close up of two microphones and a handy recorder in the middle: brauner phantom v, sony pcm-d100, rode nt-usb

Sony PCM-D100 vs. Rode NT-USB vs. Brauner Phantom V sound test.

This time I chose to make a comparison between my new Sony PCM-D100, Rode NT-USB and a Brauner Phantom V. As the one before, this one is mostly about how good (or bad) these mics perform on a voice over or simply my voice compared to one another.

Most importantly here are the samples of my recording for you to download and compare them for yourself.


You’ll find the spoiler for the guessing game at the end of this article!!!


Why I chose those microphones?

Since I got myself a new workhorse handheld recorder Sony PCM-D100 instead of my old one Zoom H2n (which was great as it had MS, but sucked big time as its self noise was too loud), I wanted to provide myself and also people who might find this useful with some audio files.

To make this even more useful, I accompanied my new Sony PCM-D100 with a Rode NT-USB and a Brauner Phantom V.

Now I wrote this sentence and realized how different these apparatuses are: price-wise, purpose-wise, connection-wise and you-tell-me-wise… However, that should only make this comparison even more interesting, right?

I chose Rode NT-USB because in last few months I recorded lots of talking people (voice over talents) using just this one mic and most of the time I liked it, as well as I got familiar with its sound.

Brauner Phantom V was chosen as the third contestant just because it was the only “third” mic I had. Fancy? Not so much. I got it from a friend as a substitute for my lovely Sennheiser MKH-416 because he wanted to check out the shotgun.

Why most microphone comparisons suck

I do lots of research before buying devices and try to listen and compare to as much samples as I can find on the nets. Unfortunately most reviews have following issues:

  • doesn’t involve audio samples
  • if there are samples, there’s nothing to compare them to
  • if comparisons are made and samples are provided more often than not these samples are from different takes which usually involves better performances into devices that are more loved by the reviewer.

Last one is an interesting phenomenon and you can bump into it on lots of YouTube videos reviewing gear or microphones specifically. Reviewers tend to lower and deepen their voices once spoken into a mic they prefer more.

Recipe for a useful & fair microphone comparison

To execute a fair comparison between two or several mics you need meet these requirements:

  1. Position the microphones next to each other so they’re at the same distance from speaker’s mouth and have centers of their capsules aligned on all axes.
  2. Angles of the mics need to be adjusted so that they’re pointing directly at speaker’s mouth or source of sound being captured.
  3. Gain needs to be set equally for all mics so you get the same readings in your meters. Lots of people comparing different microphones think gain pots are reference while in reality input level is.
  4. You must record using all mics at the same time so you have the same source recorded with different mics as opposed to speaking into every mic one by one.
  5. After you’re done recording you need to normalize all the tracks to say -3 dBFS so all of them have their peaks at the same level thus they’re all have roughly equal volume.

My first impressions on the mics

Brauner Phantom V

Let me go with Brauner Phantom V first as honestly I have not much to say about it.

  1. Strangely enough it makes people sound a bit lisp.
  2. You need to use lots of force to take it out or put it back into it’s dedicated shock-mount.
  3. Sound-wise it’s on the darker side of things and has a bit exaggerated low mids than his two opponents.
  4. Me and my friend came to a conclusion that the 3k of $ it did cost, will most likely pay off on something else than voice overs. Maybe really bright female singers with uncontrolled sibilants, violins, and other musical instruments with tendencies to pierce the ears and lack a body.
Sony PCM-D100

I love it. And once I think about my ex – the Zoom H2n – I love Sony PCM-D100 even more. I did not have a chance to record a lonely crow in a quiet field calling yet (I did it with my Zoom H2n and sold it thereafter), so I can’t say how much quieter Sony PCM-D100 is compared to Zoom H2n. However this is what I can say so far:

  1. Recordings I’ve made sound great (train, rain, general suburban ambience, my 1,4 y.o. son talking, random farm animals, my voice, some household sound effects for my work) – that is I do not have to de-noise these at all.
  2. Included wind-shield is hard to put-on and takes some practice. I nearly missed several trains I was recording because of that (I usually don’t sit waiting for them and go with the flow).
  3. The included carrying bag (which is a really nice touch) doesn’t have a wind-shield “department” so I need to put it elsewhere. And if the wind-shield is on, the device does not fit into the carrying bag. EDIT: one guy suggested to slide the mic with wind-shield on upside down, this way it fits. Snugly. And it’s true. So problem solved!
  4. Points 2 and 3 are important because I try to take Sony PCM-D100 with me everywhere I go ’cause SFX gathering is part of my job. I like to keep it safe (bagged that is), but at the same time be able to use it right away.
  5. Mics on Sony PCM-D100 are extremely sensitive. You better not breathe near it if you recording something. Imagine how destructive can a soft breeze can be… Even wind-shield doesn’t help to have low frequency rumble coming from the wind.
  6. Mics on Sony PCM-D100 are so sensitive that if I hold it in my hand while recording I need to be totally frozen. Every micro move of fingers or palms or any other body part that has direct contact with recorder’s body, will be audible as a wide range thump in the recording. Rycote’s solution might be of help here, but that would totally kill my “pull out and shoot” surprise factor and it’s insanely expensive. So I’ll try to work on my “freezing” skills.
  7. It has an optical out. And I’m constantly using it to send data to RME Babyface’s ADAT input once I need to set up the recorder as a talk-back mic.
  8. Last thing is DSD. In my opinion it is useless. Software for DSD editing and mixing is practically obsolete. A stripped Sound Forge version comes with the recorder, but it doen’t support DSD editing). In a land of pink ponies I’d better improve the mics and quietness of internals even further, maybe reduce the size a bit, add an MS option and remove the DSD and all related thingies inside instead. Because this recorder is crazy expensive. And I believe a big part of $ is being paid for DSD.
  9. If you’re thinking of buying Sony PCM-D100 – do it. It’s as simple as that.
Rode NT-USB

I’ve already spoken a bit about this mic in my previous article, but since I’ve been using it for several months, I’d like to share few additional observations:

  1. Included pop-shield is useless as it doesn’t stop all the plosives. And I’m not talking the most powerful ones. It won’t stop just random Ps, Bs, Ds etc.
  2. Rode NT-USB is on the brighter side of things. I started adding an EQ with a hi shelve preset as a starting point so I can understand what to do next with voice over recordings made with this mic. It’s hard to understand if there’s too much high end or too little low end at first.
  3. The headphone amplifier is very powerful. In my everyday life I connect two sets of headphones and there’s still headroom on the volume knob if someone will decide to get rid of eardrums or the head entirely.
  4. Once upon a time I had an incident where sound file recorded using Rode NT-USB has gone all choppy and distorted. Everything was fine while monitoring trough built-in headphone output, however after playing it back from Reaper’s timeline I was just happy that the voice-talent was still in the studio building. Since then it became a habit to check the files several seconds into recording just to be sure everything’s fine. I don’t like that I have this fear now as well as the fact that Rode NT-USB can perform such a trick on me, but I’ll keep using it for some time. I like the mic and the simplicity of USB connectivity. Oh and the reason for this distorted and choppy wave might have something to do with sample-rate or bit-rate, or maybe input/output source switching in Reaper. Not sure as I never succeeded to repeat the accident once again.
  5. One guy asked me if Rode NT-USB has more headroom that Apogee MiC96k so I performed a little test for him and screamed into the mic. Mics gain was set to a minimum trough software controls and there was still a lot of headroom for the waveform, however my screaming did overload Rode NT-USB at its input. Although the recording was peaking only at -18dBFS to -15dBFS or something, one could clearly hear that the sound was distorted. This means that this mic might not be suitable for hi SPL sources like drums, rock vocals, shit-core vocals and all “core” vocals in general.

Your opinion on what sounds best is all that matters

As I said in the beginning of this article – all the devices used in this shootout are very different and prices prove that very well: 3000$ for Brauner Phantom V, 750$ for Sony PCM-D100 and 170$ for Rode NT-USB. However I hope that you will find my article and especially recordings useful and it will help you to decide either to buy something or not.

I try to not dive very deeply into the nuances of the sound as this is very subjective thing. I’ll better provide you with the materials so you can decide what you like more and less for yourself while listening.

YouTube video’s blind test spoiler!

#1 was Sony PCM-D100

#2 was Rode NT-USB

#3 was Brauner Phantom V


Have you guessed it right?

Do you have one of these mics? Maybe all of them? What are your impression? Feel free to drop a comment below!

Thank you very much for reading this! I hope this was helpful!


And in case you don’t know what video am I talking about:

28 comments

  • “shit-core vocals and all “core” vocals in general.”
    Seriously fuck off

    • Sorry for the insult. The meaning behind this phrase is that this mic won’t handle screaming and growling very well. And as long shit-core and hard-core and some other cores involve massive amounts of creams and growls this mic might not be suitable for that.

  • For pure line-level recording, how does the PCM-D100 compare to the RME Babyface? Very different devices, but my primary use for either would be the same.

    • Not sure what do you mean by line-level. Are you going to rerecord / record some kind of vinyl (or tape or CD) music using Babyface’s or PMD’s line inputs? If you’ll specify your question a bit more I’ll do some tests for you (or for everyone interested) to listen to. How about that?

      • Yes, my interest is primarily needledrops. My understanding is that the lower end PCM models roll off the highs a bit compared to a USB ADC. If 24/192 recordings fed from a phono pre are about the same between the Sony and RME, then using the Sony could free up my laptop from recording duty.

  • I own the D100 and find it nearly indispensable. A note, though. If you put the windscreen on, it will fit in the case, you just need to insert it upside-down (mics first). Fits snugly but not too tight. Just use care when pulling it out of the case to avoid pulling the screen off.

  • Adriano Castaldini

    Dear Makendzis, thanks for your useful review. I’d need for an advice: I’m searching for a stereoMics+recorder (in other words, a recorder with integrated stereo mics) to use it during on-camera recordings. Let me explain: I’ll have to do a video documentary with stereo audio, but I don’t want to use camera preamp (it adds noise) and I’d also avoid cables solutions (like a recorder and a couple of mics connected by XLRs… I’d prefer to minimize my rig). For this purpose I thought Sony PCM-D100. The specs are great, the sound to noise ratio is good, it records stereo with variable angle (that’s good) and the microphones are sensitive and uni-directional! I thought the uni-directional skill was perfect to record only “in-front” of the recorder and not behind: I mean, I thought the uni-directional mics could avoid capturing the rear camera-operator noises (i.e. handheld camera, stedicam creacking, steps, breaths, movements, etc.) But your review gives me new informations and now I’m in doubt: reading your review it seems that the Sony can capture also noises behind the recorder iteself!
    So, my question is: do you think that the Sony, on-camera, could get noises from the rear operator? Or do you think it’s good as on-camera mic? Thanks

    • Ciao, Adriano. Always glad to read that my reviews are useful.

      About your question. That’s a really tough one (but a great material for another review / comparison). I have tons of questions about the way your documentary will be shot and what is it about. Will talking heads, medium-shot persons or something like nature dominate? Also with “stereo audio” do you mean that final delivery will be in stereo or you need to record everything (talking head interviews etc.) in stereo because of some sort of philosophical background?

      1. If you need to only deliver in stereo – I’d go with external on-camera mountable shotgun (something like Rode VideoMic Pro or similar).
      2. If you MUST record everything in stereo and you’ll have much control over where camera and your interviewees (if any) are then something like Sony PCM-D100 would be an option.

      Now sorry if you have everything thought out and I’m just overthinking it once again, so now I’ll jumps straight into answering your question.

      1. Uni-directional qualities of mics. There is a bit of misconception in circles of “video centric” people. Somehow lots of ’em imagine that a mic works similar to a camera frame – meaning camera records only things that are IN the frame. Thinking that the mic will only record sounds (sources) it is pointed at is wrong. Because mic as opposed to a camera lens can “hear” everything.
      Directionality (polar pattern) of a microphone only tells us where the mic is most sensitive. In case of PCM-D100 its most sensitive part is in front of the recorder / microphones. That means if we put a mic on a camera mounted on a tripod and walk around it talking, there will be no “dead-spot” or “out-of-frame” action. Only difference will be that once talked in front of the mic / camera (and ~180° angle both left / right / above / below) the recorded source will sound louder and clearer (or fuller, or more natural) compared to everything that was recorded whilst talking behind the recorder (source will be much quieter and will lack some tonal information partially).
      So back to the “out-of-frame” parallel – mics directional qualities are closer to DOF qualities of a lens than to a concept of something being completely out of frame. If you point your lens at a person and have a shallow DOF that doesn’t mean that everything that’s out of focus will be ignored – no – it’ll only get blurred / less clear. Same with the mic. If you point it at something you’ll make that in focus (on axis), but everything else will be recorded as well just with less detail (detail being volume (dynamic information) and clarity (spectral information)) or “out-of focus”, but God forbid not “out-of-frame”. Just to be clear – if you can hear something, the mic will record it. The question is only “how loud will that something be” as opposed to “will it be recorded at all”.

      2. Now since we established some ground rules we can proceed to the actual question. Fact is Sony PCM-D100 will definitely record everything including camera-man and camera-equipment noises: be it footsteps, zoom ring, focus ring, breaths, dolly movement etc.
      How loud will those unwanted noises be? It depends. If I were you I’d evaluate how much control I’ll have over myself, my team (if any) and my objects. If answer is “much” then maybe I’d go with any sort of stereo mic, if answer is “not much”, I’d look for a shotgun. Unless again – you MUST RECORD in stereo.

      3. You will most definitely need to get yourself a Rycote camera mount for PCM-D100 as it is hell sensitive to touching its chassis. When I’m recording sound effects while holding recorder in my hands I make sure my hands and fingers are perfectly still and I also tend to somehow control my breath and not to swallow saliva during the recording. Yeah – it’s sensitive.

      4. The advantage of having a recorded such as Sony PCM-D100 on your DSLR is that it would record directly onto it’s internal memory and you would most definitely have a backup. You even can configure it to record onto internal memory as well as a SDHC card + you’ll be able to route direct signal from headphone output into your DSLRs mic input. So three way safety. Sounds great. Of course another advantage is sound quality and S/N ratio.

      5. One disadvantage following point 4 is that you will most likely need to replace your audio in post as Sony PCM-D100 headphone outputs quality is not the highest one. But I suppose you intended to do it anyway.

      6. Oh, finally I get to answer your question:

      “do you think that the Sony, on-camera, could get noises from the rear operator?”

      YES, Sony PCM-D100 will most likely record noises from camera operator (steadi-cam, dolly, steps, breaths, movement, focus ring, zoom ring) – all mics will do it. The question is how much control over those noises will you have during shooting?

      “do you think it’s good as on-camera mic?”

      YES it could be a good on-camera mic considering given circumstances.

      ________

      Now “if i were you” answer. Keep in mind that I still don’t get whether you need to deliver or record in stereo. So if I were you, I already had Sony PCM-D100 and I knew I’ll have control over stuff on location – I’d try to go with it.
      However if I were yet to buy a sound recording device I’d probably go with something from Rode lineup with “stereo” on it. Like Rode Stereo VideoMic.

      Ok that is it. If you will have further questions – please don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll do my best to help you out. If you’d like I could even perform some kind of heavy breathing tests with my Sony and someone “on camera” if only you would elaborate on your shooting conditions and delivery requirements.

      Arrivederci!

      • Adriano Castaldini

        I can only say… thank you for your HUGE and DETAILED and SO KIND reply! FANTASTIC USEFUL! Really thanks a lot!
        Now I’d like to share with you the reason why I thought to need a stereo recording. I’m planning to do a documentary about a woman’s life, for a theatre competition. The style of the documentary will be almost “mute”: no dialogues (or very few), no words (this woman lives almost alone), only ambient noises: I mean woman’s steps, movements, she walking on the street, in a public park, listening to birds or people’s noises around her. In few words: I’d like to capture the world of sounds around her. Infact I’m planning to realize a 5.1 audio, but in post, considering the 5.1 space as a canvas. But my problem is: from where should I start? My answer was: from stereo, because stereo means the minimum image of sound space from which I can obtain LCR (L-R, L+R, R-L), and then, with a clean recording of the ambient (without camera and talent) I can add Ls/Rs.
        Ideally I should get audio separately from camera shots, during a separate session, but as I said the problem is that this is a documentary, so I can’t ask the “talent” to repeat the scene for the audio-only.
        The other problem is that with the camera on the glidecam stabilizer, I don’t know if I can say that I have control over my own noises as operator or the noises from the glidecam…
        Now that I described to you my condition, which is your advice? Going anyway for the Sony?
        Thanks really much.

        • My pleasure, Adriano.

          Thanks for clarifying your situation. I imagined it might be something like that only related to some sort of grand piano player or similar. Turned out to be about a performer of different kind!

          Allow me to sleep on your added information and I’ll drop my response and thoughts in a few days.

          Just of the top of my head (and for you to do a research) for true LCR I’d probably look if there’s an easy but quality on-camera MS mic solution as opposed to XY. Because you can literally extract a real C from Mid mic and a wider than life L and R from Side mic. Plus you can adjust wideness of your recording afterwards which might come handy for drama build-up (or similar) at some point.

          I owned a Zoom H2n, which was able to record four tracks with its internal mics: MS in front and XY at the back. In theory that would be great in your situation except that the device was and is crap as this is a budget recorder. Like a cheapest possible preview of surround recording with tons of self noise.

          Also for wider shots I’d drop an additional (or main) recorder nearer to your object (if you can in any way predict her movement)…

          Be sure, more to come… And have a nice weekend!

          • Adriano Castaldini

            Thank you for your wonderful help.

          • Hello once again Adriano,

            Was thinking a lot about your situation. So for starters I uploaded a short test movie to my dropbox for you to download and check if it’s helpful in any way. Here’s the link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/imuhfpllixfml0q/sony%20pcm-d100%20test%20for%20Adriano%20170530.mov?dl=0

            Picture is from iPhone, sound is from Sony PCM-D100. Just tried to walk around breathing so you could get a grasp of how it may sound. Gain was set to 4.5 and I didn’t apply any post processing to the sound file. No format compression as well.

            Now there’s is no simple answer in your situation. For sound quality and stereo field Sony looks like a good solution. On the other hand you might get more isolation from yourself “in the mic” using something more directional or even something from Rode Stereo VideoMic series. There’s a chance these mics are designed with the idea to keep camera-op out of its way. But also there’s possibility you end up with a bit more self noise.
            So maybe a double shotgun solution from Sennheiser: https://en-us.sennheiser.com/microphone-camera-camcorder-mke-440 – again it’s hard do predict how it will perform in your situation. However if I were you I’d probably check it out at least on paper if I could.

            Bottom line – if you feel you might be able to pull of a shooting with Sony PCM-D100 on your DSLR, go for it! Just be sure to control at least yourself (breathing, footsteps, camera sounds).

            A good practice is to wear soft padding on your shoes, so they perform more like socks and produce no sound.
            And get a GOOD shock-mount for Sony PCM-D100 both for isolating it from physical contact with your DSLR as well as pushing it as far as possible from the recorder.

            P.S.: after you’re done shooting and post, would be great to know how it went, so it would be awesome if you could get back here and drop me a message or a link to your film. Thanks again for your question and hope I was able to help here.

          • Adriano Castaldini

            First of all, your are the best and kindnest and most generous blogger of the entire world!
            Really thanks for having shared your audio-video test with the Sony.
            Now I have an idea about operator’s noises: in your video (a wondeful park for children!!!) I can hear the handholding noise (that I could easily solve with a on-camera shock-mount) the wind outdoor (even with deadcat) and also your steps (this is the worse thing…)
            In these days I’ve also had the possibility to hear in another blog the comparison between the Sony D100 and a pro system like SoundDevices702 + DPA4060, and I must admit that the difference was huge. Yes, also the price was hugely different! But perhaps there’s a solution: agoin in another blog someone recommended the Busman mod. Tascam DR-680 over the SD702, and this means saving a lot of money.

            So, now I think I have few possibilities:

            1. Buying a Shure VP83F LensHopper on-camera Shotgun Mic with integrated flash recorder. This is a shotgun mono, that means it should be very directional avoiding to capture operator’s noises. It’s a recorder too, that means avoiding the noisy camera preamp. But it’s mono, that means using it simply as C-only of a 5.1 audio where all the other channels (R,L,Rs,Ls) should be recorded in another time, far from the camera-filming time, and then edited in post. For “the-other-channels” recordings I’d use the Busman-Tascam+DPA4060 solution or the Sony-D100 solution. The only doubt remains about the Shure VP83F: it declared a low S/N ratio of 78dB (well far from the 100dB of the Sony D100) so I’m wondering if it’s an effective solution;

            2. Buying the Busman-Tascam + my own Sennheiser MK66 because it declares a S/N ratio of 84dB that’s better then the 78dB of the Shure VP83F. (And capturing the other channels with the Busman-Tascam + a couple DPA4060.) There are 2 cons here: I should operate with the steady and also with the Tascam on a shoulder bag and a flying XLR cable in the middle… that’s not practical (and I suppose that shaking cable introduces pop noises, isn’t it?);

            3. Simply accepting the operator’s noises and going for the Sony D100, that seems to be the cheapest and most practical solution, but also the most noisy.

            I think these should be the only few options I have. So, which is your definitive advice about it? Let me know if you can.

            Thanks really a lot (as always) for your great help.

    • Hey, great to hear you back. I though my testing and writing will be all for nothing. Glad you found it useful and also thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate it!
      By the way your question made me thinking and inspired to write a post on unidirectional microphones which I’m working on right now and will publish it in few days (I hope).
      I’d go with option 1. Only maybe use Sony in par with Shure somewhere nearer to the talent because stereo picture you’ll get from Sony will really really be awesome and I understand this will play a big role in your documentary (you got me hooked on the stereo philosophy of your project). No I would even be not sure why would I use a shotgun in your situation. Maybe just for safety…
      However I should note that most shotgun mics (including Shure) have a mixed polar pattern: hyper-cardioid for lower half of the spectrum and lobar for higher half (take a look at the spec sheet here: http://cdn.shure.com/specification_sheet/upload/166/VP83F_Spec_Sheet.pdf ). Both of these directional patterns are more bi-directional than uni-directional. Meaning the mic will have a narrower sweet spot in front (than say Sony with it’s cardioid mics) at the expense of increased (as opposed to nonexistent) sensitivity at the back which makes it prone to capture operators noises. If we believe the specs of Shure, you should get about 20dB lower sensitivity @ 1kHz at the back of the mic than in front. And if we believe Sony’s frequency response here: https://pro.sony.com/bbsc/assetDownloadController/PCM-D100-Stereo-Microphone-Characteristics.pdf?path=Asset%20Hierarchy$Professional$SEL-yf-generic-153707$SEL-yf-generic-153748SEL-asset-407981.pdf&id=StepID$SEL-asset-407981$original&dimension=original the recorder has the same amount of attenuation at its back: ~20dB @ 1kHz that is.
      So I would even assume that you might get better results with only Sony on your DSLR because it MAY have the same effective signal attenuation amount at 180° only with ~20dB lower S/N ratio. This is all theory, of course, but I would definitely do my best to get my hands on both and do some testing. This makes your option 3 a real option that might not even be the noisiest one.
      And I would definitely check Rode Stereo VideoMic X if you’re thinking you might be happy with your ME66: http://cdn1.rode.com/svmx_datasheet.pdf
      But again this one might even be a step back from Sony… This is confusing…

      Anyways – you’re right about the cables – be sure to tighten everything up whichever option you choose. Also be advised that if say you choose to record using Sony, you might and most likely will get sync drift on longer shots once you try to match audio from Sony’s internal memory to your DSLR’s video during post. This is because both devices will be working on separate internal clocks, and these are far from perfect. So be sure to check and correct the drift manually.

      Bottom line – is stereo would be important for my own documentary and there would be minimal amount of dialog – I would probably go with Sony or something stereo made by some other company.

      Not sure if I’m helping or confusing you more. Sorry for that! Let me know what you choose and if you have further questions.

  • Adriano Castaldini

    You should be a Professor, because your answers are comprehensive but at the same time brings reasoning further!
    I’ll take another couple of days to bring a definitive decision (and then I could post it here, if you like, and surely I’ll send to you some little takes as examples) because actually I must admit that I’m still not sure if I prefer to capture the real sound of the scene I’ll shoot (so on-camera stereo solution) or re-create an artificial ambient sound (that, as you said, could anyway mean using the D100).
    I’ll surely tell you.
    Thank you really really much.

  • Adriano Castaldini

    Hi Makendzis, perhaps I’ve found a good compromise: Tascam DR-70D (better if modified) + Audio-Tachnica BP4029.
    Let me explain: after a lot of time figuring out how this (quasi)documentary’s sound field should be, I arrived to the conclusion that perhaps the actual stereo field captured during the video shots could be not so interesting, and instead a fictitious sound field (stereo or even surround) created in post could better match aesthetic and emotional needs.
    So I could record all the audio takes (for all the channels) in separate “without-camera” sessions.
    But a problem remains: all this is true for all the sounds that are NOT in the video frame, infact I can’t dub the talent’s sounds (her steps, her movements, her voice, her sighing) in a realistic way. In few words, I think I can create a fictitious sound field in post for all the channels BUT the C-channel. C-channel is the only one I need to capture during the video shooting. And my old question was: how avoiding to capture the operator’s own noises?
    The answer, I think, is a microphone with a diagram oriented only to the northern semicircle. But as you rightly noticed, even a narrow shotgun has some sensibility under the equator.
    And here the Audio-Technica BP4029 could perhaps save my day: it is mainly a M/S shotgun, that means you can even delete the side-channel and maintain only the mid-channel like in mono. Now, if you look at the mid-only diagram, you’ll see that it’s almost completely included in the northern semicircle, so no rear noises (at least in theory)! Another good new is that you can use also the side channel when it is clean, obtaining a stereo field. More than this, this mic should be good enough to be used during the camera-off audio-only field recording sessions.
    But this mic implies a recorder with a couple of xlr preamps. As I’ve written in my previous comments, I’d avoid dangling cables from the top of the camera to a shoulder bag with a recorder inside, because it’s the best way to capture pop noises. So I thought to go for the Tascam DR-70D that can be screwed under the camera so near the microphone. DR-70D’s preamps are not as good as the ones in Sound Devices 702, but should be pretty decent, and if you want you can even go for a components replacement (I’ve read about Jim Williams and Chris Busman).
    So, now my options are simply two:
    1. The all-in-one solution of the practical Sony D100;
    2. The DR-70D + BP4029 solution.
    Which one in your opinion?
    (Thanks thanks thanks…)

    • Hey! While AT looks good in pictures and on paper there are lots of controversial thoughts about it (on GS for example). Here I found a discussion of people who worked in Olympics not being happy with it too much: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/post-production-forum/784994-audio-technicas-bp-4029-worth.html

      Basically there’s a big chance you get more “rejection” at the back from Sony than from any shotgun. I will repeat myself here, but take a closer look at the polar pattern of AT – it only displays sensitivity at 1kHz which is just one isolated frequency out of almost 20 000. Most likely rejection is non existent from 200Hz down and from 12kHz up.

      Now with every reply I feel more guilty, because I’m making your choice harder and harder.

      But! If you’re already thinking about faking everything in post I think you should just get proper camera mounted shotgun without any “fancy” and at the same time unclear features. And go with it. Just because there are lots of documentary filmmakers who use shotguns for their productions of all kinds and are aired on TV, NET and elsewhere.

      And I believe you will need to make peace with the idea of self-control once you’re rolling. Tough times.

      • Adriano Castaldini

        As always, thanks really a lot for your patience and your good advices. I’ll tell you soon.

        • Adriano Castaldini

          Hi! I’ve thought a lot and perhaps I’ve at least an hypothesis. But being too off-topic I preferred to move out the question creating a new dedicated topic. Anyway I wanted to say you that you are the smartes and kindest blogger I’ve ever found in the web!
          Thanks a lot.

          • Your welcome, Adriano! Best of luck in your search. And thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it!

  • Hello, I’ve just bought sony pcm-D100, I am a teacher and I work at a small primary school. I was thinking, maybe you can help me with my new equipment . Mamuals are only in English and I am not a professionalist, frankly speaking I know nothing about sound recording. I did my best and I even read everything and set all necessary options in pcm -d100. I’d like to record voice mainly with my students. Here is the example of my work , I used pcm d 100 for the first time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MwBBsV9ERA

    What should I improve ? I noticed you have an experience with this equipment. If you have time please give me some adviceses about the options and parameters, I am especially confused with the rec level dial , in the above recording I put it on 6 (both of them).
    best regards, Jolanta O.

    • Cześć Jolanta!
      Thanks for your message. First of all, Sony PCM-D100 – great choice! I believe it’s hard to find a better handheld recorder on the market. Second – great job and recording and mix as well. The song sounds very nice. And you have a good singer there!

      To answer your questions.
      1. If you have your settings for files you record set at 48kHz / 24bit / stereo / PCM wav’e – that’s enought to get the best out of the recorder.
      2. Setting levels. You can notice that there’s distortion present at around 1:30 and 2:30 in your video. This is because you’ve set the gain pots a bit to “hot”. If you know there will be loud singing parts, you should try to set the pot at 5 maybe even 4 to avoid overloading the pre-amp. You can increase the volume of the whole recording in your software afterwards. Main point here is to not get the microphones overloaded as this is irreversible. Before you shoot, ask your singers to sing their loudest parts, hit [REC] button once so [PAUSE] button begins to blink and set the pot (gain) so that your meters on Sony’s big LED display peak at about [-12]. At the same time you will see green lights under [-12dB] light without triggering red lights under [OVER] (“over” stands for “overload”). Once you set your levels you can hit [REC] once again to start recording.
      3. To get less reverberation or simply speaking to hear less of the room sound once singers hit the loud notes, you should record in places of your class where it has the largest amount of soft materials (like sofas, pillows etc.). You can even try to do an impromptu vocal booth out of blankets or some other soft cloths. But I guess this might cause problems for you because you also need good lighting for your videos, right? Anyway this is something you can try to reduce room reverberation in your recordings and make vocals sound closer.
      4. Another way to reduce room reverberation is to bring the recorder closer to the singer. Since you already have Sony PCM-D100 in your shot, bringing it closer won’t induce any kind of problems to the aesthetics of the shot itself. Try positioning the recorder say 20cm from singers mouth and at such height so it doesn’t cover singers face for your camera.
      5. If you decide to go with step 4, you should also set a switch at the left side of the recorder (under headphone output) from 0 to 20, and then repeat the gain pot calibration process to [-12dB] I described in step 2. By setting the switch to 20 you’ll be lowering Sony PCM-100’s mic’s input gain to prevent internal overloads. You’ll notice that with switch set to 20 the gain pot will need to sit at 6 or maybe even higher (or not). Gain pot numbers doesn’t really matter. What matters the most is that the loudest notes of hit [-12dB] and not more. Also if you’ll decide record something other than singing (but this applies to singing as well), Sony’s mic’s are VERY sensitive, so be sure to set the switch on the side to 20 to avoid overloads.
      6. After you transferred you recordings to whatever program you use for audio mixing, and you mixed the vocals with music, be sure to not make your master track volume clip or overload as well. It is good practice to set output on your master limiter’s output to -1.3dBFS. If you have no clue what I’m talking about here, please let me know what software you use to mix and export your audio and video and I’ll try to be more specific.
      Mam nadzieję, że możemy pomóc, Jolanta.
      Best of luck on your recordings. You’re doing a great job and I bet kids like it as well, don’t they?

      • Thanks a lot I will do as you advised me I will also find a cosy place in my classrom, I have an idea and all thanks to you. Of course i forgot about the switch on the left and it was set on 0 🙂 but during the recording I brought the recorder closer for the silen parts (your point 4 ). You guess properly that I will not have any idea what are you talking about in point 6 – sorry. For video and audio editing I use corel video ultimate 10. I simply transferred the audio and combined it with the wideo and i added the second music path with audio instrumental ( volume set on 50). i did everything ,, by ear”, the girl as you saw didnt have headphones so the instrumental was audible during the recording and on the recording . With the sony pcm there is a cd with sony audio studio le but I didnt use it yet. So that’s my story and I really appreciate your help 🙂 Have you ever helped anybody so helplessly out of knowledge? As far as headphones i have beats I tried to use them once but the girl told me that she cant sing when she cant hear herself. Thanks once again .
        best regards Jola

        • Hey,
          I’ll look into Corel Videostudio x10 and will come back to you with some advice on how to avoid overloading master channel there, if you like.
          As long as you’re adjusting sound levels by ear you’re good to go. It’s the only right way to do it!
          For instrumental playback while singing your singer could try to put on headphones but have one ear cup on her ear so she can hear the music and the other removed from the ear so she can hear herself.
          If that still doesn’t work your way of playing it back from a speaker is the only way to go. Just be sure you place the speaker behind (like 180°) the recorder a meter or few meter away. This will ensure Sony PCM-D100 pics up the least amount of playback.
          Also your playback should be only as loud, so that the singer hears the harmony and is comfortable – not louder.
          And it’s my pleasure to help you and everyone here, especially when I know what you’re doing.
          If you’ll find time please drop me a link with your next video once you utilize all the advice. I would love to hear it!
          And keep adjusting levels by ear!!!

          • Thanks a lot I’ll be waiting for your advises with corel, by now you helped me a lot to solve all my technical problems. All equipment is mine (my school is public and with no extra money) so the less I spend the better for me. i dont know when the next wideo will be ready because here in Poland we have holidays now- school starts in September but i want to be well prepared for the next year. I hope I’ll encourage the girl to sing during holidays- I will let you know. As far as headphones you can see them in this wideo, 0: 40, their rather big, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb2d9b1d_cE the song was recorded in recording studio so the quality is good , I would like to avoid going there because it is difficult to organize everything.
            once again thank you, best regards Jola Obst

  • Hi,

    Everywhere I read about this recorder I am warned that internal mics are very sensitive to the recorder touching, breathing and so on. Does that happen when recording ambient sounds or does that happen everytime? Suppose I am recording casual dialogue or some concert and I touch the recorder… Does it mean the recording is ruined? Or does this sensitivity takes place when recording quiet stuff?

    • Good day, Denis.
      You described the device’s sensitivity very well. It is in fact THAT sensitive. After several trials and errors I no longer keep the recorder in my hands no matter what I’m trying to capture. Be it nature stuff, music, voice, IRs or whatever.
      If you will be recording something that will be aired or listened to for enjoyment, you must keep your hands, mouth and nose away from the recorder. Otherwise even tiniest movements of your fingers will be captured trough the body of Sony’s recorder.
      Rycote has a special windshield and suspension kit, but simple mic stand will work as well as long as there are no low frequency vibrations that can resonate trough the body of the stand. Since I don’t own a special shock-mount for Sony, I usually place small foam pieces under mic stand’s legs to isolate it from touching the ground the hard way.
      I could go on an on here – but if you were hoping to be able to hold the recorder in your hands and record stuff for public use (where quality is important) – you won’t be able to do this. Even if you will get a Rycote kit or do something similar yourself, there will still be your mouth and nose left. Which brings us to a conclusion, that in order to record successful, CLEAN and quality sound you will need to mount the recorder on something that will decouple it from the ground and yourself, then not touch the device as well as go do your breathing further away.
      Hope that will clear some things out for you!
      Have a nice weekend!

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