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M/S mic for documentaries

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Hi,

I know microphones are a bit matter of taste, but I would love to hear some suggestions about MS mics, especially for documentary shootings. Don't want to bring too much stuff with me.

Basically, it needs to be portable, shotgun but also would be nice if I'm able to record some atmospheres with it on the location which could be very helpful in post.

Any experience with Sanken CSS-50?Or maybe Sennheiser 418? (personally, I hate 416)

I want to avoid 2 mic combo setup (shotgun and 8), could be too heavy and big to hide it.

Thanks in advanced!

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I have a Neumann RSM190 (same as the RSM191). I like it a lot. I've been impressed many times while using it at how natural everything sounds through it - it doesn't sound like I'm listening through a microphone and headphones but rather just in the environment.  They are discontinued but still available on the used market. 

 No personal experience with any of the others, however the NPR Tiny Desk concert series uses a Sennheiser 418 as their main pickup, and I've always thought their stuff sounded pretty nice.

-Mike

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+1 for the Neumann RSM191, best in a Cinela suspension. If you go standard Rycote it may be hard to keep sound free from bumps and handling noise.

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1 hour ago, axel said:

+1 for the Neumann RSM191, best in a Cinela suspension. If you go standard Rycote it may be hard to keep sound free from bumps and handling noise.

Good point. The standard 72-shore lyres that come with most Rycote systems are too light to hold the weight of the RSM191 (it's a fairly heavy mic). If you contact Rycote though they can send you some firmer 82-shore lyres that support the mic better. 

-Mike

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Another rsm 191 fan here...

I have experience with sennheiser 418 (not worth the money) audiotechnica  bp 4029 (better then the sennheiser in my opinion) and rsm 191 (very nice soundstage).

Here in Germany you may find a rsm 191 used for around 1500€ in good shape.

I use mine often for documentary stuff beside my two mic combo gefell m310/ neumann km a 100 with kk120.

The rsm has a very smooth stereo image and good "cinema" sound.

I use it often for location and studio music recording too.

As windshield i use a sennheiser mzw 60, for my ears is sounding a lot more transparent then the rycote ones.

The rsm is used a lot in all weather conditions, from cold winters in germany to locations in india, africa and asia.

In some really rar cases i had problems with RFI.

 

 

 

 

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I know you didn't want a two-mic combo, but to offer some perspective:
The RSM191 weighs 170g
The CMIT weighs 95g
The CCM8 weighs 43g
The CMIT/CCM8 combo fits inside a regular Rycote 4. it's also a great sounding combination, which can be separated according to your needs

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I've used the CMS-10 : http://www.sanken-mic.com/en/product/product.cfm/9.1001300

And enjoyed the experience. I would definitely give the CSS-50 an audition on the basis of Sanken's other products.

Constantin makes a very good point about being able to separate the cmit/ccm8 combo (as you could also do with MKH50 and ambient emesser) but as a counter point I would make the case for having a stereo mic which could be placed on camera if needed. The stereo sound stage has to relate to where the camera is if there is 'sync sound' and in the context of a doc it may be useful to have the option of using the camera to put the stereo mic in the right position for this, while you use a conventional set up for dialogue.

Not what you are asking about but on occasions I use a OKM binaural pair as a spaced pair to get some stereo location atmos while using a conventional set up for the 'lip sync'.

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+1 on Constantin's point. I do the CCM41/CCM8 combo and it is pretty sweet. But if you do the CMIT + CCM8 combo you can be even more compact in the sense that you won't need to change microphones all the time. With the CMIT (or other shotgun) you can pick up dialogue and a 'side' ambience with a CCM8. With a 41 capsule or a more hyper/super cardioid you might not get enough focus to pull dialogue from a noisy scene/environment. I'm not too sure what the other mentioned mics 'M' pattern is.

I think ideally it's nice to have a softer cardioid in general when doing MS. I can be a little weird to have a hyper/shotgun card as the Mid mic. The nice thing is that you can dial it to taste. Haven't used the 191 but I'm sure it sounds nice too. Also, suspension I've found to be key too. I went from a Rycote MS system to a Cinela, and the difference is night and day. Amazing that cinela stuff!

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A couple of caveats about the choices:

I believe the Sanken CSS-5 can only be switched between mono, stereo, or wide stereo output. You cannot output discreet M and S channels with this mic. I'm not sure about the CMS-10, but it may be the same deal. 

The Neumann RSM191, besides being heavy, is too large to fit in most shockmounts. It is 30mm in diameter. The Rycote INV-8 with the firmer lyres fits it well, but I haven't found many other options that do. Does Cinela have a 30mm shock mount option? I haven't seen one from them but I may have missed it. 

-Mike

Edited by Mobilemike
spelling is hard

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 Agree with the posts about adding a small figure 8 to your current shotgun. In a pinch something like the Schoeps CCM8 will fit inside a std WS4 Rycote. Paired with a CMIT it sounds fantastic for all manner of ambience & even music. But even smaller is the Ambient Emesser and over $1300 less. For doc dialogue situations and general ambience & spaciousness it sounds just fine. Used both. Plus as mentioned above you can easily decide whether to go mono or no with a flick of the switch...

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Just a little post note when handling MS, it is actually fairly easy to adjust stereo width even back down to mono with MS audio, even if the mic outputs LR rather than pre-decoded M-S, so contrary to intuition, the Sanken that only outputs stereo LR isn't really at much of a disadvantage to a "raw" M-S feed, it just changes the approach to processing, but not the overall capabilities.

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The Neumann 190 sounds great, but is a beast--heavy on a pole and sensitive to handling noise.  It does have some humidity issues, Bernie Krause mentioned he liked and used the mic for a long time but had to give them up due to problems with them in humid conditions.  I took mine all over the world and still use it often--lovely sound, although not the quietest mic in the world.  One caveat is that it takes a pretty good wallop of DC power to light up, re: the batteries in your recorder or pre.  The psu that PSC made for it back in the day used 6 9v batteries to give it a good long lifespan!

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some little clarification points on the 191:

  • the 191 creates a very well defined spatial stereo image, by far the most accurate one I know deriving from a single point stereo mic. It sounds airy and transparent and creates a sound that comes close to a natural perception.
  • in relation to the RSM 190, the sucessor 191 is quieter on the side (M/S = 16/22 dB-A, A-weighted). Recalling my memory from back in the 90s, the 190 was noisy for quiet ambience recordings.
  • there is a cinela suspension/windbasket made especially for the RSM 191; it is really expensive (>1000,- €) , but worth every cent on a handheld boom if you work documentary style
  • there are also 30mm Rycote lyres made for it, they are cheap and work with any modern Rycote basket. Good for any mic stand applications or careful boom handling.
  • the weight is identical to a MKH 416, but you have to add size and weight of the 191 Matrix box inside your bag; it has some advantages though, like an XLR Plug that is easily accessible, Lo-cut and pad switches at your finger tips, you can easily chose between decoded XY or native M/S setup plus define your stereo width with dedicated switches.
  • cannot understand why Neumann/Sennheiser terminated the production some years ago. One of the best sounding mics ever made.

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9 hours ago, Tom Visser said:

Just a little post note when handling MS, it is actually fairly easy to adjust stereo width even back down to mono with MS audio, even if the mic outputs LR rather than pre-decoded M-S, so contrary to intuition, the Sanken that only outputs stereo LR isn't really at much of a disadvantage to a "raw" M-S feed, it just changes the approach to processing, but not the overall capabilities.

Tom are you saying that in post, LR can be processed to MS (as if MS was delivered in the first place), for the manipulation MS offers (stereo width) and then of course output as LR again?

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2 hours ago, pindrop said:

Tom are you saying that in post, LR can be processed to MS (as if MS was delivered in the first place), for the manipulation MS offers (stereo width) and then of course output as LR again?

So long as you iso both legs (LR or MS) post can encode/decode and adjust width, level, EQ etc. L+R=M, L-R=S. M+S=L, M-S=R.

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4 hours ago, pindrop said:

Tom are you saying that in post, LR can be processed to MS (as if MS was delivered in the first place), for the manipulation MS offers (stereo width) and then of course output as LR again?

Yup

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29 minutes ago, Tom Visser said:

Yup

Hello, I can't picture how come you wouldn't be able to do that in post, but maybe im missing something here. 

Sincerely, Martin 

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17 hours ago, Mobilemike said:

The Neumann RSM191, besides being heavy, is too large to fit in most shockmounts. It is 30mm in diameter. The Rycote INV-8 with the firmer lyres fits it well, but I haven't found many other options that do. Does Cinela have a 30mm shock mount option? I haven't seen one from them but I may have missed it. 

-Mike

My RSM 191 is housing in a standard sennheiser mzw 60 windshield, no problem...

If someone prefers the muffled sound of the rycote windshields it gonna fit there too, anyway its shorter then a mkh 416.

If you want to go rolls royce solution - cinela has suspensions for the RSM too.

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2 hours ago, MartinTheMixer said:

Hello, I can't picture how come you wouldn't be able to do that in post, but maybe im missing something here. 

Sincerely, Martin 

I think a lot of people have the perception that you loose access to the "raw MS" tracks when encoded to LR, even if done at the mic.  It is more than just reducing the panning for increased center correlation.  Some useful post tricks would be to EQ the mid or side channels independently from each other, MS EQ tools are quite common.  Another thing you can do is to use MS EQ on XY tracks too.  The results are exactly as predictable when used with real MS sources, but can still be useful.  There's probably some loss associated with burned in LR delivery when it comes to advanced processing so I'd always prefer MS ISO's, but for simple width control, MS or LR is really equivalent in my mind.

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On April 5, 2017 at 3:12 AM, Constantin said:

I know you didn't want a two-mic combo, but to offer some perspective:
The RSM191 weighs 170g
The CMIT weighs 95g
The CCM8 weighs 43g
The CMIT/CCM8 combo fits inside a regular Rycote 4. it's also a great sounding combination, which can be separated according to your needs

I've used most of the setups mentioned in this thread. I love the sound of the 191. I've also used the CSS-5, and it's a fantastic microphone. 

The trouble I had with the 191 was finding a good field suspension and wind protection set up for it. The CSS-5 is a little easier to deal with. 

The CMIT/CCM8 combo, though...that's a pretty sweet setup. 

So far, most of the things mentioned here will sound good, depending on exactly what you're after. 

For me, when I was doing this type of thing in the field, it wasn't just about the nicest mic. It's also about ease of use and what I call "wire-rhea". I try to reduce the amount of cable-age as much as possible if I'm running around with a bag recording sounds. 

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is stereo wireless boom pretty close to blasphemy? i've got a stereo coiled cable for my rigs but just got the stereo cone for the 742. havent tried wireless yet but i'm going to try it soon!

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21 hours ago, ivanovich said:

is stereo wireless boom pretty close to blasphemy? i've got a stereo coiled cable for my rigs but just got the stereo cone for the 742. havent tried wireless yet but i'm going to try it soon!

Ivan, It's only blasphemy if you tell anyone you did it, of course if you happened to record 2 tracks, maybe one not quite so hot, and that track saved the day, then your sins are forgiven. The problem in reality, is that it has gotten tough for post to listen, or comprehend, or something. So you may cause more problems then you fix, if you hand post too many tracks. Dealing with post often reminds me of a friend who had a child who was about seven at the time, and who was adopted as a baby. The child knew he was adopted, and the mother would explain to him that she went to the hospital to pick him up after he was born. And at the end of that story, every time, he would say "Okay, go back to the part where I came out of you". Which of course was very cute. But life with post can be like this when you explain something in perfect detail and then they ask what you just explained. I don't know if it's because they're busy texting "lol" and "OMG" in the middle the conversation or what, but often they just don't get it. And of course whatever is best for the finished product is what's best to do.

Sincerely, Martin 

 

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