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Old May 29th, 2005, 10:53 AM   #1
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AT897, AT4053a, AT4073a

Ok. I will stand up and say that I am a newbie. I have been reading for quite a while, but still feel at very much of a loss.

I have a Sony HDR-FX1, and I am looking for an external mic for better sound. I have read enough to now be thoroughly confused. I am trying to come up with a game plan.

Ok, a little about me. I will not be shooting movies. This is more of a run and gun type of thing...assuming that I am using even this term correctly.

Ok, now the questions...

I read that the AT897 is a good general mic, but you wouldn't want to use it indoors. I am ok with this. Do I need two mics? If so, which ones? I don't care as much about the price within reason since this is a plan and not a buy all at once type of thing.

Ok, I read that the 4053 and 4073 are better than the AT897, but the 4053 sounds like it is better for indoors and the 4073 is better for outdoors? Am I correct at all? I have also read that the 4073 isn't good for things that are further in the distance? The more I read the more confused I seem to get.

Can the 4053 do everything the 897 can, but better? As I said, I have been reading for quite a while now, but it hasn't helped enough. What would be a good combination to end up with? I don't mind up to $500/mic if needed, and to buy them one at a time. With this said, I don't want to throw away money either.

BTW: A few more stupid questions. I believe that I will need a shock mount. Which one for my camera? I believe they mount on the hot shoe adapter?? Also, it seems like the rycote softie is the best for reducing wind noise if I am outside?

Did I mention that I was a newbie?
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Old May 29th, 2005, 03:53 PM   #2
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Your attitudes toward reading, learning and holding out for quality equipment distinguish you from a lot of newbies.

The only one of those that you mentioned that I've owned is the AT897. It was a good outdoor mic and would work in some indoor situations, but I quickly learned that it wasn't ideal for recording in a musical theater environment and returned in favor of an AT3031, an excellent indoor mic (two of them, actually).

You are correct that you will need several mics. Some people here (not me) seem to have several dozen. When you say you want better sound, what do you hear as the main shortcoming of what you're getting now? Your first external mic should be chosen to address that.

Yes, the softie is far superior to foam type windscreens.

There are several shockmounts in the $30 to $60 range that will slip into your accessory shoe:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ock+mount+shoe
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Old May 29th, 2005, 06:01 PM   #3
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Hi Brian,
You are right about the shotguns. The 4073 is a better shotgun than the 897, but they are still both short shotguns. If you are looking for a mic to simply mount on the camera, the 4073 will be better, but an 897 on a boom pole near the dialog (if that's what you are getting) will sound much better than pretty much any mic mounted on the camera simply because the closer you can mic the MUCH better the sound will be. So, the real question you probably need to answer is HOW will you mic things? In any case, I would always suggest that you get the best mics that you can afford. They last a very long time and you will always be better off in the end.

I have both the 4073 and the 4053 and several other mics and can tell you that the combo of the 4073 and the 4053 will let you cover a large number of situations. They are both excellent mics, especially for the money.

The 4073 is a short shotgun and is best used in areas where there is not a lot of reflected sound, i.e outdoors or in acoustically damped areas. It can be used indoors, and I have used it with great results in rooms with heavy carpets and drapery etc. It has very good reach and therefore it is tempting to use most of the time. If you are using it on the camera outdoors, you will probably love it. If you need more reach from the mic, you can get an AT4071a, which is physically longer and gives you more reach than the 4073. but may or may not work on the camera as it may protrude to far and get in your wiode shots.

If you are indoors, the 4053 works very well and sounds much better than the short shotguns; however, like all hyper-cardiods, it does not have a long reach and really needs to be within a couple of feet of the sound source. That might not fit your situation well if you mount it on the camera and move around a lot. If you can't use a boom mic for some reason, you should then probably think about wireless lavs o help get people talking if that's what you are doing.

Bottom line, it really all depends on what you are shooting and HOW you are shooting it. Is it dialog? In a crowd? 3 feet from the camera? 10 ft from the camera? Is the camera moving from the subject alot? Can you use a boom operator? If you can be more specific about what you are planning it will be easier for anyone to give you more detailed answers.

Ragards,
Matt
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Old May 30th, 2005, 02:26 AM   #4
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I too am new, and purchased the AT4073a, but I suspect that most of the stuff I'll end up shooting will consist of interior dialogue/monologue shots, and not necessarily in carpeted or sound dampened rooms (hope this mic can be used in those situations without too much problem).... is their an industry standard, or a few main mics of choice that are used in filmmaking for recording dialogues, say two people in a kitchen talking, or several people at a table eating dinner? (oh, and if the industry standard mics cost thousands, it would still be nice to know which ones they use, but perhaps also let us know what is commonly used for those scenarios in say the $500-$750 range)

Greatly appreciated.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 12:46 PM   #5
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The industry standards for dialog that you described are the Schoeps MK41 and the Sennheisser MKH50. Both of these are hypercardioids. The MK41 is a capsule and needs a preamp, either a CMC4, CMC5, or CMC6. Total cost is about $1300 to $1400. The MKH50 runs about the same. You really need to use a hypercardioid for interior dialog instead of a shotgun because of the relfection issues. A shotgun will just sound too hollow. You generally need to mic within a couple fo feet, but for close interiors that's usually no problem.

If you can't quite see spending the money for the Schoeps or the MKH50, the AudioTechnica AT4053a is a great alternative. It is very similar to the Schoeps MK41 at about 1/4 price. I know the Schoeps is supposed to be better and some believe it is considerably better than all other mics, but I've recorded dialog in a tiled kitchen with the MK41 and a 4053a side by side and I cannot tell the difference, nor could others that listened to the results. While there may be some slight difference in some situations, I think you can't go wrong with the AT. In fact, I just bought a second one. They're only $377 at G&G Video. Incredible bargain.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 04:10 PM   #6
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Matthew, I really appreciate the information and your personal thoughts.

Coming from a music background, and oddly enough having done a lot of recording in that music realm, I have seen a LOT of scenarios where people make purchasing decisions based on specs and product reviews, and not on what they can actually hear or perceive as a true value add. Admittedly sometimes the inability to hear or see the difference between a cheaper product vs. a more expensive product is due to a lack of experience, but as a musician I've found that the majority of lay people (the listening/viewing audience) can't tell the difference when really expensive equipment is used. I tend to use more expensive equipment when I want durability and longevity or if the product also enables me to work more efficiently or inspires me creatively somehow.

Thanks again for the info.

Last edited by Shawn Murphy; May 31st, 2005 at 12:32 PM. Reason: grammatical error
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Old May 30th, 2005, 04:59 PM   #7
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I think you're right. I come from a music background as well. Specs only tell part of the story, and that's only if you can believe them. What I think people really need to understand is that technique is as important as the equipment used. Of course, good technique and good equipment will give the best results. I tend to try and get the best gear I can afford knowing that it can last a very long time. I have been looking seriously at picking up an MK41 for dialog, but after directly comparing the Schoeps and 4053a, I just couldn't justifiy the cost difference. Even when it comes to durability, since the Schoeps is known to suffer a bit in humid envioronments.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 06:04 PM   #8
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So, if all you had was the 4073a and had to shoot an interior that consisted of mostly reflective surfaces, are there certain techniques you would employ to ensure the best dialogue recording as possible, e.g. using blankets or other sound dampening material in the room, and also perhaps mic positioning would be even more critical when using this kind of mic?


*I'm not sure why I decided to go with the 4073a, I had been reading a lot of forum posts and somehow thought this would be a good mic to have if you only had one and were only going to spend around 500-700 for mostly dialogue driven filmmaking.... perhaps I can sell it or return it under warranty for an upgrade, though I don't think the return would be honored as it's been a little over a month since I bought it.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 06:49 PM   #9
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Well, maybe the reason I bought the 4073a is because I'm a bit compulsive (even after doing a lot of research).

I say this because I just (compulsively?) purchased an AT4053a…

yes, within minutes of reading this post.

Why?

…well, after doing a quick GOOGLE/FROOGLE search, and seeing that all of the approximately 32 listings were selling the 4053a for ~$499.00, I came across a listing at 8th Street Music (who I’ve dealt with before) and they had a "B Stock" unit ("B-Stock: This is a factory repacked item in new condition with a full Audio Technica warranty.") for $295.95

…so, I bought it!

Perhaps I made another glaring mistake, but a fully warranted $200 discount was too good to be true, plus I have a shoot in a couple of weeks (my first), and I didn't want to have to spend a lot of time worrying about setting up dampening material or getting a less than ideal final sound recording.

*I also did a quick search through the forums on this model and everyone seemed to agree it was a great mic for the price (even at $500).
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Old May 30th, 2005, 07:41 PM   #10
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Wow! that's a great deal on that mic! Unfortunately, there is no one mic that will cover all situations, but I truly think that you now have two that will cover most. I don't think you'll want to return the 4073a, it's a great mic and can work indoors as you described, close-miking with sound blankets etc.. AND will work very nicely in non-reverberant rooms and outdoors. For the tight rooms where it doesn't, the 4053a will generally be much better, but it needs to be close. You can also get other capsules for that mic, the 4051a is a cardiod that also sounds nice and they also have an omni. Congradulations on the killer deal. I just paid $377 and was happy. Pays to look around well.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 07:45 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Matthew Wilson] ...I don't think you'll want to return the 4073a, it's a great mic...QUOTE]

Agreed, I'm not gonna sell it, but would have considered it if I had to pay full price. I just finished reading another thread where that is someone's "kit", the 4073a and the 4053a, plus I can see myself doing a fair amount of documentary type stuff, so I presume the 4073a would work well for those outside/interview scenarios.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 07:46 PM   #12
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by the way, for those tight indoor locations (bathrooms, kitchens, etc), what kind of windscreen (if any) are sommonly used? Are they necessary when there's no "wind"?
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Old May 30th, 2005, 07:57 PM   #13
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The 4053a comes with a little foam screen that should do fine indoors. Outside, pretty much all mics need something other than the foam windscreen. A zeppelin system is the best way to go, but they are expensive. Rycote and some others make one piece "softies" that are much better than the standard foam. You shouldn't need anything special indoors though. I'm sure that you will like them both for their intended use. I'm very happy with mine. Man, $295 is such a deal. I've seen several used go on Ebay for more than $350.
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Old May 30th, 2005, 09:17 PM   #14
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Yeah, the 4073a also came with the foam screen. I recently purchased a Lightwave EQ-104 Equalizer Windscreen for 4073a, I presume it will work for both...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ist&sku=292337
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Old May 30th, 2005, 09:24 PM   #15
 
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About the only thing a foam windscreen is good for is air mass between the mic and a dead cat. Indoors, there rarely is enough air to make any difference with a foam screen, and it only blocks sibilance. I'm somewhat of a prude about this though, so it might not bother you losing that additional top end. I don't know if others typically don't use the foam or not. On lavs and such, I virtually never do unless it's covered with silk. Clothing and foam screens don't get along very well.
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