Technology

Field Test: Schoeps CMIT 5 U Shotgun Microphone

A WELCOME ADDITION FOR DIALOG, MUSIC APPLICATIONS 2/01/2007 7:00 AM Eastern

For nearly 60 years, Schoeps has been a leader in small-diaphragm microphone design, offering a dazzling array of mics and capsules to fit nearly any recording/production situation — except one. For decades, Schoeps did not make a shotgun mic. The company's position was that such ultradirectional designs compromised the signal too much, and the company instead referred customers to its more conventional supercardioid models, such as the CCM 41 and MK 41 capsule.

Schoeps re-examined the shotgun microphone issue, and the result is the CMIT 5 U (Condenser Microphone with Interference Tube), essentially a short shotgun design in a compact, integrated (non-modular) package. The mic's aluminum body has a distinctive, bright-blue anodized finish, setting it apart from other Schoeps models.

IN THIS CORNER!
The CMIT 5 U measures slightly less than 10 inches long and weighs just 89 grams (about 3.14 ounces). The XLR output is gold plated, and Schoeps took this ordinary connection a step further by placing a round gold insert at the back of the jack to provide additional protection from the stray RF that frequently occurs on location.

The CMIT 5 U's 21mm (about ¾-inch) body diameter does not fit mounts and accessories for the Colette and CCM Series. However, Schoeps' distributor, Redding Audio, also handles Rycote and offers a full line of location recording adjuncts, including the $110 Softie, a small furry shield that covers the mic's front end; the M2 pistol-grip suspension; the industry-standard modular (zeppelin) windshield; and Windjammer furry cover (the latter three are a $695 package); and more.

Inset into the mic body are three switches for selecting HF emphasis (+5dB boost at 10 kHz), a steep low-cut filter (-18dB/octave at 80 Hz) and a gentle low-cut filter (-6dB/octave at 300 Hz). Built-in LEDs indicate the status of each at a glance, which is useful in dark locations, although for some reason, green equals off and red equals on. Aside from that, the controls are recessed enough to avoid accidental switching while accessible enough to change when wearing gloves. The tonal switch settings are saved even after the mic is powered down, which is convenient when the CMIT 5 U is blimped inside a windscreen.

TESTING 1…2…3
Over a period of months, I used the CMIT 5 U in a variety of recording situations, both typical and atypical for shotgun mic applications. Clearly, the main market for this mic is film/video location recording. You have to feel it to believe it, but its ultra-lightweight design will quickly be appreciated by anyone working hours capturing dialog on a fishpole mount.

The mic has a fairly even frequency response: essentially flat (within ±2 dB) from 100 to about 12k Hz, with a slightly rising HF character that extends to 15 kHz and then tapers off to 20 kHz. On the lower end, it has a -3dB down point around 70 Hz, but extending with usable LF down to 40 Hz. In this test its HF emphasis setting added a smooth boost that was perfect for increasing “reach” and adding intelligibility to vocal tracks without becoming edgy or shrill. And wind noise was no obstacle, given the combination of the HPFs with any of the multiple windscreen options.

When recording dialog tracks, I found the CMIT 5 U to be far more directional at mid- and high frequencies (like other shotguns), but I was more surprised by the similarity of its HF and MF directivity. Additionally, the mic's off-axis response is superb — even 60 degrees away from the center axis, the mic sounds consistent to the on-axis source — although slightly attenuated. This provides a more forgiving approach that offers increased latitude for the boom operator. The mic has a self-noise spec of 14 dBA (with filters off) — slightly lower than that of the MK 41/CCM 41 and competitive with other pro shotguns — so noise was not a factor, even when boosting tracks to normalize dialog levels.

I also tried using the CMIT 5 U in an unconventional studio setting as a snare mic. I mounted the mic on an overhead boom that pointed downward toward the snare, but at a height that was level with the overhead mics. The CMIT 5 U had no problems handling the SPLs, and its directivity offered good isolation from the rest of the kit. As the mic was coincident with the overheads, the sound when all of the mics were combined was full and powerful — very cool!

One caveat: Without a shock-mount, the CMIT 5 U is susceptible to handling noise — either directly from the hand or transmitted through the cable. This is especially noticeable at the high-gain settings often required to grab distant dialog. Here, the 80Hz highpass filter and Rycote suspensions are essential, but I'd strongly recommend Rycote's Connbox 1, a $145 option (shown above) that isolates the mic from cable-borne noise.

THE WINNER IS…
With the CMIT 5 U, Schoeps has delivered a winner — a solid performer that sounds great and might just change the way you think about shotgun mics. The real surprise was its sound, which resembled what you'd get from a good studio condenser rather than a shotgun design. That said, the CMIT 5 U is ideal for live music recording, yielding a smooth sound that brings you closer to the action onstage (less room sound), while avoiding the thin or nasal character that usually results when recording music with shotguns. Price: $1,795; includes wooden storage box, foam windscreen and stand clip.

Schoeps, dist. by Redding Audio, 203/270-1808, www.reddingaudio.com.


George Petersen is Mix's executive editor.

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