Have you ever had a friend , that you had to figuratively walk on eggshells to be around ?
You had to really careful about what you said and HOW you said it ?
But You admired the other qualities enough to stick around ?
We all know that kind of friend isn’t easy , and there are many situations where being together in public might just simply not work . But other intimate situations are just darn near spectacular . Edifying even.
Stereo Shotgun mics , have a Very peculiar place in location sound , They allow the directionality of a regular MONO Gun Mic , which means what you point it at , is what it catches . But the point of the Mono gun mic is to REJECT all other sounds Sides , Rear , etc, and to ONLY catch exactly what it is pointed at .
Conversely the Stereo Gun mic , is to Catch like the above , exactly what it is pointed at , but ADD some of the Left/Right Natural ambience to the Centre Sound in such a way as to make things more interesting to the Viewer of the Video or Listener of the Audio Track .
The Sony ECM-680s , does indeed do those things and quite well . But with very Hard Caveats to deal with as well .
Like the above “Friend ” , it is hard to handle …. VERY Hard to handle . Handling noise makes this mic almost impossible to use on a Boom . Which just so Happens to be its main purpose . Caveat Emptor … ….. Unless you are a Spectacularly good Boom Operator , I do not recommend this mic . Every vibration , touch of the hand to the boom pole , movement of cable . Gloves or not …. You hear it loud and clear. Low frequency rumble from even slight movements of your boom . But once you’re still and not moving it sounds great .
So , The Good shots , the In Motion Shots , Follow shots , Walking Narration shots , Documentary style stuff , Forget it . Do NOT buy this mic , you will be fighting it the whole time , and that takes your mind off of what you’re supposed to be doing ,like keeping out of frame , watching shadows from the boom pole ,or blimp from the mic end , and keeping pace with the camera guy . Your footsteps , will be tiny low frequency explosions in your sound file ( Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom ) because the vibrations of even a good walker , cat feet , will probably come thru . If I take the Boom pole off and just go handheld with the Pistol Grip on the Blimp Different story .I Quite LIKE what I get there , and there isn’t any hand movement once you grip so no noise . I can use this mic as a sound gathering tool of great quality like that . But the Boom Pole on ? Tape everything down really well , and make absolutely sure there are no vibrations in joints or anything . Blimp in Hand , No Noise really , nowhere near what you get with the pole on .
I am good , You don’t hear me walk even when your right beside me . I am careful about my steps , so My Mic doesn’t get any distractions from what it is pointed at . The Protagonists footfall yes , Boom guy , NO ! you shouldn’t be heard . ( If only more Camera guys thought about that . Man they can be noisy .
The Rant part ,…… In Motion = Not Likely , Really Windy ( Even in the Blimp with Furry ) NOPE , This Mic is a pain in the ass . Sony you seriously could have done better there.
Sound Quality , Ok Hear is where I forgive ( see what I did there ?)
It sounds good , quite good in fact , Strong Centre image like a Boom Mic should have . And Blends in a proper amount of ambient left/right information or at least feels like it . Which means if your protagonist is standing still , YES by all means this mic . In Close proximity it will act as 3 mics . Proper placement would let you capture 3 people at once Cleanly and by using the Pan controls on your recorder you could adjust their positions in the stereo field . At proximity , the Left/Right Separation of the Side Capsules are ok , Usable indeed , so the Centre and Left /Right makes 3 sources that could make for very interesting dialogue settings if you watch you mic position very carefully . ( But how often do you get that privilege ? )
At a Distance the Left/Right relationship becomes ambiguous at best , It is Stereo , it is ambient but you can’t quite tell where things are coming from . It just is widened out . I don’t know how else to describe that . Close up , It is Stereo , Back away it loses clear directions . But that is mainly because it is what is called a Mid/Side or MS Microphone .
Mid Side recording is about Phase relationships not Left/Right Your MID , is your Centre , Side becomes Left/Right by means of a Phase Relationship , The Side Capsules signal , goes thru a process of taking the 2 sides of 1 capsule summing the DIFFERENCES of the two sides and throwing one side out of Phase with the other , then spitting it back out . The result now is you hear the differences of the two sides of 1 capsule as a stereo image .
(The Difference is the ECM-680s actually has 3 capsules , 1 mid and 2 sides . )
But for M/S – In simpler terms , You take a Mono signal , Split it into 2 , slap the piss out of 1 of them , and make it walk beside the other one backwards . So their footsteps don’t combine .
That is Mid Side recording . Sort of .
This mic is almost good at that .
But it isn’t Good at what it was designed for , Being a Boom mic . On Camera Ok , That would be a good mount up , just don’t be rough with the Camera , the Mic WILL pickup the vibrations . I do mean a REALLY good suspension system is needed .
I am thinking about taking it back actually ,( I Did take it back ) I have other stereo mics . . A Fair chunk of money ( That I had to borrow ) to get this . Is it really worth the effort it will take to pay back that fund age ?
Not sure yet .
( Update : I took it back , Just Way too much Handling noise , No Damping in the mic whatsoever . To thinly built )
Sony you blew it here . No Damping the mic whatsoever ,in a mic that is to be used in a Film/Video/Broadcast/Documentary/Whatever environment , an didnt dampen the internals of that mic ???? WTF I actually took the mic back thinking it was damaged or something the handling noise was so bad ,( This was a USED mic by the way ) But here is the Kicker , They had a NEW ONE in the store and let me try it , The sound of the one I brought back was so bad they were willing to offer me a trade for the display model they had , It wasn’t AS bad , but still , Booming would be impossible for the most part if you had ANY motion involved .
Verdict = If you put this mic on a stand or Mounted on a Heavy body Camera GOOD no Problem ( No Handling noise either )
If – IF you’re going to use this mic as an active part of your Location Sound rig , DON’T , You will be frustrated and fighting the mic the whole time . Boom is out of the realistic question . I have read on someone else blog the Audio Technica AT-BP4029 is the same way . Unforgiving .