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You wanna spend HOW much on a shotgun mic???!!!


SoundDude
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Hi folks; I was told I had a budget of around $5k for some new gear at the video production company I'm now at as audio guy and video assistant editor. So I know it's everyone's favourite question in boom mic land, but I'll phrase it differently :)

Currently they're using Sennheiser ME66 and ME2 boom/lavs and when I priced out some Sanken COS-11 and Rode Lav wires and a complete package Senn 8070 (with grip, blimp, and rycote total of over $3k), the answer I received was "You wanna spend HOW much on one microphone?!?! You're crazy! What's wrong with using lavs, we already have a boom mic!"

So: in order to keep with a 21mm/22mm mic shockmount and zeppelin rig (which will make them happy by keeping cost down), I'm looking for bang for buck and was maybe entertaining idea of Shure VP89 short and long capsule. Ideally, I'd go with Schoeps CMC6/MK41 for interior sit down interviews but my concern for these folks is the outdoor location shoots (it's 'corporate video' etc and sometimes can be in factory/mining/manufacturing/outside in windy prairie fields) so if I have to use the ME66 indoors, I shall.

I know I can't serve both needs equally (indoor sit-down and possible distance-shot location with desired rejection) but which mics would you suggest I look at for the sub- $1200 ish range?

 

I haven't been in location audio for awhile (mainly a post guy who polishes it later) so the go-to's for me used to be Senn 416, Neumann 81 / 82. I've recently been reading about Rode NTG-3 and the Shure VP89 series.

Cheers!
Jeff

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I had a VP88 for a while and MAN! that thing was noisy!  Not sure about the VP89's.

RODE makes an NTG3 for south of $700.  But you'll need "protection".

To my ear, for the money, I like the RODE better than a 416.  I am not a fan of the "non-airy" compressed sound of Sennheiser, and the brightness of the 416.  But I have mixed (post-audio) plenty of programs and films captured with 416's and I could make the dialogue sound pretty good.

 

 

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Find a good pro audio dealer (like Trew Audio, Location Sound Corporation, TAI Audio, Audio Department, or Professional Sound Services) and have them come up with a package for you. I don't think Rode is necessarily the best way to go, and there might be alternatives like buying a used Sennheiser or a used Schoeps that will get you a much better mic for the same or less money. 

Wireless mics don't preclude booms, and sometimes you need one and the other or just have one as a backup. A lot depends on the type of work you do. Wireless transmitters and receivers often cost far more than the lav mics themselves, particularly if you get good ones.

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You could probably stay under $2000 by getting a Sanken CS3e and a Rycote S Series windshield. It can't handle the highest wind situations but when it's too windy, I just throw another fur over it, works great.

edit: nooo, seems the S series has been discontinued...  don't know why, it's super handy and works like a charm.

Edited by Karri
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I have to wonder about the windjamming capability of just the SuperShield basket (without furry) compared to the S Series fur basket, since for me the beauty of the S Series is being quickly able to attach/detach the fur components with a quick twist when moving from outdoors to indoors on a fast-paced run n gun shoot, and not worry about wind unless it's a particularly windy day/location. Pulling on the traditional dead cat always takes some time plus compared to the S Series it's one more piece of equipment to take care of when moving indoors.

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Thanks, folks! And yes... here in the Canadian prairies... wind is definitely not our friend.

Thanks, Marc, for the suggestion about package/finding used.

Minister - yeah in my listenings I did prefer the Rode over 416 but I guess I also have to think 'about it in the mix and making the dialogue come through'

 

-Jeff

 

 

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" I am not a fan of the "non-airy" compressed sound of Sennheiser,"
What do you mean ? AFAIK there is not compressor in this mic !

"Currently they're using Sennheiser ME66 and ME2 boom/lavs"

Plenty of mics sounds better than those 2 mics ! Why not trying a CMIT plus a "piano windshield" : a very light and precise kit ?

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" I am not a fan of the "non-airy" compressed sound of Sennheiser,"
What do you mean ? AFAIK there is not compressor in this mic !

Correct!  But is SOUNDS a little compressed to my ear.  I have done extensive tests over years recording foley, sound effects, and dialogue with Sennheiser MKH40's, MKH50's, MKH60's, MKH 70, MKH30/40 MS Combo compared to Schoeps CMC6| MK4, MK21, MK41, MK4|MK8 MS, and CMIT 5U and DPA 4017 and RODE NTG3 and Neumann 81.  Comparing recordings, there is something a bit rubbery/plastic and ever-so-slightly compressed (sounding) and lacking-in-air to the Sennheiser "sound" when compared to other high quality mics.  I notice in my recordings (I own most of these mics) and in the Production sound I get.  The others sound more open, more air, and more natural, especially the DPA and Schoeps.

"Currently they're using Sennheiser ME66 and ME2 boom/lavs"

Plenty of mics sounds better than those 2 mics ! Why not trying a CMIT plus a "piano windshield" : a very light and precise kit ?

He said in the first post, "(with grip, blimp, and rycote total of over $3k), the answer I received was "You wanna spend HOW much on one microphone?!?! You're crazy! What's wrong with using lavs, we already have a boom mic!"

CMIT and Piano is exactly where they DON'T want him to go.

Edited by minister
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What does the rest of the 5K budget have to go to?  What do they have already? Are they looking to add more wireless? May need to relate the microphone to lenses... doesn't matter how good the camera is, cheap noisy glass looks bad. "Microphones are the "lenses" your sound is captured through" and all that.  The "You want to spend how much on a camera? We already have a GoPro" argument would never work if the situation was reversed...

 

Edited by RJBerto
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He said in the first post, "(with grip, blimp, and rycote total of over $3k), the answer I received was "You wanna spend HOW much on one microphone?!?! You're crazy! What's wrong with using lavs, we already have a boom mic!"

CMIT and Piano is exactly where they DON'T want him to go.

You can find in NY a kit with a CMIT plus a Rycote kit 4 for less than 2800$.

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...

I haven't been in location audio for awhile (mainly a post guy who polishes it later) so the go-to's for me used to be Senn 416, Neumann 81 / 82. I've recently been reading about Rode NTG-3 and the Shure VP89 series.

Cheers!
Jeff

If I were in your position (budget sensitive, production company owned, etc), here's what I would do:

First, it's time to ditch the ME-66. They were a decent ENG shotgun for many years, but not robust enough to be considered reliable at their age, and have basically been replaced by the MKE600. Buy either a used Sennheiser 416P48, or, if you can't find a used 416, then buy an MKE600. Get a used 12-foot or 16-foot pole (K-Tek, PSC, Ambient, or VdB). I've used the MKE600 and evaluated it, and there is no reason to not go with it for a production company-owned audio kit. If the used 416 doesn't come with an exterior windshield/suspension, buy a new Rycote Super Shield Kit. If you put the used 416 or new MKE600 inside the Rycote kit, I guarantee you that no one will suspect you saved hundreds on your microphone. Try to find a used 12-foot or 16-foot pole (K-Tek, PSC, Ambient, or VdB) -- if a used one can't be found, buy a new one, but not a cheaper brand.

Don't consider the MKH70 or MKH8070 until you already have a shotgun and short mic for the boom. Long shotguns like the MKH70, 8070, KMR-82, etc, are specialty items for after you get the basics. I haven't used a long shotgun in many years. You don't need one either.

You did't mention what wireless system you already have, but since you mentioned the ME2 lav mics, I assume they came with a Sennheiser Evolution series wireless kit. The next step up from that system (and a big step up) is the Lectrosonics system with LM transmitter. Not only is it more expensive, but doesn't include a mic. In your situation, I'd stick to the most standard that is affordable, which, for lav mics, means the COS-11. You can get less expensive mics and more expensive mics, but for the situation you described, I suggest the COS-11. Though I highly recommend the Lectro/Sanken system as being the best investment for your situation, if it is deemed unaffordable then I'd just stay with the Evolution/ME2 system.

There are a lot of "art terms" used to describe microphones, such as "compressed sound of Sennheiser" (I have no idea what that might mean), but I assure you there is no compression in a Sennheiser 416 or similar mic, or any mics for that matter.

There you go... If you get the equipment listed above, not only will you save a few thousand $, whatever problems you might have with sound will not be due to equipment choices. Buy new cables to hook up everything. Keep in mind that whatever you get will require skills and experience to get a high quality sound. Be sure to budget plenty of time for practice. The only question remaining is what to do with the extra cash.

Edited by Glen Trew
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I've owned an MKH416 for years and pretty much the mic I've used a lot. I;ve used CMIT (Awesome but of course expensive. Worth it), AKG shotguns, Shure I have seen but do not like them. By far though the 416 is one of my favorites and it's a workhorse. In my dream of dreams and if money was no object...yeah a Scheops CMIT Super would be my choice with a CInela. So light and boom friendly. I just don't see me affording a Scheops mic in this century. However, I can agree with many here, that Sennheiser has some great alternatives. The ME66 was one of the first mics I used a lot because I worked at a video/audio rental and I could use it for free on my first gigs. Not a bad mic for the price and Sennheiser makes quality mics.  I don't know what compression you're hearing in a 416. Yes, they are bright. I've never had any complaints for that though. I would love to move to another mic myself. As far as wireless Lectros IMHO is the best. Range is great. I have older Lectros that still have better range than others and this is with not external antennas. They also take a beating well. Not to discredit other brands. I would have to concur that a Lectro/Sanken combo is great and you won't regret the quality. 

Edited by aginzo
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There are a lot of "art terms" used to describe microphones, such as "compressed sound of Sennheiser" (I have no idea what that might mean), but I assure you there is no compression in a Sennheiser 416 or similar mic, or any mics for that matter.

If I repeated that I was well aware that there was no compression circuitry in these microphones, would it help?  Geez.

We are getting OT, but...  Spend a lot of time in a professionally designed studio with very good speakers and record a lot of foley, or SFX, or voices with a MKH40, MKH50, MKH60, MKH416.  Then record those same foley, fx, voices with Schoeps, DPA, Rode. and compare. Listen the what happens to the air around the object.  Listen to the transient content.  Listen to the character.  Then do the same with voices outside and in other rooms. Then record a lot of SFX and ambiences with these same mics and compare sounds. Once you hear it, you'll know what I am talking about.  By comparison, that's how they sound to me.  But I spend more time on monitors (in a studio and a Dub Stage) than headphones.

Mixed a film beginning of last year by a guy with a 416/mkh50 outdoor/indoor combo.  Sounds good.  Another film 9 months later, same production guy, I was in the dialogue edit and I could instantly hear the difference.  Called him up to compliment him on the improvement (to my ear) and find out if he bought new mics, sure enough, he had purchased a CMIT and MK41.

I think it is a great idea to partner with a dealer and put together some packages. Identifying some good brand and model candidates and finding used items for sale is the way to go.  Either way, I feel you have some "education" to do with your superiors.  Maybe some demonstrations?  I have done it with some clients - convinced them to hire us for Production, then brought them into the studio and showed them the difference between not only our chain and theirs, but having a great well-placed  indoor boom vs their Lavs.  it was ear opening.  Then again, not every client cares or has ears.  They all have purse strings though........

 

Edited by minister
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  • 2 weeks later...

May need to relate the microphone to lenses... doesn't matter how good the camera is, cheap noisy glass looks bad. The "You want to spend how much on a camera? We already have a GoPro" argument would never work if the situation was reversed...

 

Wow that's fantastic!  A+ analogy!

What I had told them was "I'm your audio person and you've asked me to put together an audio gear list. You just spent nearly 20k on lighting and this is the other part of that system so if you want to continue using the gear you bought to get you started even though you're in this 10 years now after telling me you brought me on to bring your projects to the next level, I don't mind charging you my hourly rate to fix up the audio I couldn't capture better on set... or we can spend now, recoup this in your client charges, and spend less time in the end on audio and have gear that will hold up better over time, thereby reducing your overall spend."

Good thing I know the owner well enough to poke. :)

First, it's time to ditch the ME-66. 

 I haven't used a long shotgun in many years. You don't need one either.

You did't mention what wireless system you already have, but since you mentioned the ME2 lav mics, I assume they came with a Sennheiser Evolution series wireless kit. 

Keep in mind that whatever you get will require skills and experience to get a high quality sound. Be sure to budget plenty of time for practice. The only question remaining is what to do with the extra cash.

ME-66. Check. My first recommendation was: gotta ditch these. Thus, the search.

Long shotgun was basically for those environments where I can't get in the shot due to two cameras / walk n talks. YES, the subjects are ALWAYS wired, forgot to mention that. So, relax and let the wires do the 'legwork' for me?

Wireless -- yes, sorry for omission. Senn G3 evo set. I haven't been super happy with them so was asking on another board about coverage/whether to try getting external antennae (though I'm usually standing holding a boom with strapped on Zoom H6 mixer [I know...I know...] and the two wireless pack receivers and still trying to knob-fiddle).
 

THUMBS-UP to skills and experience. Absolutely. I do alright in the post and in-studio world after nearly 20 years and having to try to get my brain around location gear and audio now. No time for practice hahaha because they're booked fairly solid in summer season here where we only have 12 good weeks ;)

 

Thanks - appreciate all the response time!

Jeff

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ME-66. Check. My first recommendation was: gotta ditch these. Thus, the search.

Yes, even a Rode shotgun mic sounds better.

Long shotgun was basically for those environments where I can't get in the shot due to two cameras / walk n talks. YES, the subjects are ALWAYS wired, forgot to mention that. So, relax and let the wires do the 'legwork' for me?

For documentary and reality work, basically yes, if you got them covered with lavs, either concentrate on that and maybe add the boom at a distance to be able to get some natural ambience. You might wanna get better lavs than then ME-2 that comes with the G3-system.

Personally, I boom as well whenever possible, but that's just me. :-)

Wireless -- yes, sorry for omission. Senn G3 evo set. I haven't been super happy with them so was asking on another board about coverage/whether to try getting external antennae (though I'm usually standing holding a boom with strapped on Zoom H6 mixer [I know...I know...] and the two wireless pack receivers and still trying to knob-fiddle).

At what distance and which situations are you experiencing problems with you G3 systems?

Properly setup you should be able to get pretty good performance - not like an expensive wireless system but still good. I've used G3-systems in police cars with officers talking on their com radios without any interference and I've gotten good performance at a distance too - police car out of sight two blocks away. The camera man's G2-system, on the other hand, got knocked out right away by the side-bands of the police com radios.

I'm thinking you might be unlucky regarding the choice of frequency band in your city. The frequency scanner in the G3-system is IMHO totally useless, but I can highly recommend buying an RF Explorer. In five minutes you will be able to scan the frequency spectrum, find the frequencies with the least noise in your band and setup your G3-systems appropriately. Thank me later! ;-) 

THUMBS-UP to skills and experience. Absolutely. I do alright in the post and in-studio world after nearly 20 years and having to try to get my brain around location gear and audio now. No time for practice hahaha because they're booked fairly solid in summer season here where we only have 12 good weeks 

The trick is to make it as comfortable as possible when doing ENG/EFP work - that means getting the proper equipment and put in in a good bag. Personally I find it very relieving working with wireless camera links, a good harness and a boom with built-in cable.

 

Good luck

Fred

 

Edited by ninjafreddan
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I have done extensive tests over years recording foley, sound effects, and dialogue with Sennheiser MKH40's, MKH50's, MKH60's, MKH 70, MKH30/40 MS Combo compared to Schoeps CMC6| MK4, MK21, MK41, MK4|MK8 MS, and CMIT 5U and DPA 4017 and RODE NTG3 and Neumann 81.  Comparing recordings, there is something a bit rubbery/plastic and ever-so-slightly compressed (sounding) and lacking-in-air to the Sennheiser "sound" when compared to other high quality mics.

...

...We are getting OT, but...  Spend a lot of time in a professionally designed studio with very good speakers and record a lot of foley, or SFX, or voices with a MKH40, MKH50, MKH60, MKH416.  Then record those same foley, fx, voices with Schoeps, DPA, Rode. and compare. Listen the what happens to the air around the object.  Listen to the transient content.  Listen to the character.  Then do the same with voices outside and in other rooms. Then record a lot of SFX and ambiences with these same mics and compare sounds. Once you hear it, you'll know what I am talking about.

I've been listening to, comparing, and using all of those microphones mentioned above for a long time - from the time they were introduced - and know their character and differences very well, but I still don't know what "non-airy compressed sound" or "rubbery/plastic sounding" means. I caution against using these terms because the power of suggestion - especially with people starting to build experience and develop their ear - leads people to assume that a particular characteristic is being discussed when it's actually something else, or hear characteristics that may not be related to the microphone at all, which leads to choices being made based on misunderstandings. Since this thread is about helping someone make the best choice for their needs, it's important to be accurate and specific. Compression is a definite term for a definite process, and a source like we are discussing here does not sound compressed without being compressed in any of the varying degrees of compression. Some people use the term "air" to describe self noise (sounds like a leaky air hose), or unknowingly describe the high freq accentuating effect of self-noise, while others use the same term to refer to a sensitivity to subtle transients. I just finished two weeks of production with Sennheiser MKH60, 8050, 8040, Schoeps MK41, and DPA 4017 in a variety of dialog and ambience situations. The differences in the microphones were clear (obvious, apparent, distinct) to myself and the boom op, but "rubbery" never came to mind.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that there are specific terms that refer to and describe specific characteristics of microphones, and we should strive to be technically specific in our descriptions when making recommendations.

Edited by Glen Trew
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Thanks, Ninjafredden. Yeah we lav everything and I boom when I can / when I know I'll be able to pick up usable stuff.

 

Situations here are usually walk n talks and they do a fair amount of industrial stuff on-site and in those situations I'm not too surprised with metal/concrete around but I'm always within sightlines of the subjects. Distance varies but I'd say I've experienced issues past 50' or so.

 

Thanks for the heads-up about the scanner. I've just been using the onboard and they have a G3 and a G2 and the two aren't as easily used in that aspect.

 

Currently using Rode Lavaliers and I'm pretty happy with the sound. Not so happy with the connectors. Two broke yesterday in one day of use.

 

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