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Old February 25th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #1
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Using an SM81 w/a Sony TRV730

I'm sure this is a really dumb question, but I was wondering how I can add a Shure SM81 to my TRV730? I see the 730 has a hot shoe on the top plus a jack labeled "MIC (PLUG IN POWER)". I also read that the SM81 requires Phantom power, which the 730 isn't looking like it can supply.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old February 27th, 2005, 02:03 PM   #2
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The easiest way would be to use a BeachTek DXA-6 adapter to supply phantom power for the mic and make the connections between the mic and camera. It would also give you basic controls over routing and would defeat the plug-in power and the noises that can cause.
I assume this is a situation where you already have the SM-81?
Otherwise there are alternative mics that would be easier to work with and would give equivalent or better results depending on your situation.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 02:11 PM   #3
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Thanks Jay!

No, actually I don't have an SM81 or any other mic at this time. The SM81 was recommended to me a while back by other forum members as being the best mic for recording car noises (exhaust growl, turbo whistles, etc.). The built-in mic seems to just clip and distort when recording close up, plus it picks up everything alsmost equally (like it gets the noise of the fans and howl of the tires just as much as the grumble of the motor). I'd like to be able to isolate one sound from another and then mix them back in the proportions that sound best to me.

Within the somewhat near future I plan to upgrade to something like a PD170 or perhaps an FX1, if that has any bearing on your recommendations.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old February 27th, 2005, 02:37 PM   #4
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If the TRV730 doesn't have manual audio level controls, then all of this will be difficult to get really good results with.
The SM81 is a good mic with a long-standing reputation. However I've found the AT3031 to have a very similar sound character, along with having even less self-noise, better switch controls, very high max SPL ratings and it costs about half the price. It would still require phantom power.
I think you'd be better off using either a battery-powered mic or a very good dynamic mic. This will cost less for the mic and also much less for the XLR adapter without phantom (which you wouldn't need after you upgrade your camera). And it would probably be in line quality-wise with what the 730 can record.
Do you have an idea of budget you want to spend and can you use the mics in a different manner while taping other than mounting them to the camera?
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Old February 27th, 2005, 02:44 PM   #5
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I will definitely check into that AT3031. Is that battery powered, or were you saying that there is a third choice which I should consider which is battery powered? Also, what would be an example of a XLR adapter that would work with a non-phantom mic?

The budget isn't set in stone (definitely less than $1000 for mic + adapter, but from what i've seen that covers almost everything). To me, if the results aren't night and day better than the built-in mic, then it's not worth doing. And I never figured getting those results would be super cheap. The big thing is that I don't want the TRV730 to limit the choices you suggest. I want a good mic that would work well with the camera I eventually move into, but also that I could use in the meantime, even if the camera can't record all the quality of the mic itself.

Thanks again for the help.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 05:24 PM   #6
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Although he likes it, (and so do I--I have two) Jay mentioned that the AT3031 is phantom, not battery powered. Therefore, he said you might be better off with a battery powered mic or a dynamic mic because they don't require phantom power, and so you could get by with a cheaper XLR adaptor...an item you won't need after you get a PD170 or other higher end camcorder with built in XLR.

What is your shooting situation? Jay ask that too and you didn't respond to that part of his last post. Are you moving around racecars in close while they're being worked on or presented, interviewing owners and mechanics, filming race action from the sideline, or all of the above, or something else?
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Old February 27th, 2005, 05:47 PM   #7
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sorry about missing a few of the details from Jay's post.

I have a dyno, and we strap cars down to the rollers and then let them do a full throttle "pull" from idle all the way up to redline. So all of the normal very loud "car sounds" are coming from right there, in a fixed location. I could have the camera and an external mic on tripods in proximity to whatever item i'm trying to capture audio from. Ideally I would do one "pull" and capture exhaust, then another pull to capture the turbo (at the opposite end of the car), etc.

Of course, there will be times when we will be out at the track and I'll want to get audio from moving cars. I don't ever expect those situations to be as good for producing audio so even the built-in mic meets my admittedly low expectations there. What I really want is to be able to develop my own very high quality sound effects "library" that i can mix in with the video taken in other circumstance... for example, have great quality audio from the dyno that can be overlayed on top of a video of the car actually running at the track.

does that make sense?

thanks!
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Old February 27th, 2005, 07:14 PM   #8
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If I had to apologize every time I missed something someone had said, that's all I'd have time to post.

Ahh! So when you said "fan noise" you didn't mean crowd noise ;>] Anyway, so you're free to place the mic away from the camera. Great. Then this would be my suggestion. All of the following are available at B&H:

1. Get a Beachteck DXA-6 XLR adaptor (which can provide phantom power) as Jay initially suggested for $249. It has a male tripod mount on the top to mount to the cam and a female tripod mount on the bottom to mount the resulting assembly to the tripod. You can always get $175 or so back on the adaptor (here or ebay) when you get your PD170 or whatever.

2. Get an AT3031 for $169, and a mic stand from a music store for $20-30. Get a shock mount like the AT8415D with K-tek suspenders for $65. Always a good idea, but especially important for you since mechanical resonance of a mic hard-mounted to the stand would be likely at some RPM's

3. Get a 50 foot length of 20 gauge XLR cable for about $35

That's about $550 total and gives you a lot of flexiblity. You can have some fun and learn a lot.

5. If you want to splurge, also get a shotgun mic like the AT897 for $279. You could use it cam-mounted and fed into one channel to follow the race action, with the AT3031 pointed at the crowd and fed into the other channel. You might be able to do a lot with that in post. Depending on the accoustics surrounding the dyno (for voice and music, shotguns don't normally sound good in the presence of echos, but since you're recording noise to beging with, who knows?), you might try the shotgun set back from the dyno (another mic stand and another length of XLR cable) and feeding one of the channels while the AT3031 feeds the other. Again, interesting potential for mixing.

After you liquidate the DXA-6 (if you decide to) at a relatively nominal loss, everything above will still be usefull gear when you upgrade your camcorder.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 07:35 PM   #9
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Excellent advice, thanks for taking the time Fred!

And if i'm not mistaken, the HDV FX1 would require some sort of XLR adaptor also, meaning that all of this equipment would be usable on the next camera if I went that route. (I'm torn between the extra pro features and low light capability of the 170 vs. the obvious lure of HDV on the FX1, so I'm not totally sure which path I'll take at this time.)

Thanks again to both of you!
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Old February 27th, 2005, 07:40 PM   #10
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I'm going to make an oddball recommendation based on all the factors we've discussed. The EV N/D367s, available online for $160 or less. Connect this to your camera with a BeachTek DXA-2s (the s is important!) for $170.
If you like the sound of this mic, you could get a second one for doing stereo at the track by mounting them to a stationary stand.
While this isn't normally a mic you'd mount to a camera, it can be done with the right mount. At the dyno you could use a regular mic boom-stand with a sandbag.
It's a dynamic mic with a wide frequency response, low handling noise and a sensitivity level that I think will work in your situation.
If you don't like it for your dyno work, you could easily sell it or keep it for hand-held use in interviews at the track.
An alternative that's often used for this kind of work is the Sennheiser 421 for $350, but that really isn't a mic that you could mount on the camera or use for other hand-held activities.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 07:45 PM   #11
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Fred beat me to the punch and I don't disagree with anything he said. My response is a lower cost solution which still has many of the benefits that Fred's plan has.
There is (will be?) a version of the Sony HD camera that will have the XLR connections included.
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Old February 27th, 2005, 08:14 PM   #12
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Ut-oh! More than one choice is bad for my novice brain! Being that these mics are "just numbers" to me and that I've never heard any of them, is there a way for me to make the choice between the two? Would I go for the EV purely so that I could use that cheaper BeachTek box?

Also, one other recording "environment" that I would like to attempt is to be filming out the window of a "chase" vehicle towards a separate subject vehicle. It would be great to be able to pick up the sounds of the subject vehicle, but I imagine this is quite hard to do? I've see foam filters for cutting down wind noise, but could they hope to work in this environment where you'd basically have the equivalent of 60mph wind or more?

thanks,
Jeff
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Old February 28th, 2005, 08:19 AM   #13
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The lower total cost and the lower handling noise would be the primary reasons to go with the N/D367s. When used close-up, it would probably give better bass response too. At a distance, they would probably sound similar, but the AT3031 would have much greater sensitivity. Unfortunately you'd simply be knocking most of that extra signal down with the BeachTek controls when recording loud sounds into your present camera.
The 3031 would be easier to mount to the camera and would be easier to place into more sophisticated wind protection, but that type of wind protection will be considerably more expensive than the mics themselves. The 367 could double as a hand-held interview mic too, the 3031 would be very poor at that job around high-powered cars. The 367 would be much simpler to use as it is, without having to add accessories.
There is a new wind protection device that claims it can defeat 70mph winds if I remember. It's extremely expensive. A regular zeppelin and furry cover are also expensive and can defeat 25 to 30 mph. This might be acceptable if you can get some shielding from the chase vehicle you're in.
Here's some links to these two mics:
http://www.audiotechnica.com/prodpro/profiles/AT3031.html

http://www.electrovoice.com/Electrovoice3/products.nsf/pages/ND367s
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