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Old October 9th, 2006, 10:19 AM   #1
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Looking for suggestions on a shotgun mic

I have a shotgun mic, and although it works well, I am finding it doesn't give me that crispness that I require to make actors sound really good. A lot of times when shooting with it, the actor sounds like they are in a large room, thus it is picking up too much noise from around the room etc and there is also too much static noise as well.
So I am in the market for a better mic, with a tighter field (if that is what it is called). I would like to use this for indoor and outdoor use for short films/features etc. I don't want to break the bank on it, but I would like a good Sophmore level shotgun mic I can stick on a boom pole and get some quality sound I won't be embarrassed about - hopefully under $200.00

Thanks
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Old October 9th, 2006, 11:09 AM   #2
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Quite a bit depends really if you have a cam that has only MINIJACK input, or it has XLR connections/module.

If it has XLR, i'd suggest Rode NTG1. US$229 here :
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

If only minijack socket, the Rode Videomic is always well-received, $149 :
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search
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Old October 9th, 2006, 12:05 PM   #3
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Just wanted to add that you could always pick up a mic with XLR connections and use it with a camera that has only a mini-jack by using an impedence-matching transformer (hi-z to low-z). You'll get more use out of the mic in the long run and you'd have XLR capability if you ever get a camera with the connections.

If you're going with the Rode (which I own and recommend also), then the NTG-2 would be better for use with a non-XLR camera, since it can be powered by either phantom or batteries. The NTG-1 is phantom-only.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 12:15 PM   #4
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Thanks,
I was looking at reviews and it seems a little mixed on the Rode Mic. - mostly good, but some bad. Yes, right now I only have a mini-jack camcorder, so the rode is attractive for that, but when I upgrade, I don't want to have to invest in a new mic - having said that, I do have a MT-50 Impedance Match Transformer for my mic that I already own and it seems to cause line noise that I don't like - so I am back to figuring out which is going to work best in the long run.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 01:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Delaney
I have a shotgun mic, and although it works well, I am finding it doesn't give me that crispness that I require to make actors sound really good. A lot of times when shooting with it, the actor sounds like they are in a large room, thus it is picking up too much noise from around the room etc and there is also too much static noise as well.
So I am in the market for a better mic, with a tighter field (if that is what it is called). I would like to use this for indoor and outdoor use for short films/features etc. I don't want to break the bank on it, but I would like a good Sophmore level shotgun mic I can stick on a boom pole and get some quality sound I won't be embarrassed about - hopefully under $200.00

Thanks
The hollow, lost in the room sound and your comment about "picking up too much static..." makes me wonder if it's the mic at fault or perhaps the mic placement? Is the mic on the camera or is it up close to the actors? The hollow sound says you're using a shotgun in a reflective space while the noise indicates you have the mic at some distance from the talent and have to crank up the gain to get adequate levels, thus booosting the noise as well. Is this correct? If that's the case, a "better mic" may not actually be the solution for you. The first step would be to eliminate room reflections as much as possible with sound blankets, etc. The second step would be to get the mic as close as possible to the talent, preferably within about 3 feet or so.

Your impedance matching transformer is intended to match a low impedance source to a high impedance input, like plugging a mic into a guitar amp. But your camera is most likely expecting a lower impedance source than it sees when you use you mic with the transformer. Better to look at something like a Beach to mate the XLR mic to the camera's minijack.

If moving to a new mic does turn out to be in the cards after all, remember that most shotguns are generally not very well suited for normal interiors. Their colouration of sounds arriving from off-axis and from the rear, a characteristic of the line gradient process they use to achieve their directivity, is what causes that distant hollow sound and this is as true of $1500 mics as it is for $150. That's why the standard boom microphone of choice for most film and video production is a hypercardioid, giving you high directivity without the off-axis colouration. So rather than replacing your current shotgun with another budget shotgun, assuming the one you have isn't defective, you might want to look at adding a hyper to your kit instead.

Remember too that a lot of the high quality sound you associate with theatrical films and network television series is done with lav mics hidden artfully on the talent.

Just a few ideas for you to ponder
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Old October 9th, 2006, 01:48 PM   #6
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I have the APEX 175. I do agree with what you are saying, but I definitely think the mic isn't the greatest piece of equipment. It has been used on the DVX and the XL2 and both times the sound was less then acceptable, but other mics like the at897 was much better. That is what I am using as a benchmark for what to get.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 01:59 PM   #7
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If you want to buy an XLR mic to use with a camera that has only a mini-jack and don't trust matching transformers, then you're going to have to get a beachtek or similar. This obviously adds quite a bit of expense, but you're going to want the shortest amount possible of your signal chain to be unbalanced (as mini-jacks are). If you want to get the mic off of the camera and place it properly, that's about your only option.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 03:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Delaney
I have the APEX 175. I do agree with what you are saying, but I definitely think the mic isn't the greatest piece of equipment. It has been used on the DVX and the XL2 and both times the sound was less then acceptable, but other mics like the at897 was much better. That is what I am using as a benchmark for what to get.
Was just visiting your site and looking at a few of your "Distortions" series. If that's mainly what you're shooting with your shotgun, seems like a wired lav on Jen and a small mixer or a MixPre to control levels and monitor would be the better way to go than any boom or on-camera mic. Same for Amanda in your vSides series - on both sets of clips it sounds to me like room reflections and too distant a mic is eroding the sound. Speaking of vSides, was listening to "Addictions" just now - did you guys muck around with the bass equalization or is that the way to clip came to you? That bass line sounds like one of those boom-cars and the rest of the music and vocal is completely overwhelmed by it and lost. Definitely need to pull it back down a bi, IMHO. Hope you don't mind the suggestion.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 05:20 PM   #9
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Thanks Steve for the suggestions. The video came that way, I don't know if it was in the rendering that the bass is out of whack, but I will look into it.
Yes, that is the mic I am using for the Distortions and Vsides (and all other) shows on there. The mic is pretty close, but I think you are right about the Mixpre (what is that exactly?) if that is going to help I will get it. It doesn't help that my mic has automatic Gain on it and no manual controls for the audio. Maybe the MixPre or a mixer might help it...what do you think?
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Old October 9th, 2006, 05:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Delaney
Thanks Steve for the suggestions. The video came that way, I don't know if it was in the rendering that the bass is out of whack, but I will look into it.
Yes, that is the mic I am using for the Distortions and Vsides (and all other) shows on there. The mic is pretty close, but I think you are right about the Mixpre (what is that exactly?) if that is going to help I will get it. It doesn't help that my mic has automatic Gain on it and no manual controls for the audio. Maybe the MixPre or a mixer might help it...what do you think?
MixPre is the name of a mic preamp and 2-channel mixer from Sound Devices - may be out of your budget. But was just thinking of a way to control your levels in real time as you shoot. OF course, with the camera being unable to override the auto gain control your options are limited anyway.

The hollowy sound is the room reflections intruding in.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 08:59 PM   #11
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I am hoping a mixer will help...
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Old October 9th, 2006, 11:11 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by David Delaney
I am hoping a mixer will help...
It might - even an inexpensive one will let you adjust levels to properly match the camera's inputs, something you can't do with an adapter cable or a transfomer. And getting one that provides phantom power opens up a whole range of mic options to you that you presently don't have.

And I'd seriously consider putting a wired lav on your talent. In the studio environment like in the clips I saw there's no need to invest in wireless and I think a lav is likely to give you the best results among your various options. And you can find really top notch hard-wired lavs for the price of a budget shotgun.
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Old October 9th, 2006, 11:54 PM   #13
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Which camera are you using?
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