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I've searched plenty and read hundreds of threads here in the last few days. This place is a great resource (definitely going to hang out here!) so forgive me if I'm going to repeat a bit!

Hi Guys, I'm trying to get into doing sound & music for video games. I was recently broken into and had a lot of my stuff stolen. Some was not being used, so if I get money from the insurance from it I see it as a blessing. I am also getting my student loan soon, which I have taken to upgrade my gear. I realise many

First up is the portable recorder - I had a Tascam DR-100 and was happy with it. It failed on my and Tascam provided without a doubt the worst customer service I've ever encountered. They flat out refused to repair it because I bought it second hand, after lecturing me on the 'pitfalls' of shopping online. Anyway, The mic pres were a little noisy, so I'm stuck inbetween the Tascam DR-680 and the Marantz PMD661. I realise the difference between the two, but am contemplating spending more to get the 4 inputs. This entirely depends on the insurance payout (I'm also buying 3 SSD's to upgrade my composition station so that's taking a huge chunk). I guess I'm asking if the DR-680's pres are quieter than the DR-100? From what I've read the DR-680 is a better choice than the R-44 and I can't find any 4 input field recorder close to the price.

Next is the microphone selection. All for sound effects.

1. I was thinking the Røde NT4 for ambiances. I have an NTG-3 and love it, and have had great results with all Røde mics I've used. I'm a little worried how 'closed' the X/Y pattern will sound for ambiance. I've not found a similar mic in the price range (I know AT do their XY but that is out of my budget). Any feedback on ambiance recording with the NT4? I know I can also get a cheap stereo bar.

2. Next up I'm looking at a large diaphragm for cloth movements and quiet sounds. I was thinking the Røde NT2000.

3. Small diaphragm condensers - I'm a little confused here. I was going to get a pair of Røde NT55's but not sure if it is worth the price increase over the NT5's; I could get the capsules separately later. I'm now also looking at the M3 and NT3 and not really understanding the differences; is it just the swappable capsules? (Can the NT5/5's handle loud noises as well as the M/NT 3?)

4. Wind protection - I'm thinking of just getting the Røde Blimp for both the NTG3 and NT4. I'd then consider 2x dead kittens for the nt4 when I don't want to carry the whole Blimp, and to cover the 2 small dia's when doing spaced pairs in the field. Does this sound good?

I realise I'm going very rode heavy - I think they are fantastic mics at great prices, and the dealings with the company have made me very happy with them so far. Definitely above and beyond. I guess I'm just asking the questions I've asked and for the rest of the essay I'm seeking validation. I have read and done my research to the best of my ability, but just want to make sure I'm going down the right paths.

This is a bit of a wall of text, and I apologise - I've tried to format it as neatly as I could. I'd love to be able to spend more on mics but as I said I have 3xSSD's to buy, some more software instruments and would love some of the loan left to live off!

Many, many thanks in advance.

Julian

www.crusadermusic.com

EDIT: Thanks so much for the responses. I'm now even more confused and wondering what to do! I'm between the two set ups now (prices are rough, at the cheapest I've found). I realise there are a few cables and that I'd need to get as well. Unfortunately I don't think I can afford the DR-680

AT 4050 - £482

AT BP4025 - £420

Rode Blimp - £189

Rode Nt5 pair - £269

Rode Omni caps - 2x£69

Marantz PMD661 - £419

=£1919

Marantz PMD 661 - £419

AT 4050 - £482

2x AKG SE 300B - £301

2x AKG CK 92 - £300

2x AKG CK 91 - £300

Rode Blimp - £189

=£1991

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Yes! Another member who is as verbose as I am. Welcome. –  g.a.harry Aug 19 '11 at 3:28
    
@g.a.harry Indeed - I wanted to cover all bases to make sure I wasn't lauded for sound 'un-researched!' –  Julian Aug 21 '11 at 14:05
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7 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

here's a rebuttal wall of text and random ramblings -

My philosophy with regards to mics is to lean fewer in number and higher in quality.

Noise Jockey and I seem to have similar thoughts.

I don't think you need a separate XY amb mic. You can get tons of really great really low noise ambiances with a spaced set of omnis. I'd consider a pair of the NT5s with both a cardiod and omni cap, and dual purpose those mics for both spot recording and ambiances. Alternatively you can forgo all of the other mics and just roll with a higher end stereo SDC set that will cover the VAST majority of your needs. Something like the AKG blueline series.

One thing I've learned is that mics are about waaaay more than noise floor specs. IMO the single most important characteristic is how a mic translates the midrange. The diff between a schoeps CMC6 and an NT5 is not about the self-noise my friend. In fact, the NT5s beat the schoeps in that category (and then lose everywhere else)

FWIW I've had good luck just hanging a fuzzy (sans blimp) on a spaced amb pair in the field, so that plan should work well in low to moderate wind situations.

Also, if you end up with the rode blimp you can run the mics in a pseudo ORTF setup that really sounds good. I spotted this blog post a while back, and often have mine setup like this. I love it.

The upside later is that you can eventually upgrade from your initial mic setup to something even higher-end and still run the same config.

I do think you'll want a side address LDC, though less for foley and more for voiceovers. I personally really like the audio technica stuff given the budget. We've built a pretty nice business by cutting a metric ton of voiceovers on the AT4050s, but even the 4040 and 4030 are very very nice mics. These are also some of the quietest mics in the studio.

I recently owned a DR-100 and sold it because I was unhappy with it. I'd recommend either the marantz or one of the Sony HH recorders with a Deneke interface. The Sonys have ridiculously long battery life, but no built in XLR or phantom (hence the Deneke), so take that fwiw.


summary of recommendations:

  • AT large diaphragm condenser
  • Rode Blimp + 2 dead kittens
  • Marantz or Sony hh recorder
  • the best stereo modular small diaphragm condenser set you can afford with what's left.
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@Rene thanks very much for the input...I priced out (very roughly) the two different set ups...(all in pounds) AT 4050 - 482 AT BP4025 - 420 Rode Blimp - 189 Rode Nt5 pair - 269 Rode Omni caps - 2x69 Marantz PMD661 - 419 =1919 Marantz PMD 661 - 419 AT 4050 - 482 2x AKG SE 300B - 301 2x AKG CK 92 - 300 2x AKG CK 91 - 300 Rode Blimp - 189 =1991 Interesting there is only an 80 pounds difference, and I'm only losing the XY mic. What do you think? Can I expect MUCH higher quality with the blue lines? Thanks so much. –  Julian Aug 19 '11 at 0:38
    
That didn't format at all. Sorry. –  Julian Aug 19 '11 at 0:38
    
I'd say the diff between the AKGs and the NT5s would be significant enough to warrant the decision. FWIW I personally do own the NT5s and don't own the AKGs, but I've heard a few recordings with them and have enjoyed them. The NT5s leave much to be desired in the midrage IMO. They're certainly functional, but can be improved upon pretty easily. –  Rene Aug 19 '11 at 1:09
    
Hi @Rene, Thanks for that. I've just won a pair of Nt5s on ebay for 175 pounds, so I will get the Omni caps and make do. –  Julian Aug 21 '11 at 21:31
    
Nice! The NT5s will certainly get you up and in the game and are the easiest part to upgrade as cash considerations make others available. I think you're building a pretty nice rig! –  Rene Aug 22 '11 at 13:11
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Hi Julian,

Yes, the preamps of the DR680 are quieter than those of the DR100. The recorder is really good value for money, the only potential problem you could encounter is with its build quality, as it's plastic. So be sure to buy it new from a reputable retailer, as to avoid a repetition of the issues you had with Tascam customer support. Don't know where you're based, but if it's the UK, you can find them new for as low as £670. Also, you mention 4 preamps, but don't forget the DR680 actually has 6 (only 4 XLR inputs, the other two are jacks but provide phantom power nonetheless). Also, make sure you get really good batteries, with a really good charger! It makes all the difference.

As for your mic choices... Why an NT4/AT plus a pair of small condensers? Wouldn't you use the pencil mic pair also for ambiences mainly? Perhaps worth considering going only for one of the two options, or maybe even a quality handheld recorder like a D50 for outdoor ambience recording.

Or maybe drop the whole idea of an XY rig for now and use the money you save towards a second hand MKH30. Then paired with your NTG3 you'll have a great MS rig which you can keep in your blimp (no swapping around) and will be far more flexible. The downside will then be of course that with a shotgun as the mid, your stereo field is a bit more limited than what would be the case with 2 cardioids in XY. But I think it's wiser to invest in more top range equipment where you can, and slowly build a quality arsenal in that way.

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@Daan I wanted the XY mic for a quick capture sessions - that's where the Tascam and it's built in mics were good - could just pull it out and record. I then want the pencil mics for studio recording, but then also have the flexibility of taking them along to field recordings for M/S and spaced pairs. Thanks for the all the info, by the way. –  Julian Aug 19 '11 at 0:08
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While SSD's are great, I don't see the benefit of you buying 3 of them. [You are talking about full on hard drives, yes?] They don't have a huge capacity, they're expensive, and you'll just be able to get larger drives for less money in the future. It's just not an efficient use of your funds. If you really want it, buy one and use it for your OS drive.

As far as LDC's...I've never used a Rode NT2000, but I'd suggest you look carefully at the Audio-Technica AT4050 before you make a final decision. It's a great mic, and only about $100 more than the NT2000.

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@Shaun Thanks for the reply. My SSD's are going to be firing samples, as well as a seperate drive for windows partition. So I'm going 1 for OSX, 1 for Windows and 1 for firing samples, with the last SATA slot on a 2TB with a dump. I realise they will get cheaper in the future, but my work is choking on my HD speed now, so I need em! I'll check out the AT (for some reason I had it in my mind that AT generally make low quality budget mics..didn't realise there were so many big contenders). Thanks! –  Julian Aug 18 '11 at 18:52
3  
@Julian - if that's the case, you're probably better off buying a raid enclosure and striping your samples library across multiple drives. you'll still end up paying less for higher capacity storage. just my opinion. –  Shaun Farley Aug 18 '11 at 19:49
    
+1 on the 4050. Its my main workhorse in the studio. –  Rene Aug 18 '11 at 22:45
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Hi Julian,

It's well worth considering Audio Technica's BP4025 stereo mic as an alternative to the Rode NT4.

Here's a Social Sound Design thread about it. Check out Analoghell's comment comparing the two mics.

BP4025 thread

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Hi @LondonSounds, thanks for the comment - I did mention the AT in my post (couldn't remember the model number!)..looks great but is too expensive for me. –  Julian Aug 18 '11 at 18:53
    
I must have bee looking at somethign odd - didn't realise the price point is that close to the nt4. Thanks! –  Julian Aug 18 '11 at 18:54
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The Audio Technicas really are worth considering. We have both Rodes and ATs and I usually end up using the ATs.

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@Iain Thanks for that! Lots to think about. –  Julian Aug 19 '11 at 0:06
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I personally can recommend the Rode NT1000 for foley and stuff. I could understand if you' want to record more than just cloth movement, but really if your main purpose of the Nt2000 would be foley-ish recording, i'd go for nt1000 no doubt. It's less noisy (yeah, 1dB man :P) and cheaper. And it's good :)

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@Olle Thanks for the reply! –  Julian Aug 19 '11 at 0:06
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The NT4 is a great point-and-shoot, fire-and-forget kind of mic. Its width is good, which is what you get with XY coincident, but it's not that quiet if you want to get quiet natural ambiences. For urban, SFX, and really active/loud ambiences, it's great. Extremely low price and fiddle factor are its strengths. Try not to power it with a 9V if you can help it, the noise level improves if you can use phantom power.

Quick devil's advocate question, though: Why not get a single pair of small condenser mics with remote capsules (like the NT6's) and just have one ORTF system? You can set 'em up inside one Rode blimp, pull 'em out to use 'em just like NT5's...you'd have a more flexible system with variable stereo width and fewer overall components for a lower cost.

Oh,and BTW, really sorry to hear about the theft. Heartbreaking.

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@NoiseJockey This thread has only opened more things for me to think about :) Thanks! –  Julian Aug 19 '11 at 0:39
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