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Old April 11th, 2010, 11:55 PM   #1
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Hypercardiod condenser mic for indoor recording

I do not have the expertise to choose between microphones, and so rely on others who do.

I want a hypercardiod condenser mic for indoor/home studio recording of speech, as I believe such mics are the best for the job.

How would people here judge between the Audio Technica U873R, and the Rode NT3?
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Old April 12th, 2010, 05:18 AM   #2
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For studio recording of speech - ie, voice-over,etc - I'd go with a cardioid condenser such as the Rode NT1a or a cardioid dynamic such as the Rode Procaster.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 05:44 AM   #3
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Thanks Steve.

Just to clarify, I wonder if we are using the word 'studio' in different ways.

What I am referring to is a reasonably large room in my home which I have set up for filming in front of a green screen. To date I have used my Rode NTG2 overhead on a boom, but given that everyone seems to say that shotguns are better for outside recording, and hypercardiods are better for indoor recording, I was looking at getting a hypercardiod to replace the shotgun for this purpose.

Does this explanation change anything?

Thanks again
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Old April 12th, 2010, 06:23 AM   #4
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If you are dedicating a room to be a "studio" then in theory you can control the acoustics of the room. If you cover the reflective surfaces of the room with moving blankets/foam/whatever and stick a cushy chair in some of the corners, you can likely remove most of the reasons you need a hyper over a shotgun.

Shotguns go strange when they receive reflected sound in closed spaces. If you clap your hand in the room and can hear a definite echo (or worse, a kind of a "fading away" of the sound like a bunch of echoes/reverb, then you are likely to have problems with a shotgun. If you have sound absorbing "stuff" in the room, "stuff" on the walls and some kind of covering like a rug/carpet on the floor, then the shotgun can be fine.

The indoor/outdoor guideline applies to "typical" spaces. A soundstage, for example, is the most obvious exception. It is indoors, but acoustically dead and in that case a shotgun works great.

Hope that helps!
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Old April 12th, 2010, 09:49 AM   #5
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You might also tell us your budget for said mic, to narrow things down a little.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 12:10 PM   #6
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I have extensively used the older version of the AT873r, but not the newer version that you mention, the U873r that came out a couple of years ago. It's my understanding the mic was changed a fair amount so I really can't say how the new one would work.
I also use the NT3 and it works well as an overhead boom on a static mount. However, it won't have the output that your NTG-2 has if that's important for your camera's preamps. The NT3 can run on battery power if needed, the AT mic is 48v phantom only.
As mentioned since you have some control of the acoustics in the room, you have more flexibility as to the mic you can use.
If you've reduced the acoustic reflections and have low ambient noise, you could use a wide range of low-noise, moderate to high sensitivity mics and be successful.
What is your budget and do you have other uses in mind for this second mic besides using it in your "studio" space?
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Old April 12th, 2010, 03:10 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. very helpful.

While I can have my room set up as a studio, it is not exclusively set up for this. The whole room is carpeted wall to wall, which includes a heavy duty underlay (we have just had the whole house re carpeted). The ceiling coming off the long wall slopes at 37 degrees from 1.5m off the floor right across the 3.6m width of the room and the short wall ceiling intersects with this slopes at 30 degrees. I have some Pinex (soft board paneling) on three walls (used to be notice boards). I think the acoustics are quite 'flat', no echos.

If this is so, perhaps I don't need a hyper mic.

My budget - well at least the figure I had in mind - was around $US200 - $US250 including shipping to NZ. (Actually I had already initiated a purchase of the U873R through an NZ website, but didn't do my usual checks on businesses I do online business with. The mic didn't come and didn't come, so I emailed them asking what was going on, and they have said they can't supply, actually it seems like they may have gone under. I just received my refund last night - phew! - a month after placing the order.) The failure of this sale and the time delay has given me time to re-evaluate, which I am doing.

I have a project to do for which I want to have the best audio I can get within the scope of my limited funds. Thus my looking at a hyper on the recommendation of others, as I have mentioned.

The microphone will be running to my camera through a JuicedLink CX231, which allows 11-48v phantom power - the U873R can run on 12v. My NTG2 of course can run off phantom power or battery.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 05:00 PM   #8
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Good info on your recording space.
At that price point I might say you already have one of the better mics available in the NTG-2.
Of the two mics you first asked about, I would recommend the NT3 but I don't know if you can actually get one at that budget level.
Even though the U873R is improved over the older model I have, I don't think it would be better than the NTG-2 for use in your studio. It would be useful for other purposes though if you had ended up getting one.

Is renting a possible choice so you could test out some substantially better mics?

You could also try a small diaphragm cardioid mic. That would open up a number of other choices like the AT4021. The price of that mic varies a great deal depending on dealer. It can be found as low as $249 for US delivery.
I can also make an odd-ball recommendation. Go in with a friend and get the AT2041SP combo for $150 US. Then split this kit up and you keep the AT2021 ($50) for testing in your space and your friend or you could take the AT2020 for $100. The AT2021 is only available in this kit unfortunately and performs much better than its price point.
It would depend on your space's acoustics, ambient noise, and distance from the subject as to whether a cardioid would work better than your shotgun. If you ever video 2 or 3 people at one time, a cardioid could definitely be helpful.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 05:00 PM   #9
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For a hyper, neither the NTG-2 nor the U873R are ideal.

The NTG-2 uses an interference pattern for side rejection. That makes for an ugly off-axis rejection.

The U873R is for handheld use. It's designed for being inches from the mouth, rather than feet away. It will have very little low-end when far from the source.

The AT4053b is a better choice, but is out of budget. Of the mics that you list, the NTG-2 would be the better choice.

Another option would be to go with an omni lav, like the AT803b. It's big, so it doesn't hide well (the 899 is smaller), but sounds good for the money. You'd want to keep the space fairly dead, but at least the reflections wouldn't be badly colored the way they can be with a shotgun. You can also go for a cardioid lav, but they need to be placed carefully, and are more sensitive to the talent turning their head.

Another possibility is a large diaphragm cardioid condenser, like the NT-1A. I would only use it if you can mount it on a stand (it's heavy), barely out of the frame just above the talent's forehead. Avoid it if somebody has to lift it, or if it will be too far from the talent.
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Old April 12th, 2010, 11:02 PM   #10
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If I had to sneak up the price a bit, I could do so, but only if there would be a advantage in doing this.

Jay, your comment "If you ever video 2 or 3 people at one time, a cardioid could definitely be helpful." is certainly appropriate. I could very well being doing just that. However my primary concern at the moment is the recording for a DVD project which will only have myself speaking.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 01:39 AM   #11
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The Oktava MK-012 is one the real deals on the market and a much better mic.

You can read about it here:

As I Hear It - Choosing the Right Microphone
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Old April 13th, 2010, 10:31 AM   #12
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I have the Oktava kit and it has very good sound. Because of the special considerations for buying and using that mic I often forget to recommend it. Since you're shooting indoors on a static boom, the need for a high-grade shockmount and expensive wind protection would be reduced. Not entirely eliminated and you should still use both types of protection, but inexpensive solutions will work in your studio.
Since there are counterfeit Oktava's on the market you should buy from a trusted source. For example I bought my kit around 2003 from The Sound Room at The Trusted Source for Genuine Russian Oktava Microphones, Heil Microphones, Grado Labs Headphones and much more!!!!
They have the mic kit with 3 capsules and -10db pad for $349 US. The single capsule mic is $249 US.
There are other threads here about other good dealers and modifications you can have done to improve the sound even more.
I haven't used my Oktava in a while and haven't compared it directly to some newer mics I have such as the AT875R small shotgun, and the AT4021, AT3031 and AT2021 small cardioids.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #13
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In addition to what Jay said, even the genuine Russian Oktavas' are not all created equal. (quality control) The Sound Room is a good source, the mics are hand-picked, bench tested and listened to prior to being sold.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 12:45 PM   #14
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Before you do anything in your new space, try your existing Rode, and see what it sounds like. If the actual room sounds bad, then you could be better spending the mic budget on sound treatment, that could let any microphone sound better. Hard parallel surfaces need sorting and there are many useful packages available for home recording enthusiasts.
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Old April 13th, 2010, 03:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renton Maclachlan View Post
To date I have used my Rode NTG2 overhead on a boom, but given that everyone seems to say that shotguns are better for outside recording, and hypercardiods are better for indoor recording, I was looking at getting a hypercardiod to replace the shotgun for this purpose.
Paul clearly he has tried to his shotgun in the setup.

The primary difference between using a shotgun and hypercardiod indoors is due to the mics pattern to the rear and the quality of that off axis sound.
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