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Old February 3rd, 2006, 06:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
On a budget, I'd recommend the AT 831b mics. I've won major awards for projects using those mics, and although they're not the absolute best, they're very, very good.
You also might want to check out Giant Squid mics. Google for them. Low cost, made by a young guy just starting out...they sound wonderful, especially considering the cost.
Careful with the 831b, though as it's a cardioid (directional) lav and how you place it can be very tricky. Talent turns their head away, they're not heard. You can't place the mic upside down as you can with an omni, because you end up with stomach rumble and foot noise.

OTOH, the AT MT830R is a very respectable, small, omni directional mic. I have three of them.

http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wi...74a/index.html

It's easy to get confused with all the mic model numbers. There are several versions of the MT830 that have to do with what, if any, sort of plug or power supply comes with the mic.

The ATMT830R comes with the power supply and XLR connector.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 09:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
$200 can get you two decent lavs and cables that you can use for years to come,
Time for me to eat some crow.

When I first bought lavs, I got an AT 803b for less than $100.

The best price I found for this mic is $132 here:

http://stores.ebay.com/Great-Northern-Video

The best price for DSE's recommended AT 831b (basically the cardioid version of the 803b (which is an omni mic) is $128.82 here:

http://stores.ebay.com/Full-Compass

Whether you choose omni or cardioid is a personal and professional choice. I know that DSE tends towards cardioids, and gets great results. I am less professional than he is, and have always tended towards omnis. They're more forgiving in placement (as Ty pointed out), but MAY pick up more background (off axis) noise. I have not found that to be a big problem, but others may.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the mics you posted, so can't render an opinion either way. If money is really tight, you could always use just one omni lav on one of the actors (as long as they're fairly close to each other). Obviously, you'll want to place the mic on the side closest to the other actor. If the non-lav'd actor talks a little bit louder(and stands/sits fairly close to the lav'd actor), you might not even have to adjust the levels in post.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 03:57 PM   #18
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this is a good discussion: 803b vs 831b

I've gotten sort of addicted to the idea of good sound, and how it really can be had for cheap with some thought and care.

On this question of the omni 803b vs the 831b cardioid: is the cardioid 831b really categorically better? I'm intrigued by the idea that award winning sound can be got with mics this inexpensive--or is it just that the project won an award, but not specifically for sound?

I'm all for a mic that's easy to use. The idea of an omni is (803b) is appealing. Ty is an audiophile, so his endorsement of the 803b as "respectable" probably means that it's pretty good. But I don't know how to compare Ty's "respectable" 803b to DSE's enthusiastic endorsement of the cardioid 831b.

SO I guess the question is: how much better is the 831b cardioid than the omni 803b, and how hard is it to place a cardioid lav?

Do the dangers of poor cardioid mic placement outweigh the audio quality gains?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 04:55 PM   #19
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
Do the dangers of poor cardioid mic placement outweigh the audio quality gains?
Absolutely. A 5.00 mic placed close to a source will sound better than a 5000.00 mic more than 10' from the source in virtually every case. Placement is everything, no matter what mic you use. I wish more videographers would recognize that. You gotta LISTEN.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 05:26 PM   #20
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What he said! With omnis, you don't have to be as picky about mounting. In fact, with end address omnis, you can point them away from the face if the person is overly sibilant and still get good sound.

The cardioid requires more care with placement but if you can do it and there isn't a lot of head turning, you get better sound.

and thanks for beaing zealous about audio quality.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:49 PM   #21
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OK guys, but throw me a bone. What's the risk/reward ratio? -And what's the learning curve?

I feel like I know how to get good sound with a boom--get it in close, move it around a bit to find the sweet spot, it's not that hard. Since a live human is holding it, placement variables are not overwhelming.

But mounting a mic has more variables. Is it under clothes? What kind of fabric? Where is it even possible to mount it?

For a kid like me, the critical issue becomes, how many mistakes am I going to have to make before I start using cardioid competently? Is it one of those things where you absolutely have to do it, go through it, make the mistakes and then finally achieve competence? Or are there principles that can be followed--a sort of "top ten rules" of cardioid wireless mic placement that can be followed, leading to "instant competence", without too steep of a learning curve?

My feeling based on this thread is, if Ty remains wary of cardioid lavs, there is some danger there.

Stated another way, if could only choose one type of mic, and you were a beginner like me, who was concerned about usable sound first, and quality sound a close second, would you go cardioid? Would you go cardioid, put in a bit of extra time and care into learning the parameters of proper placement? Or would you avoid cardioid because of the inevitable pitfalls, and stick with the safer omni choice?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 07:36 PM   #22
 
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At the risk of sounding flip, the learning curve depends on the intelligence and patience of the mixer/recordist. If you can't tell the difference between a good sound and not so good sound, you need training. You can't get it from a website, a book, or even a DVD. Record something. Does it sound like what you hear on reality shows that sound good? Does it sound somewhat close to what you hear on National Geo? Does it sound like most of the shows on Discovery? No? Then record some more.
As far as omni's vs uni's, it's a matter of preference and the situation you're working within. The situations I'm often working within, uni's usually work great. Head turning or not, an omni also will demonstrate a change in sound. It's about the environment.
For whatever reason, you seem to want to create some controversy of one vs the other. They're just tools. That's it. Like a Phillips or regular, Torx, or Quad head screwdriver. Pick the one you need for the job. Sometimes you need one, sometimes you need the other.
The top ten rules of figuring out what mic is best where and how to place them properly?
1. Listen
2. Listen
3. Listen
4. Listen (you get the idea?)

Record, record, record. Try a lot of things. Study guys like Phil Ramone and how he learned to place mics. Read the famous "Dead Rat Solo" story. Experiment like Phil Spector and Bill Hamm did, like Butch Vig does. Use headphones always. Use good headphones if you can afford 100.00.
Run around with a mic trying to find the sweet spot. If it's the body, there are only a couple, but you still gotta find em. Then after you find them, you learn to mount them, hide them, cable them.
Good recordings are a craft and art, not a job that "just anyone can do." It takes years of training.
FWIW, I was named "Debut Jazz Artist of the Year" in 1996 for my 11 solo album.
maybe that makes some sense to you.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 10:39 PM   #23
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You can make your way around the golf course with a five iron, but having a putter and a driver make the round a lot more fun.

You need more than one kind of mic. It's not a this-or-that sort of thing.

Regards,

Ty
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Old March 4th, 2006, 12:09 AM   #24
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The differences between different kinds of screwdrivers, different kinds of golf clubs are unambiguous.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 12:32 AM   #25
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Just an idea from left field, if you're going to have people walk and talk that can be problematic with even the best kit, people tend to loose their breath when walking so they may have some trouble speaking or mics can pickup excessive amount of breathing.
Way to fix this is ADR, re-record what they're saying later with them watching the video. This is not that hard to do, everything then is under your control, no need to worry over mic placement or ambient noise etc.
Still record audio on the day as a guide track and record plenty of ambience to add into the mix later.

Of course if ADR isn't an option then my apologies, still worth keeping in mind.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 06:03 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
The differences between different kinds of screwdrivers, different kinds of golf clubs are unambiguous.
To a carpenter and a golfer, yes. How's this for a "refinement"; choose between a five iron and a sand wedge when in middle grass off the fairway. It takes some finesse and that takes some experience.

The point is there is NO ONE BEST MIC for everything. Get one of each and discover for yourself when to use each. That's what most of us here have done. Then you will escape the bonds of ambiguity.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old March 6th, 2006, 06:10 AM   #27
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831b

I had an experience yesterday--I was shooting outside with a Oktava MK012 without a windscreen at school, when my sound professor walked by and started bugging me. I begged him to let me use the school shotgun with windscreen, because the wind noise was unbearable. I'm not sure what the shotgun was--some kind of AT, I'm pretty sure. I learned two things from from using those two mics outside that day:

1) The difference between the mics was SHOCKING. It's not a subtle difference. The AT sounded TERRIBLE. Made the actors' voices sound thin and weasley. This leads me to believe that the differences between mics are bigger than I originally suspected.

2) I need a windscreen; I learned on this board that shotguns are better for outdoors, but that I would rather use the Oktava with a windscreen than some weird shotgun outside anyday.

This has basically led me to the conclusion that DSE's 831b recommendation is the one for me. I am ecstatically happy with the Oktava. Maybe it doesn't really compare with a Schoeps, but I'm sure I won't be listening to one of those anytime soon. Reasoning by anology, if the differences between a mainstream shotgun and a more underground hypercardioid can be that dramatic, I'm willing to bet the sound quality differences between DSE's 831b and the other contenders is quite noticeable too.

But this begs the question--what are the differences between omnis and cardioid lavs' applications? My sound professor cryptically reiterated DSE's and Ty's declaration that omni and cardioid lavs have totally different uses, but failed to elaborate. It's fine to make these screwdriver and golf club analogies, but I could very easily explain to *anyone* that the lower the golf club number, the higher the arc of the golf ball's trajectory, and that different types of screwdriver tips fit into different types of screws. But nobody is telling ME what the difference in application is between cardioid and omni lavs. The only thing I have figured out is that DSE has used a $100 mic to get award winning sound while perilously avoiding noise.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 07:16 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
...
But nobody is telling ME what the difference in application is between cardioid and omni lavs. The only thing I have figured out is that DSE has used a $100 mic to get award winning sound while perilously avoiding noise.
Cardioid lavs are most often used for sound reinforcement applications where feedback can be a problem. The reduced sensitivity on the backside of the mic makes it somewhat easier to control pickup of sounds away from the speaker's mouth. They can also help isolate the speaker in a noisy environment at the price of requiring the talent to reduce their head motion and keep their look consistent, thus you might find them useful to reduce interfering background sounds on location in a "talking heads" scenario where the speaker is always facing directly into the camera.

Omni lavs are used more often than cardioids on talent in general flim/video production and as plant mics on the set where their omni-directional characteristics give more even sound pickup as the talent turns their head one way or the other and moves about the set.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 07:59 AM   #29
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Right Steve,

And about the differences in MC012 and unnamed AT; too little information.

Had the AT beeen damaged? Was it one with a battery and were you running the camera or mixer with the Phantom Power ON at the same time? Did the mic have a LF roll off that was engaged? Was the shotgun plugged into an input with the LF cut engaged? The MC012 comes with three capsules; omni, cardioid and hypercardioid. Which one were you using? Audio is NOT trivial. It is NOT plug and play.

Also, folks often only hear/read the first part of the SHOTGUN OUTSIDE-HYPERCARDIOID INSIDE caution and don't retain the second part. That shotguns can also suck if you're in a reverberant outside environment like on a asphalt or concrete parking lot as well. In many situations, a good hyper can be just fine outside.

"This has basically led me to the conclusion that DSE's 831b recommendation is the one for me."
There is no logic to support this conclusion. You will find good used for both omni and directioanl mics whether they are lavs, booms or hand-held.


"My sound professor cryptically reiterated DSE's and Ty's declaration that omni and cardioid lavs have totally different uses, but failed to elaborate. It's fine to make these screwdriver and golf club analogies, but I could very easily explain to *anyone* that the lower the golf club number, the higher the arc of the golf ball's trajectory, and that different types of screwdriver tips fit into different types of screws. But nobody is telling ME what the difference in application is between cardioid and omni lavs. The only thing I have figured out is that DSE has used a $100 mic to get award winning sound while perilously avoiding noise."

OK, fine, bypass the part where you actually understand why something is better and go for a pre-fixed conclusion. I work with producers all the time who ask me why I'm not using a lav (in a particular situation). My answer is because the hyper sounds better. Maybe you're not a sound person after all, Maybe you just can't get it. I was that way with Calculus.

I agree with your teacher. Get your head into it more. Simple assumptions don't work. Find out why. A couple of courses in Physics, acoustics and electronics will be helpful. Good work is about art and science, but you can't get arty without having the science to back you up.

You can try all the mics on the planet, but unless you can put it all together, which the science allows you to do, you'll be in the dark most of the time. Getting the mics in your hands and experimenting with them is good, but unless you know the science, you'll end up where you did. e.g. Oktava with unknown capsule good, some sort of AT shotgun bad.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old March 6th, 2006, 03:42 PM   #30
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Well Mr. Ford, I'm off to the store to see if I can do a side by side comparison of the 830 against the 831 (the omni bundled with the Pro 88W vs the card that must be purchased spearately). It seems like nothing else will do.

Maybe my experience with the oktava is an anomaly--that research on these boards can lead to an exciting purchase based on only reading. You've introduced enough doubt in my mind that I'm going to go have the omni-vs-cardioid experience in person before making another move.

Last edited by Douglas Spotted Eagle; March 6th, 2006 at 04:14 PM. Reason: edited for content
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