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Best indoor mic for under $1,000?
  • 116 Replies sorted by
  • Just put one of these on everyone in the shoot. They actually work pretty well.

    Other than that follow Vitaliy's advice.

  • @Vitaly

    The ISK CM10 sounds interesting but the other mike you suggested, the Yoga CT 03 has a sensitivity rated at -70 dB. That is pretty low and may require a lot of pre-amping that would introduce noise. As a reference the ISK CM10 has a sensitivity rating of -38 dB.

  • @dancerchris

    I personally used only ISK CM-20C. As for Yoga, I just found it accidently on ebay :-)

  • @robertGL Handling noise is much better than Oktava but to be fair those mics were never intended as boom mics. As for wind noise, non-existent if you're indoors...

  • The yoga is a shocker VK, I've that one a few other models of their shotguns and they are very poor sensitivity and lack the rich tones of the sennheiser K6 etc. Strangely enough, their lavs are quite good though.

    I've order the Isk, sound interesting, should have it next week. :-)

  • @spacewig Wind noise, rather air turbulence, is definitely a regular problem indoors. Air conditioning is a common cause of low frequency noise.

    Also when booming with both foam windshield and low cut I still couldn't swing the boom very fast without inducing a fair amount of rumble in the Oktava.

    Inspite much experimenting with several different types of foam windshields turbulence would still often show up in the audio. Even if it was difficult to hear it would show up on the meters and could rob overall headroom.

    The best windshield I found was the Rycote Baby Ball Gag. For additional protection I added the optional fluffy and that would allow some pretty fast boom movements without problems.

  • @pundit You're right, moving the mic fast enough, especially if a draft is present, can cause noticeable low freq rumble but this is an issue I've encountered so infrequently indoors as to not even merit comment. If the air conditioning is strong enough to create air turbulence that causes rumble you will usually have a much bigger problem which is the vent's white noise; I will try everything to turn that thing off because it can be a major pain to remove in post, even with great NR software.

    The Oktava's sound very good for the price but people forget they are originally intended as set-and-forget instrument mics that weren't designed to be manipulated during use; they are notoriously problematic for handling noise. I find the S241 so much easier to work with and, due to its frequency response, retain a more open sound. They're also lower noise and more sensitive but they don't have a hyper-cardioid capsule option like the MK-012 though I haven't yet found that a problem. For the record, I also own and use a 416 but prefer the superlux indoors.

  • @spacewig The Oktava's do sound good as you say but are probably amongst the most difficult of their kind to work with due to their handling noise. I also have a NTG-3 which is great (very similar to a 416) but I nearly always pick the Oktava over it when indoors. I might checkout a Superlux as they are so cheap ;).

  • There is absolutely no best mic for under $1000 because the cash to value ratio is skewed at the $1000 price point--it is in between levels. There is a best mic for around $300, and you could set another price point around $1400. At $1000 you are better off spending the whole $1000 on say two Oktavas, a couple of extra capsules and maybe even a recorder, depending on the market. The AKGs are not serious mics, just my 2 cents, they are OK for spot mics. You will find thousands of opinions on mics, but very few good recordings.

    You will find people defend a mic, trash a mic, tweak a mic, swap out the capsules, all valid pursuits, and yet, even in the best studios you get sound which "Superyawn". In fact, Superyawn should be the name of the company. That's because placement is the key thing.

    NB: Placement beats price.

    Having said that, if you raise the price point a bit you can get some very nice mics for a bit more money, like the Schoeps MK 41 or the Sennheiser MKH 40.

  • @DrDave Perhaps you could elaborate further on microphone placement since it's so important?

  • Microphone placement is a big subject, but very briefly, the diagrams in the "books" are wrong, and one reason is of course that no two instruments or voices sound the same, and that therefore there is no "correct" microphone placement.

    Most common mistakes are pointing the mic directly at the sound source ("beamy"), phase problems and timing problems, and on instruments locating the mic near are source of air turbulence, like a sound hole or the end of a flute, fingerholes, etc. Other problems center around the placement of the mic-sound source pair in a room, as reflections are a major cause of bad sound, using the wrong kind of acoustic tuning materials.

    I would say I hear weird reflections in most of the sound I hear on video.

    Typically on voice, the wrong kind of wind screen is used, and sibilance is exacerbated by the wrong kind of reverb, and so on. Typically on instruments, the engineer is incapable of quickly identifying the correct spot to place the mic, and, even worse, will use the same spot for a particular scene and ignore the fact that different instruments and voices are, well, different. Very different.

    There's only one way to place a mic, which is to hook the mic up to a portable recorder, put on a pair of insulated cans and move the mic around until you get it just right while the player, speaker or singer goes through a range of sounds. You see this maybe one on one hundred sessions. Most times, the engineer "knows best" and doesn't do a full check. They sit in the back in front of a big mixer (and who uses a big mixer?) and never do an AB in the room with the sound source, taking the headphones off, putting them back on, and so on. Ninety percent of engineers and producers in America can't read a film score. Now that other ten percent, well, you have some real geniuses working in the field, of course.

    An analogy would be using the same F stop, shutter speed and Color temp in a video shoot without really checking to see if you have the right settings, and saying something like, oh, indoors I always use 2800K. Well, that might be a starting point.

    Obviously in video, you have the visual component to deal with, although a lot of video sound is provided in post.

  • I think mic'ing for instruments/singers/voice-over is a category of recording that has limited appeal/relevance in this thread since most here are interested in recording dialogue spoken by subjects being filmed.

    As such I was hoping you might be able to share any particular 'booming' techniques/tips you might have or a list of things one shouldn't do since that's this is the real interest of those looking to buy 'indoor' microphones.

  • In a video you have dialog, foley, soundtrack, all need to be recorded. In a music video, which is a huge part of the market, you have different kinds of music in addition to sung and spoken voice. In a large production, all of these things are routinely recorded in a screening studio and synced to the video. If you are only interested in booming a mic, you won't get the best sound, but in this case you want the MK41. If you are only ever going to record dialog, I see that a niche market.

    Much of the dialog in film and TV, indie, and so on, is not particularly well recorded. With good placement, you can do much better. Much of the music is not very well recorded. If you just want to boom the mics, and do no post processing, voice over and so on, the reflections play more of a role than the mic, and here you need to tune the studio acoustically, and in such a way that it doesn't show up in the video.

    There's a very interesting AES paper on phase advantages using stereo spot mics. If you have the cash, you can try using a stereo pair of lightweight mics in an ORTF configuration, with no added delay in the signal path. But here is the thing: most people will opt for a mono spot, because it is just easier. Easier, cheaper, faster.

    Here's a quick spoken interview I did with an AB setup with two MKH 40, which I actually paid $1800 for the pair, so well under the $1000 per mic mentioned in the thread title. They are a bit more now usually $1100 if you look around. The goal was to capture as much color, emotion and detail as possible in the spoken voices. You can see if you think it makes a difference. Some people will like the sound, other will prefer more of a "TV" sound, and still others will want more of the "lav" sound.

  • @DrDave: Nice! I love Tanya's playing, as well as her duet partner in crime: Eric Zivian.

    Cool that you did this piece.


  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev, VK that $40 ISK CM-20C hyper colloid mic is a very good mic, my SennHeiser K6 is now in the bottom draw. No internal battery, but works excellent on 48v phantom power. Nice rich tone for voice and very low noise, actually it's the quietest mic I own and good sensitivity. It's on my Hmc 152 at the moment but works well on the Zoom H4n also.

    Very solid and well made, XLR connections are good and tight and socket doesn't rattle.

    Thanks for the recommendation, was cheaper from the Ozzy link than eBay.

  • VK that $40 ISK CM-20C hyper colloid mic is a very good mic, my SennHeiser K6 is now in the bottom draw. No internal battery, but works excellent on 48v phantom power. Nice rich tone for voice and very low noise, actually it's the quietest mic I own and good sensitivity.

    Glad that you like it. In fact it is very little known mike. Most go to Oktava. Hope that more guys start to use it with time.

  • Thanks @Vitaliy_Kiselev and @Rambo for your field report. I'm in the process of selling off all my over priced gear I've collected and some that I realize it's better to hire a dedicated professional for, like sound! My 416 is going up for sale as well as a buttload of other stuff. That's just too much money to be sitting there for months, especially if I don't know how to make it reach it's full potential. Anyone in the market for a 416? :)

  • @acuriousman we used a Rode NTG-2 w/ a Tascam Dr-100 for a recent feature doc and we're happy with the results. (mic was actually sitting on the lap of the reporter who sat next to Judy E. (not a good setup), and Judy Bear is recorded in the opening of her garage)

    Also, used the same setup for narration, but soundproofed an old victorian closet. Ended up like this:

  • @vitaliy_kiselev I've ordered the ISK CM-20C as it gets good feedback. Has anyone any experience with their shotgun mic the EM-526?

  • I got the ISK CM-20C and I am not too happy. Maybe my expectations were not realistic, but I find that it has a lot of self noise. I did a few tests with my AT-875r and the AT had noticeably lower self noise and a hotter signal. The ISK is actually so noisy that I am wondering if I got a dud. Could you, @Rambo, upload a sample? I am happy to upload one if anyone is interested.

  • Should anyone care, my copy was actually a dud. The seller sent me the money back, so kudos to them for the good service.

  • Should anyone care, my copy was actually a dud.

    Shit happens :-(

  • @DrDave I enjoyed the commentary and examples. Thanks for taking the time to go into such detail and I fully agree with everything you said about mic placement in the studio - it's pretty close to what my mentor taught me when I was younger. :)

    The dialogue recording in the video you linked to had a very different sound from most of the clips I listen to, and I both liked and disliked parts of it on first listen. The stereo image was very wide and specific and it was a little jarring to hear just how much the speaker's voice changed as they turned after getting used to the more common dialogue recording approaches, and the early reflections were quite pronounced... but also very natural and detailed. It definitely captured a lot of the vibe, didn't suffer from excessive sibilance and had a real "you're there" quality to it. I'm looking forward to listening again later.

    Anyway, for what it's worth, I'm partial to the Rode microphones if I need microphones with consistent build quality and low self-noise. I have an NT-2A (switchable between omni, cardoid and figure 8) for studio recording and am thinking about getting a NT-1A (single pattern but extremely low self-noise) in the future.

  • @thepalalias I think if I had to do it over I would make the image a bit less wide--I was worried with AB placement that there would not be enough stereo. Thanks for listening.