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Compare Lav Mics

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Richard Crowley
Compare Lav Mics
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:23:42 pm

I recently did sound for a 13-episode TV series now playing on a global satellite channel (3ABN).
We had four guys seated around a 4-ft ~ 1m square table, each with a lav hidden under his shirt collar.
The first episode is up on Vimeo here:

https://vimeo.com/70030114

See if you can guess which mics I used on the different guys:
Ty Gibson, James Rafferty, David Asscherick, and Jeffrey Rosario
You can see the identification of who is who in the tags in the first shot after the opening sequence.

Here are the mics I used (NOT in the same order as the names above!
They were all wired, XLR mics, not wireless. Even though they are all runners, we managed to keep them seated long enough for each 18-minute segment(!)
One Rode Lav with MiCon5 XLR ($275)
Two Oscar Sound Tech OST-801 with XLR ($170 each)
One MXL FR-350 ($40) (as 1/2 of 2-pack)

For subsequent series, I intend to get two more OST-801 and a bunch of vampire clips(!)
At least to my ear, the Rode Lav did not sound "$100 better", and the MXL held its own.


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Ty Ford
Re: Compare Lav Mics
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:49:41 pm

Richard,

Thanks for posting! There's enough bleed and table bounce to make differentiation pretty impossible for me. Were these just all faders up and let them go? Did you ride gain? Did you have an auto mixer?

Nice Job!

Regards,

Ty

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Richard Crowley
Re: Compare Lav Mics
on Jul 15, 2013 at 9:57:57 pm

Alas, we didn't have the time/budget to do a proper (gated) mix. Not the first time you heard that, is it?

I did a manually-gated demo mix for a couple of 18-minute segments, but it was taking me 30-40 minutes per segment. As you say, there was so much cross-talk and bounce from the table that I was unable to do any sort of automated mixing/gating. Maybe I can devise (or discover) some semi-automated short-cuts for Audition to make this easier/faster?

I tried to talk them into headset mics, but they "didn't like the look". They didn't even like visible lavs. Its not like we were re-creating the era of Martin Luther before the invention of the microphone(!)


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Ty Ford
Re: Compare Lav Mics
on Jul 15, 2013 at 10:03:09 pm

Richard,

I feel your pain my brother. :)

I'm looking at a two day shoot this week with not enough audio support myself and although I have a Sound Devices 664 and can iso the four lavs, I'm told there will probably not be enough time to use them unless all heck breaks loose.

I can't even see the lavs on my computer!

Did you do any mixing at all, or just let it fly?

Regards,

Ty Ford

Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Richard Crowley
Re: Compare Lav Mics
on Jul 15, 2013 at 10:54:31 pm

We recorded video/audio on each of five EX1 cameras ("iso"). I split the lav mics to go direct to (and phantom power from) the corresponding camera. I ran the isolated splits to my Edirol R4 (Oade brothers edition) as a backup of the four independent mic channels.

I wasn't involved in the editing, but the editor discovered that even after syncing the video from the five cameras, there was still some timing errors ("hollow sound") between the individual audio tracks. So he ended up muting all the camera audio and using my 4-track recording from the Edirol as the primary.

I didn't do any mixing while shooting. I set the levels during rehearsal and just "let 'er rip". My job during shooting was mainly to monitor all four mic channels for movement/clothing noise, and ambient noise that was above the director's and producer's threshold of "acceptable".

We were shooting in a big warehouse next door to a plywood mill and on a logging road, with a train track not 1/2 mile away. Two or three segments have quite audible rain noise on the roof of the metal building, and we had to stop shooting several times because the rain noise was so great.

As I understand it, the mix on the release copy is pretty much just the raw tracks as I recorded them. There are a few places where the editor had to tweak the overall mix level.

The mics ended up being gaff-taped to the inside of their shirts just out of sight. Except the MXL mic was taped directly to the center of the chest of the talent. For next time, I'm getting another pair of OST mics and some vampire clips to make the wardrobe changes easier.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Compare Lav Mics
on Jul 22, 2013 at 5:04:54 pm

OK here is the revelation...

Ty Gibson (gray shirt) and James Rafferty (blue shirt) had the Oscar OST-801 mics.
David Asscherick (plaid shirt) had the Rode Lav, and
Jeffrey Rosario (charcoal sweater) had the MXL mic.



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