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Author Topic: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?  (Read 2113 times)

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Offline visa tapani

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Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« on: May 17, 2009, 07:50:55 AM »
Hi all! I though it might be useful to try to compile a list of mics that can be used with portable recorders that don't provide phantom power. Ie. electret condencer mics that operate on plug-in power, mics that have their own internal battery etc. I've tried to search for these mics through Google and through different forums, but it's fairly difficult to find about all the different options, hence this list. I posted this originally at the Freesound forums, but the forums are fairly inactive, so I'd figure I could get more responses here. My idea was that once I've gotten a fairly comprehensive list with some basic info about each mic (mono/stereo, stereo technique, how they are powered, frequency response and maybe some guideline on which ones are recommended and which ones aren't) I'd edit this post and divide it into categories and order it nicely.

Here's what I have so far (I've only marked frequency response where it's not 20Hz-20kHz and I've used Amazon for price comparison):


Rode NT4
X/Y Stereo Condenser Microphone with 9V internal battery (price at Amazon: $419.99)

Rode NTG-2
Mono Condenser short shotgun microphone, P48 phantom power or 1.5V AA battery. (A: $249.95)

Rode VideoMic
Directional Video Condenser Microphone, short gun, powered by a 9V battery. FR: 40Hz-20kHz (A: $125)

Audio-technica AT822
X/Y Stereo condenser operated with internal battery only. FR: 30-20,000 Hz (A: $275.33)

Audio-technica AT825
Similar to AT822 but can be operated with phantom power in addition to internal battery (A: $349.00)

Audio-technica AT8022
X/Y Stereo Condencer Microphone, battery operatable. FR: 20-15,000 Hz (A: $399.00)

Audio-technica ATR55
Mono cardioid condenser shotgun, powered by a 1.5V AA battery. FR: 70-18,000 Hz (A: $43).

Audio-Technica ATR25
Stereo dual-cardioid condenser, powered with a single AA battery. FR: 70 - 18,000 Hz (A: $31.88)

Audio-Technica AT897
Mono short shotgun condencer, battery or phantom operation. (A: $257.37)

Audio-Technica AT8035
Mono long shotgun condencer, battery or phantom operation. FR: 40-20,000 Hz. (A: $239)

Audio-Technica AT8015
Mono long shotgun condencer, battery or phantom operation. FR: 40-20,000 Hz. (A: $279.40)


Audio Technica PRO 24
X-Y Stereo Condenser Microphone, powered by plug-in power or a 1.5V LR44 battery. FR: 100-17,000 Hz (A: $60.16)

Panasonic WM61 DIY microphone
An omni stereo condencer pair, using the WM61 capsule. Self-assembled, parts cost about 30-40$.

Sony ECM-MS907
MS Stereo Electret Condenser Microphone with internal battery. FR: 100 - 15,000Hz. (A: $66.23)

Sennheiser K6 modular system, which consists of:
 - the K6 powering module that can be powered either by its internal ‘AA’ size 1.5 V battery or by 12 - 48 V phantom power. Price at Amazon.com: $250.
 - A mono condencer mic head. Available are long gun ME 67 ($634.39), short gun ME 66 ($219.95), super-cardioid ME 65 ($229), cardioid ME 64 ($168.53) and omni ME 62 ($170.77). FR: 40-20000 Hz except ME62 which is 20-20000 Hz

Sennheiser MKE 300 and MKE 400
Mono supercardioid mics powered by an internal battery (LR 44 and AAA respectively). Intended for video camera use. FR:150-17,000Hz and 40Hz-20kHz respectively. Price at Amazon: $173.33 and $199 respectively.

Sennheiser MKE 44-P
Permantly polarized condenser with two cardioid capsules in XY stereo. Phantom (12 - 48 V) or battery powered (1 x 1.5 V AA). FR: 40 - 20,000 Hz. Not sure about price.

Edirol CS-15
XY Stereo cardioid, plug-in or battery powered. FR: 200–17,000 Hz. (A: $119)


There must be much much more, so I'd be grateful if people helped me expand the list!
« Last Edit: May 17, 2009, 07:52:50 AM by visa tapani »

Offline DSatz

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 09:57:00 AM »
Dynamic microphones generally don't require external powering since they contain no active circuitry. There are some very nice-sounding dynamic microphones that are completely suitable for serious music recording, and have been widely used professionally for that purpose, from manufacturers such as Beyer, AKG and Sennheiser. Nobody seems to talk about them here. They can sound a lot nicer than a lot of the (to put it bluntly) cheap electrets that are available in 1,000 different brands.

Relatively few high-quality microphones have provisions for internal battery powering since nearly all professional and "semi-pro" preamps, mixers and recorders made in the past 35 years have had microphone powering built in. That is also why hardly anyone makes outboard microphone power supplies any more.

The characteristics of any microphone are determined by who the manufacturer thinks they can sell it to. Most battery-operated microphones are sold to people who want to record business meetings, sales events, presentations and lectures, or weddings. So the microphones generally have a peaky treble response and a rolled-off low-frequency response for intelligibility and "crispness" of speech pickup.

Thus if a microphone has a battery compartment, that would make me want to check more carefully to find out what kind of sound quality the microphone actually has. While there are some first-rate microphones than can be battery-powered, by far the majority of this list (if it could ever be complete) would be made up of microphones to avoid.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2009, 10:31:26 AM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline grider

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 11:51:25 AM »
AKG c1000/2000/3000 are all battery powered I believe

Offline midside

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 12:47:18 PM »
Shure VP88, sounds very nice!

Offline Chuck

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2009, 12:53:40 PM »
Don't forget the Nakamichi's!
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

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Offline Jon Stoppable

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2009, 02:44:50 PM »
If, as it seems, many people are having trouble with preamp noise when using condenser microphones that are 10dB to 20dB more sensitive than dynamic mics, it's difficult to see how dynamic mics could yield an improvement without resorting to external preamps or other larger form-factor solutions that would defeat the purpose of this list.
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Offline illconditioned

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2009, 03:27:02 PM »
Does anyone power the DPA 20xx series with battery power?  They are electret after all...

  Richard
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Offline OOK

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2009, 07:41:52 PM »
Add The Earthworks M30BX...........9hz to 30khz battery operated omni....

and the MBHO.............. MBP 680 think of it as a 648 that operates on battery........

Peace OOK
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Offline visa tapani

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2009, 05:43:13 AM »
Thanks for the help!

Dynamic microphones generally don't require external powering since they contain no active circuitry. There are some very nice-sounding dynamic microphones that are completely suitable for serious music recording, and have been widely used professionally for that purpose, from manufacturers such as Beyer, AKG and Sennheiser. Nobody seems to talk about them here. They can sound a lot nicer than a lot of the (to put it bluntly) cheap electrets that are available in 1,000 different brands.

Yeah all dynamic mics kind of fit the bill, but I think it's wise to omit them from the list or it would be massive. I use dynamic mics extensively for studio recordings or live sound reinforcement, but I'd assume that they aren't sensitive enough for most field recording applications. For recording loud rock concerts for sure, but quiet acoustic concerts, nature/bird recording etc probably not.


Quote
Relatively few high-quality microphones have provisions for internal battery powering since nearly all professional and "semi-pro" preamps, mixers and recorders made in the past 35 years have had microphone powering built in. That is also why hardly anyone makes outboard microphone power supplies any more.

The characteristics of any microphone are determined by who the manufacturer thinks they can sell it to. Most battery-operated microphones are sold to people who want to record business meetings, sales events, presentations and lectures, or weddings. So the microphones generally have a peaky treble response and a rolled-off low-frequency response for intelligibility and "crispness" of speech pickup.

Thus if a microphone has a battery compartment, that would make me want to check more carefully to find out what kind of sound quality the microphone actually has. While there are some first-rate microphones than can be battery-powered, by far the majority of this list (if it could ever be complete) would be made up of microphones to avoid.

That's a very good point. However, you left out some crucial pro and semi-pro user groups many battery-powered mics are aimed to: musicians recording their concerts/rehersals etc, nature/bird/insect recording enthusiasts, composers and sound artists recording material for their work and sound designers doing field recordings for film work. I think many mics on the list so far reflect the needs of these groups: the Rodes, most of the Audio-Technicas, the Sennheiser K6 system etc. I think these mics I just listed are well suited for more demanding tasks...

Offline visa tapani

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 05:51:58 AM »
Don't forget the Nakamichi's!

But aren't these discontinued and very poorly available? At least so it seems according to a quick Googling... It probably makes sense to limit the list to mics that are fairly easily available.

On another note, does anyone know any battery or plug-in powered stereo mics with a MS stereo-pattern where the middle capsule would be shotgun or hypercardioid? I'd really want something like that. Most of the shotguns are mono of course which severely limits their potential usage. But to be able to get a clear middle with high directivity and also some ambience information would be very useful for nature recordings...

Offline esteyes1

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2009, 06:28:58 AM »
do not forget the battery/phantom powered Sennheiser K3U (XLR) and K3N (tuchel) which has multiple interchangeable caps ala K6. the K3U/N's preceded the K6's. unfortunately i know of no fig 8 capsule suitable for the K3U/N bodies. ME80's are the short guns and ME88's are the long guns. K3 series is no longer serviced by sennnheiser. unfortunately i bought the last remaining board from sennUSA two years ago when having a mic repaired.... but they appear regularly on ebay.

neil

Offline DSatz

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2009, 08:24:28 AM »
visa tapani, you might have a look at Audio-Technica's line of shotgun microphones--they make at least two decent-quality stereo shotguns. I think, however, that they use standard phantom powering.

On the higher end both Neumann and Sennheiser sell stereo shotgun microphones; I used to own the Neumann (an RSM 190; their current model is the 191 A, which is the same mike with a different power supply/pattern controller) and I liked its sound quality, but it is very expensive nowadays.

--I don't mean to come off as snobbish but I wouldn't like to use a hypercardioid or shotgun that had "plug-in power." It's hard to design and manufacture high-quality, highly directional microphones, and quite expensive to manufacture good ones that are at all consistent. Halfway decent omni mikes can be built for not much money, but the sound quality of low-end directional microphones (especially highly directional ones such as supercardioids or hypercardioids) is really quite poor as compared to the ones with professional quality. I'm not surprised that some people here think that hypercardioids as a class sound thin and unmusical--they have probably never heard what the real thing can do.

--best regards
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline Red Boink

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2009, 04:08:21 AM »
crown sass

Offline sunjan

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2009, 04:19:45 AM »
Don't forget the Nakamichi's!

But aren't these discontinued and very poorly available? At least so it seems according to a quick Googling... It probably makes sense to limit the list to mics that are fairly easily available.

As long as the mic stands up to our quality demands, I don't see any reason to omit it from the list. There are plenty of old mics on the YS, gear tend to circulate within the taper community. Also check the retail section here. There are many specialized mic dealers that won't show up in an Amazon search. Take a look at Chris Church, Sound Professionals, Microphone Madness, Countryman, soundman.de etc etc...

Here's what I came up with after 5 minutes w/ Google Shopping:
http://www.google.com/products?q=battery+condenser
http://www.google.com/products?q=battery+powered+cardioid
http://www.google.com/products?q=battery+powered+shotgun
http://www.google.com/products?q=battery+powered+omni+directional
http://www.google.com/products?q=battery+powered+lavalier
http://www.google.com/products?q=plug-in+powered+microphone
http://www.google.com/products?q=battery+mid-side

You quickly realize you will get 100's of results!

It's a good intention to compile a list, but there's a truckload of cheap mics out there, like the Edirol you list. I don't really see the point in that. If you want to limit yourself, it would make more sense to stick to the models that are useful for taping.
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Offline Roger Gustavsson

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Re: Field recording mics that don't require phantom power?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 06:12:10 AM »
Don't forget the Nakamichi's!

But aren't these discontinued and very poorly available? At least so it seems according to a quick Googling...


The Nakamichis were made by Primo and they still make them. They are not easily available...

http://www.pstone.co.jp/products/shihan_gakki.html

You can also find these microphones under other names, like LEM, Teac, Tascam, Altec and JVC.


Roger

 

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