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Recommendations for natural sounding field mics?
Old 31st March 2017
  #1
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Recommendations for natural sounding field mics?

I've got a Tascam DR-680, and ive been trying to get decent recordings for a bout 2 years using the Rode-NT5s, they just sound a bit artificial and tinny imo. I've had the Sennheiser 8040s recommended to me for their clarity and natural sound, but I was wondering if there's anything else a little less destructive to my finances? lol.

Many thanks.
Old 31st March 2017
  #2
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esldude's Avatar
 

Try an Avantone CK1 using the omni capsule. $149 each. Better than the NT5 if you ask me. Don't know if they compare with the Senn's you mention.
Old 31st March 2017
  #3
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The Beyerdynamic MC930 might bring some improvement. They are less than half the cost of the fabulous Senn 8040 and in the same cost category as the Rode. The MC930 are pretty rugged and sound good, though you'd have a fixed cardioid pattern instead of the flexibility for omni caps on the Rode. (Edit: if you are set on omnis then perhaps the Beyer MC910, though I've not heard them.)

You could probably pick up a pair used and sell them at no loss if you're looking for better.

Last edited by Swing; 31st March 2017 at 10:33 AM.. Reason: add 910
Old 31st March 2017
  #4
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by faeriepunk23 View Post
I've got a Tascam DR-680, and ive been trying to get decent recordings for a bout 2 years using the Rode-NT5s, they just sound a bit artificial and tinny imo. I've had the Sennheiser 8040s recommended to me for their clarity and natural sound, but I was wondering if there's anything else a little less destructive to my finances? lol.
Depends on what you mean by "field mics". Are you trying to record "out in the field" as in out of the studio (implying in a performance hall), or are you literally out in a field recording environmental sounds?

Assuming environmental sounds, you will probably want to stay with RF condenser mics for that -- they don't attract dust and dirt to the diaphragm, and work much better in high humidity situations. A majority of people recording environmental sounds end up choosing M/S recording because of the ease of controlling the width of the stereo field in post, and because it's the easiest setup for putting in a windbasket and/or booming. So I'm thinking MHK 40/30 pair, and a Rycote windbasket (they make one specifically for the Sennheiser mics in M/S because it's popular). As to finances, you can usually find MKH 40s used. But a used MKH 30 is just hard to come by. I've been watching for years and haven't snagged one (or two).
Old 31st March 2017
  #5
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by faeriepunk23 View Post
...the Rode-NT5s, they just sound a bit artificial and tinny imo.
How are you using them? If in XY, that might be your problem. I much prefer ORTF or NOS to XY. If I need coincident for some reason, it's always going to be M/S or Blumlein. Sounds so much more natural to me.
Old 31st March 2017
  #6
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Bruce's suggestion of an MKH40/30 pair is a great one - I use this a lot and its awesome. I've been lucky enough to find two MKH30's used - actually I believe there is one on eBay now.

You could also check into a single point M/S shotgun mic. I have a Neumann RMS190 which is awesome; they are discontinued but show up used from time to time. There is also the Sennheiser MKH418, the Sanken CMS10 or the Pearl MSH10 to name a few others. All of these are nice because they fit easily into rycote wind protection for outdoor recording.

On a lower budget, check out Line Audio CM3's and OM1's. Nice, flat, natural sounding mics, and also small enough (like the 8040's) to fit into a windscreen.

-Mike
Old 31st March 2017
  #7
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a nice used pair of audio technical AT4051, or new pair of AT4021 are both excellent for the money. a used pair of akg c480s or c460s can also be had for a reasonable price and are very good mics. the yard sale forum at taperssection is a good place to keep an eye out for used mics. some great folks there.
Old 31st March 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Depends on what you mean by "field mics". Are you trying to record "out in the field" as in out of the studio (implying in a performance hall), or are you literally out in a field recording environmental sounds?

Assuming environmental sounds, you will probably want to stay with RF condenser mics for that -- they don't attract dust and dirt to the diaphragm, and work much better in high humidity situations. A majority of people recording environmental sounds end up choosing M/S recording because of the ease of controlling the width of the stereo field in post, and because it's the easiest setup for putting in a windbasket and/or booming. So I'm thinking MHK 40/30 pair, and a Rycote windbasket (they make one specifically for the Sennheiser mics in M/S because it's popular). As to finances, you can usually find MKH 40s used. But a used MKH 30 is just hard to come by. I've been watching for years and haven't snagged one (or two).
Hiya, yea sorry, environmental sounds - natural sounds - from mountains, rivers, forests in Japan! I hadn't thought of that aspect of m/s, that's a very good point! Thanks!
Old 1st April 2017
  #9
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by faeriepunk23 View Post
Hiya, yea sorry, environmental sounds - natural sounds - from mountains, rivers, forests in Japan! I hadn't thought of that aspect of m/s, that's a very good point! Thanks!
Ah well, good. I guessed correctly for once.

If you want to do M/S, and if you're recording exterior environmental sounds M/S is worth serious consideration, you'll need a figure 8 mic. If you want a really accurate and stable stereo image, you'll need both lobes of the figure 8 to be the same, IOW symmetrical. This in turn implies a single diaphragm mic, which limits your choices to just a few. Which is why the Sennheiser MKH 30 keeps coming up. It is perhaps the best of the symetrical SDC mics.

Yet, there's a smaller and less expensive single diaphragm figure 8 mic made by Ambient -- the ATE 208 Emesser. I've never used it but John Willett on this forum has talked it up a bit -- do some searching and you'll pull some stuff up.

Why would this matter? Because it's smaller, lighter weight, and about 60% of the cost of an MKH 30. If you can use it with a mid mic that's an MKH 8040, or maybe an MKH 8020, you'll have a very small and light pair, which probably fits in a smaller and less expensive wind basket. Contact Rycote and ask what they recommend.

For that matter, you might want to look at the Line Audio mics for your mid mics. Their CM-3 subcard and their OM-1 omni both perform very well, but aren't as sensitive as the Sennheisers and have a bit more self noise than you might want for environmental sounds. But at a fraction of the price of the Sennheiser mics. I don't know that you want these, but the price point makes it hard not to consider them, and they might be a good match for size / weight to the Ambient mic, IDK. Just sayin' it might be worth a look.

Ambients and Line Audios aside, if you've got a problem with humidity (like recording at a mountain stream at dawn), nothing really outperforms the RF condensers. If you're getting wet doing it, you might want to just save up your pennies for the Sennheisers.
Old 2nd April 2017
  #10
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Have you tried the Nt-45O omni capsules on the Rodes? Might be a quick, relatively inexpensive route to check out. Just got a pair to swap out my cardioid capsules on those mics, and to my ear it's an all around improvement. I was having some problems with the 'tinny' sound I was getting with my Nt-5's as well, and set up as an A/B spaced pair, have been enjoying the results so far.
Old 3rd April 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkingStickMan View Post
Have you tried the Nt-45O omni capsules on the Rodes? Might be a quick, relatively inexpensive route to check out. Just got a pair to swap out my cardioid capsules on those mics, and to my ear it's an all around improvement. I was having some problems with the 'tinny' sound I was getting with my Nt-5's as well, and set up as an A/B spaced pair, have been enjoying the results so far.
It's been so long since I bought the mic, I actually forgot I have a set of these. I'm gonna go on another mish to a mountain in a few weeks and try out these omni capsules. Cheers!
Old 3rd April 2017
  #12
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Awesome! Let me know how it works out. Also really cool that you're doing these recordings in Japan- I lived there for a bit myself in Osaka, ad have since been back to Tokyo to visit. One of my favorite places to be. Also lots of great sound art, etc. Hiroki Sasajima has been one of my faves lately...
Old 7th April 2017
  #13
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Depends on what you mean by "field mics". Are you trying to record "out in the field" as in out of the studio (implying in a performance hall), or are you literally out in a field recording environmental sounds?

Assuming environmental sounds, you will probably want to stay with RF condenser mics for that -- they don't attract dust and dirt to the diaphragm, and work much better in high humidity situations. A majority of people recording environmental sounds end up choosing M/S recording because of the ease of controlling the width of the stereo field in post, and because it's the easiest setup for putting in a windbasket and/or booming. So I'm thinking MHK 40/30 pair, and a Rycote windbasket (they make one specifically for the Sennheiser mics in M/S because it's popular). As to finances, you can usually find MKH 40s used. But a used MKH 30 is just hard to come by. I've been watching for years and haven't snagged one (or two).
Sorry Bruce, busy week! I'm gonna try again with some omni caps on the NT-5s, any particular recommendations for positioning omni mics? Thanks!
Old 7th April 2017
  #14
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkingStickMan View Post
Awesome! Let me know how it works out. Also really cool that you're doing these recordings in Japan- I lived there for a bit myself in Osaka, ad have since been back to Tokyo to visit. One of my favorite places to be. Also lots of great sound art, etc. Hiroki Sasajima has been one of my faves lately...
Oh cool, yea it's good times! I'll check out Sasajima. What kind of mic positioning were you using for the omni recordings? Cheers!
Old 18th April 2017
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Depends on what you mean by "field mics". Are you trying to record "out in the field" as in out of the studio (implying in a performance hall), or are you literally out in a field recording environmental sounds?

Assuming environmental sounds, you will probably want to stay with RF condenser mics for that -- they don't attract dust and dirt to the diaphragm, and work much better in high humidity situations. A majority of people recording environmental sounds end up choosing M/S recording because of the ease of controlling the width of the stereo field in post, and because it's the easiest setup for putting in a windbasket and/or booming. So I'm thinking MHK 40/30 pair, and a Rycote windbasket (they make one specifically for the Sennheiser mics in M/S because it's popular). As to finances, you can usually find MKH 40s used. But a used MKH 30 is just hard to come by. I've been watching for years and haven't snagged one (or two).


I am in the market to get another ADR mic, either the MKH 416 or the MKH 40. But want one that I can also use in field recording (ambiences, parks, trains, restaurants, exterior foley, etc). I didn't know you could use the 40 for ext recording?

How would it compare to a 416?

I have used both 416 and 40 for ADR and (416 all my life in other studios) and once on the 40 and was VERY impressed.

Any input would be great since I don't have the budget to get both
Old 19th April 2017
  #16
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
From the thread General Purpose Mic Pre for VO/ADR on 23rd Mar 2017

The 416 is a bit brighter and spittier than the 40. This can be a good thing though - it can help VO cut through dense mixes.

The 40 is a bit smoother off-axis than the 416, and has a nice up front, in your face sound. Both mics are best used in well treated rooms though. The 416 can tend to pick up some reflections in small booths or live rooms that don't sound great. The MKH 40 is a little better about this but being a cardioid, can also pick up some undesirable room sound. The wider pattern of the '40 can help actors who are moving around a lot though.

IMO, you'd be better off with an MKH50 than either of those two mics in a majority of situations.

-Mike
[Posted using Post Recycler]

I posted the above comparison in another thread. I still like he MKH50 better than the 40 in a majority of ADR/VO/dialogue recording situations, due to the tighter pattern on the '50.

That said, the wider pattern on the '40 would be nice in field recording situations. One of my most used field recording packages is the MKH40/30 combo that Bruce mentioned above.

If it were me in your shoes AND you have a nice sounding room for ADR I would go with the 40. It really depends on what you're doing more of them. You're going to see a lot more client requests for a 416 than an MKH 40 for ADR.

-Mike
Old 19th April 2017
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faeriepunk23 View Post
Oh cool, yea it's good times! I'll check out Sasajima. What kind of mic positioning were you using for the omni recordings? Cheers!
So far I've used 40cm spacing, both mics positioned forward (so 0 degree angle between mics). That's been the limit on my stereo bar, which is actually x2 20cm bars connected together. Looking to get a Manfrotto triple mic bar so that I have up to 60cm separation. It depends on the SRA angle, distance from the source, etc, but so far for general ambience 40cm has been working well.
Old 21st April 2017
  #18
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 

I used my Avenson STO-2 omni pair with a Jecklin Disc just recently on this field recording of my back woods:



I would describe these mics as super-neutral; incredibly faithful to the source with no EQ needed. Yes, perhaps a tad on the noisy side, but it needn't detract from the recording, depending on your application.

Not tried the Line Audio OM-1s - on paper a bit quieter it seems, and Line Audio are a Slutz-approved favourite. But in terms of subjective quality the little Avensons are very good indeed and I had to spend a lot more to get something appreciably 'better' (Gefell M296).

I had planned to put my Avensons up for sale to offset the cost of the Gefells but the former are so cute and useful, and have travelled so far and wide with me that I can't bear to let them go.
Old 21st April 2017
  #19
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A very good Omni is the Audio Technica AT4022 and the AT4021 Cardioid is excellent when price is compared. From my reading the AT4022 is used by many Nature recordists. Also the Sennheiser MKH8020 is highly thought of for nature recordings. The Earthworks QTC40 would probably be my choice, the mic has been improved with a new capsule and redesigned circuit resulting in 6db more output and 2 1/2 db improvement in noise level.

P.S. just remembered that the QTC40 needs 10ma phantom power per mic to operate properly.
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