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Old December 9th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #1
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Did I spend more on a downgrade?

I am a wedding videographer. I had been using an Olympus ME-15 to record vows. I bought (upgraded?) a Shure SM-11, which got pretty good reviews. Below is a comparison of the two. The first is the Shure SM-11 and the second is the Olympus. Both were held about half a foot away from the speaking, in the same conditions. It seems like the Shure mic has a much lower signal and noticeably more noise. The olympus mic is a $15 mic and the Shure mic was $100. Obviously more money doesn't mean nicer necessarily, but I wondered if there is something I didn't know or if maybe I wasn't using it right?

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Old December 9th, 2010, 12:23 PM   #2
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Funny - I think the first one sounds better - volume is lower, but sounds smoother to my ears at least. Noise might also be a tad higher, but voice quality just sounds better. Second one sounds more "crackly" or "static-y".

Just one opinion.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 12:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder, so I figured if enough people preferred the first, that would give me an answer. I'm by no means an audio authority, and I value the opinions here very much.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:19 PM   #4
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It's very possible that the Shure mic, while "higher quality", also has a lower output level and thus requires a cleaner and more powerful preamp to really get the most out of it; while the cheap mic isn't the greatest quality but because it has a higher output is going to have less noise going into the recorder.

So if you're using a relatively cheap recorder, the lower output of the Shure mic may cancel out some of the benefits of it's higher quality because the preamps aren't clean enough to amplify without adding noise that overshadows any improvements. Does that make sense?

Basically it means that you often have to upgrade the entire signal chain to get the greatest increase in quality.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #5
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Exactly what I was thinking - Cheaper mic might be hotter so less noise from upping the gain if the preamps are noisy - in other words, is the noise coming from the mic or the pre-amps? I'm inclined to suspect the latter more than the former. But I think the crackliness of the voice is due to the cheaper mic itself.

Just one old guy's opinion though. I don't use either mic myself as I mostly record classical music.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:43 PM   #6
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For this particular recording, I ran the Shure mic straight into my Canon T2i, using an XLR-mini adapter. Normally I would be using a Zoom H2. So it sounds like using the Zoom H2 may possibly give a better idea of the quality comparison between the two?
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:58 PM   #7
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I'm not much of a fan of anything Zoom, but compared to the 29 cent audio interfaces in DSLR's (and the 59 cent audio interfaces on 10+k video cameras) you might be on the right track.

Give it a try if you can.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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To follow up on Jim's point: Even the preamps on the Canon XL2s are adequate at best. Until I got an external mixer with better preamps (SD-302), I had to spend a lot of time smoothing out cuts with roomtone because the noise floor, while tolerably low, was certainly audible. A set of quality preamps later and I haven't had to use my roomtone since.

I don't have a clue where the Zoom's preamps stand compared to your camera, but it's an easy test, and very possibly the Zoom's preamps are better/quieter because it's made for recording audio.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 03:56 PM   #9
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Unless you're running a preamp, like a juicedLink, into your DSLR, the audio hiss will be terrible. The H4n is MUCH quieter than the 5D2, but the juicedLink/5D2/Magic Lantern is cleaner still. Part 5 of this series tells the tale:

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-eo...-complete.html

Until you compare mics while using a reasonably clean preamp, you can't make a good judgment.

Noise isn't the primary decider between mics. Frequency response, polar pattern, dynamic range, and distortion are the big four.
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Old December 11th, 2010, 04:46 PM   #10
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The SM11 is nice little mic but is very, very low output. You need a really clean mixer with lots of gain. My Sound Devices 302 has barely enough gain for that mic. I use them mostly for hanging over guitar amplifiers these days. They work great for that. What are you recording too?
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