How to Use a Portable Audio Recorder on a Video Shoot

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Okay, you've done some research and determined that many people are using portable digital recorders like the Zoom H4n and Tascam DR100 to record the audio during DSLR video shoots. Now you need some real-world advice about using this equipment properly with external microphones, field mixers and clapper slates. That's where this article comes in. Read on to find out how to get great sound on a DSLR shoot using a portable digital recorder.

When you buy a new sports car, it's unreasonable to expect it to also be used as a helicopter. The situation is the same with today's video-enabled DSLR cameras. They take excellent-looking stills and stunning video, but one area where they are lacking is their audio-recording capability. If you want your videos to sound great, you really need to use a separate portable digital recorder to capture audio when you shoot.

The practice of recording audio on a separate device is called "double-system" shooting. You need to be a bit more organized and methodical when working this way. Later in this article, we'll go over the key operational functions you must perform every time you record. First, we'll focus on different workflow options.

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, I just have a portable digital recorder. Why do I need external microphones, a field mixer and a clapper slate (whatever that is)?" A portable digital recorder is just one piece of the puzzle in a full-blown location audio kit. You need other equipment to do all of the things that the recorder itself cannot.

There are workarounds that enable you to record sound for video using less gear. We'll start with a bare-bones workflow and move our way up, so you can see how each additional piece of equipment helps you do a better job. I suggest that you read about all of these different workflows, because there are many tips mentioned throughout the article which can be applied to any situation.

Workflow #1: Using Only a Portable Digital Recorder

If you have a non-existent budget, or if you're working on a low-profile job where you can't bring much gear, you may only have the portable digital recorder itself to handle all of the audio work in a shoot. It's not impossible to work using just this single device, but it's usually the furthest thing from optimal.

My first suggestion is that you set the recorder to record 24-bit 48 kHz WAV files. This is the setting I use every time I work on a DSLR video shoot, and so far it's worked out perfectly. Forget that your recorder can make MP3 files. 24-bit 48 kHz WAV files sound great, they will give you more headroom, and they play well with video files in post production. Recording at 24-bit 48 kHz gives you about an hour of stereo recording per gigabyte. I use 8GB SD cards in my recorders and I have yet to fill one up (even on a 14-hour shoot), but I still keep a back-up card or two in my bag, just in case.

Most portable digital recorders have really good sounding built-in mics, but that doesn't mean they're going to deliver the best audio for your video productions. The reason that using the built-in mics on the recorder is so challenging is that you need to get them as close as possible to the specific sounds you want to record. The microphones should never be more than a few feet away from the sound source. So if you have a person speaking in front of the camera, you're going to need to think of creative ways to get the recorder close to them. Often times the best solution is to frame the shot as a medium close up, so either you or the on-camera subject can hold the recorder just out of the frame, thereby getting the microphones as close as possible.

Many people envision using a portable digital recorder mounted directly on top of their camera. Recorders like the Zoom H4n and the H1 have tripod threads built into them, so you can easily attach them to the shoe of your camera with a special mount like the Pearstone Male Accessory Shoe Adapter. Attaching the recorder to the top of your camera is an acceptable way to work when recording ambient environmental sounds, but it's definitely not the best way to go most of the time. Unless the camera itself is very close to the sound you're recording, the audio is going to sound distractingly distant.

You need to be mindful of the noises you make when the recorder is mounted on top of your camera. The sensitive microphones on the recorder will hear everything. If you're not careful they'll hear your fingers fiddling with the controls on the camera, they'll hear the operational noises that the camera makes and they'll hear vibrations if you walk around. You can start to understand why it's often a better idea to use the recorder away from the camera.

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If you're going to be shooting outdoors, it's absolutely necessary to use additional wind protection over the built-in microphones on the portable digital recorder. Many models come with a foam windscreen, but this usually isn't enough to protect your audio from distortion when used outdoors. There are a number of different manufacturers making custom softie windscreens for portable recorders. In the great name of redundancy, I'll repeat it: if you plan on using the built-in microphones on your portable digital recorder outdoors, using additional wind protection is a must!

No matter what you do, the name of the game is always about getting the microphones close to the action. If your on-camera talent is going to hold the recorder as they speak, be sure to tell them not to move their fingers around or fidget, because the mics on the recorder will hear those noises. In some situations it's better to mount your digital recorder off screen on a stand or on a Gorillapod. However, most of the time, the best way to go is to use an external microphone.

Workflow #2: Using an External Microphone with a Portable Digital Recorder

Using an external microphone can help you tackle two of the major problems you'd normally encounter when you use just the recorder on its own: they make it easier to get the microphone closer to the sound source and you don't have to worry about the noise you make when you handle and adjust the controls on the recorder.

There are many different kinds of external microphones that can be used to suit different situations. Shotgun microphones are likely the most versatile tools used to capture the audio in video and film productions, thanks to their ability to reach out and grab sounds in front of them. Wireless microphones can also be really useful when your on-camera subject needs the freedom to move around without being tethered by wires. Ideally, you would use both of these kinds of microphones, providing that your portable digital recorder has multiple microphone inputs.

The kind of mics you can use will vary depending on what kind of microphone input your recorder has. Many portable digital recorders only have a single mini-plug external microphone input, while others have multiple 3-pin XLR microphone inputs (like the Marantz PMD661). XLR inputs are for professional microphones and mini-plug inputs are compatible with consumer microphones.

Dual XLR inputs on the Tascam DR100, and the single stereo mini-plug mic input on the Sony PCM-M10

The best way to use a shotgun microphone with a portable digital recorder is to mount the mic on a boompole and hoist it just out of the frame of the shot in order to get as close as possible to the sound source. Obviously, this is going to be very difficult if you're also operating the camera. It's a good idea to have a dedicated sound person operating the audio equipment when you're shooting double system with a DSLR.

If your recorder has a mini-plug external microphone input, you can use any of the shotgun microphones discussed in this B&H Insights article. If you have XLR microphone inputs, you can use any of these shotgun mics. No matter which kind of shotgun you use, wind noise is still a major factor to consider if you plan on shooting outdoors. If you set foot outside with a shotgun mic, you'd better be equipped with a serious fuzzy windscreen!

Using wireless mics with portable digital recorders requires a different approach. Instead of mounting them on boompoles, you're going to be clipping the tiny lavalier mics to your subject's clothing, attaching a beltpack transmitter to their body and plugging a wireless receiver into the mic input on your portable recorder. You need to make sure that the transmitter and receiver have fresh batteries and are both powered on, and that the lavalier mic isn't rubbing against your subject's clothing or picking up any wind noise (wind noise will always be an issue during outdoor use).

If your portable digital recorder has a mini-plug mic input, you can use most of the wireless microphone systems in this B&H Insights article. However, if you want a better quality wireless system that's compatible with mini-plug mic inputs, we recommend upgrading to a Sennheiser 3G or a Sony UWP system. If your portable digital recorder has XLR inputs, you can use any of the wireless systems in this B&H Insights article.

When you use a wireless microphone with a portable digital recorder, you're going to have to plug a wireless receiver into your recorder. It becomes cumbersome to have these two devices attached to one another if they're not organized in a bag or a case. When you work this way, you may want to strongly consider getting an audio bag to hold your equipment together as you work. And if you're going to use a location audio bag, you may want to consider adding a field mixer to your setup as well.

Workflow #3: Using a Field Mixer with a Portable Digital Recorder

Using a field mixer in conjunction with a portable digital recorder does many things to improve the quality of your audio. A field mixer will allow you to plug multiple external microphones into the recorder (depending on how many channels the field mixer has). Professional field mixers deliver cleaner-sounding audio because their microphone preamps and overall circuitry are superior to the components found in most portable digital recorders. Plus, they give you tools such as faders, limiters and tone generators that help you control and adjust the audio levels for optimal quality.

Field mixers get their name from being battery-powered devices (hence, you can use them in the field), and from their multiple inputs (you can plug in multiple microphones and mix the audio with the level controls). One of the most popular field mixers is the Sound Devices 302. I own a 302 and often use it on DSLR video shoots. I use the XL3 output cable on my 302 and connect it to the mini-plug line-level input on my Edirol R09HR. This has worked flawlessly for me. Many DSLR shooters who can't afford the 302 get really good results using the more affordable two-channel Sound Devices MixPre.

The basic idea behind using a field mixer is that you plug the microphones into the mixer and then plug the output of the mixer into the portable digital recorder. You can raise and lower the levels of the different mics as needed with the channel fader knobs. Most field mixers have multiple outputs, so you can send your audio to the portable digital recorder and another device as well. In DSLR video shoots, it's a smart idea to use the additional outputs on the field mixer to send the production audio to a second portable digital recorder in your bag. This way you will be making two copies of the sound at all times. This way if one recorder encounters a problem, you are covered with the second portable digital recorder in your bag.

Unlike an XLR Adapter box, a field mixer cannot be mounted to your camera. This is why using an audio bag to hold the field mixer and portable digital recorder is essential. These bags usually have room for a few wireless receivers, batteries and other odds and ends you may need in the field. Location audio bags usually come with a shoulder strap. However, wearing the audio bag on a separately available body harness is far less fatiguing.

Workflow #4: Using a Clapper Slate with a Portable Digital Recorder

Most people recognize what a clapper slate is, but few people realize how they help you synchronize audio in video production and filmmaking. Clapper slates are used at the beginning (and sometimes at the end) of a take as a visual and audible reference point to identify the footage being shot. The slate board will usually have areas where you can write information about a take (scene number, take number, etc.) with dry erase markers or chalk. The person who operates the clapper slate (often the 2nd Assistant Camera person) will also audibly announce the take information before they clap the slate. 

However, before the 2nd AC announces the take info and claps the slate, you must first make sure that both the camera and the portable digital recorder are rolling. The reason that the clapper slate has bars that get whacked together to make a loud clapping sound is to mark a point visually on the camera's footage and audibly on the audio recording where the two can be synced. In the video-editing software you can find the exact frame where the bars on the clapper slate make contact with one another. If you line this frame up with the spike in the separately recorded audio files where the clap sound occurs, then your audio and video footage will be synced.

Using a clapper slate in a DSLR video shoot will help all of the workflows described in this article, no matter if you're just using the recorder on its own or if you've got a full location-audio kit. If you can't afford a clapper slate, you could have your on-screen talent clap their hands together at the beginning and end of each take to create a similar visual and audible syncing point. 

Before You Record: Key Operational Checklist

Here are a few basic operations that must be carried out each time before you record sound with a portable digital recorder:

1) Adjust your gain settings

Adjusting the gain of an audio recorder is as fundamentally important as focusing is on a camera. Without the proper gain adjustments, your audio will either be too low or too loud, and suffer from clipping and digital distortion. One of the biggest tricks in digital audio recording is finding the sweet spot on the meters that will give you the best signal-to-noise ratio at any given moment.

Some portable digital recorders have a feature called Automatic Gain Control. AGC does its best to actively set the gain for you. However, in many situations, it can be more harmful than helpful. Most portable digital recorders that feature AGC also give you the option to turn it off (such as the Edirol R09HR). The problem with AGC is that in a quiet location it ducks the levels down when someone speaks, and pumps the levels back up in moments of silence. This creates an audible pumping sound that is noticeable and distracting to the viewer.

For optimal gain settings, it's usually a better idea to turn off AGC and set the levels manually. In the digital realm, it's best to keep the average signal on the audio meters around -20db. It's okay if the meters occasionally bounce up to -12 or -6 during the loudest peaks in volume. But try to keep the meters on your recorder in this sweet spot. That's how you get the best sound levels possible on your recorder.

2) Double-check the switches and buttons

One of the issues I've encountered when using portable digital recorders in DSLR video shoots is that the little switches and buttons on the recorder can sometimes accidentally get bumped and switched. Because there are so many takes in DSLR video shoots (most cameras don't allow you to roll for more than 12 minutes at a time), you're constantly grabbing the recorder to start and stop recording. I've noticed that the switches on the recorders often get changed in the middle of a shoot. Make a habit to double-check the hardware controls every time you're about to record. It could save the day.

3) Always monitor your audio

Actively listening to your audio on headphones is as fundamentally important as looking through the view finder of a camera. You can't properly frame a shot without using your eyes, and you can't assess your audio without using your ears. One of the biggest problems with shooting video on a DSLR is that most cameras don't have a headphone output. The good news is that you're shooting double system audio with a portable digital recorder. Your recorder has a headphone output, so you should use it as much as possible. Listen to your audio when you're setting up and when you're shooting. If there are any problems, you'll hear them and have a better idea of what needs adjustment.

4) Make sure you're rolling

It sounds rudimentary, but often times the most basic operations will throw you off the most. It's a good idea to always make sure you're recording before you start a take. Many of today's portable digital recorders will have flashing red lights to indicate that they're in RECORD/PAUSE mode, and a solid red light indicating that they're recording. In a fast-paced set, you can glance at your recorder and mistake the flashing red light for a solid one. It's always best to dedicate five seconds to really looking at your recorder to make sure you're recording. And after the take begins, it's important to keep glancing at the device to make sure it continues to record. The batteries could die, or a control could accidentally get bumped and stop it from recording. If you see this happen you'll be able to alert the other crew members and have a more productive shoot.

Thanks for checking out this article! Hopefully you're empowered with enough information to get you up and running for a double-system DSLR video shoot. If you have any further questions at all about recording sound for video on a portable digital recorder, we encourage you to post them in the Comments section below!

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Thanks for the article, it will be very helpful for me.  I will film a documentary and i have thought , use a lap microphone with the audio recorder for the interviews, Do you know some good lap micro, and not so expensive? cheers

Hello -

 I will assume you are referring to a "lav" microphone (short for lavalier).  Depending on youir budget and the audio recorder chosen you can select this very functional and easy on the wallet mic:

Audio-Technica ATR3350 Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone Or a reasonable step-up to a professional type product: Shure SM11-CN - Omni-Directional Lavalier Dynamic Microphone

I just wanted to thank you for the time you dedicated to give us a complete rundown on sound for film & video. I am just finishing this screenplay and I'll submit it to investors but I have never directed a film like this (with other people's money), so I couldn't afford mistakes like bad sound. Thankz for summing that up for me and every other aspiring filmmaker and If you could, could you check out my wishlists (Post Production) and (Feature-Film Shoot) and see if it's alright or if I need anything else, thankz.

I didn't add the field mixer because my friend already has it, he'll take care of that part. you can search by name.

Best regard, Orlando Mabasso 

Hi, 

Very helpful article, however, are there any more affordable mixers available that would be good? Also, is there any audio-loss in using mini-plug out from those, into the recorder, rather than using xlr?

 Thanks!

Hello,

The Azden FMX-42 is a portable 4-channel audio mixer designed for professional and semi-professional field audio capturing. The FMX-42 features 4 balanced 3-pin XLR microphone inputs with individually switched +48VDC phantom power. A pair of balanced XLR outputs provide line or mic level (switchable) signal to cameras and recorders.

With unbalanced mini (3.5mm/1/8”) inputs, the critical issue may not be audio loss as much as unwanted noise.  XLR connections are the better option as they also offer a clean, low-noise, positive, locking coupling between your microphones and the mixer or other input devices. They also supply power to mic’s requiring it.

Thanks for the response and suggestion - this looks really good, and is in the ballpark of what I can afford! :)  Yes, definitely want to avoid noise, so it is best to go with xlr!

Hmmm. This iPod TouchDell mini 9 netbookMacBook ProMac Mini for a media ceoterwhitebnx server for a DVR / central file storageold, crappy laptop for a separate DNS serverAppleTV in a bedroom 2 whitebox servers I control at relatives' for remote DVRsvitrual Linux box on a real Windows box at a cousin's housevirtual Linux box at a commercial sitelots of wifi routers dsl modems that run linux at the relatives'i think that's it.

I am new to video shooting and editing. (I have used Final Cut Pro up to this point.)

I want to upgrade my point and shoot camera.

I am not in a position to spend thousands on a camera, or buy two cameras (stills, video), but would like the option of playing around with shooting both.

I have been looking at the different reviews and sample shots of the Nikon P500. I am really interested in the zooming capabilities for stills. I am a web designer so have no need for a professional quality camera (for enlargements). It is light weight and fits my (small) had amazingly well.

My question for you today has to do with integrating an external audio system at a later date, if I choose to make short 30 second video's for web clients. The P500 does not come with an external mic jack: will using workflow 2, with a clapper, work OK? How expensive are good external recorders/or what brand would you suggest I look at? 

Thanks!

Patty

Hello -

For your immediate needs - you can work with a clapper and a handheld audio recorder such as the Tascam DR-40.  The DR -40 includes professional XLR microphone inputs so you can upgrade the internal mics in the future.

http://bhpho.to/s6GRFJ

Excellent basic explanation, thank you.

I knew lots until I got to the field mixer part, something I've never used. It looks fairly simple enough however, and provides all the features which I freak out about that aren't in Tascam DR100/Zoom H4N for example. The lack of a phantom power switch for EACH XLR input is a big big issue with the portable recorders.

1. Is there a portable recorder you recommend that has individual phantom-power switches for each input?

2. I'm often a one-man-band shooter. With my EX1, the sound is easy. I don't need to monitor an entirely different system (portable recorder, or mixer). However I'm shooting more and more with my 5D, and I need to get my sound under control. The Zoom H4N drove me crazy, I really don't like that recorder. I'd be willing to buy a field mixer, but it seems unlikely that I could really manage audio mixing WHILE I'm also shooting! I need something more independent from me. Also, I can't have stuff that is super bulky or heavy, as I'm carrying everything. I know one ought to have a dedicated sound person on every shoot, but that simply isn't an option for me on most of my shoots, AND, I do very rugged on-the-go documentary style verité shooting where I can't perfectly set up things. I need my gear to reflect this: equipment that doesn't take too much space, isn't too heavy, and doesn't consume too much of my attention.

Advice? I can also call you at B&H about this if its easier to have a conversation. I want as-professional sound as I can get while still limited to my rugged style of shooting. I'm not sure a field mixer fits in with that, or perhaps it does?

Hello,

When using a portable recorder for field production, the lack of separate phantom power switches is not that important. Sending phantom power to field production mics that don't require it will not cause any damage. This is more of a concern for higher end studio mics.

That being said I would personally recommend the DR-100 for your requirements. It is small, good quality and has easy to use dials for adjusting the audio levels. I have used it on many HDSLR video shoots and have been very happy with the results and ease of use. Whether mounting it on a rig with the camera or having it clipped to your belt it is very easy to adjust the audio quickly without taking too much concentration off shooting.

Rather than go with a separate portable mic mixer and a recorder, I feel the DR-100 is the way to go for you as you are needing a small easy to use package without having to carry extra gear with you.

OK thanks, one last question: With the zoom h4n, I had two mic's plugged in: a mid-range AT shotgun mic (requires phantom power) and my lav transmitter (does NOT require phantom power).

I could hear a pulsing sound through the lav input channel from the extra phantom power. Since I couldn't individually turn off the phantom power, this was an issue. Thoughts?

I have not heard of this being an issue with the recorders but it is hard to say without seeing the equipment set up.

Review by Anton Lemeza for Rating: I just got my mini mic and my Chill Pill Rapcap in the mail today.I bought both for my iPod Class 120gig for reonrdicg lectures. I didnt want to get one at a time to compare so I just bought both. My mini mic cost me $.34 and just under $4 shipping and rapcap was $14.50 and free shipping.I compared both for sound quality and distance at which they pick up sound. Turns out the only difference is the rapcap is white plastic spray painted pretty while the mini mic is either white or black plastic. Also the Rapcap is about .5mm smaller in diameter but same size in length. The caps construction is identical. Both work identical. Everything is the same. The only thing to test is durability but I'm confident it will be the same.So save the money and buy this one over the RapCap. They pick up sound great from a distance if you have it about 10 feet away from an instructor so just plug it in and stand it up near the instructors desk or sit near where he or she talks and youll be fine. I have a flip open case so I can plug mine in and stand it up so ill pick up sound great.Only complaint I have is that I bought the Rapcap too.

Hi, First of all a huge THANK YOU for this article. secondly I wanted to ask if a usb preamp, a decent microphone and a laptop could be a substitute for the digital recorder and the field mixer. would it be a good idea to record derectly to your computer using audio software and the setup I just mentioned? I understand the advantages of  not needing to be plugged in for energy, but supposing all my filming would be neer an energy source, would it be a good way to go? Thanks again for this great article.

Francisco

Hello -

 If, by "usb preamp" you mean USB audio interface - then certainly you can record in this manner and expect superb results.

We have an excellent article about audio interfaces that you may find helpful

Here is a short list of some excellent interfaces under $250 for you as well:

http://bhpho.to/s5bTUl

Thanks for the info, great article I'm currently shooting musicians doing acoustic performances. Some times we film outside and sometimes we are in tiny dressing rooms, it really varies. I'm not sure wether to go for the zoom h4n or the tascam dr100. I like that the zoom can record several of channels at once, buti also like that the tascam has volume dials on the side. I recently filmed an artists who's voice levels were all over the place throughout the song, I had some bits where her voice was ver faint and other bits where thensound was peaking and clipping. My question is, which one of these would be better for me?

Hello -

I have found that the direct control of microphone gain on the Tascam DR 100  to be invaluable out in the field, as opposed to fumbling through menus to adjust gain, as on the H4n.  The functionality of the DR 100  would seem to trump the multi-track capability of the H4n for your particular application.

Hello:

Thanks for this helpful article. I just purchased a Dr-100, FMX-42, MKH-416 and the senn G3 from you guys. When I plug these all together, I listen throught the DR-100, I get a clean sound if the DR-100 volume is up and the meters on the DR-100 are going but the meters on the FMX-42 are not. If I lower the volume wheels on the DR-100 and increase the FMX-42 /channel sound the meters on the FMX-42 work but I get distortion. Am I doing something wrong? I would think that the meters on the FMX-42 would be more valuble considering I'm using its controls.

Hello David -

I'd check all the basics on the mixer.  Fresh batteries, mic/line output switched to line. Use the individual channel gain settings as well as the master and have the gain switched to the +4dB setting.  if you continue to have issues or have additional questions - please e-mail us at AskBH@bandh.com

Hey,

 So I have recently been filming skateboard videos of my friends' skate sessions, but I want to use a external recorder since my camera does not have an external mic jacj, however the problem is sometimes I film on the fly and always having to do separate takes to sync audio i.e using a clapper board, etc. is not always something I can do. I have looked at other cameras with external mic jacks but they are out of my price range and I already have a great digital camera so... Can I still use the recorder or should I just suffer with the camcorder built-in mic? 

Hello,

I'm going to be shooting some scenes with up to three people speaking but can't afford a field mixer . I'm wondering whether to audio record each to a separate portable digital recorder, and then to adjust the sound levels of all three tracks  in post-production.  Would that be a workable solution?  (I suspect it might tripple the unwanted noise.)

Regards
Steve

Going back to connecting your field recorder to a camera...like in the picture above.

How is that exactly achieved?
I own a marantz 660 stereo field recorder.

how would i run a ntg3 mic and wireless lav into my recorder, setting levels, then run that into a RED EPIC ?
is that even possible, any help would be awesome.

I dont have an extra mic to throw on the red as a scratch track...Whats my best option for syncing to video

We shoot documentary films as well as short videos with our dslr camera. We have bought a zoom h4n recorder right now from b&h. Now we want to invest in an external mic, our budget being less than $200.
Please suggest some mics in that range which are good for on location sound recording?

OMG this was soo helpful, thank you so so much. Shooting my very first web series ever next month, fingers crossed.

Thanks for this helpful article. I do have a question though; we have one low budget feature film and a documentary to shoot. How does the sound quality would be if I use sd302 + tascam dr100 vs sd302 + sd702.
My logic tells me once the sound is digitized, it's all about 1s and 0s, so a simple recorder should be enough as long as I use a pro level mixer.
Another question is buying mixer/recorder vs separate mixer and recorder. Would you rather use sd302+702 or just 552 and why. Any input would be great. Thanks...

I record video of my son and his band at local gigs but the sound is crap. I use a great camera Sony HDR CX560. Shoots good video and has external mic capabillities. But the background noise is so distracting. Is there a microphone that can be connected to his soundboard and connected wirelessly to camera? I was looking at Wireless Lavalier Mic Camera Pack but before spending the money want to make sure that the mic is capable of doing what I want it to do. Any help is appreciated.

Great article! Thank you!

I'm looking for a little buying advice. I'll be doing two person interviews indoors and I will probably be both the camera person and one of the on camera people. Suggestions for audio? I've been pointed to the TASCAM DR-100. I assume I'll need 2 wireless lav's too?

I'll be interviewing senior execs for a web video blog and will be editing in iMovie or possibly stepping up to Final Cut Pro.

Any help appreciated!

Hello Izzy -

A TASCAM DR 100MKII and a pair of wireless lavaliers sounds like a fine solution.  A dual channel receiver will allow you to use two wireless lavs simultaneously without interference or crosstalk:

The Azden 330LT UHF On-Camera Dual Bodypack System is a powerful dual-channel UHF wireless microphone system for camera-mount applications. The system consists of two Azden 35BT bodypack transmitters, EX-503 lavalier microphones, and 330UPR portable dual-channel diversity receiver. The inclusion of both bodypacks allow users to operate both microphones simultaneously.

With a feature set that includes 188 user selectable UHF frequencies, pivoting high-gain diversity antennas, and LCD digital display, the 330LT is guaranteed to meet the demands of consumer and professional video applications alike. The 330UPR receiver features main and headphone monitor outputs, and a removable shoe-mount adapter. Both the transmitter and receiver operate on standard AA alkaline batteries (not included).

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Could you recommend me a high quality sound recorder/microphone (preferably under £100) that I could use alongside a Mini DV Sony camera? It's just that the film quality is great, but the built in mic is poor which really takes away from the professionalism when producing the final cut of a film. The recorder wouldn't have to connect to the camera (it's not compatible with most things) and it would need to be able to be compatible with an Apple Macbook. If you think of a product that matched my description that would be greatly appreciated!

Hello Mark -

Assuming your camcorder has a 1/8", 3.5mm stereo microphone input jack you have several options:

The RODE VideoMic is a cost effective shotgun microphone that can easily be mounted on a video camera because it features an integrated shockmount that attaches to the camera's shoe. It is one of the best choices for an external shotgun microphone under $200.  A less costly solution but still a marked improvement over most embedded camcorder microphones would be the Audio-Technica Pro-24CM Compact Stereo Condenser Microphone which delivers pro-level stereo reproduction for video camera mounting. The compact Pro-24CM features a pair of cardioid elements in an X-Y configuration to provide the spatial impact and realism of a live sound field. The result is a realistic stereo sound with pristine fidelity and minimal noise. The condenser element is powered with an LR44 battery or with plug-in power wherever provided.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi,

Is there any lavalier mic that with miniplug that I can use directly on an DSLR (canon 1dX) without an external power supply?

thanks

V

Hi,
I am using a Canon 5D Mark II to shoot commercials and interviews for tv. Can you recommend a field mixer, portable digital recorder and lav mics that would give me broadcast quality audio for my work?

Thanks for the article. Very helpful

Hello,

The MixPre-D Compact Field Mixer from Sound Devices is a versatile audio mixer built for the digital age. Based on the popular MixPre, the "D" in the name indicates the extensive digital technology that's been incorporated into the mixer. The MixPre-D features a pair of studio-grade mic/line XLR inputs with limiters, high-pass filters, and phantom power. The inputs can be linked in standard or MS mode for stereo recordings. These options are configured via easy-to-use front panel controls.

The DR-100mkII from Tascam is portable stereo digital audio recorder designed with high-end recording features aimed at musicians and engineers. Four built-in microphones, two cardioid and two omnidirectional, deliver great sound via the high-gain and low noise microphone preamps. A pair of XLR inputs can accommodate external microphones and provide switchable phantom power for use with condenser microphones.

The 24-bit/96kHz linear PCM recorder features dedicated stereo mini balanced line in and out connectors in addition to an S/PDIF digital input. Also available is the ability to connect balanced line inputs via the locking XLR connectors. An upgrade to the DR-100, an already versatile unit, the rugged DR-100mkII extends the functionality of a professional portable recorder while improving the overall sound.

The Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 Wireless Portable Microphone System is intended for portable wireless operation, such as video and field recording applications. This camera-mountable system includes a UHF diversity receiver, bodypack transmitter and ME2 lavalier microphone. The SK 100 G3 bodypack transmitter and EK 100 G3 receiver synchronize channel and frequency at the touch of a button.

This articles is quite informative.

However I want some specific info :

I want  to RECORD AUDIO from  SAMSUNG SMART TV on a PORTABLE AUDIO RECORDER using  the HEAD-PHONE OUTPUT of the the TV (USING A DIRECT WIRE FEED - LEED WITH STEREO JACKS AT BOTH ENDS to avoid ambient noise.)

1  Please suggest me MODELS OF such PORTABLE AUDIO RECORDERS.

2  Are there RECORDERS which  RECEIVE BOTH ANALOG (microphone ) and  DIGITAL VOICE INPUTS and record the same in digital format ?  Preferred digital Recording Format would be mp3. Please help me.

thanks.

Hello Sanjay -

The  Zoom H1 Handy Recorder is an easy-to-use, versatile stereo digital audio recorder that fits into the palm of your hand. The H1 brings pro-level recording to a more compact and affordable design. Perfect for musicians, journalists, podcasters, and more, the H1 records high-quality WAV and MP3 files to meet any professional need. The H1 has a stereo X/Y microphone configuration that captures perfect stereo images. A built-in speaker lets you listen to your recordings right away.

The H1 records your audio onto easily-found microSD or microSDHC flash memory cards, supporting capacities up to 32GB. A 2GB card is included so you can begin recording right away. The H1 records WAV audio at rates up to 24-bit/96kHz, and MP3 audio at rates up to 320kbps and VBR. The pocket-sized device runs on a single AA battery to provide up to 10 hours of continuous operation. A standard 3.5mm mic/line input lets you connect external microphones and sound sources such as MP3 players or in your case, TV audio. A 3.5mm headphone/line output let you connect headphones or small external speakers. 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Great article.

Hi, I recently bought a Tascam DR100 mk2 along with a Rode NTG2 to go with my Canon 600D. The sound recorded on the recorder with the Rode mic is superb, however the sound recorded into the camera (through the recorder) when connected with the Sescom Ln2Mic-TasDR100 is worse than the camera's built in microphone. The sound is clear but there is far worse hissing and white/background noise.

Do I need to adjust any of the settings in my camera to be able to record a similar quality sound as that recorded into the recorder???

We shoot lots of video with one speaker, and we like another workflow: Essentially we use a small digital recorder (in our case the Zoom H1) AS the wireless mic. we attach a lav mic to the talent, and connect it to the recorder in the talent's pocket.

I can see how a real wireless mic with a transceiver might be more comfortable to wear, but the audio we get is great. I was wondering if we're missing out on any other advantages by not using a real wireless mic, what do you think?

Hi Chris  -

This sounds to me like a very efficient, low cost solution.  If it works for you - don't fix it!

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hello, I read your article, and I must say it is very informative. I was a film major in college, so back then, I had no earthly idea on how to use digital. Now in the digital world we live in, I am having to reteach myself everything :( Well on the other hand, I think I got some of it down; however, sound is such a big monster for me. My main purpose is to produce movies. I do know that sound is everything when it comes to a finished product, and I began looking at the Tascam DR 60d and the ZOOM h6. Which one would you suggest? And also, will I need a field mixer, (even though these are digital recorders) will I need another one, if so which would you suggest? And microphones? Pleeeeeease help. Please... thank you so much. I enjoyed your article btw. Have a great day! I hope I wasn't too confusing ...

I come from a music background but I'm thinking of buying a portable recorder for video audio (and some music).

One thing that's stumping me is lavalier mics. I've been having a hard time finding out what's the standard connection type they use. Does it vary a lot? I know XLR and 1/8" plugs, but what is XLRM? XLR3M?

I wish there was a way to organize by connector type at the b&h shop website.

This thread very helpful!
I want to mount wireless mics onto bicycle helmets and do radio interviews on a tandem bicycle.
What would be the most cost effective way to record and mic? I know, wind will def be a situation.
I have an old Zoom H2 (from BH!) that I have loved for many years but sadly not multiple input. Also, do you know any possibilities for both parties to be not only mic but also w ear piece? Both parties mic'd and also able to hear each other earpiece? Like blue tooth recording? or something?? Lavs w single headphone?

We use a Tascam portable recorder and sometimes we have issues of audio drift when we get back into the editing room. The audio is synced to our video for about an hour or so and then begins to drift. It doesnt always happen, but what could be the cause? Are there portable recorders that work better for video that can be genlocked to my camera?
We use Edius 6.0 and Media 100 in our studio.
Most of the time audio we record is out from a mixer (The DJ at a wedding or reception)
Is it file format or perhaps quality setting the issue??
thanks for any help on this..

-Vivek

Good day

I am a teacher from South Africa at an underpriviledged school(I have bought from your New York store when I was in the States).

I have recently started a project at my school where I make short films with some of the kids. I bought all the equipment myself (DSLR, shotgun mic + shock mount, headphones, tripod, bag etc.) Currently I'm looking for a audio recorder under $100 just to improve the quality of sound. I'm still an amateur and don't want to spend too much.

What device would you recommend as a recorder via a shotgun mic on a boompole. I've looked at the Zoom H1, Olympus WS801, Sony ICD-PX333F, Sony ICD-UX523. I would even consider the Tascam DR-05.

Kind regards

Thanks for the helpful article! My question now is this: Is it possible to do a double-system shoot, (in order to get optimal audio quality), while also syncing the audio into the camera during the shoot, (in order to save time in post-production)?

I'm shooting with a Nikon D800 and recording audio from a Rode NTG3 shotgun mic, (or sometimes a Sennheiser lav mic, or both), into a Zoom H4N recorder. Is there some way, using a timecode or otherwise, to get the good audio from the recorder into the camera? For interviews and such, using a clapboard and syncing later is no problem. But some of my work involves shooting live events where audio is needed. I can mount both the shotgun mic and recorder onto my shoulder rig. Yet having so many short, individual shots of both video and audio to sync up, especially when I don't have the time or the extra hand for a clapboard, makes post production a significantly slower process.

Do you have any suggestions for this? I'd appreciate any advice, as I'm relatively new at pro videography.

I have an HD video camera, a tascam DR-40 and need to record voice and instrumentals (teaching video). My small space only allows one angle for the video camera then the tascam elongates the microphone, but not enough to capture my soft voice and the child's and the instruments. I would like the microphone to pick-up the whole room if possible. How can I do this?

Hi, I have a question that I have been looking all over the internet for the answer. Maybes it just stupid but a compositor/VFX artist who is getting into the production end of things. Do all portable recorders with a line out/headphone jack do live playback? meaning that you can listen to what is being recorded while it is actually happening? Like the Zoom H1 has a line out headphone jack but its only 100 bucks. Thanks!

So another simple question for us newbies out there....if you are using a portable digital recorder how do you sync it to the video? Unless you are running an auxiliary cable out of your digital recorder and into the video camera? If you did it separately it seems like it would be difficult if there are lots of video takes, as you mentioned. So what's the best way to organize your work flow??

Thanks for the article.
It gave a good understanding of a direction to move on.

I have one question only, that disturbs me alot.
White background noise.

I've read an advise below to low down the gain.
Does this mean, that noise is caused by wrong gain number only?
Is there any causing noise factors that should be taken into account before buying external mic?

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