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Old March 18th, 2006, 11:19 AM   #1
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yet another question concerning shotgun mics

I am plunging into audio, and I have nothing short of miserable experience with the medium. As such, I have been pouring through this forum for the past three days, and my head is spinning in circles.

From where I sit, I really cannot justify much more than a $1000 to $1500 investment.

All I really desire is an audio foundation from which to build upon... and, in essence, a significant up mark in quality that does not scream "cheap video" like my current audio setup does now. I look really silly with a 16x manual lens, a thousand dollar tripod, but with this lame stereo stock mic.


I have an XL2, and these are my needs:

1) For certian situations, I want something that I can mount on my camera*

*will the MA300’s shoe accept what I need?

2) I want something that I can use indoors, for interviews, narrative dialogue purposes, etc.

3) I want something for outdoors that picks up a lot of ambience. This must be a rugged piece of equipment, as I will be exposing it to the heat and humidity of S. Florida, where I live.

I know that this is going to entail at least two or three mics… so which ones?
The various Senheiser shotguns look attractive to me… but if I can get comparable or better results for a better price, by all means, lead me on. I am also looking at the various kits provided by B&H, which include a boom pole, wind guard etc… but would it be a better idea to purchase everything separately? Practicality is key here.


It is dark and I am far from home… please show me the way!

Thanks guys.

Last edited by Jeff McElroy; March 18th, 2006 at 12:20 PM.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 02:29 PM   #2
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I've been eyeing the Audix UEM-81s as a possibility for a decent, yet relatively low cost, versatile mic. The specs on it look pretty good (you have to go to the Audix site to get more specs than B&H has on their site), and it can be configured as a cardioid or a supercardioid.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 03:17 PM   #3
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That's a tall order as one size doesn't fit all those circumstances. For outdoor dialog a shotgun mic is often a good choice to isolate the speaker from their surroundings. But for interiors (and reflective exterior environments) a shotgun has an off-axis response pattern to reflected sounds that introduces colouration that is usually undesirable and so a hypercardioid is the mic of choice. For best results, either of these mics needs to be up close and personal to the subject, hence a boom and audio assistant to hold it aimed at the speaker and held as close as possible without intruding into the shot.

The industry standard hypercadioid is arguably the Schoeps MK641 at about $1500 while for a shotgun the Sennheiser MKH416 at about $1100 is a very common sight on professional productions. The Schoeps CMIT is a new shotgun at $1750 that's getting snapped up by the pros as fast as the factory can turn them out. More within your budget, an Audio-Technica AT4073a or AT4071 are good choices for a shotgun at about $600, coupled with an AT4053a hypercadioid at about $500 for interiors. There's also the AT897 that is a popular shotgun at about half the price of the 4071 or 4073 and for hypers AKG has one in their "Blue Line" that I'm kinda drawn towards. There are, of course, many others that are also strong contenders - Rode has a couple of shotguns that are quite good, for example. I would avoid budget mics because it's doubtful that they'd give much better results than what you already have - that being said, though, a $100 mic positioned properly for optimal sound pickup is likely to sound better than a $1000 mic 10 or 15 feet away from the subject mounted on the camera.

You might also want to consider getting some wired lavalier mics for interviews and such where appropriate.

Re - the MA300's shoe. K-Tek makes a bracket for their shockmounts that can fit them to the common on-camera mic mounts. Their website has a picture of it carrying a shockmount on an XL1.

http://www.mklemme.com/pole/kbwc.html
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Old March 18th, 2006, 08:56 PM   #4
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Wow, thanks guys.

...While I am sure this is highly relevant to application... how much of a difference in perceived quality will I encounter between the AT4073a and the significantly cheaper AT897 (which would give me room to purchase a good boom pole, among other things)? Is it worth the upgrade?

*Thanks for the shockmount info.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 06:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff McElroy
Wow, thanks guys.

...While I am sure this is highly relevant to application... how much of a difference in perceived quality will I encounter between the AT4073a and the significantly cheaper AT897 (which would give me room to purchase a good boom pole, among other things)? Is it worth the upgrade?

*Thanks for the shockmount info.
Paraphrasing from the A/T website, the 4073 is an externally polarized classic condenser mic requiring phantom power while the 897 is a permanently polarized fixed charge condenser and can operate on internal battery as well as on phantom. The 897 is a little longer and slightly heavier than the 4073. The 4073 is more sensitive and has a higher max sound pressure level and better dynamic range and S/N ratio, plus lower self noise than the 897, the differences more pronounced when the 897 is on internal battery. Its polar pattern shows a bit tighter directivity. The 4071 is a bit more sensitive still with an even tighter directivity and lower noise than the 4073, giving it a longer "reach" for relatively distant micing applications.

From what I understand, AT tries to have their mics in the same series sound similar so you might find that shots on the 4073 intercut more smoothly with shots on the 4053 that you would find with the 897. But the 897 has an excellent reputation and is by no means an inferior microphone. If comparing the 4073 to the 897 is like comparing Mercury to Ford, the cheap imports would be like Yugo and Trabant.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #6
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Okay, cool… things are coming into perspective. I did some more research, and I think I am going to go with the AT897.

I get what you say about inter-cutting, so now I need a hypercadioid of comparable quality --not significantly 'better' or 'worse'.

Exactly which mic in the “Blue Line" series was drawing your attention, just out of curiosity(?).
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Old March 19th, 2006, 09:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff McElroy
Okay, cool… things are coming into perspective. I did some more research, and I think I am going to go with the AT897.

I get what you say about inter-cutting, so now I need a hypercadioid of comparable quality --not significantly 'better' or 'worse'.

Exactly which mic in the “Blue Line" series was drawing your attention, just out of curiosity(?).
The SE300B power module and the CK93 hypercardioid capsule. Debating between that and the AT4053a. Both the AT and AKG are comparable in price and performance from what I gather but AKG has a figure-8 pattern capsule available in the Blue Line while AT does not. I want to experiment with M/S micing for stereo and it seems like the AKG CK91 cardioid or CK93 hyper capsules would be good matches to the CK94 figure-8 capsule. I don't know this from hand-on experience but it seems logical to me that the mics used for an M/S pair should be pretty well matched to each other and I'd expect that with the AKGs. Ultimately a pair of SE300Bs, a CK94, and a pair each of the CK91 cardioid, 92 omni and 93 hyper capsules gives you a whole treasure-trove of different stereo and mono micing options for different situations. Haven't heard anything about it but they also have a short shotgun capsule, the CK98, available.
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Last edited by Steve House; March 19th, 2006 at 10:50 AM.
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Old March 20th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #8
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If you have a pair of good headphones or monitors hooked into your computer, go over to this page http://dvestore.com/theatre/mics_guide.html
and scroll down to listen to the AT897 vs. the AT4073. Then listen to the RODE NTG-2 and the Sennheiser ME66/K6.

Depending on your budget and your needs, these audio samples may help you decide if you can really hear the differences between all of these great mics and justify the costs of the higher end models. Yeah, we tossed the $1200 Sennheiser MKH416 in there too just to make you drool :)

Me personally, I would go with the AT4073 or the RODE NTG-2. Heck for under $450 you could get both the RODE NTG-2 shotgun and the RODE NT3 hyper. That just may be a good way to go.

Scroll down lower and there is a nice package consisting of shockmount, boom pole, wind protection and cables.

Hope this helps,
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Old March 21st, 2006, 05:38 AM   #9
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Excellent clips Guy!

I hope everyone who has been asking about shotguns takes note of how close the sample mics are to the speaker's mouth and how well they're aimed. If viewers are wondering about the fact that the samples are indoors and relating that to the general advice is not to use shotguns indoors, they should note the tests were recorded in a studio environment where the reflections and background noise have been very carefully controlled. Would have been interesting to take the top of the line Sennehieser MKH416 and put it back at the camera position for a clip, demonstrating how even with the best mics top quality sound requires them to be up close.

Thanks for posting
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:31 AM   #10
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Just to double check, the MA300 provides phatom power, doesn't it?

BTW, I like the AKG CK93 capsule (and the other capsules in the blue line). I think it's a good value that provides a nice sound for the price. I've used it in several places where I was concerned about the safety of a Schoeps MK41 with great results.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 01:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Keyser
Just to double check, the MA300 provides phatom power, doesn't it?

BTW, I like the AKG CK93 capsule (and the other capsules in the blue line). I think it's a good value that provides a nice sound for the price. I've used it in several places where I was concerned about the safety of a Schoeps MK41 with great results.
I'm sitting on the fence between the AKG CK93 and the AT 4053a. Any insights to share?

I see you're in my old stompin' grounds - graduated from Sandia High in '62 and UNM in '74.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 03:11 PM   #12
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Hey Guy, thank you immensely for that link with the audio comparisons!

AT897 vs. the AT4073... pretty sizable difference even to my untrained ear. Forgive my crude audio diction, but the at897 clip seemed to exude much background hiss(?), which was a bit unnerving.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 03:46 PM   #13
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Take a look at this post over at DVXuser.com called "TOP 5 SHOTGUNS!"

They rank the AT897 as #5 out of 5. I found the same due to its noise level-it had the highest self noise of any of the mics - tested on both battery and phantom. Different folks will argue over the #3,4 spots, the Sennheiser and the RODE NTG-2. Some say the ME66 is artificially too crisp on the highs and thinner in the mids. You can be the judge of that one. But again, I find it hard to believe that you could get a NTG-2 shotgun and a RODE NT3 hyper for the price of the ME66/K6.
The #2 spot going to the AT4073 is very fair and of course the #1 being the highest priced too at over $1K. But it deserves it, the MKH416 is just plain sweet.

The Canon MA 300 does not supply Phantom Power. I would go for a BeachTek DXA-6 or DXA-8. They're sturdier too.

Steve - I just got the AT4053 hyper and was not super impressed except by it's physical size and weight - definitely not impressed with the price - bang for buck. For an on-camera mic it would be a nice replacement of a stock mic without looking too "intimidating". I'd probably first take a listen to the AKG just to give it a fair shake. I hear you have to be really careful about handling noise on those though.

Listen to the NT3 vs the on-camera XL2 mic in this movie too http://dvcreators.net/products/indoormic_movieframe.htm
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Old March 24th, 2006, 11:11 AM   #14
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We use the AKG quite a lot, and I wouldn't say that handling noise is a problem at all. It sounds quite nice for the price, and mixes well with a Schoeps. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a tougher mic, and the bayonet mount is really nifty. Haven't used the AT4053, but I've only heard good things. I think it's six of one and a half dozen of the other.

I'm with Ralph. First choice is the Schoeps, but for risky stuff and two mic situations out comes the CK93. I've been known to lend it out too, as you could hammer nails with it, as the cliche goes. It's not hyperbole either. You really could.

Another choice is the AKG ULS line, which are true condensers (Blueline is electret). In addition to the cardiod/hypercardiod/omni caps there is also a shotgun capsule that is supposed to be quite impressive.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 03:57 PM   #15
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I haven't noticed any handling noise problems with the Blueline mics either. They are phantom power only, however.


Steve, you'll be happy to know that both Sandia High and UNM are still going strong!

Last edited by Ralph Keyser; March 24th, 2006 at 04:38 PM.
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