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Help me buy a Microphone


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#1 Jack Honeycutt

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 06:29 PM

Can someone who knows audio recommend a microphone to me? The last time I read about microphones was in 1968. I know a lot has changed. Unless I can find a good reason not to, I will probably buy this Shure SM57 from Amazon (about $90.00 US):

http://www.amazon.co...ronics&n=507846

It is that or maybe a Shure SM58. I dono...

I am looking for a multipurpose one that I can use with voice & music. I don't want to get to excited & buy a thousand dollar state of the art one; I am using this on my tube powered vintage optical sound amp for my Auricon 16mm camera. It has the bandwidth of a telephone. On a good day, the audio will roll off around 8K. In theory, I am suppose to be able to record some low freq audio, say, maybe 100Hz. I have been using the original Auricon (Electro Voice) E-6 mic. It is time to upgrade.

Here is a data sheet for the Shure SM57 (instrument mic)

http://www.shure.com...edmics/sm57.pdf

And here is the Shure data sheet on the SM58 (Vocal mic)

http://www.shure.com...models/sm58.asp

I would like to film at a parade or a open market & record the ambient sound around me. Any tips, recommendations or help appreciated. I posted this in the professional audio area of this forum, but it appears to be dead!

Thanks in advance.

jack
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#2 drew_town

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 10:26 PM

The 57 is an instrument mic and the 58 is a vocal mic. What you probably want is a shotgun mic. Shotgun mics are used for film/video production. Here's a few models and where you could buy them:

Audio-Technica AT815B

Audio-Technica AT835B

Azden SGM-1X

Sennheiser ME66/K6

The Sennheiser will be your better mic. Audio-Technica is a good mic. The Azden is a cheap mic.
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#3 Freya Black

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 03:51 AM

Hiya Jack! :)

Different microphones have different patterns, and it really depends on what kind of use you are going to put the microphone to in your films.

In feature films, shotgun (lobar pattern) microphones are usually used, these microphones are highly directional and pick up the sound directly from the front of the microphone but not from the sides. This can help in alieviating such sounds as camera noise and general environmental noises and focussing the sound on what you want. It's important to keep the microphone aimed at the "talent" with these microphones or you can get an off mic effect quite easily. Strangely, they also seem to pick up sounds directly from behined the microphone too! I remeber on one shoot being shocked to hear the clear sound of birds singing in the trees outside. These microphones tend to be very directional and very sensitive.

For television news style interviews, other forms of microphones are often used. There is an omni dynamic microphone made by electro voice, that is very popular in this application. I can't remember the model number, perhaps someone else knows and can chime in. This is the microphone that is often shoved in the faces of people trying to leave court and the like as people desperately ask for a comment. It would be fine for alien dogs I suspect. However, it is an omni pattern microphone. This means it picks up sound from all around. It's not very discriminating. It's likely to pick up camera noise or any kind of sound in the vicinity, this is why it is used in these sort of media scrum type environs, where they may not be able to get the microphone positioned at the "talent" in the way they would like.

The SM57 and SM58 are cardioid microphones. They are less directional than shotgun mikes but also more directional than omni microphones. They pick up sound from the front but also somewhat from the sides. They are commonly used in live music applications. The SM57 is billed as an instrument microphone but is very frequently used for female vocals or just vocals generally. Apparently the capsule inside is the same or very similar to that of the sm58 but with a different enclosure. This would be fine for on camera interviews where someone handholds the microphone or other applications such as music videos, poetry readings, bingo announcements etc.

Another possibility used in the film and video world are lav mics. These are the tiny microphones you often see clipped to peoples ties on the news. They are generally quite cheap but they are usually positioned very close to the talent. They can often be hidden because they are so tiny. Sometimes you can find radio lav mics quite cheap on ebay, That way people can wonder around fairly freely without a direct connection to the camera. Don't know how they could be easily attached to an alien dog tho.

It all depends what kind of thing you intend to film! :)

Hope that helps a little.

love

Freya
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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 03:55 AM

"I have been using the original Auricon (Electro Voice) E-6 mic."

Electro Voice have traditionally been a preety good make of mke, but I don't know the model you mention and EV mikes are not so available this side of the pond. What problems do you seem to be having with this microphone?

love

Freya

Edited by Freya, 20 May 2005 - 03:55 AM.

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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 04:13 AM

The A.E. Townson recommendations above look quite helpful.

I've heard some good things about the azden but never used one. Perhaps you can pick up a cheap one from e-bay.

If you are planning to make conventional drama films, the azden might be a good choice.

However you mention you might make music films of some kind.
If you are filming live music, then maybe you won't need a mic at all and could get a feed off the mixing desk, assuming the performers had their own PA/microphones. (can the camera accept line level signals?) If you can set up an sm57 right in front of the performer then it might be a good choice, A little way back and an omni might be a better choice, it could pick up a more realistic sound of everything that is being played, and in fact everything in the room (including perhaps the camera?)

In a more controlled environment you might be better with a cheap condenser mic but it really depends what kind of thing you have in mind. Perhaps you can tell us more.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya, 20 May 2005 - 04:14 AM.

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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 04:32 AM

"I would like to film at a parade or a open market & record the ambient sound around me. Any tips, recommendations or help appreciated. I posted this in the professional audio area of this forum, but it appears to be dead!"


Sorry, it's early in the morning here and I wasn't paying attention, but I leave the other posts up as they might be useful.

If you just want to record ambient sounds in mono, then an omnidirectional mic is probably the way to go I suspect:

http://www.bhphotovi...Bar&A=search&Q=

There are very cheap electret condenser capsules around that are omni, and it occurs to me that you could maybe even build a little microphone yourself! This kind of thing is very popular with people making binaural headsets and the like.

http://www.minidisc....emade_mics.html

http://webpages.char...idmarsh/binmic/

Obviously you would want to test this with a tape recorder or minidisc or something first before wasting film! :)

love

Freya
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#7 Jack Honeycutt

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 10:07 AM

Wow! Thanks to all for the many tips! I think I have enought pointers to keep me busy for a few days reading.

I remember walking in a open air bazaar in Manaus Brazil once. All the sounds around me were unique. (I live in the USA in Oregon). I wished I had someting to record the sounds.

That is how I felt last weekend filming at a UFO/Alien parade. lovely sounds coming from every direction. All I had was this original Auricon Electro Voice microphone. It is fine if I am holding it & a person is talking (as in a interview) & we are very close together. It has that old Newsreel footage from WWII sound to it. But I wanted to stick a mic in the air, & point it at the parade & record the marching band. I know the dynamic range & fidelity of this old tube powered optical sound equipment is not at all modern, but I think a better mic will go a long way in helping it out. Also, I am about ready to remote a professioanl Dolby "A" unit with it. This will help reduce the noise floor. I also have a DBX unit I would like to try.

Would a shot gun mic be too directional for recording a crowd & sounds, like the ambient sounds of a parade or a open air market?

I found a cheap microphone book on Amazon I just bought. I need to learn some basics I see.

Thanks to all for the many tips & help! I will be reading the links above all day today.

jack in Portland Oregon
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#8 Jack Honeycutt

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 10:28 AM

Is a "Lavalier" microphone a mic that you wear on your self? Like pined to you, or around your neck?

jack
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#9 Freya Black

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 01:55 PM

Is a "Lavalier" microphone a mic that you wear on your self?  Like pined to  you, or around your neck?

jack

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Exactly yes! It is the same as a lav miike mentioned earlier(it's an abreviation), the one I said might be hard to attach to alien dogs! ;)

love

Freya
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 02:05 PM

Wow!  Thanks to all  for the many tips!  I think I have enought pointers to keep me busy for a few days reading.

I remember walking in a open air bazaar in Manaus Brazil once.  All the sounds around me were unique.  (I live in the USA in Oregon).  I wished I had someting to record the sounds.

That is how I felt last weekend filming at a UFO/Alien parade. lovely sounds coming from every direction.  All I had was this original Auricon Electro Voice microphone.  It is fine if I am holding it & a person is talking (as in a interview) &  we are very close together.  It has that old Newsreel footage from WWII sound to it.  But I wanted to stick a mic in the air, & point it at the parade & record the marching band. I know the dynamic range & fidelity of this old tube powered  optical  sound  equipment is not at all modern, but I  think a better mic  will go a  long way in helping it out.  Also, I  am about ready to remote a professioanl Dolby "A" unit  with it.  This will help reduce the noise floor.  I  also have a DBX unit I would like to try.

Would a shot gun mic be too directional for recording a crowd & sounds,  like the ambient sounds of a parade or a open air market?

I found a cheap microphone book on Amazon I just bought.  I  need to learn some basics I see.

Thanks to all for the many tips & help! I will be reading the links above all day today.

jack in Portland Oregon

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Experimenting with dolby and DBX seems like a good idea, and valve electronics are much loved in the audio world for their warmness and musicality.

Hmmm, if you want to point the microphone at paticular items to pick them out from the hubub then a shotgun mike could be better, but if you want to record the sounds all around you then omni's might be better. Spaced omni's are often used for recording orchestras.

Off topic but lots of fun, are binaural headsets, because you get this strange stereo image that feels like you are really there if you play the sound back through stereo headphones. It doesn't work with speakers tho. ;)

I've always liked the idea of being able to film your own optical soundtracks this way, I hope you have lots of luck!

love

Freya
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#11 Robert Hughes

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 04:40 PM

Of course the Auricon is mono only, so you won't have to worry about binaural capabilities.

Some microphones require phantom 48v power, which the Auricon preamp does not provide. And of course the optical track is going to sound like, well, a 50 year old Auricon optical track. So don't worry about getting an excellent microphone.

If you're buying a new mic for film I'd recommend the self powered Azden short shotgun.

For used, an SM 57 isn't the best mic in the world, but it's the one I'd take to a desert island because it's cheap, rugged, sounds good and works forever (I have an SM57 variation from the 60's that sounds just fine).
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#12 Jack Honeycutt

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 06:20 PM

The 57 is an instrument mic and the 58 is a vocal mic. What you probably want is a shotgun mic. Shotgun mics are used for film/video production. Here's a few models and where you could buy them:
[Azden SGM-1X

The old Auricon (Electro Voice) mic I have now (the one that came with the optical sound amp) is rated at 50 ohms. The Azden is rated at "680 Ohms @ 1Khz".

I am guessing it would work, but would a higher ohm rating make me turn the volume up or down in my amp? Or will it work at all? My amp has a XLR plug for the mic input. Do I need a patch cable to plug between the mic & the amp to turn 680 ohms into someting closer to 60 ohms?

Thanks again for the help all.

jack
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#13 Jack Honeycutt

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 06:33 PM

The Dolby A unit is a slim 19" rack mount unit and could be taken in the field. I think it might reduce the noise floor. I am not sure about DBX encoding. It may or may not work. I need to build in a test point in my vintage tube amp & do freq run & roll off test. That will let me know if it is linear enough to take DBX (I think Dolby needs to be so to a degree as well).

OK. I guess I will just have to experement. If I am filming a marching band & I am on the sidewalk, will a shotgun mic cut out all but what I am pointing the mic at in the marching band? Or will it grab the entire band? I like the idea of cutting off the sound of the crowd behind me.

Ah, so much to read & learn....

Thanks again for your help Freya.

jack
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#14 Jack Honeycutt

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 06:58 PM

Of course the Auricon is mono only, so you won't have to worry about binaural capabilities.

Some microphones require phantom 48v power, which the Auricon preamp does not provide. And of course the optical track is going to sound like, well, a 50 year old Auricon optical track. So don't worry about getting an excellent microphone.

If you're buying a new mic for film I'd recommend the self powered Azden short shotgun.

For used, an SM 57 isn't the best mic in the world, but it's the one I'd take to a desert island because it's cheap, rugged, sounds good and works forever (I have an SM57 variation from the 60's that sounds just fine).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Robert....

Yea, I don't want to get too over the top with this old optical sound stuff. But I would like to see just how good I can get it. A modern mic will help I think. I looked at the specs of the Azden SGM1000, the SGM-2X, and the SGM 1X.

The difference between the higher end SGM1000 & the lower end SGM 1X is:

SGM1000:
Freq Resp: 80Hz - 20Khz
Dynamic Range: 96db
Signal to Noise: 70db
Maximum Input Sound: 120db

SGM 1X:
Freq Resp: 80Hz - 18Khz
Dynamic Range: 80db
Signal to Noise: 65db
Maximum Input Sound: 110 db

After this vinatge tube amp passes the audio to the exciter lamp in the camera, and it burns some optical sound on the film, and the film is developed, I don't think I could see ANY difference between the above two microphones.

I am thinking of maybe buying two microphones now. The Azden SGM 1X for a parade/market place enviroment. And maybe the Shure SM57 or SM58 for hand held "man in the street" interviews.

I think I need to learn the difference between the pattern of "Super Cardiod" & "Cardioid".

Back to the Internet for more Microphone FAQ's!!

Thank you for your help.

jack
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#15 Robert Hughes

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 11:56 PM

Remember that even the best optical sound on 16mm film has a very limited dynamic (40 dB) and frequency response range, roughly like old telephones (300-3000 Hz), so you probably won't hear the difference between the Azden microphones listed; the optical system will go into distortion long before either microphone does.

The SM57/58 type of dynamic microphone has a directional, "cardioid" sensitivity, meaning it is least sensitive to sound coming from behind the microphone. A "super cardioid" such as the Azden shotgun mic is more directional, with the cone of least sensitivity about 30 degrees off directly behind.

If you're recording outdoors you'll need windscreens for any microphone you select, to cut down on low frequency wind noise.
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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 03:12 AM

The SM57/58 type of dynamic microphone has a directional, "cardioid" sensitivity, meaning it is least sensitive to sound coming from behind the microphone. A "super cardioid" such as the Azden shotgun mic is more directional, with the cone of least sensitivity about 30 degrees off directly behind.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Robert is right, as I mentioned earlier, when using a high end shotgun mike on a film once, I could hear quite clearly the birds in the trees outside directly behined me. You would need to position the mic so that the crowds were not directly behined the microphone but the mic was pointing at the parade. A slight angle should do it. Shotgun mikes reject heavily from the sides.

love

Freya
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#17 Freya Black

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 03:19 AM

Of course the Auricon is mono only, so you won't have to worry about binaural capabilities.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Ja, Sorry, I didn't mean to confuse anyone, that's why I said it was offtopic.

The Only reason I mentioned binaural mikes is that a lot of the DIY mic articles are concerned with making binaural headsets, but of course making a mono omnidirectional microphone is just a matter of ommitting one of the two microphone capsules and not mounting the capsule on a headset.

If you want an omni pattern, it's a very cheap way of getting very good results.

love

Freya
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 03:38 AM

If you're recording outdoors you'll need windscreens for any microphone you select, to cut down on low frequency wind noise.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


PDF for DIY Zepplin

I thought this might be useful too

Home Made Shock Mount

DIY Boom Pole (For Completeness)

love

Freya
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#19 Freya Black

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 03:40 AM

Here is an interesting link on low cost shotgun mikes, with technical explanations and pattern diagrams:

http://www.kenstone....otgun_mics.html

love

Freya
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