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Old April 21st, 2007, 10:31 PM   #1
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110U recording sound without Mixer

Basically I want to know how much a mixer will help me in sound, is it worth to spend $1300 for the Sound Devices 302. I am recording sound through the camera. I know everyone is going to say 'You need good sound, its important, etc' but I just don't know because my budget is tight. I am shooting a 30min Narrative which I hope to submit to festivals, I mean I've heard the AT4073 hooked up to a camera, just plugging it in and I already get good sound. How much will the mixer help????
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Old April 21st, 2007, 11:07 PM   #2
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It really depends. If you've got a dedicated sound guy riding your levels you probably should get him an external mixer. If you're running your own audio it's probably more convenient to just run it into the camera. There's not much question that using dedicated hardware and running the audio into your camera at line level will give better quality, but if you don't have enough hands to run all the equipment you're bringing on the shoot the point is pretty moot.

If your budget is tight, spend it on your actors and script instead. Content is more important than technical perfection. If it weren't, Youtube wouldn't be nearly as popular.
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Old April 21st, 2007, 11:22 PM   #3
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I have promoted the mixer, but I think you can live without it in this case.

Stephen L. Noe has talked about the high quality of the pre-amps in the camera, and I think you can record very well directly into the camera.

What's gonna make the difference is careful micing, attention to details, etc. A very good quality mic like the AT4074a will help a lot. One note about that mic, it's very hot and if you are using "autogain" on the camera -- or even if you're not -- you may need an attenuator (such as the AT8202) to get the best level into the camera. I mention this just so you know it's an option if the level coming out of the mic is too high. (Similarly, S. Noe mentions in another thread somewhere that the default level coming out of the G2 wireless is too hot for the JVC camera and the gain needs to be adjusted on the wireless before adjusting the camera. I don't remember the details of the exact settings, but the thread is somewhere nearby in this forum.)

If you are shooting interiors in houses or other places with low ceilings or small spaces, a good option is the AT4051 (cardioid) and AT4053 (supercardioid). These mics don't pick up sound from the back and other reflections like the 4073 can. The the 4051 and 4053 have a handle and a removable capsule, so you can by one complete mic, and an additional capsule. (There is also an omni capsule.)

Depending on what you are recording, even the Audio-Technica next grade down mics could give you excellent results.

A lot of improvement can be done to the sound in post if it is recorded well. The full and balanced sound heard in films is not there until after it is processed and cleaned up. But it has to be well recorded. On the short list, here are three rules:
1. Keep the mic close to the talent (closer than many would think) and pointed accurately.
2. Record a proper level.
3. Get a clean recording by using a good shock mount, are careful with flopping cables, etc., have good connections, and are very mindful of background noise and echoes, using padding or other sound absorbers when necessary.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 03:07 AM   #4
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Thanks a lot Jack. That was really encouraging and you might have just saved me $1300, because I really would rather spend that money on something else instead of a mixer.

A question: Would you recommend a different mic around the same price range as the AT4073??
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 01:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hayk Paul View Post
A question: Would you recommend a different mic around the same price range as the AT4073??
I would recommend the 4073 since I have it and it has worked well. I am not really familiar with a lot of other similar mics, but in reviews I have read the 4073 a has been considered a better mic than it's price and many consider it the low-end professional choice. The 4073 has been used a lot. The 4073 was used by TV at the Australia Olympics. There were a lot of these on sale after the Olympics. TV also used AT mics at the recent Olympics, for stereo ambience and for voiceover (the 4050 I think was one used a lot). The AT mics give a professional level sound and are inexpensive enough that a large quantity can be bought (then resold at a discount after the event).

The 4073 is exceptional outside and can work inside if you watch the echo in certain situations. If you want to spend less you could consider the AT897. If you are shooting indoors as I mentioned above you might want to consider the 4053 (hypercardiod)

(For a softie ouside on the 4073 I can recommend the K-Tek, and also their shock mount. They also have reasonably priced poles and are very nice as well. B&H sells there products. You can call them direct (in Southern Califonrnia and ask what to get for your mic(s).)

Anything else in this class and higher starts at over a thousand dollars and goes way up.

The industry uses the Schoeps a lot, indoor and out, the CMC 64. This is comparable in type and size to the 4053/51, etc. Here is a B&H link that shows the mic and capsules and prices:

In 2005 Schoeps came out with a shotgun and it became very hot with preorders. Here is some info on it:
Here is a thread that talks about this mic. The thread also includes some general info on mic choices that is helpful:

The Sanken CS-3 short shotgun is another choice:

Here is a link in the forum to a long discussion on all the mics you might consider and their issues from different point of views. There are posts in the thread by some of the recognized experts.

Here are a couple of links with some info on some of the mics:

Here is the Shure Video Production Guide:
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