed in the content and emotion that is in the voices rather than focussed on these technical details.

I guess it's about improving production values until you're at a point when the equipment you're using does not hinder your storytelling progress or distract the audience from the actual story. Any more/higher quality would be for those who had the financial resources. However, all these options are certainly interesting.

Problem with New Zealand I guess is that it's hard to have a good selection to try out, however, I think right now with the NZ dollar quite high, it'd be a good couple of months to buy from overseas. I'll report back when I've sorted it out.

Thanks everyone,
Dennis
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Old December 5th, 2004, 05:58 PM   #19
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Harris had his Rode model numbers a little scrambled. Just for clarification, the NT3 is a single hypercardioid mic with a mid-sized diaphragm (3/4-inch). It can run on battery or phantom power.
The NT4 shares the same BODY with the NT3 but it shares the CAPSULE design with the NT5's.
The NT4 is a single-point X-Y stereo mic. Each capsule is a cardioid and they are mounted at 90 degrees to each other.
The NT5, which requires phantom power, is sold in stereo pairs. They are two mics which you can mount any way you want.
If you don't add any more equipment that can supply phantom power, and the Rode mics are still in your consideration, I'd recommend two NT3's over a single NT4. You'd have more flexibility in how you record, and the NT3 will work for VO even though it's not specifically intended for that role.
As I originally said though, you should also look at adding a preamp or mixer, like those that have since been suggested.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 08:21 PM   #20
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Hi Jay,

Thanks for the clarification. Yeah, I'm DEFINITELY looking at phantom-powered microphones for the future and a field mixer soon when I can afford it, as this will give me a bigger range of microphones to choose from (over just battery powered).

Dennis
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Old December 5th, 2004, 09:24 PM   #21
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woah there...

Quote:
while audio people might immediately tell it's not a 'high quality' microphone, the audience will be engrossed in the content and emotion that is in the voices rather than focussed on these technical details.
Woah, there. Gonna disagree with you on that.

While audio people might immediately tell it's not a "high quality" microphone, the audience will simply think "meh, it was okay. Seemed kinda cheap, and the acting could have been better. And you know, it really seemed to meander after the first 20 minutes. Pretty good for an independent, I guess."

That's generally how audiences react to poor audio.

"Wow, that was so much better than I was expecting. Honestly, it's a hell of a lot better than most of the stuff you see from Hollywood. Good acting, great story."

That's generally how audiences react to good audio.
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Old December 5th, 2004, 10:06 PM   #22
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I think you misunderstood what you meant Scot.

What I mean is that beyond an 'acceptable' level of audio quality, the rest is for those who can afford it financially. For example if I was to make two recordings of the same conversation with two microphones, and if in both recordings, the content of the dialogue came out very clearly, it would have achieved what I call its 'base purpose'. Obviously, filmmaking is a lot more than just achieving the lowest common denominator, and a higher quality microphone may give you a more accurate reproduction of a voices' tonal character, etc. and so on, and this would obviously contribute to making a better movie. However I think when discussing the differences in microphones is merely between what is 'acceptable' to 'very good' to 'outstanding' for a particular application, for none of us would be looking to buy a microphone that offered 'poor audio'.

Dennis
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Old December 6th, 2004, 12:14 AM   #23
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mistunderstanding

Quote:
I think you misunderstood what you meant Scot.
Either a typo, or one of the more creative insults I've come across. I might just have use that one in the future. ;)

Let me try to make my point another way.

Have you ever been in an apartment when suddenly a loud refridgerator turns off? The feeling is one of surprised relaxation, not even realizing that the noise was there, and annoying you.

That is the only way I can explain the world of non-audio people, who are complete mysteries to me (as I'm sure I am to them). We hear and emotionally/psychically respond to the exact same things, but for non-audio people, it is entirely unrecognized, and usually displaced. Hence my examples of people reacting to audio - sound quality is never, ever mentioned, even if it's what they're reacting to.

Quote:
none of us would be looking to buy a microphone that offered 'poor audio'.
Ever been to an Indian restaurant where they ask "mild" or "spicy?" Why can't there be a universal system of measurement for spice!?! Like celsius or Kelvin. "I would like mine between 43 and 56 Kelvin, please."

Unfortunately, we are stuck with relativist terms for things. Maybe what you call 'poor audio' is what I call 'the eleventh circle of hell," or something. But I'm hardly a snob - I've recommended a $500 system that I think is better than any other mentioned, and I mean it's really, damn good, but one that audio snobs would laugh me off the street for mentioning.

Quote:
the rest is for those who can afford it financially.
You can afford it - you have an XL1. This means you have allocated significant resources to video image quality. I actually use a PDX-10 (the cheapest 3-CCD camera with phantom powered XLR's when I purchased it), because I probably had the same video budget as you, only I wanted to allocate more to audio quality, because that's my focus, and it tends to be as important to the viewer's experience as video quality. (I am being generous here, audio is MORE important by a factor of 2). So let's leave money out of it.

I agree with others that you are approaching this the right way. I actually think you should pull the trigger ASAP - slow and steady is great until you factor in the opportunity cost of not recording decent sound for however long.

You happened to say something that I disagree with. But I misunderstand what I mean all the time. :o)
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Old December 6th, 2004, 12:35 AM   #24
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My apologies Scot, I meant "I" not "you"... ;o)

Yeah, I agree that it's hard to quantify 'audio quality' as everyone has had different experience and standards (like a poor musician would think they were great only until they've heard better), plus the addition factor that each person would be looking for something different when it comes to sound, video, food, television programs, books, drinks, etc. It's all about what your preferences are. However I believe there is somewhat of an 'objective' standard for 'audio quality', but I wouldn't know what that is yet because of my very limited experience (complete newbie? :D).

In the case of Slow and Steady vs. ASAP, after these few weeks of research and thinking, I've decided to reach a compromise between the two. Here's my plan so far:

1) I am definitely getting a mixer/preamp before I begin production for my next short, either a MixPre or 302.
2) I am definitely getting a phantom powered pair of microphones before I begin production/post for my next short, e.g. Oktavas.

My plan is to start with this base set and get a bit more experience with using these, then add microphones of different characteristics to this set as time goes on to give me more versatility.

Now that I think about it, this beginning 'set-up'/kit (two Octavas and a MixPre) should give me significantly better audio than the built-in XL1 microphone PLUS give me the opportunity to learn how to work with a boom and various recording techniques. What do you guys think?

Thanks Scot, sorry 'bout the typo lol...
Dennis
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Old December 6th, 2004, 12:41 AM   #25
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Hey Jay,

Thanks for the correction. I did scramble up the model numbers. I've been half-awake this week as I've attempted to help Dennis out since I've been getting up at o-dark-thirty and working 'til late on a project that's rapidly spinning to a deadline that looks like an oncoming Mack truck. That state includes what I'm writing now. Again, thanks for the clarification.

Scot,

I apologize as I mixed up your recommendation with the NT3's and NT4's, as I have the NT5's. You're also right about not having used the blackface Art equipment, so I really can't say one way or the other. So Dennis, you're doing the right thing in trying stuff out.

You're making some good points that are well taken and some good recommendations on budget equipment. On the Rodes, I do agree they're great products at the price-point, so no argument from me here.
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Old December 6th, 2004, 12:55 AM   #26
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okay, last email on this

Sounds good.

Let me help clarify your decision, as far as I understand it:

Configuration:
- MixPre $680
- Oktavas MK012 (pair) $400
- Total $1080, base

- PRIORITIZES Room sound, ambience, environmental noises, acoustic music, strings, acoustic guitar. Field recording. Portability.
- SACRIFICES Voiceover

NOTE: You must get decent shockmounts and foam windscreens for the MK012's for any field use. They are sensitive and designed for use in the studio.

Remember, the MK012's are not better than the XL1 microphone. They have different uses, and you will want to know when to use that XL1. The MK12 do NOT reject off-axis noise, for example!

EDIT: Are people really suggesting an MK012 for Boom operation here?
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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:14 AM   #27
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Hi Scot,

Umm... I think the reason people recommended the Oktavas was because part of my original 'criteria' was that I'd be using the microphones heavily to record music (esp. from acoustic instruments). Can you explain to me why the Oktavas are not good for voice-overs?

I've just found a local retailer who stocks Oktavas (New Zealand, they're out of stock now, but he says they're coming soon). I'll have to try them out to REALLY know how sensitive they are to handling noise, and also check out some shockmount/boom options. In addition I'm gonna make some comparisons with the Rodes too...

As for the Oktavas not rejecting off axis noise, hmm... I guess my next purchase would have to be a decent shotgun (?).

Dennis
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Old December 6th, 2004, 07:47 AM   #28
 
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Dennis,
Regarding the 2496, you can record directly into your laptop with that, no sweat. You'll have great sound as well. Better than the camera or minidisk sound.

I'd echo the Rode' recommendation. Great mic overall. If you had a bigger budget, I'd recommend the AT 40 series; even though they are small diaphragm, they are excellent for field work and excellent for most studio work unless you're dealing with very high SPL. They are also costly.
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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:33 PM   #29
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Quote:
Umm... I think the reason people recommended the Oktavas was because part of my original 'criteria' was that I'd be using the microphones heavily to record music (esp. from acoustic instruments). Can you explain to me why the Oktavas are not good for voice-overs?
I suppose they are fine, though not my preference, for voiceover work. Your configuration is not geared towards VO. Not just the mic choice - having a decent large-diaphragm mic, preamp and compressor will help improve and control the sound of a variety of vocals going in to your 2496.

The reason we like small diaphragm mics is that they pick up a wide field of sound, and they flatter most acoustic instruments with subtle coloration. The best Oktavas definitely "color" the input signal, in a way that is flattering (relatively speaking for a low-priced mic) to drums as overheads, or up close guitars and medium-close strings. There are *some* voices that it can flatter too, but I don't have that down to a science - much easier for me to reach for other mics that are more flexible with vocals.

The reason we like the mixpre is that it is portable - not necessary for VO.

Quote:
As for the Oktavas not rejecting off axis noise, hmm... I guess my next purchase would have to be a decent shotgun (?)
For what you are doing, I would recommend having the following mics:

RØDE NT4 *or* 2 matched Oktava MK012's
- for live recording of ambient sound in somewhat controlled settings.
- $400-500

Studio Projects C1 *or* NT1-A
ART Pro Channel
- for Vocals, VO
- $500

Audio Technica 4073a
- for boom work where directionality is needed.
- $825 incl. shockmount, windsock, pistol grip
- too much? Either stick with the XL1, or look at the Schribers at zotzdigital.com, or the Azdens, and make your own boom with their included shockmounts and some pvc pipe. Cheap but they do the job.

There is simply no way to have it all in one, so pick the configuration that meets your current needs the most.
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Old December 6th, 2004, 01:43 PM   #30
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Hi,

Yeah, I guess I'm gonna have to go with making my own DIY shockmounts for now, as I'm also making my own dolly system etc. It'll be practical at least, a good alternative.

As for the Rodes, what about the NT5's? This would give me the same as the NT4's but the ability of two separate bodies... I wonder how they compare to the Oktavas?

Dennis
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