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Old September 1st, 2010, 10:37 PM   #31
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Inexpensive Mikes Can Give Quality Sound

The caveat here is the mike must be carefully selected & tested first. At Weva I teched Douglas Spotted Eagles audio for video presentation. When discussing lavaliere mikes he pulled out a lavaliere from Radio Shack, the same mike I have been using for the past 10 years.

What qualifies it as a candidate for quality audio for video is A. It is made by Audio Technica & is the same mike as their small omni lavaliere. B. I have 2 sets of stereo lav's sold briefly by R.S.7 years ago. I use these not for video but attached to the ear piece on my glasses & feeding either a mini disc recorder or marantz PMD 620. I have recorded several symphonic orchestral concerts & they produce great sounding binaural recordings. Even did a stealth recording of the London Symphony last year. Most that have heard them think they are commercial recordings until someone in the audience coughs, etc.
I would put them up against a $400- lavaliere in a shoot out & expect them to be as good as the more expensive mike.

My point being you do not need to use sankens, shoeps or neuman to get good quality sound! It is more important to know how the devices you are using work & how to apply them to the specific situation.

I have been involved in professional audio recording for 50 yrs. Save your money for a good quality mixer, headphones, etc.

Bill Davis & I are in the same camp; spend your money wisely.

Last edited by Bill Wilson; September 1st, 2010 at 10:39 PM. Reason: added comment
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Old September 1st, 2010, 11:57 PM   #32
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I believe the proper spelling is "mic".
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 12:33 AM   #33
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well guys, how about a REAL example ? try this one I just did with a ME2 lav and COS-11x. you can clearly hear the difference, even on a web video :)

Video Review of the Sennheiser G3 Wireless Mic


there is a difference between a cheap mic and a good one, even for the web.
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 08:32 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
there is a difference between a cheap mic and a good one, even for the web.
Granted. But perhaps using an inexpensive mic like ME2 is equivalent to stretching black mesh over an expensive lens to reduce its capabilities. In fact, both are examples of "low pass" (optically and acoustically). Nice illustration of the differences, and your equipment setup, but it comes back down to what can do the job, what is your budget, what is available, etc. Thanks for producing and sharing your video.
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 12:39 PM   #35
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Great video Steve. Thank you for taking the time to create and share your example.

I can agree that an inexpensive mic well positioned and in a good audio chain will get you 90% there.

It's that additional 10% of detailed clarity that you have a choice of paying double, triple, quadruple+ the price for.

I found it to be the same case when I got into high-end home audio (thank god I'm done with that...and my pursuit of the perfect single malt scotch craze, but I digress....). Name brands in the big box stores such as Sony, Onkyo, Denon etc. get you 90% there of what a typical person would say "Sounds Amazing!" However, a true audiophile with a trained ear would be able to distinguish the nuances and say it sounds horrid. Same with high-end glass on an HD camera - it's the little details that count, and some are willing to go the extra mile to get that clarity. Our HPX500 had a lens that cost more than the camera. And that's not at all uncommon on high-end broadcast cameras- then again, these are guys that (usually!) have a tried and true business model where the equipment pays for itself, or they rent.

At the end of the day, it boils down to your audience. Will they notice? Will they care? Does it add to or detract? Would the money be better spent on other aspects of the production? The title of the thread is "Next logical step toward better audio." I think we're all in agreement that there are 4 parts of the audio chain:

Mic >>Cable >> Pre-amp/Mixer >> Recorder. Pick which one that is not performing to your expectations and search for a replacement within your budget.
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 01:30 PM   #36
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Should we factor in skill and experience?.. Oh, sorry, I forgot, that no longer matters with 'affordable digital' gear...
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 01:56 PM   #37
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Skill and experience should go without saying when talking about gear comparisons because for one particular person, their skill will be the same with whatever they buy. So the quality of the gear will be the only factor that changes in the equation.

But I suppose if an idiot will make a horrible recording with a Sanken COS11D, he may as well stick with the ME-2, or sell it and get the Radio Shack lav and get that same horrible recording for much less money. In skilled hands/ears using gear correctly, the superior sound of higher quality gear will be noticeable. So to be nice I think we all assume that the gear is being used correctly, which then allows us to compare mic, mixer or camera qualities without having to keep saying, "But if you don't know how to record it won't sound good!" Better gear is better gear and some of us like to know which thing does the job better so we can make an informed choice.
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 03:02 PM   #38
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Wow, just read through this whole thread and it's better than a novel! I expect Greg wonders just what can of worms he's opened here but that what's so great about this forum ... and no-one's even mentioned content yet which trumps equipment, technical quality, technique, experience, the lot.

Thanks to all for contributing. A fascinating half hour but I need a drink now.
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 03:07 PM   #39
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I suppose the title of the thread leaves it open to all of us audio nerds waxing philosophical about everything under the sun concerning audio.
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Old September 2nd, 2010, 06:57 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Greg Kiger View Post
I should also note that I don’t much like the look of Lavs and would rent vs buy them if needed.
By the 'look of Lavs' I assume you mean on screen? Have you tried the Countryman b6? It's incredibly tiny and very easy to hide so that you don't see it onscreen - I'll typically poke it through a button hole or tape it under a collar. Sound is great and it seems to impress clients because it's so tiny.
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Old September 6th, 2010, 12:28 PM   #41
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The terms I've been using lately are "professional" sound and "audiophile" sound.

Professional sound means sound with no obvious problems. There is no buzz or hum, the room echo and background noise are minimized, and the end result has reasonable equalization. You can get all that with a fairly inexpensive mic that is used well.

Audiophile sound has all that, plus that wonderful combination of edge without sounding distorted, and creaminess without sounding soft. There is a richness and luster that can generally only be achieved with top mics. That said, with judicious use of EQ, compression/expansion, and an exciter, one might be able to fake it. (I can't.)

Not everybody needs audiophile sound. In fact, if you're making a Jackass-type YouTube video, non-professional sound might come across as more authentic. If you're filming for the big screen, go for audiophile sound. If you can afford the gear, get audiophile equipment. But frankly, for most of our applications, professional-level sound will get the job done without making anybody unhappy.
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Old September 6th, 2010, 01:35 PM   #42
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IMHO, the very word "audiophile" has been thoroughly tarnished by the "golden-ears", "magic cable" crowd. The biggest difference between (genuine) audiophile equipment and professional equipment is not necessarily the specs. It is the build quality, the functionality, the packaging, the user interface, and mostly the reliability, ruggedness, dependability, and consistency.

And that is consistent with the Fast / Good / Cheap model...

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Old September 7th, 2010, 07:27 AM   #43
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Fascinating variety of responses
My own 2 cent (euro cent)

As per the original question , a move towards premium quality ... well that requires a professional sound mixer regardless of kit ...... the Camera operator has enough to do between lights , talent ,framing etc etc (and will locate the interview with visual considerations not aural ones) and will never give sound the time and consideration it requires .... thats if you want premium quality

Secondly , yes Lavs will get you clear concise sound (if placed properly without cable noise and RF interference) but they always sound flat to me, too little room ambience and from experience the chances of a single operator with a lav shooting atmos are pretty slim (the old school guy who trained me hated radios with a passion so maybe some of thats rubbed off)

But then even a boom on a stand becomes just another piece of kit often just thrown in by single operators

Honestly think you should just hire someone for your shoots ( and my favourite indoor mic on a boom is the, unmentioned so far, Senn MKH50 but it needs to be very focussed)
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Old September 7th, 2010, 12:02 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
IMHO, the very word "audiophile" has been thoroughly tarnished by the "golden-ears", "magic cable" crowd. The biggest difference between (genuine) audiophile equipment and professional equipment is not necessarily the specs. It is the build quality...
So true about audiophiles and "magic cables"!

Personally, my definitions are a bit different. Consumer gear is plastic, non-rugged, lacks a case, etc. Professional gear is solid, robust, transportable, etc. The sound is good without obvious problems. "Audiophile" (to me) adds truly great sound. The specs should look solid, but the ears should experience something special. Maybe a better term would be "elite", since "audiophile" is a loaded term.

In any case, I'm not one to worry about the specific terms. Levels 1, 2, and 3 are fine by me.

Lenses are similar. There is plastic junk out there, some solid, reliable glass, and some lenses that are truly special. And the truth of the matter is that you can take an award-winning photo with a plastic junk lens if you are in the right place at the right time and apply solid skills - and if it doesn't break. A pro lens will get the job done time and time again. An elite lens might add corner to corner perfection, great bokeh, or artistic flare or some combination of traits that is tough to achieve with lesser glass.

The interesting thing about elite products is that one has to take personal preference into account. You might value bokeh while I might value flare or corner sharpness. I might want my mics to have an edge, while you might want yours to have super smooth sound. In any case, it should be something that the owner can see or hear clearly. If it's as subtle as a magic digital cable, it's not truly elite.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 02:26 PM   #45
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Sanken Follow Up

Wow, figured this little thread would die a quiet death while I was off shooting my many interviews in "live" locations with minimal ability to control the situation....but looks like I was wrong :)

I did buy the Sanken CS3e mic from Guy Cochran. Great price (dvinfo dudes discount) but more importantly Guy called and took serious time to bring me up to speed. Thanks Guy!

The results, while not a head to head trst with other great mics, have been beyond my expectations. As advertised; exceptional ability to screen out lively indoor ambient noise and home in on the speakers voice. 10 interviews in wildly different locations, all indoors, and many many times during the interviews there would be a noise that I could easily hear. I turned to my audio tech who was listening with headphones expecting her to say "retake" and instead got a thumbs up to drive on with the interview. The Sanken is pretty tough too, my gaffer knocked over the mic boom and it hit the deck hard but worked fine despite the fall.

To me this mic avoids the "audiofile vs real world listeners" debate by making an audio track that's noticeably better - on any listeners system. Of course for the true audio geeks among us - all of the above is probably meaningless without another mic recording parallel for comparison. I get that for sure but live in a very imperfect world where I needed a ambient taming mic asap. Very happy with the Sanken :)

Will post several clips of the 5DM2 on board mic vs the Sanken. Again, certainly a straw man comparison but informative none the less in that you can really hear all the crap this mic make go away.

Thanks again to all of you for the ongoing wisdom and guidance :)
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