The Art of Audio at ARC, Part 2: Microphones and Lavs

Posted in Equipment, Video by atifhashmi on April 8, 2011

In the last post we covered sound recorders and mixers.

Microphones are the lenses of sound, capable of recording a wide range of data and variable to the point where you can literally find a mic specialized for any need. Mics come in different models based on need and input/recording method, as well as different calibrations for how they record (some record better up close; some far away. Others are better for group settings with a greater degree of circular recording room. Below are the available microphones at Adorama Rentals.

Sennheiser Shotgun Mic XLR ME66

Sennheiser Shotgun Mic XLR ME66
A professional grade device, the Sennheiser shotgun mic is a standard on any film shoot, as it provides ample recording over a wide range and can be equipped with both phantom power and internal power with the use of AA batteries. It requires XLR cable and either a hot-shoe mount for use as an onboard mic, or a boom pole to allow for optimum recording when doing narrative scenes that require the absence of a visible camera. For best recording using this mic, try equipping a boom operator with pole and mic, as well as a muzzle to block any distortions caused by wind. Also provide the boom op with velvet or silk gloves as they wont make any “handling noise” when operated. Boom op can be hooked up to his or her own pair of headphones and should be run through a mixer before being recorded (this can be replaced with a ZOOM or other pro-sumer device if necessary).

RODE Directional Video Microphone

RODE Directional Video Microphone
For recording the simplest of interviews and mountable on any camera with both a hotshoe- mount and standard mic cable. The mic features its own power source, powered by AA batteries, while boasting a solid ten-foot frontal radius; it acts like a small end shotgun, the fall off being drastic from side to side. Recommended for use on simple doc shoots and interviews where only the speaker needs to be heard, and under minimal wind conditions. Clips onto most hotshoe mounts, suitable for use with HDSLR cameras and prosumer grade HD cameras.

Used with a Lavalier system these mics are specially made to be worn by the performer under or on their clothes near their throat/neck area. Tip for use, if you loop the cable around the clip of the mic it’ll supply needed slack in case of pull, stopping it from popping off with movement, and be careful of wearing coarse fabrics and nylons or parkas with these, they pic up clothes almost as often as voices. Sensitivity can also be gauged on the Lav units (below).

Above were options for devices that require a tethered system to transfer and record sound. Below are some options for recording wirelessly, these can be used with any mixer and recorder (or combination) that allows for XLR or standard audio input. The basic principles for wireless recording are a parenting of receiver and transmitter that live on the same frequency, and an attached recording device that lives with the receiver, as the transmitter carries the mic to the subject.

Lavs, in short, are basic wireless mics that use small, clip-on microphones tethered to a portable transmitter that send the audio signal via radio-channel to a linked receiver, that in turn sends the signal via cable to mixer or recording device. Adorama has two models of Lav mics, each basically operates the same and are ideal for recording sound on subjects that you wish to receive optimum recording and cannot reach them with the shotgun or other tethered options, for instance, if the shot is a wide shot and you can see the ground and sky, so any cables running to mics will be visible. Each model operates in the same way although they cannot be mixed and matched (i.e. the G3 reciever cannot work with a G2 transmitter). When you check out a pair of Lavs they come with a audio mini-XLR cable for attaching to a recording device, as well as spare AA batteries. Clipping the mic requires some testing, so having the subject ahead of time and conducting level tests will yield the best result.

Sennheiser SK 100 Transmitter

Sennheiser EK100 Receiver & Sennheiser SK100 Transmitter (G2)
The first generation in Seinnheiser’s arsenal of wireless recording kits provide all the basics you would expect of a wireless system. Operating on 2 AA batteries in each transmitter and reciever (4 total), these are capable of recording at distances topping near 80 feet from the transmitter to the receiver. Tip: try testing the system outdoors and indoors to properly calibrate headphone level with receiver level.

Sennheiser EW100 G3 Receiver &  Sennheiser EW100 G3 Transmitter
The latest from Sennheiser comes the G3 model. Basically the same system all around, slightly configured interface, better at rounding peaks and pops with stronger frequency settings. CANNOT mix G3 receivers and G2 transmitters or vice verse.

Sennheiser EW 100 Handheld mic G3

Sennheiser EW 100 Handheld mic G3
For recording wirelessly on TV and documentary spots that require the use of a handheld microphone, ideal for use on live coverage of events (i.e. red-carpet and party events) as well as for situations where there is a host who will be speaking with multiple interviewees.


Atif Hashmi is a filmmaker based in New York City.

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  1. […] a comment « New York Photo/Video Events The Art of Sound at ARC, Part 2: Microphones and Lavs » LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. […] first two installments of our audio recording primer, part 1 on recorders and mixers and part 2 on microphones and lavalier mics; I write about ARC client Jonathan Mannion‘s exemplary celebrity portrait photography; and I […]

  3. […] our first two posts on sound recording, we covered recorders and mixers and mics and lavs. Now we’ll cover the humble but essential accessories in a sound engineers […]

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