All about a microphone

With the advent of our video studio in the ABCNJ office I’m finding I want to do more on site interviews while events are happening. Eventually, these can be edited into news stories and shared during an ABCNJ @Live “Around the Region” show. The problem has always been audio, the on board microphone on my D7000 is nice in a quiet room which contains a lot of echo-absorbing material, but during a live event it’s not very useful. I needed a new microphone, but I didn’t have the cash to go out and pick one up.

This week, however, I traded in an old SLR lens for a $50 credit to B&H photo, and flipped that in order to pick up a Senal SMS-45 Mini Shotgun Stereo Condenser Microphone. This is one of many budget shotgun microphones available through B&H, and it seemed to have some of the better “real world” ratings. I ordered the mic on Thursday and, thanks to B&H free expedited shipping, it was delivered on Friday. I love B&H.

The Microphone comes in a nice box which holds the microphone in cut foam. I don’t normally keep product boxes, but this is nice enough that I think I’ll store the mic in it when not in use. Inside the box is the shotgun mic, a foam windscreen, a mount to connect to a camera hot-shoe or boom pole, and a nifty little desktop stand 1. It also came with a nice carrying pouch for the mic is in the field. All in all, for a budget mic I was quite pleased.

The microphone construction itself is solid, with a few nit-picks. There is no LED to indicate either battery or power status, this could be an issue out in the field, and I’ll have to be careful 2. The mic is also powered with an LR44 button battery 3, which helps on size but makes purchasing batteries for the device bit of a nuisance as I don’t typically have that model battery hanging around the house. The wire coming out of the microphone is hard-wired, which gives me some pause. I’d rather have a female 3.5mm jack on the mic, but for $60 that’s asking a bit much.

My first real-world test with the microphone were a mixed bag. The “flat” mode did a good job, but didn’t completely isolate my voice – I still got some echo off the walls of the room. The L-Cut (high pass) mode did a decent job isolating my voice, but suffered from an enormous amount of background hiss. Compared to my on-camera microphone there is a noticeable improvement, but I really need to figure out how to control the background hiss while recording. My next test will change the microphone sensitivity levels on the camera, hopefully I can compensate for an out of control gain. I’ll also get more in “interview distance” for the next round, we’ll see if that improves things. I’ve embedded my first texts below, there was some post-processing done in Final Cut to minimize hiss, but that’s all.


After some further testing using the microphone today I’ve decided I really do not want to keep it. The background hiss is awful at any camera setting.

  1. I’ll have to try this during a podcast recording. 
  2. And make sure to carry spare batteries. 
  3. Not included, bummer. 

3 Thoughts

  1. I’d have to ask my resident audio expert about what can be done about the hiss (and he’s at work as of my writing this), but I can speak a little bit to what you can do about the echo.

    Hard surfaces (like tables, wood floors) reflect sound making it more echo prone, whereas softer surfaces (like canvas artwork, cloth furniture, carpet, etc.) absorb sound.

    When you’re recording a speaking voice, you typically want to find a room that’s pretty dead sounding (aka no echo) which makes places where there are lots of soft things… beds, couches, carpet… typically more ideal than say, your dining room or your bathroom.

    If you want to change the acoustic properties of your room, change up what’s in the room. Adding artwork to parallel walls can help deaden the sound. Adding a bookcase with items on it can help disperse the sound… and there’s a bunch of other ideas here:

    1. Yah, echo is easily dealt with, the hiss is more difficult, a pre amp would handle it, but I don’t have the money.

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