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Old February 12th, 2004, 08:31 PM   #16
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The AKG (and the Sennheiser too) comes with their own receiver port to XLR connector. However, on the AKG, it is part of the kit, but the Sennheiser is OPTIONAL - meaing, you have to pay to get the cable.

For me, I never connect any audio source directly into a digital recorder without using a FPM (field production mixer). The reason is - a digital recorder has NO headroom above 0dB. In live environments, you can NEVER predict how loud a sound will be, and it be extremely hard to find an acceptable audio recording level. Hence - I connect the AKG receiver into my FPM (which have a user settable limiter and compressor that comes on when the input sound exceeds a given threshold). The FPM output goes in my XL1.

That way, no clipping audio will EVER be recorded on a properly calibrated XL1.

It does mean carrying another piece of equipment (the FPM) - but, to me, it is a godsend if it prevents the harsh distortion when signals above 0dB gets into the digital audio recorder.

TS
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Old February 12th, 2004, 09:28 PM   #17
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TS,
Actually, if you buy the ENG kit, Sennheiser includes the XLR cable too. Wowee! What a deal, right? hee hee! It is worth it, though, because if you want the plug-on transmitter it'll cost a lot more later to buy separately.

True enough on the zero headroom. But I have rarely had trouble with this issue, because I often record with the AGC on, and it's quick-acting enough to clamp most spikes. The only exception being when I was standing downstage in the media pit, recording a heavy-metal rock band, when the mic preamps got a little overwhelmed. But it was fine in the end, because I wound up bringing in different audio in post-production. And I could have turned on the attenuator while recording if I was really thinking about it.

Having said that, some outboard compression would certainly be useful. To say nothing of some EQ. What mixer are you using?

Have you heard of the Campressor from Peachtek? It's small enough to screw onto the bottom of the camera. That would solve one of my issues. You see, it just gets to a point where, between the battery belt for the lights, plus wireless mics, plus VariZoom, plus plus plus, it just becomes more gear than a person wants to lug around by himself, and in fact hampers the mobility of a solo videographer in a run-and-gun situation. Plus, I have to travel with all this stuff, and air travel is tough enough these days even with the stripped-down "road kit" I carry.
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Old February 12th, 2004, 10:02 PM   #18
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Mike,

The ENG kit for Sennheiser will include other components that you might not want - pay good money for keeping things on the shelves gathering dust :-)!! Anyway, I have the AKG version and everything is included. No optional stuff.

Recording with AGC on - to my experience it does not work for nature videography when you want the amplification to remain constant for the duration of the clip. Recording with consistent / constant audio amplification makes subsequent "background noise reduction" a lot much easier.

Mixer - Sound Devices MixPre Field Preamp and Mixer. VERY rugged - and uses AA batteries (only 2).

Regarding the stuff that goes in between the mic and the video camera - I know exactly what you are talking about. My application might not require so much mobility as yours - I set up base, setup equipment and wait :-). 99% of the time, the birds will come into view within 30 seconds .... The key is knowing when and where to do the videography.

If I have to run and shoot, I will only use the Canon XL1 with the zoom mic in front of the camera (on AGC). Mind you, I have taken videos of rock climbers across the other wall (about 100m away - little wind) in the mountains - not artifical walls - and you can pick up her breathing (using Canon XL1 with its default mic).

Beachtek Campressor - no, I haven't used it. Have seen it in the shops ...
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Old February 13th, 2004, 10:56 AM   #19
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Ah yes, nature video, you can definitely do without the "pumping" or "breathing" of an AGC circuit. Speaking of which, I have to see the documentary "Winged Migration." It's supposed to be great.

Actually the Campressor is by Peachtek not Beachtek, and I think it has the Beachtek people upset over the similarity of the name.

That MixPre looks like a really impressive device. Got everything on it, and the size is nice and compact. At one point I thought about getting a Shure FP mixer for convenience of hooking up my audio, but of course those don't have the peak limiter like on yours....and they are a lot bulkier.

Now, as for the Senn ENG kit, I have in fact used every component in it. Nothing wasted. The lav and bodypack transmitter of course are ideal when you have the time and opportunity to mic up the talent. When that's not practical, I take the plug-on transmitter and put on a hand mic--either a Shure or AKG--and use it for the typical hand-held interviews. Usually with a mic flag under the head, displaying the logo of whatever brand is financing the project. I used to use the Azden can transmitter (VHF) but was not satisfied with the performance of the system.

Oh yes, I also keep an XLR cable strapped to my bag, in case of emergency (wireless system failure) so I can unplug the plug-on transmitter from the hand mic and connect the hand mic via cable to the camera....the old-fashioned way, no interference or radio noise! :-)

I also use the default mic often...I should get a Rycote Softie for it...it works well enough that I am not in a big hurry to get a Senn ME, MKH or other such shotgun mic.
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Old February 13th, 2004, 11:09 AM   #20
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"Winged Migration" is a superb movie. Go and see it - you won't regret it. I got the DVD here. Absolutely great filming and audio work - simply fantastic.

I used to have the Shure FP too. 2 problems - the VU meters keep misaligning themselves after a few knocks here and there - and you have to open the casing to fix them. They use 9V batteries (2 of them) - a big problem when ambient temperature is -10 deg C.

On the plus point, it got 3 XLR input -- and variable pan between 3 inputs. MixPre only has 2 XLR input, and fixed panning.

However, on MixPre - can use AA Lithium ... expensive, but will work down to -40 deg C. Other than that, use NiMH will get to -20 deg C, still very good performance.

Sennheiser ENG kit - okay, if you managed to use EVERYTHING in there, then it is worth the money.

XLR cable - yes, good to have one in case of emergencies, but, if you are out of distance between mixer and point of recording, big problem ....
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Old February 13th, 2004, 03:24 PM   #21
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Man, too cold for me!!! :-)

Yeah, I like the kit config...I bought it expressly so as to get that extra transmitter (which really is the difference between the ENG kit and the basic kit, oh and plus the little XLR cable). It's great because you can simply stick any hand mic on it, basically anything with an XLR plug (as long as it doesn't require phantom power) and you have an interview mic. I usually keep it with an SM58 loaded onto it in the front pouch of my camera bag, where I can quickly whisk it out and ...Voila, instant interview mic. I keep both the plug-on and the body pack set to the same frequency so I don't have to go changing channels on the receiver in the heat of the moment, just have to remember to keep the other transmitter not powered up.

As for the cable, again it's just a backup, and in the context of how it's used we are talking just a talking head or a two-shot, max distance 10-12 feet, which is fine with a 25 foot cable.
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Old February 13th, 2004, 10:34 PM   #22
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-20 deg C is about the norm for Everest Base Camp at night. Nobody works at the temperature. BUT, the equipment needs to be kept in tents and hence exposed to -20 deg C. If the batteries can't wake up the next morning, it is as good as having nothing. In fact I have to strip most of the h/w and bake them in the morning sun for one hour first before powering on ... there will be a layer of ice on the printed circuit boards - and if you aren't careful, there's "fun" to watch when power is applied.
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Old February 16th, 2004, 08:45 PM   #23
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TS,
Well, that sounds like quite an adventure! Not exactly the temperatures found in Singapore! :-)

The past couple of days I awoke to about -24C (about -10F) morning temperatures in Vermont, and decided it was not the right time to go skiing, especially when you get on the chair lift and the wind whipping makes it feel 20 degrees colder! But I did manage to go hiking today in Massachusetts, and it actually made it all the way up to -4C (+25F) and it felt warm out in the sun.

My only extreme weather story with the XL1 is at the opposite end of the spectrum. I had a 6AM shoot scheduled, and I had kept the XL1 in my air-conditioned hotel room with me overnight. I then went out into the South Florida humidity, where the morning dew was literally dripping off the roofs. My camera got very sick very quicky in this air, and not even a half hour with the hair dryer aimed down its throat revived it...I wound up sending it to Canon Factory Service afterwards. I had to complete the shoot on my little backup camera, and concluded I should have kept the XL1 plugged in all night to keep it warmed up and drive off the moisture.
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Old February 16th, 2004, 09:56 PM   #24
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Everest BC is once in a lifetime stuff.

Here in Singapore, I deal with what you get in Southern Florida as well - 85% RH and 30 deg C (85 deg F) daily. Got lots of problems with high humidity - especially lenses - fungus problem. But, I don't have problems with my XL1 shooting in this weather, unless it is pouring cats and dogs. In that weather, the camera won't even leave its bag. On a hot and sunny day, RH will be around 75% to 90%. Not exactly dripping - but close. It does not help the XL1 either when I film besides the sea or inside a mangrove swamp!!
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Old February 24th, 2004, 09:58 PM   #25
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I just came across the comments on the Sound Design mixer -- sounds like a pretty good device. Recording live theater with external audio feeds is always a challenge when doing it alone -- the dynamic range of audio is almost as bad as the light contrast. Even with proper setup, and running the averages down around -20 dBM, I still occasionally get nailed by loud peaks -- AGC catches some, but not all. The compressor function of the MixPre sounds like it might fill the bill. (Smaller than my Mackie, as well.)
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Old February 24th, 2004, 10:55 PM   #26
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Vic,

You owe it to yourself to check this MixPre out. Have been using it for 6 months now - excellent. It is simply impossible to drive it to overload at all - no matter how loud the sound is. A single set of 2300mAh NiMH batteries (2 of them are needed) will easily last 3 - 5 days of usage .....

TS
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Old February 25th, 2004, 10:25 AM   #27
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I think I'll order one of the puppies from B&H. Too many times, I've been hit with a screaming actor or some other unexpected "bump" that I'm not quick enough to catch.

Winged Migration sounds interesting -- haven't heard of it. Is it a current production?

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Old February 25th, 2004, 10:38 AM   #28
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Vic,

You won't regret it. It is almost indestructable - no moving needles (only LEDs). Built like a tank. Very small and quite light too. Can accept external batteries - but you won't use it. The internal AA batteries are good enough. Has dual phantom power voltages, etc, etc.

Winged Migration? It is on DVD, CD, etc. Or if you are really lucky, you can catch it at Omni-threatre - I think it might be too late, since the US schedule is probably long gone. You can order a copy from Amazon :-).

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Old March 2nd, 2004, 01:32 PM   #29
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>>>(Smaller than my Mackie, as well.)>>>>

Ain't that the truth Vic...my 1402 doesn't quite want to squeeze into my portabrace bag...plus you'll need a looooooooong power cord with the Mackie to do some of the outdoor nature stuff like TingSern does. :-)

"Winged Migration" is available from Netflix, put it in your queue. It's the movie that last year got robbed of the Best Documentary Oscar by "Bowling for Columbine," a pseudo-documentary by radical cinema activist Michael Moore. Some have argued that this Oscar should be revoked because his film is actually satire or advocacy and not a true documentary. But "Winged Migration" is an undoubted masterpiece.

TS, an update about battery life...I was on the phone with Sennheiser (their tech support dept is very helpful) and the average battery life on the EVO 100 ENG kit is 6 hours for a standard alkaline battery...they recommend against using rechargeables because play time is much shorter with them. So I guess the Senn Evo is not competitive with the AKG in terms of battery life. They did, however, mention that there is a DC coupler available (to go inplace of the 9V battery) item # DC1, that you can connect to a wall wart to run on mains power. Same outdoor limitations with this as using the Mackie.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 06:51 PM   #30
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Hi Mike,

Sennheiser - that's true. My friend has one. Finding a 9V in an emergency is harder than finding AA or AAA in this country. We found the 9V only lasts about 4 hours under heavy going conditions. 6 hours that the technical support was referring to is probably applicable only to ideal conditions (namely, open doors, or places with straight line to receiver, etc). In a normal environment (indoors, obstacles, etc), the battery goes faster.

TS
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