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Old September 4th, 2011, 06:18 AM   #1
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Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

Does anybody know if there's a decent but cheap 5 pin stereo XLR mic that sells for about $200-300? I have the Audio Technica AUAT875R, which sounds very good, but it's mono, so it's great for voice, but not for ambient sound. I wish AT had something similar in stereo, but their cheapest stereo mic is over $600. I'm not looking for perfection, just anything that is better than the piece of junk built in mic in my Sony AX2000, which sounds like the equivalent of those $5 Coby headphones. So something that sounds as good as the AUAT875R but in stereo would be perfect for me.

Thanks
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Old September 4th, 2011, 06:47 AM   #2
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

I used to use one of these on my Sony V1E for general ambient/background sound:

Beyerdynamic MCE72 - Portable Stereo Condenser 465461 B&H Photo

Great for recording trains and getting the nice stereo effect of it passing the camera, for example.

It sounded pretty good to me, but then (a) I'm not an audio pro with $10,000 of gear and (b) I didn't subject it to in-depth scientific testing, I just used my ears!
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Old September 4th, 2011, 06:56 AM   #3
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

Don't know whose price list your looking at with the everything >$600 figure. Audio Technica offers both the AT8022 ($399 @ B&H) and the AT2022 ($249 @ B&H) for under $600. The 8022 outputs on a 5-pin XLR connector and comes with 2 cables, one terminating in two XLRs and the other a single TRS stereo miniplug. The 2022 outputs on a 3 pin XLR but it's wired non-standard as two unbalanced channels and the included cable terminates in a stereo miniplug.

IMHO, a stereo mic should never be camera-mounted, even for ambience. The reason is that as the camera pans, the position of sound sources within the recorded soundfield will shift as the mic's orientation changes along with the changing camera direction. This can be very disorienting for the audience. For stereo recording, the mic's should generally be stationary, thus mounted on a stand. So another approach for recording stereo is to use two ordinary cardioid pencil mics - I have a pair of AT3031's for this - in a stereo mount set up for either X/Y or ORTF recording.

It's considerably over your budget desires but one should also mention the option of adding the Ambient ATE208 Emesser figure-8 mic ($775 @ B&H) to your exisitng shotgun to convert it into a M/S stereo recording rig. Ambient Products Emesser
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Old September 4th, 2011, 08:37 AM   #4
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

I use an Audio-Technica AT825 (X/Y configuration - purchased used $190) and a Sony ECM-MS957 (M/S configuration - purchased used $90) with great results.

Audio-Technica - Microphones, headphones, wireless microphone systems, noise-cancelling headphones & more : AT825 OnePoint® X/Y Stereo Field Recording Microphone- (DISCONTINUED)

Sony Model ECM-MS957
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Old September 4th, 2011, 09:02 AM   #5
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

I second the recommendation about the AT825 (and the use of it off camera for the reasons stated). I bought two used ones on eBay about 3 years ago (one for me and one for a friend, both about £100 at the time as I recall) and we've had some really great results. It has got a higher noise floor than some more modern, expensive stereo mics (e.g. from Rode) but gives a lovely open sound.

It's pretty suspeptible to wind noise when used outside but I now have a thin 5 strand stereo cable made for me by Rycote that allows me to use the AT825 inside my Rycote S330 Series - that helps a lot!
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Old September 4th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #6
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
IMHO, a stereo mic should never be camera-mounted, even for ambience. The reason is that as the camera pans, the position of sound sources within the recorded soundfield will shift as the mic's orientation changes along with the changing camera direction. This can be very disorienting for the audience. For stereo recording, the mic's should generally be stationary,
To me it's quite the opposite. If the camera is panning, but the sounds keep coming from the same place, that would be terribly disconcerting to me. Putting the stereo mic on the camera is as close as you can get to human ear perception. Let's suppose you're on the shore of a lake, with the camera facing towards the water. You have a group of ducks quaking on the right about 30 feet away, you have a motor boat more or less straight from you in the water, and a group of kids playing about 50 feet to your right. If you were there by yourself, without a camera or mic, and you start turning your head to the left, the sounds are not going to stay in the same place. If you turn left 90 degrees you're going to hear the ducks behind you, the motor boat on your right, and the kids in front of you. So if you're panning the camera with the mic on top, you're going to get about the same thing. But if you leave the mic on a tripod facing forwards towards the lake, and you pan the camera to the left, the video is not going to match the audio. You will see kids playing right in front of the camera but you will hear them on the left. You will hear a motor boat in front of you that you will not see on the screen, and quacks on your right that you won't see either.

I remember now when we were talking about mics a few months ago that the AT8022 was mentioned by you or somebody else, but now I remember why I didn't consider it: because it would look awful mounted on a camera. It looks to be great as a stage microphone, not for camera. Besides the AT is $400, so I might give that $239 Beyerdynamic a try. I've never had anything from that brand before, but if I don't like at worst I lose $5 shipping it back. My doubt on that one is if it can be used as a real XLR stereo microphone, because it comes with a XLR to 3.5mm cable. I can always get the 5 pin XLR to two 3 pin XLR from Monoprice, as long as the microphone works that way.

It would be great if companies would post an audio sample of their microphones on their pages, right now you can either buy a mic and try it yourself, of you can see if maybe somebody did a test on YouTube with it, but with highly compressed sound.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 01:51 PM   #7
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
...It would be great if companies would post an audio sample of their microphones on their pages, right now you can either buy a mic and try it yourself, of you can see if maybe somebody did a test on YouTube with it, but with highly compressed sound.
Some do ... check out Schoeps Microphone Showroom
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Old September 4th, 2011, 02:07 PM   #8
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Some do ... check out Schoeps Microphone Showroom
Wow! Great info. Thanks!
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Old September 4th, 2011, 02:40 PM   #9
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Some do ... check out Schoeps Microphone Showroom
Well, at those prices, they have to, unless they just want to sell by word of mouth. Very impressive sound obviously. Still they should put up downloadable samples in Wav so people can download them and see how much they can tweak them. That's what made me get two of those Giant Squid lavalier mics, they sound muffled compared to expensive lavaliers, but if you raise the high end they sound decent. As far as cheap mics go, that makes them very different from the abomination Sony put in the AX2000. That one is so bad that it's impossible to fix with any EQ. Actually if anybody wants to take on the challenge, I can upload a couple of clips, one from my AUAT875R and the other from the AX2000's built in of me walking on gravel with the camera pointing down, and see if somebody can find an EQ curve to match the Sony to the AUAT875R. I tried but I couldn't. Something tells me it's more difficult than just adjusting frequencies.

Last edited by Sebastian Alvarez; September 4th, 2011 at 03:26 PM.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 03:32 PM   #10
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
Well, at those prices, they have to, unless they just want to sell by word of mouth. Very impressive sound obviously. Still they should put up downloadable samples in Wav so people can download them and see how much they can tweak them. That's what made me get two of those Giant Squid lavalier mics, they sound muffled compared to expensive lavaliers, but if you raise the high end they sound decent. As far as cheap mics go, that makes them very different from the abomination Sony put in the AX2000. That one is so bad that it's impossible to fix with any EQ.
Actually that demo is a very recent online addition ... Schoeps did very well strictly by word-of-mouth since the days following WWII, becoming a top-drawer industry standard long before the internet was even a glimmer in Al Gore's eyes.

One of the nice things on that showroom is the comparison between various stereo techniques - if you wonder how an X/Y versus an A/B versus an MS arrangement might sound, the diagram both shows you the mic placement used and lets you hear the different recording quality you get with each. For dialog, the comparison beween the MK41 hyper cap and the CMIT5u shotgun at various distances from the speaker can be especially instructive. Notice the hollow feeling creeping in on the 'gun at 6 feet, even in the controlled studio environment.

There are some tweakable samples illustrating surround techniques other places on their site.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 02:46 AM   #11
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

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Originally Posted by Sebastian Alvarez View Post
My doubt on that one is if it can be used as a real XLR stereo microphone, because it comes with a XLR to 3.5mm cable. I can always get the 5 pin XLR to two 3 pin XLR from Monoprice, as long as the microphone works that way.
Yes, it can be used via XLR. You just need a 5-pin to 2x3pin XLR lead, which (oddly) it doesn't come with.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 03:01 AM   #12
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

I use the sony ECM MS957 as my std stereo mic, it is great value and is a true M/S design.

Have used mine for over 15 years in mainstream broadcast on anything that needs a good stereo image or wild track.

My std shotguns are the AT875R and find they compliment each other OK.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 09:42 PM   #13
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

How about Superlux S502? It is cheap, maybe the cheapest. Some people experience reliability problem maybe caused by humidity. I have no such problem, as I always keep it in a de-humidifier when not in use.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 10:34 PM   #14
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

I was at a bar a few hours ago shooting a rock band and it was a small bar, so basically they were squeezed into a corner and I was about 6 to 10 feet away from them. Their speakers were really loud, and I was shooting this with my AX2000, with the input volume to manual and monitoring using around the ear headphones. I started with the built in mic because even though I had connected my Zoom H2 to their mixer, I was getting audio in only one channel, and they didn't even know how to fix that. As soon as they started playing, I lowered the volume to a point where I was sure it was far from clipping, I'm guessing -6dB or so. However, I could still hear sort of an analog distortion at some points when the song got louder, even though the levels were still way below 0dB on the level.

So after a while I switched to the Audio Technica mic, which not surprisingly sounded a lot better, although in mono, so I didn't use it for long because this is music and a whole rock band coming out of one speaker sounds dull even if the mic is great. But I noticed when listening to the audio back home that the AT AUAT875R, even though I had also set the input volume very low with it and it doesn't have any digital clipping, it does have that awful analog distortion at some points.

Two weeks ago I shot an engagement party and the music was really loud. Same thing happened, I set the volume manually very low, and it doesn't have any digital clipping, but then there's a lot of analog distortion, especially when people yell on top of the music.

So that makes me wonder, are there microphones that are made especially for capturing extremely loud sounds such as when you need to shoot a party with loud music, that will not have that analog distortion? I'm asking because I was set on buying that Beyerdynamics MCE72 stereo mic, which even if not great it has to be a lot better than the AX2000's built in stereo mic, but this analog distortion thing presents a problem, because I want to do weddings and other social events with parties, so I need a stereo mic that can capture loud music without analog distortion.

Any suggestions?
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Old September 18th, 2011, 12:37 AM   #15
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Re: Cheapest 5 pin XLR stereo mic?

Your AT875R is rated for a maximum sound pressure level of 127dB. That would not make it the highest max SPL mic available but it's certainly respectable. 127dBSPL is in the realm of levels that can cause permanent hearing damage with even relatively short exposures so it's unlikely you're actually encountering levels that high. That means the problem is probably not in the mic itself, more likely you are getting overload in the mic input circuits, upstream of any recording level controls before they have had a chance to tame those really hot peaks. First thing I'd try would be adding an in-line pad, say -10dB to -15dB or so, between the mic and the camera/mixer/recorder input and see if that improves the situation. Also make sure the mic is getting full 48v phantom. Even though it's rated as working with anything from 12 to 50 volts, trying to run on less than full voltage sometimes can compomise a mic's high SPL handling.
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