Best mic for recording small group discussions?

klh121560's picture
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 03/11/2012 - 1:44pm

Hi all -

 

I am trying to find out from all you pro's, what is the best type of mic to buy for recording small group discussions. aside from my regular job at our non-profit health center, I do videos for smaller non-profits, and up until now it has been single interviewee's with my AT299 lav (which I think is great).

But I want to record small talks, group discussions, usually 6-10 people. I have been doing my research, and everything is pointing me to a cardioid or supercardiod mic, not really a shotgun which might be to narrow a recording space. Am I thinking in the right direction? have any suggestions? what are reasonable costs for a mic like this? I have been looking at the Rode VideoMic Pro as well as the Rode  Stereo VideoMic. Any thoughts on these? Or even general advice on what I should be looking for and brand/model suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks Again Everyone!

Ken

 

P.S. - For what it's worth, I have a Canon HD Vixia HR F21. Does not have a shoe, so I bought an X-Grip which allows for a cold-shoe on top. The Canon does not have phantom power, so looks like battery for me. I do however have XLR adapter I use with a XLR-to-3.5 mic, so I'm good there.


brunerww's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

Hi Ken - I would put an omni in the middle of the group and run an XLR cable to my camcorder.  You can get pro quality sound from a next-to-new Sennheiser ME62 omni with a K6 powering module for $240 on eBay, not a lot more than a $230 VideoMic Pro.

 

With a pro mic with a balanced XLR out put, you can run balanced XLR cable without introducing noise.  You cannot do this with a mic with unbalanced 3.5mm output, like the Rode.

 

The great thing about the Sennheiser is that it is modular.  If you need more directionality, you can get a supercardioid head for as little as $109.

 

I'm assuming that your XLR to 3.5mm adapter has a line matching transformer to match the low impedance of a professional mic to the approximately 2500 ohm impedance of your consumer camcorder.  If not, you will need a $17 XLR to 3.5mm adapter with the transformer built in.

 

Hope this is helpful and good luck with your project,

 

Bill

Hybrid Camera Revolution


klh121560's picture
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 03/11/2012 - 1:44pm

Bill,

 

Absolutely true. I actually did use my omni AT899 in the middle of a group, and the sound was great. But the problem is always trying to find ways of hiding the mic cable with each shot. On a tripod with a single shot, it's doable, but trying to move around to get different angles is tougher. Sometimes I can be very creative, but I realized SOME situations just don't lend themselves to a running a wired cable and trying to hide it. This is why I hope to get a Mic on a cold shoe. Also, yes to your question about having a matching transformer to my camcorder. Pearstone makes a very good one I bought.

 

So, still looking at a cardiod/super-cardiod type mic for my camcorder. Thoughts about others in the $200 - $300 market?

 

Thanks

Ken


brunerww's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

I understand.  In that case, I would get something like this Sennheiser K6 with the ME64 cardioid head for $250 from eBay.  This will give you a pro quality cardioid mic with very clean pickup.  And you can still get shotgun and/or omni modules later, if you need them.

 

Here is what the pros have to say about camera mounted mics and the ME64:

 

 

The wind muff they recommend at the end of the video is a $99 Rycote Softie, but a $69 Micover will do the job just as well.

 

All the Best,

 

Bill

Hybrid Camera Revolution


klh121560's picture
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 03/11/2012 - 1:44pm

Ok Bill, so one question then. I noticed in the video they said this mic is good for short sounds, like 2-3 ft away. But in a usual discussion or group shoot, one may be taping at 5-to-7 feet away. I wonder if this will work for that or if something else would be a better match?

 

Thanks

Ken


Channel1Images's picture
Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Joined: 02/20/2011 - 3:20pm

klh121560 wrote:

Ok Bill, so one question then. I noticed in the video they said this mic is good for short sounds, like 2-3 ft away. But in a usual discussion or group shoot, one may be taping at 5-to-7 feet away. I wonder if this will work for that or if something else would be a better match?

 

So, still looking at a cardiod/super-cardiod type mic for my camcorder. Thoughts about others in the $200 - $300 market?

 

Thanks

Ken

 

Pardon my combining two of your posts but doing so allows me to reply to both at once.

 

As for distance, the further you move the microphone from the speakers mouth, the greater the room ambiance and or noise becomes, as such in a normal non-studio environment staying within a few feet is highly recommended, this is why such discussions are most commonly mic’ed with lavs one on each person.

 

If you have a room that is not too hard you can pull this off with an omni centered on the group but it’s going to be cozy as you will need to keep everyone within a few feet of the microphone.

     

As for putting the microphone on the camcorder, that’s not going to make the grade because the background acoustics will change as the camera is moved and that will make for some rather crappy audio.

 

So you really only have two choices, use an omni and compromise, or mic each person with a lav or desk mic into a mixer and ride the inputs.

 

Wayne

 

 


brunerww's picture
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 06/09/2011 - 6:40am
Plus Member

Ken, here is an interview recorded with the ME64 mounted on a Canon XA10 at 4 feet:

 

 

With the ME64's 31mV/Pascal +/- 2.5 dB of sensitivity at 1kHz, you should be fine at 5-7 feet.

 

(by way of comparison, the Rode VideoMic Pro only generates 12.6mV/Pascal +/- 2dB at 1kHz).

 

I would grab the $250 eBay microphone, it is very good value for your money.  The K6/ME64 is $419 new at Amazon.

 

If the $250 unit is no longer available, here is another one from a reputable seller for $299.99

 

Cheers and best of luck,

 

Bill

Hybrid Camera Revolution

 

 

 


Tony Koretz's picture
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: 11/29/2011 - 10:06pm

An Omni mic is one option, as stated above. Another option is a spaced pair of cadioid microphones on stands. A third option is a boundary or PZM mic hidden somewhere among the people.

If you can though, try to record to a separate audio recorder rather than to your camera. No cable to camera problems or connection issues, and generally there are better quality preamps in a dedicated audio device than those found on a camera.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 19 hours 48 min ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

A boundary in the centre will work really well, better than an omni, which on a stand will also give you reflections from the surface. If you use PCCs rather than PZMs, remember they're cardioid, so two back to back may be needed.


klh121560's picture
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 03/11/2012 - 1:44pm

Thank you all for your replies. For now, I have used my omni lav (AT899) and strategically placed close to the center (or just outside the frame by the side) and it has done a relatively decent job. As far as a purchase, though I like the sennheiser, it was taken. Any decent ones are too expensive for my range unfortunately. So I have decided to go with the Azden SGM-2x. I like the fact it can be used both as a cardioid and omni mic, reviews have been excellent (as well as video's I've seen on them), and it is in my $$$ range. Good lavs to mic everyone would have been too expensive for me. My AT899 is great for one person. Just as good as a Countryman B6. Very sensitive and pics up so much. But for on-camera mic, I think the Azden will do well.

 

Thank you all again for your help and advice!

 

 

- Ken