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Old September 4th, 2003, 12:50 AM   #1
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Mic for Wildlife Documentary

Hi Experts,

I do small wildlife documentaries using my XL1s. I want to replace the mic with a good one which can avoid the wind noise and is omni directional. I am confused about deciding the right mic. Whether to go for ME-66/67 or Telinga Pro 5 Parabolic Microphone (Mostly used for Bird Call Recording)

Experts in this field (Wildlife) please help me out.
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Old September 20th, 2003, 07:15 PM   #2
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Since no one else has weighed in on this post, here goes . . .

First, I think many members may have misunderstood what
you are thinking.

At first you speak of a good omni microphone, but
then you ask about the Sennheiser ME66, ME67 and a parabolic
mic.

An omni microphone "listens" to sound in all directions. So, if a
bird is 100 meters away, it will hear you breathing before
the bird's song. So, I think what you want is a
hyper cardioid or a shotgun mic. These mics are extremely
directional, and when pointed at a distant subject give the
best sound recording results.

The ME66 or ME67 is a shotgun. I have used the ME67 a lot.
It is a pretty good mic, but not without some issues.
The main one for me is the amount of hiss it produces.
For interviewing humans at a distance of 1-4 meters, it is not an
much of a problem, but a bird a long way off usually means you have to crank
the gain, and when you do that, you crank the hiss.
No one wants to listen to a beautiful bird song barely peaking out
from white noise.

If you have the budget, I would highly suggest the Sennheiser 416
and a Rycote blimp and windjammer (dead cat). As I have written many
times, the 416 is an EXCELLENT mic with sound quality that far surpasses
the ME66 or ME67. It goes for around a grand, but worth every penny.

The problem with parabolic mics is having to lug around that big bowl.
That may sound easy now, but when you get into the bush you may find
that it's sound reaching ability isn't worth the portability factor.

The 416, like most great microphones, needs phantom power (48 volts)
supplied to it for it to work. I suggest buying the Beachtek DXA-6
microphone adapter which can provide the necessary phantom.
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Old September 20th, 2003, 07:44 PM   #3
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I use the AT4071 shotgun mic with a Sound Devices MM1 (preamp and phantom power). It's an expensive combination, but provides the best recording of bird calls in the field of all mics I've tested. Parabolic mics are too unwieldy for a one man crew. I've tried them but can't tape and get great audio at the same time.
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Old September 20th, 2003, 08:20 PM   #4
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Hi Jeff,

What voltage does the AT4071 use? How would you rate the AT4071 against the Sennheiser MKH416 12vT or 48V series?

I know you have good ears so I would appreciate any feedback (oooops, not sure if that is the best word to use when talking about microphone performance).

I agree with you on using a parabolic mic when solo, it just isn't quite possible. You really need a second person if you plan on using a parabolic. However, if you do have a sound man who knows how to operate a quality parabolic mic, you can achieve some amazingly discreet nature recordings over simply using a shotgun mic.

I have an old Sony parabolic mic setup that I used to use when I was a Sound Mixer many years ago. I was able to get some very nice results. I have also used the Sennheiser MKH70 48v mic in the past for some excellent results. That is one expensive mic though.

- don
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Old September 20th, 2003, 09:46 PM   #5
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The AT4071 uses 12v or 48v, whatever you feed it. The Sound Devices can be set for 48v, so that's what I use. I actually used the Sennheiser 416 before the AT. To my ears the AT has a crisper sound and better isolation of the subject. The AT4071 came recommended by several nature (birds mostly) videographers. I had read about it but didn't know anyone that used it. I started asking around when I would run into other nature videographers/photographers and the AT was always mentioned. So I took a chance an bought one, couldn't find any rentals in Cincinnati. I could hear a difference as soon as I tested it.
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Old September 21st, 2003, 08:23 AM   #6
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Talking about the Sennheiser 416, Jacques, have you seen this website?:
http://www.coreyburton.com/sennheiser.html
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Old September 21st, 2003, 09:47 AM   #7
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Well for every thousand who say yes, I guarantee there will be at least one
who says NO!

I've been in the industry for a long time and have worked with some
of the best, both talent and techies. I've found that each person is
different and you have to adjust for that . . . not only sound but lighting,
clothes and makeup too.

Some of the best mics in the world sound lousy on certain people and
some inexpensive mics work great. John Lennon used an old SM57
on many of his recordings.

In addition, everyone has his/her own taste. Yes, the 416 is bright
IMO too, but "SUCKS"? (I wouldn't want a brighter mic for my taste.)
That is his opinion and with comments such as
that statement I would like to ask him what he prefers. Maybe the guy is
a Schoeps MK41 man or could be he likes Neumann. Then again
he may prefers Audix.

Who knows as he doesn't offer an alternative . . .
maybe I'll write him and ask ;)

I like the 416. There are better mics but they cost much more and the 416
certainly BLOWS AWAY the ME66 or ME67.
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Old September 21st, 2003, 11:49 AM   #8
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I sent an email to Corey, but on further study of his site I think
what he says about the 416 is taken out of context.

His remarks revolve around the 416 being used for voice overs
and narration by broadcasters who can afford to purchase the
right mic.

Yes, a real audio guy wouldn't use a 416 for narration and voice overs. The 416
is a SHOTGUN. For voice overs/narration the industry standard is the Neumann
U 87 or 147. For those on a budget, the Neumann TLM-103 rocks.

That said, if you only could afford one $1K mic and were a video guy,
I'd choose the MKH-416.
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Old September 21st, 2003, 12:04 PM   #9
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I agree with Jacques' assessment in every regard, except the 416's use with wildlife recording. To my ears, the brightness gives a less accurate recording of bird songs. The AT4071 has a crisper, less enhanced sound. But this is through the Sound Devices preamp, which may exaggerate (or dampen) certain characteristics of either mic. If you're about to spend $1,000, I would certainly like to rent, borrow etc. the mics to see what sounds best for your needs.
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 12:06 AM   #10
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Another option (from a non-expert nature videographer) may be to enhance the onboard mic that you already have. I have a shotgun mic that I use, but I find myself working solo a lot of the time. The Light Wave Equalizer wind screen really does cut down on the wind noise and puts it into an exceptable and even desireable range. Southern Alberta is almost always windy and I find this option extremely invaluable. Along with Lightwave's mini mount, which cuts down the XL1s's motor noise and my operating noises as I fumble with the controls, I can get very usable audio. I'll probably get the system isolater one day too. My only complaint is that these these options may be a little overpriced. They should be sold as a kit at a lower price.

The XL1s' microphone obviosly has it's limitations, but your target sound can be enhanced in post production and unwanted noise can be eliminated. For example I was shooting ruffed grouse drumming during their spring courtship ritual. When I returned home I found the sound to be disappointing. The drumming was buried by the wind rustling leaves, other birds singing, and even a plane going overhead at one point. In Final Cut Pro I used a combination of the noise filter, expander/noise gate along with the compresser/limiter and a bit of tinkering. A kick drum couldn't have sounded as good as the final result. I know I probably wouldn't have got any footage of the grouse with a second person stumbling around the woods with a microphone.

Depending on the lense you are using, you are going to have to get reasonably close to your subject to get good results when videotaping birds with your XL1s. Anyway I just thought I'd give you some more food for thought. I find I use the onboard alot more than I originally envisaged.

Good luck! There must be some really interesting wildlife in India!
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Old September 22nd, 2003, 08:06 AM   #11
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I wrote Corey Burton (a MKH-416 hater) and I received Corey Burton's answer.

Here it is unedited and posted with his personal permission:
(I am all in favor of free speech!)
++++++++++++++++++
Hey Jacques -

> ... you didn't offer an alternative choice.
>
> What do you prefer?

To begin with, it is altogether inappropriate to use a shotgun-style mic for
voice overs; and there are at least 15-25 great cardioid-pattern
microphones for the job. As I've mentioned several times, one of my very
favorites is the Microtech/Gefell UMT-70. But if you MUST have a shotgun
mic, the equivalent Neumann models are FAR superior (although predictably
more expensive) to the Sennheiser. I would also suspect that shotguns made
by AudioTechnica, Sony, or Beyer produce a less annoying facsimile of the
human voice. Even the longer Sennheiser MKH 70 doesn't sound nearly so
dreadful as the 416 (ABC-TV uses them for their network promos). The 416
is, quite simply, the worst possible choice I've ever come across in over 30
years of professional experience. And, I might add, at a price of over
$1,500.00 - the biggest rip-off in the industry (the components in it aren't
worth over $300 by even the most generous estimation). To back up my
opinion, here is a response I got to my 'rant', just in case you're
interested:
_________________________________________________________________________
"Your rant on 416's is right on. Shotgun mikes are spatial comb filters -
they obtain their directivity by having the sound travel along a repetitive
structure with waves on axis reinforcing each other. Waves off axis are
progressively delayed in phase, eventually canceling themselves out. There
is no way such a system can have an even, broadband frequency response.
Closely analyzed, the output of such a system is full of closely spaced
preferred frequencies and more importantly, missing frequencies.

I would bet money that the 416's specification frequency response curves are
obtained by measuring the response with a narrow band noise source to
"average" out closely spaced peaks and nulls in the mike's response.
Shotguns were invented to pick out sound out from a bunch of ambient trash,
like one voice in a crowd. And that's the only proper application for them.

I'm responsible for technical oversight of some classical music recordings
and broadcasts in my day job. I would NEVER in a million years consider
using a shotgun for anything - it would reduce the sound of live instruments
to tinny sounding trash - just like they destroy voice timbre. I use large
diaphragm condenser mikes wherever possible, I prefer Neumann's but other
people make good mikes. And my treasures for recording voice work in my
off-hours play are three working RCA ribbon mikes, a matched pair of 77DX's
and a 44BX - they will bring out qualities in a good voice that other mikes
just don't hear. They're not as "neutral" as modern condensers, but boy do
they capture every drop of character in a voice."

* The author of this email (coincidentally named Hal Smith) has an MS in
Physics, is a long time member of the IEEE, and is Chief Engineer of KCSC at
the University of Central Oklahoma - one of the best classical music
stations in the country.
_________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for your interest! All the Best -- CB
++++++++++++++++++++

(me again)
I have to agree with many elements of this post, but as I stated in one of
my previous posts, YES THERE ARE BETTER MICs/SHOTGUNS but at a higher
price. I stick to my guns (along with 90% of the ENG/Film makers out there)
that the MKH-416 is a good performer (but I haven't used nor hear the AT 4071).
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