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Old April 7th, 2006, 06:53 PM   #1
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Recording stereo in the field

Client wants to record traditional musical performances in the field, that's in the open air, in the wilds of Australia. Performers would number no more than say 10, they do spread out and move around dancing at the same time.
Everything has to run off battery and there's a real possibility of wind.
They want to record a stereo image. Recording device we can take care of but I'm a bit worried about the choice of microphones.
They were originally thinking two 416s but I've pointed out the issues that would introduce. We've also looked at a stereo x-y pair but I'm far from certain how that'll hold up outdoors.
What we do have available and would seem ideal is the Sanken CSS-5, spec here: http://sanken.ch/english/css-5.htm

This mic would seem ideal when switched to 'wide', in fact this seems a very usefull mic but I've rarely heard anyone mention it which leaves me a little concerned about how it'll really perform. My own brief tests indicate it does deliver as promised, is it just the high cost that's limited it's widespread use?

I did find this: http://www.plus24.net/news/041021_Sanken_Maynes.asp

So perhaps my worries are unfounded, although recording gunshots and explosions is a bit different to music. Given the constraints of recording in the wilds this baby might be the best option that exists.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 06:09 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant
Client wants to record traditional musical performances in the field, that's in the open air, in the wilds of Australia. Performers would number no more than say 10, they do spread out and move around dancing at the same time.
Everything has to run off battery and there's a real possibility of wind.
They want to record a stereo image. Recording device we can take care of but I'm a bit worried about the choice of microphones.
They were originally thinking two 416s but I've pointed out the issues that would introduce. We've also looked at a stereo x-y pair but I'm far from certain how that'll hold up outdoors.
What we do have available and would seem ideal is the Sanken CSS-5, spec here: http://sanken.ch/english/css-5.htm

This mic would seem ideal when switched to 'wide', in fact this seems a very usefull mic but I've rarely heard anyone mention it which leaves me a little concerned about how it'll really perform. My own brief tests indicate it does deliver as promised, is it just the high cost that's limited it's widespread use?

I did find this: http://www.plus24.net/news/041021_Sanken_Maynes.asp

So perhaps my worries are unfounded, although recording gunshots and explosions is a bit different to music. Given the constraints of recording in the wilds this baby might be the best option that exists.
Just speculating here but my feeling is that shotguns would not be the best choice in this situation. Their whole focus is, well, focussed pickup, isolating out the sounds coming from a narrow cone directly in front from their surroundings from the rest of the background. But that's the opposite of what you need with stereo - you need to capture sounds coming from a broad area in front along with the psycoacoustic information necessary for the listener's brain to position individual sounds within the stage. You might consider a pair of cardioids or hypercardioids in an X/Y array or even better, a cardioid or hypercadioid and figure-8 pair of capsules in an M/S array. Schoeps makes extension cables to separate the capsules themselves from the mic preamplifier module for their collete series (MK41, etc) along with shock mounts, zepps and furries that will put a complete wind-shielded MS array on the end of a boom pole for location stereo recording. Sounds to me like that would be just the ticket for your application. You can see examples on their website www.schoeps.de
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Old April 8th, 2006, 07:11 AM   #3
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Well here's the thing with this mic. It's no ordinary shotgun, basically not a pressure gradient mic although it can be switched into hypercardioid mode.
In wide you get 140deg pickup.
Unlike a conventional shotgun it uses 5 elements to control side and rear pickup. The issue I can see with a conventional condensor X-Y mic is no rear rejection and I'm told they don't stand up too well in windy conditions even with a dead cat on them, I'd suspect that's due to the wind pressure upsetting the large diagraphms.
The Sanken CS 3e is one of the best mono shotguns around, about the only one that'll work in a room with lots of echo, it'd want to do something fancy given the price!
The CSS 5 (the stereo version) sells for $1995 which might be why we don't hear too much about it. We've had this mic for a few years now and no one's game to use it, it just seems a bit too 'out there'. Every word I've read about it says it's the best there is but sending a crew out into the wilds for two weeks is a heck of a way to find out there's an oversight in my research.

The other thing is I suspect the CSS 5 is a bit light on at the bottom end. So I'm thinking to add a LDC with foam windsock into another channel on the recorder, placed close to say the didgeridoo. If the wind does get the better of this mic we can just cut it out in post.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 09:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Grant
Well here's the thing with this mic. It's no ordinary shotgun, basically not a pressure gradient mic although it can be switched into hypercardioid mode.
In wide you get 140deg pickup.
Unlike a conventional shotgun it uses 5 elements to control side and rear pickup. The issue I can see with a conventional condensor X-Y mic is no rear rejection and I'm told they don't stand up too well in windy conditions even with a dead cat on them, I'd suspect that's due to the wind pressure upsetting the large diagraphms.
The Sanken CS 3e is one of the best mono shotguns around, about the only one that'll work in a room with lots of echo, it'd want to do something fancy given the price!
The CSS 5 (the stereo version) sells for $1995 which might be why we don't hear too much about it. We've had this mic for a few years now and no one's game to use it, it just seems a bit too 'out there'. Every word I've read about it says it's the best there is but sending a crew out into the wilds for two weeks is a heck of a way to find out there's an oversight in my research.

The other thing is I suspect the CSS 5 is a bit light on at the bottom end. So I'm thinking to add a LDC with foam windsock into another channel on the recorder, placed close to say the didgeridoo. If the wind does get the better of this mic we can just cut it out in post.
Sanken's have a reputation for being fine microphones, no doubt about it. But take a look at the Schoeps reference, just for interest.
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Old April 8th, 2006, 01:13 PM   #5
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If you don't mind sending the CSS 5 to Portland for a few days, I'd be glad to benchmark it for you <smile>.

A mic I have used that fits in a zeppelin, with fur, sounds great, is m-s, and is just all around handy, is the Neumann RSM 190i, now replaced by the RSM 191 AS. Wish I had reason to afford to own it, it's incredibly versatile (and expensive, nearly $5000 US).

We used a 190 on a recent production as follows:
Interviews - used the hypercardoid capsule only, on a boom.
Music - record M-S, decode in the studio.

Basically, this is an M-S microphone in the shell or form factor of a short shotgun.

Just outstanding results. Is there one for rent in your market?
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Old April 8th, 2006, 05:42 PM   #6
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Steve,
had a wander around the Schoeps site, their XY mic does look very tempting, certainly Schoeps have built a good reputation. Things is though all else being equal I'd go with the Rode NT 4, seeing as they're a local manufacturer. All that said though the Schoeps unit does look more versatile which might make it a better investment although not before this crew leaves. If Schoeps are at NAB I'll check them out in more detail when we're over there. Wish we had the budget to get over to the USA for one of the big audio shows although from what I hear they're more focussed on the studio / music side of the business.

Seth,
the Neumann RSM 191 sounds like a similar design concept to the CSS 5 but I think the Sanken uses more elements. The other claim about the Sanken is the elements are almost perfectly coplanar, much less separation than other mics to get a perfect mono mixdown. As much as I'd like to have Neumann mics in our kit getting a return on that kind of investment would be very difficult.

I should explain I work for a hire business and the rest of the staff are video broadcast guys, audio doesn't excite them too much or our clients for that matter. I'm slowly getting our clients more interested in the audio side and expanding the range of gear we can offer. So I'm always on the look out for kit that's fairly goof proof and reliable, that a typical video guy can use with a little instruction.
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