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Old May 18th, 2006, 07:05 AM   #1
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Best mic under 300US$

Ok, I no nothing of mics and sound, but from reading many treads here and in other forums I understand that the best mic in the world will be worthless in the wrong hand, in the wrong conditions. But let me paint you the following scenario: Imagine you are in the desert with a Sony FX1, the conditions are far from ideal, you do not have a mixer, a pre-amp or phantom power. All you have is a mic that you can plug into the FX1 (any mic will be better than the FX1s' original mic). Which mic should I go for in this exagerated situation without having to spend more than 300US$? Have it in mind that it'll be used to capture speach.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 07:38 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael Lopes
Ok, I no nothing of mics and sound, but from reading many treads here and in other forums I understand that the best mic in the world will be worthless in the wrong hand, in the wrong conditions. But let me paint you the following scenario: Imagine you are in the desert with a Sony FX1, the conditions are far from ideal, you do not have a mixer, a pre-amp or phantom power. All you have is a mic that you can plug into the FX1 (any mic will be better than the FX1s' original mic). Which mic should I go for in this exagerated situation without having to spend more than 300US$? Have it in mind that it'll be used to capture speach.
for indoors? or literally as you say, in the desert(outside)?
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Old May 18th, 2006, 07:42 AM   #3
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Hahaha, I'm sorry. I painted a REAL nightmarish scenario. It'll never be THAT bad. It'll be for indoors as well as outdoors, mostly for interviews (eng, docs, etc).
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:09 AM   #4
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There are several microphones out there to consider that are designed to plug into a 1/8" stereo mini microphone plug like the one on the FX1. I've not used many of them, but the one I have used is the Sennheiser MKE 300 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Condenser Camera Microphone, it sells for about $170(US) and I think it offers good value for the money and the way to go if you don't have XLR connectors on your camera. This offers a nice compliment to the stereo microphone that's built into the camera.

If you are in fact going to do some shooting outdoors, once the wind picks up, the foam windscreen that the mic comes with is not going to be enough, so consider adding a Rycote Mini Windjammer (they make one specifically for the Sennheiser MKE300 and it runs around $60(US) or so.

This brings the microphone system up to a total of $230(US), well under your budget and with a reasonably good microphone for the money. You might want to invest in an extension cable for the microphone, because the more you shoot, the more you will realize that many times you want the microphone to be somewhere other than on top of the camera. You may want to fashion a home-made mic stand or something like that. One downside of not having balanced XLR inputs on a camera is that you can't use long cable runs without picking up noise, so listen carefully and watch the cable length if you place the mic away from the camera. And don't forget to carry an extra SR44/EPX76 1.5v silver battery with you, they last a long time, but if you're going to be out in that desert for a while, you're going to need an extra battery.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:15 AM   #5
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What are your thoughts on the AUDIO TECHNICA AT897 and the RODE NTG-2?
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:51 AM   #6
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When you start to add good quality microphone cables, a boom, support, wind control, accessories, the numbers start to climb. But you can get pieces one by one. I started by using my Sony ECM-670 short shotgun bare handheld (if I was to do it all over again today I'd probably get the AT897), and then eventually added a Rycote Sofie Wind Cover, Softie Pistol Grip, and other mics, a mixer, accessories, building up the kit over time as I needed components.
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Last edited by David Tamés; May 18th, 2006 at 01:28 PM.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 08:56 AM   #7
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I suggested the Sennheiser MKE 300 because of your budget under $300 and the requirement to plug into the FX1, which does not have XLR inputs.

The Audio-Technica AT897 short shotgun microphone is an excellent value, it can be purchased for under $300(US) I think, and I know several people who have bought them and they are all very happy with it. In terms of informal comparisons to the more expensive Sennheiser ME-66, the AT897, holds it's own. The ME-66 sounds brighter to me, but who wants to split hairs in unfair comparisons? But the problem with the AT897 is you have to adapt the XLR connector to the FX1, so now you have to add a BeachTek adapter like the DXA-4 that sells for about $170(US) bringing the total price over your $300(US) budget. I personally prefer dealing with balanced cables and XLR connectors, so if you're willing to break your budget, this is an excellent choice for a low-priced yet very respectable microphone. I've suggested this microphone to many of my former students who are now building up their own kits.

The Rode NTG-2 short shotgun is also a very worthy contender, you can purchase it for under $300(US) as well and I have a friend who does very professional work with this microphone. Again, you have the situation that since it uses balanced lines, you will also need a BeachTek adapter like the DXA-4 to use this mic with the FX1 taking you over budget. Lots of people rave about this mic, as a new entrant in the field, the designers had the opportunity to learn from the designers who came before them.

Both the NTG-2 and AT897 offer you a much better option compared to the Sennheiser MKE 300. Should you get the NTG-2 or AT897, that is a very personal decision, like choosing a speaker. I think you'll be happy with either one. You will probably be using whichever you get long after the FX1 is gone and I'm sure any camera you get in the future will have XLR inputs, so purchasing quality mics with balanced connections is a wise investment.
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Last edited by David Tamés; May 18th, 2006 at 01:28 PM.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 09:40 AM   #8
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Thanks a lot for all the usefull info. I'm almost certain I'm going to go with the Rode NTG-2 (for NOW, like you said). It has the option to works on battery or phantom power (which can be helpful in the future) and also I can get a XLR to Mini jack cable and plug it directly into the FX1.

thanks
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Old May 18th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael Lopes
I can get a XLR to Mini jack cable and plug it directly into the FX1
An adapter cable is not the same thing as using the Beachtek adapter. The Beachtek is doing three things for you: (a) allowing the use of XLR connectors into the 3.5mm mini-jack, (b) matching the impedance of the camera input to the professional microphone so you don't get any distortion of the sound, and (c) attenuating the pro mic levels to the consumer mic input levels so there is no overmodulation when using professional condenser microphones.
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Old May 18th, 2006, 01:44 PM   #10
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Seconding David's comments and adding - while I don't know if its an issue with the FX1, some consumer cameras have a 5v microphone bias voltage on the mic input which can degrade the sound of some pro mics. The Beachteks block that voltage while a simple cable adapter does not..
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Old May 18th, 2006, 02:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
some consumer cameras have a 5v microphone bias voltage on the mic input which can degrade the sound of some pro mics. The Beachteks block that voltage while a simple cable adapter does not
Ah, I forgot "the fourth element," that pesky plug-in power, as they call it, and that's an important task, so I should say, "there are four things..."
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Old May 18th, 2006, 02:53 PM   #12
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Listen to the comparison of the AT-897 and the NTG-2. These were recorded to the Canon XL-2 with both mics being self powered.
http://dvestore.com/theatre/mics_guide.html

I'd probably go with the RODE NTG-2 personally.
Add a reconditioned BeachTek DXA-2 for $79 http://www.dvcreators.net/beachtek-xlr-adapters/
Use coupon code "tenpercentdiscount" in the DVeStore checkout and you'll be right about $300 for the NTG-2 w/ the BeachTek. However, you would not have wind protection. The NTG-2 only ships with a light duty foam windscreen.

Another option is the RODE Videomic w/ the Deadcat and a boompole + 10' extension cable, you'd still be under $300.

$149 RODE Videomic
$49 Deadcat
$75 Boompole
$20 10' Extension cable

http://dvcreators.net/rode-microphones

Cheers,

Guy

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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:10 AM   #13
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As far as I know, if you have to use one mic for indoors and outdoors, you're better off with a hyper and NOT a shotgun...
A hyper can do outdoors better than a shotgun can do indoors.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 05:47 PM   #14
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overthinking.

If I were in the desert, I'd want something small, something with an internal windscreen. I dont want to be balancing a fishpole and a camera... handheld!

Shure SM58 or EV RE50.
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Old May 24th, 2006, 07:36 PM   #15
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all this talk of the desert is making me lust for an ice cold corona <grin>

Actually, we should have first asked, "Can the mic be in the shot?"

How close will the camera be?

Can someone hold the mic?

Will the talent be moving or stationary?
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