Aug 4, 2012

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As a sound recordist I have often done battle with wind. This conflict reached a pinnacle during the filming of “The Burrowers” for CBC’s the Nature of Things in Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan in 2010. There were times when those prairie winds whipped up with such unbelievable force that my Rycote suspension and wind jammers were clearly not up to the task of recording clean audio without that telltale rumble. As a consequence for the past two years I have been actively looking for an alternative to Rycote. For years  Rycote have owned the market for wind jammers and microphone suspensions. The company’s products are ubiquitous in the kits of location sound recordists so it seems somewhat like heresy to state their product is somehow inferior and not up to the task but I strongly feel this is the case.

Rycote has stuck to the same patterns and designs of windscreens for decades, only modifying materials used and streamlining some mounts. I sensed that over the past few years there has been a drop in the quality of their products. I was never really a fan of their Lyre mounts as they were not an improvement over what went on before for handling noise and balance. The fact that they were a universal mount for a multitude of microphones had little attraction for me as I preferred to have individual mounts and zeppelins for all the microphones I own. I looked at it as more of a marketing ploy to push more product. I was also annoyed that Rycote in a recent corporate consolidation ceased to have a Canadian distributor preferring instead to have a North American distributor,  Redding Audio LLC located in Wallingford, Conneticut in the United States. This move saw a drop in service for those of us in Canada and an increase in hassle if wanting parts as there was no longer a Canadian warehouse. We are now at the mercy of a network of resellers who seldom stock more than the bare essentials if even that.

A couple of years ago I started hearing about an Italian company called Cinela. I managed to buy an OSIX mount for my Schoeps CMIT microphone that also fit my Sanken CS-3e. The mount was a beautiful work of art with two fine wire arcs under tension suspending a microphone. In terms of handling noise it was the quietest mount I have ever owned. What was frustrating about the OSIX mount for the CMIT and Sanken CS3e was that Cinella had no windjammer or zeppelin  for the mount. In periodic e-mail exchanges with the company they stated that they were working on a system for exterior use but that it wasn’t ready yet. This went on for several years. Fortunately for much of the time I was engaged as a sound recordist on shows that relied a lot on sit down interviews so I was able to put the OSIX mount to good use.

The net can be a most useful source of information. For sound recordists the motherlode has to be the site jwsound – . It is a discussion forum with 5, 152 sound professionals literally from around the world. As a source of information and a fount of lively discussion for all film and television audio related matters it has no equal.. Earlier this year while perusing various chats on this site I came across an announcement that Cinella had come out with a new mount and wind protection for the Super CMIT, the CMIT 5u, and the Sanken CS3e. Right away I went down to Trew Audio in Toronto to inquire about this as Trew carries the Cinela line of products. Imagine my surprise when Tyler Wade, who is the manager there, said he had one in stock. Turns out it was the demo unit. Tyler didn’t even have a price. I was so excited I took the demo unit and the 3 furs Tyler had.  The Cinela windjammer, called the “Piano” ships norally with only 2. I ended up buying the third as well. To date I mostly use the medium fur. Since this purchase I have not experienced winds of the type I encountered shooting “Mighty Ships” or “The Nature of Things” in Saskatchewan. What I find most remarkable about the Cinela Piano is the total transparency. There is absolutely no colouring of the audio. Numerous times I have fired up the boom and have to generate some noise myself to establish that the mic is live.

 This is a photo of the structure of the Cinela Piano zeppelin uncovered. The mic in the photo is one of my Sanken CS3e's.

The handling noise is reduced by the mount having a floating suspension.

The contact point with the boom pole allows for cushioned horizontal movement.

The mic is held in 2 plastic arcs by 2 strong elastics. This view shows 1 of the 2 arcs. The elastic on this arc can be seen just to the right of the arc. Contact to the mount below and to the boom pole is kept to an absolute minimum.

Here's a shot of the 3 furs that I have for the Piano. On the left is the medium length fur, in the middle the short fur, and on the right the long haired fur for really heavy winds.

The Piano comes in a kind of hatbox soft case. I had Clydesdale of Pickering, Ontario build me a travel case into which the hatbox goes. Yes, it is a little bulky but it is solid.

In conclusion, the Cinela Piano is the best wind protection I have seen and heard to date. It is about twice the cost of a Rycote mount with windjammer. I paid close to $1,500.00 for my Piano with 3 furs and an extra mount. Normally the Piano with 2 furs and a single mount retails for about $1,200.00. The Piano is not as versatile as a Rycote mount. One cannot simply slip off the zeppelin and use it indoors as one would a Rycote mount. Deconstructing the Piano and changing mics can be an involved process that might take a good 3 to 5 minutes. Since I own 2 Sanken CS3e’s, I keep one in the Piano and the other on a Rycote mount with a softy or foam cover for indoor work when doing docs. I have also become adept at swapping out the Sankens for the Schoeps CMIT or Super CMIT when necessary. By paying close attention to call sheets I can usually anticipate what mic I need when and where. Despite this hassle, the Cinela Piano is simply the best mount and windjammer I have worked with.

The Cinela Piano at work on the Arno River in Florence, Italy in the summer of 2012 while on a shoot for "Museum Secrets" which is broadcast by History Television in Canada.