Besides the AKG C1000s, are there other battery powered condensers out there? at DVinfo.net

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Old May 18th, 2006, 03:27 AM   #1
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Besides the AKG C1000s, are there other battery powered condensers out there?

Hi

I need a good quality condenser mic that also takes an internal battery. I'll be doing field recordings of music and performances in rural China using a minidisc player (most likely) and can't rely on phantom power. This AKG C1000s is the only one I can find so far that is both battery operated and will take phantom power. The conditions I'm recording and filming in are always quite noisy.

Are there other battery powered condensers?

I heard that the MARSHALL MXL 603S is very good but it takes only 48 volt phantom power. Is there any AA battery adapter that can plug onto the bottom of this mic to supply power? I know that the K6 Power module by Sennheiser does something like this. But its quite expensive.

Any suggestions? Will the AKG C1000s be suitable for my purposes? Because of background noise etc, should I use my Rode NTG-2 for my project instead?

Thanks for comments!
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Old May 18th, 2006, 05:08 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Ambrosi
Hi

I need a good quality condenser mic that also takes an internal battery. I'll be doing field recordings of music and performances in rural China using a minidisc player (most likely) and can't rely on phantom power. This AKG C1000s is the only one I can find so far that is both battery operated and will take phantom power. The conditions I'm recording and filming in are always quite noisy.

Are there other battery powered condensers?

I heard that the MARSHALL MXL 603S is very good but it takes only 48 volt phantom power. Is there any AA battery adapter that can plug onto the bottom of this mic to supply power? I know that the K6 Power module by Sennheiser does something like this. But its quite expensive.

Any suggestions? Will the AKG C1000s be suitable for my purposes? Because of background noise etc, should I use my Rode NTG-2 for my project instead?

Thanks for comments!
FYI - the Sennheiser K6 is a preamp and power supply for one specific series of mic capsules and won't mate with any other manufacturers mic's or even other Sennheisers.

Use a portable mixer that supplies phantom power between the microphone(s) and the recorder. Something like the Sound Devices MixPre or SD 302 would work will - they run off of AA batteries and will supply phantom, freeing you up to choose a mic without regard to whether it has an internal battery or not. It would also give you more control over the sound recording than just plugging the mic into the minidisc and hoping for the best.

What recorder are you using? I see you're in Canada and you say you're going to be recording in rural China. I'd think something like that would be an important and expensive trip. I hope you're planning on taking the pro-level gear such a rare-in-a-lifetime expedition deserves and not consumer grade toys. If you use something like the HHB Portadisc MDP500 recorder, it has XLR mic inputs and supplies phantom power on its own. An MDP500, a SD302, headphones, and a small assortment of good mics with a shock-mount pistol grip and misc holders and you're set for some serious professional quality music collection. (I read somewhere that the musciology folks at the Smithsonian use that recorder for field collection of folk-music.)
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Old May 18th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #3
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Hi

Thanks for the suggestion to use the Sound Devices MixPre or SD 302! Their specs seem quite impressive. However, since I also will be shooting video, I thought that the Beachtek DXA-8 might be a good choice simply because it can be mounted under my video camera. Is it as good as the Sound Devices units? Can the Sound Devices units be mounted on a camera (do they have a tripod screw in them?)

That being said, there will also be occasions when I have no choice or time but to quickly plug the mics into my Minidisc and record. I may have the Beachtek mounted on the camera or have no time to set it up.

I've used a consumer grade MD recorder before. It has worked well so far, and for the price of that very fine HHB Portadisc MDP500, I can buy two or three of the new portable HiMD players that allow upload directly to a computer too. THe HHB Portadisc MDP500 also looks too heavy to lug around because its very difficult to transport equipment under field conditions. I learned a long time ago, "less is better" when it comes to working over there.

I appreciate your comments!
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Old May 18th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #4
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Check out the Rode NT3
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Old May 18th, 2006, 11:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Ambrosi
Hi

Thanks for the suggestion to use the Sound Devices MixPre or SD 302! Their specs seem quite impressive. However, since I also will be shooting video, I thought that the Beachtek DXA-8 might be a good choice simply because it can be mounted under my video camera. Is it as good as the Sound Devices units? Can the Sound Devices units be mounted on a camera (do they have a tripod screw in them?)

That being said, there will also be occasions when I have no choice or time but to quickly plug the mics into my Minidisc and record. I may have the Beachtek mounted on the camera or have no time to set it up.

I've used a consumer grade MD recorder before. It has worked well so far, and for the price of that very fine HHB Portadisc MDP500, I can buy two or three of the new portable HiMD players that allow upload directly to a computer too. THe HHB Portadisc MDP500 also looks too heavy to lug around because its very difficult to transport equipment under field conditions. I learned a long time ago, "less is better" when it comes to working over there.

I appreciate your comments!

The Beachtek's are certainly good products but without disparaging them they aren't up to the Sound Devices line. SD products are made expressly for professional film and video production and come up to professional standards in every respect - they're crafted like swiss watches and are as rugged as Abrams tanks. They don't mount on or under the camera but are small and compact to be easily worn on a shoulder strap or fit in a sound person's bag for run-and-gun shooting.

The upload to a computer is not what I was looking at in the HHB - it's the phantom power, XLR inputs, good recording preamps, and similar features.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 02:18 PM   #6
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Hey Ray,
What type of performances will you be recording?
How many performers will there be, usually?
And will it be indoors, outdoors, or both?
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Old May 18th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #7
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Hi
I'll be recording a wide variety of performances using a video camera (3ccd Panasonic NV-GS100 similar to 400), and sometimes only a minidisc recorder or both simultaneously.

When I have a chance record these events, I usually have very little advance notice and, having no crew, must set up and run the operation myself. Every piece of equipment must be lightweight and dual purpose...for example, I carry several camera tripods and use them also as microphone holders. There is no way to carry specific mic stands.

I will be recording outdoor drumming performances in rural villages which include a drummer, 5-8 people banging on cymbals, and 3 or 4 people striking gongs. (generally the drumming involves 9 people or so)

I'll also record martial arts demos in rural locations outdoors- the sound of the performance can't be caught unless i have a wireless mic (too far way) but I generally try to record the drumming and shoot the performance from the position of the drummers. Because I was using a directional mic mounted on the cam, it pointed away from the drums (behind me) and the sound is not optimal.

Recording will also be done of local folk musical groups that play various strange instruments like Xiao, Pipa, Erhu and drums and gongs. Their performance sometimes in includes dancing and can involve as many as 15 people. This is sometimes in a small room, sometimes outdoors.

I was thinking of buying two AKG C1000s for stereo recording. Is stereo necessary or is a good mono recording just as good for documenting these fading musical traditions and for my documentary film?

Thanks for the advice on the HHB Portadisc MDP500, but I can't see that its worth the money for my purposes. I'll just use consumer HiMD decks and put them in a outfitted waterproof Pelican box. If necessary I can use the Beachtek or Sound Devices box for XLR inputs and preamps.

Wearing the SoundDevices box won't be an option- its too hard to maneuver with the equipment and operate when hundreds of people are pushing and shoving in every direction. Those are the conditions of work in the places I'm going. Ideally, I'd buy an Panasonic DVX 100B camera with XLR inputs, do away with the Beachtek stuff. But I'm under a tight budget to do this as best I can with funds available. No sense spending thousands extra to get a reasonably small margin of increase in quality.

I appreciate the responses.. .. making me think a lot
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Old May 18th, 2006, 04:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
Use a portable mixer [...] like the Sound Devices MixPre or SD 302 [...] It would also give you more control over the sound recording [...]
Sage advice.

I'm a shooting and lighting person, and yet I believe my most important job when shooting documentary style is getting good sound. Without good sound, all of my image making will be in vain. So I finally invested in a Sound Devices 302 mixer and I have a second person focus on sound while I focus on picture. Why? Because as you said, "its too hard to maneuver with the equipment and operate" so in a situation like this record double system. This means recording picture and sound separately. This way there is no tether between sound and camera. You can run wireless sound from mixer to camera if you have budget for that, but you don't have to go wireless (put that money into better mics), you can simply do double system. In the good old days of 16mm documentary production, this is how it was done, camera person and sound person operated independently, and the the editor synced the audio and picture later using the slate (usually a tap on the boom mic) or timecode for those high tech productions. In some ways recording audio in the camera has complicated our lives, and it need not. I've often post synched audio recorded with my Microtrack 24/96 digital recorder and what I've shot with the camera and I've been so happy that sound and camera could flow through the event on their own. Plus, you can record great stereo ambience on the camera, offering more tracks for your mix.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 05:14 PM   #9
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Ray's posting have got me thinking again about mniDisc as a viable double sound system. I've been considering a Tascam HDP2, their new CF card stereo recorder which I'm hearing good things about, and also the new Sound Devices 702 card recorder. Both offer timecode and the Tascam will sync its clock rate to incoming video black burst which makes maintaining sync in double system very easy. But like your Microtrack, you do have to off-load the card's sooner or later to a computer and burn then to a CD or DVD. On a trek like Ray's into rural China, that means even more equipment like a laptop to lug around and worry about and I confess I positively HATE to lug baggage. A good professional miniDisc does seem like a viable option for those situations where you might not be near a computer for days or weeks to transfer files off of a card or hard drive based recorder. There's a certain appeal forming in my mind to the combination of a SD302 and a HHB Portadisc recorder for the videographer on the go. A brick or 2 of AA's from Costco and a box of blank miniDiscs plus your mics etc and you're ready to head off into the jungle to record the music of the Lost Tribe of the Upper Oingo-Boingo, no laptop or mains power required.
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Last edited by Steve House; May 19th, 2006 at 12:38 PM.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:26 AM   #10
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Thanks for your suggestions!
Actually I have occasionally recorded an audio track on my MD recorder while filming at the same time. I didn't know if the minidisc audio could be synchronized with the DV video later, but I'm glad to hear that it can be!
Since I will seldom have anyone working with me on this project, I have to run the various pieces of equipment as best as I can.

It seems that a wireless lavalier system (Sennheiser G2) would be the best for my needs.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 03:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Ambrosi
It seems that a wireless lavalier system (Sennheiser G2) would be the best for my needs.
So you are not going the minidisc route? You're doing
wireless to your cam instead? I think some of
those Panny 3CCD cams only have auto level
controls, which may be a problem.

Also, about music transferred over wireless, I'm
not sure how the quality is.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:28 PM   #12
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Hello
Sorry, my reply was a bit confusing. I'm going to use both my on-camera sound and a minidisc recorder. I have 2 different types of projects that I'm working on:

1. Audio only projects: For some performances and interviews, I will only record sound. For these projects, I will use minidisc

2. Video projects: I will use my camera, with Beachtek DXA-8 which has preamps, auto limiters, and hopefully be able to afford a wireless Sennheiser G2 lavalier. I will also use the minidisc recorder to record certain areas of the shot where I would like to capture very clean and good sound ie) beside the drum musician at huge outdoor folk festivals.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 02:23 PM   #13
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The NT3 is generally considered much better than
the C1000s, which some do not regard very well.
The C1000s is said by some to sound very harsh.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #14
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Hi Thanks very much for that info!
I want to get a mic that will be something worth keeping and using for many years. I'll consider the NT3 as my #1 choice.

But I also noticed that the RODE NT4 is a stereo mic and has very good reviews.
I'm going to ask this question in a new thread to see if others might be able to offer their opinions!
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