Palos Heights, IL – February 2015… For documentary production, the ability to capture dialog in a low-profile manner that doesn’t distract from the subject is never easy. Since the subjects are rarely entertainment professionals, handheld microphones aren’t a viable solution and capturing audio using a boom pole isn’t always practical. That’s precisely why miniature microphones such as lavalier and earset designs are so well-suited to this type of application. For this very reason, Trinity Christian College makes ample use of its B6 Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphones from Menlo Park, CA-based Countryman Associates.
Dave Jousma serves as the Coordinator of Audio Visual services at Trinity Christian College. With a background that encompasses documentary production for the television news magazine Primary Focus as well as Terra Nova Films—the nation’s leader in the creation of films on the issue of aging—Jousma understands the intricacies of capturing audio discreetly. He discussed his preference for Countryman’s B6 Lavalier Microphone.
“We’ve become quite fond of our Countryman B6 microphones here at Trinity Christian College,” says Jousma. “We’ve been using Countryman mics for a good 15 years and we consistently achieve excellent audio quality without the visual distraction that many larger microphones would create. First and foremost with any microphone is its audio quality and, in this regard, the E6 is wonderful—it’s very open sounding. I particularly like the ability to change the sound with the protective caps. The Bright and Very Bright caps provide additional sibilance for voice intelligibility—making it easy to get just the right sound from the subjects.”
“Equally important,” he continued, “the B6’s low-profile design is absolutely essential in this type of production work. The microphone’s small size makes it very easy to hide and the ability to position the mic via the lav clip, inside the collar with the vampire clip, on the chest with surgical tape, or through a button hole makes this microphone incredibly versatile.”
Jousma discussed a challenging miking situation he encountered and described how the B6 helped him address the issue, “I was the sound engineer on a Primary Focus shoot in which the young man we interviewed was in a chest body cast from a motocross motorcycle accident. Because of this, there was no place to position the mic. There was nothing to which it could be attached. I then noticed that the young man had a full head of dark curly hair, so I decided to run the B6 through his hair and positioned the mic on his forehead—pointing down. This way, the B6 couldn’t be seen in the shot, as it was hidden in his hair. Most significantly, the audio I captured sounded great.”
In comparing the audio performance of the Countryman B6 to a shotgun microphone, Jousma offered these thoughts. “I taught a workshop to the college students and compared a short shotgun microphone—positioned overhead on a boom pole—with the B6 in the hair,” he said. “The sound was terrific from the B6. We listened to a recording I made and the class favored the sound of the B6. In that case, the audio quality benefitted from the close proximity of the lav, hidden in plain sight and off the chest, where lavs can pick up some low end.”
For anyone involved in field production, knowing that your equipment manufacturer ‘has your back’ is very important. In this regard, Jousma offered the following, “I love the fact that, at Countryman, you connect with real people as opposed to being directed to voice mail or automatically referred to the company’s support pages online. I really appreciate their right now, we’re here to help you service on the phone. The personal touch makes a world of difference.”
As he prepared for another day’s location work, Jousma provided these parting comments, “I’ve been very impressed with our Countryman microphones. The audio quality is first rate, reliability is excellent, and the company is very supportive of its customers. I only wish this was the case with everything I purchase.”
About Countryman Associates
For more than 30 years, Countryman has focused on developing microphones and accessories that deliver maximum gain before feedback, with the highest possible rejection of wind, vibration, interference, and other unwanted sounds. The result is warm, clear vocals in speaking and singing applications, delivering natural audio reinforcement that requires almost no attention from the sound engineer or the performer. For additional information about Countryman Associates, visit the company online at www.countryman.com.
Photo Information: Dave Jousma