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Old December 25th, 2005, 06:58 PM   #1
Fred Retread
 
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AT822 vs. AT825 vs. AT835ST for high school band on stage

Something always seems to go wrong when I try to X-Y my two AT3031s for stereo. Last week, to avoid running cables, I set them up in front of the stage to feed a spare miniDV cam used just as an audio recorder through a Beachtek DXA-8. The result? only one channel recorded for reasons unknown.

I've had it. I'm ready to buy a stereo mic and a Hi MD. The AT822 seems adequate and wired for easy insertion into a recorder or a cam. But...

1. Does the AT825 bring anything to the table to compensate for its slightly higher price after I deal with the XLR connector conversions?

2. Is the higher priced and more sensitive AT835ST a much better mic, and is it appropriate for recording a band concert on a stand in front of the stage?

3. The 835ST is called a shotgun stereo mic. Does that mean it can function as either?
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Last edited by David Ennis; December 26th, 2005 at 10:37 AM.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 02:22 AM   #2
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Read the review by Rudy Trubitt at http://emusician.com/mics/emusic_audiotechnica_atst/

The article says:

"The main purpose of a shotgun mic is to accurately capture the target sound while minimizing off-axis noise. To that end, the AT835ST is a target-specific instrument. Note that the Narrow and Wide modes do not have an effect on the directionality of the shotgun capsule; instead, they raise the relative level of the figure-8 side mic. When using the AT835ST in Wide mode, therefore, you hear a fair amount of stereo ambience along with the sound at which you're aiming. Collapse the image to mono after the fact (or record in undecoded M-S mode), though, and you'll be impressed by the amount of rejected ambience and off-axis sound."

- I wouldn't use the AT835ST to record a band.
- I'm also a complete novice in audio, so don't trust me alone.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 11:52 AM   #3
Fred Retread
 
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I guess that placement is my main concern. I can put an AT822 on the floor in front of the stage, but it's going to be below the knee level of the musicians. I'd like to have it on stage a few feet behind the conductor, but there are several problems with that, not the least of which being that the conductor is in the way.

We have a catwalk about fifteen feet above stage level and about 25 feet back. I'm tempted to think that the AT835ST might perform well from there.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Retread
Something always seems to go wrong when I try to X-Y my two AT3031s for stereo. Last week, to avoid running cables, I set them up in front of the stage to feed a spare miniDV cam used just as an audio recorder through a Beachtek DXA-8. The result? only one channel recorded for reasons unknown.

I've had it. I'm ready to buy a stereo mic and a Hi MD. The AT822 seems adequate and wired for easy insertion into a recorder or a cam. But...

1. Does the AT825 bring anything to the table to compensate for its slightly higher price after I deal with the XLR connector conversions?

2. Is the higher priced and more sensitive AT835ST a much better mic, and is it appropriate for recording a band concert on a stand in front of the stage?

3. The 835ST is called a shotgun stereo mic. Does that mean it can function as either?
Hi Fred,

I'll answer your mic questions, but let me first say your problems need to be sorted out before you proceed to new equipment. I'm wondering if you took the time to check to see if you heard both mics in your recorder before you walked away from it. If not-that will be the best advice I can give anyone about troubleshooting audio. Listen to it. I mean, you wouldn't frame a shot without looking through the viewfinder would you? Don't mean to criticize you, but we have to cover the basics first. I always monitor the very last device (in this case the recorder) to see if there are any problems. If there are, then you can move upstream until you find the problem. You could have exactly the same problem with a stereo mic, so try to see the forest through the trees here. I always use the band's practice/rehersal time to set audio levels, so I'm ready to go when the performance starts. Most audio troubles are either a bad connection or a level mismatch. Forgive me if I'm being redundant with your normal practices, but I see too many people forget the simple things.

As for your AT questions...you are in luck, as I own all three.

1. The AT825 has true balanced outputs of the mic capsule. This will only be adventageous when running cable more than 15 feet or so. It will also accept phantom power if that is important to you. The other specs (and sounds) are very similar between the two mics. If you will only ever use the mic with unbalanced equipment (stereo mini plug input) I'd say go with the 822. Otherwise I find the 825 to be more versatile.

2. The AT835 has a shotgun pickup pattern. While getting good stereo sound, it really emphisizes what you point it at. For a fixed band recording it wouldn't be my first choice.

3. The AT835 is an MS microphone. It has a mono shotgun mic on the front, and a figure8 mic in the rear oriented 90 degrees off the front. It's onboard MS decoder will provide two flavors of stereo (normal and wide) or discrete MS. In MS mode you are basically getting each mic seperately, so taking the Mid channel is only the mono shotgun. So yes, you could use it as either mono or stereo.

So I agree with what you said about placement, it is very important. My best results have always been in front of and above the band/orchestra. I'll either suspend mics above the first row of audience, or use tall stands in front if I can get away with it. Your catwalk may be too far behind your group, but as I always say- if it sounds good...
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Old December 26th, 2005, 08:58 PM   #5
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Thanks, Greg. But you said that the AT835 wouldn't be your first choice without saying why. If you were forced to place one of the three on my catwalk, then would the AT835 be your choice?
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Old December 26th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #6
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The 835 has a pretty tight pattern. In my typical mic placement for music, this mic would miss a lot of the group, or have it very colored in the off-axis.
You said your catwalk was 25 feet behind your group (of unspecified size). I would not consider this placement myself, for any microphone. I'm thinking a lot of the instuments you want to hear would be facing the wrong way from the mic. I'd stick with trying to find another way in front of the group. There's always a way...
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Old December 26th, 2005, 11:39 PM   #7
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It's a high school orchestra, and when I said "25 feet back" I meant in the direction of the audience.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 02:00 AM   #8
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- Could you consider renting both the AT822 and the AT835ST and using both? Certainly someone else must have a recorder, too... Then choose what sounds best. Then buy the mic that performed well. Less money wasted than when buying the wrong mic.

- do a search on AT825 or AT835ST on this forum. I was considering both of those mics about a year ago. I chose the AT825 because it would probably yield a more natural stereo image than a shotgun. It was a loooong thread.

- the fastest/simplest/best/most recommended way would be to listen, if you can.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 11:17 AM   #9
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I'm guessing it was the mini-plug, but it could have been a dozen other things. That would be the weakest link though and the first place I'd listen, and clean and check for proper fit.
I can't remember if the DXA-8 has the same out-of-phase problem that most of the DXA-6's have. That could definitely give you unsatisfactory results.
My recommendation for a single-point stereo mic would be a Rode NT4, although I'd really rather stick with the two 3031's and experiment more.
Except for convenience, that pair will perform better than any of the other mics mentioned in this particular situation I think.
That catwalk sounds like a good starting point for placement. A good shockmount or shockmounts would be a necessity though. It's easy to build a stereo mic bar out of good quality wood, then mount a pair of AT8415's with different length 3/8-16 bolts. This allows you to get a coincident pair with no difference in elevation angle.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 07:45 AM   #10
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Thanks Jay. Yes, subsequent to my post I had already decided on the NT4 over the AT822 or AT825. Versatile 1/8 or XLR hookup, battery option, higher sensitivity and good sound.

But the AT835ST still intrigues me. What the heck is it good for if not gathering stereo from a bit further back? Unless the main purpose of the design is just to add some left/right separated ambience to a shotgun mid, say in nature or ENG work, as opposed to creating a realistic stereo field? I do understand that its stereo is concentrated in the middle and sides with a lack of smooth transition between those areas.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #11
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Although I've never used it indoors, I have to say that the AT825 is one of the sweetest, gentlest, clearest, mics to use outdoors. Especially compared to the Rode NT-4, which is an unruly cur! It just goes to show that specs, on paper, aren't all they seem to be, or rather, suggest. Trust your ears.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 09:24 AM   #12
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What wind protection system are you using with the AT825 outdoors? I've had success putting it inside a zeppelin, but anything less gave insufficient protection outdoors in even a light breeze. I didn't have a specifically made small furry to fit the wider head of the AT.
What about when you used the NT4? I've found it to be a little less vulnerable to wind noise.
What recorder are you using? The NT4 has about 3 times the output of the AT825 and you might be overdriving a sensitive input with the Rode if the lower output 825 is sounding exactly like you want.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 11:33 AM   #13
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I'd like to know, too, what problem Doug had with
the NT4/why he says the AT is better outdoors?

And about sensitivity to wind noise, if it is as Jay says,
that the AT is even more sensitive to wind than the
NT4, that's pretty bad, as I've found the NT4 to
be very sensitive to wind. The supplied foam windscreen
doesn't help much at all.

I think maybe Rycote makes a furry for the NT4
but I don't think anyone is making a Zep for it.
And I wonder if the Rycote is *just fur*, or does it
have the dead-airspace interior, like their Equalizers?
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Old December 31st, 2005, 02:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill
What wind protection system are you using with the AT825 outdoors? What recorder are you using?
Rycote suspension inside their big windshield (WS4?) with windjammer (dead cat) on top. Same as what I used with the Rode NT-4.

The mics directly fed into the XLR inputs of a Sony DSR-1 DVCAM deck which also supplied the 48V phantom power.

I found that a 10dB pad tamed the NT-4 enough to use it, but the resulting audio was dull. Lots of low-end, but mid-to-high was just... dull. It would pick up very little ambience, such as the rustle of grass in the breeze and such. Clear as mud.

Whereas the AT825 is like looking through a optical flat. Remarkable definition and detail, smooth response over the entire range without blowing out the fine sounds when presented with very loud or strong ones. Never an overload or distortion.

Put earplugs in your ears: that's the Rode NT-4. Now take them out: that's the AT825.

Also, the NT-4 is heavy and wouldn't stay put in the Rycote suspension. The AT825 is a featherweight. Furthermore, why is the NT-4 wired backwards? The cartridge facing right should record the right channel, right? And vice-versa? I thought the switch and gold dot were "right side up" but there is no info in the "manual".

Anyway, I just sold it for $306. Not my problem anymore...
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Old December 31st, 2005, 03:19 PM   #15
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Yes, I have seen mention of the NT4/NT5s being
described as a bit dark, which some might
describe as warm/smooth. It sounds like the AT825 is
brighter, which I think would be better for outdoor
ambiance/getting the details in the highs.

With the gold dot up, my NT4 has the cartridge
facing right recording the right channel.
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