So, here's a divisive question.
Hi everyone, I hope you are well. I've recently stumbled onto this site, and couldn't be happier.
A bit of background: I'm a Cinema Studies graduate from the UK (now living in NYC) and like most folks who studied theory and history, I was taught all the why of filmmaking, and almost none of the how. This frustrated me to no end, so I took out on my own, and sold myself as a general grunt for whatever film was shooting during my free time. I learned a lot, mostly piecemeal, but what I have the most confidence in is capturing sound. Now, that being said, what have confidence in is capturing really budget sound. Old, beat-up mics taped to broomsticks, and the like. Basically, making the best of shitty situations.
Anyway, recently, I've been hired as an assistant studio manager at a small green screen studio. The place has a variety of problems for recording (including a giant AC duct that services two floors running right through the joint) and one day I tried my hand at recording. We've got some decent equipment, but most of it is pretty lousy. Using what was at hand, I did really well. The clients, as well as the studio owner, said it was the best sound that's ever been captured there. So suddenly, I've find myself a bona-fide soundman.
Now the big boss is telling me that I have almost carte blache to pick out a bunch of new equipment for the studio. I know this is a lot of people's dreams... but I have no idea where to start. What's good, reasonable, tried and true, impressive to clients? So, I'm asking for your help.
What I'm thinking is a respectable field mixer, a couple wireless lavs (they've already got a neuman shotgun, in great condition), a boom, a wind jammer, and whatever bells and whistles you think are worth the money for both studio and location shoots.
I'm looking forward to your answers, and maybe this post might spark some lively debate?
P.S. They've got a new pair of Beyer DT100's, which they seem loathe to get rid of. Now, my (admittedly limited) understanding is that not all boards, particularly(?) field mixers, would be able to power the 400 impedance. Is this true? Am I talking out of my ass? Help a guy out.
Hello Scott and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.
I doubt that you'll find many folks all that divisive here when it comes to gear.
For the HVAC duct, start with wrapping it with sound blankets to see if that reduces the noise. Maybe you'll get lucky. There's a video studio at one of the local colleges with a HUGE HVAC return (4 feet x 4 feet) just outside the studio. When the system is on you can actually hear the wind whistle through the cracks around door.
Nice that you have the Neumann shotgun. 81, 82 or rsm191?
Field Mixer: How many inputs do you expect to use? I have a Sound Devices 442. 4 in and three sets of balanced outs (for feeding three cameras simultaneously) Go to the Sound Device site to read all of the features. I know of no better 4 input mixer.
Lavs: Sanken COS11 do very well. I have Countryman B6, E6 and EMW, all of which I like.
Wireless: Audio Ltd. makes the best sounding longest range wireless I've heard so far. I have samples up in my online archive. Their 2040 system is stunning. Lectrosonics makes great gear. Zaxcom is very ground breaking - digital, transmitters that are enabled with recording chips in case you do have a drop out.
Field Recorder: Back to Sound Devices for the 788T. 10 tracks, new solid state hard drive, (no spinning discs), excellent sound. Add on mixer interface. 744T, a four track, is in my kit.
BoomRecorder software runs on a Mac and with the right audio interfaces works really well.
Both Sound Devices and BoomRecorder record polywave files, so you end up with one icon representing all of the tracks of a take and they are synced together. Very cool.
DT100: nice phones. Impedance doesn't always have bearing on sensitivity. The Sony MDR 7506 are about the most sensitive headphones out there and because of their sound, they are standard issue for film production. They are peaked a bit at the top and bottom. The new Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones are more natural sounding, slightly bigger and cost a bit more.
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
I will eco what Ty recommended; Sound Devices 442 (seems to be the industry standard 4-channel mixer) & Sound Devices 7-Series recorders. I use the Sankin COS11x lavs which actually sound like boom mics; they match very well with booms and have also become industry stand for filmmaking. And I've heard great things about the Countryman B6 lavs, though I haven't used them. I use Lectrosonics 411A wireless systems which sound great. But also check out Audio Ltd. and Zaxcom.
Agreed. Sound Devices mixer. I have the 302. Love it. You should spring for the AC adapter, because these are battery powered mixers, and if you're shooting in the studio for the most part it would make sense to use the AC adapter. Sanken COS-11 lavs with a Lectrosonics wireless. I've never used Audio Limited or Zaxcom but I know that plenty of big time production people swear by them.
When I bought lavs I got Tram TR50s. They're good, but I regret not spending the extra cash for Sanken COS11's. They're more natural sounding.
Neumann make great mics, but you may want to consider a Sanken shotgun as well. They are considered the best shotgun mics for noisy situations. Tell your boss that you want to give the Sanken CS-3E a try, to see if it improves at reducing the sound of the HVAC system. B&H has a two week return policy that would allow you to try it out. The CS-3E has the best rear rejection of noise, so if it's up on a pole near the AC duct, it will ignore the noise better than any other shotgun:
You should also pick up a small diaphragm mic to use for booming in interiors. Small diaphragms microphones sound more natural than shotgun mics. In many situations you can get away with booming with a small diaphragm as opposed to a shotgun. Especially in interior shots. Most pros use the Schoeps CMC6/MK41:
It's a sweet mic, but it's really expensive. I recently picked up an Audio Technica 4053a. It's not a Schoeps, but at a fraction of the cost it comes incredibly close:
The 4053a was just discontinued like two weeks ago, which is a shame, but I'm really glad I picked one up. In the future I'm going to get a Schoeps, and I'll keep my 4053a in my bag as a back up. If you have to work in humid environments your mics start to fart out, so you need back ups.
Thanks for filling in the good content, Sam.
Some thoughts. The CS-3e is not really a shotgun mic, though it looks like one. The capsule is pretty much at the tip of the tube. It can be used inside and out.
The Schoeps cmc641 (which will go up in price AGAIN sometime this year, probably to $2400) is the mic you want for interior boom work. And yes, you can use it outside as well.
I think they'll be renumbering the 4053a. The discontinuation was due to the ROHS compliancy that lots of mics are going through now. Unfortunately the AT web site does a poor job of explaining this and sometimes lists a mic as discontinued without providing a link to the new version.
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide