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Old April 5th, 2007, 11:01 AM   #1
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Opinions on Stereo Shotguns

I have to recommend an on camera mic for a client who just bought a Canon XH A1. Since you can't have both the built in camera mic and an XLR mic on at the same time. The best option we've come up with is getting a shotgun mic mounted on the camera. However, I'm wondering whether it is worth it to get an M-S stereo shotgun. That way it could also be a stereo mic too. Or would it be better to just get a mono shotgun.

So when using a wireless mic, you'd run that into channel 1. Then run the M of the shotgun into channel 2. For stereo recording, you'd matrix the signal and run L and R to channel 1 and 2.

My question is how do people think the stereo shotguns compare to mono shotguns. Are they less directional, lower quality? The idea of a stereo shotgun is a little weird to me. A stereo focused sound is a bit of an oxymoron.

The stereo one I'm considering is the Audio-Technica AT835ST - Stereo Shotgun Condenser Microphone. Or for mono the Audio-Technica AT-4073a or possibly the Sanken CS-1. Would the stereo shotgun be lower quality in mono mode than the 4073a?
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Old April 5th, 2007, 05:04 PM   #2
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Brett,

I have both the AT835ST and a Sennheiser 416 (and a Rode NTG1). Of all these if I simply had to record dialogue I would choose the Senn 416 every time. So when I know that I am going to be doing a lot of straight dialogue the Senn comes out, or the Rode if I need a backup.

However, I travel a lot. And when I do this the AT835ST comes out. It is a nice mic, not quite up to the quality of the Senn, but still very good. It is still highly directional from the centre, but you can add the side capsule sound to give a stereo image when operating in MS mode, or you can choose to leave the S out and have normal shotgun audio. Its a very nice option to have.

All the best,
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Old April 5th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #3
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My question would be, "why?"

We use our shotgun (AT815b) for dialog only. And we always mix the dialog dead center. (And I virtually never mix music, fx or foley dead center if there is dialog and I'm thinking about it.)

The place I might want a stereo (or surround) mic would be in a crowd or an "interesting" sonic environment. And I'd probably want it camera mounted (or thereabout), given that's the viewer's reference.

An x-y or m-s setup would also be helpful for recording live music, but I wouldn't choose a stereo shotgun for this application.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 06:13 PM   #4
 
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it would be easier to have an opinion on something in existence.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 06:43 PM   #5
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I would definately use a mono shotgun for dialog. I find the Rode stereo video mic very nice for getting ambiant sound where I am just trying to get the feel of the environmental surroundings. It is relatively inexpensive and the 1/8 mini plug fits into the A1's mini jack. You would not want to (couldn't use) this set up if you were mixing something else from the XLR jacks since plugging in the mini jack disables the XLR. The Rode also works well for dialog if you are close in (3 ft) and still want to get environmental sound.

For a shotgun the Senn mentioned earlier is a great choice. Personally, I use the Sen MK66.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 06:56 PM   #6
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Spot,

Just curious, didn't quite understand your reply. What did you mean by something in existence? Is it the "stereo shotgun" bit? In the case of the AT835ST, I agree that it should be Stereo/shotgun - as in either/or, but I think that was what the original post was about.

Just adding to my reply above - I also have the Rode SVM. Quite a good (and cheap) little mic for ambient stereo. Perhaps another alternative (although not as convenient) - get a good mono shotgun, and an SVM. I use my SVM with a M-audio Microtrack and it works great for ambient.

I still like the AT835ST for its great convenience and good performance, and if you only want one mic it is a very reasonable choice.

All the best,
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Old April 5th, 2007, 07:05 PM   #7
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I'm only aware of the AT835ST and the Sennheiser MKH418S, and I really struggle with the label stereo shotgun. Based on the published polar patterns on both of these microphones, you are really giving up a lot of off-axis rejection capability in exchange for a co-located M-S capsule pair. The S capsule in both cases is a standard figure-8, and you are certainly not going to get any kind of directional stereo out of that arrangement. So the term stereo shotgun smacks of some sort of marketing hype.

For the kind of work that I do, I would go for a mono shotgun most of the time, and assemble an M-S pair when needed. My current shotgun of choice is the Schoeps CMIT-5.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 09:18 AM   #8
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I think the posts have pretty much confirmed my suspicions, that a stereo shotgun doesn't replace a mono shotgun. So I'm going that way. I'm all about reducing the amount of gear you have to carry around. So the mono shotgun would also do double duty as a boom mounted mic and interview mic. For ambience I'll just have the client use the camera mic, although it is annoying to have to go into the menu to switch it.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 11:55 AM   #9
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I know Ty and Spot don't really like them as 'stereo', but I use an 835ST. For the stuff I was doing, it was about the only way. I was videoing marching bands. I would have just over a minute to setup at a football game half-time. You need the texture because of the "stereo" nature of the performance. You just don't have the time to handle a whole bunch of other equipment. It worked well and was portable.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 04:25 PM   #10
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George,

I bought the AT835ST on Ty Ford's recommendation - and as usual he was right. As I have said above it is an excellent all rounder - and I do use it as a shotgun and as a stereo mic. It is not perfect for either - but it is good at both. Just depends on your situation. If you don't want to carry loads of gear it is certainly a very strong option.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 04:42 PM   #11
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I bought my 835ST on recommendations here too :D The Stereo and Shotgun annoy Ty in the same sentenance. It is sometimes fun to just say it.

PS - I really love Ty. Wish I could afford to use him as my VO guy (when my income on a project is less than the post work, ain't happening) Maybe later this summer if a first project does better than expected.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 05:38 PM   #12
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Spot is right! Any mic that reaches to cover a small forward area to get the audio, is not intended to capture left and right. It is not really a shotgun. There will be no real separation and therefore it is worthless.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 04:48 AM   #13
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Erhh.... ahh.... Mike. Have you ever heard or used one?

Best to have an opinion based on testing and use than theory.

It is a very nice mike - and I have some other nice ones to compare it to.

Suggest you read Ty Fords review on this (google it!). It is very accurate.

Once again - the mic is not perfect, but it is a very useful tool - very respectable at both stereo and shotgun.

Oh and by the way Mike I love your quotation. Until I got to the end I thought that it was contemporary - just goes to show the more things change, the more they stay the same.

All the best,
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Old April 7th, 2007, 06:07 AM   #14
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All the sound recordists I've worked with record dialogue and any spot effects mono and then record the atmos or buzz track in stereo. The dialogue and effects are then positioned in the stereo sound image in post - although dialogue does tend to be rather central unless off screen.

Usually they piggy back a figure of eight mic onto a Senn. 416 or equivalent shotgun and go through a matrix.

However, on quite a lot of documentary productions theses days they tend not to get that involved in stereo. When stereo on TV first came everyone was very fussy, however, I think the budget pressures on a lot of modern TV work has had an impact on the demand for stereo sound. Often the only stereo in a production is the music.

Drama almost always has stereo sound, but it has the budget to cover extra the post production.
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Old April 7th, 2007, 07:31 AM   #15
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Pretty much agree with all that you have said Brian - and I often do the same (except stereo goes to microtrack and Senn 416 to cam). But when I travel, I can't take all this gear - so the AT is useful in recording the centre capsule onto one track for dialogue etc., and the side capsules onto the other track - which can be used to generate a stereo image later (and you can vary the width of the image). You can shoose whichever track you want back at the edit suite. The AT also allows you to generate matrixed stereo by flipping a switch when you want to widen the sound stage and generate (almost) true stereo. Damn handy.

All the best,
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