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Old October 28th, 2002, 05:29 PM   #1
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ME66 covers and the like

I'm about to order me a ME66/K6 and was thinking I'll need some sort of wind cover. Can anyone recommend a reasonable low-cost one? Also, do I have to get a blimp, and the cover goes over that, or do the covers fit the mic themselves?

Cheers
Aaron
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Old October 28th, 2002, 06:04 PM   #2
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Hello Aaron,
"Reasonable low-cost" can be hard to come by in this game. I have two windscreens for my ME66. My Lightware Systems "MiniScreen" is designed like a half-blimp and covers the business end of the mic. It works very well to supress wind noise on breezy days. I believe I bought it at markertek.com. I don't recall exactly what it cost but I believe it was under US$200.

I recently also purchased a Rycote "Softie" (rycote.com)from B&H Photo. This is a patented windscreen featuring the now familiar furry look. (It's actually been awarded a technical Academy Award several years ago.) Like the MiniScreen it only covers the business end of the mic. But unlike the MiniScreen which fits to the mic via an internal foam sleeve, the Softie uses a matrix of internal rubber nubs to hold onto the mic, thus minimizing any direct transmission of pressure waves (that cause the concussive wind sound). The Softie's high reputation is not inflated; it is the best such device I've ever used, able to kill breezes as well as hard gusts. Rycote even packs a grooming brush with this beast! <g> Alas, however, the Softie's performance comes at a price. It's nearly US$300.

What I learned in my research is that there is no magic shortcut to effective wind noise protection. Yes, there are cheaper "fuzzy" windscreens but they do not use the same mounting design and do not use the same fur filaments as Rycote.
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Old October 28th, 2002, 06:43 PM   #3
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Thanks Ken. At least I know I don't need one of these softies *AND* a blimp! Every day I feel I made a better decision saving $$ going with the XM2 ;) Those dollars are disappearing fast! I might look at that lightwave one as I'm using this for movie making and don't envisage being in a storm with my lights and gear ;)

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Old December 25th, 2002, 12:29 PM   #4
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I'm looking at better wind protection than the dust protection provided by the foam.

Most of the time, the mic (ME66) will be mounted on the camera (GL2) with the LightWave Universal Shoe Carriage, MiniMount, and WD-58H Wide Angle. So I'm concerned about not getting part of the windscreen on the frame.

From the previous posts I can see 4 options that only covers the business end of the mic :

1) Rycote Softie Front only
On B&H, it's about $135 so the $300 mentioned in the previous post is probably for the kit including pistol grip and boom mount.

2) Rycote Softie Front only with SHORT HAIRS
On B&H, it's also about $135 for the short hairs. But whatís the impact on the wind protection ?

3) LightWave Equalizer
Same "hair" style as the Rycote for $150.

4) LightWave Mini-Screen
It looks like it's a smaller form factor. It's about $165.

In order to make my decision I need to know :
a) In term of wind protection, how the Rycote compare to the Mini-Screen/Equalizer ?
b) How the regular Rycote compare to the Equalizer in term of form factor because they both look enormous ?

Any comments are welcome.
Dany
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Old December 25th, 2002, 10:49 PM   #5
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Welcome Dany!
I have both the Lightwave Mini-Screen and the Rycote Softie. Each operates on slightly different principles for wind noise protection.

The Mini-Screen is constructed more like a traditional (half) blimp, providing a stiff foam barrier around the mic's business end. The foam and it's skeletal contruction and mounting are meant to act basically as a physical shock absorber for air currents, preventing the rapid air pressure fluctuations that cause wind noise in recorded sound.

The Rycote Softie, and it's blimp-sized big brother the Windjammer, employ a slightly different principle to mitigate air pressure fluctuations. The "hair" is designed to diffuse, rather than absorb, the energy from wind gusts. The Softie also mounts onto the mic a bit differently than the Mini-Screen, suspending itself from the mic using a system of tiny rubber nubs (rather than the Mini-Screen's hard foam sleeve mount). You should also note that not all "hairy" windscreens are created equal. The Rycote is patented (I believe they hold one patent for their mount design and another for the design on their "hair" filament) and Rycote has actually won a technical Academy Award for these gizmos. Rycote even packs a brush for their Softies and Windjammers! Copies of the Softie are just that: copies. They're not the same quality, but are generally sold at much lower prices.

So, after all of this wind concerning wind screens which is better? Well neither will color or muffle your sound noticeably. The Mini-Screen is fine for geneal mic protection and will attenuate all gentle breezy wind pretty well. Hard gusts, however, may still cause some noise. The Rycote Softie is the top of the food wind screen food chain; I don't think anything better has been invented. I've not used it extensively but, living in the Windy City and near Lake Michigan, I can say that the Softie hasn't even broken a sweat yet. Nothing's gotten through this beast.

So if your budget can spare it I definitely recommend the Rycote Softie as a general-purpose wind screen. You won't be disappointed. The only "negative" is getting them wet; they really smell like a dirty dog until dry <g>.

p.s. Mea culpa: the $300 quote I posted earlier was incorrect. I paid $145 for the 18cm long-hair Softie at B&H.
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Old December 25th, 2002, 11:24 PM   #6
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Dany,
I noticed you said that you were mostly using your mic mounted on your camera. I was just wondering what XLR adapter are you using on your GL2? I own a GL2 also and need a XLR adapter. I have heard both bad and good things about Canon's MA-300 and wanted to know what other people were using. Thanks.
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Old December 25th, 2002, 11:34 PM   #7
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BTW,
Scott's remarks reminded me that I overlooked addressing one part of your question. The "short-hair" version of the Softie is designed principally for camera-mounted mics. The shorter filaments help to ensure that the hair stays out of your frame. If you plan on using your mic/Softie mainly on a boom you should go with the long-hair version which reportedly offers a bit better noise protection.
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Old December 26th, 2002, 12:54 AM   #8
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Thank you for the various comments.

Could you post the overall dimensions of the Mini-screen, Equalizer and Softie (long/short hairs) so I can see how they will fit on the camera ?

Iíve been doing a kind of market study for about 2 months around this DV topic (light, mic, bag, batteryÖ.)

Iím planning to publish few web pages to describe what I found and also some pictures to show the beast after youíve installed the various accessories (wide-angle, battery, microphoneÖ) with the dimensions of each element so people can figure out what bag would fit their requirements.

I was planning to get the Azden SGM 1X (low cost) but I must say that Iíve seen so many people talking about the ME66 that I said wellÖ there must be a reason !
Iíve tried several stores around DC but couldnít find any store with the ME66 to demo. So Iíve decided not to spend $150 on Azden and regret it later. Checked ebay and got a 1 week-old ME66 for $300 Ö with the foam !

I used to have a Sony DV camcorder (one CCD) before the GL2. The picture quality and manual settings is a great improvement on the GL2 but when I turned on the ME66 it was a real shock Ö a good one I mean. So much details and bass Ö I love it!
Iím discovering a new world with that mic Ö now Iím curious and would like to know how the MHK416 sounds ??
With my previous Sony, Iíve made few movies (events, trips) and most of the time I removed the complete original soundtrack as it would have added only noise to the movie. Iíve instead added selected music that brings the right emotion to match picture. Iím sure it will change now with this shotgun.

People have some trouble to understand the $300 value of that mic but Iím still looking for a digital still camera and donít understand the $300 value for the crap theyíre selling. Look at the 2M pixels and the price they are selling them for Ö itís incredible !

Let me go back on the tracks..
So for the XLR -> 3.5mm conversion, as usual you have the different boxes :

a) Dummy XLR->3.5mm adapter with or without blocking capacitor, no impedance matching. I donít like them but Iím pretty sure they work so I canít say donít use them for camera mount.

b) XLR-> jack inline transformer :
- XLR female to ľĒ female ($15)
- XLR female to 3.5mm male (Shure A96F B&H $36.50)

c) Passive/active Adapter
- DIY : http://www.take2video.com/tek.html
- MA-300 : Dual XLR Microphone Adapter & Holder $180
- Beachtek DXA-4P : box under the cam $169 http://beachtek.com/dxa4p.html
- Beachtek DXA-6 : Phantom power http://beachtek.com/dxa6.html
- Studio One XLR-BP PRO : http://www.studio1productions.com/ $189  box on the belt
- Studio One XLR-BP $119 : http://www.studio1productions.com/
- Audiodirector : http://www.audiodirector.com/pages/tech.specs.html $298
- IM-1 : $134 http://markertek.com./MTStore/product.CFM?BaseItem=IM%2D1
- XLR-PRO : $149 http://www.signvideo.com/xlr-pro_xlr_adapter-audio-mixer.htm
- IM-2 : $299, phantom power http://www.cevl.com/index2.html
- GSTN1 : http://www.glensound.co.uk/GSTN1.htm

I donít like the first kind of adapter (Dummy cable) as they donít respect the impedances at all.

Regarding the passive/active devices, most of them are passives meaning they only use transformer, resistors, capacitors. Models like beachtek and Studio One XLR BP Pro are very popular.

Letís talk about camera mounting only. The XLR Pro from Signvideo has one problem IMHO : the XLR connectors are mounted on the right side so you might have you palm in contact with the XLR cable. The good point is the gain control located on the left side.

The Beachtek has the XLR connectors on the left side but the knobs are on the back so I donít think it will be practical with the 5500mAh battery Iím using. Also I donít like the cable path. The microphone is on the right side so I would have a XLR cable coming from one side to the other.

For the other boxes mounted on the belt, they are definitely good if you have a sound operator or more than one external microphone (wireless).
I just donít like this long cable between my body and the 3.5mm connector. I could easily damage the tiny connector by not paying attention.
Also that would require a longer unbalanced cable from the box to the camcorder. My whole point is keep-it-short-for-the-unbalanced.

Iíve read a lot of good feedbacks for the different solutions mentioned above but I couldnít find a detailed technical review on them with measurements. So how could I compare them to cheaper solutions ?

As Iím planning to use mounted on the cam most of the time, Iíve looked at the inline transformers.

Most of them are XLR-female to ľĒ Jack female so you need to add an additional ľĒ male to get the connection and I hate adding potential connector problems on the chain. I then looked at the Shure A96F and found a good compromise:
- XLR to 3.5mm jack .. no intermediate connectors
- Rugged assembly
- Onboard blocking capacitor
- Very nice cable assembly (coax shielded)

The only drawback is the straight 3.5mm metal connector (metal is ok but right angle is mandatory).

In fact the XLR adapter can directly fit on the microphone (ME66) so the 3.5mm cable can go directly to the cam.

Therefore Iím going to modify the Shure adapter in two ways :
- switching to 3.5mm right angle connector
- reducing the cable length (shorter is better for the unbalanced)

I know some of you will sayÖ this is not good, the transformer doesnít have the same quality as the one found on the boxes.
I agree on that but without having the technical characteristic of those boxes, itís hard to judge. I would appreciate any feedback from owners of the Shure and XLR boxes.

Also the GL2 has a manual audio control so the external controls are not as necessary like on the GL1.

Iíll post some pictures of my configuration as soon as I finish it.

To conclude Iíd like to insist on the fact that the XLR box is a good solution that would help a lot of people with their specific applications. When just using the external mic mounted on-camera, the Shure is certainly a good comprise between size and performance.
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 06:39 PM   #9
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Is the 18c Rycote Softie the right dimension for the Sennheiser ME66?
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 07:33 PM   #10
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The exact reference is 18cm/MH (Medium Hole).
You will find below some pictures of the Softie, ME66 and also a DIY case for the mic+cover.
Dany

Rycote Softie 18cm/MH
http://natzo.com/GL2/Rycote-02.jpg
http://natzo.com/GL2/Rycote-04.jpg

ME66+Softie mounted on GL2 with Universal Mini-mount (old design)
http://natzo.com/GL2/GL2_Left01.jpg

ME66+ K6 power supply
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66-08.jpg

ME66+ K6 power supply + Sennheiser Mzw 66 pro black foam windscreen
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66-10.jpg

ME66+ K6 power supply + Rycote Softie 18cm/MH
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66-11.jpg

ME66 case ... toilet brush holder, hard plastic, cheap
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-01.jpg
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-02.jpg

Fits perfectly the ME66-Softie but too long if mini-mount installed
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-05.jpg
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-06.jpg

Before and after the Dremel correction
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-07.jpg
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-08.jpg

Finally, I can protect the ME66+Softie+Minimount
http://natzo.com/GL2/ME66case-10.jpg

PS: A custom foam has also been cut to receive the mini-mount so the whole mic is protected in the Kata CCC3333.
http://www.natzo.com/GL2/GL2%20in%20CCC3333.JPG
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 08:31 PM   #11
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Thanks for the information.
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 10:41 PM   #12
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Dany,
My hat's off to you for your ingenuity! Just be careful not to leave the mic and case in the bathroom.
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 11:35 PM   #13
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At least I have a spare brush for the Softie ;)

BTW, in my older post I was talking about the Shure XLR adaptor. I didn't work as it was to heavy for the ME66 mounted on the mini-mount. I decided to make a straight XLR-Jack cable ... as short as possible and used quality right-angle connectors. So now I can leave the cable all the time connected even when I remove the mike so I can limit the number of insertions/removals for the female jack of the cam.

Dany
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Old May 4th, 2003, 01:16 PM   #14
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Thanks Dany for the good info on that Shure A96F connector. I've been curious about some good options that are out there and that's a real good find.

I notice that you share a problem with me: your camera bag is pretty full. I'm thinking about breaking down my system into two bags/cases: one for video and one for audio. But right now I like being able to just grab my Pelican and know that I'm ready for field production work with just the one case. Maybe down the road I'll set up seperate bags.

Ben Lynn
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Old May 4th, 2003, 01:33 PM   #15
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The secret of the Kata CCC 3333 is the underneath compartment. Pretty cool additional storage for : batteries, charger, cables...

http://natzo.com/GL2/under%20compart.JPG

PS: I've added the extra green foam for extra protection.
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