I'm working on another feature film this summer and I need to record a lot of sound to be used in post. On set we'll have unique planes, tanks, armored personnel carriers, weapons etc. that we won't have easy access to in post. So, I want to get a stereo mic setup that can be put in a Rycote blimp. I'm thinking of a Sennheiser cardioid like the MKH 8040 but I don't know which Fig-8 mic to get with it. Any suggestions? Anything else better out there? My budget is probably around $2K-$2.5K.

Sennheiser MKH 8040 http://www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser/products.nsf/resources/4B8FFC9E656746B5C125743200803106/$File/MKH8040_ProductImage.jpg

  • I ended buying a new Sanken CSS-5 with a Rycote blimp and windjammer. So far it's been great! I love that I can use it in stereo or mono mode (without having to power up both capsules). It sounds fantastic and should blend well with the CS-3E. I'm working on s feature film in the middle of no where Nebraska with great forest ambience. So, whenever I need to record tone for a scene I'm doing it with both the CSS-5 and CS-3E to give the post house some nice options. Jun 13, 2010 at 5:19

6 Answers 6


I have the Sennheiser MKH 418s, and I can only talk from my own experience with this mic. Are you doing the location recording too? Or are you only going to be there to gather sfx?

alt text http://www.sennheiserusa.com/media/productImages/proMain/MKH418S_ProductPro.jpg


I'm in two minds about it. I love the sound of it and that it records dialogue as well as it does ambiences or some SFX. It's great that it can handle heat, humidity, cold and all that, but I find it very very noisy. Any recording that isn't too quiet is fine, but if I have to crank up the gain then the noise is just too much. It's to the point where I'm even wondering if it's damaged.

Are the weapons and planes and all that going to be shot and flown? If so you'll definitively need to purchase two in-line pads.


From what I hear, the mid is basically an MKH 416, so if you are there recording dialogue as well, then it can double up in it's use. When I decode the MS and only keep the mid, I find it quite quiet. Although as I write this, I'm remembering recording in the studio with the NT2A in one channel and the MKH418s' mid in the other channel and that made me really notice how much noisier it is.


This is where the problem seems to mainly be... If I only listen to the side (fig-8) then all the noise seems to be located there. This means that you probably can put some noise reduction on the sides whilst keeping the mid intact, and your quiet recordings should be clean enough.


If I had the cash, what I'd do is get the Schoeps MS stereo set...

alt text http://www.schoeps.de/IMG/products/product_pics/ms-stereo-set.gif

...and later on I'd upgrade to the Double MS. I'm not sure if it's just a matter of purchasing the second half or not.

alt text
(source: schoeps.de)

Has anyone got the same experience with the MKH 418s? I really would like to know if it's just my mic or if it's normal.


Sadly, Sennheiser doesn't make a Fig 8 in the MKH8000 series. A Sennheiser MKH40/30 combo would work well, and should fall into the under $2500 budget. If you look around at the used market, you may be able to find a Schoeps M/S set, a Neumann RSM191 Stereo Shotgun, or a Neumann KM120/KM140 MS rig for under $2500. Any of these would be a great MS SFX setup.

Schoeps M/S set http://www.schoeps.de/IMG/products/product_pics/cmit-ms-set.gif

  • Also wanted to add; the Sanken CSS-5 stereo shotgun is another one to consider. Charles Maynes swears by his. May 9, 2010 at 8:34
  • Great post, Chuck. I hear people talk about the 191 all the time, but what about the 190? (For FX recording, primarily) May 9, 2010 at 14:29
  • Love the MKH30/40 setup. May 9, 2010 at 14:45
  • The MKH40 and MKH30 is the de-facto standard for nature recordists and those who record stereo ambiences. Don't forget, though, that the Rycote, cabling, and accessories can add up to the cost of one of the mics themselves. Biggest plus about this combo is, of course, its freakishly low noise floor for the size of the condensers. May 9, 2010 at 18:00
  • The 190 is also a great mic. I have never compared the two myself. The 190 is supposed to have more low end response than the 191. I think John Fasal still uses one, or maybe he uses the 191, or maybe both.. I can't remember. May 9, 2010 at 18:40

A couple of options:

  1. $2500 will buy you a pretty decent combination of quality used gear (mic) and new inexpensive gear (recorder). Scour the net for good deals.

  2. $2500 will also get you a few days with a professional field recordist who already owns all of the gear you want and need (and then some), not to mention all of the experience and talent to use that gear wisely. Names like John Fasal and Charles Maynes come to mind.

  • I already have a SD 442, SD 744t, Sanken CS-3E, Lectro and Sennheiser 2000 wireless units with Sanken COS-11's, Rycote blimps, etc. I'm really just looking to add a good M/S mic setup to my rig. I played with a Sennheiser 418s and wasn't happy with it. I didn't like the Fig-8 self noise and the fact that I had to have both capsules powered up in order to use the mic. May 9, 2010 at 6:50
  • Ah, I see now that you're not a newbie to this sort of thing! I'll have to pass on an actual M/S recommendation, I don't have enough experience with that configuration. Sorry - May 9, 2010 at 7:02

Dont know if the Ambient Recordings Emesser is as good as the ones mentioned, but I use it together with a Sennheiser MKH 416. It has produced great results so far.

Ambient Recording Emesser http://www.ambient.de/produkte/mikrofone/emesser/ate_aktuell.gif


I second the Schoeps M/S Stereo Set if you can swing it. I just got mine today and threw up a few recordings on my blog. Check 'em out!


Take a look at the Audio Technica BP4029 Stereo Shotgun Mic or pdf spec sheet here. You get both mics in one body like the 418 but I am not aware that the BP4029 has the same problems as the 418. Also the 4029 has the added advantage of not needing a larger Rycote that you would need for 2 seperate mics. I have its predecessor and love it, however I am based in the UK but here is a US link for it at BH Audio Video.

Hope it helps,


Audio Technica BP4029
(source: audio-technica.com)

  • Seconding this. Of course there are better, more expensive M/S options; but this one's good, and not just "for the price".
    – Miles B.
    May 9, 2010 at 11:28

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