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Countryman Lav's


Simon Hayes
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Guys i would like to test some countryman Lavaliers for a new project that requires some extremely discreet miking.

 

I have never used them so i would like get some feed back about what they sound like? What their strong points are and any weak points?

 

Do the B3 sound better than the B6?

 

Thanks in advance for any replies or help.

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ive not used the b3, but i have 2 b6's that spend most of their time sat in my cupboard.

i bought them because they are waterproof and so small, but have found they can be a bit tricky with any kind of wind, and adding protection, made things much bigger.

 

when one of my dpa's went down, i had to use one of the b6's as a 4th mic, and winced every time i faded that mic up as the difference in sound was quite noticeable. but it did have a lot less of the room reverb on it as well.

i have done days just using the 2 b6's and that was fine. worked quite well in a tie knot if i recall.

 

i believe that giancarlo dellapina got some last year and has been using them a bit recently.

 

i assume you know of ambersound who are the UK distributors (or at least were last time i checked) who may be able to sort you out some loaners.

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ive not used the b3, but i have 2 b6's that spend most of their time sat in my cupboard.

i bought them because they are waterproof and so small, but have found they can be a bit tricky with any kind of wind

 

Second that, not very forgiving on plosives or wind noise. Like any mic there are situations where it works great. 

 

If you're wanting a smaller mic that is easy to hide you might want to also consider the Sennheiser MKE series. A bit pricier but overall a nicer sounding mic in my opinion.

 

http://www.sennheiserusa.com/professional-lavalier-small-clip-on-microphone-MKE-1_502835

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For me the main use of a B6 is to "hide in plain sight." Typically, I'll peek one out of a button hole alongside the button, or do something similar. This, of course, only works where there's no wind.

Having said that, I rarely use them. When hiding, by the time you assemble a rig, there really isn't that much difference between that and a Sanken COS-11 and the Sanken sounds much better IMO.

I'm not knocking anything Countryman. They make good, cost-effective, products (the EMW is a "best buy" IMO), but just offering my comparisons.

I have nothing against a B3 either, but if you're going to a B3 sized mic, I think you'd get even better sound with a DPA or Sanken (although I have limited experience with the B3).

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i dimly remember, when the mke1 became available, being sent a demo one, and listening to it, side by side with a b6.

i dont remember there being that much difference between the 2 in terms of tone. but i think the cable on the sennheiser was slightly quieter. i did end up sending it back because, as was mentioned, it was expensive (though prices now, i hope, will have come down), and didnt sound much better than a mic i dont like to use.

 

i think the trick is, if you need to go with the small size of something like a b6 or mke1 - or even the vt401(im sure there are a few other similarly sized mics that i am forgetting too) then dont compare it side by side to a mic you know sounds great - like the dpa. if you listen to them on their own, they dont sound at all bad.

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Guys i would like to test some countryman Lavaliers for a new project that requires some extremely discreet miking.

 

I have never used them so i would like get some feed back about what they sound like? What their strong points are and any weak points?

 

Do the B3 sound better than the B6?

 

Thanks in advance for any replies or help.

The advantage of the Countryman "B" series aside from the size is that by changing the the caps that come with the lavs you can adjust the frequency response of the mic. There are 3 caps: short is the flat response, medium is the crisp" response meaning a +4db rise @15k and the long or "extra crisp" cap with a +8 db rise @15k that's very good for buried mic situations. The B6 with any cap is as waterproof as you could ask for.  

 

Eric

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Hello simon, The da cappo 04 mic now known as que audio 04 who bought them over are great tiny mics far better than my b6's IMHO , 2.5mm versus 2mm with the b6, mikes film services stocks them as does pinknoise systems in uk, if you want to try one out pm me and I can send you one down to try wired for lectro, it is different now i think but the da cappo mics I bought had cables a bit too short I think that has now been addressed. They are also waterproof like b6,

Richard

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I've used the B3 allot, on a shoot today actually. I feel like it's fairly comparable to an MKE2 though a bit "mellower" sounding maybe. I haven't messed with the different caps, just stuck with the flat one.

What I do like about it is they use Kevlar as the strengthening agent rather than the steel that Sennheiser uses. The Sennheisers get all kinked up when guests abuse them.

I do a talk type show sometimes and we have both, they cut together fine.

The DPA is better than the MKE2 and the B3. It's also way more money.

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I have 2 B6's, and a Cos-11.

 

I use my B6's for anything interview in nature, because it is so easy to conceal without having to hide it under the clothes.

 

For narrative, they come in handy a lot because of the wire being so small. The actor was wearing a white beater, and I was actually able to run the wire down the seem on the shoulder straps, (since there is an "elevated" edge on either side of the fabric shoulder straps) and then down to the pants. Stuff like that

 

I have noticed that if placed too close to an actor with a powerful voice, you can get wind-hits pretty easily. Exterior, I put them inside a rycotte overcover and didn't have a problem.

 

The only negative I've ever found with them is that the wire is SO thin, it breaks very easily. This can be problematic if an actor does a stun fall without anyone telling you he'll be do one...hooray for production insurance.

 

I use my COS-11 if I feel like there is going to be a lot of action going on, or if we're exterior since they are a bit more durable.

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I bought a few for a series called primeval last year. They were the only thing I could get clean on the two leads. They were constantly put in tactical vests, carrying guns with shoulder straps, the style that cross the chest, or jackets zipped up to the top. The b6 mics saved my ass on many, many days. They seemed less susceptible to clothing noise than the sankins and worked well when my actors delivered very low levels in high noise environments. It was recommended to me by the vendor, Audio Services in Toronto, to go with the -10db version but I opted for the regular ones as my actors were fairly quiet. On the occasions the actors got loud the b6's were totally over saturated. I needed to get the boom over them for the loud bits. Maybe the -10 option would have been a better idea but I'm not convinced they would have faired any better. Both production and Post were happy with the results. I got sound from those mics on extremely hard to mic costumes and feel they are totally worth owning. I am in fact pondering a purchase of another 3 or 4. Maybe 2 more unattenuated and 1 or 2 at -10 to see how they handle high spl's.

hope this helps,

Graham

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I'm a big fan of the B6's and own about ten of them, but they definitely have to be mounted very carefully. I have occasionally had issues with breath noise, and in some cases, I've been able to get better results mounting them upside-down, usually with an undercover or overcover (or Mr. Deichen's legendary MicCocoon®). They're great in terms of hideability, particularly with tight blouses or T-shirts. If you expose the mics from behind a button or a collar, be sure to use the flat cap; under a shirt, I think the extra-crisp cap is necessary. Different voices also can sound better or worse with different caps; I'm more inclined to use the "crisp" cap with female voices when I can and avoid the "extra crisp" cap.

 

I agree with Mike above that the B6's are very delicate, and I've had a few actors pull them too hard, separating the head from the cable (which is generally non-repairable). Countryman is very good at replacing these at cost, well under $200. 

 

If I'm in a documentary situation where I can expose the mic, I'm generally OK with using the tried-and-trusted Tram TR-50, which is more forgiving in terms of clothing noise and durability. But I think the B6's sound cleaner and more even overall. If cost were no object and I had the time to hide the mic (with the cooperation of wardrobe), I'd pick the Sanken COS-11's, but that's generally not an option for me. 

 

BTW, I have also used the somewhat-rare Countryman B2's, which I've used in very loud ambient noise situations -- in particular, a factory with about 80dB of background noise -- and the B2's were able to get rid of about 50% of that noise. We weren't able to use a boom because of "wide and tight" issues. I've also used the B2 on a few live/PA situations with feedback issues, just to keep the mic pattern tight.

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BTW, I have also used the somewhat-rare Countryman B2's, which I've used in very loud ambient noise situations -- in particular, a factory with about 80dB of background noise -- and the B2's were able to get rid of about 50% of that noise. We weren't able to use a boom because of "wide and tight" issues. I've also used the B2 on a few live/PA situations with feedback issues, just to keep the mic pattern tight.

 

 

The B2s seem to be hypercardioid lavaliers. I'm guessing you don't hide these under clothing. 

 

B&H also says the B2s have a "discreet design". There's no way to tell anything from the picture so how small are they compared to the B6s? 

 

 

Sawrab

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The B2s seem to be hypercardioid lavaliers. I'm guessing you don't hide these under clothing. 

 

Correct, they have to be clipped on the outside. They have an integrated foam windscreen as well, because they're very susceptible to breath pops. To tell you the truth, I haven't tried to conceal them in a costume, but to me they're a specialty mic only for unusual situations like the ones described above. Sennheiser and Shure also have directional lavs for situations like this. I haven't tried to use a B2 without the foam windscreen, but I have run into clothing noise issues with them when they weren't mounted just right. I find you have to go pretty low to overcome head-turn issues -- the levels will drop considerably more than they do with an omni, just as you'd expect. I try to get the talent in these cases to speak up and try to avoid extreme head-turns if possible.

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Qjgw13v.jpg?1

(Image for sizing purpose in case it's handy for anyone else trying to visualize the difference)

 

I have used the COS11 ever since I joined location sound so that for me the 'standard' sound in lavaliers. Recently I started on my own and couldn't resist to get a few Countrymans (mostly because of cost and for the sake of trying something different).

 

I have a few days of shoot on the B3s and just got my B6 from the States. Based on what I am reading from the this thread, I (or rather the actors) should be extra gentle with the B6s. Sound wise I have yet to try it in on a real-world shoot. Most probably will use the B6 on women (mostly when they wear super tight fitting wardrobe (the thinner cable comes in handy here) and generally they won't get involved in extreme actions unless the script determines so. I am also looking forward to try to have the B6 in plain sight (hopefully when the camera is on wide shots).

 

Best regards,

F

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