More thoughts on the Sennheiser MKE 400

Which is more valuable:

  1. The Sennheiser MKE 400 mini-shotgun mic
  2. $200 in your pocket?

This is the question that every gear-obsessed dork must ask themselves. There are a few things that the MKE 400 does really well, but it isn’t the silver bullet to all of your audio-for-video needs. Silver bullets do not exist. Don’t let the marketing behind watered-down domestic beer fool you. Continue reading More thoughts on the Sennheiser MKE 400

How to Choose an HD Video-Enabled DSLR in 2010

Step 1) Pull your hair out and jump out the window
Step 2) Wait until December

I’ve been paying close attention to the HD video-enabled DSLR market for the past couple of years. I need to buy a new video camera, and these photo/video hybrids appeal to me more than traditional camcorders. However, after all of the time I’ve spent scrutinizing my options, I’ve decided that pulling the trigger before December is a really bad idea. Continue reading How to Choose an HD Video-Enabled DSLR in 2010

The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010

I tested out seven different microphones on a Nikon D300s shooting 720p 24p HD video. I pitted consumer microphones with mini-plug connectors against professional location microphones going through a juicedLink DT454 adapter. These are the microphones involved in the test:

Continue reading The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010

Setting Up an Audio Technica Pro-24CM with a Windtech MM1 on an HD DSLR

The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010 post is almost here! In the meantime, here’s a video about setting up the Audio Technica Pro-24Cm stereo microphone on an HD DSLR, using the WindTech MM1 softie:

I wrote about using the Pro-24Cm with the Windtech MM1 extensively in my blog post at B&H Insights entitled Why and When to Use a Stereo Microphone on a Camera. Some people who read that article and went out and bought the Pro-24CM and the Windtech MM1 complained that the windscreen didn’t fit on the microphone very well. So I made this video to show you how easy it is to use these two products together.

Keep an eye out for The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010 post! It should be going online any day now. You’re going to get to hear the Pro24-Cm in action along side several other consumer and professional microphones. Check back often, or better yet, subscribe to my RSS feed.

Setting Up a Rode Stereo VideoMic on an HD DSLR

The following video is the first in a series of videos leading up to The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010. What the heck is that, you ask? Well, I wanted to test out all of the most popular on-camera microphones that are used with DSLR cameras, so I could hear them and decide which one I liked best. I wanted to hear how good they sounded compared to a DSLR with a juicedLink adapter and a professional mic. Welp, that’s exactly what I did! I documented the whole thing so I could share my findings with you.

In this first video, I open up a new Rode Stereo VideoMic. I explain all of the switches on the mic itself, and explain when you should use the Rode Stereo VideoMic — and when it would be better to use the shotgun-style Rode VideoMic. Check it out:

If you have any questions about this mic, I encourage you to post it in the comments section below.

Stay tuned for more posts like this, and then the big momma of them all…. THE GREAT ON-CAMERA MIC SHOOTOUT 2010! It. Will. Blow. Your. Mind.

The Best $300 Tripod for DSLR Video

I finally did it! I upgraded to a real tripod and head! Last week I accidentally broke my crappy old $14 tripod. In the following video I bust open my new Manfrotto 501HDV head and my new Slik Pro 700DX tripod legs. I go over some tips on how to set this stuff up and use it:

This system was recommended to me by David Flores, a New York based photographer and film maker. This isn’t a blog post by someone who has tried every tripod and head under the sun, and slowly come to the realization that this is the best combo in the world for under $300. I was simply lucky enough to pick the brains of some experienced people who pointed me in the right direction.

Thanks David! I totally love this set up! This gear is really solid. I’ve already done two shoots with it and my quality of life has vastly improved. That’s the thing about buying good equipment. It really does make your life better. Shooting instantly becomes easier and more enjoyable. This is the kind of purchase that gets you these perks.

One of the reasons I needed a quality tripod is that I’ve been putting together a video about using on-camera external microphones with video-enabled DSLR cameras. It’s called The Great On-Camera Mic Shootout 2010. In the video I use a Nikon DLSR with a big ole’ honking lens on it. The camera was a loner, so there was no way I was going to stick it on a cheap $14 tripod. That’s just asking for trouble. The Manfrotto 501HDV head with the Slik Pro 700DX tripod legs handled the weight of the camera, mic, and big lens wonderfully. I highly recommend this combo. Plus it just looks legit. That’s important too for some reason. :)

Testing Out the New HP Envy Laptop with Beats Sound

I recently tested out the new HP Envy Laptop with a Beats sound system. As a long time Apple user, I was a little worried that my opinion would be skewed. But, as soon as I started messing around with the HP MediaSmart webcam software, I forgot all about the ease of OS X and concentrated on acting like a total idiot:

Aside from goofing off with the webcam, I did play some music through the thing to hear what this Beats sound system sounded like. To my ears it just sounded like a laptop. Continue reading Testing Out the New HP Envy Laptop with Beats Sound

Testing the New MOTU MicroBook with Volta

This week I tested out the new MOTU MicroBook USB audio interface with Volta. Volta is a really cool control voltage plug-in that enables you to trigger analog synths through a computer. Before synthesizers had MIDI connectivity, people would control them externally with control voltage. However, since the computer recording revolution took over, there’s been no way to send commands these old analog synths with audio software. That’s all changed thanks to Volta!

The audio interface that you use with Volta must have “DC Coupled” outputs. Before the MicroBook came out, the cheapest way to use Volta was with the $530 MOTU Ultralite. At $250, the new MicroBook is now the least expensive Volta-compatible interface.

One thing I did notice while setting this demo up was that having just two outputs represents a severe limitation with Volta. Basically, I was forced to create and save a custom “mix” in MOTU’s CueMix software that allowed me to only monitor a single input on the MicroBook.

Continue reading Testing the New MOTU MicroBook with Volta

Experimenting with the IK Multimedia iRig

I was lucky enough to be one of the early testers of the IK Multimedia iRig, and while it’s fun to play electric guitar through, I was curious how it would sound on a bass, and even an old analog synthesizer. Why not, right? I had a go at it today, and I filmed the results. Check it out:

Continue reading Experimenting with the IK Multimedia iRig

Hands On Review of the ARC Room Correction System

Most of the music recording i’ve done in my life has taken place in home studios. That’s why I was really curious to test out IK Multimedia’s ARC system. The basic idea behind this product is that you test the response of the room that you’re monitoring sound in, and the ARC software creates a custom plug-in for you to use that corrects the frequency response of your monitors.

Continue reading Hands On Review of the ARC Room Correction System