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Top mic for Sony FX9


Martin von Krogh
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Hi everyone, Im about to upgrade my top mic for my FX9 and my initial thought was to purchase one Sennheiser 416 for situations where I need dialoge for people who is not wearing pen mics. And a stereo mic for ambient sound when I'm filming environment and b-roll.

But then I was suggested to look at Sennheiser ms 418 or Sanken CMS-50 and skip the 416 and just use one mic for both situations. It is definitely tempting and would be great if it as great as I think but there is very little good reviews about this setup and mics. Any thoughts or other suggestions would be very appreciated!

 

Thanks

Martin/Documentary filmmaker  

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Both of my P2 VariCam's have kind of expensive stereo nat mics(Panasonic)(about $1500-$1600 each 10 years ago) and while I do run them in their stereo mode and know the importance of good nats and good on-camera mics,  I've never had anyone say "Great stereo camera nats".  What's more important than stereo nats(nats themselves are important), is intelligible voices in those times when that's the only mic around(those with news, sports, doc backgrounds know what I mean).  I honestly wouldn't worry about a stereo camera mic.  

 

When the Sanken CS-M1 came out, I decided to get that as the nat mic for my F55, and I've been very pleased with it.  Besides being almost comically small, which is great for on-camera use, it sounds darn good(doesn't have the balls of a 3e, but still sounds good).  I did a shoot about a month ago, and primary sound was being recorded in the bag and I only had my CS-M1 running into the cam.  A day after the shoot, I was copying the files to a drive and spot checking them.  I stopped and listened to some of the stand-ups that talent did(we were in a very good environment- edge of the woods in the middle of a national park).  I was probably at least half-way through before I remembered that the only audio going into my camera was the nat mic(not advocating shooting dialogue with a camera mounted mic, just speaking to how good the mic can sound).  If they had had to use that audio instead of the "hero" audio, no one would have probably known.

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I used the Panasonic stereo mics on my P2 cameras for years and found them excellent - for ambient sound. Dialogue was recorded by my audio guy, but in mix, the stereo tracks gave great options for texture, and on a run and gun doc in difficult locations, he had enough to deal with to get clean voice tracks, and the camera mic a painless way to get stereo ambience, necessary as the deliverables for Discovery were 5.1. I'm looking for a comparable solution for my F55, and the only good option appears to be the Sanken CMS 50. If I'd known how much I'd have to spend, I would never have included the Panasonic mic with the camera when I sold it, as the buyer probably didn't care. Definitely not a mic for dialogue.

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I think a major factor is:

How often will you be relying on the camera mic as your primary for an interview/distant subject?  If often then go with the MKH418s.  I suspect the Sennheiser will have better rejection than the Sanken.  The downside is the size.  You'll probably be MUCH happier with the small, unobtrusive Sanken -(especially when wind diffusion in factored in).

 

Going with a M/S mic for a camera mic is a great practice, provided that: 1) The editor knows what to do with m/s recordings.  2) The camera operator is not chewing gum while rolling.

 

The MKH418S side channel has a noticeable noise floor (hiss), but once decoded to a stereo image  it is not an issue unless the recording is of a very quiet environment.

 

As the owner of  a 418S who has recorded sound for picture for 30 years and also did a couple years as sound editor for picture (and also an owner of an FS7 provisioned for 418S) I can say that a M/S mic is very appealing considering amount of dimension it can lend to a sound design, while extorting minimal additional burden on production.

 

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