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Trying the Rode Blimp

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Old Sunday 10th June 2018, 19:54   #1
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Trying the Rode Blimp

As anyone who has tried surely knows, wind -even the slightest breeze- and microphones don't play well together. Even a little wind can ruin a recording beyond any hope.

Microphones usually include a sponge protection that can be effective in some indoor situations (like an air conditioning blowing very gently on the microphone) but nothing more. In order to be able to record outdoors one needs a more serious protection. Its purpose is to shield the microphone from wind, at least moderate rain and vibration.

These protection units usually include some suspension system to limit the vibrations reaching the microphone, a zeppelin shaped container that is almost transparent to sound but that protects the microphone from wind and, for stronger winds, a cover for the zeppeling resembling an animal fur. It can look really disgusting when wet, even.

The most popular brand of these protections is Rycote, which has become an industry standard. The problem is, of course, Rycote kits are very expensive. I won't say they are not worth it. But for a hobbyist it can be just too much :)

Fortunately Rode, Australian manufacturer of budget but quite decent microphones and who actually have a line up of several shot gun microphones, launched a budget "blimp" version in 2011, albeit with some shortcomings. Surprisingly, in 2014 they launched an updated version which is lighter, slightly cheaper and, amazingly, it includes a real Rycote suspension system, the Lyre, which is reportedly the best suspension available now.

The unit is quite large and it can accept a microphone up to 32.5 cm long according to the manufacturer. My AKG C300B/CK98 is longer and it fits inside. However zeppelins are more effective if the microphone fits inside the main cylinder without getting too close to the end caps.

Similar to Rycote, Rode sells an extension kit that allows the Blimp to be used with 600 mm long microphones. Unlike Rycote they only sell one size, so if your microphone, like mine, is only 3 cm longer than recommended, you need the full extension which makes the Blimp considerably longer.

The Blimp comes with a "dead cat skin" (they called it "dead wombat") and the extension includes a longer dead wombat that will fit the Rode Blimp plus the extension. Both include a cute brush with the Rode logo that can be helpful with your hair as well

Note: I believe there is an error on the Rode website. In the product description for the extension they claim that it's not currently compatible with the 2014 version. As far as I know (I have tried it!) it is certainly. And, moreover, the packging of the Blimp includes the extension as one of the available accesories.

The Blimp has a handle attached which includes routing for the microphone cabling and a tripod attachment thread. It's a 3/8" thread which is not compatible with the typical photo tripods. However, it is compatible with the threads for tripod heads used by manufacturers such as Manfrotto. Removing the video head I had no problem attaching the handle to a Manfrotto Befree tripod.

As an accessory for boom pole users, they also sell a simpler 3/8" attachment that replaces the handle, reducing the bulk a bit and reducing some weight.

The verdict:

It's not cheap but the main competition is more expensive and it's certainly effective. Without such a protection it is a pain to record outdoors even with a slight breeze. It's bulky though. In order to be effective a zeppelin requires some distance between its walls and the microphone capsule.

The physical construction is good although the pieces linking the handle to the main suspension seem to be a bit feeble. Time will tell. The soft thermoplastic construction of the main body has an advantage though: it can absorb shocks if the Blimp is dropped.
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2018, 22:12   #2
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A sound sample :)

Slightly windy day. Close miking some bursting foam at the beach.

Recorder: Fostex FR-2LE
Microphone: AKG C300B + CK98 shotgun capsule.

I have just converted the original file to AAC, nothing else. I haven't used high pass filters.
Attached Files
File Type: m4a foam.m4a (857.1 KB, 27 views)
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