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Not ruining my new MKH microphones Condenser Microphones
Old 4th September 2011
  #1
Gear Head
Not ruining my new MKH microphones

I just acquired an MKH 418 and MKH 40 for field and foley work. These being my personal mics, I want to treat them extra nice, not kill them, and still get the sounds I am after.

This morning I recorded my espresso maker, steamer and all.

I micd the milk container tight, and as anyone but I could have predicted, milk splattered up onto to the mics a little, and some steam accumulated on the 418 enclosure.

I've heard the MKH series is surprisingly resistant to humidity, and I've had my boss encourage me to place MKH 40s to within millimeters of water to get the sound we were after, with no audible damage to the mic.

I've also used these at work in very dusty sessions, again with no audible damage.

So my question here is, what terrible things can I do to these mics and not hurt them?

I have a foam screen for the MKH 40, I need to order one for the 418. I am guessing when airborne debris is a concern, the foam screen should be on.

Some veteran advice from someone with experience doing reckless things with these and similar mics would be appreciated!

Thanks.
Old 4th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 
ggegan's Avatar
I'm a believer in fine mics and pristine recordings, but I wouldn't risk damaging a $1500 mic to record things like espresso steamers close up. Save the good mics for when it's going to pay off and keep some cheap mics on hand for the nasty stuff. You'd be surprised how good even an SM57 can sound if it is used close up and there is plenty of level. You can find them used for under $50, so it's no big deal if you destroy one doing a Jackass sound stunt that you wouldn't even consider trying with your good mics. Audio Technica has some decent cheap condensers for under $200. You can go through seven or eight of them for the price of an MKH418, and for the type of recordings you'd be using them for, I seriously doubt anyone could tell the difference, especially in the context of a mix.
Old 5th September 2011
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Chippy569's Avatar
 

if you want painfully close, it's time to think about contact mics? cold gold has 'em good and affordable.
Old 5th September 2011
  #4
Lives for gear
 

I've got an MKH-20 in a Rycote blimp that's been outside many many times summer, fall, winter to record environmental sounds. Still working fine. I wouldn't put it out if I knew it was going to be exposed to rain. The blimp provides a good protective barrier around the microphone as well as attenuating wind noise.
Old 5th September 2011
  #5
Gear Head
Thanks guys.

@ ggegan:
Yeah, this wasn't a smart move. But the fine detail and low noise I got from the MKHs in the past, when recording small water splashes, makes using the mics for things like this hard to resist. Sorry, I am going to do SOME jackass style recording with the nice mics. heh

Point taken though, I'll break out the cheapies for the dirty work. They have their place for sure, but they just never deliver the way the nice mics can.

@ Chippy569 :
A set of C-Ducers is on my short list of mics to get. I'll check out the cold golds, have not used them before. A hydrophone would've been great today, so would a surface contact mic.

@ tpad:
Thanks for chiming in. Agreed. A blimp is on my short list also. But the size of the blimp might interfere with getting close to the quiet source. The steamer was pretty quiet, until it wasn't!
Old 5th September 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I wouldn't put it next to steam nor would I put close enough to water if it could splash. Also wouldn't use the mike in heavy smoke, either. Tell the cigar smokers to steer clear!
Old 5th September 2011
  #7
Gear Head
The water sounds I got with the MKH 40 really were perfect. They were just tiny splashes with a plastic utensil in a quiet room.

I can promise not to blow cigar smoke into any of my mics. But some sort of fire session is in the future hopefully. I'll cross (or burn) that bridge when I come to it.

I'll be purchasing a foam screen for the 418 this week. I guess I could also use a pop filter as another layer of protection from liquid or other debris. I see the immediate consensus here is "don't get too close".

Not planning on doing this a lot. But this issue will come up again. I appreciate the input!
Old 5th September 2011
  #8
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minister's Avatar
put them in a zepplin or baby ball gag. That's what I do. better to ruin those.

Or, as Gary sez, user cheaper mics.

my C-Ducers are NOISY AS HELL! pretty much unuseable. Maybe they were broken, but I bought them new... Instead of raising a fuss, I am waiting to try some others that I heard were better.
Old 5th September 2011
  #9
Gear Head
Baby ball gag is a good suggestion, thanks Tom, had not thought of that...

I like the C-Ducers, i've used for chunky mid range content layered with other mics. I never cared about any noise they introduce, as I am usually cutting anything about 900hz.

What are you replacing yours with?
Old 5th September 2011
  #10
Lives for gear
 

The MKH series are highly impervious to WATER VAPOR, but once it starts condensing inside the mike capsule, it's a different ball game. One thing I've noticed with the blimp, if you put the assembly outside and the temperature drops below the dew point, you'll see condensation form on the outside of the blimp, but inside, the capsule seems to pretty much stay dry. Pretty neat trick.
Old 5th September 2011
  #11
Gear Addict
 
Jaymz's Avatar
 

SM57 to the rescue, as has been mentioned. I can recommend a Rode NTG-1 as a "don't-give-a-***" mic if shotgun rejection/directionality is required. Mine's been used outside in Texas/Florida summer and Irish winter, taken hot engine exhaust, been dropped several times over it's 3 years. Still works fine.

That said, I'm fairly careful with my MKH mics. Love them too much.
Old 5th September 2011
  #12
I've had my MKH40 and MKH800 (and Neumann RSM 191) out in the rain (all were in a full Rycote or DPA Windpac setup). All of the mics are still alive While I don't recommend sticking your mics out in the rain like I do, putting some cover over them (foam screen, zepplin with furry, etc) should protect them just fine during limited exposure to water/moisture. When subjecting your mics to moist conditions, check your windscreen often to make sure it isn't totally soaked.
Old 5th September 2011
  #13
Gear Addict
 
Jaymz's Avatar
 

Yeah Rycote put a layer of liquid repellent on all their windjammers. I'd say it keeps them quite safe to a certain degree.
Old 5th September 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 
ggegan's Avatar
Yes, a blimp with a dead cat is pretty good potection for an FM mic like a 416 or an NTG3, although for other condensers like Neumanns, it may not be enough.

Look, it's only money. If you can afford an endless supply of high end condenser mics, then more power to you. I'm sure Sennheiser would support you all the way.

I'm just saying that as a rerecording mixer who works with recordings from a lot of different sources, that it isn't all about recording quality. We aren't audiophiles. If you can get the sound with perfect fidelity using an expensive mic, then I'm with you all the way, but if you don't get the sound because you are trying to protect your investment, then you've left me hanging. I'd rather have the right sound recorded with an inferior mic, than the wrong sound recorded with the best equipment available. If I need the sound of an elephant's bowels, I don't want to hear about how you weren't willing to stick your 418 up the elephant's ass.
Old 5th September 2011
  #15
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan View Post
I'm just saying that as a rerecording mixer...If I need the sound of an elephant's bowels, I don't want to hear about how you weren't willing to stick your 418 up the elephant's ass.
Somebody make this their sig file!
Old 5th September 2011
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

I've had my 416 in some potentially harmful environments. Still like day 1.
It is, however, 99% of the time in a rycote system which provides some protection from the elements.

I also have desiccant bags I put in the rycote when storing any mics to control the moisture levels a bit.
Old 5th September 2011
  #17
Gear Head
Thanks everyone, I believe I have my answer, which is:
Protect your investment. Good advice that I intend to follow.

Gary, once again, like my promise about cigar smoke, I can promise that I won't be sticking my 418 inside an elephant. For that I suspect I'd go with the DPA hydrophone, should the opportunity present itself. Unless you recommend something else?

It sounds like for the semi-reckless recording I was doing today, (how pathetic am I when my definition of reckless is close micing a milk steamer?) a baby ball gag or at the least a foam screen and another layer of something between the mics and the liquid would've been wise.

From all the helpful posts here, sounds like the MKH mics do indeed do well with moisture. But I don't want to press my luck, and prefer not to replace/repair my mics anytime soon. FWIW, I did have to send an MKH 40 in for service once, it was painless and the cost reasonable. But no, I am not made out of money.

Using a Rode as a beater is a good suggestion too. Thanks guys.
Old 5th September 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Just a note:

The interference tube of the 418 is just an empty tube with a couple of openings. the capsules are at the far bottom.

Not saying that I would immerse the mic into water up to the body. Just to mention the tube itself doesn´t contain any electronic or sensitive parts till you reach the capsules close to the body.

Son even if the tip of your 418 dunks into the steamed milk you are still about 20cm away from the actual pickup element..

Personally, I wouldn´t use a shotgun type mic to record a close up of a steamer anyway. But that´s just me...
Old 6th September 2011
  #19
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PoxyMusic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teledub View Post
and I've had my boss encourage me to place MKH 40s to within millimeters of water to get the sound we were after,
I would generally disagree that you need to be within a few millimeters, but if my boss were to pay for the microphone, perhaps we could work something out!
Old 6th September 2011
  #20
Gear Head
Thanks for the input Apple Q. Sounds like the mic capsule was a "safe" distance then.

Poxy, said mm, meant cm. But agreed, if the boss say drown the mic, I drown the mic!
Old 6th September 2011
  #21
nkf
Lives for gear
 

For close recording boiling stuff or anything that could spoil the mic I like to use B&K 4007, mostly with the foam on them. I do think these B&K/DPA microphones are nearly indestructible ... ok, not really but they seem very durable.
DPA makes this even a topic and showing a mic in a glass of water:
DPA Microphones :: Microphone Stability
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