While I dearly love the sound of my Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic, I’ve been wanting to add a hypercardioid to my kit for some time now. These are often used indoors, where a wider pickup pattern can be useful. In the film world, the mic of choice has always been the Schoeps, which is a VERY fine piece of German engineering. I’ve been able to use these on occasion, but two of the four times I’ve used them, there has been problems with electrical noise from the capsule. This could have been a humidity issue, or perhaps age issues. But this experience, combined with a rather significant price tag, has pushed me to look for other alternatives.
I’d been saving up for a Sennheiser MKH50 when I began to hear some good things from other mixers about the Oktavia MK-012hypercardioid. These are available in what Oktavia calls a “movie set,” containing an MK012 preamp, a hypercardioid capsule, and a low-cut filter. I found a US supplier on eBay and placed an order, and I’ve had it for a few weeks now.
I just wrapped a short film where we used this mic on all the interior shots, and I’m happy to report that the mic worked beautifully. No perceptible self-noise, good off-axis rejection, and a really nice overall tone. I doubt that this mic sounds as good as a Schoeps, but since I don’t own one, I can’t make any side-by-side comparisons. I did have a Neumann KM184 that I would use in similar situations, and I believe I prefer the Oktavia. The KM184 gave me a bit too much room ambiance, though being a cardioid mic, this is expected and perhaps a little unfair. The cost of a Schoeps is a big issue, roughly five times what Oktavia goes for.
There are other capsules available in this series… most interesting is the dual fig-8 capsule, which could be used with a shotgun mic to make a nice mid-side combo. The other capsules and pads aren’t much use for location sound, with perhaps the exception of the swivel mount.
If you’re into location sound, you might consider giving this mic a test drive. While it’s NOT the same as a Schoeps, it just might fill in the gaps while you save up your nickels for the big purchase.