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  Reply # 1380832 6-Sep-2015 22:30
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Hi all - I'm also in the market for some sound gear for use in video interviews. Nice to get a pro sound recordist, but for times I can't hire one I'll have to fend for myself. I'm trying to learn about the equipment, but am wondering if someone could shed some light on the basic differences between a lapel mic that has/has not got a battery? I'd probably be using a mic plugged into a smartphone or a Zoom H1 and shooting video with a DSLR (sorry to crash this thread but it's great to hear from knowledgeable Geeks).




Cheers,
Mike

iPhone photo/general blog - here




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  Reply # 1380876 7-Sep-2015 07:02
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Hi Mike

I'm more'n happy for you to "crash" this thread - the more the merrier on this topic.

I can't answer your Q direct but the Audio Technica lapel mic I referred to in one of my posts was / is to plug into my DSLR (Sony) for video stuff.  It has a battery.

A bit of an aside, but the mic could be vastly improved if there was a light showing the charge on the battery. There's no way of telling (short of getting one of those charge-testing thingies) whether the battery's flat or not.

I've learnt the hard way that you always have to check. And that you always must remember to turn the device off after use. And check it's turned on prior to use.



 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1380899 7-Sep-2015 08:47
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Many thanks, SouthernJ. Yep, that's one of my bugbears about equipment that rely on batteries - and more specifically, different batteries from the majority of my gear.
What with batteries for cameras, lights, monitors, recorders, etc, etc it's good not to add more if they're not needed. So I'm curious if the lapel mics that use batteries are necessary from the point of view of the equipment they plug into or whether the batteries are there to add quality/gain/resonance or whatever to the actual recording? Many thanks for anyone's insights.




Cheers,
Mike

iPhone photo/general blog - here


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  Reply # 1380969 7-Sep-2015 10:28
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Small (usually electret condenser) mics put out a low signal level, the battery powers a preamp in the mic to boost the output signal before it goes to the cable, as the signal level may be too low volume for the recording device and/or you'd need to turn the gain level right up on the recording device meaning that any electrical noise/interference from the cable is amplified - giving a poor signal to noise ratio.  If you've pulled a cellphone apart, you'll see how tiny these mics can be, and sound quality is really not bad. Hearing aid mics even smaller.  I guess that small headset mics or lapel type without batteries are also probably electret (as opposed to dynamic mics - which work just like a loudspeaker in reverse and don't need power) but are not powered with preamp, but the cable lengths are short and sound quality / noise levels not critical.  A limit with the tiny mics is that while they might be sensitive enough for low sound levels, they'll probably distort at high sound pressure level. Fine say when someone's speaking in to them from 20cm away, but not talking loud into them with the mic a few cm away. If they're lapel mounted, then that problem is less of an issue.  Signal is sent down a shielded cable with earth and signal contacts only, typically with a mini phono jack (mono TS / stereo TRS) to plug in to consumer devices.  

For clickNZ above, then the Zoom H1 has 3.5mm "unbalanced" mic and line input(s).  If it's a stereo input (?) and you want to use two separate consumer mics, then you can buy a 3.5mm TRS stereo to 2x 3.5mm TS mono adapter and plug that in, then each mic plugged in to the mono inputs on the adapter. You could also probably use a 3.5mm trs stereo plug to 2 x RCA socket adapter to put a line level output (line out from another audio device) into the H1.
For SouthernJ, then the Tascam DR40 has "pro" balanced mic and line inputs.  It doesn't look like there's any way to input an unbalanced signal - hence the suggestion I made that to use a "consumer" (unbalanced) mic, a kludge method might be able to be used - but it's not a great idea as there's an impedance mismatch, but especially as the DR40 has phantom power and if that's accidentally turned on (easy to do from the look of it), then the DR40 will fry or the mic will fry, perhaps both.  The audio sound level may also be too low - but that depends how much gain the DR40 can apply to the input signal, it might be okay.  It's a much better idea to get two pro mics with balanced line and XLR (male) plugs.  Unfortunately, they're going to cost some $$$.
The "phantom" power can be used to charge the diaphragms on a (non-electret) type condenser mic, power a preamp built in to the mic etc. - no battery or other power source to the mic  that's what it's for.

Forget about audio "quality" of the pro vs consumer mics for a minute, as I'm sure you could get very nasty quality pro mics and very high quality consumer mics. The difference is balanced vs unbalanced signal, and that some pro audio devices provide phantom power for microphones down the balanced signal cable.  Pro dynamic mics that don't need phantom power usually have an audio transformer in them, so the phantom power doesn't fry the voice coils if phantom power is turned on.
But there are a zillion ways to skin a cat, you could use a mic preamp for consumer mics which output a balanced line-level signal and feed it into the Tascam, or a mic preamp with balanced input to use pro mics and then feed an unbalanced line level input into the Zoom H1, or a balun type adapter to convert the balanced mic signal to unbalanced mic level signal.  Rode make (very expensive) pro quality mic setups specifically for this - with balanced output connecting to a device which converts the signal to unbalanced - so that they can be plugged straight into dslrs etc - the cable from the converter to the camera input sockets is short and well shielded, so signal noise/interference  and degradation (the "problem" with unbalanced connection) is effectively eliminated.

If the recording setup was going to be in one fixed location, then a small mixer would be ideal.  Basic requirement that it should accept balanced or unbalanced mic inputs, should have phantom power, a separate pre-gain level adjustment on the mic inputs, consumer line-level output, and pro balanced line level output.  They are cheap - a couple of hundred $ or so - and solve an issue - you can plug any mic (or other input device) into them, and output into any recording device.  But getting that functionality into something portable isn't straight-forward, probably either expensive custom solutions (ie the Rode AV mic setups) or potentially messy.

Edit:
I wonder if you two should swap devices - bit of a random thought here, but for simple voice recording for podcast, the Zoom H1 used with external plug-in lapel type consumer mics is probably perfectly good - so long as the cables aren't too long and good quality.  For AV and or music, then the Tascam DR40 is going to be more versatile / higher quality, as you could use a range of pro mics to suit the purpose, and/or just plug the thing into a mixer desk and record from the mixed line level output.

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  Reply # 1381071 7-Sep-2015 12:44
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Thanks so much, Fred99 - great info there. I really appreciate the time taken to post this and for sharing your knowledge on the subject.
So far my video projects have either been without location sound or I've been able to borrow a Zoom H1 & lapel mic for scenes shot with talent talking to camera. 
Your input has been helpful, as I have been looking at the Tascam and different Zoom recorders, and altho the bigger Tascam or Zoom H4 would be useful sometimes, I love the small size of the H1 for tucking into pockets or clothing of people being filmed... all good food for thought.




Cheers,
Mike

iPhone photo/general blog - here


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  Reply # 1381093 7-Sep-2015 13:14
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You're welcome - but my "hands on" has been with live audio/music sound systems - not AV.  There are probably all kinds of custom solutions for recording sound for DSLR use, ranging from inexpensive to outrageously priced, then as well as pro/consumer, there are many different kinds of mic, different kinds of condenser, ribbon, dynamic as well as omnidirectional, cardioid, very directional and sensitive "shotgun" type mics as well.  If you want to get serious, then specific AV forums may be the place to ask questions.  The mics I'm used to for live performance (where feedback is an issue) or recording are probably not ideal for AV use in the field, and vice-versa - even if the same connectivity issues exist.

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  Reply # 1388745 16-Sep-2015 22:19
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Depending on your target audience a cheapish Audiotechnica is probably good enough. By their nature lavalier mics are not good when it comes to sound quality simply because they are in the wrong place. Think about the difference between someone whispering in your ear vs facing away from you. It will still be better than a mic too far away or on a camera several meters away.

I used one for the 48hour film a while back. It certainly wasn't as good as a $500 Shure but compared to every other film in our heat it was chalk and cheese.

Just for a reference $100 is a cheap mic. A Shure MX183 would be good but more pricey.




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