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is there a boom mic that's good for both outdoor and indoor use?
  • Working on a feature with about $1000 allocated to audio. I have a recorder and monitoring headphones, but we need boom mic. Is there a boom mic that works well both indoors and out? If not, what recommendations would you suggest for 2 boom mics (one indoor and one outdoor) that together would come in at $1000? Also any thoughts on ability and quality of running mics directly into recorder vs through a pre-amp/mixer? Thanks.

  • 21 Replies sorted by
  • Also any thoughts on ability and quality of running mics directly into recorder vs through a pre-amp/mixer?

    Depends on recorder. With good one, it works wonderfully.

    Is there a boom mic that works well both indoors and out?

    It depends on many things. :-) Usual most common answer here is that you use shotgun outdoors and hypercardioid mike indoors. If you look around in this category, you'll find some posts with discussion why it is such. And also suggestions about very affordable options.

  • I would say the best bang for the buck that will be a bit more like $1,300 is a Rode NTG-3 shotgun for outdoor use and an Audio-Technica AT4053b hypercardioid for indoor use. The AT mic also has two other screw-on capsules you can add later for some sonic diversity... an omni and a cardioid.

    They voice surprisingly well together and are both highly regarded in their price/performance categories.

    If, for some reason, $300 is absolutely unobtainable then just go with the NTG-3. It works okay indoors as long as the room's interior isn't highly reflective.

    They both need phantom power, so your field recorder must provide that. You only need a pre-amp on the front end if your recorder is especially noisy. What make do you have?

    You also need a shockmount or two, a boom pole, and a stand (if you don't have an audio person to hold the boom pole). Also, a proper wind screen (and I don't mean the foam one that comes with the mic in the box) or full blimp kit like from Rycote or Rode is a must. Hopefully, that can be added to the budget as well.

  • @JohnTollwannabe Yeah, we'll have dedicated boom operator. We have Roland R-05 and a Zoom H4 recorders, as well as headphones for monitoring.. Also factoring in boom pole and shockmounts. Thanks.

    @Vitaliy_Kiselev Thanks.

  • Is the Zoom an H4n or just an H4? Either one can provide phantom power. The Roland R-05 won't be much help to you with mics that need juice. You may need to add a touch of noise/hiss reduction to the audio tracks since the Zoom H4's have slightly noisier pre-amp sections.

    A few other questions: does the audio have to be absolutely spectacular for this production or just better than the built-in recorder mikes? At what level are you going to be operating? Is it a professional pay shoot or something else?

    I would definitely help in narrowing down the parts you need. So, your budget must included the mic or mics plus the accessories or do you already have the boom stuff? Am I reading your post correctly?

    Also, what camera(s) will you be using? It might help selecting a patch cable from the recorder to the camera for helping with double sound syncing.


  • @JohnTollwannabe It's an H4. (I thought Roland R-05 has plug-in power. Will have to check my unit.)

    Yeah audio has to be great because this is a feature film. (Yes, paid shoot). $1000 isn't rock solid, maybe $1300 but we also need to get shockmount, boom pole, etc. We have recorders and monitoring headphones. Any advice you may give is much appreciated.

  • Don't buy, rent, mics and preamp; the H4(N)'s preamps are too noisy but the unit is fine to record line-in signals from a good preamp. The mics suggested above will give very good results provided your boom operator/recordist is conscientious and knows what he/she is doing. Knowingly shooting a feature with half-assed audio is a crime against human effort so please make every attempt to be as discriminating with your recording setup as with the other aspects of production. $1000 is definitely enough to rent decent gear for a month. An alternative to the gear mentioned above would be a sennheiser 416 and oktava 012 for indoors (they mix together very well) and a sound devices mixpre. Remember you'll still need batteries, cables, tape, etc.

    Warning: If your boom operator is out of shape make sure they start doing push ups for a least a month prior to shooting as booming a whole day is surprisingly exhausting. If they're not willing to heed to this advice expect whining to commence within 30 minutes of them holding the boom over their head. If you think this is an exaggeration tape a full can of any soft drink to the blade of a hockey stick then hold the stick over your head but tilted so that the can is perpendicular (i.e. 90°) to the floor for an hour.

  • @spacewig

    If someone is asking that to buy keep this way. Usually if someone have $1000 budget they won't rent stuff.

  • @spacewig I absolutely agree on importance of great sound. For the feature I just finished shooting, I used lavs so I'm very familiar with those but not as much with boom mics, so I'm doing homework now. We have a few months for pre-production and I'll be thoroughly testing mic/audio setup to make sure we're getting great sound. Thanks for advice.

  • You must be aware that H4 (first edition) has a lot of weird issues with internal batteries: noises, buzzes and so on. The less expensive solution is to make an external battery pack and plug it instead of the AC adaptor. Don't forget that both the H4s (the "n" series and the previous one) drain batteries very soon when using phantom for mics.

  • and a sound devices mixpre

    +1 for this. If you really want that feature-film sound... a great pre-amp mixer like the Sound Devices is a must. Even using a Rode NTG-2 and a Mix-Pre will get you much better results than spending more on the NTG-3 without it.

  • @spacewig

    can a shock mount for the sennheiser 416 also be used for oktava 012??

  • @bwhitz How does the pre-amp mixer help with increasing sound quality other than increasing the level/volume of sound from mic?

  • Better pres can get you strong proper level without inducing noise. Also there's some uh, 'character' to having quality preamps... some would say.

  • @matt_gh2

    You can search around, we had not one discussions about it.

    For my personal preference Tascam DR680 is enough without any preamps. And if you look around you can find it cheap. Plus it really helps with interviews recording so you can have more than 2 channels.

  • @kingmixer Great advice - thought it might be something like that.

    @Vitaliy_Kiselev That DR680 looks great - thanks for advice.

  • @matt_gh2

    It is cheap on Amazon now

    Sad thing that Tascam lately check prices on ebay and such, so for low price it can be found usually only used (outside big retailers who like Amazon have big power).

  • BHPhoto has it $30 cheaper than amazon.

  • B&H Photo link

    It's not perfect, but it would at least be better than either digital recorder you have now, and provide phantom power. Be sure to have plenty of AA batteries (like high capacity Panasonic Eneloop XX) and use AC power if indoors in a fixed location. Get a decent padded audio bag for extra protection since its case is lightweight plastic.

    Then at least get a Rode NTG-3 because it's pickup pattern is a little more generous for indoors. I still recommend the AT4053b primarily for indoor use too due to its performance vs. price. Rich sound, low self noise... great for musical instruments and singing pickup too. For many regular vocal applications, it's just as good as the Sennheiser MKH-60 for less than half the price. That really surprised me!

  • Would Tascam DR60 be enought for this task?

  • Within the budget requirements for the OP, yes. It has a few quirks (what doesn't in this range), but for the price it can do the job.

  • Thanks all for great advice.