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Hey, so I'm in need of a sensitive directional microphone. Something that I can point at say a drop of water or set farther back from something than say traditional condenser microphones and get a stronger signal from the source, if you know what I'm saying.
Right now I have a Zoom h4n and selling that would be my approximate price range. I would like to get into field recording but what sparked my urge to upgrade so to speak is that while I was recording SFX from squishing fruits and slapping meats my technique was to have about 4 microphones all close to the action. They were getting a little bit of slop on them, not much, but that made me think of the books I had read and photos I had seen where people were recording foley with shotgun mic's. Obviously there is no one right way to do it, but now I see the advantage of recording foley in mono....Is there a directional microphone out there that will suit me considering the price range and will it cure my woes of microphone sensitivity and distance?

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The H4N has XLR inputs, so you could use a shotgun mic along side the H4N, and not be limited to whatever you're using beside the H4N. Field recording means going into the field, and a laptop with an interface may not always be a possible solution (and a laptop's got more surface area for the slop to get on it). Get a foam pop-filter, made to go over the end of a hand held dynamic, and put that over your H4N. Cheapest solution around. –  Dave Matney Aug 29 '10 at 21:04
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4 Answers

Well, the reasoning for why you need a shotgun aside:

You can check out some of the Audio Technica shotguns in that price range. They have some very long/directional ones that are fairly decent for around $200 - $300 ish. RØDE has the NTG1 as well for the same price range. Decent mic as well.

Now back to your reasoning. Don't just back up the mic because you're getting stuff on it. First, I'd try putting a very thin layer of fabric in front of it, maybe on a stand or frame (something like cheesecloth) that won't muffle your sound, but can protect your mic from the muck. Wider pattern mics (generally) have more of a natural response than a very directional mic. If you're looking for the sound of a shotgun, then by all means, get one. If you're liking the sounds you're getting, then stick with what you have and just try to protect the mic.

As for stereo vs. mono: Stereo is less versatile when recording foley. You should use stereo to portray movement, size, or environment/context. Sometimes distance, but rarely. Use mono for everything else. If you see a punch directly in the center of the screen, you don't want to hear it coming from everywhere, just the center. If you have a much bigger sound, say a bunch of soldiers in armor walking, you may choose to use stereo to portray size.

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@Colin, @Chris, I own an AT8015, it's very directional (46cm long) and I guess it sounds OK, although in the same price range I would have gone for an 835b that's shorter and has a nicer bass response (it gives you that throaty rumble in voice recordings that mine just doesn't pick up). If you want to do FX recordings, I find that owning only a very directional mic is a pain since the off-axis coloration is not forgiving. Also you'll have to mic big sources from further away and that'll kill your direct sound/ambient noise ratio. –  Justin Huss Aug 30 '10 at 0:20
    
I have always used 2 mics when recording foley- one for close perspective to get the meat of the sound and a room mic for space depending on the shot size. Also, I have always used a wide diaphragm mic (condenser) so that high intensity sounds like a slap or an object dropping on tile or cement, won't saturate as quickly. –  oinkaudio Nov 5 '10 at 6:53
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If you want to get further back and hear a drop of water, you're going to want to not just be looking for a mic, you'll want the entire chain to be clean. I'd say that you should be looking at a decent pre-amp to boost up the levels nice and clean - or you can also look at mics that are "hot" like the Audio Technica 4073. Awhile back I tested 6 shotgun mics fed directly into a Canon XL2 camera. You can listen to them here http://www.dvcreators.net/shotgun-shootout/ Now, I'd at least want to put a Sound Devices MM-1, or SignVideo ENG-44 in front of the camera/recorder.

Hope this helps,

Guy Cochran

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If your talking about a sub $1500 mic, I would avoid a shotgun for effects unless otherwise impossible. I agree with Colin. Even my MKS416 (going for about $1K now) isn't going to get you delicate highs and tight lows.

David Rovin

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The Audio Technica AT897 is a great short shotgun for the price at around £250 if that is in your price range. http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/9aeff7bd1ee954dc/index.html/

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