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Old October 8th, 2008, 11:31 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Richard Gooderick View Post
I'd completely agree if conditions are going be that wet/humid.
Even if they aren't, I can imagine they are going to be banged around pretty hard since I doubt he's gong to be taking a porta-brace bag or something for the mics.

This is probably a perfect storm of hard conditions.

Low budget, harsh conditions, variable needs, short time-frame.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 12:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
This is probably a perfect storm of hard conditions.

Low budget, harsh conditions, variable needs, short time-frame.
I love a good challenge! Actually, I usually run from a challenge.. but not this time.

To be honest I don't think the majority of places I'll be visiting will be too humid (but then again, I don't know what constitutes "too humid"), I'm doing the bulk of my travel in the dry season and will hopefully hit the wetter areas in the peak of the dry season. Treks into the jungle will be 3 days max and won't happen more than a couple of times a month.

Is humidity really going to affect the quality of the recordings or just the longevity of the equipment? I'm willing to risk the equipment's life span if sound quality doesn't suffer.. much.

After going back through all your helpful replies I have broken it down to the following list, can anyone help me narrow it down from here?

Rode Stereo Videomic or Canon DM-50
Since I wish to reduce noise from the camera I'll probably try and hold this so I assume the Rode would be the better choice?

Sony MZ-R900, Zoom H2, Olympus LS-10 or Sony PCM-D50
The MZ-R900 is cheapest but since it seems you can only transfer audio via Optical/Line-out and in real-time how would I go about getting the best sound quality onto a laptop? I doubt line-in would be the best solution and I've never heard of a laptop with a toslink.

The H2 is within my budget but I've read about noise interference with the H4 because of the internal battery and when it writes to the SD card, does anyone know if this issue exists with the H2?

The LS-10 would be really pushing my budget but I guess it may be possible and the PCM-D50 is out of the question.

AT 35 - This is one area I know nothing about, from my searches the AT 35 costs about $30, I could get the wireless setup with these for about $200 but obviously I'd get better sound from a wired setup, if I push my budget higher I could probably afford to spend $300 here so what about the AT899, Sony ECM-44 or VT-500 (which are all available for <$300)?

Would anyone subtract something from this list in favour of something else? If I can push the budget up to say $900-1000 would it be better to get a $300 lav or something else (another mic or recorder) and an AT 35?

Sorry for all the questions, you've all been a huge help so far, now it's a matter of narrowing the list!
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Old October 9th, 2008, 01:55 AM   #18
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Don't let the gear take over your adventure, it's how you use the equipment that counts. Personally I'd keep it simple, stick with one battery operated shotgun (AT897 or NTG2) and one wired lavalier (AT899). The rest will take care of itself. And don't go nuts stretching yourself thin. There's nothing worse than being on the road - not enjoying yourself because a.) your broke and b.) constantly baby sitting your expensive equipment. You're supposed to be having fun on vacation creating new experiences remember? Think how creative you can be when you've got minimal equipment and money in the bank. That's a great recipe for making films.

Notes:
- Don't forget a decent shockmount and wind protection | wind protection | wind protection
- I love the DM-50, but the main drawback is that you can't use it off-camera and you can't use a second mic with the camcorder. On the other hand, it is a stereo mic and isn't bad for running around. I always have it close by as it's very compact and unobtrusive.
- The Rode Videomic is okay, but for me the built-in shockmount is a deal killer, it creates too much "squeaky" noise in bumpy or quick moving conditions.
- The ATR35s is cheap and you get what you pay for, but if you've got it pinned to your subject and you're monitoring your audio, then you're 80% there! That ain't bad for US$35.
- South East Asia is humid year round, that usually means, you need to take a shower right after you get out of the shower.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 03:26 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Gavin Lampe View Post
...
Is humidity really going to affect the quality of the recordings or just the longevity of the equipment? I'm willing to risk the equipment's life span if sound quality doesn't suffer.. much.

...!
It affects the sound itself. Most condensor mics work by virtue of two electrically charged plates in close proximity to each other. In very humid environments, especially "condensing humidity" where things are damp to the touch, that charge can bleed off through the moisture leading to weak signals, crackles, bzzes, pffts, or the mic quitting altogether. .... That's why condensor mics should be kept in their case with a dessicating pacquet when not in use, BTW. The less expensive fixed charge 'electret' mics are a little less prone to this than are the top-shelf 'true condensor' mics but even they're not immune. The Rode NTG-3 and the Senn MKH416 use a different electronic principle and are less subject to the effects.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 06:48 AM   #20
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Michael you're right, I can't let the gear take over the adventure...

With that in mind I can afford either the AT897, NTG2, Rode SVM or DM-50 and I'll also get the AT899.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
...
The less expensive fixed charge 'electret' mics are a little less prone to this than are the top-shelf 'true condensor' mics but even they're not immune.
...
Are any of the above "fixed charge 'electret' mics"?

And can anyone suggest which would be the better option out of using an MZ-R900, Zoom H2 or straight to the camera (possibly with a pre-amp) - With a priority on quality of the audio, including it's transfer to a laptop rather than on the time it takes to transfer?

Last edited by Gavin Lampe; October 9th, 2008 at 06:50 AM. Reason: Fixed the quote tag
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Old October 9th, 2008, 09:33 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Lampe View Post
e...

With that in mind I can afford either the AT897, NTG2, Rode SVM or DM-50 and I'll also get the AT899.

Are any of the above "fixed charge 'electret' mics"?

...
AFAIK they all are
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Old October 9th, 2008, 11:16 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Gavin Lampe View Post
And can anyone suggest which would be the better option out of using an MZ-R900, Zoom H2 or straight to the camera (possibly with a pre-amp) - With a priority on quality of the audio, including it's transfer to a laptop rather than on the time it takes to transfer?
You need to decide whether you are interested in capturing sound other than when you are filming. If you are, a recorder makes sense. If not, probably best to record into the camera.
If you decide to get a recorder you will need to consider how much sound you are likely to record and how you will store it.
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Old October 9th, 2008, 11:46 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Lampe View Post
I love a good challenge! Actually, I usually run from a challenge.. but not this time.

To be honest I don't think the majority of places I'll be visiting will be too humid (but then again, I don't know what constitutes "too humid"), I'm doing the bulk of my travel in the dry season and will hopefully hit the wetter areas in the peak of the dry season. Treks into the jungle will be 3 days max and won't happen more than a couple of times a month.

Is humidity really going to affect the quality of the recordings or just the longevity of the equipment? I'm willing to risk the equipment's life span if sound quality doesn't suffer.. much.

After going back through all your helpful replies I have broken it down to the following list, can anyone help me narrow it down from here?

Rode Stereo Videomic or Canon DM-50
Since I wish to reduce noise from the camera I'll probably try and hold this so I assume the Rode would be the better choice?

Sony MZ-R900, Zoom H2, Olympus LS-10 or Sony PCM-D50
The MZ-R900 is cheapest but since it seems you can only transfer audio via Optical/Line-out and in real-time how would I go about getting the best sound quality onto a laptop? I doubt line-in would be the best solution and I've never heard of a laptop with a toslink.

The H2 is within my budget but I've read about noise interference with the H4 because of the internal battery and when it writes to the SD card, does anyone know if this issue exists with the H2?

The LS-10 would be really pushing my budget but I guess it may be possible and the PCM-D50 is out of the question.

AT 35 - This is one area I know nothing about, from my searches the AT 35 costs about $30, I could get the wireless setup with these for about $200 but obviously I'd get better sound from a wired setup, if I push my budget higher I could probably afford to spend $300 here so what about the AT899, Sony ECM-44 or VT-500 (which are all available for <$300)?

Would anyone subtract something from this list in favour of something else? If I can push the budget up to say $900-1000 would it be better to get a $300 lav or something else (another mic or recorder) and an AT 35?

Sorry for all the questions, you've all been a huge help so far, now it's a matter of narrowing the list!
Gavin,
I have a Sony MZ-M100 Hi MD minidisc recorder that I would be willing to sell for $200 US. Don't know if I could get it to you in time or not or if it breaks your budget. Just wanted to say though that with this you can record two hours of stereo at 16 bit 44.1 uncompressed per 1 gig disc. The discs cost about $7 US. The sound can be transferred to computer via USB via Sony software and then converted to WAV files. I used in on a documentary of a chamber orchestra touring Eastern Europe and it worked great for recording the orchestra in stereo wherever they played. The included stereo mic was all I used and it sounded pretty good. Its a very small and compact unit and goes a very long time on the internal rechargeable battery and the one AA extender setup. Didn't mean to make this a sales pitch but this type of unit is what you should look for if you go with a mini disc recorder.
Bernie
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Old October 11th, 2008, 06:24 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Bernie Beaudry View Post
Gavin,
I have a Sony MZ-M100 Hi MD minidisc recorder that I would be willing to sell for $200 US. Don't know if I could get it to you in time or not or if it breaks your budget. Just wanted to say though that with this you can record two hours of stereo at 16 bit 44.1 uncompressed per 1 gig disc. The discs cost about $7 US. The sound can be transferred to computer via USB via Sony software and then converted to WAV files. I used in on a documentary of a chamber orchestra touring Eastern Europe and it worked great for recording the orchestra in stereo wherever they played. The included stereo mic was all I used and it sounded pretty good. Its a very small and compact unit and goes a very long time on the internal rechargeable battery and the one AA extender setup. Didn't mean to make this a sales pitch but this type of unit is what you should look for if you go with a mini disc recorder.
Bernie
Thanks for the offer Bernie, I'm still not sure what I'm going to go for, with the current exchange rate I would be stretching my budget a bit, but I'm seriously considering it.

Can anyone tell me what would give me better sound quality, recording to the HV30 or to an MZ-R900? If my budget can stretch to Hi MD I would consider it but the price puts it in a similar realm to the Zoom H2.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 07:20 PM   #25
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If you are going Minidisk, make sure it has mike input. I love my HiMD MZ-RH10. If you want file transfer rather than having to capture from something recorded to the Minidisk, remember it will have to be a HiMD minidisk. No body I know of has cracked the first minidisks to tranfer files directly.

If you don't get the HiMD there is a utility out there called WinNMD that captures the clips track by track through your computer system from a standard minidisk. It's $30, but seems like it is a life saver, because in the standard way of transferring from regular minidisk to computer, you either have to monitor it, or just let the computer capture it as one long track.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 10:18 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Gavin Lampe View Post
Thanks for the offer Bernie, I'm still not sure what I'm going to go for, with the current exchange rate I would be stretching my budget a bit, but I'm seriously considering it.

Can anyone tell me what would give me better sound quality, recording to the HV30 or to an MZ-R900? If my budget can stretch to Hi MD I would consider it but the price puts it in a similar realm to the Zoom H2.
The preamps make a difference, too. But in HDV, your bit rates are lower than SD. In SD, bit rates are same as PCM, if I recall, and Sony's Hi MD does have PCM level recording cabability.

Incidentally, I am not sure if the MZ-R900 has PCM level because I am not seeing it reference as HiMD.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 08:22 PM   #27
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I am not sure if the MZ-R900 has PCM level because I am not seeing it reference as HiMD
Correct, the MZ-R900 is not Hi-MD, the reason I asked if it would be better than the HV30 in terms of audio quality was because I found one on eBay going for peanuts and wasn't sure if I should get that or pay extra to go for a Hi-MD recorder.

I ended up getting an MZ-NH900 (Which is a Hi-MD player and has a mic input) for AU$205, it doesn't have date/time stamp but that is about the only thing it's lacking and considering the next cheapest option I have found is Bernie's kind offer - which works out at AU$300 - it was a no-brainer, that extra $100 is sorely needed to purchase mics!

Thanks again for the offer Bernie, much appreciated.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 09:38 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Gavin Lampe View Post
Correct, the MZ-R900 is not Hi-MD, the reason I asked if it would be better than the HV30 in terms of audio quality was because I found one on eBay going for peanuts and wasn't sure if I should get that or pay extra to go for a Hi-MD recorder.

I ended up getting an MZ-NH900 (Which is a Hi-MD player and has a mic input) for AU$205, it doesn't have date/time stamp but that is about the only thing it's lacking and considering the next cheapest option I have found is Bernie's kind offer - which works out at AU$300 - it was a no-brainer, that extra $100 is sorely needed to purchase mics!

Thanks again for the offer Bernie, much appreciated.
Hi Gavin,
I'm glad you found a Hi MD recorder for your trip. I think you got a good deal. I'm sure it will give you as good a sound as the unit I have. With the supplied stereo mic I was amazed at how good the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra sounded in those beautiful European concert halls. Just be sure you have adequate wind protection for your mics if you're doing any shooting outdoors at all. You should be able to get something from Koala products there in Australia. Foam isn't enough, you need the furry kind.
Have a great trip and stay safe.
Regards,
Bernie
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 10:04 AM   #29
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When I went around New Zealand doing my own documentary, I took a Rode (Mono) Videomic, a Samson Zoom H2, an ATR55, a Sennheiser EW/GW pair and two AT-35s.

Here's what I would go for:

Zoom H2 - Beautiful microphone even when just using "onboard." I often used this as "backup audio" but it'll probably be the actual audio I use in the final film where possible.

AT-35 - Good, but not great. The long line tends to pick up interference. I'd spend the money - about $500 - on an Sennheiser EW/GW combination (I bought my pair used for $300 or so)

ATR55 - Simple as hell to operate. Good sound. Poor battery life. Okay in a pinch. Use the Rode.

Rode Videomic - Works well, but you must keep tension on the damn thing, otherwise there's creaking noise that could end up on the film. Also make sure sure that you check the gain levers from time to time - I thought I was recording at 0db, but I was actually recording at -20db for most of my time there. Live and learn.

If I had it to do over again:

1) Rode Videomic
2) Sennheiser EW/GW
3) Samson Zoom H2

And I'd also pick up a Juicedlink box, even though all of those are mini-connected, simply because I can then record to left channel at -5db and right channel at 0db, which gives me options in case I happen to peak out.
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