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Old October 10th, 2005, 01:37 PM   #1
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Shotgun mic for under $75

I would like to purchase a shotgun mic for my Pan GS150. I don't need anything outrageously good, just better than the int. mic, and I want to spend less than 75 bucks (US). I've looked at the Audio Technica ATR 55 and 25, but some reviews have said they don't have power indicator LED's so you could shoot a whole day without sound. Has anyone had experience with these ATRxx mics? Or, what other mic solutions would you recommend for under US$75? Also, if someone could give a quick run-down of how long the chords for ext. mics usually are/what kind of extentions are needed if I want to put them on a boom?
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Old October 10th, 2005, 02:33 PM   #2
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so you are shooting with a boom mic and not even an headphone to check?
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Old October 10th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #3
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No, as of yet I don't shoot with a boom or any mic other than the panasonic internal one. I know headphones can test the mic, but there are some cases where I would want to use the camera and shotgun mic in a "less than production" way (i.e. filming a concert, high school football game, etc.), so it would be nice to have a power indicator.
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Old October 10th, 2005, 03:34 PM   #4
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Headphones wouldn't be for "testing the mic." You would wear them while shooting to monitor the audio going to the tape as it's being recorded. Check with a set of headphones plugged into the jack on the camera to see if you can hear the sound as you're shooting.
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Old October 10th, 2005, 03:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Shaddox
I've looked at the Audio Technica ATR 55 and 25, but some reviews have said they don't have power indicator LED's so you could shoot a whole day without sound.
The power indicator means nothing other than the batter isnít dead. Your power indicator light may be on but the wind at the football game started blowing at the second half and the audio is nothing but rumble. You still have no usable audio despite the light!

If you care about audio (and it sounds like you do) there is only one rule:
ďIf your camera is on, your headphones are on. No exceptionsĒ.

Audio-Technica makes some great microphones. I would not let an indicator light color your judgment of whether to buy or not. Get a small in-ear headphone so itís not noticeable but get a headphone and use it at all times.

The ATR55 and ATR25 are for two different purposes. The ATR55 is a shotgun which is great for outdoors but not so good indoors (it will pick up reflections off the walls in small rooms). The ATR25 is a stereo cardioid mic making it great for indoors but doesnít have the side-rejection of a shotgun and will pick up a lot of surrounding noise outdoors. If you can only buy one and you plan to shoot a lot of sports and concerts even if they are indoors in a big hall, the ATR55 might be a better choice. Obviously having both is the best option and they are only $81 for both at Amazon.com (ATR55 is $53 and ATR25 is $28).

There are two other question you should be asking yourself:

Question 1: Does your camcorder have audio level controls? I have a Panasonic GS200 and there is no way to adjust the audio! I bought an Audio-Technica Pro88W wireless mic and it blew out the audio because the mic was too hot and it was distorted. So I had to buy a $99 Beachtek adapter to provide a gain control. You can probably get away with something cheaper but you donít want to buy a $28 mic and then have to buy at $20 inline pad to use it!

Question 2: Is the ATR55 too long to fit on your camera without being seen in the lens? (I donít know) I bought a Rode VideoMic for my GS200 because it was designed to be short enough not to be picked up by the camera lens. The ATR55 shotgun looks pretty short so it should be OK but it's something to consider based on your camera.

I donít know the answer to these two questions but you should before you buy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Shaddox
... Also, if someone could give a quick run-down of how long the chords for ext. mics usually are/what kind of extentions are needed if I want to put them on a boom?
It looks like both of these mics have unbalanced outputs so you probably donít want to use cables longer than what they come with. It ATR55 has a permanently attached 3ft cable. Iím not sure I would add an extension. You really want to use a mic with balanced outputs for use on a boom but you can take a chance and use a longer cable but not over 10-15 ft.

Finally, neither of these come with a shock mount so figure another $10-$20 into the price for a descent shock mount. Otherwise youíll be recording a lot of camera and finger noise instead of your subjects.

~jr
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Old October 10th, 2005, 04:13 PM   #6
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Thanks for the great replies. Does anyone know anything about the azden ecz-990? It's a similarly priced mic to the atr55.
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Old October 11th, 2005, 09:31 AM   #7
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Comments on ATR-25

Thomas,

I've used an ATR-25 for about two years with various Panasonic consumer camcorders. I've even used it on paid wedding shoots (backup footage on my GS120) to record ambient audio. For general indoor usage it's fine, but it distorts pretty easily in loud environments, especially when recording low frequencies such as a pipe organ. Like most things, you get what you pay for; I recommend spending a little more money for a mic that can withstand higher sound pressure levels.

On the plus side, the stereo image captured by this microphone is a joy to hear. It creates a much wider, lifelike soundfield. It does a fine job of recording ambient sound both indoors and out.

T.J.
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Old October 11th, 2005, 01:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Shaddox
Thanks for the great replies. Does anyone know anything about the azden ecz-990? It's a similarly priced mic to the atr55.

I just read the ecz-990's specs at the AZDEN site and they have it listed under shotgun mics but they go on to say that it is an omnidirectional. If you are going to record concerts with it, its SPL rating is not going to do it for you. The higher your SPL, the less likely your mic will distort in loud environments. Their next mic over is the SGM-X and it's only 3dB better in SPL handling than the 990 but is a true shotgun.

The RODE videomic, mentioned above has an SPL of about 125dB, which is very good for higher volume events. I use an AT-3035 large diphragm condenser mic plugged into either a minidisc or a portable DAT. It has an SPL of 158dB with the 10dB pad. I've yet to hear it distort and this is at concerts where my own eardrums were distorting.
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Old October 11th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Finton
The RODE videomic, mentioned above has an SPL of about 125dB
It's even better than that - it's max. SPL is 134dB.

rgds.
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Old October 11th, 2005, 02:27 PM   #10
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Thomas,
This is a link (click) to tests on about 20 different inexpensive mics with about 40 audio samples made with Panasonic camcorders.
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Old October 12th, 2005, 01:06 AM   #11
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Extensions cords and headphones

In reading all the messages here, I have two questions that it seems participants on this thread might have the answers to: 1) how long an extension cable can I use with a Rode Videomic without sound loss? and 2) what is a good, inexpensive set of headphones for use with a PD 170?

Thanx in advance,
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Old October 12th, 2005, 04:34 AM   #12
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1) how long an extension cable can I use with a Rode Videomic without sound loss?
adding connectors and cable lenght is alway creating problem.
The only question is , what do you accept to loose for particular situation.
with good balanced cable an plug, 30 feet is usually not a problem.

2) what is a good, inexpensive set of headphones for use with a PD 170?
again , depends what you are doing.
Personally a found that earplug headphone are just useless. You can check that sound is coming out of camera, that is all and most camera already have a loudspeaker to do that.
If you want serious sound check, buy a closed headphone, not too heavy, preferrably with a long cable and a small minijack (usually comes with adapter for big jack).
depending your camera (shoulder mount), you can find some model with very low profile that do not block the ear against the camera.
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Old October 12th, 2005, 07:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramdas Lamb
In reading all the messages here, I have two questions that it seems participants on this thread might have the answers to: 1) how long an extension cable can I use with a Rode Videomic without sound loss?
Itís not sound loss but induced noise that youíll be fighting. An unbalanced cable such as the one attached to the Rode VideoMic is very susceptible to noise. It is generally recommended that unbalanced cables should not exceed 12 to 15 feet (4 to 5 meters) in length.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramdas Lamb
2) what is a good, inexpensive set of headphones for use with a PD 170?
Define inexpensive. I use a pair of Sony MDR-7506ís to monitor with ($99). This is kind of a studio standard. Many broadcast shooters use the MDR-7509ís ($219). You could also use the MDR-7505 ($84) or MDR-7502 ($52). It depends on what you want to spend.

The headphones are just to be sure youíre getting audio and youíre not getting noise. Youíre not doing a mix with them. If the mic is on a boom, you also want to be able to hear if it is "off-axis" and therefore coloring the sound because youíre reaching the bounds of the micís cardioid pattern which will sound different than hitting it dead on, basically checking for consistency.

~jr
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