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Old February 9th, 2010, 01:33 PM   #1
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New to Audio: What should I buy? Lav or Shotgun?

Hi guys,

I would definitely consider myself an amateur (especially when it comes to audio) - just picked up a canon XH-A1 to accomplish a number of projects; instructional videos (one subject), wedding videos (ceremony and reception), and some short films.

What kind of mic would be the most versatile or best compromise to accomplish the three styles? from what i've read and heard, lav mics are best to use in wedding scenarios, but the shotgun would be more appropriate for a wide range of situations? correct me if im wrong.


i was suggested by someone at B&H to buy the Rode NTG-2 - but he wasnt clear on which kit was the best between these two...

Rode | NTG-2 Battery or Phantom Powered Condenser Shotgun | B&H

Rode | NTG-2 Condenser Shotgun Microphone Kit | B&H Photo Video

he kept changing his answer to which one is the best to buy, so im not sure which one really is the best. he insisted they were basically the same thing.

also IF a lav mic is the best way to go, what is the best bang for its buck?

or what else is important when buying audio equipment?


thank you in advanced for answering all these questions. new to the website, and love reading the other threads.

josh
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Old February 9th, 2010, 01:58 PM   #2
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You have XLR inputs on your cam, yes? So the first package is better.

But know that you will never get really good audio with any mic mounted on the cam, as good as the NTG-2 is. I don't really think there is any one mic that will do it all.

As others have pointed out, proper technique is more important than buying expensive mics. Better to get several reasonably priced different types and use the right one for each situation than try to get a super-mic that will do it all.

The NTG-2 is a very good value, and I'd urge you to get a reasonably priced lav or two as well.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 02:27 PM   #3
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thanks for the post

but if i was to only afford one within the near future the NTG-2 should suffice?

also, when you say reasonably priced lav mics, how much is a reasonably priced mic? i know wired mics are cheaper, but is it better to hold out for wireless? cause im assuming in a wedding setting for instance my camera my not always be able to be right next to the subject.

and are there any accessories/devices i should keep in mind for the shot gun or lav mics? or something i should keep in mind for the future that would greatly improve the efficiency or quality of capturing audio? booms, mixer (which i dont know exactly what it does), etc. necessary?

sorry, in the past i always had others do technical stuff and never bothered to learn. im now a sponge and want to learn as much as i can so i can produce more work by myself.

even if you guys have websites or literature that would help a beginner with audio it would be greatly appreciated.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 03:04 PM   #4
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In 26 years of doing weddings I have almost never been able to be close enough to use a wired mic on the groom. It also brings in other problems, such as, when the groom walks off the altar to give flowers to the mothers or goes to the Virgin Mary (Catholic ceremonies), or when the B&G leave the altar for the recessional.
Personally I am a big fan of properly set up wireless BUT there are other options that a lot of folks here use and that is a pocket recorder like the Zoom models. They are fairly inexpensive and with a good mic can solve the problem. A shotgun or something like it can get the music and ambient sound at both the ceremony and reception but it ain't gonna get the vows and believe me the B&G want those.
While I'm not familiar with the Rode mics I have heard good things about them but you really need something like that AND a way to get the vows. Since you can't afford a shotgun and wireless, I'd look into the Zoom.
Search thru the audio and wedding forum and you'll find a lot of posts about the Zoom.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 03:39 PM   #5
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Josh,

Like Don says, search both the audio and wedding forums here and you will have virtually every concievable answer to your questions about lav vs. shotgun, and which to buy first.

Personally I use a lav mic a lot more than a shotgun because I work alone more often.

The Sennheiser EW112 G2/3 series is what I use and is considered to be decent system. Here's a link to a Canadian retailer. I just added a countryman mic to mine, but the stock unit is pretty good for most work.

Sennheiser EW-112P G3 Wireless Mics Toronto Canada
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Old February 9th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #6
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i will definitely check out the wedding section of the forum. and from what it sounds, most people lean towards the wireless lav mic for wedding shoots.

however, i guess here lies the predicament; although wedding videos will be bringing in the cash - the short films is really where the passion is. so i guess im trying to perhaps find the best device for the shorts, but something that will be more then sufficient for the weddings. what would the negatives be to shooting with lav mics for short films? typically i've just used either the stock mic or a shot gun to shoot shorts, i dont know if you could accomplish equal or better sounds with lav mics.

just starting my own small production - im wondering what my priorities are (in this case with audio equipment)?... perhaps thats how i should have addressed the question. i suppose there is no right way of doing it, but if you guys have some advice from personal experience that would really help.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 06:39 PM   #7
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Josh,

Unless it's a one actor film, or two people really close together... you can't really think about using a lav for a short film. I supoose you could mount a lav on a boom pole but that would be pretty unusual, and likely not that effective.

I don't think there is a cheap, 'one-mic-fits-all' solution for you.

You could go with a cheaper wired lav to olympus-type voice recorder for under $200 for weddings (will require syncing in post, and since the recorder is likely in the grooms pocket, you can't monitor the audio), and a decent shotgun for other stuff.

But unless you're an experienced sound recordist, cheap really reveals itself. And when you're charging money for weddings, you really have to be double covered from a sound stand-point. You can't yell 'Cut' in the middle of the vows.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 07:10 PM   #8
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What Ken said. There is no one size fits all in this case because weddings and short films have very different scenarios. Wedding you really need some sort of shotgun and some type of mic on the groom where as on a film most all of the sound is going to be a shotgun.

While the gun can be had for around a couple of hundred to up to a couple of thousand, wireless are the same but with wireless a unit that's only a couple of hundred can be problematic. At the least you have to figure 6 or 7 hundred for a receiver, bodypak transmitter and stock mic. You might be able to find something used but you'll pay the same kind of money so why not buy new? Audio Technica, Sony, Sennheiser all have nice units in the 6 to 8 hundred dollar range. So lets say you spend 300 for a shotgun and 7 hundred for a wireless-a "G" note and you're starting out with a beginning start up kit.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 02:01 PM   #9
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Thanks Adam, Ken, and Don, i really appreciate all the advice - i will definitely continue my research and look into the suggestions you've presented.

also, Adam i believe mentioned any mic mounted on a cam would not produce the best quality. As an amateur not knowing much about audio recording should i consider some sort of external recording device, mixers, etc?

it amazes me the devotion and information contributed by the forum members (professionals) here to help fellow members, especially the not-so knowledgeable. thank you so much guys - im learning thing an infinitely times faster because of this forum.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 02:26 PM   #10
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Hi Josh,

I think what Adam meant was cameras mounted directly to the camera don't produce the best sound because:
a) They are not isolated so they pick up alot of handling noise and camera noise (lens motor, tape whine)
b) They are stuck in the one position and you can't move it closer or on a different angle to your speaker without moving the whole camera.

The solution is to have a sound operator and a boom mounted microphone, rather than recording to an external device.

For your purposes you'll get away fine with a camera mounted shotgun as long as you use a good shock mount.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 05:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
I think what Adam meant was cameras mounted directly to the camera don't produce the best sound because:
a) They are not isolated so they pick up alot of handling noise and camera noise (lens motor, tape whine)
b) They are stuck in the one position and you can't move it closer or on a different angle to your speaker without moving the whole camera.
And most importantly, 99% of the time a microphone on or near the camera is going to simply be too far away from the subject to do a very good job. The inverse square law applies to sound just like it does to light, where doubling the distance from the source drops the intensity by a factor of four. The position of the camera that gives the most pleasing pictures is going to be very much farther away from the subject than would be the best working distance for most mics. Even shotguns - which are NOT telephotos for sound and do not magnify distant sounds - simply tune out surrounding noise from the sides and rear to make it easier to isolate the desired sound. With a few long-gun exceptions that can go a little farther out, even they need to be no more than about 30 inches from the speaker's mouth for best results and all other mic types need to be even closer. But a camera 30 inches away from an interview subject is going to produce a very unflattering image, full of wide-angle distortion. The math works out, shooting an interview subject, camera to subject best distance is going to be somewhere between 5 to 8 feet or so while mic to subject distance for best sound recording is going to be 24 to 30 inches. They just don't match - get a mic/camera combo where they get best sound and they'll get a distorted picture but put 'em where they get a pleasing picture they'll get weak, lousy sound.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 11:39 PM   #12
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A lot of people also feel that for indoors a hyper-cardioid is much better than a shotgun, which is fine outdoors.

But heck, I don't do weddings, I do mostly brass and classical music so I'm sort of from another planet - a planet where the listeners tend to have very nice sound systems and pay close attention to sound quality - nit-pickingly so!.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 01:59 AM   #13
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This is all great advice...bottom line is to cover all bases, you really should have both a shotgun and wireless.

And when you do a shoot like the one I did last weekend you'll understand why...simple outdoor commercial for a pool cleaning system. 1st round of actors, had the wireless on them with no issues. Then, of course there had to be an actress is in a teeny bikini and I jokingly asked "where can we hide the mic?"
SO, I whipped out my....boom pole and shotgun and the shoot moved forward. (sorry, too easy to resist!)

If you have to choose one right now, get the wireless. I love my Sennheisers. The mics are good but as someone else mentioned, you can stick a Countryman or DPA on it for quality. For weddings and commercial/industrial, it's a must. Even in the short film scenario, you can hide a wireless to get it close to the actors in most situations. I've even heard of a guy attaching one to a golf ball retriever and using it like a boom successfully. (helluva lot lighter than a shotgun in a blimp or screen too!) To get the most from a shotgun, it needs to be on a boom and have an operator. I have an NTG-3 which is killer but not cheap. I have also used the NTG-2 and it is a great mic. Haven't met a bad mic from Rode yet and I've tried nearly all of them.


sincerely,
your friendly veteran audio engineer turned video guy
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Old March 1st, 2010, 02:59 PM   #14
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Josh,
Have you considered renting? If you aren't doing weddings on a regular basis and just have the odd one-off, then I would suggest renting the wireless lav when you really need it. Vistek is a great place for that and there's lots more in Toronto.

Hope that helps :)
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