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Author Topic: Sub-$100 shotgun?  (Read 2380 times)

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Offline thatjackelliott

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Sub-$100 shotgun?
« on: July 13, 2017, 09:19:51 AM »
Anyone know of a sub-$100 phantom-powered hypercardioid with XLR out they can recommend? I won't be using it for music so it doesn't need to be great-sounding. In fact, it doesn't even need to be halfway decent-sounding for my application. Self-noise? Also not a problem; it just has to work. The hypercardioid version of the ECM8000 omni?

Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 09:42:35 PM »
There's an inexpensive mic called the Little Gem that has interchangeable capsules including a hypercard capsule.  It's just a pencil mic--not a shotgun.  https://www.iskproaudio.com/collections/microphones/products/little-gem    I've seen it recommended, but don't know much about it myself.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2017, 12:04:27 PM »
Hard to find a hypercardioid under $100 other than the Little Gem, but there are a number of very cheap shotguns with XLR out if you search the typical retailers.  Why that pattern specifically if you don't care how it sounds?

You could also support one of our builders here.  It looks like Jon at Naiant could do this for $99.
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Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 01:32:18 PM »
"Why that pattern specifically if you don't care how it sounds?"

It's an odd hybrid M-S arrangement that I figured out on my own though I bet I just re-invented an old wheel. The results are quite good.

I volunteer at our local community radio station as studio engineer and music festival remote broadcast producer. Earlier this month at Summer Festival here in Bend, Oregon, I tried this setup and am very pleased with how it sounds.

So, at these festivals (two more remaining this summer) we get a split from the PA system sound board, which is pretty dry and totally mono, because the sound mixer isn't interested in giving us a recording mix, he is only interested in how it sounds at FOH. So that's the feed we get, and we've been broadcasting that feed for years. 

At this last festival, tried something new: I mixed that feed with an M-S mic arrangement I set up 40-or-so feet back in the audience. It works great.

To time-align the PA feed with the mic array -- the sound board signal gets to our broadcast/recording mixer before the sound hits the mics -- I have a delay fx box inline with the PA feed. I recorded the waveforms of the PA and the M mic during the first song, then stopped the recording and examined the PA and the M mic waveforms to determine how much the PA fed led the M mic signal, and set fx box delay to the appropriate amount. The waveforms line up, the sound is clear.

By then adding the S (side) mics to the mix I got very nice stereo spaciousness while remaining fully mono-compatible for FM broadcasting (the station is currently in mono for technical reasons).

If I was just recording the show, and not broadcasting it live, I could take the PA and mic tracks home then time-align them in my DAW and mix it down. That would be easy.  But I have to dial in the delay quickly because we are broadcasting live, and for each festival the mic location will be different, and there's no predicting how much latency the PA board adds because they use different boards all the time. So I will always have to perform this initial calibration process, and I want to be able to do it quickly.

So I'm thinking that having a clearer waveform from the M mic, with less "room" reverb, would speed the process.

The cardioid I used this last time for the M mic picked up quite a bit of "room," so its waveform, compared with the PA feed, is pretty blurred and it takes a while to find an easily-identifiable sharp match between what I'm getting from the board and what the mic picks up. I am thinking that with a shotgun-type mic I'd get less room sound and thus a cleaner signal to use to compare with the board feed, making it easier to quickly dial in the delay. That's my swell idea, anyhow.

Why don't I care how the mic sounds? Because it turns out that once time-aligned, I don't need the M mic in the mix -- the sound board feed sits quite nicely in the middle, and the M mic contributes nothing really useful to the final mix. So that mic is really going to be used for calibration purposes, not for final audio.

I hope this makes sense. Shotgun, phantom powered, under $100, sound quality not so important. As you say, there are plenty of sub-$100 short shotguns on the market for video guys, so yeah, maybe one of those.

I own a couple of Jon's mics, he makes real good stuff.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 03:55:49 PM by thatjackelliott »

Offline voltronic

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 02:11:05 PM »
That's quite an interesting situation, and it sounds like you've come up with very creative solutions to your challenges.

I'm wondering if you could possibly simplify this setup and eliminate the delay box by adding a second fig-8 to make a Blumlein array, placed much closer to the stage.  Depending on how good the PA mix is, you could then flip the direct / aud balance around compared to how you're currently doing this, making more like a classical recording setup whereby the Blumlein is your main pickup and the board feed are treated like solo spot mics, down in level compared to the main stereo pickup.  You'd still have your mono compatibility this way, but then you would have a bit more control over the main part of the sound being sent out for broadcast.

If there aren't many channels for the PA, any chance of the FOH engineer giving you separate channel sub-outs that you could run to your own mixer?  (I mean, we can dream, can't we?)

All of this involves spending way more than $100 for a shotgun mic, I know.  Just spitballing ideas...
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Online larrysellers

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2017, 02:41:04 PM »
What you want is a Sennheiser K3U body with ME40 (supercard) and/or ME80 (short shotgun) capsule. Sennheiser hasn't made this model since 1993 but you can find good working units cheap.

Manual here ---> https://www.madooma.com/onTEAM/pdf/181269019382.pdf . You'll have to scroll down about half way for English.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 02:48:24 PM by larrysellers »

Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2017, 03:34:37 PM »
"If there aren't many channels for the PA, any chance of the FOH engineer giving you separate channel sub-outs that you could run to your own mixer?  (I mean, we can dream, can't we?)"

That would be very dependent on the sound guy having a mixer with all them splits, me having a nice expensive snake of up to 100 feet, me springing for a much fancier board than I have, me learning how to mix live multitrack sound, and me having a lot more time on my hands than I have what with wrangling on-air hosts, queuing up underwriter spots, monitoring the broadcast signal, and all the other fun stuff that goes with broadcasting these events. Nah, ain't gonna happen. But thanks for the suggestion!

Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 03:54:41 PM »
"What you want is a Sennheiser K3U body with ME40 (supercard) and/or ME80 (short shotgun) capsule. Sennheiser hasn't made this model since 1993 but you can find good working units cheap."

I especially like that the manual describes the ME80 capsule as having a "club-shaped" pickup pattern.

This looks to be a very nice solution to my odd setup. Many thanks for the suggestion!

Offline voltronic

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 09:10:11 PM »
"If there aren't many channels for the PA, any chance of the FOH engineer giving you separate channel sub-outs that you could run to your own mixer?  (I mean, we can dream, can't we?)"

That would be very dependent on the sound guy having a mixer with all them splits, me having a nice expensive snake of up to 100 feet, me springing for a much fancier board than I have, me learning how to mix live multitrack sound, and me having a lot more time on my hands than I have what with wrangling on-air hosts, queuing up underwriter spots, monitoring the broadcast signal, and all the other fun stuff that goes with broadcasting these events. Nah, ain't gonna happen. But thanks for the suggestion!

I get the picture... Just trying to save you work, not create more.  Good luck with your setup!
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Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 09:47:57 PM »
Will there be an internet link where any of us could listen in to one of your shows? 

Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2017, 12:12:21 AM »
You bet. kpov.org -- our next festival will be Sept 30, time of broadcast yet to be determined. We're talking USA, Pacific coast time, probably starting around noon and until maybe 10pm. This will be a very challenging show as our booth will be located midway between two stages, and when the act on one stage finishes, the act on the other will start. So I'll be scrambling in that gap to switch sound board feeds and change the micing. My plan is to set up the M-S array midway between the two stages and as well-aligned as we can make it so the distance from the mic to each stage's left-right speakers are as close as possible. Of course the stage riggers aren't going to worry about us to what might be the right spot for Stage A could be 30 feet away from the right spot for Stage B. There will be two boards, as well, and unlikely they will be the same make/model so the board latency from one board will be different than that from the other.  My hope is that on Friday night I can tinker with that shotgun mic, point it at the first act on Stage A, determine the time offset between that stage's board feed and the arrival of the sound at the mic array, make a note of it, then when Stage B start up, turn the shotgun around to point at that stage and determine my delay setting for that stage. The S mic, being a figure 8, should not need to be moved. The stand for it will be staked to the ground.

This will be the "Bend Roots Revival" music festival and the bands are local, many amateur, some are just kids. The sound systems are a catch-as-catch-can affair, too. So no promises about the quality of the music or the sound. I'll be lucky to get board feeds from both stages. I'll be on IRC channel kpov if you want to comment. But be kind because by the time you hear that stream it will have been passed through our mixer at the remote, then through a peak limiter, then digitized to 16 bits / 48kHz, encoded to 192kbps ogg, transported to the station via Internet, played back on a Mac Mini in the studio using an Echo sound card into a 1980s-vintage opamp-based console, run through another peak limiter (to keep the signal legal and prevent clipping the station's live digital stream), re-encoded to 16/48 again, and sent to our stream provider as 192kbps mp3. Frankly with all that going on I'm surprised it even sounds like anything resembling music.

Offline admkrk

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2017, 02:26:36 AM »
This will be a very challenging show as our booth will be located midway between two stages, and when the act on one stage finishes, the act on the other will start.

I was in this situation once, only it was indoors, and there was only one SBD involved. We did not even bother with the SBD at those stages because of the hassle. We used spaced omnis, as there was not even enough time to spin the mics. It was a challenge just to start a new track on my laptop between sets. The year before, at a different location, the stages were about a football field away from each other. A central mic setup would have sounded like ass, regardless of having separate SBD feeds, and there was almost a minute between sets, max.

IMHO, you would be better off with two rigs, and just switching witch one is broadcasting. 
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Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 09:14:39 AM »
"IMHO, you would be better off with two rigs, and just switching witch one is broadcasting. "

You may well be right. The "rig" (mics, tall lighting stand, cables) are being bought out of my own pocket, the station as zero money for such things. Since this two-stages setup happens only once a year, I can't personally justify the expense. If it works out okay, I'll stick with it in 2018. If it sounds like doo-doo then maybe next year I'll save up Social Security pennies and but a second stand, shotgun and figure-8 mics, and build two more 100-foot cables. We shall see.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2017, 10:43:34 AM »
"Why that pattern specifically if you don't care how it sounds?"

It's an odd hybrid M-S arrangement that I figured out on my own though I bet I just re-invented an old wheel. I mixed that feed with an M-S mic arrangement I set up 40-or-so feet back in the audience. It works great.

To time-align the PA feed with the mic array -- the sound board signal gets to our broadcast/recording mixer before the sound hits the mics -- I have a delay fx box inline with the PA feed. I recorded the waveforms of the PA and the M mic during the first song, then stopped the recording and examined the PA and the M mic waveforms to determine how much the PA fed led the M mic signal, and set fx box delay to the appropriate amount. The waveforms line up, the sound is clear.

By then adding the S (side) mics to the mix I got very nice stereo spaciousness while remaining fully mono-compatible for FM broadcasting (the station is currently in mono for technical reasons).

The cardioid I used this last time for the M mic picked up quite a bit of "room," so its waveform, compared with the PA feed, is pretty blurred and it takes a while to find an easily-identifiable sharp match between what I'm getting from the board and what the mic picks up. I am thinking that with a shotgun-type mic I'd get less room sound and thus a cleaner signal to use to compare with the board feed, making it easier to quickly dial in the delay. That's my swell idea, anyhow.

Why don't I care how the mic sounds? Because it turns out that once time-aligned, I don't need the M mic in the mix -- the sound board feed sits quite nicely in the middle, and the M mic contributes nothing really useful to the final mix. So that mic is really going to be used for calibration purposes, not for final audio.

This is great.  I totally dig it.  I've advocated similar approaches thinking about what audience microphone setup is most appropriate when a soundboard feed is available to the taper.  The standard directional stereo microphone configurations pointing at the PA are providing a lot of redundant the direct sound information (the M component) compared to the SBD feed, and the stereo microphone configs used for audience recording are most often selected with Mid-component clarity as the top priority and things like stereo image width and spaciousness as nice to have, but secondary concerns.  Yes, redundancy has value, yet what we really need from the AUD microphones in this situation is stereo width, reverberant spaciousness, ambience and audience reaction (the S component stuff).   The SBD feed is providing all the M component clarity we need, in an even more clear and direct way.

Taken to the logical extreme, when the SBD is good sounding and reliable we really only need room mics to provide the best spatial capture of the room and audience ambience.  Room mic'ing techniques become most appropriate: Wide spaced omnis or spaced bi-directionals facing sideways (Hamasaki Square like).  If there is room ambience and audience behind the recording location, then it makes sense to use rearward facing spaced cardioids, or a standard near-spaced microphone  configuration turned around and facing away from the stage.  The intent becomes excluding the direct PA sound component as much as possible rather than optimizing for it's pickup, which allows for more useful ambient/Side signal from the audience mics.  We can use more of that if it before we get too much overlapping Mid info.  Much like professional live recording setups which often use supercards or shotguns on the outer edges of the stage facing the audience- those mics are intended to exclude pickup of the PA and on stage sound as much as possible, focusing exclusively on the room and audience as much as possible.

This is also how I think about multi-microphone AUD-only techiques these days, why I advocate either a single very-directional microphone in the center facing forward  (as M-component / SBD surrogate) or a PAS X/Y pair for the same reason, combined with other mics pointing mostly sideways and backwards for stereo imaging and ambient S component pickup.

Please stick around TS!  Your insights and inventive thinking will be valuable in some of the technical discussions around here which deal with this stuff.

Best of luck with the microphone search and the broadcasts.  Agreed that the video short shotgun market is probably fertile ground with good low cost options.  BTW, I use Naiant X-8S inexpensive bi-directionals as Side microphones.  Good stuff.
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Offline thatjackelliott

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Re: Sub-$100 shotgun?
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2017, 05:57:20 PM »
"Please stick around TS!  Your insights and inventive thinking will be valuable in some of the technical discussions around here which deal with this stuff."

Thank you!

"The SBD feed is providing all the M component clarity we need, in an even more clear and direct way."

And to address an idea proposed earlier in this thread, the SBD feed is in every way superior to what the PA speakers are putting out. Adding in speaker coloration never helps. I use active noise-cancelling headphones at these shows and I can hear the SBD very clearly. When I take off the cans, the sound coming from the stage is 'way crummier. Using the SBD the way I would use a spotlight mic in an orchestral recording was my original thinking but I've scrapped that what the M mic is hearing is nearly useless, sonically. It contributes only a blurred, muddier, sloppier version of the SBD. The M mic isn't even suitable for wetting the SBD because it sounds such a mess. Useless, IMO.

Except for one teentsy little exception. Last year we had a Led Zeppelin tribute band play. The guitar amp -- Marshall stack, natch -- was turned up so loud that the PA sound engineer didn't put any of it into the PA because the audience could hear the guitar quite well without it. I wasn't using any AUD mics. So the broadcast listeners heard NO guitar. "The PA is the inverse of the stage" is how a sound man I really admire put it. So this is a situation where you would want a live M mic rigged up to fill in what was left out of the PA mix.

On the last festival, being the first using this hybrid M/SBD-S mic setup, I did a rough mix of the SBD and the S mics for broadcast and left it at that. Next time there is something unbalanced like that Led Zeppelin tribute band a-playin' away onstage I will add in some M mic so the broadcast listeners will know there's someone on guitar.

I record everything separately on separate tracks for later mixdown and archiving: the SBD, the S mic, and the M mic. A little mixing, a little mastering, and Hey Presto! a not bad-sounding recording.

 

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