July 14, 2016 at 12:56PM

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I have $1000 for audio equipment for narrative film. What do i get?

hey guys, new to this forum. so essentially I've been researching to get some stuff for high quality audio. i am shooting a narrative short film and the majority (although not all) will be shot indoors. In the worst case scenario i'd hire someone with all the equipment but that's not ideal as i'd like to own this equipment and learn about it on my own. I've done some doc work with rode video mics and a zoom h4n but thats about it. I'm complete noob with mixers, ect. where and what should i buy with a budget +/- $1000. I'm shooting on a gh4. cheers and thanks!

18 Comments

Why not spend the $1K on someone who's willing to teach you while he/she does their job? You'll learn more in a day then scouring the internet for weeks.

July 14, 2016 at 1:03PM

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definitely considered this... was hoping for equipment though

M. Tob

July 14, 2016 at 3:20PM

If you want high quality audio then for $1000 can buy a single good mike and a good mike stand. In other words your budget is way too low for high quality audio.

July 14, 2016 at 6:49PM, Edited July 14, 7:16PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
1821

A realistic minimal budget would be:

$700 for microphone & boom pole (see http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/891658-REG/Sennheiser_MKE_600_Shot...)
$100 for closed-ear headphones (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/240764-REG/Sennheiser_HD_280PRO_HD...)
$200 for Zoom h4n (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1116977-REG/zoom_zh4nsp_h4nsp_hand...)

Total: $1000. Learning to use a boompole and headphones will take some time. And you simply cannot wish away the fact that getting good sound is an active job that somebody has to do, independently and collaboratively with everybody else.

July 15, 2016 at 5:39AM, Edited July 15, 5:39AM

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As others have stated, $1,000 is not a very big budget for audio, but that does not mean it's impossible. Here is what I would buy given your budget:

Takstar CM63 Cardioid Condenser Mic : $60 US on eBay

Fantastic mic for indoor dialog and music recording. Great sound and strong signal so it's a beautiful fit for most low cost recorders. I own a $600 AT4053b mic and this $60 mic comes surprisingly close in the sound it captures.

Rycote Medium Hole Softie Lyre Mount & Pistol Grip : $104 US from B&H Photo

Fantastic microphone shock-mount that can be used by holding the grip handle or by mounting it on the end of a boom. Quite strong and very quick to set-up, it works for a wide range of microphones.

Polsen SBP-10 5-Section Boom Pole : $130 from B&H Photo

Adjusts from 3 - 10 feet in length. I haven't used it but it's one of the best rated affordable boom poles on the B&H website. 21 people rated this pole 4 out of 5 stars.

Canare Star Quad 25 foot XLR cable : $31 from B&H

Best cable for pro audio use. Comes in about 8 different colors. I like the orange cables because it's very easy to see, so people don't step on it.

Zoom H5 Audio Recorder : $270 US

The Zoom H5 is a good quality low cost audio recorder that can be used as a computer audio interface. I also like the Tascam DR-40, but I think the Zoom is worth the extra $100 for the computer audio interface feature, that it can take a MIC or LINE 3.5mm audio input, and it can be powered using the larger cell-phone style external batteries with USB power outputs. A $40 external cell-phone battery could power this unit all day.

Sony MDR-7506 Headphones : $100 US

Industry standard headphones for audio work.

So my shopping list would look like this...

$120 2 x TakStar CM63 Mics
$104 Rycote Medium Hole Softie Lyre Mount & Pistol Grip
$130 Polsen SBP-10 5-Section Boom Pole
$ 62 2 x Canare Star Quad 25 Foot XLR Cable ( your choice of color )
$270 Zoom H5 Audio Recorder
$100 Sony MDR-7506 headphones

So this list is roughly $800 and I am including two CM63 mics ( one mic as a back-up and it can be used as a second mic if necessary ) and two 25 foot XLR cables. ( again one as a back-up or when you need the extra reach )

Beyond this you could purchase the Azden PRO-XD 2.4 GHz digital wireless lav mic system which costs about $200 and performs quite well. ( the included lav mic is garbage, so you would have to buy a proper lav mic like the Oscar SoundTech OST-801 or OST-802 for about $100 )

With proper mic placement, proper mic level adjustment, and proper audio processing in post, you can produce professional quality sound with gear like this.

July 15, 2016 at 2:40PM, Edited July 15, 2:47PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33200

Guy: Would be interested in hearing how you'd use the Takstar CM63 Cardioid Condenser Mic, and why it's so good indoors. Have been using a Rode NTG-2 for indoor, but some instances I've had a lot of echo or reverb because of the way the room has been built. Is this mic better/worse in these situations? Also, how would you set it up in terms of getting the best audio possible with it?

Morten Furre

July 17, 2016 at 7:36PM

thank you so much guy. this detail was perfect

July 16, 2016 at 12:20PM

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M. Tob
74

$1000 is way way more than you need to spend to get really good or even excellent sound. Do not listen to gearheads. I use sound devices stuff which is really good and really expensive, but I have also used a $20 lapel mike on a boom pole and a 79 dollar recorder and it sounded excellent. With video, the lighting and atmosphere are key. The camera less important. Same with sound. Learn how to use the equipment well, and it barely matters what equipment you use.

July 16, 2016 at 1:11PM, Edited July 16, 1:11PM

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Another option is to rent the audio equipment. I've rented gear from BorrowLenses.com, and they've been extremely reliable.

Whenever possible, I try to preserve my budget by renting what I need. This is not to say that buying equipment is a bad idea. It all depends on the size of your budget.

Of course, it's often possible to rent equipment that would be prohibitively expensive to buy.

July 16, 2016 at 2:16PM

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Glenn Bossik
Videographer
622

I would say its achievable. I would find a Rode NTG-3 mic used (they go for $500 on eBay and you can get one in great condition at that price). That mic is almost as good as the Sennheiser 416 which is the industry standard and you can use it going forward. Then get a tascam DR-40 ($150 around) for your field recorder. Will be a good starter recorder (ultimately Sound Devices would be better..but thats way over budget). A decent Rode Boompole is $150 with Aurey shock mount $40. You're at about $850 in budget at this point. Then you have the rest of the money to buy good xlr cables and a windscreen. Kopul makes good xlr cables and range from 15-25 dollars. Hope this helps!

July 17, 2016 at 5:24AM

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Mark K.
272

>>>Guy: Would be interested in hearing how you'd use the Takstar CM63 Cardioid Condenser Mic, and why it's so good indoors.

You would use it the same way you would use a hypercardioid mic for indoor dialog, where you would boom it just out of frame above your talent.

https://goo.gl/sbZeZP

In the photo above the sound person is booming a short condenser mic ( probably a Schoeps MK41 Supercardioid which is pretty common for professional audio ) even though they are shooting outside. This is the SAME setup you would use when booming a short condenser mic indoors, though you may not have to be as far away from your subject. For this outdoor shot the sound person is using a Rycote Baby Ball Gag with a furry cover, which essentially is a tiny little blimp that allows you to use a short condenser mic outside when it's windy.

>>>Have been using a Rode NTG-2 for indoor, but some instances I've had a lot of echo or reverb because of the way the room has been built.

Actually, a lot of the echo and reverb is caused by using the Rode NTG-2 shotgun indoors. Most lower cost shotgun mics do not perform well indoors because they pick up as much sound directly behind as they do in front of them, so you get lots of audio reflections from walls, ceilings and even floors. The NTG-2 is a good mic to use outdoors, but it would be one of the last mics I would pick for indoor use, especially in smaller spaces like people's homes or their offices, where the reflected sound from walls and ceilings would make things sound horrible.

The TakStar CM63 cardioid condenser "pencil" mic picks up almost no audio from behind, so when used indoors in smaller reflective spaces you will hear almost no echo or reverb when recording sound. This is why it just kills pretty much any shotgun mic under $500 when recording indoors.

You will also notice how much better your audio sounds, as it picks up a more balanced frequency range compared to the Rode NTG-2 mic. ( I owned a NTG-2 for about 2 years and then replaced it with a Sennheiser MKE600 which sounds better to my ears, and works better indoors, but still nowhere near as good as the TakStar CM63 )

>>>Also, how would you set it up in terms of getting the best audio possible with it?

The TakStar CM63 has a pretty strong signal output, so you can get very good results with almost any low cost recorder with XLR inputs and phantom power. I own a Tascam DR-40 recorder which sounds great with the CM63 mic. The Zoom H5 also works great with the CM63.

As far as holding the mic, the Rycote Pistol grip I listed above would be my first choice in a mic shockmount, which can be handheld or attached to the end of a boom pole.

The only additional accessory that I did not mention before is to pick-up a few furniture moving blankets which you can use to deaden audio reflections from walls or floors. They are pretty cheap and make quite a difference in a small space.

July 17, 2016 at 8:27PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33200

Thank you Guy! Really appreciate that answer!

Morten Furre

July 18, 2016 at 1:59AM, Edited July 18, 1:59AM

Great info Guy, it amazes me how many low budget shoots I've been on where folks are using a shotgun for interior dialog when a hypercardioid would be a much better choice. Depends on the location, distance from talent, etc. of course but there are a lot of people that seem to think that a shotgun is the only mic they need for location audio. I haven't used the TakStar but I do have an Oktava MK-012 and I can say that it is an outstanding mic. It is pretty sensitive to handling noise and any wind/breeze/moving air (or moving it through the air quickly) but besides that the sound quality is exceptional. It can be had on ebay for around $200-300 with the hypercardioid capsule.

Noah Ambrose

July 19, 2016 at 2:04PM

I got the mic yesterday! Did a quick comparison with my NTG-2 and actually have to say that I enjoy the sound of the TakStar better..

Still need to do some more testing, and get a wind sock/protector for it, but excited to see what this thing can actually do!
Do you think the Rode WS8 Windshield would work?

Morten Furre

July 20, 2016 at 5:03AM

RODE NTG 4+ mic
RODE boom
RODE pistol grip

July 17, 2016 at 10:34PM, Edited July 17, 10:34PM

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Just remember, sound is always more important than video. Maybe you could cut back on costs for camera and other gear and add that money towards a larger and more expansive audio budget. With that you can surely purchase the best sounds possible. Investing in sound is investing in your film, and the audience will know it.

July 19, 2016 at 11:25PM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
414

>>>Do you think the Rode WS8 Windshield would work?

It should probably be good in light wind. For stronger wind you really need a blimp or the Rycote Baby Ball Gag "Micro" Blimp.

July 20, 2016 at 7:21AM, Edited July 20, 7:21AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33200

Tascam DR-40
Sennheiser MKH 416 T (Used)
SQN-3 Type M (Used)
Rode Blimp
A nice boompole

July 20, 2016 at 3:25PM

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Henrik Prinz
Learner
106

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