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Advice for upgrading sound

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Mark Leger
Advice for upgrading sound
on Feb 9, 2015 at 2:52:55 am
Last Edited By Mark Leger on Feb 9, 2015 at 3:00:20 am

Just did a shot yesterday interviewing a couple that came out pretty good and the client has ordered many more to be done. Audio captured with h4n with a couple at803's clipped to each of them. I also have a rode ntg2 that I've used as well in the past. Want to update my game.

Most interviews are in a controlled studio. Every now and then will be shooting at a couple's house and possibly outside at a park and such.

Looking at booming over the couples for my audio and get away from the lavs unless really need them. I think a sound device unit might be a little out of my league but the tascam 680 might be more my range if anyone thinks it may fit the bill. Also a jump to ntg3?

The h4n is not horrible but I've been advised that could be getting so much better sound. It was a good start for me but I want to move on up.

I'm not strict on my budget but I'm not busy enough to go nuts yet. I'm thinking around $1500 for a better system to give an idea of what I was thinking. Could someone recommend a new recorder, mic, pole, and headphones in this range? Btw I have a nice mixer I use for dj stuff, never used it on a shoot but if it could fit into a new workflow with my new equipment I would if recommended.


tl.dr Looking for recorder, mic, pole, headphones for interviews around the $1500 range....TIA!


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Richard Crowley
Re: Advice for upgrading sound
on Feb 9, 2015 at 1:21:49 pm

First you say that your tracks "came out pretty good and the client has ordered many more to be done." But then you say you "Want to update my game." Is this just "free-floating anxiety"? Or are there specific things about the current performance that need improvement?

Do you have an experienced boom operator to handle aiming a single mic at two people? How do you plan on accommodating them when they speak simultaneously or rapidly back-and-forth? Experienced boom operators typically study the script in advance so they know who speaks when in order to have the microphone aimed properly at the right time. Of course, that is not possible for spontaneous interviews with amateurs.

From your brief description of your current production conditions, it doesn't seem like a single boom mic is a very practical alternative for what you are doing. If you want to get away from lav mics (why?) perhaps what you need is a couple of decent hyper-cardioid mics. Of course, that assumes the subjects are stationary and don't turn their heads much.

If I were in your situation, I might consider upgrading the lav mics, but boom mics would seem beyond the scope of what is reasonable.


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Mark Leger
Re: Advice for upgrading sound
on Feb 9, 2015 at 3:48:37 pm

thx for the response. the majority of the time in the studio it will be me and a couple sitting in front of a green screen. 90% of the videos will be this. the couple facing the main cam and speaking directly at the cam. occasionally they will face each other to crack a joke or something to that effect.

i had a guy use the studio and recorded a similar setup but it was just one guy talking for a video blog. he used my ntg2 mounted just above the guy out of frame but used his tascam (just emailed to asked which model it is). after his vid went up i noticed the audio sounded really good and he said he didnt do much with it and actually sent me the original raw file. i can hear the difference in quality between my h4n recordings and that file recorded with a tascam. i read around this forum and others and basically assumed that i can do better than the h4n for what im shooting and not spend a fortune.

im not completely opposed to using my lavs, or even upgrading to better ones. was just thinking it would be nice to have my talent just sit in their chairs (which are right on side each other) and just start talking without having to mic them up and put wires in shirts every single time.

is it recommended that i should have 2 mics, one on top of each of the interviewees?


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Al Bergstein
Re: Advice for upgrading sound
on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:16:11 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:19:08 pm

Mark, the H4N never has had great sound. Harsh and hissy. I upgraded to the H5 and it's much better sound overall. The Tascam lower end models like the newer DR-60DMk is a nice unit for 2 channell under the camera or mounted on an arm. I've used one and it's ok, and better than both the H4 for sound. It's probably similar to the H5. It eats batteries, as do all Tascam units I've tried.

You can buy a brand new, best of class SD 702 recorder for $2200 with bag at B&H. If you think you have a long future ahead of you, just save up for that one. You'll be money ahead in the long run. It's built like a tank, you will have it for a long time, and never worry about it in any field condition. I could easily have bought one for all the money I've spent in the lower end, though it's been a fun learning experience. Here's my thoughts...

I've been fortunate enough to try a bunch of recorders. I currently own both a H5 which is my go to unit for it's size and flexibility but must say that my Marantz PMD 661 has a better sound floor. If I'm shooting music, I often choose it. It's 2 channel.

I've also used a Roland R44 and it's sound floor is superb. If you can find a used one it's a very good deal. Even new with bag it's $1089 at B&H. It's also 4 channel. I'm not wild about the ergonomics of it.

My usual sound engineer, who runs his own studio, and is incredibly fussy, has bought and is blown away with the sound quality from the Tascam 680. It's a steal at $600 bucks for a quasi 8 track. He swears it's the best audio deal he has ever bought. I think it's quite similar to the Roland in terms of noise floor and preamp quality. Again, ergonomics is not as good as the SD units, which are built for the working pro.

lastly, the field mixer is the way to get great sound. My MixPre is always at hand. Helps any recorder sound better.

Once with that gear, you can determine whether you need new mics. My guess is you don't. The H4 is the weakest link in your current chain.

Al


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Mark Leger
Re: Advice for upgrading sound
on Feb 9, 2015 at 8:12:20 pm

ok ill admit yall had me reading up on that sd 702 but.....its just not in the cards right now budget-wise. i would love to say im buying it and the mixpre-d next year though :).

so for now im thinking that ill go with the tascam 680. should be a wonderful improvement over the h4n.

im sure my at803 lav mics should work well with this. so ill stick with those for now i guess.

so what would be 2 good mics to place out of frame for my talent to not have to use the lavs?

while on that subject, i also would like to start doing VO work with some of my clients since im upgrading my audio capabilities. have a spare room in the studio that i could make into a small audio booth. could i also use these mics for that aspect? or do you guys recommend a specific mic kit for this?


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Richard Crowley
Re: Advice for upgrading sound
on Feb 9, 2015 at 5:06:32 pm

If you had said you were interviewing ONE person (like you example of the visiting producer), my response would have been rather different. But, at least with the kind of people I typically see, in real life, and on the screen, trying to mic two people in an unscripted, unrehearsed situation with a single mic would make me very nervous.


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