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Hello.

I'm looking into getting a Rode NT4 stereo microphone for sound collection very soon. Due to me saving for my next purchase (a Tascam HDP2 I'm thinking) I'm looking to get the proper gear to record outside. This will no doubt include a blimp for this mic and a shotgun mic I want to eventually get too. I do realise blimps are great for eliminating so much wind and handling noise. I will probably be getting one either from Rycote or Rode.

But I'm curious... Is there an alternative to a blimp? I realise there is pistol grips out there, but on my searching I'm not sure they're the right thing? I've looked at Rycote who do mini wind jammers for the Rode NT4 and I'm wanting to hold the mic, without a boom or stand.

Another thing is that some sounds I want to record will be in public places (pubs, schools, churches) where I'm not wanting to stand out too much with a massive blimp etc. I like the idea of something more handheld (which still eliminates handling noise) for situations like that. Also for when I can't travel with my blimp.

Any ideas on something like a pistol grip or a similar hand held solution for my Rode NT4? ...most I've seen only seem to fit shotgun microphones.

Thank you.

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9 Answers 9

I recently went through this with my NT4 so I'm interested in hearing what others have to say here, but in the end I just went with the Røde Blimp. It's affordable, offers the wind protection that you need, the suspension that is necessary, and provides the option of going hand-held or attaching it to a boom pole or stand.

However, if one of your main desires is to be inconspicuous while recording in public places, I'd say don't purchase an NT4. I have one, it's a great mic. But Blimp or not, the mic is huge, it's heavy and without an adequate suspension system it's prone to handling noise. Not exactly the best stats for a stealthy recording solution.

Stealth ambience recording is something that I've been hoping to do for a while now. After going through my own research (mostly on gearslutz), I'm in the process of saving up for a pair of DPA 4060's and a suitably sized backpack. Had I thought about it more thoroughly at the outset I'd have probably waited on the NT4 and skipped ahead to the 4060's. In my case, they would have accomplished the same end goal (recording in stereo), but with greater flexibility (stealth recording, dialog recording, plant mic, etc). So if your funds are limited, think ahead about all that you'd like to accomplish and make the purchase that can check off the most on your list first.

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@steve-urban, great points. The point-n-shoot nature of the NT4, coupled with its low noise, makes it a pretty screaming value and a useful mic. But I agree that now that I've experimented with other stereo techniques, my NT4 is staying in the Pelican case a lot more often than not. The DPA 4060's are mighty impressive for all the uses you list! –  NoiseJockey Jul 30 '10 at 14:30
    
@noisejockey that's exactly why I got the NT4 to begin with. I don't regret purchasing it, it's a very useful mic to have. Certainly better than not having a mic! –  Steve Urban Jul 30 '10 at 20:22
    
@steve-urban Great points. Thanks for the answer. I'm still thinking a Rode NT4 and the Blimp is a great choice for me... But am going to either just go for it with recording in public or work out something else! Thanks for putting on to the DPA 4060s though. Never seen them before. –  littlejim84 Jul 31 '10 at 16:36
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@littlejim, the sad fact of the matter is that the whole goal of windshields is to prevent gusts of air from hitting the mic capsules. Foam shields are the smallest you can go, and yes, you can use them with a pistol grip with a suspension (as @steve-urban says, that's non-negotiable). But the weirdo-foam-thingy that ships with the NT4 is only good in winds that are ≤3mph. Anything higher and you need a zeppelin or a blimp. Absolutely not stealthy, but necessary. I've found the blimp fine if I'm not moving and I can brace my arms. If I can't, it goes on a monopod or a tripod (I prefer the latter because your arm can cause the monopod to rotate, wreaking havoc with the stereo image).

To answer your question directly, though, all you need to mount your NT4 in the field is a pistol grip suspension mount with clips big enough to hold the NT4. If you're not sure, call your dealer and ask. The wind is

I also own a pair of DPA 4060's for stealth recording. They're wonderful, but you just need to think about your technique to get good stereo imaging, since they're omnis: binaural vs. Jecklin disk vs. spaced pair, etc. But those various technique makes it fun to fiddle with. Definitely not great for rural or nature recording, but killer for urban or indoor ambiences.

With hardware cloth/chicken wire and fake fur, you can make your own windscreen, but that may look funkier than a blimp with a dead cat. Especially if, like me, you opt for fluorescent orange fake fur. :-)

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is it high self noise that makes the 4060s not great for rural/nature recording? –  Haydn Payne Jul 30 '10 at 15:12
    
@Haydn-Payne, yeah, that's exactly the reason. The 4060's are some of the cleanest, quietest lavs I've ever heard...but compared to an MKH mid-side pair or even many of the Røde mics, the self-noise is too high for quiet natural ambiences. That's just to my ears, of course, others' mileage may vary! –  NoiseJockey Jul 30 '10 at 16:03
    
@noisejockey where do you find flourescent orange fur? That's fantastic. –  Steve Urban Jul 30 '10 at 16:46
    
britexfabrics.com and discountfabrics-sf.com! :-p –  NoiseJockey Jul 30 '10 at 19:14
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If you hold the mic with your hand, on really quiet recordings you might get handling noise, and even noise from your joints, as you move. On the other hand, a softie does not completely address the problem with wind - with certain microphones wind will enter through the connector at the back of the mic (i cannot explain why/how).

Regarding covert recording, a lot of it is down to your own behaviour. The higher quality recording it looks as if you're taking, the more people will freak out. Amateur-looking gear of otherwise great quality has worked for me on more than one occasion. Miniature microphones on backpack (gear inside) is indeed one of the better working field setups.

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The Sony PCM-M10 is a great box for discrete public recording, even with a wind cover its still a lot more inconspicuous than a big blimp or pointy things (the Zoom H4n and Rode NT4 look a bit mad on first viewing, a bit tazer'ish!)

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I never thought of that Tazer element. You are right. No wonder everyone is scared. –  AzimuthAudio Jul 30 '10 at 21:30
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I have used my NT4 inside my recorder bag to do some slightly covert recordings..

alt text

Obviously it is susceptible to movement noise

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@haydn-payne This has actually given me something to think about here. The handling noise would obviously be an issue, but doing something along these lines could work for what I need to do. –  littlejim84 Jul 31 '10 at 16:39
    
If you throw it in a rycote lyre suspension (because they're less obvious than the Rode cradles), you could probably devise a simple solution at a hardware store to stick the mic out of the top of your bag with a little less handling noise. –  Dave Matney Sep 13 '11 at 16:24
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It's been my experience that it doesn't really matter how small you go, people are going to take note of you if you're out recording audio. Sure, people will ignore a guy with a giant video camera (or perhaps be intrigued by the fact that there's one in the area), but as soon as someone realizes that the guy hanging around by himself is recording audio you're immediately suspect.

I've been toying with the idea of making a hat that could hide a pair of small, decent (I know, a little counterintuitive), omni-lavs to record stereo ambiences surreptitiously. Like a pair of Countryman lavs, with the rest of the gear hidden in a backpack.

Sorry. That doesn't really address your issue with the NT4. The mention of "not wanting to stand out" threw me into rant mode over peoples' perception of us. I don't really know of any alternative that would fit that mic. It's a little larger than you're standard field production mic.

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Because of its size and heft, you CAN use the NT4 for personal defense if needed. :-) –  NoiseJockey Jul 30 '10 at 14:31
    
@shaun-farley Thanks for the reply. It's all very interesting this... I never realised just how much people did record incognito. This whole thread of answers has been very interesting to me. Thanks for your input too. –  littlejim84 Jul 31 '10 at 16:38
    
If you were taking pictures, or at least pretending to, maybe the unspoken rule of ignoring the guy with the camera would carry over into the audio world. –  Dave Matney Sep 13 '11 at 16:25
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I have had some great success getting urban ambiences using hand held recorders (zoom H4). The quality might not match what you can get with a full rig but the actual recording sound more natural because the people in the environment your are recording behave normally instead of reacting to seeing the big mic pointing at the room. I have found the people either leave or stop doing anything as soon as you through up a mic. In terms of wind isolation check out this video on how to make a great windshield for pretty cheap and fairly easily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SudmkbL06zg

In terms of the NT4 as others have mentioned you need a pistol grip with shock mount at minimum. And it does get heavy so a tripod is your best bet. All of that does not really help in the stealth department though.

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This could be less conspicuous than a blimp?

http://vimeo.com/4387137 http://www.redheadwindscreens.com/products/

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Just as side info... For stealth recording, there are some pretty quiet electret omni capsules available. I bought the Primo EM172 from "frogloggers". I hav yet to find the time to compare it to a Rode nt1a, but noise and level wise it compares pretty well with a sennheiser mkh 40/30 setup (considered reasonably quiet) Of course beeing omnis they capture a different sound compared I the directional mics. But definition and noise feels good after my first actual recordings.

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