For more than forty years, Rycote has been making industry standard shock and wind protection accessories for microphones and other field recording equipment. Their products are widely used by field recording professionals around the world. Today I am going to take a look at their stereo windshield ORTF kit (no connbox version) and put it through the field recording tests.
Suspension Medium ORTF
Windshield WS AE
Windjammer WJ AE
XLR Holder MK II
Boom Poles Adaptor
2x Single Lyre 62 (19/25), 2 x Single Lyre 62(8) + risers
Hex head key
More robust: elastic bands have been replaced by the virtually unbreakable Lyre suspensions
Lighter and easier to set up
Better isolation from shocks and vibrations
More versatile: fewer combinations cover a wider range of possible MS configurations
Suitable for Schoeps CCM or Sennheiser MKH8000 series
Approx. 690 g
469€ / $570
When I got the windshield kit I was pleasantly surprised of its lightness and also the build quality seemed sturdy. My stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH8040’s fitted perfectly to the Lyre suspensions so I could do some quick recording tests with the setup. Fitting the microphones into the kit was easy and quite fast. You just open the other end of the windshield basket and then loosen the screws from the bottom so you can slide out the rest of the windshield basket. Then you just insert the microphones to the Lyre suspensions and finally attach your stereo XLR cable of choice to the microphones. I have to say that I spent quite amount of time attaching the cable through the various cable holders in the kit since I did not know what was the correct way to do it. Finally I decided to search the internet for the solution and felt a bit stupid afterwards when the cable was correctly in place. Maybe Rycote should include a pictured tutorial (for dummies like me) on how to attach the cable correctly to the windshield kit.
ON THE ROAD
I attached the ORTF kit to my Manfrotto Nano 5001b stand which made the setup really lightweight, compact and easy to use. The total weight of the setup ended up being around 1.6 kilos which is not bad at all.
I took this setup with me to a vacation in Northern Finland so I could start gathering quiet forest ambiences for a sound effect library that I was planning to release later. After the first successful recording I noticed how ridiculously easy and fast this setup was to use. I had my Sound Devices in the shoulder bag with headphones and XLR cable already attached and the ORTF Manfrotto combo on the other hand. Then I would just find the perfect spot and unscrew two of the stand screws so I could put it on the ground and adjust the height. After that I attached the XLR cable to the stand and powered up the recorder. Within 20-30 seconds I was ready to record. After the recording the unpacking was as fast and easy as the setting up. Once you set up the ORTF kit then you don’t have to worry about a thing and you can just focus on finding the perfect location, record, find a new location and record more. Below is a small snippet of one of the forest ambience recordings that I did during my trip.
As expected with Rycote the ORTF kit has good shock and wind protection that eliminates most of the unwanted noise from your recordings. That being said, there is one small issue that I encountered and would like to point out. As you can hear from the recording there is occasionally some slight low frequency resonance noise when the wind gusts get a bit heavier. I’m suspecting this is coming from the mic cable and mic stand which then resonate to the microphones themselves. I did my best to entwine the cable to the stand which then went to my Sound Devices recorder but still there was some unwanted noise present. Don’t get me wrong this is a small issue but still somewhat annoying which does not stop you from using the ORTF kit. You can always apply high pass filter to your recordings and get rid of the noise. I can only suspect that Rycote has encountered this problem in their tests too and that is why they sell a Connbox variant of the ORTF kit with Lemo connectors for use with Schoeps CCMs microphones and MZL connector variant for use with Sennheiser MKH8000 microphones. The connbox is supposed to greatly isolate and minimize handling and cable born noise. I will need to get my hands on the MZL version of the connbox so I can test how much it helps with this little problem.
If you upgrade the windshield kit with the MZL connbox it will roughly set you back $469 (according to the B&H Photovideo price). The total price of the windshield kit + MZL connbox is close to $1100 so it is definitely not for the budget-minded. On the other hand audio professionals who make a living recording various sounds that price does not seem that high since they can easily pay that off after one or two recording gigs.
Rycote ORTF windshield kit is a really well built, lightweight setup that is easy and quite fast to use. It also provides good shock and wind protection. If you plan to use either the Schoeps CCM or Sennheiser MKH8000 serie microphones with this kit then I would suggest you to check out the appropriate connbox and test if it helps with the occasional low frequency resonance noise that I encountered. The ORTF windshield kit is not for the budget-minded but if you really need one then Rycote’s website should be your first stop.
- Easy and fast to use
- Good shock and wind protection
- A bit pricey
- Slight low frequency resonance noise