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Sennheiser 416 shotgun for VO

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by TeddyG, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    I have never, knowingly, used this actual mic for VO? I may have? There you go. Just to clarify. No knowledge.

    Some apparently "big time" LA VO guy says, on his website(From a recent VOB post), that he has one of these available along with unspecified LDC's, if needed for use in his own VO studio... Got me thinking(A rarity, yes, thankyou.)...

    I always figured the main reason the Sennheiser 416 shotgun would be used for VO in Hollywood, is just "because it is there"? Even on this coast I've been called onto shooting sets where the producer had me stand "in the middle of the action" during a break or after "The real work" was done, to record my VO through the camera and whatever camera mic(Often a shotgun of some sort) was there - but as this is always just cheap or lazy, here, I figured the same was likely true out west?. "Hey, I paid alot for that microphone - use it! Sounds fine."

    On the other hand, maybe the 416 IS a wonderful VO mic? Maybe just a happy happenstance that someone found out just how wonderful it was and maybe I need one?

    Me? I don't know any more about video than most video people know about audio, so, I just want some opinions, some thoughts from some who have talent/experience in both fields with all kinds of mics.


    BTW: Another thought... Really, a shotgun(The bang type) is a "scatter gun" a gun to use when you figure you can't hit something with just one tiny bullet, at a distance, say or "on the fly", while a shotgun mic's claim to fame is as a "point source" device, hitting just one spot and only one spot to the exclusion of all others - at a distance. No biggie, here, it's just that I would first rather rename the thing to a "rifle mic" or something? Oh well, it too was probably named by Hollywood-types, ey? All, of course, passive non-hunters(I think the unions require this?)...

    Oh! Here's a vote against the "shotgun" mic, I stumbled accross when looking up the Senn 416 --- never heard of the guy, but, here it is...

  2. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Hey Teddy

    Yes, it might be true tht the 416 was used because "we had one"!!
    All sitcoms were shot flying a 416 above the stage, we needed a 416 to
    loop a bad word or take.
    Maybe they were used because they were on the stand.
    Most post houses do not have a mic locker full of mics, 1 or 2 would be there to be all purpose.
    I bought one years ago, since I sometimes have to match another
    trailer of the same campaign.
    Think of a 416 as a telephoto lens, only a small portion is in focus, but that portion is a very sharp focus.
    A sniper scope if you will, youre right not a shotgun.

    The LA "Big Boys" know how to utilize this function, and very well.

    Corey Burton is a great talent but his work is character voices, not
    big in your face VO/Narrative. His style does sound better on an LDC.
    But if Corey was being paid to do a movie trailer, theres no way hes going to complain (in the studio) if the VO booth has a 416 on the stand!!!!!!

    I have recorded evry name talent in LA, including the one in my post, granted he now sends me files!!!!!
    He records using a 416 into a 737sp, I personally do not like the sound of this combination.

    All my VOs during the 80s and 90s were done using 416s to house Neve and SSL consoles and their internal preamp to tape. That was the sound we all got used to.

    Not one has ever made a comment on the mic used, they trusted the fact that they will sound just fine after
    the mix.
  3. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    How is the 416 used? Up close with a pop filter or does the talent stand 6 feet away? I have thought that maybe it was better at reducing mouth noises, if used at a distance? I know my room not being all that good, when I turn up the pre and backoff from my M99(Say 10" or so, as opposed to 4-6"?), I do get alot less extraneous mouth "stuff"(A lot less!) and I still sound "fine", far as response goes, but "the room" then enters more into the equation(A bit of ringing, especially if I'm fairly shouting is then apparent, where "close-up" it's not - got to work on the place!). Maybe the shotgun's "effect" does not allow for the room to enter-in so much?

    Another question would be if the 416 is the ONLY mic of it's type to "work", or if most any shotgun would offer similar benefits, to some degree? Is it "the mic" or "THIS mic"?

    It would be interesting to hear "the same thing", VO-wise on say a LDC, a SMC, a dynamic, a shotgun and a ribbon, ey? All of similar quality/price. As the 416 seems to run around $1,100(US), this would be a fair "price point", I suppose. On the other hand, if the 416 is the highest priced shotgun(?) and the RE20, the highest priced dynamic($500?), possibly comparing them to, pretty much, "highest price" other types(Maybe not going to the "vintage" extremes - say a Brauner Valvet for the LDC, $3k - high, or even an AKG C414, $800 - low, yet both still quite "pro") and a standard Royer for the ribbon(Model #? Isn't their one around $1,100?), this sort of thing would still be a fair "test"? I have to assume that a VO studio doing feature film trailers and national commercial VO, would not be much constrained by spending almost any amount(No. ANY amount!) on "the right" mic(s)? But the rest of us might aspire to "one of each" for their different benefits, but just "the right one" for each category...

    Anyway, I believe talking of such things(Benefits. When to use/not use) and hearing them to compare/contrast when/if we can, should be helpful.

    Thankx for sharing,

  4. CharlesDayton

    CharlesDayton Active Member

    I have found that at 6"-7" away from the 416, a pop filter is absolutely necessary. The 416 can be very unforgiving of pops, sibilance, and mouth noises. Good mic technique handles the pops along with the filter, and a nice apple helps with mouth noises.(I think the tannin in the apple helps get the saliva going). Sometimes I'll use the U87, sometimes the 416. It depends on the tonality of the voice, and the demands of the talent. If the talent has a low booming voice, some large diaphragm mics may make it mushy, a nice crisp 416 may be just the trick. For ADR, I'll ask what they used on set, and rent it.
  5. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    At the risk of sounding like RemyRAD, (nothing intended Remy!!!)
    have you ever thought of using an SM58 for outdoor ADR???
    You'll be very surprised!!!!
  6. CharlesDayton

    CharlesDayton Active Member

    Do you mean, like a distant mic in the room on a third track? Or as the main mic up close?
  7. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    A distant mic in a room sounds like a distant mic in a room!!!!

    Close up, then HP at 100, LP at 13K, sounds like outside!!!
    Cant do that with a "good" mic!!! :cool:
  8. Yoda117

    Yoda117 Guest

    Hey Teddy,

    my opinion is this, if you have a VO area that has some sound problems, then a 416 might be worth it to you. The hypercardoid pattern isolates such distractions and puts the focus where it should be, on the talent.

    If you need an "announcer" then you would want to try it since it can give you that nice boomy quality found in movie trailers, etc.

    That said, it's not an end-all, be-all mic for VO. More importantly, unless the recording engineer and talent know how to properly use it, the mic is next to useless. Before he went to his Manely Gold Reference, Don LaFontaine was often found in front of a 416 and he knew enough about the mic to pull things that had a lot of recording engineers scratching their heads, but also copying the technique to try and get the same sound out of other talent.

    I have, and enjoy using a 416 in my home studio for VO. It comes out when I need it, otherwise I stick to my LDCs (U87, U47, RJM2, UM92.1S, UM930, etc).
  9. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Yoda - others...

    Is the "boomy quality" inherent in the shotgun mic type itself, or is this THE shotgun mic that someone found good for some things? Thought being that the Senn is a bit on the priocey side for meOK, way on the pricey side just to keep around for "once in awhile".), but there are other shotguns. May they some of the same benefits, according to their price, of course..?

    IOW, would it help to try a "lesser" shotgun to get the same "not so good room help"(Minimizing reflections, extraneous sounds, whatever.) and maybe get a "bigger" voice..? And, do you work the mic "close" or froma distance -- I had thought, just reading about their VO use, that they were used at a distance, maybe a great distance, to try to hold down the mouth-noises...


  10. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest


    For some odd reason, the lesser shotguns just dont cut it, the only "better"
    shotgun out there is the Neumann KMR81.
    But at nearly twice the price.
    I had a chance to use it years ago, sweet!!!!
  11. Yoda117

    Yoda117 Guest

    TVPost has it right. You can use other mics, but the 416 is known in particular for the effect. I've also got an NTG-2 in the locker and while it does what a shotgun should do... it most definately does not impart that boomy quality to me. The 416 OTOH is definately boomy.

    Now here's the rub. Depending on the sound you want, you need to watch the distance and direction. I've seen LaFontaine put up damn near against his larynx, but most talent keep 7-8" away. For some effects I'll get as far at 18-20" and get a slightly different sound out of it.

    Like any other mic, experiment, experiment, experiment...
  12. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Yes, Ive seen him almost swallow my 416, but the man knows how to work it!!!!
    The good ones dnt even need the foam pop filterm nor any pop filter as a matter of fact.
  13. Yoda117

    Yoda117 Guest

    always have a pop filter

    I don't care if Elvis himself descends from the heavens, gets off the mothership bringing chicken wings and Jack Daniels...

    his a$$ is using a pop filter just like everyone else.

    While people who have better control over their can control the plosives and sibilance with alarming alacrity, the fact remaind that a steady stream of saliva is exuded whenever we speak (grab a slow-mo camera and watch it... it's disgustingly funny). All that junk (while usually not noticed by the naked eye) is hitting your mic, getting past the grill and causing the premature death of a beloved piece of equipment (at least for me... U47s don't grow on trees).

    Yeah, Don can work a 416 like few others. However, he's made the change to a Manley Gold Reference and never looked back :cool:

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