THE RYCOTE CYCLONE WINDSHIELD SYSTEM
Q Most of my recording experience is in studios and on stage. I’ll be the sound mixer for an upcoming shoot that will take place in Chicago on and near Lake Michigan. From previous trips to the area, I know it will be windy, and I’m concerned about recording clean sound with a minimum of wind noise—we have several dialogue-heavy scenes that take place right on the shore of the lake. I’ve been looking at some of the various windshields on the market, and I’m frankly a bit confused about which one to buy. Any advice?
A You don’t mention the microphone(s) you’ll be using, but assuming you’ll use a popular-model shotgun microphone, I’d take a look and listen to the new Rycote Cyclone system. Rycote has made microphone suspension mounts, windshields and accessories for years, so they’re well known by pro sound mixers. Rycote’s Lyre suspension system is one of the best I’ve used; it isolates the microphone very effectively from handling noise.
I recently had a chance to examine the new Cyclone windshield, and what impressed me most was the ease of setup and ability to change out microphones very quickly and easily. The zeppelin I own is, frankly, a bit of a pain to open and close, and if you have to change out a microphone, it can take 10 to 15 minutes to open the zeppelin, remove the mic, insert a new mic, adjust the cabling, close it back up and make sure that you’ve routed the cabling correctly. The Cyclone uses a new assembly system that utilizes magnets; the zeppelin itself consists of a right and a left half. The magnets retain the two halves to each other; the whole zeppelin snaps together in about three seconds—it’s effortless. While I didn’t have a chance to record sound in high-wind conditions like you’ll be facing, the noise-reduction capabilities seemed pretty effective.
Rycote also sells a windjammer, a furry cover that goes over the Cyclone. Rycote claims up to 60 dB of wind-noise attenuation when using the windjammer. For your needs, I’d budget the extra money for the windjammer. Generally, when shooting outdoors on calm days, the zeppelin by itself will suffice, but the minute even a calm breeze comes up, you have to break out the windjammer to reduce buffeting and booming. Quality gear like the Cyclone isn’t cheap, but I’d encourage you to spend the money, as your entire shoot sounds as if wind and wind noise will be a major factor. The Cyclone is available from most major electronics retailers for $699, and the Cyclone’s windjammer runs about $175 at the same retailers. With care, the Cyclone will last you many years. I bought my zeppelin in 1988, and it’s still going strong, although it’s nowhere near as elegant a solution as the Cyclone.
SOUND RECORDING WITH YOUR iPHONE
Q I have a Zoom H4n audio recorder that I’ve used when shooting with my DSLR for the past couple of years. I’m interested in transitioning over to using my iPhone to record audio. Have you used or checked out the Zoom iQ6? What are your thoughts about recording with the iPhone versus a dedicated recorder?
A The main advantage of recording with your iPhone is that you have a tendency to carry your cell phone everywhere—it’s always with you. It’s the same paradigm with a camera. The camera built into the iPhone isn’t as good as a dedicated camera, but few of us carry a dedicated camera everywhere. The Zoom iQ6 is the same as the microphone array featured on the Zoom H4n, so if you’re satisfied with the sound quality from your H4n, you should be satisfied with the sound from the iQ6.