80K Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing to celebrate 80K subscribers! The lucky winner of the drawing was DAZ Studio - congratulations!

A big thanks again to Aputure for generously supplying the Deity microphone for DAZ.

If you'd like to see our review of the Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone, have a look here:

Thanks to EVERYONE for your support and encouragement!

Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone Review

Aputure has just announced their first pro-grade shotgun microphone, the Aputure Deity. let’s put this new mic through its paces to see how well it does relative to other microphones in the same price range.

I'm pretty impressed! Usually companies that don't specialize in microphones don't do this well. Personally, I prefer the sound of this mic over the others we compared it to here. Nice work, Aputure!

Better Sound: How to Boom Your Camera Shotgun Mic

When you bought your camera-top shotgun microphone, like a RODE VideoMic Pro, you were expecting to get much better sound. But if you’re shooting a talking head or interview type of video, you may have been disappointed at the results when the mic was mounted on top of the camera.

The secret to getting much better dialogue sound from mics like this is to get the microphone much closer to the talent and boom it from above, pointing down at a 45 degree angle. You’ll generally want to get the mic within 40 - 60cm of the mouth of the person speaking, if you can.

In this episode, we cover how to boom your mic like this so that you’ll get much better dialogue sound. We also quickly discuss the gear you’ll need to make this work.

So here's the list of gear you'll need to make this work:

  • On-stage Microphone Boom Stand - ~$25 USD, I've had mine for over five years and it has seen a lot of use, and is holding up nicely. Mostly metal and not to bad to transport for location shoots
  • Adapter for your particular microphone to attach it to the mic stand. If you have a RODE VideoMic Pro, you'll want this 3/8" to 5/8" adapter. Most other mics have 1/4" threaded taps so you'll need this 1/4" to 5/8" adapter.
  • RODE VC1 Extension Cable. Now that you've boomed the mic much closer to the person speaking, you'll need a way to connect the mic's 3.5mm plug to your camera or audio recorder. This is the one I use and it is about three meters long.

Optional items (but I recommend the sandbags or some other creative way to stabilize your mic stand)

  • Saddle Style Sand Bags to stabilize the mic stand. You provide the sand and I highly recommend that you put the sand in heavy ziploc style bags first, then put the ziploc into these saddle bags. You'll have far fewer spills. And spouses and property owners aren't usually too thrilled when you spill sand all over their wood floor. :)
  • If your microphone doesn't have a threaded tap on the bottom, only a coldshoe mount, you will also need an adapter like this.

Happy recording with much better sounding dialogue audio!

Saramonic Vmic Shotgun Microphone Overview

If you’re ready to upgrade the quality of your sound for video, one of the easiest and most affordable ways to do that is with a small shotgun microphone which attaches to the shoe mount of your camera. Saramonic just released a new mic in this category which they call the Vmic. It is affordably priced yet manages to produce very impressive, clean sound. For even better dialogue recordings, I also demonstrate how it sounds when boomed about 40cm above your talent. Pretty amazing for the price point which is $119 USD at the time of the review.

Azden SGM-250 Shotgun Microphone Review: Great 1st Shotgun Mike

In this episode, we have a look at and listen to the Azden SGM-250 shotgun microphone. This is a good choice for a first XLR based shotgun microphone that holds up quite nicely against other microphones in this price range like the RODE NTG2. We take a rather in-depth look at the Azden’s features and let you hear how it sounds as the episode was recorded with the SGM-250. If you’re looking for your first XLR based shotgun mike, this would be a very good option.

When paired with a recorder like the Tascam DR-60DmkII, you have a very solid combination that can capture professional quality sound.

Also a quick reminder, if you're interested in learning to record great sound for your video and film projects, we have a $30 discount on our online sound course through the end of September.  You can see the details here: Production Sound Fundamentals for Film and Video.

Recording with Shotgun Microphones in the Wind

When recording dialogue for my video projects, I prefer to use a shotgun mic when working outdoors. But up until this point, I have not had a proper wind cover for my shotgun mics, just the foam wind covers and furry covers that fit over the foam. And while these help, they don't stop all the wind so I still end up with plenty of distorted bits when the wind makes its way through all of the fur and foam.

B&H Photo was kind enough to loan me a couple of things to evaluate and see whether they would solve this issue. Specifically, they sent over the Rycote Modular Windshield Kit and the K-Tek Avalon KEG 1550 CCR carbon fiber boom pole.

So I put an Azden SGM-250 shotgun microphone into the windshield kit, put it on the boom pole and tested it out in aproximately 15 mph wind for an interview.

And I was pleased to find that it cut all of the distortion that you normally get in the wind when the wind hits the microphone's capsule directly.

The K-Tek boom pole was a pleasure to use with its carbon fiber tubing, internal, coiled cable, and the 90 degree XLR connector near the bottom of the pole (so that you can rest the end of the pole on the ground between takes). The carbon fiber adds a bit to the price but makes for a lighter pole and when you're holding this thing overhead for more than a couple of minutes, every ounce really counts. I plan to buy this one as my first proper microphone boom.

A couple of days later, I met up with my friend Levi Whitney who runs a small production company here in the Salt Lake City area and he happened to have his RODE Blimp wind cover with him. So we had a look over both of them to compare:

It's very similar in design to the Rycote Wind Cover but the first thing I noticed is that it is larger in diameter so it offers a little more space between the diffusion material and the microphone and according to Levi, he hasn't experienced any distortion from wind with it yet. It also comes with the furry cover that RODE calls the Dead Wombat. Cheeky. In any case, I really like them both and they both seem just as effective at eliminating noise. Here's Levis piece demonstrating the RODE Blimp:

So I think I have some pretty good options here in terms of wind covers!

New RODE VideoMic Pro 2015: Overview and Demo

I will start by saying that I am not a fan of on-camera mics, even things like cold-shoe mount shotgun mics. There are two problems with using shotgun mics on the camera: 1) The camera is almost never close enough to the talent for a short shotgun mic to get a good dialogue recording without picking up lots of ambience. If that's the sound you want, then this is fine, but usually we're looking to eliminate most of the ambient sound and noise. 2) the mic is pointed not only at the talent, but at all the other sound and noise behind the talent or reflecting off the wall behind the talent. That's not quite as big a deal, but still a problem if you're trying to get just the dialogue.

However, cold-shoe mount mics can be used closer to your talent. And the newly redesigned (2015) RODE VideoMic Pro with Rycote Lyre shockmount is a fine candidate for this. In this episode I demonstrate the difference between using it on camera and using it boomed within 40 - 60cm of your talent.

But of course, you have to find a way to get the mic connected to your camera if you're operating 6 feet away from it. And my favorite options are these:

RODE VC1 (10 foot extension cable). This is the least expensive option and simply allows you to run the cable from just over your talent to your camera. Works great if you're still within about 6 feet of your talent. Runs for around $10 USD.

Zoom H1 or Tascam DR-05 Audio Field Recorders. I have the H1 but if I were buying today, I'd go for the Tascam because of its slightly better build quality. These allow you to connect the mic directly to the audio recorder. These are so light weight that you can just put them up on a stationary boom in studio, or combine it with the VC1 extension cable. The advantage with this approach is that these recorders will almost certainly record higher quality sound than 99% of cameras. On the downside, if you really want to look at it that way, you will have to sync the sound to the video when you edit in Premiere, Final Cut, or which ever editing app you use. It is super simple and worth the 10 seconds of extra work from my point of view.

Then, of course, there's the issue of how to boom the mic. This is a little more complicated but here's a reasonably affordable way to boom the VideoMic Pro if your talent will be sitting in one place.

Just another option to consider for capturing quality sound for your film and video projects.

Re-designed RODE Video Mic Pro

In 2010, RODE introduced their Original Video VideoMic Pro, a cold shoe mount small shotgun microphone. According to today's press release, this is their best selling microphone. That's interesting, I would have expected the NT1A large diaphragm condenser to be their best seller among the beginning home music recording crowd.

One problem with the original Video Mic Pro was the isolation mounting. It essentially used rubber bands that worked decently, but had a tendency to fall off or break over time. And, they weren't the best at isolating the mic from camera or boom movement.

Earlier today, RODE announced an updated version of the VideoMic Pro with Rycote Lyre with two new headline features: a redesigned capsule, and a new Rycote suspension system.

Now those of you that know me, know that I'm not a huge fan of mounting a shotgun mic on top of my camera. That technique has its place, but I rarely do it because it doesn't sound all that great for two reasons: 1) it is usually too far from the talent and 2) it also picks up whatever happens to be behind the talent (and that can include audio reflections off a wall if that's what is behind the talent).

However, like I said, there are cases when you don't have any other choice. When I met up with Dave Dugdale at NAB this year, I saw that he was shooting with his Video Mic Pro on his Sony A7s. Totally get it. He didn't have a lot of other options since he was trying to stay light for a full day of walking around the show floor and the audio quality expected from this setup was good enough for what he was doing. Totally legitimate.

However, in cases where you're shooting at a location where it would be practical, I like to take that mic off the camera and boom it over the talent. This solves both problems: The mic is now much closer (within 40 - 60cm of the talent) and it is pointed down so it only captures the talent and not everything behind them. I showed this in one of my older episodes and will do it again in one of my upcoming episodes.

In that light, RODE was kind enough to send me an evaluation copy of the new Video Mic Pro a while back so that I could evaluation it. Frankly, I've only spent a few minutes with it so far because I've been busy working with the RODELink system, but I'm hoping to have a closer look at it in the next few weeks here.

The new mic is just a tiny bit larger than the original and the foam windscreen is larger so the original dead cat furry cover won't work with the new mic. But I would hazard a guess that RODE will have a new version of the dead cat available before too long.

Let me know if there are any specific questions you'd like answered about this mic and we'll be sure to cover that in the episode.

RODE NTG4+ Shotgun Microphone Initial Test Very excited that the RODE NTG4+ Shotgun mic arrived! I have just gotten started putting it through its paces and so far, it seems like a worthy upgrade to the NTG2.

A couple of months ago you all voted on what you wanted to cover next and one of the things you voted for was a review of the RØDE NTG4+ shotgun microphone. This is RØDE’s next generation enthusiast shotgun mic and it has a few interesting features:

- The + version has an inbuilt lithium battery that can power the mic for 150 hours - A re-designed microphone capsule (which I think sounds a bit more natural than the NTG2 - Electronic buttons for high pass, high frequency boost, and -10 dB pad as well as mic power

A full review will follow in the next few weeks.

I will be getting my hands on a Zoom H4n to use as part of the review because I know that many people use this recorder. Some found that the NTG2 didn't seem to have output strong enough for the H4n so I want to see if the NTG4+ helps with that.

Boom Mics Revealed!

Here are the microphones that we compared in our boom microphone blind comparison! Microphone A - RODE NT5 Cardioid Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Microphone B - Audio Technica AT4053B Hypercardioid Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Microphone C - RODE NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone

Microphone D - RODE NT5 with Michael Joly Replacement Capsule Cardioid Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Which did you choose as your favorite?