Common Gear Questions for the Location Sound Recordist.

How do I get rid of clothing noise?
You can get rid of clothing noise by wiring a lot of talent and gain experience. That’s the key: experience.

I found a method for laving people that works, but this one wardrobe is very weird. Why?
There is no best method of getting rid of clothing noise. There are a lot of techniques that work with different attire and to various degrees of success. In general, clothing noise is caused by fabrics rubbing against the mic which is a simple matter of finding the right placement and taping it down properly, or clothing rubbing against other clothing. The latter is much harder to fix.

In general, cottons and natural fibres are easy to silence, and in general, synthetics are a royal pain. Also in general, men’s business attire is very difficult to isolate clothing noise. Popular methods include a B6 in the tie knot or having the mic poke out of a button hole but hidden by the button.

I say “in general” because there are always exceptions and the only way to really master this part of our craft and knowing when to surrender to the clothing noise (yes, that does happen to the best of us) is to gain years of experience.

Which is better? Nomad or 664?
The 664 and Nomad are as good as one another, and the superior unit depends on user preference.

Which is better? Maxx or 633?
The 633 and Maxx are as good as one another, and the superior unit depends on user preference.

What can the 664 do that Nomad cannot? And vise-versa?
The advantages of the 664 are the ability to run on alkaline for a short time, the ability to recycle your 552/442 cables, physical trim and rolloff knobs, ability to record WAV or MP3 to both CF and SD cards, twelve inputs six of which are XLR mic/line level and six of which are TA3 line, 16 tracks versus the Nomad’s 12 (10 for the Nomad Lite and 10 models). The screen is slightly bigger and metering is in the dB Fs scale. Most importantly, it comes in black, so it’ll match with more of your outfits.

-The advantages of Nomad are the Zaxnet features, MARF (full explanation of MARF at http://zaxcom.net/waht-is-marf/), superior routability, a 137dB dynamic range thanks to NeverClip versus SD’s 114dB range, and ability to upgrade. Also of note, it’s 20 percent lighter even with batteries and noticeably smaller. Autotrim eliminates the need for trim knobs which users report getting used to incredibly fast. Metering is in the dBu scale. The recommended media is significantly cheaper than it’s counterparts on the 664. Plus it has an automixer. Most importantly, screen brightness goes up to 11. That’s one brighter.

What can the 633 do that Maxx cannot? And vise-versa?
The advantages of the 633 are six fader knobs, amazing powering options and the above 664 advantages sans the 10-pin connector and it only records 10 tracks versus Maxx’s 8. Did I mention it comes in black?

-The advantages of Maxx are the lighter weight, optional built in transmitter, 4 XLR mic or level inputs, plus two more inputs on the TA5 return if you sacrifice your camera return. Like Nomad, Maxx records on MARF, though only one card. Questions about the wisdom of one card with MARF versus 2 are overblown. If you use recommended media, the odds of your card being completely unsalvageable are remote. It can be upgraded to have a built in stereo wireless link transmitter saving precious bag real estate. Did I mention that screen brightness goes up to 11?

I heard that someone’s Nomad crashed. What’s up with Zaxcom?
As no less than 95 percent of their users will confirm, Zaxcom is as reliable and durable as anything else on the market. Everything that is manufactured in the digital age has an occasional glitch, but the company stands behind her products and has a very good track record with quality. In fact, 95 percent is probably a pessimistic estimation.

I heard that someone’s 788T crashed. What’s up with Sound Devices?
As no less than 95 percent of their users will confirm, Sound Devices is as reliable and durable as anything else on the market. Everything that is manufactured in the digital age has an occasional glitch, but the company stands behind her products and has a very good track record with quality. In fact, 95 percent is probably a pessimistic estimation.

I heard that someone’s Cantar crashed. What’s up with Aaton?
Dude, shut up.

I don’t like Zaxcom or Sound Devices. What can I do?
Well, you’re in a minority as those two are the big kahunas at the time of this writing, at least in terms of the mixer recorder market, and of course there’s Lectrosonics in the wireless world, Sennheiser Schoeps and Sanken dominating microphones. Mind you, these companies are where they are for a very good reason, so it’s really shocking that you don’t like any of them.

There are plenty of other companies that make fine products. Aaton, Nagra, Sonosax, AETA, Audio Developments, SQN, Audio Limited, Audio Wireless, Micron, Wisycom, Sony among many others. (CREDIT: Richard Thomas)

What’s the best shotgun for indoor locations?
There is no best indoor shotgun. For most indoor spaces a non-shotgun super-cardioid or hyper-cardioid mic are great choices, such as the MKH50 and MK41 among others.

Okay, so what’s the best mic in general?
That’s like asking what the best screwdriver is. I’m a fan of the Phillips Head, but it’s useless when you encounter those pentalobe screws. A microphone is a tool, and different ones have their place.

So what’s the best mic for every situation?
This document would be 150 times as thick if I were to answer that question. Instead, here are some general guidelines, and they are general because there will often be times when the rules don’t quite work, or exceptions to the general wisdom. You’ll know the difference by working with different mics and gaining lots of experience. Simply reading this document will not make you a master of mic selection, or guarantee you will be able to match the competence of this writer, Max Futterman, whom we can all agree is amazing. With that said, here are some general rules to take into consideration.

In general, outdoor locations in a busy city work best with a shotgun mic such as the Sennheiser 416, MKH60, or the Sanken CS-3e. Also check out the the Schoeps CMIT-5u

In general, indoor locations with multiple subjects or a lot of reverb work best with a hypercardioid such as the Schoeps MK41 or Sennheiser MKH50.

In general, a wide cardioid such as the Sennheiser MKH40 or the Schoeps MK4 or many other models work well in a situation where you have multiple subjects that aren’t moving though the directionality of other mics can be problematic such as car scenes. Also check out the Sanken CUB-01 as a plant mic.

In general, you won’t use an omni except for lavs and the occasional handheld mic. The most popular lavs we use are the Sanken COS-11Ds, Tram TR50 (not to be confused by the TR580 tricorder issued by Starfleet to all science personnel), Sonotrim, Countryman B6 and B3, the former of which is waterproof and as small as they get. Also check out lavs from Oscar Sound Tech and DPA.

In general, large crowds such as conventions or ENG situations work best with a shotgun such as the 416 or the CS3e.

In general, if you need a handheld mic that can appear on screen, the Electrovoice RE50 is a popular choice.

You got all those “in general” answers right?

For technical data on every microphone, visit http://www.microphone-data.com/  

Help! My Zaxcom crashed and there are no solutions in the manual!
Go here: http://zaxcom.net/company/contact/

Help! My Sound Devices crashed and there are no solutions in the manual!
Go here http://www.sounddevices.com/support/inquiry/

Help! My Lectros are on the fritz!
Go here: http://www.lectrosonics.com/europe/Contact-Us/contact-us.html

Help! My gear from other companies isn’t working!
Look up their number. http://www.google.com is a great resource.

How do I record sound on the Red Epic?
The Epic and Scarlett use these very bizarre balanced TRS mini connectors. Seriously, it’s !&∂@µ#™ stupid! Red is the only company that does that. Call your local dealer or check JWSound to learn how to build that cable.

For timecode, use a proprietary 4-pin Lemo connector. They’re an absolute #%∆√^ to solder, so just pay your dealer to do it.

What timecode should I set my recorder?
Ask the post team, but if there is no contact with them, ask the AC or the camera person what framerate they’re running. Here are the most common answers:

Most stuff in North America is either 23.98 or 29.97NDF. No less than 90 percent of your jobs will use one of those.

For celluloid, even though you are shooting 24, you’ll likely shoot 30NDF because of some quirks with the telecine process. Check with post on that one.

When the camera says “24” they mean 23.98. The exception would be with a high end Digital Cinema camera such as the Red or the Alexa, then you’d confirm if they mean 23.98 or true 24. If the latter, your timecode is 24, though that’s pretty rare these days.

For projects shot in 25fps, typical for European releases, your TC is 25.

For projects shot at 30, typical for those for broadcast in North America, you would most likely use 29.97NDF. If they say drop frame, then 29.97DF. True 30 is exceptionally rare outside of film.

DSLRs cannot do true 24 or true 30, so you can avoid that discussion. Same holds true for most prosumer cameras. Check their ƒ&@*%$© manuals.

Older Panasonic P2 cameras do a “fake 24” where they are actually shooting 29.97NDF. Why? Because… shut up. Just avoid the issue and set your TC to 29.97NDF, use a slate and direct post to WaveAgent at http://www.sounddevices.com/products/waveagent/ if they have any problems.

Drop frame or DF is generally used only for broadcast situations where the timing needs to match actual time perfectly. The safe assumption is to never do DF unless specifically told to in writing.

How do I jam TC to whatever camera I’m using?
Most large ENG Broadcast cameras receive TC on a BNC connector. That’s the most common one you’ll encounter, so have want to have some of those in your kit. The accuracy of their clocks is usually pretty good on the higher end cameras, but for cameras like the F3 you should use a Lockit or SB3 or ERX to maintain sync.

The Red Epic and Scarlett use proprietary 4-pin Lemo connectors. Their TC accuracy is typically reasonable and should be jammed periodically or when powering down. Or for honest to god accuracy, use a sync box.

The now rare Red One or Red MX or whatever the ƒ‡°¢ it’s called use a standard 5-Pin Lemo like all Sound Devices recorders. Use a syncbox with them.

The Alexa use a 5-Pin Lemo. It holds TC really well. Syncbox is not required.

The Canon C series use a BNC. TC accuracy is dubious at best. Use a syncbox.

DSLRs, the Black Magic, the Sony EX1 and the Sony Fx000 series do not have TC IO, so that’s not an option.

Full list here: http://soundrolling.com/soundblog/timecode/list-of-timecode-audio-ins-for-popular-cameras/ .

Help! I recorded the wrong timecode! What do I do?
Direct the editor to WaveAgent. http://www.sounddevices.com/products/waveagent/ . Timecode is nothing more than metadata stamped on the file to aid with sync, and can easily be changed. The timing audio would only change if you alter the sample rate.

SOUND FAQ V. 3.0

Compiled by Max Futterman

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