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Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?

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Phil Parkinson
Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 8, 2016 at 5:54:14 pm

I watched a few youtube reviews on this mic and all said it was an amazing tool for capturing quality audio. I picked one up.

I am attaching it to a Zoom H4 via XLR cable. It's on a boom pole and is about a meter away from the subject in a quiet room. With the zoom turned up to 90 / 100, the rode mic picks up sound of about 24Db.... It's just so quiet.

The mic turns off and on, charges etc so looks fine. But it just doesn't pick up audio.

Is it a faulty mic or am I doing something wrong?

Thank you,

xxx


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Eric Toline
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 9, 2016 at 5:47:36 pm

Do you have phantom power turned on to power the mic?

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 9, 2016 at 6:32:09 pm

It's a self powered mic. Why would it need phantom power?


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Eric Toline
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 9, 2016 at 11:23:01 pm

No it's not self powered meaning it does not have an internal battery. The NTG 4 requires 48v phantom to be active. RTFM.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 1:02:18 am

My mistake... should have mentioned this is the NTG4 Pro, hence there is an internal battery.

Any ideas why it's only getting -24Db when a meter away from a subject in a quiet room with a Zoom turned up to 90?

Does this thing have to be spoken into like an actual lav mic? I just can't get a decent signal from it.

Thanks

x


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Richard Crowley
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 1:42:46 am

1m is rather outside the reasonable operating for a shotgun microphone. Perhaps you have unrealistic expectations.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Robert Withers
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 2:25:06 am

??? I've used shotgun mics at 1-2+ meters in many situations for years. That's what they're for. Even a good cardioid should give good sound levels at that distance. No idea what your level issue is the the Rode--more familiar with Sennheisers. But the Rode should do better than you report. Careful targeting of shotguns is important, of course. Must "focus" on the mouth of a speaker. I've had good results with Sennheiser 416 and Marantz digital recorder at these distances.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Bruce Watson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 13, 2016 at 7:06:37 pm

[Robert Withers] "??? I've used shotgun mics at 1-2+ meters in many situations for years. That's what they're for."

Wherever did you get that idea? A shotgun mic should be boomed no farther out than 60cm. Closer is better. I aim for 45cm when possible -- above and out in front of the speaker, pointing down at the speaker's mouth at about a 45 degree angle. If you don't dip into the frame every once in a while you aren't really trying ? Seriously, this requires good communication between boom op and camera op.

The NTG4 has a rated sensitivity of -32 dBV/Pa. Compared to a Sennheiser MHK 8060 which is rated at -24 dBV/Pa, the NTG4 is around 8 dB quieter given the same source. That's part of your problem. Another part is the less than stellar gain available from the Zoom H4.

So, you're booming from too far out, using a mic that isn't very sensitive, into a recorder with not a lot of clean gain available. Easiest thing to do is try booming closer. That should help some, but at best probably only around 6 to 8 dB. If that's not enough, I'd look at a better recorder that has more clean gain available. If those two aren't enough, I'd look at a more sensitive mic.


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:36:25 am

All makes sense. I was thinking for a 400 USD mic, I'd be able to get something usable from it at a meter. I watched so many people raving about them online, to then see that you need to be 30-45cms away.

How does it work on top of a camera? Run and Gun style. If I XLR'd it into my FS5, I would literally have to stand on top of the subject to get any audio out of it.

Pretty annoyed that 400USD got me zip on this score.

I'm in touch with Rode, they have asked me to send it in for repair, which I will do just in case, but it sounds to me like it's working perfectly and it's just that the boom isn't close enough.

Thanks ! x


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Ty Ford
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 14, 2016 at 1:07:38 pm

Hello Phil,

Run and gun maybe, but with a really good isolation mount on the camera if you actually plan to be running while gunning.

A shotgun mic in no way works like a zoom lens. It sounds like that's what you were imagining.

There's a 10 dB pad on the NTG-4. You don't, by some strange chance, have that engaged do you?

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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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 15, 2016 at 3:50:48 pm

Hi Ty,

I was thinking that the mic would pick up some sort of usable audio when sat at the top of the camera. I see that in so many videos... I see people with a lesser mic (rode mic pro) with a mini jack, into a DSLR and they seem to get quite good audio. I bought an NTG4 Pro thinking it would blast the crap out of the Rode mic pro, and the signal is weaker than an anaemic kitten.

The -10Db padding isn't on, but it certainly sounds like it is.

Thanks for all your help.


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Ty Ford
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 15, 2016 at 7:00:10 pm

Phil, If you want a real flame thrower for a shotgun try this.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/68317-REG/Audio_Technica_AT4073A_AT4...

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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Robert Withers
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 14, 2016 at 5:27:09 pm

I got that idea of shotgun proximity from years of shooting cinema verite with two-person crews, mostly with a Sennheiser and Nagra. At 60 cm I would use a good cardioid mic, not a shotgun. But that's just me. 60 cm sounds like a set-up shot for closeup or minimal headroom. I would actually try to use a lavalier for a set-up shot with no one moving around.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 15, 2016 at 3:52:54 pm

So just to be clear, a shotgun mic is only useful at shorter distances (i.e. just out of frame), otherwise it's lav mic all the way? A meter is too far for the shotgun mic to work.

The Rode NTG4+ works absolutely fine when I hold and use it like a stick mic - but obviously I want to put it on a boom.

I just got my wires crossed on what this thing can do.


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Bruce Watson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 15, 2016 at 6:40:44 pm

[Phil Parkinson] "So just to be clear, a shotgun mic is only useful at shorter distances (i.e. just out of frame), otherwise it's lav mic all the way? A meter is too far for the shotgun mic to work."

It depends on what you are trying to do. If you're trying to capture dialog, for example a movie actor, or a sit down interview, then a shotgun mic at 1m is IMHO generally too far away. Being this far away lessens the level of the signal (actor talking), and therefore lessens the signal to noise ratio, so you end up with more ambient sound in your dialog capture, and if your mic preamps are noisy, more preamp noise in your capture also. If you want "good crisp dialog" and nothing else, that's what the "close as you can get and still be just out of the frame" distance (45-60cm) is for.

That said, if you're recording ambient sounds like birds, traffic, whatever, you can certainly do that with shotgun mics, and at quite a distance too. People often use shotguns at sporting events to capture crowd sounds for example. I've read of one guy using a pair of shotguns, widely spaced (he wrote something on the order of "about the width of a normal flatscreen TV" IIRC), the pair pointed at the stands, to pick up stereo ambient crowd noise at football games. He swore by the technique. I've never tried it however.


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Robert Withers
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 15, 2016 at 9:31:36 pm

Not trying to ride a hobbyhorse here, but many of the giants of cinema-verite and direct cinema, and others working in that field, regularly used the Sennheiser 816 shotgun for a majority of shooting. (That mic was itself about 3 feet long.) Pennebaker, the Maysles, and successors like Barbara Kopple, etc. Regularly at 3-6 feet distance. You can still see those films today.

It sounds like you are talking about current use of some kind of shotgun (which mics?) on controlled sets or locations with interviews or scripted films, in shots with little or no head room. Yes it depends on what you are trying to do. And I have no experience with the Rode NTG4. If I could get that close on a quiet set I would think about using a good cardioid mic for more pleasing sound. Cardioid mics are in some ways more directional than shotguns if you compare frequencies across the pick-up pattern.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Ty Ford
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 15, 2016 at 11:23:15 pm

Robert, et al,

Yes, the 816 is a long shotgun used in film.

However, it's choice, is predicated on a quiet set and specific acoustic properties of the location, not run and gun.

Bad choice or run and gun and its length makes it unwieldy.

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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Robert Withers
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 17, 2016 at 12:58:12 am

To Ty, et Ty, and apologies to Phil who started this thread with an ask for help. Sorry, I'm having a lizard brain response here.

Yes, I have been using the Sennheiser 816 for over 40 years. Sorry, can't accept these condescending suggestions that imply I'm some kind of newbie. Though I'm always willing to learn new tricks.

Yes, I was using the 816 in the 1960s and 1970s on location shoots with Pennebaker and other giants of CINEMA-VERITE and DIRECT CINEMA. That was our philosophy, our style, and our microphone. This was an extremely common mic for many documentary shooters, and is still in use today.

The phrase "run and gun" hadn't even been invented then, though it's become popular in recent decades for a certain kind of journeyman documentary/news shooting.

Ty, you know what you know and others of us know what we know. We used the 816 daily and commonly because it was the best choice for the job we were doing, which was not a "quiet set" and not "run and gun." We shot with film cameras, Auricons, Eclairs, CP-16s and Arris, with two person crews, a cameraperson and a soundperson who carried a Nagra and usually an 816.

Please revisit some the landmark films of the era, such as Drew Associates' "Primary" and the Maysles' "Salesman" to see results. It would be also interesting to look at "making of" films of the era (eg, the making of Slaughterhouse Five or Apocalypse Now where you can see the 816 boomed over locations in its characteristic 3' blimp windshield. I have a poster of a Godard film with the sound person wielding the 3' blimp.

Ty, it would be interesting for you to offer your recommendations for current models of effective shotgun mics instead of insisting on what generic shotgun mics and the proven 816 can't be used for. What mics would you use for cinema-verite? Lavaliers became useful choices to add to the shotgun approach. Either with mini-recorders or more recently with wireless. I've recently had success with a Rode lavalier with an iphone for some recent shoots.

Like they say, it's all about what you want to do, and how you choose among best available tools. Horses for courses. Please share your knowledge about specific good options -- let's dispense with conventional wisdom. I'd really be interested in your experience with recording sound in the cinema-verite context.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Ty Ford
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 17, 2016 at 3:08:32 pm

Dear Robert,

You throw down a "gauntlet suggestion" that we bare our respective mic lockers and resumes to the world. That's wholly provocative and not what this forum is about. It's about helping people. You are attempting to hijack this thread. I suggest you take your energy to rec.audio.opinion, rec.audio.pro or rec.arts.movies.production.sound. They like that sort of confrontational approach.

Sorry if you felt talked down to. I assure you, there was absolutely no condescension in my reply. Again, that is not what this forum is about. It's about helping people. Look through my posts for condescension. You won't find it.

You are absolutely correct. Your post is a lizard brain response. Not the best approach here.

Please continue to use your 816 , Nagra and iPhone, as you wish. I also own an 816 (not the MKH 815, its predecessor) and a full track mono Nagra. My 816 is the original model with point to point soldering, not the later SMT version. The 816 is not indicated for Phil's work. He has a Rode that may have a problem or is a bad match for his application. Sending him off to buy an 816 is not the best approach, especially if he ever intends to mount it on a camera.

If you'd like to ask a specific question, why not start a new thread instead of hijacking this one?

Best Personal 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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Robert Withers
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 17, 2016 at 4:45:31 pm

Sorry. Keep up the good work.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Eric Toline
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 2:19:57 am

You seem to have only two solutions to your problem. 1. Move the mic closer to the person talking or 2, have the people speak louder. I think the first choice will work better in your case.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 4:08:47 am

If I put the mic any closer to the subject, it's getting closer to edge of frame, and if it works a meter away, do I really need to close that distance any more? What about thousands of run and gunners that are mounting lesser shotgun mics on the top of their cameras and running and gunning? I can't see weak as a kitten sound complaints anywhere on the internet.

Perhaps it's just not targeting the mouth area. I just can't imagine I'm more than a few inches off that though as I'm holding the boom and directing it by hand.

I'm clearly doing something wrong because I had a Sienheiser condenser before and I had exactly the same problem. I just can't figure out what it is.

Any more ideas would be gratefully received.

Thanks

Phil


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Eric Toline
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 11:58:22 am

Check the input settings on your recorder. Make sure they are set for mic level input and there is no attenuation set in the input circuit. If you're using the internal mic battery for power be sure to turn off any phantom power settings.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 4:33:03 pm

Hi Guys,

So none of these things are working. Would anyone have any ideas of whom I could possibly reach out to to help me solve this problem?

Thank you to all who have helped so far.

Phil


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Robert Withers
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 10, 2016 at 5:34:07 pm

Phil,
You had the same problem with a different (Sennheiser) microphone with the same Zoom recorder? Do you have another recording device you can test these mics in? Maybe you've identified a problem with the Zoom.
Good luck.

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 11, 2016 at 2:17:36 am

The Zoom is working perfectly with the Lav mics, and stick radio mic that I use, so I don't think it's that.

I'll try to record straight into the FS5 (skipping the Zoom).

Thank you.


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Eric Toline
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 11, 2016 at 12:27:26 am

The posting archives on here bring up that you had the same problem with the same gear back in January of this year. In all this time you haven't found the cause? Something is not right.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 11, 2016 at 2:15:56 am

Well I tried to solve the issue in Jan, but I couldn't get it, ran out of patience, and went back to lav mic. I thought I'd give it another shot.


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Ty Ford
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 12, 2016 at 6:36:06 am

Hello Phil,

Where are you?

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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Phil Parkinson
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 13, 2016 at 1:43:29 am

Hi Ty, I live in Dubai (not a poet).

Why?

Phil


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Ty Ford
Re: Rode NTG4 mic driving me nuts... Anyone know how to get decent sound out of it?
on Oct 13, 2016 at 8:24:44 am

Hello Tim,

I'm wondering of there's a pro audio shop or an audio pro you could take the mic to who might be able to diagnose it for you.

Sorry, I don't know anyone in Dubai. Maybe there's a registry or local shop who could help you.

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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