Sometimes useful field recording equipment comes from other creative areas. When walking any distance to a location be it woodland or another town keeping things compact saves time and your poor old long suffering back!
As a photographer I know about lighting stands and of the different shapes and sizes, however I was reminded by New Zealand sound recordist Tim Prebble about a very useful stand from Manfrotto. The 5001B Nano Black Stand is a small lightweight stand that is between 48 and 190CM! On top of this is a flat bar dual microphone mount on to which I am mounting two Rode M3 condenser microphones.
Connecting these to the recorder with a pair of 6m XLR cables will allow me to keep a distance so I don’t disturb birds in the trees etc and I can remain hidden but still manage the recorder levels and controls.
The Manfrotto 5001B stand comes in a sturdy brown box so no glossy frills associated with consumer and prosumer kit and I guess this keeps production costs down.
Out of the box the stand is wrapped in a pretty heavy weight poly bag.
On the top there is a small cap covering one set of threads on the brass top, this first piece unscrews to reveal a larger threaded section. There is also a bayonet fitting for other photography related accessories for tilting soft boxes and umbrellas for example.
The legs are adjusted and locked with a pasting thumb tab and the feet have rubber grips to stop sliding. There are three further thumb tabs for adjusting the three sections. Min height with the legs flat on the floor is around eighteen inches. In the woods though or on uneven ground this will be a little higher maybe… So the full height possible is two metres.
The whole thing feels very well made as is the way with Manfrotto probably the most useful stand a sound recordist can own.
Microphone specific stands are cheaper but not as flexible with the height range and most will not tuck into the side straps and bottle net on a standard backpack.
The dual microphone bar is supposedly able to take three microphones at a time, however this is a little short for that and ok with two Rode M3s mounted.
On to the mics themselves…
The Rode M3 comes in a sturdy box with photos and usual blurb of features etc and is surprisingly large.
In the box is a pouch which contains the microphone. Which as you lift it out feels superbly made and heavy duty.
Then there is a foam windstopper though in reality these are useless outdoors.
We also have a plastic clip which shows the girth of the mic. A brass threaded section is in the base of this.
A thread size reducer is included for mounting on smaller threaded stands.
In a poly bag there is a blue plastic serrated spacer. Lastly there is a manual, a sticker and the warranty card which is a generous ten years from the date of purchase.
Back to the pouch and microphone, this is an end addressed microphone with a half inch capsule. Power comes from a 9 volt battery or 48 volt phantom power.
Handily for a field recordist the microphone is finished in Matt black and is all metal in its construction. A gold spot is there to show you the way round it should be, though with the on off switch here it is not really needed in my view. If the battery is in good condition a red led will flash once, as the battery deteriorates it will stay on continuously.
The switch turns the mic on and a second position activates the high pass filter at 80Hz. In the battery compartment there is a switch for a 10 or 20dB pad, a pen is needed to operate this.
The directional pattern is cardioid -frequency range of 40Hz to 20,000Hz
Impedence is 200 Ohms.
Sensitivity is -40dB +/- 3dB re 1V/Pa @1KHz.
SPL ( Signal to Noise) is 73dB @1KHz, rel Pa.
At 225mm long and 33mm wide with a weight of 390 grams this is a sturdy mic.
Now of course if working outdoors on even the calmest of days the mic will need a fluffy cover and none is listed on the Rode website as an accessory though thankfully a company called Camera Nation on EBay is able to supply these at £10.00 each. These are superbly made it seems and should work well.
Having used the Rode NTG-2 and Rode blimp I know I will not be disappointed, so many have said how good this mic is and I really believe them. For the £57.00 -£65.00 it is a steal. If you don’t have one in your kit, why not?