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Old March 22nd, 2005, 09:22 PM   #1
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Mic Recommendations

I recently purchased the Canon XL2 and have had no experience in professional audio recording. I intend to shoot weddings, live concerts of local music talent, and dramatic films shorts, among other things. Could anyone recommend some good quality mics, or suggest a set of them, including manufacturer and model numbers, that will produce professional quality sound at modest prices? I would greatly appreciate any recommendations you may have.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:09 AM   #2
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Lee,
I use a Sennheiser ME-66, which I got for around $400 3 years ago, and I'm very happy with it. The capsule, which is a short shotgun, attaches to a power module that can accept several other Sennheiser capsules. I've also met several people who shoot weddings who use low-end Sennheiser wireless lavs (attached to the groom) and claim to get great results. I've only shot a couple of weddings so I couldn't tell you for sure. I'm not sure if feeding low-end Sennheiser mics into a DV camera counts as "professional audio recording," but it will be a huge step up until you can afford dual-system sound. Oh, I also have friends who use the low-end Audio Technica shotguns and get nice results. Finally, if you look through the old posts on this forum, you'll find there are countless threads dedicated to mic recommendations.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:13 AM   #3
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Some of the most popular approaches:

Weddings:

The goal is usually to get intelligible dialogue without excessive background noise.

Plant a lav on the groom or minister to pickup their audio (and the bride). You can either go wireless (chance of interference, slightly lower quality sound with low-mid end wireless) or wired to mini-disc, mp3/wav, or similar recorder.

For run-and-gun situations the only place for the microphone on your camera. It might be better to use a hypercardioid microphone instead of a shotgun, as it will sound much better indoors because better off-axis response means echo/reverbs don't make your audio sound weird/artificial/hollow. A hypercardioid microphone will have slightly less reach (translates to slightly more background noise) and the complete system is generally slightly less expensive.

Kind of un-related, but make sure your lens is wide enough (get a wide-angle adapter if need be) so you can get closer to the sound source. This will be much better for your incoming audio signal. Also, it may help to speak loudly to the interviewee to get them to speak loudly to you. :P

dvfreelancer.com has lots of excellent clips and I believe you can hear a comparison between shotgun and hyper to hear the difference for indoors situations. Jay Rose's book Audio Postproduction for Digital Video (see dplay.com for buying instructions) I'm pretty sure has a comparison track on the accompanying CD. The book is well worth it.

Accessories you will want for a camera mic are a windscreen (for outdoor wind) and shock mount if getting lots of handling or camera motor noise.

Music:
A patch into the venue's sound board can sometimes be really beneficial, but that depends on the mix you get so befirend the sound guy there. You may want a seperate recorder so you can record tracks onto your camera too (in case you don't get a good recording from the board feed; plus you want some audience sound too).

For stereo recording, there are a whole bunch of methods. For TV, M/S stereo micing is the best setup as it is 100% mono compatible. Other methods of recording stereo require two microphones (usually cardioid), except for A/B stereo which can be done in one microphone. Most TV viewers don't get stereo anyways, so this may not be a big deal.

For one microphone, indoors cardioid/hypercardioid is best and outdoors shotgun/hyper. The less directional mics are better if you are very close to the stage. They will color off-axis sounds less.

A really tall mic stand can be quite useful if you need less audience noise.

There are many, many different approaches to recording music performances. The info above kind of glosses over it.

Dramatic Film:
For 90% of situations a boom microphone is best. You'll need a boom operator with a boom and (especially with inexperienced operators) a headphone return of some sort is very helpful.
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=37441
A pair of good isolation headphones (closed headphones or in-ear headphones) is a good idea.
Sony MDR-V6 (cheaper, consumer version of industry-standard MDR-7506) is a good bet. They are a little hard to find, but you can get them new off eBay stores or online stores (try froogle.com, pricegrabber.com).

Wireless is good to have for situations where booming is difficult. If you have that, a field audio mixer becomes useful when you have multiple sources. The Sound Devices stuff is good and expensive. Shure mixers like the FP32 are also good, and the budget route would be something like the Rolls Mixpad.

Sound blankets are good to have.

2- Popular recommendations for microphones:

I don't pay too much attention to this because I don't have the money to buy this stuff. But some points to get you started:

Good wireless systems:
But popular recommendations are:
Low to mid end: Sennheiser G2, Audio Technica

Shotgun:
High end: Sennheiser 416, Sanken CS1, Sanken CS3
Low to mid end: Audio Technica 897, AT 4073a (higher end)


Hypercardioid:
Budget/bang-for-your-buck: Oktava MC012 from the sound-room.com with hypercardioid capsule (this is to avoid quality control issues; if you can go to a store and pick, that would be good too.)

3- Jay Rose's book Great Sound for Digital Video is a great book to have, as it has lots of good audio advice and will point out little things that can come in handy. See dplay.com for ordering info. Search these forums for reviews (heh, I'm always pimping it). I haven't read Ty Ford's book, which other people recommend.

dvfreelancer.com has lots of great information as well as microphone samples!! Great site to check out.

4- "Professional" I think professional relates more to how to use the gear than on buying the most expensive gear (which actually doesn't cost that much compared to cameras). For weddings, a low-cost wireless on the groom will be far, far better than any camera-mounted microphone (even $1500 mics like the sennheiser 416). That is except when you get dropouts or lav noise, which a professional would try to avoid by scouting the location (at the right time of day), selecting the right frequency, possibly having a backup, and mounting the lav nicely. You can find all this information in Jay's book, although for some things you have to do legwork yourself (i.e. finding which frequencies are good in your area).
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Old March 24th, 2005, 11:51 AM   #4
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Thank you for the suggestions. I've been researching the various mics recommended. I'm more informed than I was beforehand! Certainly. Prior experience with recording audio was mere amateurish dabbling.

I need clarification on one thing, though. For weddings, it was suggested I use a hypercardioid mic indoors rather than a shotgun. I thought the two were synonymous, in regards to their directionality. Or are shotguns strictly boom-mounted microphones, while the hypercardioid in discussion might be a camera mount, as well as handheld?
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Old March 24th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #5
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Hypers and shotguns are different. Both are boomable or mountable.

Hypers don't have the reach of shotguns, but they have tighter patterns and usually sound better indoors due to wall, ceiling, floor and big screen tv bounce (It was a REALLY BIG screen,)

Ty Ford
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Old March 25th, 2005, 07:32 AM   #6
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Glenn,
For indoor on camera-would you reccomend the Oktva over the shotgun? I have an AT 897 that I leave on cam, and also have the Oktava with the 3 capsules that I've yet to use for anything.
Also,where could I get a foam windscreen for the Oktava capsule?
Thanks
Bruce S. Yarock
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Old March 25th, 2005, 07:43 AM   #7
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Okay, I have to ask a dumb question. What's the difference between a hypercardiod and a supercardiod?
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Old March 25th, 2005, 08:46 AM   #8
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> What's the difference between a hypercardiod
> and a supercardiod?

Actually none. Just different words for the same thing.

The answer to your questions is greatly affected by a choice you have to make about having a soundperson or not.

If not, for weddings and documentary-style video you will get good results buy using wireless lavs, which if good quality are basically install and forget. It might be a good idea to get a portable mixer, so that you can selectively drive the output of two lavs into the two channels or into one channel and a camera-mounted hypercardoid on the other, in case you need to pick up reactions, quick interviews, ambience.

To get a good feed from the audio infrastructure at the wedding, forget connecting the camera. Get a portable recorder that can last the whole length of the ceremony. This can be a DAT, MD, solid state or hard disk recorder. Work with the sound team beforehand to make sure you can interface your recording to the system.

A setup like this, when you master it, will be worry-free enough for you to concentrate on operating the camera.

For wedding it would be much better to have a soundperson with a lot of mics, cables and a portable multichannel recorder like the Fostex, but of course that means a lot more money.

For documentary work it is good having a boom operator with a hypercardoid for indoors or boom with shotgun for outdoors, you have that on one channel and the wireless lav or on-camera mic, for interviews and ambience, respectively, on the other channel.

Recording music is a whole different ballgame. You will probably need professional sound personnel and rented equipment, and the equipment will depend much on the kind of music being recorded. Sometimes you can get away with using a stereo mix from the main mix, but in many cases you will need a full multitrack version and a lot of postproduction to make it sound good.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 10:13 AM   #9
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I guess this falls in the dumb category, too: What is a capsule? Is it something separate from the mic?
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Old March 25th, 2005, 10:32 AM   #10
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Some condenser mics are modular. For example some AKG mics I often use have a FET preamp and the XLR connector housed in a cilindrical assembly, and the transducer itseld is a small removable module which becomes the "front" of the mic. This module can be of several different types to accomodate for different uses. The module with the transducer is usually referred to as a "capsule".

There are no dumb questions here. You will sometimes find dumb answers, though <grin>
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Old March 25th, 2005, 11:57 AM   #11
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Actually, I haven't even begun to get my feet wet with audio production; I'm still walking down to the water. Is the transducer located at the top/front of the mic? And its removable? What different types are there? For what uses? Is the type determined by the microphone model, or can different capsules be used in different models? Am I correct in thinking that capsules are used only on shotguns? And are there mics with more than one capsule (believe I recall a three-capsule mic mentioned somewhere in this thread)?
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Old March 25th, 2005, 12:31 PM   #12
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"Great Sound for Digital Video"

Lee,

The book "Great Sound for Digital Video" by Jay Rose may be the best/fastest way to come up to speed on audio. I found it to be very helpful. You can check it out at his web site http://www.dplay.com/. He has a link there where you can get it for a discount at amazon.com for about $35.

This book is one of the best written books for quick learning I have come across. He addresses your urgent questions right away, and then teaches you how to get great audio while only going into theory as little as possible. His writing style is easy to understand.

Good luck with your projects. HTH.

Best Regards,
Pete
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Old March 25th, 2005, 05:47 PM   #13
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This thread is getting a little out of hand as some of the questions here belong in their own thread. Anyways...

Quote:
Glenn,
For indoor on camera-would you reccomend the Oktva over the shotgun? I have an AT 897 that I leave on cam, and also have the Oktava with the 3 capsules that I've yet to use for anything.
Also,where could I get a foam windscreen for the Oktava capsule?
Thanks
Bruce S. Yarock
Do a search and you will find answers to many of your questions. I quickly searched oktava + windscreen and found the following thread:
(paraphrasing of subject line) Review of 2 best windscreens for Oktava (Matt G)
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...ava+windscreen

As far as which mic would be better *indoors*, it is probably the Oktava as it will likely will not sound "weird/hollow/artifical" like shotguns do. Since you have both microphones it shouldn't be a big deal to test it out yourself?

One thing you might want to watch out for with the Oktava is difference in output level versus the AT897, and handling noise (it may pickup more/less). Since you have both microphones you should be able to quickly figure out the answer?

I have never used either microphone so take this with a grain of salt.

Another opinion:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...oktava+shotgun

Quote:
Run and gun will need a short shotgun. the oktava is a great mic but not really built for run and gun.

The same wind protection definetly would not fit both mics. The Oktava has a belled end to it's capsule. it's 22mm tapering to 20mm, so a softie really won't work. So far as the 12 cm , that's almost thew length of the mic.

Matt Gettemeier and myself both use rycote baby ball gags on the Oktava. We slip a 20mm ball gag over the preamp and then screw the capsule on.

The KSSM with the soft rubber is the best shock mount and it will actually work for either mic. All you do is spread the bands apart for a kheavier mic. The K-Tek mounts all fit between 19 and 25mm mic barrels

The 4073 is a short shot so you'll need the medium 12 cm.

For a combined situation of close. crowded then outside the perfect choice would be the sanken CS1.

Listen to the CS-1 axis demo ,the mic acts as a hypercardoid and short shotgun with the rear lobe of a cardoid (actually lack of one)
The mic is around $700 but it does the job of several. there are three cuts and they all show the phenominal ability of the CS-1 to reject off axis sound. The CS--1 is one of the few mics to actually remain a hyper through all frequencies. At the lower frequencies many hypers and shotgun almost become omni.

For an inexpensive dialog mic for interiors , you can't beat the Oktava. It's so close to mics costing 10 times as much than it should be. There are some clips on the same link that i've included.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 05:55 PM   #14
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> Is the transducer located at the top/front of the mic?

Not neccesarily. The transducer is the part of the microphone that converts one kind of energy into another one. In this case, mechanical movement caused by air moving a membrane is transformed into an electrical signal. There can be other stuff in front of the transducer like an interference tube (which turns it into a shotgun), a pop filter, and there is usually also some grille to protect the transducer. Some mics also combine several transducers which through electronic processing give the operator the choice of different polar patterns.

> And its removable? What different types are there?

On some microphones, this is removable. On most it is not. There are two common type of transducers, the condenser type and the moving coil type. Usually condensers are better, but there are also some very good moving coil designs. Moving coil transducers are usually less expensive than condenser, and tend to withstand mistreatment better to. For this reason usually live audio for musica performance means a whole bunch of moving coil cardioids, like the famous Shure SM58, and just a few condensers where it counts most (drum overheads, pianos, lead vocals...).

> For what uses?

Well that's the subject of many books and courses... I think nowadays all the rest is so easy with computers, the main art of being a sound engineer is knowing how to choose the right mic, or in this case the right capsule. The basics are:

Omni: almost no use at all unless you want to pick up ambience or, in a nice, quite, conditioned room it has a very natural sound with instruments.

Boundary effect: this is special kind of mic physically attached to a surface. It has a semi-circular polar pattern and is great for some musical instruments. It's also good for conference tables.

Cardioid: responds similar to the human ear, good for close up vocals and most musical instruments.

Hypercardioid: rejects off-axis better than cardioid, good for live music gigs because of this. Also good for boom-mounted or hand-held sound-for-image because you can use it to selectively capture the sounds you need.

Shotgun: more off-axis rejection, good for theatre work and for tracking actors with a boom or hand-held. Can also be used in large spaces, but in closed quarters they don't work very well.

Parabolic: this is a microphone mounted backwards facing a parabolic reflector, much like a satellite TV receiver dish. It has a very pronounced directivity and can be used to selectively capture voices and audio action at sport events. Sometimes these are used for espionage. No kidding.

> or can different capsules be used in different models?

Most likely not. Usually a mic with a set of capsules is something you buy as a kit from a single manufacturer, i.e.: AKG.

Hope it helps. As has been mentioned, there are books that will clear this all up for you. Also, you could hire an audio professional to help you get a grasp on things and make informed purchases while you get to reading through those books.

Renting some mics and trying them out with a good preamp and headphones can also give you a good idea of the strengths and limitations of each one.

Cheers,
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Old March 28th, 2005, 04:00 PM   #15
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Sub $100 lavalier Mics esp. Azden EX-505U

Has anyone worked with the Azden EX-505U lav mic for about $40? Is it decent? How much decrease in quality is it from say the Audio-Technica AT831b ($130) or the Shure 183/184/185 ($150-180)?
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