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Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed

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Mike Thomas
Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 11, 2011 at 1:16:42 am

My only experience is with a Rode NTG-3. I'm thinking of buying a Sennheiser ME-66/K6 shotgun mic for $500 for a micro budget feature film shoot. Unfortunately I can only afford one mic. The Rode was actually a more expensive mic ($700). The specs on all these different mics really don't seem to vary that much. Maybe I should just buy a $250 Rode NTG-1. Any advice before I lay my money down?


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Al Bergstein
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 14, 2011 at 11:18:34 am

I own and like the audio technica 897 but they have others.
http://www.audio-technica.com/cgi-bin/product_search/wired_mics/mics_by_typ...

Alf


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David Jones
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 17, 2011 at 11:13:58 am

Hi Mike,

When it comes to mics you really get what you pay for. A $1,000 mic will work that much better than a $300 one. Meaning, it will be more sensitive and have a longer reach.

You might check out used gear, too.

Best,

Dave J


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Mike Thomas
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 18, 2011 at 1:28:00 am

There's actually a lot of older posts similar to mine so I guess I shouldn't have asked. Thanks for the input though. I just bought a used Sennheiser ME-66 on Ebay so I should be good.


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Ty Ford
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 18, 2011 at 11:19:13 am

Mike,

to get the job done professionally, you need a complement of mics and a good mixer. The ME66 is what most students use in school because it's functional but not that great sounding. You'll find this out after your next purchase.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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Al Bergstein
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 25, 2011 at 2:36:09 am

While I agree with David's opinion, it's all about degrees. Is my AT897 really 3x less good than a $1000 shotgun? For interviews or run and gun? In noisy situations, like on a fishing boat with a 100 horse Honda at full throttle and trying to record dialogue? I would bet good money the answer is "no". Is the $1000 mic twice as good? Maybe. This is about satisfying the need rather than optimizing to get a perfect solution to the need. I have yet to see a shotgun that is worth paying twice what I paid for mine. Please prove me wrong. I'm talking field video production here and not optimal audio studio requirements. I'm willing and ok with being proved wrong on this. If I am, I'll sell my AT897 tomorrow. I had a laugh out of a recent review that showed three mics, my AT897 as "budget" and others as working horse, and upper range. As if it was an Azden or something (which I also own, by the way). A throw away mic for a cheap price, but worth it if you can't afford an At897 or better.

Alf


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Ty Ford
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 25, 2011 at 3:20:02 am

Hello Al and welcome to the Field Production Forum.

Yes, sad but true. An AT 897 can be bested by a more expensive mic. You want clips, watch Pirates Of The Caribbean: End Of The World for one of, oh, hundreds of feature films. Internal dialog - Schoeps cmc641, external dialog - Sennheiser MKH 60.

Something more tame? http://www.vimeo.com/21181231
A Schoeps cmc641

I'm sorry to learn you bought an Azden and certainly the AT897 is a step up, but I encourage you not to stop there. Raise your sights again. If feature film sound recordists could make it work with an AT879, they would obviously buy one and save a lot of money. What do they have that you don't? Experience.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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Al Bergstein
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed
on May 25, 2011 at 4:18:32 am

Ty, you know, I wasn't trying to be sarcastic, nor looking for an oh so smart answer. I know the azden is crap, though frankly I've done a few videos with it on a 7d that turned out fine. the question I was asking was, is a $1000 shotgun three times better than a $300 at897? You answer is a bit out of line, IMHO. Quite demeaning.

Please point me to proof rather Than tell me to go watch movies that I have no idea what they used or what the gear cost.

Cow users deserve better than that.

And it's quite irritating to see your self serving huge video ad after every post you make.

Alf


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Al Bergstein
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed --a follow up..
on May 25, 2011 at 4:18:57 am

first off Ty, a quick apology if I seemed abrupt, as your answer seemed condencending, rather than helpful.

Please just point me to shoot outs rather movies.

I know these guys have "experience" over me, but they also have "budget" and can afford to buy the best specs. my question was, and is, "is it three times better?"

Alf


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Ty Ford
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed --a follow up..
on May 25, 2011 at 11:56:34 am

's all right Al,

I as a forum leader over in the Audio Forum, I'm bound (literally) to tell the truth. That sometimes means the asker (or someone else) wants to kill the messenger.

I've been reviewing audio gear professionally for trade magazines since 1986; a lot of those reviews have been of microphones. I didn't hear my first Schoeps until about 14 years ago. I was quite honestly shocked by the difference in that mic and pretty much any other mic I had ever heard. I bought one and then another a few years later. Once I got an ear for what it sounded like, and learned that it was the mic of choice for film dialog, I began to be able to hear it and really appreciate it.

My comment about "Pirates of The Caribbean" was based on personal experience. I was recovering from the flu. I downloaded the flick to watch on my laptop because "the big set" was in the shop. So I'm listening on MDR 7506 phones plugged into the laptop. When I hear the dialog, I start thinking, "I know that sound. That's a Schoeps cmc641."

Because I have made the effort to meet and enjoy the company of as many pro location recording folks as I can, I asked if anyone knew who worked that gig and what they used. Within a few days I got my answer and the affirmation was very cool.

It's not rational, but people will spend a LOT on camera and lights and yet get the willies when they see the price of good audio gear. About the cost difference. Microphones are long term tools. Longer than most cameras. Using cost percentage differences doesn't really tell the story. Especially if you consider that buying the right mics once means you'll use them for decades. And, if you buy the right mics once, you don't have to buy the wrong mics over and over until you get it right. That's a even more expensive.

About the video with me playing guitar. You would be the second person in however many years it's been up there, to object. The other person was also having problems with my answer. Cow owners bestowed that honor on me a few years back. I don't even know how Kathlyn did it. BTW, the mic I used to record the guitar was a Schoeps cmc641.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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Al Bergstein
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed --a follow up..
on May 25, 2011 at 4:19:02 pm

Hi Ty. Thanks for your neutral response. I respect your decades of expertise in the area of reviewing mics, and I guess that's why an off the cuff remark like telling us to go listen to a movie where the mic was used in some scenes, but not clarifying which ones, seemed like a cheap shot. I guess I was expecting another way of approaching educating those of us not with your level of knowledge.

I went out this morning to try and show what I guess I expected, and googled "AT897 reviews" to see if I could find any shootouts that would help me (and other budget minded folks) understand whether a $1000 mic is actually 3x worth the price. I understand that build quality could affect the cost.

So here are a few very relevant links...
First Barry Green discussing an admitted personal opinion based on his large base of experience. this is an OLD post, from 2004, and the prices have likely changed. But the thoughts are valid. While this is from another forum, I've seen this kind of thoughtful response on COW, which is why I'm here.

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/archive/index.php/t-21550.html

Barry_S posted this rundown below in another forum. It should answer your questions about mics.


Here's a brief rundown of some respected shotgun mics. *This is not a comprehensive list, but it should give you an idea of what range you want to be in.
*
*
Audio-Technica AT897 -- ~$280 *Good low-priced shotgun. *Sensitivity is not great, but can produce good quality, if not natural sounding dialogue.
*
Sennheiser ME66/K6 -- ~$300 *High sensitivity, low self-noise, the ME66 is good for ENG or non-critical applications. *The ME66 can record intelligible speech under difficult conditions, but does not have a natural sound. *A benchmark for producing clean, good dialogue for low budget productions. *The K6 module can be used with other microphone capsules including the ME64 cardioid and ME67 long shotgun.
*
Audio-Technica AT4073a -- ~$500 *This shotgun has high sensitivity and a good overall, but not warm sound. *
*
Sennheiser MKH-416 -- ~$1000 *High sensitivity with a fairly full sound for a shotgun. *Up to top professional standards.
*
Neumann KMR81i -- ~$1200 *Top quality shotgun with very neutral and natural sound. *
*
Sennheiser MKH-60 -- ~$1400 *Outstanding mic with some of the most natural tone possible from a shotgun. *Frequently used on big budget film productions.
*
Schoeps CMC641 Set -- ~$1400 *This setup includes the highly respected MK41 super cardioid capsule. *while not a shotgun, this mic is highly directional and will produce the most natural and uncolored sound of any mic used for dialogue recording. *Also frequently used on big budget productions.

*Shotgun mics (particularly sub $500 ones, but all to some degree) can color off-axis sound and cause problems with reverb in small or reflective rooms. *Hyper or super cardioid mics are directional, but lack the strange off-axis coloration that can be a problem with shotguns.


Barry went on later in that post to say to the OP: Go ahead and buy the AT897--I own the ME64/66 and have tried out the AT897 and thought it was fine. The thing about A-B comparisons--your hearing is very sensitive and can discriminate even small differences. However, both mics used properly will sound good and unless you jump up to another price level, the performance is not going to be hugely different. If you learn good recording techniques, that will get you 95% of the way to good sound--don't sweat the minor equipment differences.

I also found this decent review, http://www.videomaker.com/article/12670/ which makes the final wrap up.

At $250, the Audio-Technica AT897 is a bargain, with excellent sound quality and a sturdy build. Sonically, it holds its own against higher priced mics.

but last of all I found this excellent "comparison" that allows you to listen to a recording of the exact same person saying the exact same thing into a variety of mics, from low cost to higher cost, and you can lay them side by side on screen.

http://www.dvcreators.net/shotgun-shootout/

From this, I would have to say that I might be inclined to double the price I pay, but would be hard pressed to understand why I would pay three times as much, especially for dialogue, which is likely to include background noises, or foley, for my low budget (meaning non theatrical) jobs. This all assumes I am a budget shooter, which I am. And to be clear, my kit includes the cheap, throw away Azden (for when I am shooting in the rain, which happens out here in the Pacific NW), the rugged and to my ears good sounding AT897, A set of Oktava's which are great for the price but I don't like taking them out in weather, and a EV dynamic reporters' mic, which is wonderful for many shoots. As much as I would love to spend $1000 on a shotgun, I spent it on a Tascam HD-P2 (I also can borrow an Edirol for concert shoots). The biggest thing that has improved my sound was a mixpre, which got rid of the noise in all the cameras that I shoot with, including the xf305. The mics all sound great, except the Azden. But for $60, I can't expect much. I assume I'll destroy it in the rain at some point.

Hopes this helps the next time someone posts this relatively frequently asked question about mic choices.

As to your ad, I guess I usually have ignored it...you are certainly lucky to have been granted that kind of exposure. If all the posters could do that, I likely wouldn't be back in Creative Cow (G!) Best of luck in all your endeavors, and thanks for other posts you've done that I've found more useful, which have been many.

Alf


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Ty Ford
Re: Shotgun Mic Recommend Needed --a follow up..
on May 25, 2011 at 4:28:32 pm

Al,

Nice homework. Thanks for sharing.

Charlie Tomaras is a soundie friend in Seattle. http://www.tomaras.com/
I think he's figured out how to use good mics in bad weather. If you really want to sound good and have the budget, use him.

Just for the record, I did specify a particular movie, "Pirates of The Caribbean; End Of The World" as a specific movie with the specific mics used.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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