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Todd Ayers

Best Shotgun Mic for Singing Guitarist on Location

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52 minutes ago, old school said:

In the old days the 415's were susceptible to high frequency distortion (Like keys jingling) and could be problematic. Hard to really say in your case as there were so many variables possible. You have the recording to post so we could hear the issue? A schoeps 41 is my mic of choice in most situations and would of been in this one as well. 

CrewC

I have a 621 wide cardoid that is wonderful on male voices in the studio but has been a bit harsh for females even at a distance. My mic of choice for females has become the Sennheiser MKH 8020 omni. Obviously, these arent the best choices for location so the 41 cap is high on my list for next purchase. 

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So little time, so many internet misconceptions yet to spread...

 

Schoeps mics do not have a humidity issue.  Many, many folks have used them successfully under high humidity circumstances.

 

What Schoeps mics do have is an issue with water.  Condensation can cause the mic to trap water inside and the extremely high impedance connection between the capsule and preamp makes them rather susceptible to that water.  It's not the amount of moisture in the air that is the problem, it's handling the mic in such a way as to cause condensation inside the mic.  That's an important distinction.

 

The last time I had the issue was years ago when I had left two Schoeps unprotected inside my car which was sitting outside during an especially cold and damp night.  I took the mics inside to a really warm room without any consideration and immediately tried to use them.  Now I know better -- sudden temperature changes under high humidity conditions can cause condensation -- so I take simple precautions to prevent it.

 

Remember the old joke:  A guy goes to the doctor and while moving his arm in a wild, erratic motion, says, "Doc, it hurts when I do that."  The doctor replies, "Then, don't do that."

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2 hours ago, old school said:

 You have the recording to post so we could hear the issue? 

CrewC

 The video hasn't posted yet but I will try for permission to share a short clip.

 

Thanks CrewC

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There are many ways that I have approached this type of recording in the past.  Always for different reasons and with good results.  Depending on the environment various boom mics, including shotguns, hyper cardiods, and cardiods overhead (and sometimes below too for quiet instruments).  I have also done this with a solo lav mic placed on the chest or above the ear on a quiter singer playing guitar (and ukelele).  I have also hidden lavs inside of a guitar body with great success (mic placement is key here, as most spots don't sound good inside the guitar, but some do).  In one performance I remember putting a lav mic on the backs of two performers to capture reverb as they played acoustic instrument bass and guitar and sang walking through a long tunnel.

My point is I don't think there is one mic that is the right one.  I usually carry at least 5 or 6 mics with me, often more, and that way I can choose the mic I think will handle the situation best once I am there and can evaluate the situation.

 

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Just now, Todd Ayers said:

I have a 621 wide cardoid that is wonderful on male voices in the studio but has been a bit harsh for females even at a distance. My mic of choice for females has become the Sennheiser MKH 8020 omni. Obviously, these arent the best choices for location so the 41 cap is high on my list for next purchase. 

 

That's interesting - I haven't used the 21 cap but I would have no real reason to think that a 41 cap would be less 'harsh'.

 

One thing to bear in mind is that (and I think there are maybe a couple or so different 21 caps for free/diffuse field correction) an 'omni' mic (or in this case a wide Omni) is still directional on axis. One possibility is that you have a capsule which is accentuating the HF which is intended to be pointed off axis?

 

The 8020 also has its on-axis HF response but is a free field mic.

 

Jez

 

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1 hour ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

 

That's interesting - I haven't used the 21 cap but I would have no real reason to think that a 41 cap would be less 'harsh'.

 

One thing to bear in mind is that (and I think there are maybe a couple or so different 21 caps for free/diffuse field correction) an 'omni' mic (or in this case a wide Omni) is still directional on axis. One possibility is that you have a capsule which is accentuating the HF which is intended to be pointed off axis?

 

The 8020 also has its on-axis HF response but is a free field mic.

 

Jez

 

I expect that you are correct in that the 41 cap would exhibit a similar harshness that Ive experienced with the 21 on certain female voices. 

 

The 21 cap I have is the free field version without the hf increase. You bring up a good point about on-axis high frequency strength -perhaps simply angling the mic tip a bit would help tame the edge I sometimes experience. Time for more experimenting. 

 

The 8020 definitely has more of a  smiley face eq than the Schoeps  wide cardoid but in general ive found that I prefer sdc omnis for female singers - even a cheap AT 3032 sounds very natural. With its strong low end the 8020 reminds me very much of a nice ribbon mic but without the hf roll off ribbons have. 

 

One other thought: I have predominantly been plugging into transformerless preamps; Grace, Millenia, Audient, and Sound Devices Kashmir pres in my MixPre-6 field recorder, perhaps the transformers found in the higher end SD and Cooper mixers  help smooth things out a bit??

 

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On 4/27/2018 at 3:06 PM, Todd Ayers said:

I was actually looking at the Sennheiser MKH 418 since I heard that’s what NPR used on their Tiny Desks program. My understanding is that the 418 is essentially a 416 with a figure 8 added to the mix.

 

I like NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts; have listened to a bunch and watched some. You're right that they use a 418-S a bunch. But I've seen other mics in that tiny space. Oh dig it, here's a bit more about how they mic things (a bit...not really the perfect answer to your question, but what the heck; it's a short video):

 

 

 

So I'm a bit behind in this discussion. Why do you want to use a shotgun(ish) mic? To keep the mic off camera? Because it's what you have?

 

I haven't done much music recording in decades, but over the last few years, I have done a bit of singer/guitarist. Once with just a MK41. Basically, we're rolling on an interview, "do you want to hear a song?" of course everyone says yes, and so I did what I could with what I had (location production mics). The guy had a dreadnought guitar, so we had some volume and low end to work with. I stuck the mic kinda around the neck/body joint, a bit more in front of the singer (and really rode the frame line), and ended up aiming around his neck. The guy was a pro, knew how to play to the mic (i.e.- balanced his guitar & voice volume), and stayed consistent. I had like 2-3 minutes to find where I wanted to by. I may not (and probably didn't) choose the optimal position, but it sounded OK and post was able to sound pretty damn good. 

 

But if you have heads up and can find ways to motivate having mics in the frame, I've followed more traditional techniques with a mic (or two...or using the guitar pickup) on the guitar and another for voice. Can you possibly have the mic in frame and perhaps rent a mic or two that'll do what you want to do? 

 

Also: I'm no expert on this topic.

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IMO the 416 mic exhibits such a forward presence that it should be "EQed" by carefully placing it just slightly off axis the singers voice. You can really tame the edginess by simply moving off axis slightly.  I also find that certain female voices (sopranos for sure) create what sounds like intermod distortion naturally. I use multiple Schoeps  MK 41 capsules across the lip of the stage for opera and you can really hear it in the sopranos, some microphones tend to exaggerate this, just like sibilance.

Matching the mic's character to the voice would be ideal but may not be practical. A Neumann 191 would be lovely of course, so would the recommended Schoeps. One thing I would have ready would be a wireless with 1/4" TS plug, ready to plug in , should the guitar have a pickup system. Take the dry quaky under saddle piezo and run it through some IR reverb (MacDSP Revolver even comes with an IR of an acoustic guitar) and it'll sound pretty natural.

 

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4 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

So I'm a bit behind in this discussion. Why do you want to use a shotgun(ish) mic? To keep the mic off camera? Because it's what you have?

Thanks for sharing that video Jim!

 

The main reason I thought I wanted to use a shotgun is because I do want to keep the mic off camera. Also because the location is not always going to be controlled or indoors so I am looking for isolation as well. 

 

The 416 isn’t all i have but as I am just beginning to move from years in the studio to outdoor location work, the 416 seemed the right place to start. 

 

The other mics in my kit are: Sennheiser MKH 8040 and 8050 for interviews, two 8020’s for ambience, 416, 2 Beyer 836 shotguns, and the Schoeps 621 wide cardoid. 

 

So far the consensus of response seems to be that a shotgun is not necessarily the best choice for this scenario. As I do more research in this forum I am finding that a 41, either paired with a figure 8 for ms or another 41 for xy, used outside may be a better choice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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