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hi everyone,

i'm currently looking to do some field recording for an independent film. so far, we've been doing overdubs exclusively, but it's proving to be a very time consuming process.

i'm pretty convinced that a shotgun microphone is the best answer (better than lavaliers) and i've been looking at the sennheiser me66/k6 and the sennheiser mkh416.

i know that the consensus is that the 416 is superior, but how big of a difference is this really? from what i can tell, the 416 still needs to be positioned quite close to the sound source to capture clean sound, and reducing wind noise mostly relies on the windshield.

all things equal, will the 416 really achieve better results than the me66?

thanks!

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4 Answers 4

15 years ago, I had the same dilemma; the more expensive 416 vs the less expensive me66. I bought the 416, and to this day I still use it and it is one of my favorite mics. I feel, had I bought the me66, I would have upgraded by now. But still, having any mic is better than having no mic.

To answer some of your specific questions:

Will the 416 help you achieve better results? That depends on your skills and if the mic you select is the right mic for the source(s) you are recording. Better quality gear will be more important once your recording skills are honed. A beginner with little to no recording knowledge can spend $10K in gear and might still get results that can't compete with an experienced recordist using a Zoom handheld.

Does the 416 need to be close to the source to capture clean sound? I'm not sure where you got this info from. The 416, like any mic, will require knowledge and understanding of proper mic placement. If you are recording quiet sources, then yes, then any mic will need to be close to the source to minimize background noise. Other sources will require different mic positions. Understanding of mic technique is more important than mic selection.

You will need a windshield with any condenser mic that you hope to use outdoors. I don't find the 416 any worse in wind conditions than other mics I own. But then again, I always have my mics in windshields outdoors.

If you are serious about recording and feel you will be doing it for many years, I always recommend to invest as much money as you can in your mics. It's cheaper than selling a mic later to upgrade. Try to buy your mics on eBay, you can get often get a 416 for a great deal. At the same time, don't go in to debt buying gear, unless you are assured return on that investment (ie; the gear gets you more paying work).

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I really agree with Chuck, but to give my personal opinion: I hate ME-66 and love the 416. The ME-66 has a rather thin and phased out strange sound in room temperature, but actually work a little better in cold. 416 on the other hand is heavily modeled to enhance the intelligibility of most human voices outdoors and with a roll-off in the bass. It does work indoors as well, though it gets a LOT harder to work with in smaller to medium rooms. On stages though it's absolute awesome-sauce!

Once, I figured the K6 (with the ME-66 capsule) pretty okay. It did cost around 6000sek (about 900$), and the 416 about 20.000sek (around 2900$), so at the time it was actually pretty cheap. Now a 416 costs roughly twice as much as a K6 with ME-66, and for that kind'a cash I think it's pretty bad.

When it comes to wind, as Chuck said, ALL condenser-mics need protection, but as such, it's the absolutely most wind-insensitive shotgun I've worked with so far!

About trying to get as close as possible, I second CHuck once again, adding that getting too close makes the sound very unnatural. Trust your ears.

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thanks for the quick response!

yes, as you may have guessed, i'm relatively new to the world of sound engineering... but i'm trying to learn, despite the fact that it has definitely made me bang my head against the wall more times than i care to count!

perhaps i was being a bit unclear earlier, but what i was referring to was the range of the shotgun mics. from what i've seen, they generally need to be within two feet of the speaker (when filming outdoors), no matter how expensive your microphone is. is this information accurate?

looking at this, i'm concerned that it won't work well with wideshots because it'll have to be close and will appear on-screen. was i wrong to dismiss the use of lavaliers? are they a must have? if so, are there any recommendations?

thanks!

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Hi

When recording dialogue the shotgun mic (416/ME66/etc) needs to be as close to the speaker as possible, without getting into frame. With wide shots, you can attempt to use the boom, and possibly use as a guide track (or as "perspective") with the picture editor grabbing the audio from tight shots to use, or you can use lav mics to capture useable dialogue.

Hope this helps!!

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