In Plain Sight… The Pen Mic!

November 15, 2013 – 6:51 pm

On my last show, I was having some problems with body mics and scratchy police officer wardrobe.

After trying different ways to mic up the cast with hidden techniques that were not 100%, I though I’d venture into the realm of the pen mic.

Now, I’m not the first person to use the idea… it’s just my first foray and I thought I’d share my results. With the right pen, the process is very quick!


The first thing I did was go pen shopping! My criteria:

  • Space for a Sanken COS-11 to travel up pen
  • Room for a Windscreen at top
  • No logo visible when placed in a pocket
  • Black Pen Color to match Sanken.

While shopping, I found the Foray Gelio Super Comfort Grip (Retractable Gel Pen, 0.7 Mm, Medium Point, Black Barrel, Black Ink) and thought it looked like a good candidate.

The Process

Foray Gelio

First I unscrewed  the tip and then removed the ink & stylus. Then, using a pliers, I crushed the plunger allowing it’s removal without damaging the outer tube of the pen. The plunger, ink stylus and tip can go into the bin.

I then did a test with a COS-11 to see if it would fit up through the tube… Sure enough, it fit! Then for the windscreen test… it fit with almost no space to spare. Perfect!

Now to button things up and secure the mic on both sides of the pen, I took some small pieces of Joe’s Sticky Stuff (aka Snot Tape) and stuffed some evenly around the head of the mic (while the windscreen is off) while trying to keep the head centered. I used a Tweeker tool to careful push the Joe’s and mic head into place. I then reapplied the windscreen and pushed it into what looked like a decent position. Finally I put a plug of Joe’s into the bottom of the pen to hold the cable in place.

Joe’s Sticky Stuff is removable. If you were looking for a more permanent installation, I think Sugru would be a great choice!

Who to use it on?

This mic is great for cast with pockets on the shirt. Cops, scientists, etc… You will need to get together with the wardrobe department to have them cut a hole behind the pocket for routing of the wire to the pack.

Here is the result! Enjoy!


MuxLab 500052-Pro-BNC Video/Audio Balun

July 1, 2013 – 8:18 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded my trusty lightweight MuxLab Balun System to a new beefier version, the 50052-Pro-BNC.

What is a Balun and what is it used for?

Balun is short for” BALanced to UNbalanced”.  What is does is passively take in separate signals of audio and standard defintion video and pass them across a single CAT5 Cable. A second Balun on the other side converts the signals back into separate feeds. They are commonly used by cart based mixers to save on setup time by reducing the amount of cable runs. Plus, Cat5 is very inexpensive compared to BNC or XLR. They do require a down-converter for each feed if you are shooting in HD. The Balun are unidirectional, meaning I can send audio in one direction and receive video on the other.

Up until now, I used two MuxLab 500012 to send up to two audio feeds and receive up to two video feeds. They use non-locking RCA connectors, which means you have to convert XLR and BNC to RCA. Also, as it doesn’t lock, there is the chance of coming loose. The 500012 is very lightweight with a plastic case. Over the past four years of use, I’ve broken two.

Why the 500052-Pro-BNC?

  • Three Cameras

I’ve been shooting a show that at least once a week is shooting three cameras and it can be a struggle to be sure of the frames of the widest shot so I can direct my BoomOp. Previously, with the 500012 I could only view two cameras. The ability to see three cameras is a big plus!

  • Locking & Color-coded BNC Connectors

No more connections to slip out or getting the cables confused with the new balun! It also allows you to use either standard Ethernet or lockable Ethercon for your cable connection between the two baluns.

  • Rigid Metal Case and Cables

It weighs more than twice as much as the 500012, but it is MUCH more solidly built. A metal case, plus heavyweight BNC cables and strong connectors should equal a much longer lifespan than my original balun.

Setup from the 500012 to the 500052

Setup is identical as with my older balun, but it eliminates any need for BNC to RCA adapters.

You will still need a XLR to RCA adapter (which is my biggest beef with the new balun) for the audio connection.

Summing up the Pros:

  1. Three Cameras over a single Cat5 Cable
  2. Locking Video Connectors and Robust Cables
  3. Metal Case that is much stronger
  4. Can connect the balun by either ethernet or the more robust Neutricon ethercon connector

…and the Cons:

  1. Weighs more and is larger in size
  2. Doesn’t have a locking audio connector

Overall, the new 500052-PRO-BNC balun system offers more pros over cons for the work I am doing and hopefully will remain on my cart… until they release a version with locking XLR connectors!

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Schoeps CMR – Microphone amplifier for bodypack transmitters

June 11, 2013 – 9:33 am

I recently got a Schoeps CMR. It is a single cable solution for connecting a bodypack to a Schoeps MK series capsule. [singlepic id=43 w=320 h=240 float=]

I’d like to start off by saying that if you love the sound of the Schoeps Modular MK series capsules as much as I do, and also use them for your primary plant microphones (in cars, on desks, etc.) you will LOVE what this product does! [singlepic id=42 w=320 h=240 float=]

There were two ways (before the CMR) that we would use the Schoeps as a plant with the following chain of gear:

Plug-on Transmitter:  [singlepic id=41 w=320 h=240 float=]

  • MK41 Capsule > GVC Swivel > Colette Cable > CMC6U Power-supply > Plug-on Transmitter

A fairly straight forward process and fairly simple chain of five pieces.

Bodypack Transmitter [singlepic id=30 w=320 h=240 float=]

  • MK41 Capsule > GVC Swivel > Colette Cable > CMC6U Power-supply > Denecke P48 Box > XLR to TA-5 Cable > Lectrosonics SMV Transmitter

This works, but it get’s more complicated because of the need to introduce phantom power to the mic.  The chain is eight pieces long.

Then you add paper tape & Joe’s Sticky Stuff (don’t have some? GET IT! Miracle product for plants).

As you can imagine, that can be a lot of different bits to grab, sometimes on a moments notice.

With the Schoeps CMR and the Bodypack Transmitter: [singlepic id=32 w=320 h=240 float=]

  • MK41 Capsule > GVC Swivel > CMR Cable > Lectrosonics Bodypack.

This cuts the gack in half for bodypacks with a chain of four (or three if you prefer not to use the GVC Swivel). [singlepic id=33 w=320 h=240 float=]

How does it work? Are there tiny German unicorns on a miniature hamster wheel stirring up the phantom juices to make this amazing product work?

No, but that does paint a nice picture! (Bonus points for whoever actually PAINTS this picture, I’ll attach it to the blog.)

According to the manufacturer about the CMR:

  • low power consumption: only about 1/20 to 1/48 that of a phantom-powered microphone

So, it seems they have found a way to use the small current that the Lectrosonics bodypacks output (that can also power a Sanken CUB-01 for example) and use it to power the mk41 capsule.

The Downside?

Are there any downfalls? Well, like all things, the Schoeps name does not come cheap. I’ve seen it retail for between $659 and $770. It may sound like a lot to pay, but when you consider you don’t need a expensive CMC6 to power the capsule when used as a plant, it is a pretty good deal and greatly simplifies a way to get that sweet Schoeps sound!

The CMR will NOT work with the CUT1, but does work with the DZC- pad and GVC swivel.

It will also not work with Zaxcom Transmitters.

Also, it is a little bit bigger at the connection to the capsule than a Colette, but considering everything in the chain that it eliminates, this is negligible. [singlepic id=36 w=320 h=240 float=]


That being said, I’ve already put it into play on set. The CMR worked like a charm. I’m sold!

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Some information about the CMR I found at Posthorn:

** For Sennheiser SK50 transmitters, the CMR must be ordered with the termination installed by Schoeps. It is only available with a 2 meter cable. We do recommend that all terminations are installed by Schoeps. Schoeps has confirmed compatibility with current and legacy Lectrosonics (TA5F) models, Audio Ltd. and Sennheiser SK 50. Other connector terminations available as a special order – exact wireless brand and model info is required. The Schoeps CMR will NOT work with known Zaxcom transmitters or the Sennheiser EW Series. The CMR also will NOT work with Colette Active accessories (e.g. CUT1, KC 5g) or the BLM 03 Cg. A DZC- pad or GVC swivel are the exceptions and can be used.


(The Schoeps CMR was courtesy of Scott Bolland of Redding Audio & Christina Zofia Wittich of Gotham Sound. Many thanks!)


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UPDATE (Sept 10, 2014):

I’ve added a second CMR to my collection. I LOVE them!

Also, a wiring guide from Lectrosonics has come to my attention.

A first look at the K-Tek KTA2 Sidemount Transmitter Adapter v2

June 7, 2013 – 3:12 pm

Dave Fisk from K-Tek sent me the brand new KTA2 (Sidemount Transmitter Adapter) to replace my old CCR on my 16′ foot K-Tek Classic. Rather than having the Plug-on transmitter poking out to the side, the sidemount comes out and up to put the transmitter parallel to the pole. (I have a Loon Boompole that has a similiar feature.)

I’ll say this. It’s very well made and locks onto a plug-on transmitter very well. It’s also very easy to swap out the KTA2 with CCR. A simple unscrew of the collar, an unlocking of the TA3 connector and then doing the same in reverse order to install the new bottom adapter. It really is a great feature of the K-Tek to be so modular!

Another reason I like the K-Tek better than the Loon Wing:  You can still grab the pole with enough space for your hand to grasp the pole. With the  Loon, the transmitter is seated directly next to the pole.

It also certainly looks more like a quality K-Tek product than the original KTA (of which I have not used, but have seen pictures).

Here are some pics of the new adapter, the original CCR and, in comparison, the Loon Wing.

Well worth the $128.25. Cheers K-Tek!

Adding a slate mic and talkback to your Yamaha 01v96i mixer

May 16, 2013 – 4:04 pm

I’m currently experimenting with hooking up a Sound Devices Pix260 and a Yamaha 01V96i and couldn’t find any information online on how to set up user groups with mute groups for slate and talkback buttons on the mixer.

Michael Paul of LCS had helped out Scott Farr with the routing on his devices a couple weeks ago. He shared their findings with me in a handy PDF guide. Here it is! Thanks guys!

Setting up a Slate and PL Mic on the O1V using Mute Groups (PDF)

Also from Michael:

Hi Chris,

 To the best of my knowledge, the attached PDF shows how I set it up for Scott. Then again, I have two kids under 6yrs old at home, and my brain is much more gelatinous than it used to be.

 Basically, you will plug your external Slate Mic into one of the O1V’s inputs. I have chosen #12 for this example, but you could use whatever you want.

 I’m routing the #12 Input to channels 31 and 32 on the second layer. From there, unmuting CH31 will send Slate Audio along with Program Audio (Stereo Mix) out of the Main outputs, or wherever the ST-L/ST-R are routed. Unmuting CH32 will send the slate mic audio out of Omni 1, along with Program audio, but the main Outputs will not carry the slate signal.  This way, you can unmute #31 when you want to voice slate a take, or unmute #32 when you want to talk to someone without interrupting the Mix buss (PL Style).

 All Inputs are routed to the Stereo Buss, as well as BUSS 1, which we will use for the PL Line. #31 is only routed to the Stereo Buss, and #32 is only routed to Buss 1. This way, when you unmute one or the other, the slate only goes to that channel. You can add more PL lines if you want, or only send the Boom mic to Buss 1 (if you’re using it as a Boom Op feed and PL), but this should at least get you started.

Make sure that the faders for Channels 31 and 32 are up, and that the channels are on (same goes for the Buss 1 Master fader)

Let me know when your head explodes

Michael Paul

Technical Director

Location Sound Corp.

Super-Cmit 2U vs KMR82i Shotgun Shootout

February 10, 2013 – 5:36 pm

DSC_0160Hi all,

Last Saturday morning a bunch of local Atlanta mixers, boom-ops & utilities met over breakfast at Whit’s house to field test the Super CMIT.

We had all heard how successful the Super CMIT had been used by Simon Hayes on “LesMisérables” in studio conditions. We wanted to test the practical applications of using the Super CMIT in the field.

(Note: I am writing this from memory a week later, so I encourage any involved to correct me or add more details to our findings!)

The Gear

-788t / CL-8 Bag rig

-Neumann KMR82i on a 22′ Ambient Boompole

-Schoeps Super CMIT 2U on a 22′ K-Tek Boompole

Note: To use the 788t in AES mode, you have to enable “AES Power” in the menu and also on the individual tracks (in same place you select phantom power). Hook up your AES Cable to the back. The cable we had was set to put the DSP (super-CMIT) channel on channel one, the CMIT (non-dsp output) on 2 through a single XLR output. The cable also had a second XLR to hook up a second Super CMIT if desired.

Note, there are two preset DSP modes. One is “standard” DSP and the other what we termed “extreme”.

From Schoeps website:

-Preset 1: moderate directivity increase (green LED); ca. 11 dB reduction in diffuse sound (5 dB greater than a Schoeps CMIT 5 U or channel 2 of the SuperCMIT 2 U)

–Preset 2: strong directivity increase (red LED); ca. 15 dB diffuse sound reduction. This setting is reserved for special applications since sonic artifacts can occasionally be heard.

In our tests, we did not tinker much with Preset 2 as it isn’t very applicable to our purposes with the introduction of artifacts into our tracks. We also did not engage the filters on the CMIT and left them open.

This kind of became a test of three, as we compared all results between the Super CMIT in DSP mode and in standard CMIT versus the Neumann KMR82i.

The “Shooting Range”

Whit’s house has some good conditions for a proper field test. There is a good-sized waterfall and a busy road nearby. Also, there is a small airport nearby. At the back of Whit’s house is fairly quiet (except for the occasional aircraft).

Test 1: Waterfall

While booming a single person near the waterfall we noticed that the Super CMIT had amazing background rejection and pulled the dialogue right out of the waterfall. The background could still be heard, but was diminished greatly.

The standard CMIT and the 82 performed as expected and did a good job of bringing the dialogue forefront, leaving the sound of waterfall in the background.

While booming between two people have a conversation, the CMIT and 82 sounded “natural” while cueing.

The Super CMIT had some issues here. Some noticed artifacts while cueing as the processing tried to match the movement and change of position of the mic relative to the background. To fight this effect, a BoomOp would have to be careful to keep the mic on a the same plane of axis when cueing.

Which is better? Well, I suppose the answer is “It depends”. If that waterfall was instead a generator, perhaps the directivity would be exactly what you want. The waterfall as part of the scene, perhaps not.

Test 2: Running Diesel Truck in Background

We experienced similar results with the rumble of the truck as with waterfall. Again, if the rumble was a generator you couldn’t get turned off, perhaps the Super would be the way to go… If a picture car, the CMIT or 82i sounded more natural to most of us.

Test 3: The Wide

We conducted this test with stationary subjects with an imaginary frame above our “actors” of 10-12 feet. On pavement, we noticed a reverb effect on all mics that was added. When moved to the grass, this was removed. The 82 lost a lot of low end frequency at this height, but was still very legible. The Super and CMIT both kept more of the low end and sounded better to most of us, with Super CMIT having a slight edge in a controlled situation of two actors having a one to one conversation.

Whit brought up a very valid point here though: The Ad-lib. What if there were other actors in the scene were known to adlib often. Would you want the more directional and less forgiving Super CMIT? Likely not.

Test 4: The “Really” Tight

We ALL agreed the Super CMIT sounded too present and “splattered” when used to close to the source. It needs some air in between to sound natural.

Test 5: Walk & Talk

We did walk & talks two ways: from above, and from below.

From above, all mics sounded nice. Noted that the Super CMIT might be nice in mitigating the sound of gravel or crunchy footsteps if boomed from the proper angle, if so desired.

From below, they also sounded good. Of course, all were in some form more susceptible to aircraft noise with the Super CMIT giving a few more moments of “acceptable” sound than the others by mitigating some of the off axis background noise.

The Conclusion

Someone in the group called this mic a “very expensive one trick pony”. While it may be useful in more than just one scenario, it certainly is a very specialized microphone and at $4,449US it is certainly very expensive.

Is it something to have in the kit? As a wise man once said… “It depends”… While it certainly would be nice in certain situations to have, it is one of those items that might be difficult to recoup costs outside of your standard kit rental.

It is an amazing piece of technology and if you can afford it, it would be a nice microphone to have in the arsenal. That being said, I don’t think any of us rushed out to get one after our testing. But time will tell!

The Players

Mixers: Whit Norris, Chris Durfy, Aron Siegal, Todd Weaver, David Terry

Boom/Utility: Chris Harris, Matt Derber, Maaike Snoep, Dana Simmons

ENG/Post: Michael Wynne

Special thanks to:

-Whit & Kathy Norris for hosting us at their house.

-Trew Audio for arranging the Super-CMIT appointment.

-Redding Audio for supplying the demonstration Microphone.

-Michael Wynne for taking the pictures of the event.



I have drunk the Kool-aid. I just ordered my own Super-Cmit 2U. It will be here this weekend.

I’m interested to use it in the next wide/tight and see how well the boom sounds over the lavs… but I am going to be very secretive about my new weapon on set… I don’t want directors thinking they can get away shooting wide/tight too often!

I’ll keep everyone updated on how things go.


We had a chance to try out my SuperCMIT in the real world on the set today of Zombieland: The Series.

There was a couple of things I noticed tonight and wanted to add to this thread:

1) It is damn cool to be able to record the Super and regular CMIT mode on the mic at the same time…(the AES outputs both tracks) that way, if you do get some adlibs – you still have them as well as you would with a standard CMIT.

That being said, you can only record them to channels 1(Super) and channel 2(CMIT) or on channel 3 and 4, likewise on the 788t.

2) With the SuperCMIT, be aware your limiters will NOT engage in digital mode (at least with the 788t). Tonight we had a scene where everyone was speaking at a normal level… then suddenly yelling. First take, I was seeing red and red on both tracks of the SuperCMIT. I found I had to aggressively tweak the gain to get good results in this situation.

I’ll keep on posting my findings.



10 Months!

March 7, 2012 – 3:06 am

Hey sound friends,

My goodness… it’s been ten months since my last blog entry.

I have been blessed in that time with non-stop bookings and have fully transitioned from reality shows to feature and scripted work.

I’m going to try and take the time to update this blog more often! I think the next big article will be about how I transitioned from bag work to cart work. Would you be interested in the story?

In the meantime, thanks for reading!




Remote Audio Boom Box v2 Review

May 2, 2011 – 9:27 am

bcsbbv2_1Last week, I added a second wired boom w/ talk back to my cart kit.  I chose Remote Audio’s new Boom Box V2 to complement my “old style” Boom Box.

I purchased a new Boom Box, Adapter Cable (to convert old cables to new style), Mixer Fanout and a modified MDR-7506 Headphones w/ talkback mic terminated in a TA-5f connector.

What’s New?:

1) TA-5 Connector Headphone Connector:  I like that the headphones now have a single connection point for the TB Mic and Headphones. We’ll see how that connection holds up after some use.

It is also great to have the legacy XLR & 1/4″ connectors for older style modified headphones to work as well.

2) Volume Control w/ built-in on/off switch: My Boom Operator loves this. LOVES THIS! Now he can adjust for quiet or extremely loud situations without me adjusting the gain to his headphones.bcsbbv2_4

3) LED – The old style had no LED built in to let you know if it the BoomBox was on, the battery was low or off. The new one sports a green LED when on and goes red when the battery gets low.

4) Battery door – The new BoomBox has a battery door that angles out and a latch for securing the battery with in. No more prying out of the removable battery sled like in the old version.bcsbbv2_3

5) Boom Cable no longer hardwired into the Boom Box – In creating the “New Style” Remote Audio has flipped the gender direction of the Boom Cable so that it can be directly connected into the Boom Box without a dongle.

This is why you’ll need to purchase the adapter cable for your old style system. You’ll also need to specify “Old Style Fan-out” for the mixer side connection.

6) Balanced Line Level or Headphone Level Stereo Input & Support for dynamic & electret talkback microphones.


The new Boom Box V2 is a very solid offering which has many great new features. Just be aware that if you are using this with the old style, you will need to use the adapter and specify the old style when ordering the Fanout!


Boom Box V2: $259.00

Adapter Cable (Adapts old style cables to new style): $59.99

Fan Out (788t/Cl-9): $87.49

Remote Audio Modified 7506 Headphones w/ Dynamic TB Mic & TA-5 Connector: $254.99


ETS Instasnake – Run 4 Channels of XLR over a single Ethernet Cable – Great for Process Car Rigs!

April 20, 2011 – 6:09 pm

I just got the ETS Instasnake PA202 system. It passes four XLR inputs up to 1900′ via a single Ethernet (RJ45) cable. With a shielded cable, it even passes phantom power!

I have been using if for Process Car Work and other long runs. So far, it has worked like a charm!

I’ve been dropping to Lectro 411a receivers in the back seat of the insert car and hardwiring two Sanken Cub-01 Mics as plants into the Instasnake.

So far, I haven’t experienced any noise, buzzing or high/low end loss in the signal. However, you should avoid running the ethernet cable alongside any power cables – just as you would any XLR cable.

As it stands, I’m very pleased with the kit and it’s low cost!

My kit cost about $325. It includes:

  1. 4 input Male XLR to RJ45 Box (PA202M)
  2. 4 input Female XLR to RJ45 Box (PA202F)
  3. 2 runs of 100′ Shielded RJ45 cable w/ Neutrik connectors
  4. Neutrik Coupler

There is a brand new version that is now in a metal case.  Also, ask for the “Sound Guy Discount” if you order it direct from ETS.


(Note: I originally had this titled as a balun, but as Jeff Wexler pointed out, it has no transformers and is just a box wired to take in four XLR style cables and run them through an Ethernet cable. Thanks Jeff!)


Sound Guys Lav-Bullet

January 25, 2011 – 9:13 am

Every once in a while a very innovative product comes along… in this case, the Lav-Bullet.

It’s a simple idea that is extremely useful, especially if you need to run a mic wire down through the pants to an ankle strap… but is also very useful to get the wire through a shirt quickly.

It is a solid weighted piece of metal that looks like a silver bullet. It sports a TA5/3 connector (also a Lemo version available) to allow you to attach the transmitter end of the lav directly to it.

It comes with a handy carabiner and clip to hang the Lav-Bullet from your cart or belt.

It’s only Achilles’s Heal is that the screw in TA connector is thin metal.  My utility dropped it twice and the connector broke… effectively destroying the usefulness of the Bullet.  Fortunately, we had a second Lav-Bullet on hand.

Sound Guys sent a replacement envelope that  took a few weeks to get… the only problem was they sent it in a standard white paper envelope… from which a hole surfaced and the replacement must have fallen out in transit.

We found you could get a standard Ta-5M sleeve to fit it from the local electronics store.