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Old March 9th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #1
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Lav vs. boom

O.K., I've been all over the whole "hypercardioid vs. shotgun" debate. I think I've got religion on the "hyper-inside/shotgun-outside" principle.

What I haven't seen, however, is much discussion about lavalliere versus a hypercardioid boom mike. Assuming I don't care about the lavalliere being visible in the shot, and clothing noise is therefore not an issue, is there any significant advantage to using a boom mike over a lav?

For the sake of simplicity, let's limit this discussion to recording documentary dialogue from a single person at a time.

For the sake of understanding where I'm coming from: I usually work alone, so any boom mike would have to sit in a static microphone stand just out of frame. My current mikes include:
- Sony ECM 44 & ECM 55 wired lavs;
- Sennheiser E112K (original) Evolution wireless with MKE2
- Sennheiser ME66 supercardioid (which I'm planning on upgrading to an AT4073 shortly)
- Audio Technica 2020 for voiceover work
- A couple of EV635a omni dynamics for handheld interviews/podiums.

I have some money to invest and am trying to figure out if springing for a Rode NT3/Oktava MC012/AT 4053, etc., would help me out much. I'm leaning toward sticking with the lavs, because it's so much easier to set up. Lately, I've been doing interviews with a wired lav in one channel and the ME66 camera-mounted into the other channel for backup/ambience.

What'cha think?
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Old March 9th, 2006, 03:01 PM   #2
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Lav mounted low on sternum works great. Hypercardioid stationary mounted can be awesome too...until the talent turns their head to talk.

See an example here :

For the intro, I actually had both the Sennheiser Evolution G2 wireless lav clipped on the shirt and RODE NT3 on a nearby mic stand. I chose the lav track for the final in post because:

A) When a head turns away from the hyper, the levels drop dramatically. Mic placement directly overhead would have fixed this.
This is also why you want to mount the lav mic on the sternum and not the collar. Inverse square law.

B) The hyper picked up slightly more echo in the room we used for the test (bare walls, hardwood floors - the absolute worst case scenario for a shoot)

I would say the best way would be to use both lav and hyper. Then make the decision in post as to which track to use at what point by riding the levels. Sometimes a hyper will pick up more of the sound you're after - knives cutting in a cooking show, buttons beeping in a product demonstration, lips o smackin' in a love scene etc.

BTW, Which camera are you using? Does it have phantom power? The NT3 does not require phantom and is less susceptable to handling noise than the Oktava. The AT 4053 is small and "cute" but more than twice the cost. The $199 NT3 at 11oz is heavy which doesn't matter on a stand. If you ever did want to boom with it, you can take off the RODE's metal exterior and shave off 4 oz.

Hope this helps,
Guy Cochran
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Old March 9th, 2006, 07:11 PM   #3
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I'd say putting a hyper on a stand and allowing the talent to turn off mic was not a fair test of the hyper. No one would or should do that in practice.

Where the line is better drawn is at the point where the the distance between the boom mic and talent becomes great enough to make the omni or cardioid lav on the chest sound better.

Otherwise, good hypers on a boom used correctly always win.


Ty Ford
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Old March 9th, 2006, 07:18 PM   #4
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And I'd add that the talent of the boom op plays a huge role in that decision.
Remember as well, you're not limited to two channels, unless you're only using cam audio input.
Douglas Spotted Eagle/Spot
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