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Old February 7th, 2010, 02:33 AM   #1
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Which single microphone for M-S stereo?

We are looking for one microphone (not a pair) that could record good M-S stereo sound for location work.

Most of what we shoot are food artisans who work indoor in relatively quiet places or with ambient noise that belongs to the scene. M-S stereo could provide a sense of spatiality which we don't have at present (we only have one lav microphone on the artisan and a shotgun mike on the camera). Ideally we should plug the mike directly into our Sony EX3 with two XLR cables. We don't have a dedicated soundman, only two of us, one filming and the other doing the interviewing, lights, etc...

Does this make sense?
Which microphone would you recommend? I found a couple : Sennheiser MKH 418 S, Shure VP88, Audio-Technica AT835ST, Neumann RSM 191, Sony ECM-957PRO.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old February 7th, 2010, 03:52 AM   #2
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ANY stereo mic will take 2 channels to record, your camera has 2 channels on it so be aware that EVERY time you change from a lav. mic to atmos you will need to settings on the camera. So in your editing you may need to use atmos tracks to cover "mono" standups.
Don't use a mic on the camera top to be your main dialogue mic you WILL be disappointed, better to use the lav for that.
As to mics the Sennheiser MKH 418 S or the Audio-Technica AT835ST may be the best for camera mounting.
Just another thought is to record in the widest setting and reduce the width (with the pan controls) in editing to match the shot you have as its impossible to make a narrow image wider.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 04:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois Xavier View Post
We are looking for one microphone (not a pair) that could record good M-S stereo sound for location work.

Most of what we shoot are food artisans who work indoor in relatively quiet places or with ambient noise that belongs to the scene. M-S stereo could provide a sense of spatiality which we don't have at present (we only have one lav microphone on the artisan and a shotgun mike on the camera). Ideally we should plug the mike directly into our Sony EX3 with two XLR cables. We don't have a dedicated soundman, only two of us, one filming and the other doing the interviewing, lights, etc...

Does this make sense?
Which microphone would you recommend? I found a couple : Sennheiser MKH 418 S, Shure VP88, Audio-Technica AT835ST, Neumann RSM 191, Sony ECM-957PRO.

Thanks for any advice!
The Neumann RSM 191 is the best of that lot.

The Sennheiser MKH 418-S is quite nice and the mid capsule is exactly the same as he MKH 416 - but - both capsules must be powered at all times even if you only want to use one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian P. Reynolds View Post
Just another thought is to record in the widest setting and reduce the width (with the pan controls) in editing to match the shot you have as its impossible to make a narrow image wider.
Not true - recording MS means you can change the width as you like. Even if you matrix to stereo you can put it back to MS change the width and then matrix back to stereo again.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 04:25 AM   #4
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Why not do what all us dubbing mixers do and add the stereo ambience in post prod?

If you get a simple flash recorder run it for several mins to get a clean ambience track and add it in the edit, that was it will open up the stereo image, if you really want to be clever you could run it and sync the audio with the camera material as well.

I personally use the sony prosumer 957 M/S mics and a sony D50 recorder but have also used a mini disc recorder in the past.

Another alternative is to get a three channel mixer and mix the stereo mic with the lav in the centre and then feed the output to your camera.

I am lucky now that my panasonic cameras record four audio channels so I can do two lav's and a stereo mic all at the same time.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 05:17 AM   #5
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In 20+ years of broadcasting stereo I've never found an editor that grasps the concept of M-S stereo and how it can be used changed to suit the shots. In early trials we had huge problems with productions, we then went down the track of full L/R.... this they could get their head around.
On film shoots M-S is prefered as mentioned as it can be changed BUT more time is spent scene by scene in film.

The other thing to note is that many / most broadcasters run some sort of phase correction device on the feed to the transmitter, wide M-S stereo can trick these devices and reduce the audio to people viewing / listening in mono.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 07:05 AM   #6
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Brian is spot on and I have known editors that have just used the S signal and wonder why it is low level and distant.

I use M/S mics all the time but always record them as (Lt/Rt) A/B, I have been lucky to use AMS neve digital desks for most of my career so it was easy to use their A/B wide stereo channels to adjust the width, now i am on pro tools I have a plug in that can do the same.
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Old February 7th, 2010, 08:49 AM   #7
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Thanks guys for your feedback so far! To answer points raised so far:

1) I edit myself on Premiere CS4 so no problem with M-S-unaware editors.

2) We don't use on-camera microphone for interviews. If we have the M-S mike on the camera, then we'll put a lav on the subject and record double system on some digital field recorder, then sync with the rest of the sound using an autosync plugin.

3) In the scenes we shoot we don't have so much ambient sound (not directly related to the action) but rather the sound of the tools used by the subject, which have some measure of spatiality which is lost on our mono recording right now. So we definitely need to sync this sound with the pictures.

4) The Neumann RSM 191 costs more than $5000 and is, unfortunately, way out of budget. The Sennheiser MKH 418-S looks good at $1300 but will it not suck our Sony EX3 camera battery dry through phantom powering?
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Old February 7th, 2010, 11:01 PM   #8
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I doubt that phantom powering will suck your batterys dry - at least not quickly. I use a Sound Devices 302 and Phantom Power an M/S pair of Schoeps mics, and three AA batteries run the 302 and mics for hours and hours at a time - might run most of a day for all I know. I often record over 2 hours at a time and have never come close to sucking the 3 AA cells dry. The Schoeps mics WILL run OK on 12V Phantom Power which may help a bit, but I've run them at the standard 48 volts as well - never drained the batteries. I think that compared to running the camera itself, the phantom power for the mics is pretty insignificant.

Edit

By the way, I use Waves SI plug in for M/S on my big system and I like it but it's pricey. Brainworx has a free M/S plugin that will also let you adjust the stereo image to your liking - it works just fine and it's what I use on my notebook PC.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 12:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois Xavier View Post
We are looking for one microphone (not a pair) that could record good M-S stereo sound for location work.

Most of what we shoot are food artisans who work indoor in relatively quiet places or with ambient noise that belongs to the scene. M-S stereo could provide a sense of spatiality which we don't have at present (we only have one lav microphone on the artisan and a shotgun mike on the camera). Ideally we should plug the mike directly into our Sony EX3 with two XLR cables. We don't have a dedicated soundman, only two of us, one filming and the other doing the interviewing, lights, etc...

Does this make sense?
Which microphone would you recommend? I found a couple : Sennheiser MKH 418 S, Shure VP88, Audio-Technica AT835ST, Neumann RSM 191, Sony ECM-957PRO.

Thanks for any advice!
I am quite fond of the Shure VP-88. Used it for years in all sorts of situations and configurations. Even recorded some canon blasts at Ft. Ticonderoga! Just like most Shure products, built like tanks. It won't demolish your wallet either! It is a bit on the large side though.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 08:08 AM   #10
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I also have a VP-88 and would recommend it, although I'm a studio guitarist so maybe not sure what a video pro's needs are. But the VP-88's can be powered by an internal 6V battery, so you wouldn't always have to supply phantom power from your camera batteries if that's ever a problem.

I get surprisingly good recordings running a VP88 directly into a battery-operated portable minidisc recorder. For live performances, I can hide that setup out in the house, anywhere -- on a shelf, in a potted plant, etc.... no need to worry about AC power. On playback, music fidelity is excellent, but pickup of crowd noise and ambient sounds is also very clear and natural.

If it's not too big for the camera, seems like it might work for Francois.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 10:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Francois Xavier View Post
The Sennheiser MKH 418-S looks good at $1300 but will it not suck our Sony EX3 camera battery dry through phantom powering?
Current draw is very low - only 2 x 2.3mA.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 02:06 PM   #12
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Thanks for your advice!

The VP-88 Shure sounds like a good deal, but I found some sources selling it for $1200 and other for $800 - is it just the retailer's margin or are there several different products with the same name?

What "dead cat" (wind breaker) and shock mount would you recommend for mounting on the Sony EX3?
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Old February 8th, 2010, 02:44 PM   #13
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Didn't pay attention to where you are from! Here in the US, they are under $700
Shure makes a hot shoe mount for it too.
I get most gear from BH Photo/Video
I think they ship internationally.

Shure | VP88 - Mic with Matrix and Battery | VP88 | B&H Photo
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Old February 8th, 2010, 05:18 PM   #14
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I use the Neumann RSM 191 and the Shure VP-88. The VP-88 is nice because it's a one piece mic that can be shoe mounted or stuck on a tripod or lighting stand near the camera. It sounds very good. The RSM 191 is much more versatile and sounds better, but more setup time is required and they have become exorbitantly expensive.

For the environment you describe I'd suggest trying to find a VP-88 to rent and try out.
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