Azden Corporation has introduced an interesting new microphone to the professional marketplace.
Fast FactsApplications: Field audio
Key features: Swappable capsules; lightweight; low cut filter.
The SGM-2X super cardioid shotgun microphone is a familiar looking microphone boasting a smooth black finish and the ability to fill two different niches in the videographer’s bag of problem solvers. But they are competing with a wide array of similar microphones designed for both in-house and field EFP and ENG applications.
The SGM-2X is an electret mic with swappable capsules that screw onto a power module. The super cardioid long barrel has dramatically different characteristics than the short capsule, as you might expect. The addition of a long cancellation tube to the electronics really narrows the pattern and off-axis rejection becomes very noticeable.
Azden supplies a shock mount with the microphone and you can use this as you see fit, either on the end of a fish pole or adapted to on camera use. I had no problem using either configuration as a hand mic or camera mounted, in a saddle.
The low cut filter was effective in reducing any rumble or handling noise that may have been generated. The AAA battery lasted as long as I had the mic in use. Azden claims a 1,000-hour battery life (typical) where the battery has no appreciable drain but is used to supply a bias voltage to the FET.
Those of us who care about the "look" of what we do in the field are sometimes dismayed by the clunky, chunky hand mics we see, often made even more obtrusive by enormous windscreens and microphone flags. I try, whenever possible, to use a lavalier microphone, based on the notion that I want our audience to pay attention to what we’re saying not what we are holding in our hands. I know that certain companies’ policy dictates that mic flags are to be used whenever possible as a promotional tool and that high noise situations sometimes rule out a lavalier, but nevertheless I like to try to streamline my live shots and stand-ups.
With that thought in mind, this new mic appealed to me for a couple of reasons. One, it looked really good on camera with the small capsule in place, with or without the windscreen. I found that it was somewhat hotter than the dynamic mics we have been using since Electro-Voice introduced its venerable (and bulletproof!) 635A.
In at least one instance I had to use the windscreen as a pop filter and I wished for a little more internal damping in the small capsule. I noticed very little handling noise even without the switchable low-cut filter enabled.
I used both of these capsules with and without the windscreens to get an idea how they performed in a busy news gathering environment. Those of us used to cube-type wireless transmitters have found that even without the hindrance of a mic cable it is sometimes difficult to get our reporters to use a short shotgun effectively. The idea that the mic does not have to be three inches from the subject’s face or that to pick up ambient or natural sound, they must simply point the microphone in the proper direction is sometimes a tough sell.
Even when that great bit of natural sound is heard in the edit booth and incorporated into the flow of the story, sometimes the connection is not made by the on-air talent. But that comment aside, when the shotgun was camera mounted, it had great reach wherever the camera was pointed, and it sounded good as well, with a little wider range than my built-in camera mic.
This microphone marks a departure of sorts for Azden. Known for over forty years as an original equipment manufacturer of brand name items, it is primarily a supplier of portable and rack mounted wireless systems for the non-broadcast end of the business.
The SGM-2X mic expands its line into a new area in my view and broadcasters looking for a versatile mic at an attractive price will have a good option to outfit EFP or ENG crews. The $300 price tag will put it in reach of a lot of folks who simply couldn’t afford to leave their dynamic mics behind.
The versatility you get with this, either as a hand mic or short shotgun, makes it a good value.
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