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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:46 AM   #1
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Sennheiser ME64 for use in classroom over ME66

I need to tape some classroom interactions between teacher and studentrs. Teacher will use lapel mike (sennnheiser G2, omni). For the students I can have access to a Sennheiser ME64 (shotgun) although I could spend extra money and replace the shotgun for an ME64 (cardioid).

My question:
I know taht cardioids give you better sound (voice) inside. Considering though that most of the time the mike (shotgun or cardioid) will be placed at a minimum of 6 feet (average 9-12 feet) from the students, do I really get better results from the cardioid? or will the distance of the shotgun/cardioid from the students pretty much make the difference in sound quality nil?

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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:52 AM   #2
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Actually it's HYPERcardioids that are preferred inside. At 12 feet there's not a lot you can do to get decent sound with any mic.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 12:10 PM   #3
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handheld mike option any better?

Unfortunately, there's not much I can do to improve the situation of distance of the mike from the students because it would disturb the class too much. I even thought about passing a handeld each time they speak around or even using a boom (not an option though).

I could perhaps move around and try to shorten the distance to each person speaking whenever i can (perhaps as close as 6 feet average). In that case, would would my best bet be?

What about having someone (not a student) help me with a good omni handheld mike that they could try to get close to each person speaking?

thank you again
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Old January 27th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maximo Salaberry
I could perhaps move around and try to shorten the distance to each person speaking whenever i can (perhaps as close as 6 feet average). In that case, would would my best bet be?

What about having someone (not a student) help me with a good omni handheld mike that they could try to get close to each person speaking?
Either or both of these options are by far your best options, since you don't have total room control and can't use a boom. Getting a sensitive omni condenser as close as possible would be your best bet, given the circumstances.
Booming would be best, but if you're sure you can't go there....
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Old January 27th, 2006, 01:56 PM   #5
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I have filmed a couple of shows out at the Eugene O’Neil Theater Barn in the dance studio. There was no sound system to tap off of so I used a couple of Peavey hanging microphones. I was able to get good clean sound from them. Maybe if you used hanging mics in the classroom it would be better than a hand held one.

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Old January 27th, 2006, 02:29 PM   #6
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I'm a big fan of the ME64 and think it would be a good choice for this application. I wouldn't use a hypercardiod in a classroom because a typical classroom is a highly reflective place with all the windows, hard desks, chairs and linoleum floors. Sound will be coming from every which way and the more directional the mic, the more boxy it is going to sound. An ME64 has kind of a hemisphere pattern and is about as directional as you can get in a highly reflective environment. In addition to that, the ME64 has a bit of a presence peak that really helps in spoken word legibility. It would be my first choice for a mic in this kind of environment. If you can, shock mount it and remember, the closer the better.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 07:00 PM   #7
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What kind of interaction are you taping, and whom is it for?

In Connecticut a tape of second year teachers interacting with students is required for review at the state level as part of the teacher certification process. I have taped these sessions. For the segments when the teacher is moving about the room interacting with individuals or subgroups during an activity where there is talking throughout the room, following with the camera is not distracting at all. After some initial curioustiy at the beginning of the class, the kids adjust. They tune out adults very quickly. I use a Rode VideoMic with very good results for these segments.

For the conventional teacher in front of the classroom situation, I've settled on using the Rode on my cam at the back of the room pointing at the teacher and an AT3031 cardiod in front of the room pointing at the students. Do I get a little echo in both mics? Yes, but it sounds better--more balanced--than when I had my Sennheiser G2 on the teacher. The teacher sounded TOO loud and clear, diminishing the students. A very bad effect if the teacher is being evaluated.

If you can get mics in the faces of all participants and get good audio from all, then fine. Otherwise, distributing the imperfections might be the best approach.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 09:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maximo Salaberry
Unfortunately, there's not much I can do to improve the situation of distance of the mike from the students because it would disturb the class too much. I even thought about passing a handeld each time they speak around or even using a boom (not an option though).

I could perhaps move around and try to shorten the distance to each person speaking whenever i can (perhaps as close as 6 feet average). In that case, would would my best bet be?

What about having someone (not a student) help me with a good omni handheld mike that they could try to get close to each person speaking?

thank you again
All of those will still suck. You need a hypercardioid on a boom and you need to be within 18 inches. Period.

Regards,

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Old January 27th, 2006, 10:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford
All of those will still suck. You need a hypercardioid on a boom and you need to be within 18 inches. Period.

Regards,

Ty Ford
In this case that would have to involve somebody booming a mic near whatever student is asking questions. I doubt that's going to happen.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 11:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston
In this case that would have to involve somebody booming a mic near whatever student is asking questions. I doubt that's going to happen.

I've boomed on three shoots in classrooms the last year. We found that to get the answers, the time it took the camera op to spin and focus was more than the time it took me to get a boom in the right place, and , yes, we had to stage some of the answers and edit them back in post.

We got the job because the folks who tried to do it on the fly with two cameras (one on the teacher/one on the classroom) ended up with some really bad audio on the students.

But, hey, I'm an idiot, go do what you do.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:20 AM   #11
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interesting dilemma

Ty:

I appreciate your feedback, however, staging the answers is out of the question (are we talking about film vs documentary approaches here?).

Obviously, I'm not talking about recording the quality of audio you get at a recording studio. That's the drawback. The advantage, on the other hand, is that, hopefully, you get something more real (or realistic). So, given the circumstances, I am trying to get the best audio quality possible given the circumstances (i.e., we won;t stage answers). in other words, integrity of content trumps quality of sound.

Having said that, I was thinking that booming (without staging answers) may not be such a bad option considering that passing a mike around may be more distracting, and frankly, getting a mike closer to the person may not be so different (or perhaps worse) than hanging a boompole from above. I guess at first it may look funny to some students but I suspect that after a while it may be even less noticeable.

The other alternative that I'm hearing is to have two cameras strategically located.

Well this is a good thought exercise for me so far given that i'm a novice at this. Any other alternatives are appreciated too.

thank you
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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:28 AM   #12
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rephrase original question

let me rephrase my original question, 'cause I'm still curious about the answer.

In a comparison of the ME66 (shotgun) and the ME64 (cardioid), placing them at two different distances: (1) one ideal (18 inches) and (2) another one less so (6 feet), I'm assuming the ME64 wins hands down when recording in a classroom environment when both mikes are placed 18 inches from the speaker.

However, will the 64 still be better than the 66 for situation 2 (irrespective of other better alternatives)?

From what I read I was assuming that the mE64 would still be better at a distance, not so much in terms of volume etc, but perhaps in terms of sounding less boxy at a minimum. Is this true?
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Old January 28th, 2006, 07:22 AM   #13
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First, you don't want a cardioid, you want a hypercardioid.

Second, at some point, you'll be too far away for it to really matter at all.

Good micing is about getting close. There's really no other way.

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Old January 28th, 2006, 08:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maximo Salaberry
...So, given the circumstances, I am trying to get the best audio quality possible given the circumstances (i.e., we won;t stage answers). in other words, integrity of content trumps quality of sound...
I think you'll find that professional sound people are not accustomed to working under those terms.

Do you want to capture a classroom dynamic, or do you want to stage an event? Do you want unselfconscious dialog, with participants willing to take chances, or is it okay if everything from mic fright to swaggering bravado factor in?

What kind of interaction are you trying to capture, and who is the audience for the recording? As a colleague I'd love to know what the age bracket of the students is, how many are in the class, what the subject is, and where the teacher will be in relation to the students. All this matters very much in how to "optimize the compromise."

For those for whom there is no compromising sound qualtiy, it may not matter what mic you use at six feet. But if you are allowing for compromise, some mics are better than others at that distance, or for unobtrusively covering a whole "live" room. For either of those conditions, a $150 Rode VideoMic or a $170 AT3031 cardioid is going to sound better than a $450 ME66. There may be hypers that would beat all three for either purpose, but no one has mentioned any specific ones yet.

Incidentally, the idea mentioned above of a cam in front and a cam in back did not come from me.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 11:23 AM   #15
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Hyper-cardiods:

Rode NT3 - battery & phantom power
AT4053a - phantom only

Another option is to use 2 mics on mic stands to get better coverage. It's not perfect audio, but it might be "good enough" coverage.

I do this with a 7 person improv theatre group, where I don't know where they're gonna be on stage at any point. I have one camcorder as the "wide shot", connected to 2 Rode NT3s on mic stands. The mic stands are setup at the corners of the stage as high as they can go and slightly tilted down towards the back opposite corner of stage. The 2nd "medium/closup" camcorder sits in the audience with an AT897 shotgun.

Most of the audio comes from the 2 NT3 audio tracks. With the AT897 audio used to re-inforce the main audio and give it ambience, though I'll probably switch out the AT897 for an AKG C1000 or another hyper-cardioid next week.

Under the compromises of the "theatre" (no booms, no hanging from ceilings) that setup gives me "good enough" audio.

** this setup definitely works better with hyper-cardioids, though I did it first with a couple AKG C1000s and it was okay, but definitely better with the hypers.
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