I'm looking to buy a pair of Soundman OKM II classics for field recording and I would use them primarily with my Sony PCM-D50 recorder. Now I've been searching around but haven't found a lot of info on how much benefit the A3 adapter gives? Both the mic and line inputs in the Sony are good and quiet, but I understand that with the A3 the sensitivity of the mics increase slightly, giving a benefit to signal-to-noise ratio?
But is the difference big enough to be worth it (as it adds cost & extra hassle)? The other difference of being able to record louder sources would probably very rarely be useful for me in a field recording situation.
Thanks in advance!
Generally it's good to have such adapter, even if you don't use it too often. Although mostly - you probably will not use it (I'm recording on OKM II Studio with Sony).
Thanks ayamahambho! So are you also recording to the PCM-D50? Do you find that using the A3 adapter gives a marked improvement to the sound quality then?
Thanks for posting the matrix, I've been eyeing that too. I also emailed to Soundman about this, although their reply left me still a bit inconclusive - they said that the "A3 pushes the sensitivity another 3 dB", but I can't quite imagine if that makes a noticable difference in practice or not.
Generally - adapter provides noticably louder sound at the same sony input levels. But sony input levels (sony also provides power to OKMs) are enough to record in most circumstances (at least with studio version). Without adapter, on soundwalks - sony input levels are set around 4-6, and that's fine.
What I would consider are some windshields (see inside my "binaural trash" examples), to keep your ears out of the wind. But I don't know if these windshields from Soundman are good (they are expensive) in terms of sonic transparency (and comfort of wearing if you use it on your head, not dummy) and thus - further "binaurality" (i.e. I don't know if they don't affect spectral cues for space). Let me know what you have find out if you decide.
As for everything else - I like OKMs because they provide nice sounding self-noises. When recording in various sircumstances - you may wish to add some EQ coloring later too, to emphasize certain aspects of your audition.
As long as the PCM D50 PIP is sufficient for the OKM mics, you're not likely to see a big difference in terms of noise. The self noise of the mics is going to be the limiting factor when recording soft(er) sources.
About the windshields- you could make some by using old headphones (with the speakers removed) a couple of tea strainers and some fake fur. The biggest problem is making them look half-decent and using them in the summer- you look kind of weird walking around with furry ear-warmers when it's hot outside...
As for self-noise I agree (I confirm it).
As for windshields, I'm not good in experimenting with such stuff, but from what I noticed - certain type of sonic transparency could be a problem (construction and materials issue?), that why I pointed it. Looking strange is not a big deal - big white t-shirt with red written
can do the job.
Using inear mics you may look strange (anemic) anyway, because you should behave smoothly and slowly, breath gently and quietly, and so on, to get better snapshots.
Thanks Yuval and ayamahambho. I understand that the A3 provides 6V of power, whereas Sony's PIP is I believe 3V, and this could supposedly yield benefits. So I take it then that signal-to-noise -ratio isn't noticably improved by the A3 then. How about other characteristics, such as frequency response?
Ayamahambho, while searching for the forums for discussion on this, I came by an older message where you said that without the A3 "they are noisier/flatter". Was this with a different recorder than the PCM-D50, as with the Sony I understand that you don't view the S/N ratio to be noticably altered?
I don't remember the context, but if I wrote so, then it was so - thanks for reminding me. Initially I was recording rather with adapter than without, but then I resigned from it (too many gadgets in your pocket); most of my sources did fit the general (sony powered) sensitivity range well. That's the reason I could forget about it. But keep in mind, that I use different version of OKMs than you wish to get.
I don't remember the tests I was doing with adapter. Probably I was recording very quiet sounds, which were well amplified without reaching the limits on sony's input gauge. Will need to re-check it some day.
As for sounds and noise levels. From audible perspective, 6dB gives large difference on lower frequencies (like humming noise) and small on higher ones (like singing birds), thus this can be confusing; what you get depends on how loud you listen (check on wiki the "hearing curve" or "equal loudness curve" at different levels). But if you have better hardware sensitivity to picking up details (OKMs with adapter), then at the same level of listening - you get different amount of these details, and that's why using adapter may provide sharper picture. So the level of noise may remain the same, but sonic brilliance - not.
Easiest solution would be to email "soundman" and ask about the exact power requirements of the OKM mics- I've had very good experience with his costumer support. I use the A3 XLR adapter to power my OKM & EM172 sets and it works well, although I do find the bass roll-off filter to be too high for most uses.
Thanks guys. Yes I have in fact been emailing Rolf from Soundman, but it was still a bit unclear from his reply how much advantage the A3 gives. I know that the plug-in-power of the Sony is sufficient to drive the mics, but apparently the A3 pushes the sensitivity another 3 dB. However, I'm not sure how much of a practical difference this gives, since as you pointed out, the self-noise of the mics is possibly the biggest source of noise in the signal chain.
With the A3 the Soundmen can also be plugged into the line-in port (rather than mic-in), which could be another source of difference in sound. However, both of the inputs in the Sony are good and quiet, so they might not add too much noise to the noise that is already there from the self-noise of the mics.
Well, maybe I could just order the OKM's without the A3 at first, and get the A3 later on if I feel like it.