Sunday, February 9, 2014

Countryman B2D Cardioid Lav - Another Useful Tool

Small Size and Multiple Colors
As I continue to shine light on professional audio gear, I hope you'll join me in my search for tools that make the job easier and sound better.

This time I'm talking about a directional lav; the Countryman B2D Cardioid Lav. That's right, a cardioid lav that comes in five different colors. Most lavs are omnis, and as you may know, even omnis are somewhat directional at high frequencies.

You can see that the B2D is a pretty small mic. Not quite as small as a B6, but a lot smaller than you'd expect. The diameter of the diaphragm is inversely proportional to the selfnoise of any mic. That means the smaller the diaphragm, the noisier the mic. If your ambient noise is high enough, it'll mask the hiss of the selfnoise, but if you're in a really quiet environment and don't have something like music to mask the hiss, you'll hear it.

You can use some of the many noise reduction softwares to reduce the hiss. I like iZotope's RX3 Advanced. You may find you get acceptable results with the less expensive non-advanced version.  With any of these, you need to have a keen ear and know when to stop because at some point you can hear the effect of the noise reduction. The audio begins to sound "underwater" or unnatural.

Here's a short video that demonstrates the difference between a Countryman EMW omnidirectional lav and the cardioid B2D. Hear for yourself!
Detachable cables

The Countryman B2D uses detachable connectors, so you can have different cables for different transmitters and different power supplies.

That can come in really handy if you have a couple of different wireless transmitters, each with a different plug. It's also handy for those situation where you want a hard-wired mic and you need to plug into the XLR power supply.
Multiple connector possibilities
If you do run hardwired, having a connector at the end of the cable makes it a lot easier to mount on the talent. You can disconnect the power supply and ask the talent to drop the cable and small connector down inside their shirt or blouse. Clip on the mic, use a little gaffer's tape to secure a loop of cable inside their clothing for strain relief and to damp clothing rub noise. Then just pull out the connector at their waistline, plug it back into the power supply and you're done.

B2D SmartClip
Because the B2D is directional, where it's pointed makes a lot of difference. If the mic is not mounted and aimed properly, your talent will be off mic. To make sure that doesn't happen, Countryman designed an adjustable, rotating mic clip that lets you secure the mic and then angle it properly. Without that very important feature, the B2D would be pretty useless. As you can see they also added short sections of vinyl sleeve to the cable where it fits in the clip to prevent cable wear. And that same feature also damps vibrations from running up the cable to the mic. Nice touches!

Magnetic Backplate Mount
There's also a mic clip with the same sort of damping that has a magnetic backplate so you can attach the mic without an alligator clip.

Careful What You Aim For!
Directional mics are great in some situations, but think things through before you use one. If your talent is sitting directly under a noise source like an HVAC duct, the B2D will hear your talent and the noisemaker above. In that case, if you absolutely can't reset the shot and can't turn off the HVAC or G-tape a piece of cardboard over the offending duct, try rigging a flex light fill disc above the talent and parallel to the ceiling to help block noise.  

In addition to the single and double mic clips, there are other mounting possibilities. 

Frequency Response:
50 Hz to 18 kHz
Cable Break Strength> 45 lbs
Weight:0.07 oz (2 grams)
W4 (no band): 6.0 mV/Pascal
W5 (red band): 2.0 mV/Pascal
W6 (blue band): 0.6 mV/Pascal
Equivalent Acoustic Noise:
W4: 34 dBA
W5: 39 dBA
W6: 44 dBA
Overload Sound Level:
W4: 120 dB SPL
W5: 130 dBA SPL
W6: 140 dBA SPL
Reach Ty Ford at
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