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Old April 5th, 2005, 08:26 PM   #1
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student needs a good all round mic

Hey guys,

I'd like to first say that I've used the forums for great resources when choosing equipment and when running into problems. I'm always amazed at the knowledge the people here have.

I'm getting ready to graduate here in a month and I have three weddings planned for this summer. The big project though is for my old high school.

Last year I did a closed circuit feed and it wen't pretty well except for the fact that I was using my gl2 mic. This year I'm in charge of the closed circuit feed again but I'm also putting togeather the graduation video. Everyone recommends the Beachtek DXA-4P from what I understand so great....thats what I'm going to get.

http://stepup.cccneb.edu/~kstueven/graduation.gif

here is a ms paint of the setup in the gym. I'm planing on having my gl2 between the choir and the stage and another on the balcony. I'm figuring on 50ft of cable so that I could probably just plug into their system but I want to buy a nice shotgun as a backup. I also want this shotgun for weddings in the future...I plan on getting other stuff down the line but hey...I'm just getting out of college trying to get clients and I don't have money. What do you guys recommend for a great first mic around $150 or so and what should I look for in cable that's a decent length for most projects? Also, is there anything I'm forgetting to include that I'll need to make things work? Should I just get a wireless mic instead and set it on the podium?

Beachtek DXA-4P $169
?50ft cable $???
Mic $???
Whatever else I'll need to make things work

I'm looking at $350 or so total that I can spend

Thanks,
Keith
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Old April 6th, 2005, 09:24 AM   #2
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If you plan on keeping your GL2 for a while, I'd move up to the BeachTek DXA-6 that provides phantom power. It's $250 but will allow for a wider range of better mics to be used.
If you plan to replace the camera soon with a model that already supplies phantom power with XLR connectors, then you could stick with the lower BeachTek for that time period.
If you do stick with the lower BeachTek, there are very few XLR mics that are battery-powered and suitable for camera mounting that fit in your budget. In fact, with the other things you need for this upcoming project, there's only one mic that I would recommend that would fit into this narrow window and be suitable for long-term general use. That's the ATM31a (or ATM-31a if you're searching the internet for vendors) that's available online for $130.
For this upcoming project during the ceremony, you'll get best results if you mount the mic on a mic stand that's separate from the camera. Borrow one from the school or buy one on sale for $10 to $15. A camera-shoe to mic-thread adapter is also available for a few dollars. A true shockmount will be more money for a future purchase.
You should also invest in a passive direct box for making the connection between the house audio system and your camera. A low priced model like the Whirlwind EDB-1 ranges from $20 to $35. A 1/4-inch cable to go between their mixer and the direct box is a couple of dollars.
Your 50-foot XLR cable made with Canare StarQuad cable from a reputable assembler like HAVE Inc. will be about $40-$45. There are cheaper cables available and you could get two 25-footers on sale probably, but good cable is a good investment. It's up to you and your budget.
Lastly you need good headphones. The industry standard for field work are the Sony 7506. They are about $100.
You will need to add mics to this in the future as you've already stated. An on-camera shotgun such as the AT897 is a necessity, but it's not the best choice for many situations, including this school graduation and is out of your budget even at the bargain price of $280.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 05:20 PM   #3
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Ok...so heres where I'm at. I've went ahead a splurged above my budget when I bought my GL2 and it's paid for itself. I'm getting out of college and rather than working for somebody, as there's really no jobs in this area, I'm partnering up with another guy who is in his 40's and has always been successful at business...so it's just not going to be a 20 year old who knows nothing about real life. Neither of us know much though when it comes to audio...we've done work on our own for less money but were at the point where we need to step it up and only buy good equipment..and get paid well. It's a learning expierence and risk for us but I'm sure it's just second nature to you guys. So, I the audio dummie, rather than going cheap, are asking for help in what I should look at buying...I have some bonds to cash in so im looking at around $1500 available...I don't wan't total overkill but something nice..it doesn't have to be the best as our only competition is a guy who uses old VHS camcorders...and has one of the worst reputations a business could have.

I need a good shotgun mic for video in general and as a backup incase a wireless mic would fail or I couldnt plug into the school/church/whatever system.

I need a good wireless mic for weddings

I need a good XLR reciever possibly the BeachTek DXA-6

And heres where I'm stupid....whatever I need to plug into most systems whether it be churches, schools, etc...I don't know yet what I'll need for the highschool but will know in a week when im back home.

While I'm at it, I was playing with a nice Bogen tripod today in school and realized that I need something that pans better than my Sunpak 7500Pro...so if you have any suggestions on a good setup/what to look for...I know this is "Now Hear This" but I'd appreciate that also

Thank You much Jay for your input...anything to change since I'm now working with a bigger budget?

- Keith
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Old April 6th, 2005, 06:06 PM   #4
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1- In the graduation situation, a cheap shotgun will not work as well as a cheaper hypercardioid or cardioid microphone. Your auditorium probably has lots of reverb, which a shotgun will not handle well. More expensive shotguns fare better ($1500ish mics like the Sennheiser MKH50), but a cheaper hypercardioid microphone will still be better.

The second thing to do is to place it well (close to the sound source). A really tall mic stand may be needed if you want to get near the band while away from the audience. Easiest way I think is to get a C-stand, sand bag the bottom, get a long pole (can use extenders), get the right threading on the end and attach a shockmount. A counter-weight may be necessary.


If it's a one-time thing, you could easily rent microphones. Cardioid microphones should be easy to find, hypercardioids not so much so (they might be called different names... one person I know calls shotguns hypercardioids). It might be like $20/day. Cables and headphones would be cheap to get.

Headphones: For run and gun shooting, it might make more sense to get an in-ear canal headphone to use in one ear?

If you want full-sized headphones, MDR V-6s are the same as the 7506s except cheaper and without a gold plug. Essentially the same. You can only find it online... try froogle.com and ebay.com (there are new ones on eBay).
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Old April 6th, 2005, 07:28 PM   #5
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I really wouldn't change much in what I said, I'll just add some items. As Glen said, a cardioid (like the ATM31a I recommended) or a hypercardioid will work better for indoor reverberent situations than a shotgun.
For situations where a shotgun is appropriate, I'd recommend the AT897 that I mentioned.
For reasonably dependable wireless on a budget, it's hard to beat the Sennheiser 100 series G2 portable kit with the belt-pack and plug-on transmitters that can be used either/or with the single receiver.
I do recommend the DXA-6 with phantom power. That will let you use phantom powered mics when that need arises. For the moment though I've stayed with my recommendation of two battery-powered mics so you can use them with the plug-on transmitter too.
And yes you definitely need a good video tripod head. The legs are less of an issue, but the head is crucial. <no jokes please>
The direct box and 1/4-inch cable that I mentioned will take care of many of your hookups to house mixers. If the mixer has a balanced 1/4-inch output, then a 1/4-inch TRS to XLR male cable, coupled with the longer regular XLR cable will work. If the mixer has a balanced XLR output, then the regular XLR cable and the BeachTek are all that's needed.
All that will consume your expanded budget without breaking a sweat. Welcome to the world of video and audio.
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Old April 6th, 2005, 08:23 PM   #6
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Glenn and Jay

Thank you so much, you don't know how much I appreciate this. We have no dealers here, so I'm looking online. B&H probably the best?
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Old April 6th, 2005, 08:31 PM   #7
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B&H sponsors this site and generally has very good pricing. If other competitors are significantly cheaper (i.e. Broadway Photo), run them through resellerratings.com. Retailers with extremely low ratings (i.e. Broadway) have some shady business practices. B&H usually runs very close to the cheapest price you can get... I would check them for street prices on stuff.

There are other retailers who sponsor this site.
http://www.dvinfo.net/sponsors/index.php

trewaudio.com is an honest dealer. If they are in your city (Nash/Toronto) I'd give em a visit.

sound-room.com is good if you are looking for an Oktava MC-012. It has interchangeable omni, cardioid, and hypercardioid capsules and generally recommended as a good budget microphone. Phantom only. (Do a search here for more info.) About $200 + shipping (+tax).
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Old April 6th, 2005, 10:01 PM   #8
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Alright...so I'm thinking if I can't plug into the highschool system. If I go with the Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 Series with the SKP100G2 transmitter for $599 and then get the ATM31a...I can just plug that transmitter into the ATM31a and use the ATM31a as a wireless and position it close to the stage. And then since everything is battery powered, I can just plug the Sennheiser G2 strait into my camera, not needing the DXA-6....or is there an advantage to plugging it into the DXA-6 anyways?

Basically what I'm trying to say is that if I ever have problems plugging into a system, if I spend the extra $100 for the transmitter, I can just use the ATM31a and position it where I need it...right? and then also would I just plug it into the GL2 or is there benifits to plugging it into the DXA-6? The wireless mic goes up to 490' so that would save on having to string a bunch of cable and tape it down.

Edit: also...is there any differences between a, b, and c on the wireless mic.

- Keith
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Old April 6th, 2005, 10:45 PM   #9
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For the highschool shoot, you should probably:
A- Buy a hypercardioid microphone, because you can use that for run and gun shooting. OR Rent a hypercardioid (or cardioid). For a one-off thing, it'll cost you like $20 + transportation + gaffer tape, as opposed to $130 + shipping. Plus free or almost free cabling, and an opportunity to grab headphones and a mixer if you need em.

B- Use a wired connection and gaffer tape it down. tapestockonline.com is the "second" cheapest place to get gaffer tape in the US (don't buy it from outside US). B&H also sells gaffer tape, as do eBay stores (eBay stores is cheapest... check dan's overstock $5USD/roll + shipping for brown [unfortunately not black] Shurtape 628 60 yards 2" wide).

You probably won't be able to avoid buying the Beachtek. There's two things about it that's really useful. It converts from XLR to mini-jack, and it has limiters (I think all the models). For run and gun shooting, you will likely want a microphone that uses an XLR connector. The limiters are also nice as it gives a little headroom against clipping (you get distortion instead; several dB of extra headroom, and gives usable audio instead of clipped audio).

A wired connection is much more reliable than a wireless one (no dropouts and things like that), and has better quality. Wireless uses a 9V battery every few hours on the transmitter, whereas with wired you don't have to babysit that.

2- If you want to plug into the highschool system, it could make sense to get a mini-disc or another kind of audio recorder. Record the sound seperately and sync things up in post.

Advantage of this is that it avoids long wiring and you can use the mini-disc for weddings (instead of wireless; plant the lav and recorder on the groom or minister/priest/official).

There are bunch of solutions similar to mini-disc, like using a iRiver music player for its recording functions. Do some research beforehand as there are catches.

For your shoot though, it could make sense to rent some audio cabling and run the board feed into a mixer.
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Old April 7th, 2005, 12:49 AM   #10
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Glenn, Thank You. I've recieved lots of helpful information and that MiniDisc thing is an option as a good friend of mine has one that I could just use for free. I've decided to head back to Grand Island tomorrow and hope to visit the highschool and see exactly what they have for me to work with. From there, I'll decide and will probably have questions as to exactly how to go, but I thank you and Jay very much for all your help. I still can't believe the helpfulness of the DVi Community. Places like this are a blessing to a kid just starting out as myself.

- Keith
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Old April 7th, 2005, 07:47 AM   #11
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The only BeachTek that has limiters is the DXA-8 and it's higher cost than the DXA-6, which was already higher than the DXA-4 you were originally thinking about. The BeachTek gives much better control than just connecting straight into your camera and it is an important piece of gear to have. The amount of time you plan to keep your GL2 before you move to an XLR equipped camera should be a factor in how much you spend for the BeachTek.
I think it will be important for you to make the wired connection to the house system with your camera for this upcoming shoot, unless the distance for a wired connection is much longer or more difficult than you're thinking.
All three methods: wired, wireless, or separate recorder, have their ups and downs. So it will depend on the situation and what you have available to you. It is also very important to have your backup mic working too. Again, that's an advantage of the BeachTek. It allows for two independent hookups to your camera.
If you do buy the wireless, you need to look at the Sennheiser website for the frequency chart for your location. You can see from that which band is less occupied with TV channel interference in your area.
B&H is a good resource and usually has very good prices on items that are more specific to pro video and audio. For some items like the ATM31a that are also sold through musical instrument vendors, there can be a significant savings by checking prices at zzounds.com, musiciansfriend.com, and americanmusical.com for example.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 11:55 PM   #12
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ok...so I went to the highschool today and the janitor is a big audio guy, he knows his stuff. wireless mics really won't work too well because he talks of how they have problems with their $1200 shures (i think its spelled like that).

running cable and havin our own mic on stage is an option but will be a big pain. we can't hook into their system because he won't allow us to the back of their big audio reciever thingy (thingy is a technical term..its late and im tired and can't think of what to call it) theres a headphone jack on their reciever and the janitor says their audio will go right to that headphone jack.

so the guy im doin this with thinks he can record it right to dvd by hooking up his dvd burner...i don't think its gonna work. other options are recording it to minidisc or directly to the computer.

i've heard of problems w/the MD deleating (or locking the track) while uploading it and so if something goes wrong w/the upload, your outta luck. I also read that you can record 160minutes in mono. I like the minidisc because I have some weddings coming up that it could be useful. I'm planing on just buying one of those hiMD players for like $179 from work on monday to try it. Any information/personal expierence with recording from their reciever to a minidisc rather than plugging a mic into the minidisc, because I can always buy a mic if needed too.

edit: or if it'll work i can always plug right in to my dell insprion 9200 laptop...any horror stories with computers crashing while recording for an hour or so?
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Old April 13th, 2005, 01:31 PM   #13
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I meant to get back to this earlier but I've been busy.
To make a long story short, your description of their janitor/audio guy and the house sound system didn't inspire a lot of confidence.
You can get a signal from the headphone output, but unless you use the correct cables and devices between that jack and your recorder, there will be severe mismatch between that headphone signal and the recorder input.
His description of their wireless problems wasn't too enlightening either. That's kind of like saying "I don't think I'm going to buy a car because a friend of mine has a car and it doesn't run..." Maybe he forgot to put gas in the car. There could be easily fixable reasons their wireless doesn't work right, and it doesn't necessarily mean that your wireless system wouldn't work satisfactorily.
There's more work to be done here, let us know what you've purchased or have available and maybe we can pick a plan and a backup.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 12:31 AM   #14
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Jay, Thanks for the response.

Well, guys..heres an update. Mics don't make a difference anymore because the school decided that they did not want to pay what we were asking...I was a graduate and they wanted me to do it for next to nothing just to help them out. I have school loans to pay back, 5 other projects going right now, and I graduate from college the day before their graduation. So I figured $1200 to compensate for 2 guys time of shooting and editing 3 cameras and then just one guy running a 4th camera for their live feed...and it also included the 100 DVD's that they wanted to have to sell. $20 a DVD x 100 would have brought them $2000 so they would have made $800. Was I wrong in thinking after costs of materials, splitting $1100 between two guys for 40 or so hours of work not including time of duplicating the DVD's. Anyways I have $600 or so coming in from other projects and probably $400 more in graduation money. I'm going to invest that in more equipment. I've learned a lot from this thread and thank you guys, It's kind of nice to not be in such a rush to buy equipment because I myself can take more time to research. Thank you though for everything and feel free to let me know if you have any comments on the price...I just know we undershot the only competiton by more than $300 + whatever the other guys would have charged for 120miles round trip to come to Grand Island.
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Old April 14th, 2005, 01:06 AM   #15
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It might just be school politics in effect. Sometimes they will shoot down ideas for one reason or another. At other times, they might have like thousands of dollars available for clubs and things like that. Alumni fund-raising activities can also have a lot of money behind them.

2- Another aspect you need to consider is how you sell yourself. People usually think professionals are much (much) better than students. In most cases this may be true, but they may believe it to be true even when it isn't.
i.e. my former high school could have gotten students to do the website for free, but instead paid $10,000 for a professional company to do it (the money came from an alumni donation). That site isn't even around anymore.

I guess the way to avoid the students are unqualified perception is to not make it an issue. Focus on the idea (preserving the memories of graduation; possible alumni dollar tie-ins???) and try to get them onboard.

People don't always think logically/rationally. The rational way to think about this is like how you point out... how much profit they can make, and market rates for something like what you propose. However, people are affected by things like:
-how much they like you (i.e. at my school, the administration and students didn't get along, and they did not trust the website to students). If you're friends or friendly to them that'll help.
-reciprocity: If you've done favors for them (or helped them out in some way), they'll feel compelled to help you back even though they may not like you.
-the way they think / what they strongly believe in (i.e. some admin think extracurriculars are a good idea... so ad students, you may be able to get a lot of funding if you ask the right people, and ask the right way)
-their perceptions of value and quality (i.e. pro is better than amateur)
-and other factors.
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