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Old February 9th, 2007, 07:17 PM   #1
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PD 170 Mic issues

I shoot quite a few weddings. I have a VX2000 and a PD 170.

In the past I used the VX mostly when the band was playing, and found the onboard mic was good enough. Never any complaints.

As you all know the standard mic on the PD170 is not great. I bought an AZDEN SGM 1X, which is good in many situations but overloads like crazy with loud sounds and AGC.

For a band the thing is useless, as I have found out the hard way.

I've been reading many threads about mics. I just bought a Shure SM81 to use when the band comes on.

But it seems very low for general recording.

What would be something bullet proof to have on the camera in general? As good or better than the on camera VX mics.

Price range: 100-1000

Sorry for the stupid question
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Old February 9th, 2007, 07:22 PM   #2
 
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Not a "stupid" question, but a rather common one that has no answer.

There is no bulletproof mic. Your ears are the only tool you'll "need" and your knowledge is the most significant improvement you'll want to spend money on at this point.
First, learn to use the level controls on your camcorder manually rather than in auto.
Second, try to avoid shotgun mics indoors, especially Azden or other low end mics.

Almost *any* mic will implode if you hit it with very high SPL, and any input system will distort if you hit it with too much level. A pad is good, or can be. A mixer is better but of course a challenge for a one-man band. Riding the input level control on your cam is the best option.

The system on the 170 is a decent audio system; you just need to find the best way to use it with the gear you've got. Pulling level down when using your Azden, which is a fairly hot, but thin sounding mic, will give you the levels you need. You wear headphones when shooting, right? At least over one ear?
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Old February 9th, 2007, 07:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
Not a "stupid" question, but a rather common one that has no answer.

There is no bulletproof mic. Your ears are the only tool you'll "need" and your knowledge is the most significant improvement you'll want to spend money on at this point.
First, learn to use the level controls on your camcorder manually rather than in auto.
Second, try to avoid shotgun mics indoors, especially Azden or other low end mics.

Almost *any* mic will implode if you hit it with very high SPL, and any input system will distort if you hit it with too much level. A pad is good, or can be. A mixer is better but of course a challenge for a one-man band. Riding the input level control on your cam is the best option.

The system on the 170 is a decent audio system; you just need to find the best way to use it with the gear you've got. Pulling level down when using your Azden, which is a fairly hot, but thin sounding mic, will give you the levels you need. You wear headphones when shooting, right? At least over one ear?
hehe, hell no those bands are loud!!!

I'm starting to pick up quite a bit of business, and I think I better get serious about some decent mics.

As I'm seeing now my Azden is crap relatively.

So maybe I better go with one off these modular systems where I can have some different capsules.

AKG blueline SE 300B + what capsules?

I'll need a good indoors----is shotgun the right term? To pick up speakers from accross the room.

Then something more general... I'm confused about what capsule does what.

I also see Schoeps stuff mentioned alot---thoughts

it's pretty embarrasing to have shot 75+ weddings without a good microphone.

I just want to get something good and forget it.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 09:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Webster
I'll need a good indoors----is shotgun the right term? To pick up speakers from accross the room.
I think here is the problem so many make, you'll do much better getting a mic closer than spending a bundle trying to pickup sound from accross the room. Leads can be a real problem if you've got to cope with speakers from all around the room. Best way I've handled this is with a Sennhesier kit that has a transmitter that you just plug into the XLR socket on almost any mic. Wish there was more choice in this kind of unit. It's very convenient, just get an assitant to handle the mic, feed the reciever into one channel on the PD170 and keep the on camera mic in the other as a backup.

The other kind of mic that doesn't get much attention but should be in everyones kit bag I think, is a boundary mic. I picked up a cheap Samson omni last year and I'm surprised at how well it works, no doubt the more top shelf ones will sound better but for the money the Samson is OK just to have in the kit in case you've got to cover a round table meeting or the like.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 04:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Webster
...
I'll need a good indoors----is shotgun the right term? To pick up speakers from accross the room.

Then something more general... I'm confused about what capsule does what.

I also see Schoeps stuff mentioned alot---thoughts

...

I just want to get something good and forget it.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the sort of set it and forget it, distant pickup mic you're asking for just doesn't exist at any price. Mother Nature and the physics of sound dictate there can be nothing for the sound in a reasonably sized microphone that is the equivalent of a telephoto lens for the image. Shotgun mics are very directional and because they reject sounds coming from directions other than precisely where they're aimed you can increase the recording level a bit more before extraneous noise gets intrusive but even they aren't necessarily more sensitive than other mics and don't actually magnify distant sounds. With the exception of a few very specialized types, all mics are designed to be used close to the sound source, for spoken dialogue and song within a range of about 1 foot up to maybe about 4 feet away depending on the type of mic. But even 4 feet from mic to speaker is really pushing the envelope for all but the long shotguns and anything much over that is going to be a crapshoot even with a top-of-the-line microphone. For picking up speakers across the room with high quality sound, the sound quality you hear on broadcast TV such as in the recent programs of the American Idol auditions, for example, forgeddaboutit. For recording musical perfomances, bands on stage etc, more distant mic placements can be used but not for individuals speaking, musical vocals, or single instruments.

While the desire to set it and forget it is certainly understandable for a lone operator with just two hands, it just can't happen. Sound recording is an art in and of itself, just as much, if not even more so, as is the art of operating the camera to get the images and demands just as much attention if you're going to get it right. Many would argue, and I'd tend to agree, that sound quality is even more important than picture quality. Your B&G will forgive slightly soft focus, wonky framing, or less than Hollywood lighting but they won't forgive their vows being inaudible or sounding like they were down in the bottom of a well. With features and documentaries, it is largely the sound that creates the illusion of reality or carries the emotions in the message to the audience. On the shoot, sound and picture deserve at least equal attention and if you have to compromise, let picture slide before you let sound.

The AKG Blueline mics you mentioned are quite good - AKG makes better in their ULS line, about double the price, and Schoeps you also mention is outstanding at over triple the price - but the Bluelines are quite servicable. Audio Technica also has some similarly mid-priced mics like the 4053a and 4073a that are worth considering as well.

The different capsules relate to the various pickup patterns, the 'polar patterns,' that are available. The polar pattern refers to the shape of the mic's sensitivity around its axis. They range from omni, meaning they pickup equally from all directions, to cardioid, a heart-shaped pattern that picks up from a hemisphere bulging in the direction the mic is pointing, to hypercardiod, a narrower pattern resembling a broad teardrop or cone with the broad end pointing away from the microphone, to a shotgun or super-cardioid pattern resembling a narrow flashlight beam. The more directional the pattern, the slightly more 'reach' the mic has. For the very best speech pickup, omnis need to be used roughly within about 12 inches from the sound, cardioids relax that working distance a bit out to about 18 inches, hypers from 6 or 8 out to about 24 inches, short shotguns roughly 24 to 48 inches, and long 'guns from about 4 to 8 feet, much over 8 feet is too much for any mic (very approximate numbers and what you can do with a specific mic depends a lot on circumstances.) In addition, the method shotguns use to supress the off-axis and rear sounds means that they often sound poor and distorted in a reflective environment such as a normal room - the best result indoors is usually obtained with a hyper. Also the narrow directivity of hypers and guns means someone has to constantly monitor where they're aimed as the subjects move around.

Hope this helps
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Last edited by Steve House; February 10th, 2007 at 07:55 AM.
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