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Old February 28th, 2005, 04:54 PM   #1
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Best mic system for $600 budget?

Okay, I'll just ask the question here...I have about $600 I can spend on mics, and I'm going from the ground up. I do mostly documentary/event videography (currently working on a documentary about a community string orchestra). Shooting with a DVX-100A.

What's the best use of my money for microphones?
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Old February 28th, 2005, 05:54 PM   #2
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best mic system

Sennheiser ME66/K6 (period). I am sure there are varying opinions, and it's fair to say that your equipment list is driven not only by your budget but also your purpose, but: Unless you're right up in someones face (and even then quality may be in question), the built in mics on our cam don't cut the mustard. This mic has been around for a good long while and if you only take reasonable care or it you'll probably get about 10 years out of it. Camera mount, mic stand, or put it on a stick, you won't regret it (check eBay for occasional buys--that's where I got mine). Here it is at B&H: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=73100&is=REG
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Old February 28th, 2005, 08:52 PM   #3
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at897?

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Old February 28th, 2005, 09:28 PM   #4
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I'm pretty much dead-set on the AT-897. I'm wondering if I should look into any other microphones, however, such as an omni.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 09:35 PM   #5
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for what use?

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Old February 28th, 2005, 09:43 PM   #6
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Like I said in my first post, documentary/event videography. I'm currently working on a documentary for a community string orchestra, which will include recording a concert in three weeks.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 10:31 PM   #7
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Tom,

Like I said, exactly what sort of setups do you have in mind? The spectrum covered by "documentary/event videography" is rather massive. Work with us here, Tom. Think about it and tell us what shots you're likely to go after.

How many people on camera at a time?
Inside, outside?
Need to hide the mic? Don't care?
Recording that concert will be REAL challenging with only $600 of audio gear.

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Old March 1st, 2005, 01:12 AM   #8
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I gotta' agree with Ty on this one... I'd say an 897 would be a good start. With a DVX the super-hot output of an me66 is a burden rather then a positive. With almost ALL of the other prosumer cams that's not so much the case, but the DVX doesn't want a hot mic.

$600 won't get you far unfortunately... I'd get a K-Tek aluminum avalon for $220, add a K-SSM shockmount for $110, and a Softie on the 897... bam, $600 gone.

Otherwise forgo the support gear and rig stuff for now... in that case I'd get a cheap hyper like an Oktava mc012 to go with that 897...

Then there's always lavs... but maybe later.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 10:01 AM   #9
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I agree with Matt and Ty. With the DVX and general doc/event work, especially camera-mounted (arrrrrgggg....) the AT897 is a great choice.
As Matt said, an 897 and the minimal correct accessories will easily be $600, but is well worth the investment.
If you're strictly a one-man-band, you could substitute a less expensive mic stand for the nice boom pole. Put that money toward either the Oktava that was mentioned or some other double-duty choices like the AT873r, ATM31a, AT899 lav, AT3031, Senn e835, or EV N/D367s.
Back to what Ty said, it all depends on how you want to specifically work. Investing in good audio and the right mic for the job will pay big benefits in your final product.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 11:22 AM   #10
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What do you guys think of an AT835ST in terms of single-mic versatility for $600? I can't think of any deployment of the AT897 that would measure up to a good stereo mic placed in front of the ochestra. And mounted on the camera in narrow mode for other situations, the pick up pattern looks reasonably directional. Higher sensitivity than the AT897 and less off axis coloration, I would imagine. There's probably a down side, or experienced hands would already be recommending that approach, but what would that be?
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Old March 1st, 2005, 12:54 PM   #11
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A review of the 835ST is on my site.

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Old March 1st, 2005, 12:55 PM   #12
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My experience with AT mics is that they are usually not very good. The Senn of course are good. But you can try the Beyerdynamic condenser mics. I have used a shotgun and some hypercardioids and they are really good for the money and less expensive than equivalent Sennheiser or AKG models.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 03:19 PM   #13
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Which AT mics have you used and what were the circumstances?
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Old March 1st, 2005, 06:47 PM   #14
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For the string orchestra: I suggest you rent any non-shotgun condensor microphone... like the Audio Technica 822 (I haven't used that microphone, but folks here recommend it). Shotguns sound really bad for recording music, especially in reverberant spaces. I recording some music recitals with the AT835s (non-stereo) and cheaper Apex shotguns. Even a Shure SM58 will sound better (that's a vocal dynamic microphone... not very appropriate for recording a string orchestra; it's only $100 or so, although it's really good value so don't just judge microphones by their price tag).
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Old March 2nd, 2005, 06:32 AM   #15
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Jay, I don't have the model numbers at hand, but I have used AT medium length shotguns (mono), short shotguns (stereo), wired omni lavs and I own a wireless lav headset kit. In all these categories, they are easily the worst microphones I have ever used. The only AT mic I have ever liked was a discontinued vocal model hard to get by these days.

On the other hand, I have never used and AKG, Sennheiser, Shure or Beyerdynamic that I didn't like.

Specificially, I am very fond of the Senn ME66 and Beyerdynamic MCE 86 for shotgun applications, the Beyerdynamic M 201 TG for percussion and stereo live audio, the AKG C 480 B with ULS/61 capsule for almost anything, and the C1000 and C3000 for several applications when you can't get the 480 combo.

For the string orchestra you are mentioning, I would try a pair of Beyerdynamic M 201 TG mics or a pair of C1000 mics. This Beyerdynamic is a very awesome-sounding dynamic mic, which approaches the quality of af a good small-diaphragm condenser. The C1000 has the versatility of the included hypercardioid adapters which you can take out, but the bass response is somewhat defficient.

A pair of AKG C 480 B with ULS/61 capsules would be better, but I don't think you can afford them, at least not brand new.

You will also need something else for interviews, like a good shotgun and perhaps a wireless lav. So perhaps the best you can do for this project is plan ahead and rent the mics you need for the string orchestra and interviews.
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