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Old August 24th, 2005, 03:34 PM   #1
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Mic Choices

First let me say i am a real newbie. still trying to digest my GL2 manual.
bear that in mind please.
my dilema after reading a whole lot of this forum is that i have bought a beachtec dxa-6. my remaining funds allow me to spend $200 or less on a
attachable mic system. i have been looking at azden sgm-1x, sennheiser mke 300, rode videomic. i will be filming outdoors / wildlife 90 % of the time and some studio interviews.
which mic would be the best for my purposes and be most usefull as a 2nd mic when i can afford to upgrade ?
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Old August 24th, 2005, 07:38 PM   #2
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EJ, I'm afraid you purchased in the wrong order. Your expenditure on the DXA-6 opens the door for a lot of good mics, but they're all over $200 except for the $150 Rode VideoMic which is an excellent choice but does not need the BeachTek for connection to your cam.

If I were filming wildlife, my first choice would be an Audio Technica AT4073a for it's sensitivity, directionality and reasonable length for camera mounting. At $550 and requiring phantom power it would have been out of your reach now anyway.

Second would be the Sennheiser ME66. Not quite as good sounding as the 4073 from what I've heard, or quiet as sensitive, but still a very sensitive mic. I've seen people post their satisfaction with this mic for wildlife. At $410 with the option for battery operation, you could have gotten this one and plugged it into your cam with cheap adapter cable.

My next choice would be the $150 Rode VideoMic. According to many posts here and elsewhere, It has quickly risen to challenge the $270 AT897 as the best bang for the buck mic out there. The Rode won't have the reach of the other two above, but it has a few compensations. It's easier to tame for indoor use, it comes with a shockmount, ready to slide into the accessory shoe (the other two will require a $40-60 shockmount), and it is ready to plug right into the GL2's mic jack.

So I'd say your two main best choices at this point would be to return the DXA-6 if you can and get the Sennheiser, or to get the Rode and hold on to your BeachTek until you can afford something like the 4073.
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Old August 24th, 2005, 08:51 PM   #3
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I haven't used the VideoMic, but it has gotten good reviews for a budget mic. It's still a budget mic though. If you can possibly do it, hold out for the AT897. It will run a little hotter with phantom power and sounds great. Personally I'd rather have the Sennheiser ME series too, but mainly because it's modular. Depending on what you're shooting you may rather have an ME67 capsule over the ME66. I haven't used the Azden or the MKE300 either, but do a search and I think you'll find they're not very well thought of on these boards.
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Old August 25th, 2005, 07:07 AM   #4
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i will be able to upgrade in 18-24 months. i was leaning to the rode videomic based on all the feedback i read on this site plus hearing them in operation.
thanks for the replys.
i must say this site is a bit overwhelming to a newbie like me, but i'll just attack it like eating an elephant. " one bite at a time "
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Old August 25th, 2005, 03:53 PM   #5
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If I had $300 kicking around right now, I think I'd pass on the AT897, buy the Rode and take the family to Six Flags with the other $150. True the AT897 is a great mic and has been recommended by those in the know for a long time. But if we now have one that is more sensitive, sounds as good, and is more convenient to use, then the label "budget mic" has no meaning to me.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:27 AM   #6
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I'm not really knocking the Rode. I think it's pretty neat actually, but it has such limited use, namely as a camera mounted mic. The AT897 is made out of brass, has a balanced output and is suitable for mounting on a boompole or clamp mount. It would be a useful part of someone's kit for years and years. I would have no qualms at all about pulling it out on a paying job. B&H even bundles it with a free XLR cable and on-camera shockmount. You can also get a Rycote softie for it, which would be real important for outdoor shooting.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:06 AM   #7
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Keep in mind the Rode VideoMic has several holes in the bottom mount to make it tripod/boom/mic stand mountable. Plus it already has a shockmount built into it... :)
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EJ Carter
First let me say i am a real newbie. still trying to digest my GL2 manual.
....<snip>....

i will be filming outdoors / wildlife 90 % of the time and some studio interviews.
which mic would be the best for my purposes and be most usefull as a 2nd mic when i can afford to upgrade ?
A big question that comes to my mind is just exactly what sounds are you trying to record? You say you're mostly filming wildlife. Do you want to try to capture the natural sounds of the animals - bird calls, elk trumpets, bear's growls, that sort of thing? Or are you interested in recording on-the-spot commentary while shooting a-la Steve Irwin? Or will the sound be general natural ambience? Or are you going to shoot silent and add narration and SFX back in the studio?

If you want to record the sounds of the animals you're filming as you shoot, none of the traditional mics are going to work very well by themselves. Especially something mounted on the camera just isn't going to cut it. (Contrary to myth, shotguns don't magnify sounds they're pointed at - what they do is suppress sounds they're NOT pointed at.) To capture sounds you can actually hear from the range at which you'll probably be shooting, you're going to need a second person to handle the mic and some specialized gear - luckily it doesn't have to be expensive. What you need is something called a parabolic mic, a dish reflector that you aim at the subject and it focuses the sound on the microphone (this actually does magnify the sound). Here's a link to the type of thing I'm talking about - not an endorsement of this specific brand or source, just a picture of the kind of gear you'll need to do a decent job of it ... http://www.mineroff.com/nature/rp3.htm. I've seen home-brew versions made from a plastic snow-saucer, some plastic or wire rods, a pistol grip of some sort, and a mic shock-mount that work well - add a modestly priced cardoid or hypercardoid as the mic element and you're in business. When I was a kid in jr high we made one using a cheap tape recorder mic and a scavenged amplifier that easily picked up normal conversations several blocks away.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 09:42 AM   #9
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"Keep in mind the Rode VideoMic has several holes in the bottom mount to make it tripod/boom/mic stand mountable. Plus it already has a shockmount built into it... :)"

Are the threads metal? I was under the impression the whole thing was plastic. Plus, there doesn't appear to be a way to adjust the angle of the shockmount. It's just not designed to hold up to that kind of use. I did notice at B&H just now that Rode does indeed make a windmuff for it, so that's a big plus.
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