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Old December 28th, 2009, 05:57 PM   #1
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AT4050 vs. AKG 300B/CK93 for Studio

Been browsing and searching in the forums here for the last few weeks and it's like being back in school - learning a lot. Been paying particular attention to the threads with Ty and the other knowledgeable folks regarding studio mic setups.

So here's the question. We just set up a small studio room for video. The room has been acoustically treated. Videos we're taping are all talking head stuff with individuals (both men and women). Up until now we had been using a Sennheiser K6 lav, but I am getting really tired of trying to remove bumps and mic brushing in post and would really like to put a mic on a boom. Was originally going to try the ME66 capsule we have, but after reading the forums though I have decided to go with either the AT4050, or the 300b/c93 setup. I also considered the Oktava and NT3 but have since ruled them out. I also considered the Schoeps but since we are doing web video primarily I am not sure the $1,500 difference in price will ultimately show. Off axis qualities will definitely matter here because the talent sometimes moves around (they are not seated).

Has anyone had some first hand experience with these mics and how they might work with various vocal qualities?
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Old December 28th, 2009, 06:37 PM   #2
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You had me right up to the line about "Off axis qualities will definitely matter because the talent sometimes moves around (they are not seated.)

Huh?

This is voiceover booth recording. If your narrator has any real experience and talent, he or she will work the mic properly - going "off mic" ONLY when the sound of being "off mic" is a necessary part of the performance.

Or are you saying that this is some bozo actor who can't "feel" the performance unless they're jiggling all over hell and back? If so, fire the actor and hire a VO professional.

Sheesh.

Yeah, OK, if you're using premium brand actors in order to sell your project, then get yourself a primo large diaphragm Neumann and a pristine pre-amp and let said Hollywood A-lister duck walk wherever they want in the booth and you'll be fine.

But if you're recording voice performances, hire someone who knows how to do the job and you won't see them move more than an inch or two off mic unless theres a REASON to do that. And that rock solid consistency of level and intonation is something you'll come to EXPECT as a part of the performance that saves you an amazing amount of time and hassle in post since you'll be getting consistent, easy to work with tracks that don't NEED another few hours of twiddling with in order to mix properly into your final.

FWIW
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Old December 28th, 2009, 07:17 PM   #3
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I am with Bill. Any pro in a VO booth should know how to work a mic so off axis response should not be a factor for you. Most studio mics specs are aimed toward highly REDUCING off axis response. My favorite studio mic is the Neumann TM103, I have owned one for about a decade, it is a great booth mic and has very good off axis rejection and is pretty inexpensive. In the case of most of us that do not have a truly soundproofed room within a room, this is a highly desirable trait.

I am partial to Neumanns, there is nothing that compares in the price range. The other mics you mention are also very good but ideally, a large studio diaphragm Neumann with a good pre-amp is the industry standard for a reason.

If you are not doing VO and the a large diaphragm studio mic would be visible on camera and you need to locate the mic farther from the talent than right in their face, there are a lot of good choices. The Sanken CS-3E is a great mic without spending a fortune, the Sennheiser MKH-60 is also excellent. The Sanken CMC641 is the industry standard, pay the money if you want the best and if you want a mic that you will probably never have to replace. With care in a studio environment, any of these mics will last basically forever.

I would take a listen to determine which mic will best suite your needs. AKG wimped out and would not loan me their mics so I discount them as far as evaluation, if they are too afraid to put their mics up against the competition, that says something to me. http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage..._brockett.html

Dan
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Old December 28th, 2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Thanks Dan and Bill. My bad on the original post, I was not clear. These are not actors doing voice overs. These are faculty, consultants, and authors talking about organizational strategy, marketing, etc. We will be doing filming and compositing, so need to keep keep the mic off frame. Some of these folks are energetic in their presentations, which actually helps for educational clips on topics like this, but it means they may not always be positioned perfectly underneath the mic. I don't mind dealing with some volume issues if they move a tiny bit, but if the sound changes drastically that would not be good.

I remember your thread saying that AKG would not loan you a mic Dan, their loss for sure. I almost took it off the short list based on that alone.

As much as I try to avoid that darn MCM641 it keeps coming back to hit me over the head - lol. May just have to bit the bullet and do it. Audio plays an very important role in what we do, probably even more than the video. Since everything gets stomped on for internet delivery I wasn't sure that the cost difference in the 641 was justified.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 08:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
The Sanken CMC641 is the industry standard...
Quote:
...that darn MCM641 it keeps coming back...
You do mean the Schoeps CMC641 don't you ?

Schoeps CMC641 Set - Schoeps - Microphones - Trew Audio

It's the standard indoors where a boom is less advantages, but unless you're going to train the talent or use a boom operator it may not be your best choice. It's pattern is pretty tight.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 09:05 PM   #6
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You do mean the Schoeps CMC641 don't you ?
Lol - Yep, was running out the door when I typed it in and mixed up the letters.

Been reconsidering my stand on the CMC641. Some of these faculty we work with make $25,000 to $40,000 a day. Starting to feel that the least I can do is record them with a really good mic. I am still not sure that that extra $1,500 is going to show up on a web video, however, and would love a little reassurance there. ;)

Dan is that Nuemann the TLM103? Does that have some qualities above the Schoeps, or would the Schoeps still be your number one choice?
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Old December 29th, 2009, 02:29 AM   #7
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The key to good final audio is good source audio. That's true not matter what your end product is to be. The higher the quality of your original recording the better it will survive the compression of the codec you use for the web.

The Schoeps CMC641 will give you the sound of the talent. The TLM-103 will give you a Nuemann sound with the bump they're known for and a boom from the room it there is any standing wave at all. There will be one, I guarantee it.

A good read and a useful resource:

As I Hear It - Choosing the Right Microphone
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Old December 29th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jon Vincent View Post
Been browsing and searching in the forums here for the last few weeks and it's like being back in school - learning a lot. Been paying particular attention to the threads with Ty and the other knowledgeable folks regarding studio mic setups.

So here's the question. We just set up a small studio room for video. The room has been acoustically treated. Videos we're taping are all talking head stuff with individuals (both men and women). Up until now we had been using a Sennheiser K6 lav, but I am getting really tired of trying to remove bumps and mic brushing in post and would really like to put a mic on a boom. Was originally going to try the ME66 capsule we have, but after reading the forums though I have decided to go with either the AT4050, or the 300b/c93 setup. I also considered the Oktava and NT3 but have since ruled them out. I also considered the Schoeps but since we are doing web video primarily I am not sure the $1,500 difference in price will ultimately show. Off axis qualities will definitely matter here because the talent sometimes moves around (they are not seated).

Has anyone had some first hand experience with these mics and how they might work with various vocal qualities?
I think you're getting sidetracked here. A boom mic for recording dialogue needs to be directional in order to reduce pickup of superfluous noise on the set, hence the suggestion for hypercardioids indoors and shotguns out. But that's not what you're doing here. You're in a quiet studio booth with minimal extraneous noise to contend with. A cardioid would be much more appropriate in this context - a little directional to help prevent pickup of page rustles, etc but not so directional that the talent will be going off and back on mic with normal head movements. While a lot of VO pros have favourites and may use a wide variety of mics (including hypers and shotguns) in different situations, a VO staple is the large diaphragm cardioid condenser, the aforementioned Neumann TLM103 being a prime example. A step up from that is the Neumann U87 while if that's too rich for your blood, a step down that is still perfectly capable is the Rode NT1a.

There is often confusion as to what a mic for in-studio recording is supposed to do. There are a couple of uses for a studio recording. Disregarding sound effects and Foley, speech is either supposed to be in the scene, such as dialogue replacement, or outside the scene, such as voice over and narration. If you are recording speech that has to cut into the scene, you want to use the same sort of mics (hypers or 'guns) that recorded the location dialogue so the timbre is the same and they'll intercut smoothly. But if you're recording narration, that voice is NOT part of the scene and should be distinctly different, closer and more intimate with the audience. A mic that gives a warmer, fuller sound is more appropriate for that application.

You also said you were doing a lot of talking heads and the lavs were giving you trouble with bumps and rustles. It may be that the solution to your problem lies in the mic rigging and not switching to a different type of mic. If the mic is placed on the lapel about where a boutonnière would be worn and rigged with a broadcast loop strain relief in the cable, then running the cable under the clothing, there should be few if any bumps - your talent would have to slap themselves on the chest to bump the mic - and cable noises should be virtually eliminated.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 09:32 AM   #9
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Thanks Kirk.Thought I had found most of Dan's articles but had totally missed this one somehow. I'll have a look (and listen) today. Totally agree with your G.I.G.O. statement.

Thanks too Steve, appreciate your reply. Mic rigging is something we have been doing for a few years now as a way to alleviate the noise issues. It certainly helps, but does not totally eliminate the problem. For some reason these people always seem to get testy when they have to start over because of a technical (sound or video) issue - no matter how nicely I explain it will improve the final product.

I was wondering about the hyper vs the standard cardiod decision. It's one of the reasons I was thinking the AT4050 might be a good choice - hyper if they tend to stand in one place, and cardiod if they move a bit. Of course with some of these mic's I could potentially change the capsule depending on the talent and their propensity for movement. Absolutely bang on BTW - The talent will definitely be moving their head and not speaking directly into the mic the entire time. While they may stay under the mic, if I am lucky and they actually listen to me, they will certainly not be speaking directly into it like VO work.

One thing I seem to be gathering from the replies so far is that everyone would pretty much recommend a large diaphragm mic for this type of shoot?

Appreciate all the replies so far everyone :)
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Old December 29th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #10
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For talking head work I might suggest a Sennheiser MKH 50 suspension mounted on a boom just out of frame.

All the Best!
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Old December 29th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #11
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It seems there is still a lot of confusion about what it is you are actually shooting. Most of the posts have followed the line of thinking you were doing voice-overs. Since that seems NOT to be the case, then looking at the posts that talk about a dialog mic would be in order. The Neumann TLM-103 is used a lot for voice-overs, but would suck at being a boom mic (held by an operator or stationary on a C-stand). So would the AT-4050. Now maybe you are thinking of the AT-4051 (cardioid) or AT-4053 (hypercardioid), which would be similar to the Schoeps CMC-641 mentioned.

So to recap - if you are shooting talking head interviews, then either lav mics or something like the Schoeps CMC-641 or AT_4053 would be in order. Many people run a lav to one channel and the boom to the other so you can choose later which you want to use, particularly if you get them hitting the lav with their hands or something.

Hope this helps.

Rob

Last edited by Rob Neidig; December 29th, 2009 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Somehow typed AT-4052 when I clearly meant 4053!
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Old December 29th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #12
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Yeah Rob, definitely NOT a VO setup (sorry everyone, tried to be clear on that) we're talking a boom for interview type setup. Might do the lav plus boom, at least for the first few shoots with a new mic so I have some options at the end of the day.

...and we're back to the Schoeps I guess :D

Seriously though, sounds like some other options to look at and that the 4050 may not be as good of an option as I thought.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 10:29 AM   #13
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The 4050 is a great sounding microphone - planted in exactly the right place, which will be the wrong place if you are shooting video at the same time. Out of frame in even a head and shoulders shot, it will sound a little thin, and nowhere near as good as it should be. The same applies to the Neumanns, not by any means a classic sound, once used at a distance. I'd suggest that if they stay static enough to not go out of the frame, then most hyper-cardioids should produce the kind of sound you want - maybe even a standard cardioid just out of frame. Even simple mics, correctly positioned can sound much better than expensive ones working out of their comfort zone. Your Presidents have never sounded bad on Shure SM57s, and that's worked for years on many different voice types.

I really think you need to try some different ones and do a test - even hiring/borrowing a few could make your choice much easier. Try them out, and once you get a sound you like, then buy it. The room and the voice will be far more important - we're talking subtle differences between brands and types, the room will enhance or destroy these.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 10:29 AM   #14
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Hey Jon,

I use a AKG 300B/CK93 on a boom pole with a boom operator in a studio setting very similar to yours. My talent gets up and walks around and I have no control over it. It is part of our content so I have to work with it. The AKG has been an excellent mic for us. I have actually shot with it on cam at times and it did fairly well there considering it was on cam. On the pole it does a great job. Our content is mostly web but some makes it to DVD.

Do you have a rental house or can you borrow one from somebody for a test shoot to see what you think before you buy a mic?

Thanks!

Bill
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Old December 29th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #15
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...
One thing I seem to be gathering from the replies so far is that everyone would pretty much recommend a large diaphragm mic for this type of shoot?

Appreciate all the replies so far everyone :)
I was offering my advice regarding a large diahpram carioid thinking that you were in a voice-over announce booth kind of scenario. Now knowing differently, I'm going to back off on that and go with the others suggesting a hyper (AT4053b, AKG SE300B/CK93 or 480/CK63 ULS, Schoeps CMC641, Sennheiser MKH50 or MKH8050) on a boom. But you WILL need someone to adjust aim as the speaker moves - it won't be a set it and forget it situation if you want to garner the best results. With the mic 24 inches from the subject there's a sweet spot about 12 inches in diameter that their mouth has to stay within - if they move their head more than that, the mic has to move to follow.
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