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Mid-Side Mic for Nature Recording (all-in-one) Condenser Microphones
Old 25th January 2019
  #1
Gear Head
 

Mid-Side Mic for Nature Recording (all-in-one)

Can anyone recommend a high-end Mid-side stereo mic?

For the ambient nature sound business I work for, I'm putting together a proposal for a Mid/Side rig. I'm advising my boss on what we should buy, particularly for an upcoming trip to Washington State Olympic rainforests. I was all set to pull the trigger on a Senn MKH30/40 combo, but then I got to thinking, we do a lot of run-and-gun recording, where a light-weight, single mic would be ideal. I know single mics don't have the flexibility, but I think we'd be faster and use it more often.

I always use my Rode blimp on a tripod, but my boss tells me he often likes to pack light and use just a pistol grip with a dead cat. Obviously, if we went with an MKH30/40 or Schoeps combo, that wouldn't be possible, and I'd like to give my boss that freedom.

Senn M418s - many people complain about mic hiss, so nope.
AT BP4029 - looks fantastic, but I gather it fragile in high humidy, and we record LOTS of rain.

Can anyone recommend a good M/S contender? I'm willing to consider both Cardioid and Shotgun options, though I probably would prefer Cardioid. $600-$2000 would be my price range, but I could go higher (or lower if it was actually GOOD).

Last edited by Prime Mover; 25th January 2019 at 01:58 AM..
Old 25th January 2019
  #2
Gear Head
 

Pearl MS 8CL?

Quote:
we record LOTS of rain.
... but in such conditions hard to imagine that the RF Senns wouldn't be safest.
Old 25th January 2019
  #3
Gear Head
 

Pearl MS 8CL?

That DEFINITELY looks up our alley, but it looks extremely hard to find, is it even made any more? (I don't think my boss wouldn't be comfortable buying used gear). You also say that you'd be concerned about it in the rain, and that's very much an issue. I wish I could read or talk to some people who have hands on experience with the mic. I've heard of it in passing, but I know almost nothing about it.
Old 25th January 2019
  #4
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
I always use my Rode blimp on a tripod, but my boss tells me he often likes to pack light and use just a pistol grip with a dead cat. Obviously, if we went with an MKH30/40 or Schoeps combo, that wouldn't be possible, and I'd like to give my boss that freedom.
Why wouldn't this be possible? I keep my MKH40/30 combo in a Rycote Stereo windshield with a dead cat and pistol grip attached and it is totally easy to grab it and hit record. Yes, its a little larger and bulkier than a single mic in a windshield would be, but all stays put together perfectly well and is easy to use.

My other favorite M/S mic is the Neumann RSM190/191, but with that mic you have to deal with the matrix box as well so its a bit more to handle.

-Mike
Old 25th January 2019
  #5
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
That DEFINITELY looks up our alley, but it looks extremely hard to find, is it even made any more? ... I wish I could read or talk to some people who have hands on experience with the mic.
Independent Audio are the US distributors. I'm afraid I haven't used this personally.

Discussed briefly here: Best option for field recording live music sessions. ... Perhaps send Rolo 46 a PM if he doesn't pick up this thread.
Old 25th January 2019
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
Why wouldn't this be possible? I keep my MKH40/30 combo in a Rycote Stereo windshield with a dead cat and pistol grip attached and it is totally easy to grab it and hit record. Yes, its a little larger and bulkier than a single mic in a windshield would be, but all stays put together perfectly well and is easy to use..
What I mean is my boss often doesn't use a windshield, just the pistol grip with a small Dead Cat on the mic itself, no blimp. I use a Rode blimp with wombat pretty much all the time. But he travels a lot and likes to pack light. I totally get where he's coming from. Currently we use an AT BP4025 X/Y mic, which is a small enough setup to use in many different configurations. In an ideal world, it would be wonderful to replicate that simplicity with a M/S configuration.

Unfortunately, Rycote has discontinued the Stereo Windshield M/S kit (they only offer ORTF), they want you to purchase the Stereo Cyclone, which is even bigger.
Old 25th January 2019
  #7
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
What I mean is my boss often doesn't use a windshield, just the pistol grip with a small Dead Cat on the mic itself, no blimp. I use a Rode blimp with wombat pretty much all the time. But he travels a lot and likes to pack light.
Ah, I got it. That makes sense.

For the sake of being pedantic, “dead cat” usually refers to the shapeless fur that fits over a plastic windshield. “Softie” is the foam filled windscreen you’re talking about I believe.

Sanken also has a couple of stereo shotgun mics that are supposed to sound good. The CSS-5 and the CSS-50. The caveat with those I believe is that they do all the matrixing inside the mic and only output X-Y stereo, not raw MS. I prefer raw MS so I can process it however I want. That said, all the reviews I’ve read of them say they sound great. A compromise has to be made somewhere I guess.

-Mike
Old 25th January 2019
  #8
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
Ah, I got it. That makes sense.

For the sake of being pedantic, “dead cat” usually refers to the shapeless fur that fits over a plastic windshield. “Softie” is the foam filled windscreen you’re talking about I believe.

Sanken also has a couple of stereo shotgun mics that are supposed to sound good. The CSS-5 and the CSS-50. The caveat with those I believe is that they do all the matrixing inside the mic and only output X-Y stereo, not raw MS. I prefer raw MS so I can process it however I want. That said, all the reviews I’ve read of them say they sound great. A compromise has to be made somewhere I guess.

-Mike
This is a fur-based windscreen, but it's the size of a softie. I initially got it for my old Zoom H4n, but it works very well over my AT BP4025 or any other individual mic. Technically the small ones are marketed as "Dead Cat" and the large ones over a windshield are a "Dead Wombat" (Rycote/Rode model terms).

Yes, I definitely want raw M/S output, not matrixed L/R. I have a Sound Devices MixPre3 which can output a headphone monitor matrix for easy demoing, but I do the final matrixing in post.

I ran a test yesterday using a CAD Trion4000 (multi pattern "Baby Bottle" style mic, set to fig-8) and an Oktava MK12. I jury-rigged them inside the blimp... not feasible for long-term use, but they let me get familiar with the workflow. Honestly, they sounded fantastic. Frankly better than my BP4025 (though the Oktava has some damage and needs repair). The BP4025 just sounds "Froggy", with an awkward high-mid resonance boost. I went to the the beach (I'm near Waikiki), and recorded waves with the two different setups. Beyond the fact that my Oktava/CAD rig had some low-end noise, it sounded better. I matrixed it later in my DAW and the results blew me away.

Problem is, I know that it's comparing Apples/oranges, the BP4025 is going to sound different from any other mic, including the MKH40 or Oktava MK12 (the mid in my test).

Maybe I should go for the MKH8040, which would cut down some weight. From what I've heard, they're very similar in tone to the MKH40. Though I worry that they may be a little more susceptible to handling, wind, and moisture.
Old 25th January 2019
  #9
Gear Addict
 
whippoorwill's Avatar
Sanken has a couple options which work in high humidty. I haven't used them personally though.
Maybe schoeps ccm41/8? very small setup possible there, a very small rycote can be used like the ws9 or even more compact is the cinela leonard ms. Basically a super compact stereo windshield.
Sennheiser 40/50/30 could also be used like this potentially, contact cinela but they don't seem to do that combo.
Cinela - Catalog - LEO-20-MS: LEONARD ball 2 x 20mm. With fur

I think no wind basket is asking for trouble, but a small manfrotto stand, a 1-3m schoeps stereo cable and a cinela leonard into a recorder with some sennheiser hd25s or shure/final in-ears is about as small but as high quality a setup I can think of.

Super compact as well is the DPA 4060 in AB. Rugged in high humidty, and right in the middle of your budget.
Old 25th January 2019
  #10
Lives for gear
I'd say you're overthinking it, Prime Mover. You're not going to find a better mid side pair than the MKH30/40, especially if you're planning to work in a rainforest. That said, you might consider why you want MS for that application? Personally, I'd go for an ORTF pair of MKH8040 or a spaced pair of 8020. Rycote make stereo windshields for either of those combos. How about an ORTF pair of 8040 in a Windshield, flanked by a pair of 8020, each in a ball gag?

Rycote still make a MKH30/40 blimp, but I believe it's part of the Cyclone range now. What you want is STEREO CYCLONE MS KIT 4, part number 089113. Photo attached. Rycote configurator here: Microphone Stereo Configurator | Rycote

To use MKH30/40 with a pistol grip and no basket, then use this pistol grip:
Rycote Pistol Grip

and a pair of these back to back clips:
Rycote back to back clips

And this Special 130 x 40 Mini Windjammer (055313):
Rycote Special 130x40 Mini Windjammer

Good luck. Hope this helps.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
Can anyone recommend a high-end Mid-side stereo mic?

For the ambient nature sound business I work for, I'm putting together a proposal for a Mid/Side rig. I'm advising my boss on what we should buy, particularly for an upcoming trip to Washington State Olympic rainforests. I was all set to pull the trigger on a Senn MKH30/40 combo, but then I got to thinking, we do a lot of run-and-gun recording, where a light-weight, single mic would be ideal. I know single mics don't have the flexibility, but I think we'd be faster and use it more often.

I always use my Rode blimp on a tripod, but my boss tells me he often likes to pack light and use just a pistol grip with a dead cat. Obviously, if we went with an MKH30/40 or Schoeps combo, that wouldn't be possible, and I'd like to give my boss that freedom.

Senn M418s - many people complain about mic hiss, so nope.
AT BP4029 - looks fantastic, but I gather it fragile in high humidy, and we record LOTS of rain.

Can anyone recommend a good M/S contender? I'm willing to consider both Cardioid and Shotgun options, though I probably would prefer Cardioid. $600-$2000 would be my price range, but I could go higher (or lower if it was actually GOOD).

Last edited by bwanajim; 25th January 2019 at 06:54 AM..
Old 25th January 2019
  #11
Gear Head
 

Yeah, I already have a Rycote Pistol grip Lyre (through Rode), and can get those back to back clips. I wasn't sure if that's all the M/S kit was or whether there was further suspension decoupling the mics from each other. Probably the Rode blimp will fit over the two mics in that rig, but there might be only half an inch or so between the upper mic and the blimp wall, I didn't know if that was enough for the wind to dissipate. I think I'd like to go M/S over ORTF because it has even better mono compatibility and is more source focussed (for doing small streams, etc), just more flexible as a whole.
Old 25th January 2019
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
locojohn's Avatar
For the MKH 40/30 M/S rig I use Rycote Windshield Kit #3 . It includes pistol grip, wind screen, suspension and fur. It works fine and wind protection is good, but MKH 30/40 mics are more sensitive than MKH 20 omni, so you should be aware of handling noise etc.

Why not use a pair of MKH 20’s for nature recordings anyway? This setup could turn out bulkier and more expensive, but these mics have even lower self noise and offer a more natural reproduction of the environment due to omnidirectional capsules. Plus, you can combine them in any way that suits you – you can mount them on a T-bar or arrange them on stands in any way you prefer. And as additional bonus they also have extended low frequency response compared to the M/S mics.

Last edited by locojohn; 25th January 2019 at 11:24 AM..
Old 25th January 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
Be a Pro, do it properly
MKH 30/40
Full Rycote
Dont arse about with toys....
Old 25th January 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
ronmac's Avatar
^^^

Rolo is on the money for this use case. Considering the time and expense of travelling to locations to collect sound, the cost of a kit that will last a lifetime and give you confidence to use it in harsh conditions is not so much.
Old 25th January 2019
  #15
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JamesClark1991's Avatar
Long story short, there is no small M/S setup in which you're after. The MKH 8030 development was shelved years ago and will most likely never resume which was your best bet.

An over-looked option (mainly due to self noise) is the Zoom H5/Zoom H6 with the M/S capsule attached, but pre-amp quality is an issue here as well as some self noise from the mic. What I haven't tried which could be a viable option is the M/S Zoom capsule attached to the Zoom F8 (which has much better pre-amps than the handy recorder range. I was hoping Zoom would release a premium/updated handy recorder at NAMM but no such luck by the look of things as that would've potentially solved a problem like this.

As others have stated, maybe two 8020s or 8040s on a T-Bar would be your best bet?
Old 25th January 2019
  #16
Lives for gear
Hahaha! Good ol’ Roger!

Well, he’s right, you know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Be a Pro, do it properly
MKH 30/40
Full Rycote
Dont arse about with toys....
Old 25th January 2019
  #17
Lives for gear
Not on a T-Bar, in one of these:
Rycote

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesClark1991 View Post
As others have stated, maybe two 8020s or 8040s on a T-Bar would be your best bet?
Old 25th January 2019
  #18
Lives for gear
Hahaha! Good ol’ Roger!

Well, he’s right, you know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Be a Pro, do it properly
MKH 30/40
Full Rycote
Dont arse about with toys....
Old 26th January 2019
  #19
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
Can anyone recommend a high-end Mid-side stereo mic?
The Sennheiser MKH 40/30 (or 50/30, etc.) is the perfect combination for this, but not inexpensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
I was all set to pull the trigger on a Senn MKH30/40 combo, but then I got to thinking, we do a lot of run-and-gun recording, where a light-weight, single mic would be ideal. I know single mics don't have the flexibility, but I think we'd be faster and use it more often.
This is the perfect combination - there is none better.

Use the new Rycote stereo Cyclone, it's the smallest one that really works for this.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
Senn M418s - many people complain about mic hiss, so nope.
The fig-8 in the 418S is made from back-to-back cardioids of the same vintage as the 418 capsule that is used for the mid. Ideally the side capsule should be about 6dB lower than the mid on the 418S to minimise noise. But this microphone was originally designed for sports coverage for the Lillehammer winter Olympics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Mover View Post
Can anyone recommend a good M/S contender? I'm willing to consider both Cardioid and Shotgun options, though I probably would prefer Cardioid. $600-$2000 would be my price range, but I could go higher (or lower if it was actually GOOD).
MKH 40/30 (or 50/30 if you want more mid directivity) is the only real option - I would get no other.
Old 26th January 2019
  #20
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
Not on a T-Bar, in one of these:
Rycote
Or one of THESE

Old 26th January 2019
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
ronmac's Avatar
Quote:
Can anyone recommend a good M/S contender? I'm willing to consider both Cardioid and Shotgun options, though I probably would prefer Cardioid. $600-$2000 would be my price range, but I could go higher (or lower if it was actually GOOD).
Once you know what you want, and if you have the luxury of some time to look, there are bargains to be had in the used market. I was able to find a MKH30/40 set, in a Sennheiser blimp, with fur and housed in a Pelican case well within your budget. The whole kit was as new, including original boxes and documentation. It was purchased by a pro to do a project and, once completed, the owner realized he wouldn't be needing it again.

Folks retire, move to other pursuits or "buy to try" and often let their tools go at a very reasonable price. Take advantage of that when you can.
Old 26th January 2019
  #22
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesClark1991 View Post
Long story short, there is no small M/S setup in which you're after. The MKH 8030 development was shelved years ago and will most likely never resume which was your best bet.
Fingers crossed - I spoke to Sennheiser at IBC in Amsterdam in September and they were talking about completing the MKH 8000 range.

I did speak, quite strongly, to the new man there who makes such decisions and stressed the vital importance of the 8030 and also of the Y-cable that they don't make.

I did say that they were probably losing loads of sales to Schoeps just because they don't have the fig.8 - hopefully it will help focus them.
Old 26th January 2019
  #23
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tourtelot's Avatar
Wait! I thought they already had an admirable Figure-of-8. I've been pleased, for years, with the sound of my MKH30.

D.
Old 26th January 2019
  #24
Gear Head
 

Money is really no object. When I said $2000, I was meaning per-microphone, not including windshield or accessories. I want to get the best I can for my needs. I feel like we got a little burned with the AT4025 X/Y mics that we've been using: they just sound "froggy" to my ears. I recorded some surf the other day, and there was this kind of throaty resonance that came up with every wave. It also instantly susceptible to wind noise, I'm always chopping off around 60-80Hz in post, even with the blimp and dead wombat attached. I tested out a MS pair of an Oktava MK12 and CAD Trion (fig-8), and while not practical or even a good idea for field recording, the middling MK12 sounded far flatter and more pleasing than the AT4025.

It just seems that for nature ambiences, whether X/Y or M/S, no one has really made a killer stereo microphone. I've embraced the rigged pair route, it'll just take my boss some time to get used to it.

Both of us do really want to start building up an arsenal of different mics with slightly different tone colors. We were originally planning on getting two sets of whatever I came up with, but maybe we should get two different rigs, maybe another high-end X/Y mic or pair. I tend to stay away from omnis because try as we may, distant traffic sounds are always a problem and I like to have some directionality to be able to limit that. Unfortunately he lives in LA, I live in Honolulu, so it's not like we'll be able to easily trade out rigs.
Old 27th January 2019
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
ronmac's Avatar
The aforementioned MS pair of MKH30/40 and a stereoset MKH8040 for ORTF, both housed in suitable Rycote or Cinela kits, gives you a killer 2 perspective rig with a multitude of other possibilities (use the 2 MKH8040 with the 30 for a DM/S setup, as one example).
Old 27th January 2019
  #26
Gear Addict
 
whippoorwill's Avatar
I would say a dual Schoeps ccm41/8 Cinela rig and a sennheiser 8040 rig would be incredible and very compact and you could do 8040/ccm8. For field recording I find sennheiser descriptive and Schoeps more expressive, each have their place and uses.
Old 27th January 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
CCM 8 lovely mic but prone to humidity due to 2 sides of the capsule open to atmospherics
RF condensor MKH 30 less susceptible imho.
Old 28th January 2019
  #28
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
CCM 8 lovely mic but prone to humidity due to 2 sides of the capsule open to atmospherics
RF condensor MKH 30 less susceptible imho.
Plus the rear lobe of the CCM8 is slightly different from the front.
Old 28th January 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Plus the rear lobe of the CCM8 is slightly different from the front.
Old 28th January 2019
  #30
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
True - and I know why it’s been designed that way.

Every mic. Is a compromise somewhere. Schoeps decided to sacrifice the high HF response on the rear lobe to get the very best on-axis response.

If you look at the Neumann fig-8 you will see that they sacrificed the on-axis response to get a truly symmetrical polar-pattern.

Nothing against either mic. it’s just how they are designed. And I know personally the designers of the Sennheiser, Neumann and Schoeps mics and highly respect every one of them.
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