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Old December 11th, 2005, 12:51 PM   #1
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Cheap AT897 vs. Pricey AT4073a Issues

I know some of you may consider it quite ridiculous to even compare the two mics, but being on a tight budget, i do not want to invest my money on something i do not really need.

Actually, the only AT897 sample i could find on the web sounded quite good to my unprofessional ears. But of course I'm missing something, am I not? I'm sure that there are some REAL differences between a $250 and a $550 gun mikes. Well, I'm ready to make the extra effort for the AT4073a, but what am I really getting for the price difference?

Just to make things clear, I need a good enough sound quality for spontaneous documentary tasks, either indoor or outdoor. I guess I could hire professional equipment when needed, but on a daily basis I'd like to have the ability to produce adequate results (which could be then mixed to obtain low-end broadcast quality).

Thanks guys,
I'm waiting for advice...

Tom.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 06:40 AM   #2
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The AT897 is an excellent mic, no doubt good enough for your purposes. The 4073a is a better mic, and MUCH more sensitive.

The $150 Rode VideoMic is worth your consideration too. It sounds as good as the AT897, is more sensitive, has a built in shock mount and plugs into your cam without an adapter cable.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 09:12 AM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Retread
The AT897 is an excellent mic, no doubt good enough for your purposes. The 4073a is a better mic, and MUCH more sensitive.

The $150 Rode VideoMic is worth your consideration too. It sounds as good as the AT897, is more sensitive, has a built in shock mount and plugs into your cam without an adapter cable.
I'd have to submit that "Sounds as good as" is subjective. While I'm quite impressed with the VideoMic, I'd pull out the 897 first any day, as I like its tonal balance better. However...If it's subjective for Fred, it's subjective for me, too. :-)
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Old December 12th, 2005, 09:29 AM   #4
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I haven't listened to them side by side, but I have to agree that the 897 sounds better (quite a bit better) to my ears.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 11:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt
I haven't listened to them side by side, but I have to agree that the 897 sounds better (quite a bit better) to my ears.
I haven't listened to them side by side either, and will defer to those who have. In fact, my cavalier comment was based upon a statement by someone who owns both, which didn't contradict my older memory of the 897's sound and my more recent memory of the VideoMic's sound. And since I'm already chomping on humble pie over here, I'll also confess I've never heard either on studio quality monitors.

I like the VideoMic a LOT, though. I have AT's for interiors and stereo, and a Senn system for wireless but the Rode has earned its niche as my run and gun mic.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #6
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I don't think you have to eat humble pie. It's such a subjective thing. I think the bottem line is both mics sound pretty good.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 11:53 AM   #7
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Tom,

I'm not trying to brag, but the AT-4073a is my cheap mic. I like it a lot, especially for the price. The 897, in my limited experience with it, sounds OK but has a somewhat higher noise floor. The Rode mics I've only heard on trade-show floors, so I can't really comment on them. But perhaps there are a couple suggestions I can make:

1) See if you can rent the mics you want to compare. Depending on where you live, you might be able to rent a 4073a, a Sennheiser K6/ME66 (or ME64), Sanken CS-1 and one or two higher-end mics like say Sanken CS-3e, Schoeps 641, Sennheiser 416, MKH50 or 60...These mics aren't all equivalent in purpose. pick-up pattern or sound, but spending time with a few mics will let you see what you get for you money and if the difference is worth it to you. And the expensive mics should rent for less than $40/day.
For your tests, take your tracks through your post process. The differences in the mics may be amplified or minimized after editing, EQ, compression, and all that.

2) Consider buying a used mic. Starting at the 4073 level, you can find good mics available for good prices. I bought my 4073 from a mixer who wasn't using it anymore for $400 with a softie.

3) If you must use a mic on a camera, do so as infrequently as possible. You'll get much better sound with a mic on a boom that's being used by a skilled boom operator/mixer. If you can't boom, then go for a wired lav. If you can't use a wired lav, go for a wireless lav. If you can't do that, then you may need to use an on-camera mic. Perhaps buying a cheaper mic and a decent boompole (the K-Tek Avalon series poles are good values) would be a better overall buy...
That said, I use a mic on my camera for various purposes (b-roll, guide track, and sometimes main track)...but it's a compromise.

4) Way more important than the mic you select (so long as you're looking at something no worse than the Rode VideoMic), is how you use it. "It's the painter, not the brush" applies to audio, just as it applies to everything else. If you keep control of your mic placement, wind protection, and recording level, you can get usable tracks with many many mics...including the 897.

Hope this doesn't come off as too elementary...

Best,

Jim
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Old December 12th, 2005, 07:57 PM   #8
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Thanks

Thanks everybody, that's a lot of advice for my research.

It's wonderful to have these discussion boards around, really makes
me believe in solidarity, even in those lonely post-modern days.

Tom
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Old December 12th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #9
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I have heard the 897 vs the 4073a in a controlled environment. The 4073a does not fade as readily as the distance between the subject and the mic increases (for what seems like almost twice the distance). Iím not an audio engineer, but I found it to be impressive for the price, but still pricey.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 09:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwight Flynn
I have heard the 897 vs the 4073a in a controlled environment. The 4073a does not fade as readily as the distance between the subject and the mic increases (for what seems like almost twice the distance). Iím not an audio engineer, but I found it to be impressive for the price, but still pricey.
One thing I was wondering about is the question of
"reach". I do know that the 4073 is a LOT more
sensitive than the 897. And I do know that the
4073 has a LOT of reach outdoors, at least compared
to any other mic I've used. My question is, if you
used a preamp and upped the gain to the 897 so that
it had the same sensitivity as the 4073, would the
897 have the same reach, seeing as they are both
the same polar pattern?
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Old January 8th, 2006, 05:26 AM   #11
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Dave I had an 897 at one point, got the 4073a, then the 4071a. Unfortunately, I have to tell you it's a world of difference moving up the chain, both in terms of sensitivity and noise (they're related also). I actually have found that for normal boom recording, only the 71a provides adequate distance-to-subject without painful framing to avoid catching the mic. The 73a does fine in other contexts. I would spring for at least the 73a.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 06:02 AM   #12
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I used my AT897 on a Ktec 6mtr boom pole,and its hard to keep the mic subject distance without the mic being in frame or dropping off.Its great on a short, more controlable boom pole as the positioning of the 897 is critical.I also tried a senn 416 on the same job and this worked better,it allowed a little more flexability in the distance to subject positioning without dropping off.Or course the 416 is a more expensive mic, but thats what i'll be aiming for.I think in the long term, the initial cost is small compared to the frustration and time wasted with cheaper products.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 08:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Barker
...I think in the long term, the initial cost is small compared to the frustration and time wasted with cheaper products.
Words for the ages.
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