Had a question for MattinSTL. Seems like you have alot of experience with finding the best value for sound equipment. I was wondering what is your recommendation in terms of putting together a complete package? Like most people here, I plan to buy an HVX200 when it comes out. However, without good sound, most films you shoot with dialogue will suffer greatly. I was thinking of a budget in the range of $5000.
Is there somewhere on this site where you list the sound package you put together? Is there perphaps a list that shows what you think a beginning sound package should have?
Microphone: AT4073 and Oktava, or one AT4071, or one Sennheiser 416?
Windshield: Rycote BBG/Jammer
For the boom pole, I have seen ones selling for a hundred bucks on ebay that also have a jointed arm so that the pole can bend in angles. Are these poles decent or pieces of junk. I've seen people reccommend Sound Device mixers and recorders. I think the mixer fits in the budget, but that 7 series recorder at $3,500 is pushing it. I know I can always buy the best of the best. The problem is I have a budget to work within, and I don't know where to concentrate the money. A good example is lighting. I can buy Mole Richardson lights for five hundred a pop or Britek lights for a hundred a pop. I worked with Mole lights before and agree they are nice. They just aren't $500 a pop nice in my opinion. So here, I am running into the same problem. Any suggestions? Thanks
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08-31-2005 04:42 PM
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- LA, USA
08-31-2005 10:05 PM
Wow! I'm embarrassed, but thanks. I think this is the very first thread I started on DVXuser.com... I came to this forum for info about my camera... and I got a little burned out on the other two forums I belonged to... and the audio section of this forum didn't seem to have a whole lot of activity in it at the time... so I tried my best to explode onto the forum with the best posts I could muster... I always wondered if anybody ever read any of the old stuff I put up.
I've been through a lot more gear since this thread... but I have a ways still to go. I'm always learning and wanting improvement... so I am, by no means, any kind of an audio "guru"... I am just what I always say I am... a guy who likes sound.
Brian is right in his approach and I think every pro would agree... solving audio problems with your location is the most effective solution and should be the first thing you try to do... and I believe just as much today as when I posted that proximity of a mic is more important then the quality of a mic. The closest mic wins.
Dead... If I had to chose between a 4073a and Oktava versus just a 416 I'd have a tough time deciding. To tell you the truth I've become enamored with the AKG ULS line of modular mics. This line uses the 480b with whatever caps you need to make a particular type of mic. I have the ck69, ck63, and ck61... which means long shotgun, short shotgun, hyper-cardioid, and cardioid caps... and I also got the a61 so my long shotgun can bend 90 degrees at the center... which allows you to boom right off a floor or ceiling with no worries of knocking the mic against a surface. The a61 makes an 18" long mic handle like a 9" long one... but the AKG system is not without it's problems. One factor has been handling noise... which is NO big deal so long as you have a decent shockmount and you aren't a ham-fisted loon. And the a61 requires careful manipulation of the boom pole, because fast and sloppy motions can make the angle ratchet down a tick or two... unless you're already at 90 degrees... then it's solid.
The only reason I mention these caveats is because the 416 is my favorite mic when it comes to handling issues... simply put, the 416 doesn't have any. If you have handling noise using a 416 there would be something seriously wrong. That mic is physically dead... which I loved... and it does sound good, but in my opinion it does't sound any better then the AKG line... and with the AKG I can have -10db, 0db, or +6db... and -150hz, -70hz, and FLAT... and all of this in any type of mic I'll ever need... and I also happen to really like the sound of this system.
The whole reason I initially bought an me66 was because of all the future options I'd have with a modular approach, but the problem turned out to be that I didn't like the sound of any of the ME caps! So once I heard the AKG it was an easy decision. I actually had the AKG and a 416 for 8 or 9 months before selling the 416. I eventually concluded that there was no point in having both of 'em...
For lavs I currently think the best value is a Countryman B3 or an Audio Technica 899... but for the price difference I'd get the B3. If you can afford another $100 on top of the B3 you can get the B6 and have a mic that's easily hidden in plain site.
I still like the K-Tek shockmounts... I've bought another one since this thread started.
I still like the Rycote windshield systems... and I've got 3 Softies and 2 BBG and Jammer combos right now. For small mics like hypers you can do the BBG/Jammer thing and get fantastic results in any normal wind.
I have the K-Tek Avalon in graphite for booming... and my only complaint with it is that it could be longer. This one came with internal coiled cabling and I REALLY like that... but if I was going to buy a boom pole on a budget then I'd get the Gitzo 7680c so you could go from 33" to 151" for under $250. If you don't need a pole that long and don't want to spring $400 for the K-Tek I got you can get the same K-Tek in aluminum for $225... and it's STILL super-light and very well built. If I could do it over again I'd get either the aluminum version of the pole I have... or just get the Gitzo.
For mixer I'd suggest either a 302 or a MixPre... I don't do a lot of mixing yet so I just got the MM-1 so a boom op can here what he's doing and I have a clean pre... plus some other features... but the first two options are actual mixers and some of the very best you can get. Sound Devices makes super good stuff.
For recorder I don't know yet. I had planned on getting a Marantz 670 or 671... or even the 660... but at this point I think I'm going to wait and see how good the M-Audio MicroTrack turns out to be. I used to do second sound with a Sony minidisc recorder... but I felt like the DVX got good enough sound that I left the minidisc at home. I'm hoping some of these other recording options will beat the DVX on sound quality... I have high hopes for the M-Audio recorder.
So does that cover it? If not feel free to ask for something else and I'll do my best to help out.
09-01-2005 12:18 AM
FWIW: Not that I know diddly about sound but . . . I've noticed that the Sennheiser MKH60 is used on several Hollywood features and film TV shows that I've shot behind-the-scenes stuff on (they're what we use in our NBC ENG packages as well). I've only seen them being used on sound stages. By the way, it's a $1,500 mic.
09-01-2005 03:18 AM
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- LA, USA
Wow, thanks for the great info. So here is what I am thinking of...
Microphone: Sennheiser 416 $1,100
Boom Pole: K-tek K102CCR (side XLR) $566
Shock mount: Rycote pistol grip $315
Windscreen: Rycote $75
Blimp: Rycote $284
Headphones: Any $110
Mixer: Sound Devices 302 $1,200
Recorder: Marantz PMD-670 $700
If I under or overpriced any of these things, please let me know. I'm wondering if I could get away with a lightwave aluminum boom pole and a Mix Pre instead of a 302. That would save me almost a thousand right there... but would that result in crappier sound? In any case, I have a good idea of how much a bare minimum package will cost. Thanks for the help.
09-01-2005 04:55 AM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
sticky this thread please
09-01-2005 07:17 AM
Isn't it funny though, this thread is a year old, and yet Matt has been saying the same thing the whole time and these questions come up at least twice a week.
09-01-2005 09:02 AM
I don't think this thread is worthy of the "sticky" honor... but thanks for feeling that way. The reason praise embarrasses me is because I really am "just a guy"... I'm not Ty Ford or Dave Fisk or any of the other guys who has experience on a much higher level. You can go to Ty's site and just listen to his voice and the productions he does... then you go to my site and it's just a haphazzard array of mic samples. So don't give my comments more value then they desserve. I'll just stick with what I always say and that's try it for yourself and report back... if I'm ever wrong about something SAY SO and why... I'll check out your argument... and we'll all move forward from there. For example, I USED to think the DVX audio was so good that you couldn't hear any improvement by using a seperate recorder... While I STILL feel the DVX audio is excellent and good enough for low-to-no budget independent film production, tigeba showed me that the audio can improve by more then I would have ever guessed. So the point is that I'm not infallible.
The one thing I will say is TheYankee is right... I do laugh to myself that 95% of the time I say the exact same things over and over. Sometimes I'll see a thread on the 4073a and I'll wait for others to post before I'll add anything.
Deadzone... the 416 is $995 at B&H.
You could get by with a cheaper boom... K-Tek aluminum avalon with internal CC is $229 at Trew, Coffey. I also like the Gitzo 7680c (12' 9" extended, but no cable) for $219 from Adorama.
I've got the Rycote pistol grip (softie version). It's decent, but I like the K-Tek mounts better. If you don't plan to use many short mics you can get the K-Tek K-SM for $122 from Trew... or if you DO plan to get some short mics later the K-SSM (with soft bands) will support the 416, but it can flop around in that mount once you get the softie on it. That's $109 at Trew. (I'd specify soft bands with EITHER of these mounts actually... I got one with the standard bands and the soft ones isolate a lot more... but you do have to compensate for sag.)
Also for the mount, windscreen, etc... it looks like you're wanting to go the blimp route... if you can afford it that's a good route to take. I notice a significant difference in the transparency of blimps over softies (not just because of the fur, but also the dead airspace in a blimp) and then I also notice a big difference in how well a blimp system (with fur jammer on) deals with wind. It would be hard to put a percentage on it, but the Softie doesn't work as well. You'll notice when a politician is being swarmed by ENG crews that you see all the poles with Softies on the end... but when you see BTS for higher budget shoots (like Survivor, etc) that it's a blimp and jammer on the end of the pole. It's not that the extra cost of the blimp system couldn't be afforded for the ENG crew... but the trouble of the extra size and handling issues are worth it when the sound needs to be as good and clear as it can possibly be... whereas it's not crucial to capture the hot-air of the politician in such detail... as long as we understand the verbage of the lie.
Headphones... I strongly suggest Sony 7506 for $99... anywhere. There are better isolating headphones at double the cost and up... but this model is used EVERYWHERE. Watch BTS stuff for ANYTHING and you constantly see these phones on almost everybody's head. They have a slight bump in the vocal range (which I hardly notice even when listening to music) which helps you hear the dialog... and they're sensitive... you can crank 'em till your ears bleed on the standard DVX headphone out... plus they pack into a tight little ball to fit in your gear bag. I'm going to go buy a second pair today 'cause I had a guy wirelessly booming on my zombie thing... and after I got home I realized that I should have been monitoring the whole time ALSO. The guy wasn't experienced and he needed to tell me when he couldn't get close enough to the action... I think he fell under the illusion that he was hearing better then the rest of us... even when (due to mic direction or distance) he was hearing WORSE... aaaarrrrgggh. So I'm off for another 7506... I LOVE those phones... and I'll bet anything you will also.
Next, Sound Devices 302... nothing to say about that other then it's excellent. I don't know if there's a better field mixer out there. Somebody would have to point it out to me if there is. That price is about right too.
For the recorder I don't know what to tell you just yet. I've used the 670 many times and I really like it, but I also thought that it wasn't a big improvement over the DVX audio using the same mics. I've heard others say that they thought the mic-pres in the 670 could be a lot better... I'm going to try out the M-Audio MicroTrack as soon as they get in stock. The MicroTrack looks like a quasi-toy... whereas the Marantz stuff is all 100% pro... but I'm thinking the M-Audio recorder may be cleaner... and it does 24/96... plus it supplies phantom via 1/4" mic-in (which you wouldn't need with the 302 but it's nice that for a simple recording you could leave the 302 at home) and obviously I wish that was XLR... but when you see this little recorder you'll see what I mean by quasi-toy. A professional sound guy wouldn't want somebody to accidentally see it in his bag... whereas with the Marantz you put it right out on the table first so everybody knows you're in charge of sound.
In your final paragraph you ask about a LightWave pole. I'm sure LightWave is a great company, but they are way overdue to revamp their economy pole... the K-Tek aluminum avalon KE-110CC is 9' 2" extended and 23.5 ounces. The Lightwave GT-10 is 9' 8" extended and 30 ounces. Six and a half ounces is a BIG difference! Especially in a pole that's the same price and the K-Tek fit and finish is excellent... all top-grade stuff. (both of those stated weights are W/O the cable figured in)
For some reason K-Tek doesn't boast about the weight of the graphite stuff but I have the avalon in graphite and it's 20.2 ounces on my digital scale... and that's WITH the cable in. How much lighter can my graphite pole be w/o the cable? Six ounces or so? Well this graphite boom was $400 and the aluminum one is only $225-229... so I spent about $175 to save 6-8 ounces... So why would you buy the LightWave for the SAME price as the aluminum K-Tek when you can save as much weight as I paid $175 for... for FREE? (And don't anybody say 'cause the GT-10 is a better pole... K-Tek is EVERYWHERE in Hollywood and you won't see one LightWave...)
Also you mentioned the MixPre... yeah it's JUST as good as the 302... but it's 2 channels mixed down to 1 instead of 3 channels mixed down to 2. I have a friend that has both... he takes the MixPre when he doesn't need 3 channels, but both mixers are of equal quality.
I'll report back when I get that digital recorder... but for now hopefully somebody else can post some thoughts on that part of your package.
09-01-2005 08:50 PM
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
- NJ, USA
This reply only comes partly from experience. I'm looking to setup a similar package finally. Here's the items I've decided after talking to many:
k-tek pole - graphite or alu
k-tek k-sm shock mount - soft
I haven't quite made up my mind on the mixer/recorder. I'd like to go with an SD 302 + SD722, but that's too much cash. I will probably end up deciding between an SD722 or the SD302 mixer + M-audio microtrack combo. I'm waiting to read some reviews on the microtrack before I make this decision.
I thought about the marantz 660/670/671, but it sounds as if the quality of the electronics is just not where it needs to be. If you really want to go that route, check out www.oade.com; Oade apparently does a mod to the 660 that improves the front end. Also, it doesn't sound like the 671 is that much of an upgrade to the 670.
For mics, I personally was looking for an MKH60 or an MKH50. I found some ok deals on them and ended up with both. Word of advice: if you don't need the mic *now*, look used. I got the 60 for $1k and the 50 for $750. Same goes for the 416. If you bought used, you'd have saved enough to the the octava hyper.
Ditto on the Sony headphones. Used them for years.
Having used the SD Mixpre before, I think it's a great product. I was looking at the 302 for its additional features (MS, 3rd input, more flexible outputs), but if you don't need them, I would go with the mixpre. Again, they go for around $400 used, so keep an eye out. They pop up from time to time on www.taperssection.com. A lot of good advice goes on over there too in relation to small, cheap, reliable recorders.
Edit: the Mixpre will do stereo routing; its not just 2 channels in, 1 out. Note that the outputs of the Mixpre are line level only. They can not be switched to mic level like the 302. Shouldn't make much of a difference for most recorders/cameras, but it could.
09-02-2005 07:36 AM
I appreciate the humility that you offer through your above post, but one of the best things about these boards is that everyone has something to offer through their experience. Even a noob can come in and talk about a shot they got and it can inspire other people to think about shot construction in a different manner. I have read nearly all of the audio posts (I came across this one that hadn't been posted in a year and was floored), and thought it was interesting because you normally chime in with your opinions on audio. After rereading through a lot of your posts I am now where you were a couple of years ago regarding audio. I am sure that there are countless other people who experience the same issues. I think this thread deserves a sticky, otherwise we're going to continue to have the same constant shotgun questions, Oktava posts, ect. I think you are selling yourself and what you bring to the community short, because without you I would never know about Oktava or the hundreds of dollars I need to spend on top of the mic to get the sound quality I am looking for.
All of that being said, I know you don't like the ME-66, but have never heard an opinion from you on the ME-64. Several people I know are using this for interior shooting and have said that the response is great and not as tiny as the 66. Any opinions on this one?
09-02-2005 08:12 AM
I have a really good friend locally who owns a Schoeps mk41, my 416 (sold it to him), a bunch of other really good audio stuff AND he owns the me66 and me64...
I have another friend in Canada who has an unbelievable amount of top-end gear including the Schoeps, MKH-60, AND the me66...
I have no idea why these guys have kept their ME mics... but the most important lesson I want people to take from any of my posts is to trust your own ears in any situation... if you like a mic then use it... but honestly I just don't care for any of the ME mics. It's not that they're BAD, it's just that other options in that price range (and often less) are way better sounding mics.
This is an old one, but CLICK HERE to hear the difference in the me64 versus the AKG ck63. When I get a clean digital recorder I'm going to redo all my mic clips and my whole website... because I'd rather have either mp3 or WAV files instead of WMA... and the actual recordings could be better and more standardized from mic to mic. Some of the mics I can't redo 'cause I'd have to buy them again! Also since I know you weren't asking about the AKG I can tell you that an Oktava cardioid will just as easily dispatch with the me64 in terms of natural sound and more realistic tone.
If a guy really wanted a cardioid mic I'd either suggest that he add the cardioid cap to his Oktava for around $69 from sound-room... (don't forget that the Oktava I always suggest is modular and sound-room sells the caps seperately)... or if somebody wanted a complete cardioid and for some reason wanted an alternative to the Oktava I'd suggest the Audio Technica AT3031 which is about the same price for the ENTIRE mic versus just the me64 cap alone... CLICK HERE to see that mic. With the AT you'd get a smoother, more natural sound at practically a throw-away price. At this point I don't really get the ME line... it was super valuable 10 years ago when no cam had an acceptable input and needed both battery power and a hot signal... but now there are cams which can do great with even an insensitive mic... and we all have phantom on tap... so nobody's trapped into going the ME route anymore... but everyone was for so long that there's a lasting reputation in the ME line that I no longer think is valid. In situations where low end resonance can be a problem such as a delivery truck going down the street while you're recording inside... or a large ventilation system that can't be turned off... people may think the me64 handled the situation really well by ignoring much of that sound through the pickup pattern or some other quality... when in reality it's a combination of a upper midrange bump and a rapid fall-off in even the upper bass... before you even get to the low-cut filter. The mic couldn't pick up "meaty" sounds well even if you wanted it to...