You've got a range of opinions straight off as to which is best. :-)
If you find 416's noisy, suspect your input stage for a mismatch or
powering noise as they are a quiet mic as far as "excess noise" goes,
"excess" being over the fundamental thermal noise of the air. The
upper part of the noise spectum of all my MKH's is very close to
thermal noise and the MKH-8000 series is even quieter. On a windless
night with the stream low and everthing and everyone bedded down, I
can hear MKH mic noise but I easily and harmlessly remove it using
I use crossed pairs of 416's and 816's but they are not very portable.
What mount do you use?
M-S is the TV industry standard for portable stereo. If all fails you
have a good "M" signal but the "S" signal is near to omni and will
pick up a lot of out of phase back noise which will add in as
unfocussed hash. The forward stereo image is good given quiet behind
it, but wind in trees picks up on "S" left, right, up and down.
Tip - try putting the mic on the ground - it often helps. If it
doesn't work, pick it up again and you have lost little. :-)
The alternative one-stick choice is a Audio-Technica AT8022 or similar
which uses two cardioids at an angle. They promise less backward
pickup and a clearer stereo image. Beware of hyper-cardioids with back
lobes which can be a nuisance.
Using a gun mic as the "M" mic will bring in distant "M" sounds well,
but will make the background "S" hash sound comparitively worse. Think
of it as mono with hair around it rather than "placed" stereo.
I would go for a long gunmic rather than a dish for distant stuff as
it has a flatter response and is easier to deploy. Back in mono days,
I took an 815 across the Zagros mountains in southern Iran on "The
Ascent of Man" and it was well worth the hassle.
I've used my 416's straight into a pocket Tascam DR-100 and got good
noise figures, but the battery drain is too high. I'd miss out the
mixer and use a direct input recorder for simplicity and lower weight
and bulk. With any recorder, record on the low side as you can always
bring the level up later. Set the likely headroom to an extra 10dB. If
the record level bar goes half way, you are winning.
With any setup, wind will be a problem sooner or later, especially
with M-S. Record with a bass cut and if necessary you can equalise
that out later, but it stops the wind noise blocking off the rest of
the sounds ruinously. The bigger the blimp the better if you can cope
with it. Ideally you want a 6 inch diameter blimp which folds up. :-)
North Devon, UK
Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum - Ambrose Bierce