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Does anyone use digital mics?


Jesper Magnusson
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Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if anyone out there uses, or have tried out, any digital microphones for field use? I'm talking about mics such as for instance the Neumann KM D-series. The thinking behind a digital mic seems good, but since they are not widely used, maybe they aren't up to the quality of the analogue ones yet? Or are there some other issue, like reliability or the dynamic performance of the AD section?

Thank you for the vast amount of knowledge you all provide here!

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i use my Super CMIT almost every day im working these days. i think it sounds pretty good. i have A/B'd it against a CMIT 5U and thought the 5U sounded a little nicer, but not by much, and the DSP of the Super CMIT more than makes up for this.

personally i have had no problems with the mic, though i have heard from a friend who was using his super CMIT in a hot environment in a rycote basket and windshield, that it would shut down when it got too hot.

i also spoke to a classical music engineer at the beginning of last year who loved his solution D microphones and i dont imagine he would be using them if he didnt think they sounded excellent.

i imagine what is hold up the take up of digital mics in the field is the increased cost. approximately £1300 for a CMIT 5U and £2600 for a Super CMIT.

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Another point to be made is that when working in film and television we mostly dont have long cable runs. We have short runs which get us to a wireless unit which gets us to the cart. Or we have long runs of perhaps a nice duplex cable and our utility has taken care to run perpendicular and as far away from any power lines as possible. A large part of the appeal of digital mics is that an AES signal can travel for miles(exaggeration) without interference. Another reason is that the A/Ds are very closely matched to the performance of the mic, these super subtle differences are difficult to notice when you are doing a walk and talk down a noisy street. There is a theory that by taking your mics and putting them all through the same AD is like putting a red sock in a load of whites, all of them come out a little pink. In other words, each AD should be tailored to its mic and the preamp. Again on location I dont kno if this would be noticed. In addition to the above mentioned deterrents of cost and reliability, these factors make it less likely for Production soundies to use Digital mics.

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Last week I outfitted the sound mixer of a TV series with a digital wireless boom rig. It consisted of the new Sennheiser 8060 with Sennheiser screw-on digital module on the end of the boom pole. The internal boom cable is plugged into a Zaxcom TRX942 transmitter (worn by the boom op), with the AES42 phantom enabled. Time will tell, but so far, so good, as it has become the preferred setup. It's pretty cool in that, from the time the signal leaves the back of the microphone, the signal stays digital as it enters the recorder.

Glen Trew

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Hi Glen,

I am looking in to the same setup but am not sure how good the Nomad NO CLIP is.

As far as I understand a few Nomad options are bypassed by AES42. "it is understandble why No clip would not work since it is using the microphone AD converters.

Do you know how the low cut in the digital MKH8000 module works? And can it be enabled by a PC interface forever?

Also do you know if Sennheiser uses the Neumann D technology?

Last week I outfitted the sound mixer of a TV series with a digital wireless boom rig. It consisted of the new Sennheiser 8060 with Sennheiser screw-on digital module on the end of the boom pole. The internal boom cable is plugged into a Zaxcom TRX942 transmitter (worn by the boom op), with the AES42 phantom enabled. Time will tell, but so far, so good, as it has become the preferred setup. It's pretty cool in that, from the time the signal leaves the back of the microphone, the signal stays digital as it enters the recorder.

Glen Trew

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This is a setup or something similar that I'm contemplating sometime in the future. Does one have any remote gain capabilities (MSB truncating from 32 bit to 24 bit)? Do you have control over the built in HPF of the mic? Some aspects of the AES spec are probably not standardized across manufacturer's different implementations, so was curious how this all works out in practical use. Ideally I'd rather have a TRX700 style plug-on transmitter that is AES capable than an TRX942 style belt pack unit.

Last week I outfitted the sound mixer of a TV series with a digital wireless boom rig. It consisted of the new Sennheiser 8060 with Sennheiser screw-on digital module on the end of the boom pole. The internal boom cable is plugged into a Zaxcom TRX942 transmitter (worn by the boom op), with the AES42 phantom enabled. Time will tell, but so far, so good, as it has become the preferred setup. It's pretty cool in that, from the time the signal leaves the back of the microphone, the signal stays digital as it enters the recorder.

Glen Trew

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About a year ago, I was asked to record sound for a series. The locations were mainly outside in a big town. There was no possibility of blocking the traffic while shooting dialogue.So I decided to test the Super Cmit to find out if it could proces the background away. At least, that's what the specs say.

The test setup was: 2 overhead Rycote zeppelin on a boom, pointing to the same person, who was reading out of a Berlin travel guide.

One Rycote held the Cmit 5u and the other held the Super Cmit.

The recorder was a SD 788T providing the AES42 power for the Super Cmit. We recorded 3 tracks.

1: digital Super Cmit ch1

2: digital Super Cmit ch2 (the processed channel)

3: analoge Cmit 5u

We chose a number of difficult locations to see what the Super Cmit would make of it.

-On a bridge over the highway

-next to a park, about 60 meters from a busy street

-indoors, in an art gallery that was completely tiled and empty with a lot of reverb

-indoors on a sound stage, while a host talks in front of a green key

The results were a bit disappointing towards the Super Cmit. In the first position, the background noise was a little bit attenuated but the dialogue was still usable. In the second position, the background noise was a lot less, but the voice was unusable for dialogue recording. It sounded very thin and lacked 'presence'.

Later I went to the audio post-production to get the files analyzed in a studio environment.

There we discovered that the analog Cmit still sounded the best and that the attenuation of the background noise, as it was done by the Super Cmit, could easily be obtained by Pro Tools. So it saved me from having to buy the Super Cmit!

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" anyone out there uses, or have tried out, any digital microphones for field use? "

only a few of them are really appropriate for our work (Sennheiser 8000 and Super CMIT primarily) and it also requires digital inpits to the mixer

This will become more visible in our business over the next several years...

" how good the Nomad NO CLIP is... As far as I understand a few Nomad options are bypassed by AES42. "

the never-clip applies to analog signals, not the stream of bits from a digital mic...

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  • 2 months later...

Last week I outfitted the sound mixer of a TV series with a digital wireless boom rig. It consisted of the new Sennheiser 8060 with Sennheiser screw-on digital module on the end of the boom pole. The internal boom cable is plugged into a Zaxcom TRX942 transmitter (worn by the boom op), with the AES42 phantom enabled. Time will tell, but so far, so good, as it has become the preferred setup. It's pretty cool in that, from the time the signal leaves the back of the microphone, the signal stays digital as it enters the recorder.

Glen Trew

Hi Glen,

Can you tell us how you deal with the autonomy of your TRX942 plus 8060 ?

Thanks

Vincent

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  • 1 year later...

Later I went to the audio post-production to get the files analyzed in a studio environment.

There we discovered that the analog Cmit still sounded the best and that the attenuation of the background noise, as it was done by the Super Cmit, could easily be obtained by Pro Tools. So it saved me from having to buy the Super Cmit!

 

When a mic is used on a boom, it is obviously going to be moving, and not always in one static position. As an effect, the off-axis noise will 'change', apart from the fact that extraneous noise can vary. We all know what we are dealing with is not always a steady noise like an AC hum, or a genny... If the SuperCMIT can process a difference in the off-axis sound with variations due to movement of the microphone, and process different off-axis sounds differently, the noise reduction (for Pro Tools) plug-in's parameters will have to be manually tweaked (automated) for every change in the off-axis atmos to match what the superCMIT can probably do. In this case, this microphone will definitely be an advantage. 

 

-vin

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When a mic is used on a boom, it is obviously going to be moving, and not always in one static position. As an effect, the off-axis noise will 'change', apart from the fact that extraneous noise can vary. We all know what we are dealing with is not always a steady noise like an AC hum, or a genny... If the SuperCMIT can process a difference in the off-axis sound with variations due to movement of the microphone, and process different off-axis sounds differently, the noise reduction (for Pro Tools) plug-in's parameters will have to be manually tweaked (automated) for every change in the off-axis atmos to match what the superCMIT can probably do. In this case, this microphone will definitely be an advantage. 

 

-vin

In theory, yes.  In practice, no, we don't do that much tweaking for NR within a scene--fortunately the plugs + apps are more forgiving than that, and we don't do ultra deep processing anyway.  If the scene requires more than a gentle NR and maybe expansion etc then it goes into the ADR list.   On docs we might push the NR a little harder, but not by much.

 

philp

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About a year ago, I was asked to record sound for a series. The locations were mainly outside in a big town. There was no possibility of blocking the traffic while shooting dialogue.So I decided to test the Super Cmit to find out if it could proces the background away. At least, that's what the specs say.

The test setup was: 2 overhead Rycote zeppelin on a boom, pointing to the same person, who was reading out of a Berlin travel guide.

One Rycote held the Cmit 5u and the other held the Super Cmit.

The recorder was a SD 788T providing the AES42 power for the Super Cmit. We recorded 3 tracks.

1: digital Super Cmit ch1

2: digital Super Cmit ch2 (the processed channel)

3: analoge Cmit 5u

We chose a number of difficult locations to see what the Super Cmit would make of it.

-On a bridge over the highway

-next to a park, about 60 meters from a busy street

-indoors, in an art gallery that was completely tiled and empty with a lot of reverb

-indoors on a sound stage, while a host talks in front of a green key

The results were a bit disappointing towards the Super Cmit. In the first position, the background noise was a little bit attenuated but the dialogue was still usable. In the second position, the background noise was a lot less, but the voice was unusable for dialogue recording. It sounded very thin and lacked 'presence'.

Later I went to the audio post-production to get the files analyzed in a studio environment.

There we discovered that the analog Cmit still sounded the best and that the attenuation of the background noise, as it was done by the Super Cmit, could easily be obtained by Pro Tools. So it saved me from having to buy the Super Cmit!

 

Thank you. Now that is a test. 

 

Now if somebody will do one to see how well an 816/8070 can reject background noise versus these other mikes. I'd like to hear that. 

 

The SuperCMIT does have the ability to reject "diffuse" sounds apparently. Once-in-awhile useful probably, like the CS3e's abilities are.

 

 

Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if anyone out there uses, or have tried out, any digital microphones for field use? I'm talking about mics such as for instance the Neumann KM D-series. The thinking behind a digital mic seems good, but since they are not widely used, maybe they aren't up to the quality of the analogue ones yet? Or are there some other issue, like reliability or the dynamic performance of the AD section?

Thank you for the vast amount of knowledge you all provide here!

 

 

As for the original post. Well, more and more recorders are sticking AES inputs in there, and that's getting more common as time passes. The other problem is that much of the equipment we use like the Sanken microphone or the MKH 50 (which is apparently punchier than the 8050) don't have digital versions. And Schoeps is reworking its digital preamp for the MK 41. Also I wouldn't even want to get into figuring out AES and wireless. All that makes me not care so much right now. Also, if there were digital versions, I bet they'll cost more. And right now I do tend to buy my mikes used. I doubt there'd be used digital mikes anytime soon. 

Edited by srab1138
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I'd be very interested to hear more about the current digital pre-amp, as well as the reworked version. 

 

Here's the post by Constantine: 

 

&do=embed#entry177716' frameborder='0' data-embedContent>

 

 

And here's the thread: 

 

 

 

 

 

The first iteration of the Schoeps CMD 2U may not have had the full functionalities of a digital microphone. And actually, it seems there may have been some quality issues as well. Better read the thread (which is pretty short) or ask Tom Visser for more info. I'm not really the one to know. 

Edited by srab1138
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 It consisted of the new Sennheiser 8060 with Sennheiser screw-on digital module on the end of the boom pole.

Glen Trew

 

Glen,

 

Does the MZD 8000 have similar DSP to the Super CMIT? I.E., do they find it attenuates the background noise? 

Curious, because I have the 8050 and the 8060 analog mics.

 

Bud.

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Glen,

 

Does the MZD 8000 have similar DSP to the Super CMIT? I.E., do they find it attenuates the background noise? 

Curious, because I have the 8050 and the 8060 analog mics.

 

Bud.

No the MZD8000 does not do this - and it's not just the DSP in the SuperCMIT that does this: there is a completely separate mic capsule listening for "ambient" sound to cancel out.

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  • 3 years later...

Hi All,

The original poster - several years ago - asked if anyone was using Neumann KM-D series mics on location. I was wondering 1)if anyone is now? and 2)If anyone has found a variety of long length 110 ohm duplex cable that will work with AES 42?  I realize that some people are working with Super CMITs using wireless digital transmitters, but was specifically wondering if anyone is cabling their digital mics?

PS I have been searching the internet on this topic for the last few days and have also called PSC to see if they had any duplex cable insight.

-Elanor

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Any AES cable will work with AES42. I used Mogami W3163 12 channel for patching in a recording studio. But there are 2 4 8 channels cables as well. The cable is rated for 150 meters trouble free operation.

For shorter cables "especially boom poles" I use analog balanced cable without a problem.

 

9 hours ago, ElanorR said:

Hi All,

The original poster - several years ago - asked if anyone was using Neumann KM-D series mics on location. I was wondering 1)if anyone is now? and 2)If anyone has found a variety of long length 110 ohm duplex cable that will work with AES 42?  I realize that some people are working with Super CMITs using wireless digital transmitters, but was specifically wondering if anyone is cabling their digital mics?

PS I have been searching the internet on this topic for the last few days and have also called PSC to see if they had any duplex cable insight.

-Elanor

 

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On 2/1/2012 at 3:23 AM, Jesper Magnusson said:

So, temperature might be a problem then. It would be good to know if cold could also be troublesome.

Never had a temperature problem with my two SuperCMITs... YMMV

i have been using my Belden Starquad for the SuperCMITs with no issues. 

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