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Best Shotgun Mic for Sound Design? Condenser Microphones
Old 21st December 2010
  #1
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Best Shotgun Mic for Sound Design?

Hi guys,

We do a lot of sound design for movie trailers etc, and are looking to get a good setup for location recording, mostly to be destroyed and processed later. I'm thinking we need a good shotgun mic, and have narrowed it down to either the sanken css5, sennheiser 416, or the neumann kmr81. I'm thinking the css5 because it's stereo, but have heard it can be noisy. We compress and distort a lot so I need the lowest noise floor possible. Any thoughts/experience with these mics?

Thanks!

Will
Old 21st December 2010
  #2
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A lot of it depends on the variety of things you record. Personally I like the Sennheiser MKH60. It's got less noise, a wider frequency response and a bit more clarity than the 416, while still being very rugged and able to record both really loud sounds and very quiet sounds without too many problems.

The Neumann is a great sounding microphone too. Probably the least noisy of the bunch, but can be a bit delicate.

If you are just recording sound effects, you really don't need to limit your choices to shotguns and might get more flexibility with some smaller cardioid or hypercardiod mics. Even some mics with interchangable capsules might be good for your purposes. DPA, Sennheiser and Neumann all have some great choices for that, and the smaller form factor might let you get into places that a shotgun would not.
Old 21st December 2010
  #3
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PoxyMusic's Avatar
 

I assume you want a mic for things such as banging on metal junk, motors, creaky doors etc, and not so much for stereo backgrounds ambiance.

I've done a lot of field recording of such things, and having stereo really does make for a better recording, even for many point-source sounds. At -18db self-noise, I wouldn't worry about the Sanken so much. That's not a crazy high figure, and the good thing about SFX recording is that you usually have a pretty good signal level (using the above examples) which will mask any self noise...you also can do some pretty radical fade outs which will help hide noise.

Plus, if your going to mangle the sounds anyhow, throwing some noise reduction processing in there isn't going to destroy the integrity of your recording...on the rare occasions where that might be necessary.
Old 21st December 2010
  #4
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PoxyMusic's Avatar
 

Echoing what Rick says, if you get a pair of Rode NT55's, you get a matched pair of cardiods with interchangeable omni capsules. There are some drawbacks to two mic stereo though...it's sort of a hassle in the field, and you need a stereo bar and two windshields...but you can afford them since the matched pair is like $900.

I have a Neumann RSM 191, KMR 82, Sennheiser 441, Earthworks TC40k pair...and have been delighted with the Rodes I recently bought. They're pretty quiet as well.
Old 21st December 2010
  #5
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ggegan's Avatar
For the price of a 416 you could buy a Rode NTG3 plus an Audio Technica BP4025 XY stereo mic and have a great sounding, versatile and quiet kit capable of recording very high SPL as well as very quiet sounds.

For the price of a CSS5 you could buy the NTG3, the BP4025, a decent Rode blimp and a Sony PCM D50 hand held recorder and you would be really stylin'.

I'm not knocking the 416 or the CSS5, they are great mics, but there are excellent quality alternatives that will give you more versatility for the same cost. Of course, if cost is not a consideration, then by all means, indulge yourself. I would.
Old 21st December 2010
  #6
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So, we already have a bunch of great stereo pair mics... tc40s, km 184s etc... The problem is we are in NYC, land of background noise, and getting anything usable here requires extreme directionality. That's why I was thinking shotgun mics would be the way to go. Also, cost is not really at issue. We already have a decent field recorder and we have a x/y at825, so really just looking for the shotgun component.
Old 21st December 2010
  #7
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ggegan's Avatar
Since your main criterium seems to be off axis noise rejection, I'd go with the 416 or the MKH70 long shotgun.
Old 21st December 2010
  #8
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by videohelper View Post
So, we already have a bunch of great stereo pair mics... tc40s, km 184s etc... The problem is we are in NYC, land of background noise, and getting anything usable here requires extreme directionality. That's why I was thinking shotgun mics would be the way to go. Also, cost is not really at issue. We already have a decent field recorder and we have a x/y at825, so really just looking for the shotgun component.
If you want extreme directionality, why are you considering a stereo mic?

The shotgun with the most extreme directionality would be the Sanken CS3. It actually sounds quite good. But you will get off-axis coloration. It also has the virtue of being rugged and allow you use it for production. I think it sounds better than the MKH70.
Old 21st December 2010
  #9
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I wasn't aware that the css5 shotgun mic had less directionality because it is stereo. I guess that's one of the things I'm wondering. The specs say it still gets a 120 degree axis in normal stereo mode... It also has a mono mode that supposedly gets similar rear rejection to the cs3.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #10
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

The CSS5 isnt a "Stereo Shotgun" since that is sort of impossible- It is a multi-format mic though, which has three modes- Short Shotgun (mono), "XY" Stereo and 110 degree stereo-

It is a pro quality mic, and it is better than most stereo mics out there outside of the RSM, which is twice its (already) high price- however it is Sennheiser tough and sounds very good on a broad variety of subjects.

beyond that, Gary's previous suggestions are very good- and well worth serious consideration.

the other Stereo mic worthy of consideration is the Sanken CMS7, or the Sennheiser MKH418....
Old 23rd December 2010
  #11
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dmitri's Avatar
I am working on a city-based feature where a lot of effects were recorded with CSS5 (cars EXT/INT, backgrounds EXT/INT etc). I am very happy with the results, although I don't apply any heavy processing, just basic EQ, reverb. But, even in "wide" mode it does not give as wide and spacious exterior ambiences as an AB spaced pair.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #12
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idahorecordist's Avatar
 

I'm curious about the Sennheiser MKH418S. I have not heard many talk about it. I love my 416 so I would think this one would be very good also. Anyone have it pr used it?

I'm with Charles on the CSS-5. I love mine. I've learned over the years what it can and cannot do. It's my pick for most recording sessions. I use the NArrow setting most of the time unless I'm recording ambience or want that wider image.

The only thing I don't like about the CSS-5 is it's heavy with the matrix amp built in and can generate lot of handling noise when using a pistol grip. I put mine on a stand most all the time or wear those construction gloves that have a padded palm which really helps with the handling noise sometimes.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idahorecordist View Post
I'm curious about the Sennheiser MKH418S. I have not heard many talk about it. I love my 416 so I would think this one would be very good also. Anyone have it pr used it?
Everything I've tried in the MKH series has been very good. Have not tried the 418S, but overall, this series seems to be very well made and great sounding.
Old 24th December 2010
  #14
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Being a shotgun, how does the CSS5 handle smaller spot effects in interiors, like a pen writing on paper, or faucet turning on in a bathroom, or coffee machine in a kitchen?

Does it color small reverberations more than, say, an MKH midside setup? Or would effects like these be better recorded in mono? I just really like the subtle texture that a stereo mic gives you even on small sounds. Thanks.
Old 24th December 2010
  #15
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

the shotgun characteristic of the CSS5 is similar to the MKH60 to my ears- if you are using it in that mode, it will be pretty focused- As to the decision of recording effects in stereo or mono- that is pretty subjective- if you are in a quiet place, stereo would be my first choice- as it can always be made mono- the reverse is of course not true- the wide stereo setting for the Sanken is noisier as far as self noise is concerned- so it might be less handy....
Old 26th December 2010
  #16
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The last project I boomed for, the mixer had a NTG3 we used primarily but he kept a 416 because it sounds fine and can take a lot of punishment. Can't go wrong with either of these.
Old 26th December 2010
  #17
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sepulchra's Avatar
 

I would agree with Charles, the CSS5 does have a similar vibe to the MKH 60 in its mono mode. I carry around a full size schoeps MS rig which sounds great and give me the flexibility to always track stereo, but just pull mono if I need to. The downside is that it is heavy and bulky. The CSS5 is a lot easier to lug around.

M.
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