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Old December 31st, 2008, 08:54 PM   #1
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What Kind of Mic to Record Indoor/Outdoor Ambiences

I am taking a trip to shoot "B" camera footage in a large European City.

What kind of microphone is best to use record stationary and moving ambiences?

An omni condenser? (restaurant, train station)
A lavalier on the shoulder (such as waiting for, getting on, riding a tram)

Or what.

One concern part of the time is inconspicuousness.

I will be recording into a small digital recorder, 24 bit. (Balanced inputs)

Jack Walker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 1st, 2009, 11:11 AM   #2
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I use a low noise stereo mic. - The Rode NT4. I will be surprised if walking and recording works well. I've never done that.
The biggest issue is S/N. Be sure to test the setup in actual use before traveling.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 06:39 PM   #3
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ambient noise - consider stereo

Well it's not exactly inconspicous... but I use a AT825 stereo mic for ambience recordings and I really like it. Mixing stereo ambient noise with the primary (typically mono) sound I've captured can give great depth to the "total viewer experience". Handling and wind noise (outdoors) can be an issue with the AT825 (and most mics really) so you'll need to think about that (dead cat/zeppelin etc.) making it even less inconspicous. At the very least it would need a suspension mount (e.g. Rode SM3 or 4), use it best off camera (I often use a mini tripod) and use at least some small dead cat for wind protection. Typically, I plug my AT825's twin XLR ended lead into a Fostex FR2-LE - that's not that small either but very good though. You don't tell us what recorder you have.

When I want something more inconspicous (and much more portable all round) I go really "low end" and use a Zoom H2 (set at 16 bit 48Khz). The 24 Bit option is really a marketing gimmick rather than anything this cheap and cheerful recorder, and many others, are really capable of - as discussed many times on this forum with respect to a wide range of Digital Audio Recorders, not just the Zooms. My Rode Stereo VideoMic's deadcat actually fits rather well over the Zooms stereo mic grill part when needed too (that by the way is also a pretty good stereo mic but has a stereo miniplug, not balanced output.) The Zoom H2 is something the pros on here will laugh at ....but it's not bad and definitely better than not capturing anything! The thing with the Zoom is it's so small you always have it with you and can get stuff. It's all very well having great gear at home in a bag to brag about - but if it's not ever being used, what's the point?

Depending on your budget maybe consider the new Sony PCM D50 as a higher quality stereo ambient sound capturing solution than the Zoom H2. Of course, you already have a digital audio recorder so may be reluctant on that one. Quality of recordings from the Sony are fast gaining critical acclaim - it's not cheap but it's a small, inconspicous and a great quality solution for you to consider - in my opinion (I don't have one of those Sony's yet but it's on the radar screen for one day!). Again, placement and lack of handling plus wind protection for outdoors needs consideration with the Sony too.

Anyway, like Don, all I'm saying is, consider the advantages of stereo for ambient sound capture and find a stereo mic solution that works for you.
Andy K Wilkinson - https://www.shootingimage.co.uk
Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production
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Old January 2nd, 2009, 02:36 AM   #4
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I also use a low noise stereo mic for ambience. I prefer a cardiod pattern as I find omni to be a little unnatural, but maybe thats just personal preference. If I was to buy a new mic for this purpose right now, I would buy the Rhode NT4.

I think it will be important for you to isolate the mic from your body mvement. In other words use a small mic stand or a suspension mount.
Arvin Berner is offline   Reply

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