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-   -   Building an Audio Kit (wisely) (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/18547-building-audio-kit-wisely.html)

Dan Brown December 18th, 2003 08:21 PM

Building an Audio Kit (wisely)
 
The little Panny (DV852) isn't gonna cut it for audio. I've decided to order a Marantz PMD 670 CF Card recorder. That'll give me dual XLR's, with 48v, amplified headphones, real nice and under $700. I want to order one good mic initially, so I can start gathering SFX and shooting my film.

But which mic?

My film will have 1 or 2 person conversations, indoors and out (overhead boom). I also want to get some car/parking lot sounds, etc. I might lay down a couple of audio tracks using my (limited) guitar playing skills.

I guess ultimately, I'd like to have a quality shotgun for out-of doors conversation. And something good to use indoors (cardioid or hyper-cardioid?), and probably a wireless lav (omni) as a plant. I already have a Shure SM58, which I think will be good for narration and use in noisy environments.

I get a "that's ridiculous" sentiment when I see a mic price over $300, dunno why, but I do.

However, I don't want to buy cheap, only to trade up later.

For the shotgun, I'm thinking the AT835b (or maybe an AT815). The new AT897 looks interesting too.

For the lav, I've pretty well settled on the Senn EW100 wireless with the ME2.

Now, my question...

Is a cardioid or hyper-cardioid a good first mic choice for me? Or should I get the shotgun first?

The cardioids I'm looking at include (and positives):

AT3031 (low-cost, cardioid, low-cut filter, high SPL, very good S/N ratio)

AT873R (low-cost, hyper-cardioid, natural low roll-off, built-in wind-screen)

AT4041 (more$, cardioid, low-cut filter, 4000 series, really flat response)

Of course, I have no experience with the sonic performance of any of these mics.

Please help me make a wise decisions. I'd like to order in the next day or two. All comments are welcome.

Thanks again to everyone.

Martin Garrison December 18th, 2003 09:33 PM

None of those look like bad choices. Going off of Beasleigh's recent rave review (one among many glowing reviews) and the specs that were posted here a few weeks ago, I would suggest the Oktava 012 with a hypercardioid capsule. A good hypercardioid will be a versatile boom mic, a good voice over mic, and a great acoustic instrument mic. Cardiod microphones can do all these things as well, just expect to need to get them in a little closer.

Other popular, affordable, hyper-cardioids are the rode nt3 and the akg c1000.

Bryan Beasleigh December 18th, 2003 09:46 PM

That's going to be a whole herd of syncing to do, if you're using the PMD670 for everything. I have a 670 and it is a great recorder , but the $700 price is misleading, the 1 gig card is around 230. B&H has a package price of $900.

The case is plastic and isn't really robust enough to go without some protection. I recomend the Porta Brace case (135 at B&H)

For mic'ing outdoors, you really should get the Shotgun. try running the shotgun on camera first. I've never tried to mic with undeafeatable AGC so I don't know hoe it would turn out.

For effects you may want a dynamic, you could ude that as a voice over as well.

Wired lavs are a fair bit cheaper and more reliable than a wireless.

I personally thing you're buying the PMD670 a little ahead of time. One of the first things to do would be to buy Jay Roses's book that's been listed here countless times.

I think you may want to buy a balanced to unbalanced adapter like a beach tek or maybe even an inexpensive mixer. When DV.COM is up again , go over and read Jay's reviews of low cost mixers. With either of these , youd at least be able to control the input levels of 2 mics and record one mice to each track.

R. Scott Hanson December 18th, 2003 11:35 PM

Re: Building an Audio Kit (wisely)
 
<<<-- Originally posted by Dan Brown : The little Panny (DV852) isn't gonna cut it for audio. I've decided to order a Marantz PMD 670 CF Card recorder. That'll give me dual XLR's, with 48v, amplified headphones, real nice and under $700. I want to order one good mic initially, so I can start gathering SFX and shooting my film.
-->>>

Dan: please keep us posted on your decisions--I'm about to buy a DV852 also, and I'll be interested to see how you build a satisfactory audio kit...

Thanks in advance.

Martin Garrison December 18th, 2003 11:42 PM

I'm not sure, but I think I disagree, with Bryan. I haven't tried to sync with a flash recorder, so maybe I don't know how much trouble this is. I have synced music with direct to hard disk recordings. And as long as we resynced each song we never had a problem.

It seems like, if the audio on your camera is terrible then the trouble of double recording is more worth while. And if you can't turn off agc on the camera, then having a mixer isn't going to begin to solve your audio problems.

As far as the first mic, this could vary greatly by what you plan to do.

But I think the most versatile is a condenser hypercardioid.

A dynamic is only good for loud sounds or vocalist who are practically eating a microphone. Dynamics do make good "reporter" style omnis. But generally they don't have enough sensitivity for dialogue, acoustic instruments, sound effects (other than gun shots, or explsions: they're great for these), or ambiance. Besides, SM58 is about as good a dynamic as you can get until you drop $400 for an re20.

Shotgun microphones are great outside. But unless you can afford a $1000+ shotgun, or will be shooting in large sound stages they aren't very good inside. I personally like Schoeps' argument that a good hypercardioid can have as much 90 degree rejection across the frequency spectrum as a shotgun. The shotgun's advantage is in rejecting frequencies 2khz and above, but this dramatic difference in off axis rejection from 1000Hz to 2000Hz will be very obvious in many shooting situations.

Bryan Beasleigh December 19th, 2003 01:45 AM

I don't know if Dan wants to mortgage his house for an all star mic lineup. Martin, he's talking about recording the whole track on the flash recorder. I just want to make sure he knows what he's getting into.

Martin Garrison December 19th, 2003 02:10 AM

I understand. In fact, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate on the difficulties of using the pmd670 as a double record unit.

My suggestions on mics is really just start out with one decent hypercardioid or cardioid, a boom pole, cable, and wind protection. Don't blow the bank on tons of mics, unless you have specific situations where you need specific mics and renting isn't logical.


The oktava 012 or rode nt3 seem like great lower budget choices, both available around $200. I like my akg 391, I picked it up on ebay for $160(U.S.).


-I can see how it might sound like I was suggesting a schoeps microphone. That wasn't my intent. They just have a great little memo on their website about why they don't offer a shotgun microphone.

Martin Garrison December 19th, 2003 02:18 AM

Follow up
 
I think this is a very interesting read.

http://www.schoeps.de/E/overview-mic-types.html#shotgun

Bryan Beasleigh December 19th, 2003 03:43 AM

If anything the timing on the flash recorder should be right on. I guess building a decent stable for audio isn't such a bad idea. the better audio gear can operate independant of the consumer camera setup.

I picked up my pair of MK012 Oktavas today and was a tad skeptical. I did the old A/B before i left the shop, with the original demo Oktava kit and everything was identical. The new mic kits are black with silver lettering and not the gun metal finish. They were $270 Canadian ($203 US) a piece for the power element, cardoid, hypercard , omni and 10 db pad..

If you do buy the Oktava, buy it from some place that will correct any problems. The mics are amazing for the money. They are prone to handling noise.

A mic like the NT3 can be battery operated so it is possible to run it into the camera as well.

Carlos E. Martinez December 19th, 2003 04:43 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Beasleigh :
If you do buy the Oktava, buy it from some place that will correct any problems. The mics are amazing for the money. They are prone to handling noise. -->>>

I have owned a pair of Oktavas for a long time, and they were used on few occasions.

They are not as reliable as other mics, in my opinion, as now I seem to have a problem with one preamp.

I have tried to get some info from manufacturer in Russia, but they do not seem to acknowledge my mail. I wonder if there's an US rep, where I bought it.

The mic audio quality is very good, but you should get them paired.

Do get a bar to do X/Y stereo assembly.

About the question on how to build your sound kit, I may come with a different alternative.

First of all I would ditch the card recorder. Get a minidisk, if possible some Sharp portable, which is reasonably cheap. And get a proper mixer. The mic preamps coming on the Marantz or HHB portable MDs are not that good and you are paying for them.

Of course you get just one package for MD and mic preamps, but if you want that I'd go for a Tascam DA-P1 DAT recorder, which has better mic preamps and is DAT based. DAT may be out of fashion, but it doesn't compress like MD or cards.

But I think you can build up from a mixer, that has mic and line levels, and still use the DV852 in spite of having AGC. Proper AGCs can be "fooled" by using a higher level signal. If they get that you will not have any pumping.

Do this: go to some shop where they have a quality mixer, portable if possible, like a Shure FP33 or even a Mackie. Pick a good mic and connect it all: mic to mixer, mixer to camera. Get some quality headphones and plug them into your DV852.

Listen to what you get. You should be paying attention to "pumping", which is ambience level going down when a stronger sound comes along.

You are getting this advice from a person that strongly recommends double-system sound on his site. But I think you will be surprised at the results you get. Later on you can make up your mind on which separate recorder to buy.

Try to keep an open mind and listen very carefully to what you get. Get back here with your findings. Do not rush. Audio equipment should be carefully picked.

I make my living off renting location audio equipment, so I've probably listened a lot.


Carlos

Dan Brown December 19th, 2003 08:57 AM

Thank you all. Very much to think about. I will look into the Rode, Octava, AKG's and the MD alternatives. As well, I'll check out Jay's mixer review and see if I can find the book too.

My only NLE experience is playing around with iMovie. It's seems pretty straight-forward to align a clapper visual with the sound track. I assume the video and audio playback speeds would be virtualy drift free for shots that run less than a minute or two. Should be easy to do, maybe I will feel different after doing this for 20-30 shot sequences, I dunno.

Today, I am going to wire up an XLR to stereo mini cable and run the SM58 and this old RadioShack condenser mic I have to check out the DV852 AGC characteristics. I'm not sure the headphone output of the camera even operates during record. I might also swing by Guitar Center and take a look at the 'affordable' Behinger mixers. However, I'm still very much leaning toward the separate audio track approach, because I won't out-grow that, whereas I would out-grow a cheap mixer.

Please continue to offer any thoughts, it is a huge help to me.

Carlos E. Martinez December 19th, 2003 10:05 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Dan Brown :
Today, I am going to wire up an XLR to stereo mini cable and run the SM58 and this old RadioShack condenser mic I have to check out the DV852 AGC characteristics. I'm not sure the headphone output of the camera even operates during record. I might also swing by Guitar Center and take a look at the 'affordable' Behinger mixers. However, I'm still very much leaning toward the separate audio track approach, because I won't out-grow that, whereas I would out-grow a cheap mixer. -->>>

Don't worry about the camera's headphone output: it should drive a sensitive headphone to good listening levels.

In fact that's an area you should famliarize with: being able to listen to audio quality and even judging levels and distortion just by listening to them. In fact you should increase levels so you can hear what distortion sounds like.

A dynamic microphone, like the SM58, might have a rather low output so as not to activate the AGC. A condenser might be better, and a mixer (like the Behringer) should do fine.

And don't worry about sync if you use crystal controlled equipment, like a DAT, MD or card. Things should be just fine.

But recording double system should be done following a routine which is not easy to learn in a hurry if you never did it. If you are planning on a soon to begin video shoot using the 852, you should concentrate on it for now. That's my opinion.


Carlos E. Martinez

Dan Brown December 19th, 2003 01:16 PM

Here's a real HOOT! I dropped by Guitar Center today to see what they had. Well, they had a radio-ad special, 2-for-1 Octava's $99. Got two and also a $49 Behringer mixer, with cables, tax etc., under $200. Not bad!

Bryan Beasleigh December 19th, 2003 02:15 PM

Check out the Oktava's very carefully. Check out their operation ASAP. Is there an Oktava Quality Control stamp in the booklet that came with the mic? The distributor that mine came from tests his mics he also sells matched stereo pairs. That said i still have doubts.

If they both work fine you've won big time, if one works well you've still won.

There is a glut of oktava's that did not meet QC. It's basically hit and miss with the 2 for specials. There are people that buy several and weed out the good ones. There is also an article that details how to replace the components with a higher grade.
It's a great mic but i don't trust the QC and supply setup, you never seem to know whether the stuff is legit or not.

What is the return policy?

What color were they (Silver or black) and date of manufacture or serial number.

Bryan Beasleigh December 19th, 2003 02:43 PM

Carlos
Ditch the marantz, I doubt it. First , the cards don't compress anything, they store what's loaded onto them. That could be PCM mono or stereo. It may be a compressed format like MP2 or 3. The Flash recorder can be connected to the USB port and files dragged onto my hard drive. Mini disk and DAT is real time.

While the Marantz mic pre's aren't up to the standard of my sound devices, they aren't bad and the recorder is a whole lot better than a consumer grade setup. I guess if I wanted to I could run the audio through my 302 into the line in on the recorder.

Dan Brown December 19th, 2003 02:47 PM

They are both stamped and signed by the same person, both dated "27-02-03". Serial numbers match those stamped on the mics, which are silver color. Each came with a -10dB pad the screws between the capsule and the body, I left those out. Uhm, Guitar Center is pretty good about returns, I figure I've got 30 days. I hooked them up with headphones, FWIW, they both sound exactly the same. They sounds good to me, mellow and warm. I'm going to try to figure out the mixer levels and do some recording this afternoon. I can already tell the AGC sucks.

Thanks again, everyone :^)

Bryan Beasleigh December 19th, 2003 03:37 PM

Methinks you got a good deal.

Martin Garrison December 20th, 2003 01:00 PM

Dan,

I'm going to be in DFW this week. Can you tell me which Guitar center you picked those up at? The one in Arlington?

Which capsule did they come with?

Thanks,
Martin

Carlos E. Martinez December 20th, 2003 03:50 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Beasleigh : Carlos
Ditch the marantz, I doubt it. First , the cards don't compress anything, they store what's loaded onto them. That could be PCM mono or stereo. It may be a compressed format like MP2 or 3. The Flash recorder can be connected to the USB port and files dragged onto my hard drive. Mini disk and DAT is real time. -->>>

Well, maybe I was not too clear on my generalization. The problem with static memory systems is multiple. First of all price: in order to work with non-compressed system the cards have to be large. And large cards carry large prices. If the file is not compressed, like PCM, it will likely be large.

Cards are probably similar to the ones used in photography, which are around $100 for 1GB. How much can you fit in one card? Will you have several cards for a shooting project or one card that you download every day?

I have no problem with real time, I don't see what's the problem with it. Are we in such a rush that we need everything to be instantaneous?

As a matter of fact I loath any recording system that does not allow me using a cheap, widely available media, which preferably allows me one tape or disk for every video tape shot.

It makes me feel safer to know the audio recorded is secure and can't be erased except if on purpose. Not something that is inside a computer HD than can crash and ruin the whole thing.

Flash card based systems were not designed for working in such a way, in my opinion. And as far as I know, portable FC based audio systems are mostly for radio and not for high quality audio recording.

Core Audio sells a high quality system based on a PDA, but it carries all these problems I mentioned. Professional applications are quite limited.

So for film or video work I stand by my words: do ditch the Marantz.

<<<-- While the Marantz mic pre's aren't up to the standard of my sound devices, they aren't bad and the recorder is a whole lot better than a consumer grade setup. I guess if I wanted to I could run the audio through my 302 into the line in on the recorder. -->>>

Of course the Marantz is better than a consumer grade! Nowadays it doesn't take much to design a chip based system that improves a lot on consumer audio.

It's probably even better than most prosumer camera's audio stages, like PD150 or similar.

But I think that you can use a mixer/preamp to go into a camera, into an MD or into a DAT and have more flexibility.


Carlos

Bryan Beasleigh December 20th, 2003 06:36 PM

Carlos, that's why they have more than one model of everything, so people can have a choice of features. A 1 gig card is a tad above $200 and will hold just over 3 hours of 44.1 khz PCM audio. Mpg2 192 kbps mono will be 13 hrs 18 minutes.

That works for me. I can burn the audio onto Cd's DVD's or just leave it on the hard drive.

Dan Brown December 20th, 2003 10:19 PM

Martin:

Yes, the store in Arlington, on 157, just north of I-30. The Octavas came with cardioid capsules and 10 dB pads. I hear there's a hyper cardioid, but I didn't see them. The Pro-Audio manger is a guy named Kim, he's pretty knowledgable and helpful. They also had the Rode NT3's and Shure 81's among others.

Dan Brown December 20th, 2003 10:24 PM

BTW, the Octava mic stand adpaters are pretty useless, they have a non-standard thread size. I did find a RadioShack foam screen that fits them very well.

And, the Behringer '802 mixer hisses like and angry camel, and I'll going to get my $50 back tomorrow. It looks like the Beachtec is a much better choice.

Bryan Beasleigh December 20th, 2003 11:43 PM

Dan
Read jay Rose's revirews before you jump into something else. You will need phantom and a mic pre. the beach only has phantom. The oktava has a pretty low sensitivety, you'd be pushing a camera preamp to the limits

The Samsom mixpad is supposedly ok and it's around $170 US, the marenius is a 3 channel mono and is around $330



My mic clips work just fine.

Steve Lehman December 21st, 2003 01:21 AM

Does anyone use or know about a Mackie DFX 6?

Carlos E. Martinez December 21st, 2003 07:09 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Beasleigh : Carlos, that's why they have more than one model of everything, so people can have a choice of features. A 1 gig card is a tad above $200 and will hold just over 3 hours of 44.1 khz PCM audio. Mpg2 192 kbps mono will be 13 hrs 18 minutes. -->>>

First of all let's state some standards. PCM audio, 48KHz, 96KHz or 192KHz, 20 or 14 bit it's what we should be striving for.
To go for a compression based system I definitely pick MD and no other.

Second comes the media, that should be picked according to what you are doing. Maybe because I come from the old days, when we worked on Nagras, but I am definitely tainted by a shooting working routine where a day's work is usually defined by one or two tapes. Usually 15 minutes each, which is what we usually shot per day. Maybe because of that but I think such a routine has some merits.

The fact that it wasn't downloaded to anything and kept away as originals is a great thing.

Except on unusual occasions, I'd say it's rare shooting more than 30 minutes per day on any film/video. If someone does, great for them, as long as quality is good enough.

$200 for a media is too high, even if you download it every day. If you do you will be working extra hours, which not many will like to. Three hour capacity is much more than we need also.

Of course having options is great, but I am just pointing on the hows and whys the pro market, particularly location audio, picks certain medias instead of others.

Up to this moment a definite standard for all hasn't been set yet, but DVD audio might be a likely one. Flash cards or removable HDs may become a standard when they get to $30, but I don't know when that will happen.

From what we have around right now, MD seems to be the more affordable and practical media around for non-professionals.


Carlos

Bryan Beasleigh December 21st, 2003 12:36 PM

"Up to this moment a definite standard for all hasn't been set yet, but DVD audio might be a likely one. Flash cards or removable HDs may become a standard when they get to $30, but I don't know when that will happen."

As I said. that's why we have a choice. Flash and MD are two different ideas. Marantz stopped manufacturing the MD early this year. DVD or CD are great but lack full portability, they must be stationary to avoid jaring.

Simple solution is you buy what you like and i'll buy what I feel I need.

Martin Garrison December 21st, 2003 05:26 PM

"...if you download it every day. If you do you will be working extra hours, which not many will like to."

"I have no problem with real time, I don't see what's the problem with it. Are we in such a rush that we need everything to be instantaneous?"

If you only roll on 30 minutes of stereo 48k 16bit pcm a day, you can transfer all of that to a computer in about four minutes. Then burn two backup CDs in about fifteen more minutes. The flash memory has come down quite a bit over the last year and will probably continue to drop; Dat tape is still about $5.00(U.S.) an hour, CDs are around $0.20(U.S.) an hour. The Tascam DA-P1 is a great and affordable machine, but when was the last time the circuitry or preamps were updated? Maybe 8 years ago. The newly designed Marantz is going to sound better and be more affordable, even with a memory card. And next to the audio circuitry of a PD-150, no comparison.

Does that mean it's necessarrily worth the trouble of running a double system? Probably not all the time. Some projects, location dialogue or interviews will sound good enough recording to the camera, that it is just not worth the time to record double on location, and sync it all back up in post.

If you are going to be recording a double system, and you can't afford a Nagra, or time code dat, or one of the Zaxcom field systems, then the Marantz is an excellent option.

Dan Brown December 23rd, 2003 12:49 PM

R. Scott Hanson aske that I keep the thread posted on what I've done...

I have now modified the Behringer preamp (according to Jay Rose's designed) so that the ouputs are attenuated enought to match the mic input on the Pana DV852 (dropped it from +4dBu to -35 dBV). So, the two Oktavas record very nicely now. My Sure SM58 is also an option, but the Oktavas sound amazingly good. I put RadioShack foam screens on them. I have also ordered a BeachTek DXA-6 to use when AC power is unavailable.

I'm so far under budget (was thinking of a $3k camera, but got a $600 unit, and got $50 mics, was thinking of $250 mics), that I'm trying to decide what else to get. Maybe a good shotgun or wireless lav. Perhaps a camera crane or a 12 foot dolly/track set up. Not sure.

I'm presently shooting some elderly family members since they around for the holidays, where they talk about their life stories, ancestors, etc. Using Home Depot halogen work lights shot through makeshift scrim, and with the mics close to the 'talent', the tapes have a very professional quality. No regrets at all. AGC has not been a problem thus far. We'll see once I start using the BeachTek.

So, for now, I'm going to hold off on the Marantz.

I will start doing some trial shots from my 'film', working up camera techniques, blocking, etc.

Hope this helps...

Cheers.

Bryan Beasleigh December 23rd, 2003 02:08 PM

Dan
The beach won't give you any amplification, can you get enough gain from your camera pre amp?

Martin Garrison December 23rd, 2003 03:39 PM

Money left? Definetly consider, camera support like a DV jib, and a decent light kit.

I'm glad its worked out for you, at a great price too. If you're happy with the way your tapes sound, skip the double record system. All the syncing and keeping detailed logs on the shoot, is a great deal of extra time.

Dan Brown December 23rd, 2003 03:47 PM

I'm not sure.

The Beachtek can only attenuate the signal, so it's adjustable from 0 dB to -50dB. My Shure SM58 can drive the input of the DV852, but I've only used it as a narration mic, up close (12-24") to the person speaking.

The Shure SM58 has a sensitivity of -54.5 dBV, that's pretty low, about 1.9mV at 94dB sound pressure level. Now here are some sensitivities for other mics I'm looking at, all at 94 dB SPL (so called 1 Pa):

Shure SM58: -54.5dbV (1.9mV)
Oktave M012: -40dBV (10mV)
AT3031 Card.: -34dBV (20mV)
AT835B SG: -40 dBV (10mV)
AT897 SG: -40dBV (10mV)
AT873R HCard: -37dBV (14mV)
AT899 Lav: -43dBV (7mV)

So it looks like all the condenser mics have 10dB or more output signal than the SM58. I figure the Beachtek will be OK with a 'hot' condenser on phantom power.

I'll find out tomorrow when the Beachtek arrives and I plug the Oktavas into it. I plan on "planting" the Oktavas and video-ing the Christmas morning festivities. That should be an interesting test of this set-up.

Cheers...

Dan Brown December 26th, 2003 09:03 AM

The BeachTek DXA-6 arrived and I have now used it some. It mounts under the DV852 fine, but shifts the center of gravity well forward of the fluid head tilt axis. That's kind of a pain, but OK as long as you tighten up the damping on that axis.

I set the attenuation knobs to 0 dB, switched on phantom power (I like that) and ran the Octavas into it. The audio level is high enough and seems to work just fine. I shot the Christmas morning festivities using this set up. It's a fairly large living room, about 20 x 24 feet. The mics were set on stands in opposite corners, moved into the seating area as close as possible. The audio quality was very good, and excellent for people sitting directly adjacent to one of the mics. Far, far better than using the in-camera mics.

I'm very happy with this set-up for now, I don't see myself breaking out the Behinger, if for no other reason than dealing with another box interconnected with cables and the need for AC power, etc. Nor do I seem myself getting the Marantz, unless I go to a Steadicam type of support, where cables are impracticle.

AGC functions whether I use the Behringer or the BeachTek. Audio is fine as long as there is something to record. When the 'talent' is quiet, then the gain ramps up and the ambience of the environment dominates the audio track. It isn't absurdley loud, but not as good as if audio levels could be set with a manual level and VU meters. Still, it should be OK, and I assume I can dial-down the ambience audio during post in FCE.

I'm going to add an AT897 mic with boom pole and shock mount soon, I'll report back on that. BTW, I'm going to try the new AT897 over the AT835b because the patterns are nearly the same, but the 897 is 3.5" shorter. That will let me use it on the camera, without intruding into the frame at the wide end of the focal length.

Cheers...

Carlos E. Martinez December 26th, 2003 09:43 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Dan Brown : The audio quality was very good, and excellent for people sitting directly adjacent to one of the mics. Far, far better than using the in-camera mics. -->>>

Camera mics are only good for incidental ambient. You will always get a better sound from external mics.

Pity you went for the Beachtek DX6, because for the same money you could have got one of our mic preamps. I also think the Beachtek unbalances the camera. That's why our preamp was designed for belt or tripod support.

<<<--AGC functions whether I use the Behringer or the BeachTek. Audio is fine as long as there is something to record. When the 'talent' is quiet, then the gain ramps up and the ambience of the environment dominates the audio track. It isn't absurdley loud, but not as good as if audio levels could be set with a manual level and VU meters. Still, it should be OK, and I assume I can dial-down the ambience audio during post in FCE. -->>>

As long as you don't have any new dialogue coming in you can do that. In order to do that you should do something specific. After you end or shoot or during it, do a specific ambien recording, at the top level the AGC gets to and stays there. Then use that as a background for your silent shots.

If you go in with a higher level, high-mic or low-line, you should be able to cheat the AGC for a longer time.

<<<-- I'm going to add an AT897 mic with boom pole and shock mount soon, I'll report back on that. BTW, I'm going to try the new AT897 over the AT835b because the patterns are nearly the same, but the 897 is 3.5" shorter. That will let me use it on the camera, without intruding into the frame at the wide end of the focal length.-->>>

You are getting to the point where, as I say on my location audio tutorial, you should seriously consider using a sound man.


Carlos

Arthur John December 26th, 2003 10:11 PM

Reading the fine points of this post has really been informative and I've used it as a basis for putting together my own audio kit:

1. Samson Mixpad 4, portable mixer $159
2. Rode NT3 Mic $152
3. Shure SM93 Wired Lavalier $146
4. Sony MDR-7506 monitoring headphones $98
5. 8 foot Aluminum BoomPole $11

I used to have a window cleaning gig and used aluminum extension poles, and there's a nice 8 footer available at a nearby hardware store for cheap!

I decided on the Rode NT3 mic for boompole work because of the great reviews it has and it may have a better sound than using a similarly priceranged shotgun.

I wish I could find a portable mixer with 3 XLR inputs around the same pricerange, but the Samson has 2 and runs off of a few 9 volt batteries and should work well.

The SM93 seems like it will be a great Lav for recording voices or for hiding in props close to the actors. It's a lot smaller than some of the less expensive lavaliers, although I came close to choosing a schriber acoustic SA-345 instead. I'm hoping paying a few extra dollars for the Shure will be worth it though.

I should say that I did a lot of extra research on closed ear headphones after reading a few other articles on gear recommendations, and I came to the conclusion that the MDR-7506 is about the best you can get for the money. I haven't found any negative posts about them, and found plenty of other negative posts and reviews about seinhieser and AKG around the $100 range. I personally think that choosing a good pair of headphones for your sound man is vitally important if you want to catch good sound while filming.

I hope this info helps!

Bryan Beasleigh December 27th, 2003 12:16 AM

"Pity you went for the Beachtek DX6, because for the same money you could have got one of our mic preamps. I also think the Beachtek unbalances the camera. That's why our preamp was designed for belt or tripod support"

I've checked this thread and there is no mention of "your" preamp until now. Considering your location , buying through you would be inconvenient.

The beach with phantom is pricey but it 's quality gear and fills a need for portability. There is a greater chance of camera damage with a belt mounted adapter than one that securely attached to the camera base.

Carlos E. Martinez December 27th, 2003 05:56 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Beasleigh :
I've checked this thread and there is no mention of "your" preamp until now. Considering your location , buying through you would be inconvenient.-->>>

That company is mine and is located in the USA, not in Brazil. I design the stuff here and build it there. There's a sales rep in Florida. We are moving address within Miami, that's why there's no address at the moment, but there will be next week. Holidays seemed like a good time to do that.

That preamp was designed at first to attend my needs here, as I own an audio rental house in Brazil and Argentina, and in the late '90s there were people doing more serious DV jobs using my pro audio gear. That interface was far from easy, so at first I tried to modify what was around, like the Beachtek.

Then decided it was better going for a whole new thing that was also affordable for amateurs. The idea was to do something simple, that anyone could use, with professional touchs.

Passive units, like the Beachtek, were limited. To start with they didn't improve on the camera preamps, and on my findings with my Hi8 camera (which had AGC as the majority of home cameras back then) I saw that you could "fool" the automatic level if you fed a higher signal into it.

The next question was control, which even now prevails although prosumer cameras have or internal manual level control. It's much more practical to set your levels as you go.

There were also design decisions that may have been too personal, like perhaps make it too simple. There are no headphone outputs on it, to force people to use the camera output, as you should. The output is line level, but can be padded with a cable or even with the pot itself, as the gain is on the first stage and the pot in-between.

<<<--The beach with phantom is pricey but it 's quality gear and fills a need for portability. There is a greater chance of camera damage with a belt mounted adapter than one that securely attached to the camera base. -->>>

Then why do you think the majority of camera preamps around (not passive adaptors, which I don't think cut it) can't be camera mounted?

Except for the PSC (very good) and the Glennsound (no phantom or battery power), absolutely ALL active preamps should be used separately. Cameras get too unbalanced because the housing needs to be large and heavy. There are a lot more reasons to go for it, but of course you may disagree with.

Our unit is now retailing for the same price as a DX6, with an active output.

In any case, the reason I never talked about these things in these forums is because I thought it was not proper. Still don't think it is and I maybe reprimanded by the moderators for it. Let's hope not, because I have always been trying to help with my advice. I wish more designers listened to users on these Forums, like Panasonic and Sony with their new cameras.


Carlos

Bryan Beasleigh December 27th, 2003 09:59 AM

Carlos
If you have a product, what is it and where can we get information about it.

Matt Gettemeier December 27th, 2003 10:08 AM

Yeah Carlos, now I'M intrigued! Email me if you can't post.

Dan Brown December 27th, 2003 10:32 AM

I also bought the Sony 7506 headphones, to replace an old set of Aiwa phones had. The differnece is immense, and the Sony phones really let me hear the audio. Great investment for sure.


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