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Old January 31st, 2005, 12:01 PM   #1
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Questions about the AT4073a shotgun mic.

Hi,

I am considering buying the AT4073a and I had a few questions about it.

1. It has a power requirement of: 11 - 52V, 3.2 mA typical. This means that it will work on any power from 11V up to 52V? (I will be using it with the AG-DVX100A, which has a power output of 48V and I wanted to make sure that the AT4073a and AG-DVX100A will work together.)

2. What is the max range (distance) that it will pick up a normal voice and still sound nice?

3. In a few years (2-4) how much of its value will it hold assuming that there is no big technical advances (with regarded to mics) in that time? (I understand that nothing is sure when it comes to the realm of electronics)

Nate
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Old January 31st, 2005, 12:26 PM   #2
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1. Yes. The DVX100 powers the mic very nicely. One of the forum members, Matt Gettemeir, has samples of the AT4073a on his web site

http://www.gettreel.com/audioclips.htm

which were done by running the mics into his DVX100. You can hear this mic compared to many other popular models on Matt's site.

2. Good technique for getting good results pretty much dictates getting as close as possible in all situations (no more than 3 feet if possible, 2 feet is even better). At further distances you will probably still pick up voice (depending on how much other ambient noise sources there are and their volume), but it rapidly falls out of the "nice" category, no matter what mic you're using.

3. Don't own one of these, so am not sure, but as this is a pretty good mid-level mic, I would imagine that it would hold it's value fairly well (50% or better) after a few years of use. Mics, and audio in general, changes a lot slower than other electronics. Certainly way slower than video acquisition equipment.

Joe Kras

p.s. Welcome to the site!
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Old January 31st, 2005, 02:48 PM   #3
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I agree with Joe on his comments. The 4073a is an excellent mic.
It will work well with the DVX-100 if you are mostly interested in recording quieter activities such as dialogue. If you routinely record louder activities, then the sensitive mic inputs on the DVX work well with a medium sensitivity mic, such as the AT897.
If you routinely work in both loud and quiet equally, you can use an attenuator with the 4073a. For full control, an external mixer is an excellent future purchase. For now, be sure to also budget for a shockmount, wind protection, good cables, good headphones and possibly a monitor for your boom operator. Search the threads here for info on all these topics.
Either of these mics will hold their value well if they are taken care of.
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Old January 31st, 2005, 11:30 PM   #4
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Thanks for the referrence Joe... and I'm sorry for the amateur feel of my site. It was originally started for a few members when we began a crazy mic obsession a couple years ago... but it could use some serious work.

It's no secret that the 4073a is one of my personal favorite mics... mainly because it's a value leader and it really sounds better then it should for the price. Everyone's got an opinion and for a "no-limits" shotgun I like the Sennheisers in the $1K and up range, but at $530 (from B&H) the 4073a is seriously capable.

If you take care of it and keep it looking new you'd sell it within HOURS if you only asked $350-$375 for it... even after using it for 2+ years... so for 2 or 3 years use about all you could lose on it is around $150 or so... not too bad considering you'll probably keep it forever, or until you want an even better mic anyway... (whichever comes first.)
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Old February 1st, 2005, 08:09 AM   #5
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1. Yes.
2. It's a shotgun, not as hyper. It'll work better on a soundstage or outside than in a typical residential or office space.
3. It'll hold up much better than your present camera. :)

Reggards,

Ty Ford
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Old February 1st, 2005, 11:46 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your posts. I decided to buy the mic. All of the info helped a lot. When ever I buy something on the internet I like to see what other people that have used it think about it. Thanks again for the help.

Nate
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Old February 4th, 2005, 01:42 AM   #7
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I bought the 4073a some three months ago based on Matts recommendation. I've run over 40 hours of footage using the 4073a and it never fails to give me excellent sound. In fact, as long as I get my levels right, my sound is almost always better than my video.

But now, a few questions:

I shoot on an XL2 and there are times when the sound I am recording is so loud that even when I set the levels to the proper range the sound still distorts. I assume this is because I should be attenuating loud sounds. But there appears to be both an attenuation switch on the mic as well as another attenuation switch on the XL2 itself. So my questions are:

1. What is the rule of thumb for attenuating loud sounds? Will shouting within 10 feet of the mic require attenuation? Shouting within 5 feet? Is there any advantage to backing the mic off loud sounds instead of keeping the mic where it is and attenuating the mic?

I know many of you are going to tell me to wear closed headphones in order to monitor the sound but often there are reasons why I have decided, in many cases, to go without the headphones. We can discuss these reasons if you are interested.

2. Which attenuation switch should I use? I have a Lightwave Equalizer on the AT (the fuzzy windscreen) and it covers up the mic's attenuation switch, so using the XL2 switch would be easer for me to access quickly. Does it matter which switch I use?

Thanks again.

Everyone on this board has been very very helpful.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 07:51 AM   #8
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1. That's four questions not one. :)

Use your meters, Maybe, Maybe, Less room sound

Big time movie directors use headphones on the set. Maybe they know something you don't. You look through the viewfinder when shooting, right? Don't come crying to us about bad sound if you or someone else who knows the difference between good and bad sound isn't using headphones. :)

Either change your way of working or, if your at that stage, congrats, you need a sound person so you don't have to pay attention to sound.

2. Which switch probably doesn't matter so much for you, but there are differences. Test them yourself in a quiet space and listen for selfnoise changes. Go with the quietest combination.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old February 4th, 2005, 08:52 AM   #9
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The switch on the mic is for bass rolloff, not an attenuator. For general use with the 4073a you can keep the bass rolloff engaged, but that's a personal choice and depends on what you're recording.
You should employ the mic attenuation switch on the camera for loud sounds with a high output mic like the 4073a.
I haven't used an XL2 yet, but if it behaves like the other common cameras for DV production, the meters only indicate the recording level that's going to tape. The meters don't indicate if you are overloading the input. Only listening to the signal as you're recording will tell you that. Hopefully the XL2 headphone out is better than the XL1. It was very difficult to properly monitor the XL1.
The clue that you're overloading the input is that you can still hear distortion despite turning the level controls lower and lower, with the meters indicating a "safe" level.
Using the mic attenuation switch on the camera will usually prevent overloading of the input, as well as allowing your recording controls to operate in the middle of their range instead of being barely open.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 09:32 AM   #10
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Jay makes some very good points.

You can, in fact, feed line level to a mic level input, see OK meter levels and think you're doing great. BZZZZT! Wrong!

With headphones plugged in (and hopefully before playback after the shoot) you will hear the distortion.

Did I mention using good headphones are really important? :)

That and more are covered in my book, btw.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old February 5th, 2005, 11:20 PM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Douglas Robbins : I shoot on an XL2 and there are times when the sound I am recording is so loud that even when I set the levels to the proper range the sound still distorts. I assume this is because I should be attenuating loud sounds.-->>>

Doug, I've had similar issues with my DVX... that is UNLESS I set one input to a "safe" level and set the other input to the level I WANT my overall sound to be recorded. If you switch both inputs to channel 2 and you set one input to the standard -3db peaks... then set the other to -12db peaks or even lower... you really shouldn't have any unusable audio on that channel... We're speaking of peaks here, not the total track. The way I do my audio (every time) is make a judgement based on what I'm shooting, and then set ch 1 to a level that will never overload that channel. Then I set ch 2 for the normal usable level that I like to deal with in my NLE. If the entire shoot goes well then you just duplicate ch 2 in your NLE and forget about the super-quiet ch 1. But if something gets too loud and blows ch 2 you can always cut in ch 1 for the offending moment.

If you need two seperate mics and you can't actively mix on something like a 302 then the advice above doesn't apply... but again, I'd put that into the category of a value judgement. Since I normally use my DVX for all the audio I'm going to need I sometimes shoot with 2 totally different mics and try for the best outcome with both of them... so that I have a backup channel if needed... OR I set both inputs for 1 mic at different levels... so that I have a backup channel if needed. Sometimes those differing levels are just a little different... sometimes they're dramatically different. It just depends on the situation and how much safety margin I need.

Am I over simplifying this or do you STILL get blown inputs even with the 4073a running at your cams lowest setting?
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Old February 6th, 2005, 04:09 AM   #12
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Matt,

That's a great trick. I'd never thought of that but, yeah, running two channels for one mic set at different levels (one correct channel and one low "safety" channel) would provide a great way to ensure that you always have usable audio. Great idea.

And no, I don't always have blown out sound, just when people are yelling at the mic when the mic is within 10 feet of them, or some other equivalently loud sound reaching the mic. In those cases, even lowering the levels does not escape the distortion. Using the attenuation switch on the XL2 in those cases appears to be the proper response.

Thanks again. Great board.

Douglas
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Old February 6th, 2005, 07:27 AM   #13
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The input limiters in the Sound Devices MixPre, 302 and 442 handle those LOUD moments very nicely.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old February 6th, 2005, 10:20 AM   #14
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Douglas,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the mic att. switch on the XL-2 is only for using the on camera or 'front' mic as it's labeled. There is no attenuate setting for the rear xlr jacks however there is a 12db gain up setting available in the audio setup for the rear xlr jacks. Not exactly what you want in your situation. In fact, you might want to look in the menu and make sure that the gain up isn't set to +12db.

regards,

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Old February 10th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #15
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Hi folks,

I thought I would just post to let you know what I've found out lately about the AT and the XL2.

First, yes there is an attenuation switch on the XL2 specifically for both XLR line inputs. It's a -20db switch and it is located right over the XLR ports just below the phantom power switch. This switch is very effective in controling high level sounds and yelling. That's the good news. The bad news is that when I use the switch it seems to turn down the AT mic's great bass response (one of the reasons why I went with the AT over the ME 66).

The second bit of good news is that with the attenuation switch on I can actually use the XL2 auto audio feature. It's still inferior to setting the levels yourself but it's great in those run and gun situations. I'm glad to know the auto function works now (of course as mentioned above I lose some bass response).

The bad news is that Matt's idea about setting different manual levels for two channels in order to set a lower "backup" channel does not appear to work on the XL2. The XL2 will feed the shotgun sound into both channels. That works fine. But you control the manual settings with a single dial, the CH 1 dial. The CH2 dial has no effect.

Thanks for all the info on this board. You guys have been great.

Douglas
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