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Old August 12th, 2012, 12:32 AM   #1
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Broadcast quality lavalier?

We have recently been funded for a documentary and I need to upgrade my audio gear. For my previous interviews I have either been using my giant squid mics with the H1, H2, or H4N, or i've been using my Sennheiser G3 wireless kit.

I know I'm missing out on some quality though. We plan on taking our doc to PBS so I want to make sure that technically we have the best audio. I've done a decent amount of searching on and off this forum but can't make up my mind as to what kind of lav to get. No specific interview location in mind, we need a good all around interview lav mic for interviews that will block out background sound and do well with all kinds of voices.

I'm thinking I should drop the H4n and upgrade to something like a Sound Devices 702?
I also think I should drop the wireless kit and go with a more reliable lavalier and just wire it directly from the subject into the 702.

If my assumptions are correct or incorrect I'd like to know and also would like to know what the best lav mic would be. Price not an issue right now as I'd like to know what is going to deliver the best audio.

Thank you
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Old August 12th, 2012, 06:31 AM   #2
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

Sanken COS11, Countryman B3 or B6, Tram 50 are pretty much the standards.
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Old August 12th, 2012, 07:05 AM   #3
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

Only use radio if cable is impossible or impractical - The H4N is not a problem unless you need to crank up the mic gain to really high levels where hiss builds quickly.

Despite being a little old fashioned nowadays I still like the MKE-2 from Sennheiser and DHAs. I'd not worry if presented with Countrymans - but most of these are all really good, so people start to generate favourites at the expense of trying others. I've personally never heard a Sanken, so have to trust enthusiasts of that make when they recommend them. In truth - a cable connected lav mic always sounds pretty good - even the cheaper ones.
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Old August 12th, 2012, 12:51 PM   #4
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

Without a doubt, the SD recorder is better than the Zoom in many ways. With the same lav mic feeding both in an A-B comparison, will you hear a $1500 night/day difference ? I doubt it.
A good mic is important, as is a good pre-amp, the recorder being of least importance (within reason).
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Old August 12th, 2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

The sound devices recorder also has a very nice preamp though I believe, so I would assume that the pre-amp+recorder combination would be better than running it straight intot he H4N's almost non-existent pre-amps, or into a separate unit and then into the H4n?
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Old August 13th, 2012, 10:43 AM   #6
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

SD recorders have great preamps. The H4n's are somewhat noisy, especially when pushed. The 702 is not a substitute for experience and a good quality mic is still necessary, If money is not an object, get it.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 10:58 AM   #7
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

When I'm doing interviews, I use a G3 wireless systems on the subjects but have re-miked with a Sanken COS-11 and a Voice Technologies VT500 which really transform the sound of the G3 system.

I also use a shotgun (NTG-3) running through an SD MM-1 mic pre. I then have two sources should one fail. I generally use the shotgun for final as it sounds better.

I will record both to my XF-300. If I use my 5D mk3's I run to an H4n along with a beachtek DXA-slr pro into the camera.

BUT...since you were primarily asking about the lavs, I spent a LOT of time listening to all the lavs out there and the Sanken and VT were the best IMHO. The reason I chose one of each was the VT sounds better on female voices and the COS-11 sounds better on male voices though they can be reversed with no ill-effect. The VT comes with a TON of mounting options too which the COS-11 requires you to purchase.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 11:07 AM   #8
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

You might also want to google "Oscar Sound Tech". OST is a very small company that manufactures highly regarded lavs compared to Trams and Sankens but at a much lower cost.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 12:07 PM   #9
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

I'm going with the DPA 4062 (omni lav) and the (headset) 4088 for the Lectro system we're putting in.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 12:38 PM   #10
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

Jacques,

You must have a nice budget! I have never heard of DPA before. Usually items at BH have reviews but this one did not. Perhaps because of the price.

I am curious as to why you chose this lav?
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Old August 13th, 2012, 01:27 PM   #11
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

DPA lavs and headsets are huge in the music world... One of, if not *the* top brand. I'm a big fan and they are definitely worth what they cost.

In a cost is almost no issue (there is always at least some issue), I'd seriously look at wired DPA or Sanken microphones. Those would be my two favorites. If you have to go wireless/moblie, I'd look at either Lectro or Zaxcom wireless systems. There is a reason why you will find those on the higher-end sets more than just about anything else. I'd also consider using a boom mic whenever possible- the fidelity of a good boom mic will always surpass a lav mic.

As for recorders, you can't really go wrong with Sound Devices. They work very well, they are built like tanks and the sound great. When you compare them to similar recorders by other manufacturers, the price is also pretty good (I'm talking Nagra, Zaxcom, Aaton, etc...). They are one of the few stand alone recorders that I'll take out for a classical music recording and leave my outboard preamps at home.

Oh and if you are using headsets, be careful with the DPA 4088. The cardiod capsule is difficult to get a good sound out of on a lot of voices. I'd much rather go with the 4066 which is the omni. the Cardiod is tough to position and you always end up with issues of a mic that is far off axis of the voice. I'd also look at the new DPA d:fine ear mics. They are much easier to mount and are more comfortable than a Countryman E6 and they have that great DPA sound.

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Old August 13th, 2012, 01:30 PM   #12
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

DPA makes great mics, they are not uncommon.
EDUs have money to burn, and many pay 5x the going street price. What a shame if they give them to students who will likely trash them in no time. The Lectros would outlast a Sennheiser G in that environment though.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 03:00 PM   #13
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

Well, believe me budget is always a huge concern, especially for those administrators who don't have experience as to why things cost as much - or little - as they do. We try to take a long term approach.
Yes, the down-stroke is expensive, but you buy it once, and it starts to pay back the investment immediately with great sound - you know, like ALL the real TV/Film/CDs out there.
Good mics don't suddenly become obsolete (or so far they have not) and good audio is 80% of good video.
Pay less and sometimes you just wasted money and STILL need the good stuff.
It has taken years, but we're lucky that our administration now trusts us to make the right calls, this with lots of real-world justifications. My team is very careful with our budget money so everyone wins.
It has taken almost three years to get this new wireless system spec'ed out, approved, budgeted and now almost purchased.

One reason for the choice of DPA is they are accepted in the music world, especially so in the classical music field - and for good reason.
Opera singers have been trained and told that if they use a mic they are less, so they try to avoid
using mics - sometimes at all costs. Cheap mics confirm those doubts adding abrasive qualities that
can make even a great Soprano sound screechy and distorted. DPA is one of the few that known singers can accept. Good enough for Broadway, hopefully good enough for one of our Professors or students.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 04:03 PM   #14
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Re: Broadcast quality lavalier?

DPA are an extremely well thought of brand in Europe - and their website contains really useful material - especially the microphone university where you can get very detailed information on different mic techniques. Their mics are expensive, well made and very reliable. I use DPA headsets frequently and they're around 300USD-ish, but sound great. for stereo recording, the 4000 series having been established for many years as serious products for recording.

DPA Microphones :: Microphone University: Stereo Techniques
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