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Field recording stereo microphone/phones for SD MixPre-3 Condenser Microphones
Old 22nd February 2019
  #1
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Field recording stereo microphone/phones for SD MixPre-3

I hike in the British Columbia wilderness and like to record nature soundscapes. Birds, frogs, animals, brooks, glaciers etc. I have chosen the Sound Devices Mix-Pre-3m because of its exceptional audio quality and small footprint.

I need to find the quietest, highest quality, most natural sounding stereo field microphone or stereo pair. When there is no wind present, I hear some soundscape recordings in the stillness of the forest without any mic or pre noise at all. Only the sound of the birds and surroundings. This is the type of recording I am trying to achieve. I may add a folding parabolic screen to this setup also and of course a wind screen

Thoughts and suggestions greatly appreciated.
Old 22nd February 2019
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I use both spaced omni SDC mics and a cumbersome LDC MS pair for such recording.

Given what you say about hiking and size being part of your Mixpre-3 choice, your location, and soundscapes being what you want to record, I'd think seriously about a pair of smallish omnis - more specifically the MKH 8020s.

If you have cheaper mics/can rent for testing, I'd discover what type of recordings you really want/mic pattern(s) you need before buying something v. expensive.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 23rd February 2019
  #3
For portability, sensitivity, and low self noise you really can't beat the Audio Technica BP4025. Coupled with a Rycote Baby Ball Gag, it's a formidable bit of field recording kit.
Old 23rd February 2019
  #4
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The BP 4025 looks very interesting, and much less than the Sennheisers I'm looking at.

I also like the idea of carrying one mic vs an array.

I wonder how the noise would compare to an MKH20? or an 8020?
The serious field recordists I have researched favour the Sennheiser MKH 20, 40 and 50
I just need to find the best quality, lowest noise soundscape one.


Anybody heard or tried these parabolics from WILDTRONICS?

Wildtronics Store - Parabolic Microphones, Field recording equipment, Stereo binaural system

Last edited by jayfield; 23rd February 2019 at 02:33 AM..
Old 23rd February 2019
  #5
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I think sennheiser omnis will give you what you are looking for. DPA are a little noisier and Schoeps are nice but in this application mk2 are quite ephemeral sounding more than the precision of sennheisers. Plus sennheisers work in a any weather. Spaced omnis work best in my experience with field recording, the overall phase and frequency linearity and bass extension is a definite asset and the spatiality feels more real than any m/s I’ve heard when rooms are taken out of the equation. Your audience doesn’t need mono compatibility for the most part in spacious ambiences.
Old 23rd February 2019
  #6
Here's a little write-up about the BP 4025, with nature recording specifically in mind. You'd get better recordings, potentially, with a Senny 4020 MS setup, but you have to weigh the portability and ease of setup into the equation too. You could get far more recording done, with a single mic setup. I've been using this mic with the MixPre 3 and I can tell you I don't hear even a hint of mic noise, even at fairly high gain. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with it.

Review of the Audio Technica BP4025 single-point stereo mic | The London Sound Survey
Old 23rd February 2019
  #7
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Thanks Conleec, Wondering what your using for a suspension and handle setup.
This has me very interested with your low noise comments, plus as you say the ease of portability and setup. Is the baby ball working well for wind noise?
Old 23rd February 2019
  #8
Gear Head
 

Hi Jayfield,

Whilst you can easily use the MixPre-3M for nature recording, you might find the MixPre-3 (non-M) a bit better suited to that application since it records each recording as a separate file and you also have pre-roll capability for capturing those unexpected events. The MixPre-3M is aimed at musicians who want a multi-tracker that can overdub - it records on a timeline like a DAW rather than individual takes. You can get this functionality on the MixPre-3 (nonM aswell as a plugin if you choose).

Anyway just an FYI

Paul
Old 23rd February 2019
  #9
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Thanks Pauljisaacs. Makes sense to go for the non-M indeed.

I found these recordings that kinda blew my mind for detail, soundscape and low noise, using a pair of MKH-20's. Scroll down for audio clips. Some of the best nature recordings I have heard, however certainly not easy to pack around. This is the quality I am looking for though!

Sennheiser MKH20 | HLJODMYND - SOUNDIMAGE
Old 24th February 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post
Thanks Conleec, Wondering what your using for a suspension and handle setup.
This has me very interested with your low noise comments, plus as you say the ease of portability and setup. Is the baby ball working well for wind noise?
I'm actually using the Rycote InVision Softie Lyre Mount with Pistol Grip and a Mic Muff MM-26, 90% of the time. And if I'm out on a REALLY windy day, I have a Rode Blimp 2. However, I've heard that the Rycote BBG with fur works very well.

Rycote

https://www.amazon.com/WindTech-MM-2.../dp/B00ECOMPNU
Old 24th February 2019
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post
I found these recordings that kinda blew my mind for detail, soundscape and low noise, using a pair of MKH-20's. Scroll down for audio clips. Some of the best nature recordings I have heard, however certainly not easy to pack around. This is the quality I am looking for though!

Sennheiser MKH20 | HLJODMYND - SOUNDIMAGE
Magnús Bergsson's recordings are excellent and, as you will have noted, he uses a wide range of mics (including LDCs such as the NT1A) and recorders. If you want a portable and humidity-proof omni mics (and I think you need to establish what mic pattern you want, rather than compare apples with oranges) then the MKH 8020s might well be a better option that MKH 20s. For more compact wind protection you could use a pair of baby ball gags or very short blimp/zeppelins.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 24th February 2019
  #12
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NOISE comparison--Shure VP88--Rode NT4---BP 4025

Here Magnus demonstrates which of these mics has the highest sensitivity and lowest noise. A critical requirement for nature recordings.


Mic test | HLJODMYND - SOUNDIMAGE

The 4025 is clearly the winner here. When I'm trekking up in the Canadian wild to glaciers and such, I won't be able to carry anything in my hands as the trails can be hazardous. You can see Magnus's mic configuration and accessories in the pic on the above link. Something like that is not possible for me.

Roland, the MKH 8022 with the baby ball gags, as you point out, would have a smaller footprint, with the same stellar noise level of 10db(A) as the MKH 20, which is the best I've heard so far. Have you ever seen a handheld mounting bar where one could mount a pair of 8020's with great isolation, and have the option of changing their stereo pattern? Or even a small handheld with a fixed pattern?

The BP 4025 fits the compact, low noise requirement. I've listened to every available recording I can find on them. I will go that route unless I can find a handheld mount for the Sennys.

I appreciate all the feedback!
Old 24th February 2019
  #13
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Rycote Connbox CB11 (2MZL Detachable)

Rycote Connbox CB11 (2MZL Detachable)

Anybody familiar with this?


Rycote
Old 24th February 2019
  #14
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Telinga foldable Parabolic dish?

Here is a stereo microphone that can be used with their foldable parabolic dish.

Stereo MK2 - Telinga Parabolic Microphones

Intended for nature field recording.

Just throwing it out there to see if anybody has comments or field experience with it?

PS--Just listened to the Telinga Soundcloud demos

Telinga Sweden | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Is it me, or is there noise in all of these files?

Last edited by jayfield; 24th February 2019 at 06:46 PM.. Reason: add info
Old 24th February 2019
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post

Roland, the MKH 8022 with the baby ball gags, as you point out, would have a smaller footprint, with the same stellar noise level of 10db(A) as the MKH 20, which is the best I've heard so far. Have you ever seen a handheld mounting bar where one could mount a pair of 8020's with great isolation, and have the option of changing their stereo pattern? Or even a small handheld with a fixed pattern?

The BP 4025 fits the compact, low noise requirement. I've listened to every available recording I can find on them. I will go that route unless I can find a handheld mount for the Sennys.
It is hard to recommend how to support your mics, without knowing exactly what you can carry with you. Also, your question refers to hand-holding the mics. This can work fine for, say, pointing a shotgun mic at a single-point source, but for the sort of soundscapes that Magnus is recording - and which you rightly admire - these are made with mics on stands. There are good reasons for stands: the long duration of such recordings necessary to get the best sounds (nature is rarely predictable); the need for stable mics (no moving stereo image); and the need to get away from the mics so that your own noise (breathing, rumbling stomach etc.) is not evident. For such recordings I always use a stand. The lightest stand would probably be a lightweight travel camera tripod, with a minimalistic stereo bar. I can't see why hiking rules this out.

And, as I keep saying, I would work out what pattern of mics you want first (spaced omni pair, xy, MS, ORTF etc. - perhaps more than one), then select the best and lightest mics/windshields etc. afterwards. The mics you are comparing are so very different. When you say 'I hike in the British Columbia wilderness and like to record nature soundscapes', what have you been using so far and how have you found the types of mics you have used?

Cheers,

Roland
Old 24th February 2019
  #16
Gear Addict
Of course the MKH 8020's would be top notch, but if budget and portability is a consideration you could do worse than consider DPA 4060's, which both Magnus and Chris Watson use. Light, versatile, great sound, only a small stand or coat hanger needed. That at least would get you started.
Old 24th February 2019
  #17
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I've had little experience with field recording other than pulling out my Sony PCM M10. Then trying to eliminate the mic and pre noise with Izotope RX7.
Not even close to working! I'm fortunate to have a fully treated studio with boutique pres, converters and mics. And I hate noise in recordings!! Thats one reason I was so impressed with Magnus's work.

However, I'm new in trying to capture noiseless soundscapes. Roland your right, I will need to use a small stand to get away from adding mic noise. And a windscreen. It's unlikely I will bother setting up the mics in windy conditions. I'm thinking ORTF pattern.
Old 24th February 2019
  #18
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ORTF is simpler pattern to deploy and protect. A pair of MKH8040 (or MKH8050) in the correct Rycote or Cinela product is as good as it gets, imo.

Rycote

Cinela - Catalog - AL-ORTF-8000: ALBERT windshield for 2 x Sennheiser MKH8000 pair (ORTF, XY)
Old 25th February 2019
  #19
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Which small Sennheiser array for field and music recording

I've had no experience with Sennheiser mics. But, if I go with a set of them in a stereo ORTF array, is it possible that they could fill all these requirements?


1. can be used with great results in the studio and for concerts
2. record excellent field recording soundscapes.
3 have very high efficiency and low-noise.
4. must be the smaller Sennheiser models for wilderness hiking/recording

This may help short-list my mic-choice- decision

I really like the BP 4025, one mic stereo offering, however I have read a few comments that it can be lacking for live music recording.
Any experience with that?

Thanks again
Old 25th February 2019
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post
I've had no experience with Sennheiser mics. But, if I go with a set of them in a stereo ORTF array, is it possible that they could fill all these requirements?


1. can be used with great results in the studio and for concerts
2. record excellent field recording soundscapes.
3 have very high efficiency and low-noise.
4. must be the smaller Sennheiser models for wilderness hiking/recording

This may help short-list my mic-choice- decision

I really like the BP 4025, one mic stereo offering, however I have read a few comments that it can be lacking for live music recording.
Any experience with that?

Thanks again
If you're considering a stereo mic (coincident XY capsules,) you might also want to consider a Sennheiser mid side combo instead of ORTF. It will be more compact and easier to setup - in fact the whole thing fits in one blimp and basically acts like a stereo mic as far as handling and mounting goes. You have to do MS decoding, but many portable recorders and basically all DAWs have this capability built in now (including your SD.)

Some classical engineers have a strong distaste for coincident pairs, but I personally prefer them. If you're not opposed to coincident techniques, I'd recommend looking into a mid side combo (l think it's MKH40 and MKH30, but might be remembering numbers wrong.) I haven't worked with the Sennheisers myself, but based on samples I've heard here, it seems like you can't go wrong with them.
Old 25th February 2019
  #21
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locojohn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
If you're considering a stereo mic (coincident XY capsules,) you might also want to consider a Sennheiser mid side combo instead of ORTF. [...] Some classical engineers have a strong distaste for coincident pairs, but I personally prefer them. If you're not opposed to coincident techniques, I'd recommend looking into a mid side combo (l think it's MKH40 and MKH30, but might be remembering numbers wrong.)
My personal go to combination which gives absolutely great results. Excellent sound quality and very low self noise. Combined with a micpre that has ability to decode M/S into L/R, you can even adjust width of the signal while recording to your personal taste. I find MKH40+MKH30 working great for field recording work I do. I use Rycote Windshield Kit #3 with these mikes.

Andrejs
Old 25th February 2019
  #22
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whippoorwill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post
I've had no experience with Sennheiser mics. But, if I go with a set of them in a stereo ORTF array, is it possible that they could fill all these requirements?


1. can be used with great results in the studio and for concerts
2. record excellent field recording soundscapes.
3 have very high efficiency and low-noise.
4. must be the smaller Sennheiser models for wilderness hiking/recording

This may help short-list my mic-choice- decision

I really like the BP 4025, one mic stereo offering, however I have read a few comments that it can be lacking for live music recording.
Any experience with that?

Thanks again
yes to all your questions.
Old 25th February 2019
  #23
Gear Addict
 

Agreed on mid-side, and the MixPre-3 does have the capability to link two channels as a stereo pair (Channel 1 knob controls gain, Channel 2 knob controls stereo width); it also provides M-S decoding (which you can apply only to the stereo mix and not the ISOs so you have total control over MS decoding later in your DAW).

An advantage of the classic MKH40/30 combination is that those mics are very resistant to effects of humidity, which is a good quality to have in the mountains of British Columbia.

I'll soon be experimenting with a smaller combo for MS -- the Sennheiser MKH-8050 as the mid mic and an Ambient Emesser as the side mic; both mics are very small and should fit together into the small Rycote WS-10 kit. I'm taking this approach only because I already have the 8050 and the WS-10 kit, and because I will need to do indoor interviews as well as record outdoor ambient sound so the 8050 can serve as an interview mic. The first generation of the Emesser got bad reviews, but the newer model is said to be quite good.
Old 25th February 2019
  #24
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Hey, many thanks all for the input.

Mid-side makes sense. Its really helpful to get experienced Sennheiser user input. The classic MKH30/40 is intriguing indeed. However, would anyone care to comment on this opinion about the MKH30/8040 midside?

QUOTE:

Originally Posted by mgoorevich View Post
I use MKH30 with MKH8040 for 2 years now.
For mid I tried almost all line of Sennheiser MKH series incl. 416, 60, 50.
But the combo MKH30/8040 is the best for me for recording atmos, room tones, quite effects, nature.
Advantages:
1. Very neutral and natural sound.
2. Super low self noise - you can use it for dead quite winter forests or room tones.
3. Great frequency response - the sub low and bass you get will blow your mind!
4. Small.
5. It's Sennheiser and I rely on them.

Cons:
1. Like with all MS or any stereo what you hear in the headphones is different in the studio. But with this configuration I often find myself lightly tweaking the low end separately for Mid and for Side mic. And it varies from sound to sound. Also because the sound of MKH8040 is more open, I find myself decreasing an MKH30 by about 40% to match the whole stereo image and feel.
But they do pair nice in the end. They just have different characters a bit.
Thus many folks expect MKH8030 to come...
2. You must have a decent Rycote holder and a mic stand.
I cannot manage to hold it without hearing my blood running through the veins.heh
But seriously if you are recording some quite atmos you must have a stand. I did well without stand with MKH60 and 50 though.
3. Not a real one... but I have a stereo pair of MKH8040 so when I compare some recording XY or ORTF or AB with two MKH8040...well I don't want to go back to MS (any MS). But I always came back cause it's compact.

Conclusion:
Go for it. But you need to invest in a good Rycote holder and zeppelin.
Don't forget about the stand too.
Old 26th February 2019
  #25
AB3
Lives for gear
 

Anyone have experience with the rycote ortf blimp? It appears to be rather easy to use.
Old 26th February 2019
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

Jayfield, I'm puzzled! Over the course of this thread, you have - mostly in response to postings - vacillated between MS, ORTF, spaced omni, single stereo, and parabolic mics. A constant has been the requirement for very low noise mics, which rules out some of the suggestions: given their low noise and the ability to handle humidity, this suggests Sennheiser MKH mics would be a good/the best option.

Putting aside the parabolic option, all the other mic patterns can be compact and suitable for hiking. There are dedicated single windshields (e.g. from Rycote) for all these options except for spaced omni mics, and the latter can either be placed in, say, baby ball gags or even (and as I often do) end-to-end in a windshield (e.g. see post no. 10 in this thread here Flexibility in Stereo Mic Wind Reduction?). Given that you will need a stand/tripod of some sort for soundscape recording, and, therefore, will need a reasonably-size backpack, there do not seem to be good reasons, in terms of compactness, to favour one set-up over another: it is entirely an issue of the type of sounds (e.g. directional or not) you want to record (or not record) and personal preference for the different sounds of the different patterns.

In which regard, Magnús Bergsson's website is (in the absence of trying all these different patterns in the field yourself) perhaps the most useful: he uses a very wide range of mics and often records soundscapes with different set-ups at the same time. And when you have decided and blown money on an MKH pair and windshield, and got out there, accept that you are likely to want other options!

Cheers,

Roland
Old 26th February 2019
  #27
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You are correct Roland. I have waffled all over the place in attempting to narrow down my options. We can chalk that up to ignorance of most things to do with field recording. I am a musician/composer by trade, and a wanna be sound engineer.
But, I have decided on a few things:

No folding parabolics for my setup.
Sennheiser MKH 8000 series because of their small footprint.
Mid/Side configuration using appropriate Rycote.
Mics must perform dual function as high end soundscape recorders and live music as well, with no noticeable "noise"

Thoughts/comments/experience on the most appropriate 8000 series for these requirements highly appreciated!

Last edited by jayfield; 26th February 2019 at 06:32 PM..
Old 26th February 2019
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post
You are correct Roland. I have waffled all over the place in attempting to narrow down my options. We can chalk that up to ignorance of most things to do with field recording. I am a musician/composer by trade, and a wanna be sound engineer.
But, I have decided on a few things:

No folding parabolics for my setup.
Sennheiser MKH 8000 series because of their small footprint.
Mid/Side configuration using appropriate Rycote.
Mics must perform dual function as high end soundscape recorders and live music as well, with no noticeable "noise"

Thoughts/comments/experience on the most appropriate 8000 series for these requirements highly appreciated!
There is no MKH 8000 series fig 8 mic, unfortunately. So it would need to be the MKH 30 if using MKH mics for MS: you could, of course, use the MKH 8040, for example, with it rather than the MKH 40 and people do (e.g. Anybody Using the MKH-8040 with MKH-30 in Mid-Side ?).

Cheers,

Roland
Old 26th February 2019
  #29
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Yes Roland points taken. Thinking now of going with the X-Y configuration.

Anyone using the MKH 8040 in X-Y configuration?

The stereo Cyclone XY Kit 1 is 11.5" x 6"

I feel I'm getting close to finalizing my setup thanks to you folks!

Last edited by jayfield; 26th February 2019 at 08:13 PM..
Old 26th February 2019
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfield View Post
Yes Roland points taken. Thinking now of going with the X-Y configuration.

Anyone using the MKH 8040 in X-Y configuration?
Is there a reason you really want the 8040 vs the 40? The 40 has 1dB lower noise (something you've been emphatic about until now,) roughly half the current consumption (good for battery life in field use,) and higher sensitivity (requires less gain from your portable recorder.) Seems pretty appealing to me.

Of course it's larger, and if you need to angle it for XY or ORTF that will make a big difference, but if you use MS, the difference in mic length won't change your overall rig very much.

Unless you're a big fan of ultrasonic frequencies, I don't see much advantage to the newer series.

I got the impression from your last few posts that you liked the MS idea until you realized you couldn't use 8000 series mics for it. Personally, I don't buy into the logic of that. If you've moved away from MS for other reasons and prefer the sound of XY or ORTF, then that's a creative / aesthetic choice and I don't presume to know what's best for you... but if you're just shying away from MS because of the different MKH series choices, I don't get it. (Not that I have to get it. It's your choice and you don't owe me any explanations. You probably can't go wrong with any of the options you've laid out recently. I'm just trying to help work through the thought process logically.)
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