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Old March 17th, 2003, 01:55 PM   #1
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Microphone: stereo or mono and suggestions?

Hello!

I have recently bought a XM2 (GL2) and now I want to have a better, more directional microphone then the one included. I have read about Sennheiser MKE 300, Audiotechnica AT835b, AT835ST, AT815ST and the Sennheiser ME66. The audiotechnica 835st and 815st are the only microphones that I have listed that are stereo, right? the at835b are mono, but in my pricerange: after a quick browse on the Internet I got the impression that audiotechnicas two stereomicrophones are 700$ or more, right? Well that's just too much for me.
I'm just now starting to get interested about making short movies with friends and don't have that much cash to spend on a microphone. So what should I choose? Is it necessary to have a stereomicrophone if that is the only microphone you are going to use when you shoot, or can I settle for the at 835b or sennheiser MKE300? Is there any stereoshotgunmicrophone (lol, long name!) out there for, lets say, less then 400$?
Please give me some suggestions of what I should buy. I'm thinking of shooting various events and short films with only one microphone. Which one?!

If I choose a mic with xlr connection, can I buy an "converter cable" that make the xlr fit to the 3.5mm jacket or do I have to buy an adapter like the canon ma-300? I heard somewhere that the impedans on the GL2 work well with a ME66 (600ohms) and a convertercable. And since I'm not a pro, do I need an adapter or is a cable good enough?.

I would really appreciate some suggestions!
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Old March 19th, 2003, 12:10 PM   #2
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To make the question simpler:

What shotgun microphone do you recommend if that is the only microphone you will use? I will shoot mostly short movies where dialog is the most important sound to record. Do you think I should go for a stereo microphone or is a mono microphone enough? And which mic do you use/recomend? I would rather see that it fits my 3,5mm plug. If it is a xlr microphone you recomend, is there a cableadapter to get it to go inte the 3.5mm jack or do I have to buy an adapter for a lot of cash, and does a convertercable, between xlr and 3.5mm even exist?
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Old March 19th, 2003, 12:29 PM   #3
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The concepts of "stereo" and "shotgun" are somewhat incompatible. Shotgun--a misnomer if ever there was one--seeks to narrow the acceptible incoming signal source by attenuating sound outside of a cardoid-shaped pickup pattern by means of cancellation, whereas stereo seeks to widen the audio landscape.

If you want to pick up dialogue from a performer without a lavalier microphone, a shotgun microphone is your choice. I'd go with the Sennheiser ME66.

Stereo microphones don't see much practical use outside of consumer camcorders, but they may be good for picking up ambient sound where the stereo separation happens to be important.

The adapters you need will be relatively inexpensive and available at Radio Shack. (Do you have Radio Shack in Sweden?)

Many videographers new to audio topics think of shotgun microphones as akin to zoom lenses, i.e., as having an ability to hone in on a source sound. That's not really how they work. Shotgun mics are more directionally selective, but no more capable of amplification of distant subjects ipsi per se than a microphone of any other pickup pattern. Remember, there is no substitute for getting a microphone as close to a sound source as possible.
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Old March 19th, 2003, 01:45 PM   #4
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Great reply Robert.
With some exceptions Fredrik, professional microphones are monophonic. Shotgun and wireless microphones in particular are almost always monophonic, and a shotgun mic is monophonic almost by definition. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to have a stereo shotgun because the point of a shotgun is to capture sound from one small area, There are a couple of two channel wireless units but the same comments apply to wireless as to shotgun mikes. You are trying to capture from some distant point, so monophonic makes sense.

For professional work I think it's a good idea to get out of the mindset of there being "stereo" and "mono." What you're working with are separate audio racks that will eventually be mixed down (and probably combined) into two final tracks, one for each of a pair of stereo speakers.

There's nothing magic about stereo. (Well, some surround-sound stereo is magic, but you're not likely to deal with that in a DV system). It's just two separate sound tracks, one of which is fed into a speaker on the listener's left and the other into a speaker on the listener's right.

Professional stereo music recordings almost always start out as a collection of separate (mono) tracks that get mixed down to a stereo pair. When you hear a bass on one side, drums on the other, a guitar and a lead singer in the middle and a backup group a little to the left, in all likelihood everybody was
recorded in mono, independently and at different times, with different parts of each performance selected out of the best of different takes. The final combined performance never existed in reality; it's an illusion, including the stereo separation.

Motion picture sound tracks are just as concocted if not more so. When you're watching Fred Astair tap dancing, you're listening to taps created by a percussionist in post production. Typically only dialog is recorded on the set, and everything else is added in post. A release dubbed into another language discards even the original dialogue, combining new voices with the original music and effects track [M&E] created in post.

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Old March 19th, 2003, 02:04 PM   #5
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Normally, you can put the audio on both tracks in post using your NLE. While it is not a problem using an adapter, by not using one eliminates one less potential problem. To read more check out the Low Cost Shotgun Microphone Comparison by LAFCPUG.

Lav mics are good when you want to get audio mostly from the talent. Wireless mics lend themselves well to this activity. One of my favorites is the Sennheiser EW112P.
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Old March 19th, 2003, 02:47 PM   #6
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One thing I forgot to mention: you will probably need some sort of preamplifier in between your microphone and your camera.

For this purpose I would buy a small, cheap mixer. You can find things like these at Radio Shack (if Radio Shack exists in your country), or do a search on DVinfo.net to see what inexpensive mixers other members have recommended. (Charles Papert recently found a good cheap mixer and posted about that here.)

So for example, your audio setup might go like this:

Senn ME66 shotgun microphone -> Senn K6 module -> XLR cable -> XLR to 1/4" plug adapter -> economy mixer -> output cable -> 3.5 mm plug adapter -> video camera -> good, isolative headphones for audio monitoring

When you set up your rig and power everything on, make sure you start with the fader all the way down on the mixer, then slowly pull the fader up while making sounds into the microphone (snapping, clapping, singing). Powering on with the fader set to maximum risks the possibility of damaging something in your audio equipment chain, not to mention your ears.
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Old March 19th, 2003, 04:02 PM   #7
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thank you all, this was way more then I had hoped for!

a couple of more questions if that is all right.

Let's say I buy an MKE 300 or ME66, (and by the way, Robert, thanks for the complete "kit" suggestion, really great...) do I really need a preamp even as an amateur? I want to be able to have good speech sound of course, with as little distortion as possible, but I only want a preamp if I can hear the differens when using it or not, so to speak.

And how is it with cable length? If I connect a longer cable to the MKE300 ( I don't know how long it is, I only assume it's short..) will the sound be significantly poorer? If I would use, let┤s say a 3m long cable, then would I almost certain need a preamp?

But ok, so a mono shotgunmic and a preamp.... No there is no Radio Shack in Sweden. It is actually hard to get accesories at all. You can get Hoya filter, Sennheiser mic, bags and such easily, but a preamp ...I have to do some research before I will find where to buy that..and I don't know a single place that sells Tiffen filters...I'm not sure that no one does, but you don't find them very easily, to say the least..

Is there anything in particular that I need to think about if I want to mount the mic on a ....."pole" (please excuse my english...)..on a stick so I get point it closer to the people in the scene (perhaps it is called "microphone boom"?).

I have to say that I'm actually thinking of the MKE300, cause then it is no need for an xlr adapter..and it is sort of "complete" out of the box, with windscreen and all; but not if the mic is poor of course..Do you see anything bad with this: The MKE300, a preamp, a longer cable to be able to put the mic on a boom, would that work or will the sound be significantly poorer then with the set-up that Robert suggested above with the ME66 and 3.5 adapter?
Well basically: is the MKE 300 (easily to get in Sweden; Audiotechnica is for example impossible I think...) with the preamp and so forth clearly ok, or is the sound more closely "home movie", e.g not very much better then an onboard mic? Can I even compare it to the ME66 or should I rather compare it with a 50$ mic?
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Old March 19th, 2003, 04:07 PM   #8
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..and Robert (or someone else): can you recomend an economy mixer please? That would save me a lot of research hours...
By the way: how do you connect a mixer? On the accessory shoe or away from the camcorder?
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Old March 19th, 2003, 07:14 PM   #9
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The MKE300 is a high end consumer mic, not a professional product, designed for consumer camcorders. It has significant low frequency fall off. That said, it is decent for its price point. It is nowhere near a ME66, or the AT815/815.

Stereo mics, such as the AT825 do have a place. First as an upgrade from the standad LXL1 mic. Also, single point stereo mics are good for projects where individual mics for each performer are not practical, such as choral groups, large bands and where there is no opportunity to set up. You can do stereo recording with two mics, but mic placement has a major effect on stereo image and whether or not you get distrcting phase cancellation effects.
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Old March 19th, 2003, 07:59 PM   #10
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Here's the Papert mixer post I mentioned.

The mixer just sits off to the side of the camera. If your camera needs to be moving, for example, on a dolly or steadicam, you might be able to secure it to the camera rig or operator by means of velcro, rubber bands, backpack, etc.
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Old March 20th, 2003, 01:53 AM   #11
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It's worth noting that there's an MKE 300D version of the Sennheiser mic Fredrik. The D stands for digital and it's been produced because of the large number of digital cams that cause unacceptable hum when used with the 300. Sennheiser will do the modification to the 300 to make it a D version, but it costs quite a lot to do.

Sennheiser in Sweden now know about this problem and should be able to modify it should you not be able to get a D version, but as Don says, the 300 is a long way from the ME66.

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Old March 20th, 2003, 04:03 AM   #12
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Ok, the ME66 seems to be a good choice. But isn't there a better shotgunmic (mono) then the MKE300 that would fit directly into my GL2?? I would really prefer that rather then an xlr mic, cause that mean I don't have to have converters from xlr - 3,5mm, buy windshield etc. etc. to get it ready.

Robert thanks for the link. I think I will look for a smaller preamp then the mx602a though, so I can move around in public with the camera without carrying to much with me. Behringer also had a preamp called tube ultragain MIC100. I don't think I need a mixer, just a preamp, since I will do mostly "home movies", so something less big then the mx602a would be preferrable.
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Old March 20th, 2003, 05:21 AM   #13
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The MKE300 is probably about as good as it gets for a modest cost shotgun that mounts directly on a camcorder's shoe mount.
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Old March 20th, 2003, 12:08 PM   #14
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ok, but I meant in the 3,5mm plug; is there any better shotgun mics then the MKE300 that is as complete as that mic (windshield, mount etc..) but better, that for example don't have that low frequency fall off that Don mentioned, that fits into my mic input on the camera, eg. a mic better then the MKE300 but NOT xlr connected? Does anyone know?
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Old March 20th, 2003, 01:39 PM   #15
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Fredrik, balanced cables are your friends, especially when you have long cable runs, as they reduce noise from interference. You will not find a good microphone that does not have port for a balanced cable, and the necessary adapter is cheap.
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