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Hi all

Ive been thinking about upgrading my set of mics for ambience recordings. So far, I am very happy with using a set of DPA 4060's, when recording more loud places, and for stealth like recordings.

When recording quiet places, Ive been going with a pair of Røde NT55's. While these are ok, I sometimes find them a bit too bright, and a bit boring.

While I would love to get a pair of Sennheiser 80xx's, a quick calculation made me realize, that I havent got the cash for such a set and a Rycote system.

I was wondering what everybody uses for ambience recordings, or what would be recommended for more quiet recordings (forests, birds, etc).

Thanks alot.

Best wishes, Mikkel

10 Answers 10

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To answer a question with a question, whats your feeling on ambience recording with omni mics versus more directional mics? That has to be the first consideration when narrowing down your options...

The big downside I see to omni mics is that its very difficult to manipulate them to avoid or at least minimise any unwanted elements in an ambience... If I only had a pair of mics for ambience recording I don't think I would go for omni mics as the only option, def great for a second perspective or for more diffuse ambiences or in very quiet situations....

Also don't forget to compare secondhand prices too - good mics hold their value AND their fucntionality, but are a LOT cheaper than new!

  • Tim, Budget being a consideration, would lend some advice on purchasing mics for recording ambiances. Stereo only, no quad or 5.1. Thinking around 1500 for mic(s). Any suggestions with mics you've had good experience with? – mikevarela Mar 13 '13 at 0:59
  • @tim I agree - same reason omni's weren't my first mic purchase – Stavrosound Mar 13 '13 at 1:53
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    To be honest I suspect I'd go for something like an MKH60 or MKH50 secondhand - find someone who wants to trade up to an MKH80X0... That would blow all your budget on one mic, so I'd then spend the next 12 months fund raising and buy the second one when I could afford it... (thats what I did to get a pair of MKH70s - I stalked ebay until one came up for not too much) BUT I strongly suggest renting whatever you do plan to buy & do some recording with it, so you know what you are buying... – user49 Mar 13 '13 at 3:32
  • @Tim, thanks alot, and thanks for answering my emails too! I havent thought of using more directional mics before.Having only used omnis before, for ambience recordings, because thats what I have. I would love to tryout some more directional onesand will go with your advice on trying before buying. Does the 80xx fit inside a Røde blimp? i wasnt aware of this. – Mikkel Nielsen Mar 13 '13 at 12:14
  • I dont own a Rode blimp so cant verify myself but am pretty sure a friend has an MKH50 in one... – user49 Mar 13 '13 at 18:21
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@Arnoud

I think the reason omni mics are less sensitive to proximity effect is because of how they are constructed. Omni's are pressure microphones and most other directional mics are pressure gradient microphones.

Gradient microphones measure difference in air pressure by comparing the front and back of the membrane and for that to be possible their membrane is open on both sides. When the front of a low freq soundwave hits the membrane the airpressure is almost the same at both sides of the membrane. because the soundwave's front is just so big and the change happens so slowly there is almost no difference in phase measured thus resulting in additional volume because of constructive interference. Gradient mics that have more than one directionality (like akg 414) are still sensitive to the prox effect when set to omni unless the change in capsule happens mechanically.

Pressure mics are great LF mics by definition because they will always follow the changes in airpressure no matter how slow. They have their membrane encased(like a snare drum) and compare airpressure around them with a fixed amount of airpressure inside the capsule. (somewhat like a barometer) this makes them omnidirectional because they can compare evenly from all directions and that also makes that one never has the constructive interference or proximity effect like you have with open membrane capsules.

I dont see what dpa means with "less sensitive to handling/wind and pop noises" As i wouldnt know what they could do with capsule construction to reduce that kind of stuff except for the user to equip external accessoires.

But I can understand the proximity thing they claim :)

to be fair: there are also very nice things done with gradient mics and the prox effect. Like Leonard Cohen's voice for instance.

  • Excellent explanation, thanks have an upvote! – Arnoud Traa Mar 14 '13 at 10:56
  • thanks :) it was my pleasure. it was good practice for my upcoming test next week! If someone could add to this or comment on why dpa states its also "less sensitive to handling/wind and pop noises" i'd welcome that. because I dont really understand how they would achieve that. – Tom Mar 14 '13 at 11:58
  • Hi Tom, it is not a DPA exclusive feature, Omni's are well known for lesser wind noise problems. It might be the snare drum construction which better handles the slow waves? btw do you study at the HKU or somewhere else in the netherlands? – Arnoud Traa Mar 14 '13 at 12:11
  • What I meant was: maybe the membrane is less flexible in the snare drum like construction and therefore doesn't vibrate as excessively as open diagram mic's (cardiod etc). – Arnoud Traa Mar 14 '13 at 12:18
  • Ah yes, it could be that the closed capsule accounts for all those other things aswell. It probably does as it all is LF material. And yes I study at the HKU - KMT faculty 2nd year BA in Sounddesign. You went there aswell? – Tom Mar 14 '13 at 12:24
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I kind of think you'll need to stick to the Rodes to get good results with the chosen budget. The better sounding mics cost more and there's not much you can do about it. You could get the Rodes (or some other SDCs in this price range) modified or modify them yourself, if you've got that kind of skills. The modifications may give you the results that you're satisfied with, without breaking the bank.

  • Yeah. Probably should have mentioned a budget here. :D A pair of 80xx and a Rycote system, will set me back around 22000 Danish Kroner. apx. 3800 dollars. What øim looking at is in the 1700 dollar range. Thanks for commenting. – Mikkel Nielsen Mar 12 '13 at 21:24
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I recommend the Rode NT4 stereo mic.

Field Recording 1

Field Recording 2

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Fancy equipment is fancy :P haha

This looks interesting...

http://tascam.com/product/im2/

O.o

Wonder if it is any good.

I know, even as non-pro as it sounds, I have gotten some crazy cool stuff from recordings off my iPhone.

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If you go with a matched pair of Sennheiser MKH8020s omnis, which are amazingly quiet mics and perfect for ambiences, you could probably get away with less wind protection than a full Rycote Windshield at first, since omnis are less suceptible to wind noise. Just a thought. Then save up for Rycotes for later.

If that is still too expensive, I'd suggest looking at the cheaper DPA 2006A or 2006C omnis.

  • Thanks alot. Ill look into the DPA's. Hopefully they have a low self noise. – Mikkel Nielsen Mar 12 '13 at 21:25
  • I wouldn't want to use the 8020s without very good wind protection - the fact they go down to 30Hz means they are sensitive to wind buffeting – user49 Mar 13 '13 at 0:11
  • I agree...just suggesting that he could explore cheaper, temporary solutions other than buying 2 expensive Rycote Kit 10s to begin with. Not ideal, but I've used mine outside with old Rycote furies wrapped around them without problems. My 8020s are definitely less susceptible to wind rumble than my 8040s. – Justin P Mar 13 '13 at 1:56
  • true, and they would easily fit into those Rode blimps – user49 Mar 13 '13 at 3:33
  • Regarding wind rumble and omni microphones. Here's what DPA says: "A cardioid may be the right choice, but often an omni would give a better performance, because of its sonic qualities, low handling-, wind- and pop-noise and lack of proximity effect." The reason why it is less sensitive however, I can't find anywhere... Source: dpamicrophones.com/en/Mic-University/Technology-Guide/… – Arnoud Traa Mar 13 '13 at 9:58
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a low noise and easy to handle setup i'm using for field recordings: Audio Technica BP4025, INV7HG shockmout, Rycote Baby Ball, mounted on a self made handle build from a cellular rubber bike grip. the BP4025 is a LDC mic in a XY config. for the very quiet things i (sometimes) use a pair of clumpsy Rode Nt1a, which are not easy to handle...

  • Thanks for commenting and helping out. Seems like nice setups. Im looking for some smaller mics though. – Mikkel Nielsen Mar 17 '13 at 19:04
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I've been using the Beyerdynamic MC930's (for nature recordings) into a SD664. I've never had to use anything but the standard stock windscreens it comes with. Considering the BBG if I come into problems in the future. Very underrated mics. I use them in both XY and ORTF config.

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I use Neumann km 184 with very good results.

  • Thanks George. How does these mics handle the outdoors? Im afraid they wont like a humid or cold climate, but would gladly be proven wrong. Also, do you have any quiet recordings available I could listen to? I find the sensitivity level of the mics a bit too low! – Mikkel Nielsen Apr 10 '13 at 15:14
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I never had problems with coldness or humidity, unlike with Schoeps for example,I did many recordings in winter, early morning, and near the sea. And I have never been limited by the sensitivity level. I put pieces of recordings here : https://www.wetransfer.com/downloads/c713a5cf7ae95c7e783ac9d0a497b30a20130410174033/86a1862d24405a31ebe8118e180e10a620130410174033/6673ff

  • Thanks for the info and samples Georges. Nice samples. I like the small wave one very much! – Mikkel Nielsen Apr 10 '13 at 18:39

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