Saturday, November 24, 2012

RODE Reporter Interview Microphone

Update Oct 1, 2013: Street price is now $129 from the original $199!
Update April 2013: RODE has updated the Reporter to have less handling noise!

The RODE Reporter mic has landed. My first impression was, "Hey this thing is too skinny and long." It's definitely not as physically "beefy"in build as the Sennheiser MD46 handheld that we're used to using. For the past 8 years, we've been using the Sennheiser, which is a cardioid interview mic, with great success. As you'll hear in the video, it has a clarity that is hard to beat. Now there are both pros and cons to using an omni-directional handheld microphone versus a cardioid microphone in a typical outdoor interview.

The omni has the edge in:
Lower handling noise
No need to "Cue" or point the mic at the subject
Better wind protection

The cardioid has the edge in:
Side rejection
Loud environments (also with sound reinforcement - loud speakers, stage monitors)

Now where the RODE Reporter really comes in to shine is in the wind tests and forgiving pick-up pattern. We were shocked at how our beloved MD46 was just pummeled with a household fan blowing. It's just the nature of a cardioid rather than an omni. Keep in mind that both of these microphones have a similar double basket grille to the eye, but I'd have to image that there is a lot more science to the design that what we see.

You'll also see in our video, how during a live interview that I forgot to "cue" the mic towards the talent.  It's easy to do without an In Ear Monitor. You really can get absorbed in the discussion and forget that you're recording/live and that the mic is the viewers only chance at hearing clear audio. The omni pattern of the RODE Reporter certainly makes it more forgiving in this regard. Take a listen:

Now Sennheiser also makes an Omni directional interview mic called the Sennheiser MD42. Their description is The MD 42 is a high-quality reporters microphone with omni-directional pick-up pattern. It has been specially optimized for rough use in live reporting and broadcasting environments. The MD 42 is a very "good-natured" microphone that avoids wind and handling noise problems

Tip: After reading a few posts on handheld mics over at, one great tip from John Willett was to create a loop of the mic cable and hold the loop against the body of the mic.

We're seeing some folks on the Planet5d blog, including our friend Steve Oakley joking about how the included mic flag might poke someone. What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 19, 2012

DVI to HD-SDI converter Options

With more and more HD mixer switchers becoming affordable, we're seeing the question pop up and more, "How can I convert DVI to HD-SDI?"

One of our first clients to ask this had just purchased a Newtek Tricaster TCXD300. The Tricaster has an app called "iVGA" to bring screen sharing over ethernet. As cool as this sounds, the drawback is that it would involve having the presenter install an app on their laptop. This is simply not possible for a lot of folks. The client did not want to spend the money at the time on a converter and was met with their worst fears - incompatible laptop and "AV malfunction" resulting in a battered reputation. iVGA did not work flawlessly and the live production suffered immensely.

Now with the new Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio and 1M/E mixer switchers we're seeing the DVI to HD-SDI question again and again, "How can I get a laptop, MacBook or PC into our HD switcher at 1080i or 720p?" So our company DVeStore, actually acquired and tested all of the options we could.

Here are a few of the solutions we came up with:

Grass Valley ADVC G1 approximately $1199
Manufacturer link
Pros: Affordable, handles HDMI, DVI, RGB, component, composite, S-Video, analog audio, AES/EBU, reference. Stable, best value. Can handle VGA with an inexpensive VGA to DVI adapter.

Cons: Dip switches

Gefen DVI to HDSDI Scaler approximately $1299
Manufacturer link

Pros: Straight forward with one in and one out.

Cons: We had trouble syncing at a client's live seminar. The device did not work out of the box and autodetect. Trying to use the remote control to adjust the settings was near impossible when the HDSDI signal could not even be handled by the monitor.

Blackmagic DVI Extender $375.25 Manufacturer link

Pro: Inexpensive, simple, also carries audio
Con: DVI-D only - no VGA

AJA FS2 $4995 Manufacturer link
"Summer release" of firmware update to provide scan conversion. Currently does not support DVI to HDSDI conversion. We ordered one for testing only to find out that the firmware was not yet finished.

Roland/Edirol VC-300HD $10495 Manufacturer link
Pro: Everything in everything out including DVI-D and DVI analog 1024x768/60 Hz, 800x600/60/75 Hz, 640x480/60/75 Hz
Cons: Expensive

Update: We're now seeing the Edirol VC-300HD being blown out on eBay and Amazon under $4,000

Matrox Convert DVI and Convert DVI Plus $995 and $1495 Manufacturer link

Pro: The new firmware on the Convert DVI Plus now does auto-detect. Also provides region of interest support
Con: The regular Matrox Convert DVI must have settings adjusted via a Mac or PC prior to deployment. Not good if you will be having a variety of presenters with different laptops arriving at your live seminar. Does not convert analog VGA - read how Matrox suggests using a DualHead2Go to scan convert VGA to DVI.

Also, one more to note that works rather well if you can handle DVI to HDMI, is the GefenTV High-Defintion Scaler $349 Manufacturer link

Pro: Great value - simply add a DVI to HDMI cable. The digital ports on the back are DVI In and DVI Out.
Cons: We have had a remarkable number of these fail. It could be that they were not meant to be rack mounted and moved around.

Not tested:

Ensemble Designs BrightEye Mitto

Now with many of the new laptops we're seeing HDMI output ports built-in as well as Thunderbolt ports on the new MacBook line. You can use a simple Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter to get HDMI out. Remember HDMI is not as good as HD-SDI for long runs. Also, remember to set the System Preferences>Displays to an NTSC/PAL format for video. For some folks with short runs a DVI to HD-SDI converter may not even be necessary. However for those of us that have the need, it's nice to see all of the options out there.

Updated 2/26/2016

There may be more so feel free to add any we missed in the comments below.