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Hi All,

I'm looking to buy one or two lavs, whether wireless or not doesn't matter, and budget is no issue since a couple of us will all pitch in.

What I'm looking for is a lav that will work well on voices (male and femle) in office environments where there are fans/air conditioning that can't be turned off).

Your advice and experience would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you!

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If it were me, my first approach would be to ensure that you get room tone for noise reduction; funny how on run-n-gun corporate shoots, I've sometimes seen that totally get overlooked. The success of this will depend on if the subjects are moving; I'd get room tone for each shooting angle/location to be ultra-safe. Since that's all focused around fixing in post, though, it's hard to know how clean that'll make your dialogue. iZotope RX is stellar for such things.

This would want to be to be paired with a carefully tech scout of the location with a facilities manager and see if you can put sound blankets around to deaden the sound in specific places. Work with the producer and DP for shooting angles that don't force the lavs to be exposed directly to the fan noise. Grabbing room noise for noise reduction during that tech shoot, using the lavs you want to use, wouldn't be a bad idea if you can spare the time.

If these top two techniques work, then it's pretty much whatever lavs sound good on the respective voices. MAny love the COS-11 and DPA 4060's, but just as many love cheaper models like the Trams and Countrymans.

A final alternative might be to get cardioid-pattern lavs. These tend not to be too popular, but they do have their place in really challenging environments. You'd HAVE to rent some and do some tests to see if that'd really help your situation, though, before committing to a purchase.

Just a handful of initial ideas...

  • Thanks for the great response! I did indeed get room-tone and filtered it out with iZotope, but my Zoom H4n picked up way too much fan noise, unfortunately, and if I filter out too much of it, it begins to affect the voice (perhaps I'm not good enough at what I'm doing). Furthermore, I was unable to mic it close to the talent, due the wide shot used. The COS-11 and the DPA 4060's keep being mentioned. For cardioid I'm thinking Countryman BD2. I might also buy one cardioid and one omni if they both prove to be very good at what they're supposed to be used for. Cheers for your detailed answer! – nomadlife Apr 30 '11 at 19:06
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I'll vote for the COS-11.

That with proper placement can really handle a lot of intense situations and always sounds good. I used those mics on a shoot recently where I had a grill cooking, lawnmowers going, and some kids about 150 yards away cheering and ended up with much better audio than I had anticipated given the challenges.

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    True dat, and good insight, Rene. I think Randy Thom on RAMPS once said, "omnidirectional mics become directional if they're close enough to the sound source." – NoiseJockey Apr 30 '11 at 16:26
  • Sounds like I definitely have to give this lav a try! Thanks for sharing your experience! – nomadlife Apr 30 '11 at 19:00
  • @Rene, where abouts did you place the COS-11? – Utopia Apr 30 '11 at 20:29
  • both people on camera were wearing grilling aprons, so I just mounted the lavs to the aprons on the inside (about 6 inches below their chins) worked like a champ. – Rene May 1 '11 at 18:01
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A well boomed actor with a hypercardiod shotgun can sound just as good if not better than a lav (and more natural sounding) in less than ideal shooting environments. Experiment with booming from below the actors as well or under a desk etc..

Plus one for DPA 4060s for lavs though if booming is completely out of the question.

Another thing to consider is using plant mics. A pzm like a Sanken CUB mounted on a desk, cubicle, or prop computer screen in front of the actor would probably sound better than a lav and just as inconspicuous.

And make sure to grab plenty of room tone, you'll need it.

  • A hypercardioid shotgun is definitely on my to-buy-list as well. is there a make you would recommend me to look into for this case? We used the NTG-2 last time, straight into the camera and I didn't like the sound. A good mixer in the chain would have made a big difference, so I might have judged it unfairly. What do you recommend? Oooh, I've never even considered PZMs! That's great insight! I will put that on my to-try-list as well! Cheers! – nomadlife Apr 30 '11 at 19:32
  • I like the sound of the Schoeps CMIT-5U. Awesome mic. – Justin P May 2 '11 at 2:33
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I like the DPA 4060 more than the Sanken COS-11, because I think it sounds better and for me it is easier to hide under clothes with less cloth noise than the Sanken.

If you have the possibility to remove noise afterwards with Izotope RX, I wouldn't worry too much about recording room tones, you'll probably get loads of clean tones between sentences for Izotope to work with, it really doesn't need more than a second or so to capture the noise profile. If you have the Advanced version of Izotope RX2, it can even adapt to a changing noise profile.

If your setup is going to be for live use, you might want to invest in a stand-alone noise reduction, such as the Izotope ANR-B (I believe they used it on the Vuvuzelas in the World Cup last year!) or a Cedar.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you can place the actors with their back to the noise source, their body will act as a wall blocking for a part of the unwanted noise, so you don't have to remove as much afterwards...

  • Sounds like I definitely have to give them both a try then, as people have different opinions on which one of these two is the one that works best. I've never heard about or given the ANR-B a try. I think it might be a little bit overkill at this point, but if I get into recording sound for much louder environments I will indeed look into picking up this one. Nice placement advice! I will try that next time! Thanks a lot! – nomadlife Apr 30 '11 at 19:27
  • I just tried my new DPA 4060s on a shoot yesterday and I LOVE them! They sound incredible! – Andrew Spitz Apr 30 '11 at 22:22
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I absolutely LOVE my DPA 4060s. I used them for the first time on a shoot yesterday and I can't believe how great they sound. Had almost no issues with cloths rustling, they were easy to hide, and with the concealer they are super easy to attach. Don't buy the film kit though, it's a rip off. But buy the high frequency boost grills and concealers.

Maybe if you're only interested in location recording, then you might wanna get the DPA 4071s instead of the 4060s... They are pre-EQed with a high pass, and high freq boost.

  • @Andrew Spitz: I'll look into both the DPA 4060s, and the 4071s. Thanks a lot! And I'm glad you told me about the film kit and the accessories I should look into, as I really wouldn't have known. Cheers! – nomadlife Apr 30 '11 at 22:58
  • Sure thing @nomadlife. If you end up buying them let me know and I'll give you more details about the accessories. – Andrew Spitz Apr 30 '11 at 23:07
  • @Andrew have you tried them for ambiences and sfx? – Filipe Chagas May 1 '11 at 0:23
  • @Filipe not yet. Just got them. Will let you know when I do though :-) – Andrew Spitz May 1 '11 at 19:25

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