Schoeps SuperCMIT 2U

This month (December 2012) I boomed a feature film while beta testing the new SuperCMIT 2U shotgun microphone by Schoeps. This is a microphone with both analog and digital output capabilities. We experienced some huge advantages to this microphone, although it also had some downsides as well.

Since the SuperCMIT sends a digital output, there is additional headroom for clipping, especially if you are using higher gain on the filter settings (high frequency switch +5db to +30 at 10kHz or low cut filter of 18db/octave below 80Hz). This is helpful, although is not usually too much of an issue, especially on a shoot that can afford the $4,750 microphone.

The filters are very helpful, especially since they are buttons rather than hidden switches that are difficult to access. There is a third switch on this though, which enables the digital output. Analog output is always being sent, but digital is only sent if you have that switched on. The digital output helps reject unwanted off axis sounds since it has more of a zoom pickup pattern. However, using digital creates new potential problems; we experienced subtle digital artifacts in our soundtrack over dialogue. This would not have happened with only the analog signal, and the difference between the two for directivity is somewhat minimal. We decided the "Super" digital setting was not worth using except for guide tracks since it will help the dialogue be louder and clearer despite occasional digital artifacts being randomly added into the soundtrack.

Logistically, the SuperCMIT is very different from other microphones since it is digital. We needed a Schoeps Mini-DA42 (Digital to Analog converter) to power the digital microphone, along with an AES42 breakaway cable so we could receive both analog and digital outputs from the microphone. Cant use a Duplex with this, and booming wirelessly is very difficult logistically with limiting options as well in order to transmit the digital signal. I have heard that the Lectrosonic D4 wireless system and the Zaxcom TRX942 and TRX742 plug on allow this to happen with this microphone though, although we did not have those. Or a SD MM-1 going into an SMQV transmits the signal, however, if I am correct, I don't believe the digital signal may not be transmitted this way. Also, I hear that the Super CMIT2U is very power hungry and will drain transmitter batteries between 2-5 hours depending on the transmitter and batteries. Using the DA42, we ran an XLR to the AES42 "AES 1,2 in" line, and ran the other ends into the 788. Luckily for us, we did not need to boom wirelessly and we experienced a great benefit from the unique pickup pattern of the SuperCMIT.

The Schoeps SuperCMIT has a pickup pattern of a raindrop. Most shotgun mics have pickup patterns with a tail that picks up more sound than the sides. Ideally, there would be no tail, rather a very direct polar pattern picking up only a certain amount from the front. The SuperCMIT is that exactly and when I experienced it for the first time, it is truly a tailless pattern, as opposed to a bear or rabbit tail if you will. Just turning the microphone towards then away from a fan is like turning the loud fan off. Now, it's just up to the boom op to angle the mic effectively when needed. I did this a lot since we had a good amount of scenes using fans to blow wind on our soundstage. Comparing it to our 2nd boom (Schoeps MK41 hypercardioid), the SuperCMIT gave a clearer sound with more directivity, and less background noise in my experiences on our soundstage.

Overall, I absolutely loved the SuperCMIT, although it is far from my ideal microphone. I am personally looking to upgrade my shotgun mic, and the digital features of the SuperCMIT are not very attractive to me. Advantage is it gives you more headroom and is a bit more convenient: things I can avoid if I'm good. Disadvantage is inconvenience such as spending thousands more to get Lectro D4 and Mini DA42 and AES cable, along with the random digital artifacts that mess up soundtracks; something I have no control over. With it's directivity, it's a difficult mic to use as a one man band mixer and as a Boom Op working in narrative, the digital aspect, at this time, is basically useless for anything other than guide tracks in a noisy environment. This is also difficult to spot when your boom op is forced to listen in with comtek which gets rfi, ticks, clicks, etcetera from the wireless feed anyways. The digital aspect may be useful for documentary work, but like I said, it may be difficult to use as a one-man band doc sound mixer due to its pickup pattern.

So at $4,750 (price may change over time), and an additional few hundred for the powering module, I don't plan on purchasing a Schoeps SuperCMIT the way it is. It's still in beta testing and I imagine the digital artifacts can be made less common. However, I will always look forward to using it again.

No comments:

Post a Comment