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    Upgrading My Audio Gear
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    I'm looking to upgrade my audio gear. I mostly just do short films/low-budget features, so basically, as far as upgrading goes, I'd like to spend 2000 or less. I was originally recording with a Sennheiser ME66/k6 going directly into the XLR inputs on a camera, but a few years ago I upgraded to the Zoom H4 and replaced my ME66 with the Sennheiser MKH-416. That was a huge change in sound quality over what I was previously doing. Now that my H4 is going out (the headphone jack has a short in it), I have to replace the field recorder, and I want to add another mic, preferably a cardioid for indoors.

    I was looking at the H4n, but after researching the forums I came across the Tascam dr-680, as well as the upcoming Zoom H6. I thought about just waiting on the H6 to be released, but after reading up on the Tascam, I'm thinking this might be a smarter decision. I know that the H6 isn't out yet, so no one really knows what the quality will be like, but do you guys think the Tascam will be better than the H6? I've read that the Tascam gives you a better sound quality than the H4 or H4n, so I would definitely prefer something that is going to sound the best.

    I normally use one mic while shooting, so I don't really have a need to plug in multiple mics, even though the Tascam and the H6 all have 4 XLR inputs. However, I do like the Mono-Mix option on the H4 and H4n: basically taking the one mic signal and duplicating it on both the right and left. Does the Tascam take the one mic input and do a mono-mix option like the H4/H4n? I would like to keep this feature, but it's not a deal breaker.

    I'm also looking at adding an indoor mic to my audio bag. I've been amazed at what all I can do with the 416, and I'd like a mic that is a good companion mic to this one, as I have no intentions of replacing my 416. This mic completely saved me on an outdoor shoot on a really windy day. We (my film crew and I) were all certain that the audio was going to be a complete bust and that ADR would be required, but everything recorded perfect. I've also used the 416 on a number of indoor shoots, and have found the quality to be really good, especially compared to my previous mic, the ME66. However, I've been piecing my gear together over the years, and I know that cardioid mics are better for indoors, so I've been looking at the Sennheiser MKH50. I'd like to stick with the Sennheiser mics and the MKH models. So, my question with this is will I notice a difference using the MKH50 inside compared to the MKH416? I know that the quality of this mic will be just as great as the 416, but I won't have access to this mic before buying it online. The pickup pattern for the MKH50 is a super-cardioid, but I've heard that the 416 is a super-cardioid mic as well, so I was wondering if I would really notice a difference with this one for indoors compared to the 416. And if so, I hope I would notice a difference using the 416 outdoors compared to the 50.

    So, basically what I would like to do with my audio gear is get a good solid field recorder, and keep my 416 for outdoor shoots, and use the 50 for indoors, if this will make a difference.


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    The MKH50 is a supercardioid mic, NOT a cardioid. Cardioids have a far wider pattern. I know it's picking nits but make sure you use the right terms otherwise someone else might not know what you're talking about.


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    To add to Steve. You don't want a cardioid anyway. A hyper or "super" cardioid is what you should be looking at. Cardioid sounds good but it is a pretty wide pattern for most situations. You might look into a mic with interchangeable capsules.

    The "mono" by sending the same signal to two channels is a waste. Any sound editor seeing that is going to split it and toss one side anyway because it's a waste of track space and bandwidth.

    The larger format recorder is what I would go with. Once you don't have to fiddle with little buttons and a display that is not where you can see it in a bag you will wonder why you ever put up with it before. Also Tascam is going to have a better build quality and better support. The Zoom is still really for garage bands wanting to record gigs and make rehearsal recordings. Tascam is actually thinking a bit about the profesional field recorder.
    You might also consider the HD-P2. It's about $100 more than the 680. It's a two channel recorder but is a bit more film video featured. You can sync to timecode and such and there are less menues to mess with when you recording. Both are going to last longer and take more field wear and tear than the Zoom. And be a LOT easier to use over the shoulder.
    Cheers
    SK


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    Thank you. I'll probably end up going with the Tascam. I'll have to read up more on the HD-P2 before making my decision on which of the two to get. My H4 is my first piece of gear that is falling apart, and I take pretty good care of my gear. So I would want something that is more durable.

    And yes, I knew that the MKH50 is a supercardioid, but so is the MKH416. So, as far as mics go, would I really benefit by getting a MKH50 to go with my MKH416? Do you think I would notice a considerable difference in interiors between the two?


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    I'll let others explain the technical difference between the MKH50 and MKH416, but my experience is that they are vastly different mics. Though either mic may be appropriate for a given situation, the MKH50 is "typically" an indoor use mic because it does very well at rejecting reflections from hard surfaces like walls and floors. The MKH416, again generically speaking, is typically used where reflections aren't an issue - i.e., outdoors or very large indoor spaces. I use the MKH8050, but in hindsight probably should have chosen the MKH50.

    I use both MKH416 and 8050 with a DR 680 and have been very happy. I also have an SD302 mixer on the front end which I had first. The limiters in the 302 are much better. The DR680 is a little bit awkward for location sound, but after several shorts and a feature using the 680 I've been satisfied with the results and have gotten used to dealing with the buttons on the top of the unit. If you consider the DR680, you will want to consider external battery power options such as a Tekkeon MP3450 (my choice) or an NP1 Battery system. Phantom powering the mics will suck down batteries pretty quickly. I let the SD302 power the mic.


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    Senior Member John Willett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmzgully View Post
    I'll let others explain the technical difference between the MKH50 and MKH416, but my experience is that they are vastly different mics. Though either mic may be appropriate for a given situation, the MKH50 is "typically" an indoor use mic because it does very well at rejecting reflections from hard surfaces like walls and floors. The MKH416, again generically speaking, is typically used where reflections aren't an issue - i.e., outdoors or very large indoor spaces. I use the MKH8050, but in hindsight probably should have chosen the MKH50.
    Agreed that the 50 and 416 are very different microphones. The 416 is a very old design and the 50 is a state-of-the-art symmetrical capsule microphone.

    I would not say that the 50 is an "indoor" mic. as it works superbly outdoors in all weather conditions (just like the 416), but the polar-pattern is different which may affect the suitability for a specific use.

    Though nowadays I would get a 60 or 8060 instead of a 416 if I were buying new.
    John Willett
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    Recorder: Nagra VI, Nagra SD, AETA 4MinX
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    Monitors: ME-Geithain RL944K, ME-Geithain RL906, Harbeth M30A, K+H O110D
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick R View Post
    If you don't need more than one or two tracks, the HD-P2, DR-100 would be better IMO. The 680 is rather big and clunky for a OMB operation, with many hardware buttons and switches as well as a lot of software menu options. As mmzgully stated the internal batteries don't last very long either .. especially w/ Phantom Powered mics.
    That DR-100 does look more like what I'm familiar with using. Although, that HD-P2 does look pretty nice. As long as the quality is at least as good with what I was getting with the H4, and it sounds like the Tascam brand recorders have a better quality in general. Even with a more expensive recorder, I'll still use just one mic input at a time. My crews are typically really small, with less than 10 people on set, and I normally have one boom operator and someone else using the recorder to monitor levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
    Agreed that the 50 and 416 are very different microphones. The 416 is a very old design and the 50 is a state-of-the-art symmetrical capsule microphone.

    I would not say that the 50 is an "indoor" mic. as it works superbly outdoors in all weather conditions (just like the 416), but the polar-pattern is different which may affect the suitability for a specific use.

    Though nowadays I would get a 60 or 8060 instead of a 416 if I were buying new.
    Even though you mentioned that the 50 is not an indoor mic, I should notice a difference using the 50 indoors instead of the 416, right? I've been using my 416 for a few years now, and I'm not really looking to replace it; I'm looking for something that is at least as good in quality as the 416, but is better suited for indoor locations.
    Last edited by kennethhurd; 07-11-2013 at 06:41 AM.


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    Pattern names are somewhat vague (I know some will argue with this). Omni is pretty accurate, cardioid varies a bit, some are tighter than others but generally they are close. I have seen "super" and "hyper" used for what apear to be identical patterns. The 416 is a short shotgun (in the US anyway) which is tighter than a "super", or should be. The shotgun pattern is more of a club/ bat than a heart.

    BTW Sennheiser describes the 416 as a "short gun" on their catalog.

    My understanding is that if there is a difference a "super" should be between a "hyper" and a "short shotgun". The reality is that patterns are either not a specified standard or if they are then few pay any attention to the standard. Shotguns start picking up a rear lobe and some weird shapes on the side, but some have much less of a rear lobe and are much smoother on the sides.

    As an example Sennheiser calls the ME66 a "super" but it has a pickup pattern almost identical to the 416???

    So I guess with them "supper" and "short shotgun" are almost the same and both quite different from a "hyper".

    On this site (UCB Journalism school) the chart shows more what I expect.
    http://multimedia.journalism.berkele...s/microphones/

    What ever the names are a "hyper" will be a bunch wider than the 416. And probably the biggest part is you want a mic that doesn't use an interference tube for directionality for indoors. At least in your case you don't because if the 416 has a problem with an indoor space that is probably what is causing it so you want something that doesn't use one so you have an option that will work.
    Cheers
    SK


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    Quote Originally Posted by Noiz2 View Post
    Sennheiser describes the 416 as a "short gun" on their catalog.
    I thought the 416 was a super cardioid cartridge, with an interference tube in front, making it a short shotgun. Yes? No?

    I also thought that the reason to use a hyper cardioid mic in close proximity to reflecting surfaces was that it doesn't have a rear facing lobe, so it is much less sensitive to reflections off ceilings in particular. So for booming in a room in a house or office building (as opposed to a sound stage) where you're holding the mic a foot or so off the ceiling, a hyper is a much better choice than a shotgun of any type, or a super. Mostly because of the lack of a rear facing lobe. Yes? No?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    I thought the 416 was a super cardioid cartridge, with an interference tube in front, making it a short shotgun. Yes? No?
    All interference tube shotgun mics have a capsule that is some flavor of cardioid at their heart. You could in theory take your hyper and stick it in an interference tube and make it very directional. practically it would be pure luck if it worked well.

    Point is the interference tube is integral to the mic so talking about the capsule is really academic, it's the mic as a whole that counts.

    I also thought that the reason to use a hyper cardioid mic in close proximity to reflecting surfaces was that it doesn't have a rear facing lobe, so it is much less sensitive to reflections off ceilings in particular. So for booming in a room in a house or office building (as opposed to a sound stage) where you're holding the mic a foot or so off the ceiling, a hyper is a much better choice than a shotgun of any type, or a super. Mostly because of the lack of a rear facing lobe. Yes? No?
    It's not so much "close proximity" as "bouncy". This has been explained before but the simple version is that the interference tube feeds delayed versions of what is coming from infront of the capsule into the rear of the capsule. If you do it right what comes in closest to center isn't touched but what is coming in off axis is getting canceled by the delayed sound. It's inherently imposible to cancel smoothly at all frequencies from all directions so you get a pattern that is usually quite bumpy at the sides that gets smoother as the frequencies go down. You also get a bit of reverse effect so things from directly behind are not as canceled as those from the sides.

    All of this relies on the sound coming from a point source. If you have bouncy walls you are getting additional copies of the main sound that are delayed even more (from bouncing off walls, floors etc.) and in an uncontrolled way. These extras get in and start canceling your sound in odd and not pleasing ways. Typically you get either a echoey kind of sound or a phasey/ "hollow" sound. Or if your lucky some combo of all three ;~)

    The rear lobe may contribute to picking up the rear bounce but it's the interference tube that causes the problem. Both "Hyper" and "Super" patterns also have a rear lobe.

    There are shotguns that don't use an interference tube, or use it somewhat differently that generally don't have a problem with bouncy interiors.

    -edit-

    It appears I wasn't clear. The reason that hypers are generally recommended inside is that they don't use an interference tube and so won't have the problems you are likely to get with an interference tube shotgun. The rear lobe is not an issue, or even really much different from shotgun to hyper.
    Last edited by Noiz2; 07-10-2013 at 09:38 PM.
    Cheers
    SK


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