Field Audio - help with next upgrade
I have a basic field audio package (items listed below) and have been upgrading elements as I can afford it. I would love input from others on which items would be your priority. Most of my work is ENG style - lots of stuff for CBS News, CNN, Inside Edition, etc. But increasingly I'm getting bigger jobs with several actors, more going on than just an interview with a lav and boom. So below I've listed my current gear, then a list of what I would like to upgrade, roughly in order of what I think is the priority. I know it's a lot to ask, but any input on this would be most appreciated.
Shure FP33 mixer with Portabrace bag
Lectrosonics 195 wireless with Tram mic
Sennheiser EW112P G2 wireless with Sennheiser mic
Sennheiser MKH-416P short shotgun
Gitzo aluminum boom pole - 9ft.
Oktava MC-012 pencil condenser with hypercardioid capsule
Sony 7506 headphones
2 Tram hardwired lavs
Countryman B3 lav
various other hardwired mics - handheld and lav
Also have Mackie 1402 mixer when more than 3 channels are needed (and I can plug in). Also an additional Sennheiser wireless that has a base unit that needs to be plugged in (so not great for true "field" work). In addition, I have all kinds of cables, connectors, outboard processors, etc.
1) Tram mic to replace Sennheiser mic on Sennheiser wireless
2) K-Tek 102CC boom pole to replace Gitzo
3) better hyper mic for interiors (which one?)
4) Additional wireless unit (another Senn EW11P G2? I love Lectro, but they're pricey)
5) Sound Devices 442 mixer to replace Shure
I also am a shooter, editor and DVD author, so setting priorities is a real balancing act. Thanks for your help!
I think most sound guys are faced with the same dilemma, I know I am constantly buying and upgrading equipment to suit different needs. Judging from your current list you have a fairly good ENG package. What I did was to make an primary ENG package and a Cinema-style package. Both of them share several wireless mics and some batteries. Other than that, I try and keep them separate because the ENG work is very hard on equipment and I prefer not to subject most of the new stuff to such abuse.
If I were in your shoes, I would hold on to the gear you have now and use it to build an ENG kit. You can use the wireless you have and share it for use with a more cinema-based package. The next thing would be to add a few channels of wireless (and I agree that Lectro is the way to go - but that can be something you purchase over time). The Sound Devices 442 is a good choice, especially if you have, or intend to purchase, other Sound Devices gear (i.e.: 442 + 302 + 744 = 9 channels). If you find that you don't need all four channels of the 442, then check into the 302. I have both and I find myself using the 302 more than the 442 just because of size- and I like the pots on the 302 better. The difference in cost could save you enough to buy a better mic!
You also probably need a long-reach shotgun (Senn. MKH70 or equal) for exteriors, and then a good, high-end cardioid for interiors (Schoeps CMC641 is a good choice but, again, expensive).
You will need a time-code slate if you plan on doing film, or film-style HD work. Ditto on a sound cart.
In my opinion, the Tram is great for ENG, where it's exposed and can be screened for wind, but they aren't as good as say, a Countryman B6, or Sennheiser MKE-2, or Sanken Co-11 for concealing and planting. Also, even though the Tram is an omni, it's a side-address omni, and it needs to positioned with some orientation favoring the source so it's not as easy as just putting the capsule of a B6 on a prop or in hair.
By the way, how do like the Oktavia mic?
Thanks for the extensive reply. I think you make a valid point about keeping the ENG and Cinema packages somewhat separate. I've used the Countryman B6 a number of times and like it very much, too. My only problem is handling it with my big fingers!!
I've used the Oktava a bunch as overhead for drums when I record. They work great for that. I only recently got the hyper capsule and tried it out in an interior with hardwood floors. It did a pretty good job of cutting down on relections and maintaining a pretty present sound. I think it is a good mic for the money. I'm sure the Schoeps would be a big step up though.