August 19, 2017 at 1:02PM

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Recommended Preamp?

I have a Rode NTG-2 and Tascam Dr-40 and it just isn't cutting it, so i'm looking into buying a dedicated preamp. My budget would be 200$ Thanks!

8 Comments

Before spending $200 on a dedicated preamp, try your setup under favorable audio conditions. Find a reasonably treated room (carpets on the floor, 12'-18' ceilings, all walls at least 10' away from the mic and also at least 10' away from talent), then see what things sound like when the talent is 1', 2', 3', 4', 5', and 6' away from the mic (maintaining that minimum of 10' away from the back wall). What you might find in that test is that 3'-4' is a practical limit for getting good sound...not because of the preamp, but because of acoustics. If you don't have a large enough room for the experiment, you might find that 1.5'-3' is the practical limit.

If you have highly diffusive walls (such as floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of randomly sized books), you can probably get by with a 6' instead of 10' distance. If you have relatively dead walls (2"-4" of heavy rigid foam, not lightweight auralex) you can probably get away with 3' instead of 10' distance. If you have a combination of wall surfaces, use each distance measure as a minimum for the distance to each type of wall.

August 20, 2017 at 6:39AM, Edited August 20, 6:46AM

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Yes, the Rode NTG-2 mic needs a lot of gain to get good audio out of it. The cheapest route to improving the sound with the gear that you have is to buy a Triton Audio FetHead inline mic pre-amp that will boost the signal from your NTG-2 mic by 18 dB. The FetHead preamp costs about $100 US and can be used with any phantom powered microphone. You might want to get an external USB power-supply ( like an external phone battery ) to power your Tascam DR-40 because the FetHead is going to use some power from your DR-40 recorder.

TRITON AUDIO FetHead Phantom In-Line Microphone Preamp
https://goo.gl/mjDRS6

August 21, 2017 at 8:32AM, Edited August 21, 8:41AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32289

I am an audio guy, I strongly suspect that the problem is not in equipment, but instead in your technique with that equipment. Shure has a free pdf on stereo recording. However hardware solutions are no solution if the problem is technique. I am not saying it is or it isn't. Just something to consider.

August 21, 2017 at 3:20PM

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Indeed. My answer gives very specific instructions on how to assess technique rather than blaming tools.

August 22, 2017 at 7:29AM, Edited August 22, 7:29AM

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I seem to remember a guy who swore by an "I rig pre" with his Tascam.

August 22, 2017 at 3:19PM, Edited August 22, 3:19PM

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Donald McPherson
hobbyist
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>>>I am an audio guy, I strongly suspect that the problem is not in equipment

I owned both the NTG-2 mic and the Tascam DR-40 recorder ( which I still own ), and I can flat out tell you IT IS AN EQUIPMENT PROBLEM. The Rode NTG-2 mic puts out a weak audio signal and needs quite a bit more gain than an equivalent mic like the Sennheiser MKE600.

To use my NTG-2 mic I paired it with a Sound Devices MixPre mixer that can put out 60+ dB of clean gain, but most low cost portable recorders are barely able to put out 20+ dB before they get extremely noisy, so pairing the NTG-2 mic with the Tascam DR-40 is a BAD idea unless you have an additional mic pre-amp to boost the signal another 20 dB.

The Triton Audio FetHead is a great low-cost solution that puts out 18+ dB of clean low noise gain. If you check the B&H reviews for the FetHead you will see that several of the purchasers are actually using it with Rode NTG microphones and have stated that it was a good solution to the low signal output of the NTG-2 mic.

I sold my NTG-2 mic after using it for one year because I did not like the muddy sounding high-end on this mic. In my opinion the Sennheiser MKE600 is a much better mic at almost the same price.

August 22, 2017 at 10:38PM, Edited August 22, 10:38PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32289

"I can flat out tell you IT IS AN EQUIPMENT PROBLEM" well it is easy to determine, go to a music store or rental house and substitute equipment and test and see. What concerns me with the OP is why buy equipment that doesn't work? I am not emotionally invested in this, I am not putting him down, but when I buy equipment I test it out and if I order it, I return it within the return time. Everyone has a first day on their job, so their is no person born with audio knowledge. Guy it seems a bit naive on your part to say emphatically that it is the equipment. You don't know and neither do I. Kind of like devout religious person who knows, really knows the existence of God. So why buy equipment that doesn't work? likely because they do not have a good workflow with the equipment and are unfamiliar with audio techniques. However if the problems persist with new equipment then you have your answer and if you swap out the recorder or the microphone you have it too. I always test equipment prior to purchase or within the return period. Audio 101

August 23, 2017 at 11:50AM, Edited August 23, 11:51AM

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>>>What concerns me with the OP is why buy equipment that doesn't work?

The Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic has been popular for the past 10 years. I bought one myself because it was recommended by many different sources. As soon as I tried to use it I knew there was a gain problem when used with my Tascam DR-40 recorder. Later on I crewed for other people's Indie films and often came across the same NTG-2 mic combined with a Zoom H4n recorder, which had exactly the same low-signal output gain problem. Today I always recommend buying the Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun mic because it puts out a much stronger audio signal and it sounds better, especially on the higher-end.

>>>Guy it seems a bit naive on your part to say emphatically that it is the equipment.

I owned exactly the same equipment as the OP and had exactly the SAME problem with the NTG-2 shotgun mic. I have also come across the NTG-2 mic on the Indie films I worked on, and again these mics had exactly the SAME low-signal output problem.

So having worked with at least 4 versions of the Rode NTG-2 mic, all with the SAME low-output problem, I can state that this mic needs significantly more gain than other shotgun mics, and will be a BAD match for a low-cost recorder because of this.

The Triton FetHead XLR preamp is a low cost fix that will also work with other phantom powered mics that put out a weak signal. A more expensive fix would be to replace the NTG-2 with a better shotgun mic, like the Sennheiser MKE600 or the Rode NTG-3 mic, both of these mics put out a stronger audio signal.

August 25, 2017 at 10:12PM, Edited August 25, 10:14PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32289

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