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How to Use a Portable Audio Recorder on a Video Shoot

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Nowadays, many people are using portable digital recorders like the Zoom H4n, Zoom H6, or Tascam DR40  to record the audio during video shoots with DSLR/mirrorless cameras. 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.

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are capable of excellent 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 ?" 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.

The first step is to set the recorder to record 24-bit 48 kHz WAV files. These files sound great, will give you good headroom, and will play well with video files in post production. Anticipate that recording at 24-bit 48 kHz gives you about an hour of stereo recording per gigabyte. High-capacity SD cards are becoming more and more affordable, so consider picking up a few of those. It’s always a good idea keep a back-up card or two in your equipment bag.

Most portable digital recorders have decent-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 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 attach them to the shoe of your camera easily with an adapter 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. If you're not careful, the microphones will pick up the sound of your fingers fiddling with the controls on the camera, the operational noises of the camera, and footfall 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.

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 specific portable recorders, as well as generic windscreens that will fit a variety of recorders.

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 pick up 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: Plugging an External Microphone into 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: it’s 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 commonly used to capture the audio in video and film productions, thanks to their highly directional pickup pattern. 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 MKII). Generally speaking, XLR inputs are for professional microphones and mini-plug inputs are compatible with consumer microphones. No matter which kind of shotgun mic 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!



 


 

Dual XLR inputs on the Tascam DR100 mkII, 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 to get as close as possible to the sound source. Obviously, this is going to be impossible if you're also operating the camera, so it's a good idea to have a dedicated sound person operating the audio equipment when you're shooting double system with a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

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’ll need a microphone with a corresponding mini-plug connector. However, if you want a better-quality wireless system that's compatible with mini-plug mic inputs, we recommend upgrading to a Sennheiser AVX or a Sony UWP system. If your portable digital recorder has XLR inputs, you can use any of the wireless systems.

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 field recorder. 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-D Compact Field Recorder.

An alternative to using a field mixer in conjunction with a separate portable field recorder is to purchase a field mixer with integrated recording capabilities, such as the Sound Devices 633 or the Tascam DR-680MKII Portable Multichannel Recorder.

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 and are covered if one recorder encounters a problem.



 

Unlike an XLR adapter box, a field mixer cannot be mounted on your camera. This is why using an audio bag to hold the field mixer and portable digital recorder is essential. Audio 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 in which 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 announce the take information audibly 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 onscreen talent clap their hands together at the beginning and end of each take to create a similar visual and audible syncing point. 

Recent advancements in post-production software now make it easier to synchronize in-camera audio and the superior audio from your dedicated audio device. Some video editing packages such as Apple’s FCPX have this feature built in, while other 3rd-party options are available, such as Red Giant PluralEyes.

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 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 set the gain actively 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. 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 -6dB during the loudest peaks in volume, but try to keep the meters on your recorder in this sweet spot. That's usually 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 and mirrorless video shoots, 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 of double-checking 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 to the success of your project as looking through the viewfinder of your 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 may sound obvious, but sometimes the most basic operations can be overlooked. 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 certain 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 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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If I connected my audio recorder to my camera (like the first picture) would I lose any recording quality if I did this.

Hi Sam - 

No quality is lost as the recorder will still capture the high resolution audio and record it to its memory card. What you are gaining are the use of the recorder's superior microphones and pre-amp over those in the camerai f you decide not to use the higher res file of the recorder to sync with in post.  

I'm mainly a "one-man" team most days. Is there no way to attach say the zoom recorders to a mic stand, boom pole, or even a tripod to get the recorder closer to the subject when I have to work the camera? Thanks in advance!

Hi Ashley -

Sure ther is.  The Zoom recorders offer a female 1/4" bushing that will, with the correct adapter, allow physical connection to a mike stand, tripod, hot shoe, boom pole, or even a light stand.

Revo Hot Shoe to 1/4"-20 Male Post Adapter

Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head

Impact Rapid Baby to 1/4"-20 Male Threaded Adapter

Impact Small 3/8" Female Threaded Adapter to 1/4"-20 Male Threaded Post

Auray 5/8" Male to 3/8" & 1/4"-20 Female Combo Reversible Thread Adapter (Brass)

I just bought a mic stand to 1/4-20 thread adapter. I screw the adapter to the mic stand and the recorder to the adaptaer. $10 at Amazon.

Hi,

Great explainations. I think I understand now more about the problems involved in audio recording. I was wondering if you can suggest how to approach my use-case?

My typical use-case if trying to record my daughters singing in a performance. I.e., one or more singers accompanied by either a piano, a guitar, or a band (drum, electric guitars, keyboards). As a parent, I do not access to the stage area so I typically have to record from a distance (so I cannot be close to the source as you recommended but on the other hand there is more than a single source). I would prefer not to carry as little as possible and to remain on a limited budget. Is this too limiting to get improvment on audio quality on my camera recording?

I was thinking about purchasing a DR-40 (for example) and record audio either from my seat or near one of the speakers. Would this be a good solution? Could you suggest a better one?

Thanks

Hi Amichay - 

A Tascam DR-40,  used as described, should work pretty well for you.  You may also consider miking your daughter with a wireless lavalier for these performances.  

Hi

thanks for your article.

I'm looking for a better audio on my Sony HDR CX 730E: the internal microphone is decent but not the best.

my video shoot is often in internal spaces (musical, concerts, recitals...).

I found Zoom H1 or Tascam DR05: good or bad idea? which one? something different? I'm not a professional videomaker but I search good image quality and now good-excellent audio too... can you help?

Hi Alberto - 

Great idea!  Either the Tascam DR -05 or the Zoom H1 are both excellent choices for the money.  

I'm looking at 

RA202 Riggy-Assist Dual-XLR Preamplifier with Metering (No Phantom Power)

$329.00 

I'll just be using two professional cardioid XLR battery powered mics, for now, and later, a lavalier when I need it. It seems a step up from the 

H4n Pro 4-Channel Handy Recorder

$199.99 

Do you agree?

Hi  Jerry -

Not really a step-up, but it does sounds like a plan, Jerry.  There would be no high resolution recording!

I just need to know how to control the dials on my RODE audio attached to my camera.

On the left is    0|/  surely I just slide this from 0 to the /  ?

On the right dial is   -10  0  -20

On a test trial, I got no audio. 

Suggestions please. Thank you.. Max

Hi Max -

Please e-mail us all the details of your set-up along with make and model numbers of your camera, microphones, and recorders, and what you will be recording.  We will be happy to offer you some guidance to get you pointed in the right direction.

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

I really liked your article, however, I still have a question. I now have a dual recording system, but I'm having problems synchronizing my audio with the video. I've tried the free trial of Plural Eyes, but I'm having problems with the synchronization. Any help would be welcome.

Thanks

Hi Luis -

Please send us an e-mail describing your specific issues with synchronizing with Plural Eyes software:

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

great article. exactly what i needed to know. thanks!

Great article! Thank you much! It is very educational!

Sam, This is one of the most lucid descriptions of "how to" for sound I have ever read.  Thanks and congratuations.  Really helpful article to pass on to my less-versed colleagues.  

Thanks for this clear and informative article. - One more tip: with a small and simple thread adapter it is possible to put a digital recorder like the Zoom on a microphone stand that can be extended from outside the frame to the proximity of the speaker or talent. It is of course less stable then a boom mic on a dolly, but also far less expensive. Just be sure to balance and secure the combination safely. - BR

This article on audio recording was very informative and easy to understand. Sound recording is often overlooked and adds a professional quality to any producrion. On camera mic's are the least desirable and produce  the lowest quality of sound.  A modest investment  in pro audio gear will match your HD video and will enhance your images.

Outstanding information, thank you.

I want to record bird and nature sounds. I picked up the H5 and it works great but I want to get more out of it. I am thinking a shotgun mic would be helpfull. Also adding a dome would add a more percise directional use. Can you provide any recomandations here.

Thanks.

Mark

Hi Mark -

I strongly recommend exploring the Zoom H5 thoroughly in the field and actually record with it befoer purchasing additonal components.  A parabolic dish and shotgun microphone can be useful tools but can also prove to be difficult to use in a field situation.  That said,  consider:

The Zoom SSH-6 Stereo Shotgun Microphone Capsule is designed to work with the company's H5 and H6 audio recorders as well as the hybrid Q8 audio and video recorder. The capsule includes a super-directional microphone for picking up sound on center that can be combined with a bidirectional side microphone for picking up sound from the left or right to record a fully mono-compatible stereo image for film, video, and television projects. For example, you can record dialogue with the center microphone and then mix the desired amount of environmental sound captured by the side microphone with the Zoom recorder. A hairy windscreen is included for helping reduce wind noise.

Stepping up a bit:

The Audio-Technica BP4029 (AT835ST) Stereo Shotgun Microphone offers two internally-matrixed modes which provide traditional "left-right" stereo. To accommodate varying acoustic environments, the user may select between a "wide" pattern (LR-W) with increased ambient pickup, and a "narrow" pattern (LR-N) which offers more rejection and less ambience.

In M-S mode, the BP4029 provides independent Mid and Side signals. This allows the Mid-Side balance to be adjusted as desired at the recording desk or mixing electronics, reducing the amount of equipment necessary in the field.

Designed for broadcasters, videographers and sound recordists

Compact, lightweight design is perfect for camera-mount use

Independent Line-cardioid and Figure-of-eight condenser elements

Switchable low-frequency roll-off

Switch selection of non-matrixed M-S mode and two internally-matrixed left/right stereo modes

Parabolic Ear:

The JonyShot 24" Parabolic Microphone Dishfrom Jony is highly directional and handheld or tripod mounted. It has 2 comfortable grips on either side of the dish making it easy to hand hold and aim. The bottom of the unit has a mounting plate with 1/4" threads for mating to a tripod for fixed or aimed shots.

The isolated microphone mount accepts most handheld or shotgun microphones (available separately), giving you complete control over the audio you are expecting. It will even accept a different mount if you prefer. The microphone is aimed to the rear center of the dish where the audio is concentrated and directed into the microphone's element. Audio can be picked up from as little as 3.0' (0.9m) or as much as 500.0' (152.4m) depending on wind and weather conditions.

The optional microphone feeds into an optional preamp that outputs the audio to optional headphones for optimal aiming by the operator. The audio is also output to feed a cable or an optional wireless transmitter.

And a companion shotgun microphone:

The Sanken CS-1e Short Shotgun Microphone is a professional microphone specifically designed for boompole and video camera mounted applications alike. The CS-1e features a short, lightweight design that remains hidden from video camera frames, yet comfortable to operate while mounted onto a boompole. In addition to its convenient size, the CS-1e's DC biased condenser capsule and output electronics yield uncanny directivity and long range, greatly minimizing off-axis noise and feedback. Its extended reach and improved low-frequency response deliver the range, noise rejection and sound quality ideal for professional broadcast applications, video audio capturing, film and more.

Unique long reach and sharp directivity

Ideal for mounting on HD camcorders

Suitable for ENG applications

Short 7" length, light weight (less than 3oz) for easy operation

Sanken's original square-type DC-biased condenser capsule

Improved sensitivity via redesigned capsule and circuitry

Improved S/N ratio through advanced capsule sensitivity

Extended low frequency response

Quick response after power on

Advanced RFI rejection

Wide 50Hz - 20kHz frequency range

Accepts high sound pressure levels without distortion

Rugged and dependable design

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

It really pisses me off that double system (invented in 1930) is what we have to do because Canon is too cheap to build a video/audio dslr.  This is hooey!  Confidence audio recording with video has been around since the 1960s.  So now in 2015 we have to step back to 1930 because why?

Well, basically because two people concentrating on recording video and audio usually provide better results than one person. Picking up and monitoring sound is crucial for pro results. Recording audio with a video device always is a compromise - less for technical reasons (it would of course be possible to integrate better audio hardware and interfaces in a camera, if you were ready to accept the extra bulk and weight) but who is going to monitor and mix the audio while concentrating on framing? Leave alone handling a microphone boom?

One-(wo)man-does-it-all (aka VJ) set-ups were made popular back then (and still appear to be) in order to cut production cost - but they seriously cut quality.

Solid article. Much appreciated. 

Very helpful article! Thank you for recommending specific items-such as the Tascam DR-40 I have just purchased. I was wondering though if you have recommendations as to what type of microphone would best with this? As a background, I typically have a 2-3 person crew but no professional audio person. We shoot A LOT of testimonials/interviews and always in the worst possible places (doctors offices, hospitals-AC is running or some machine is on that we don't have control of). Just wondering if you could recommend a lav or a shotgun to upgrade to. Currently we've been using WM-azden pro transmitters/receivers with a Countryman B-3 lav, but I still feel like we get a lot of noise or feedback but any movement from the talent. I bought the XLR connector for the tascam as well. Thanks!

Hi Grace -

You may need to edit out some of the low-level ambient noise you are currently encountering.  This is a normal and usual part of the process.  You can also experiment with  using a boompole mounted shotgun mic positioned just outside the frame of your shot - just above your subject's head or below them. 

The NTG2 Complete Shotgun Microphone HDSLR Kit is a B&H Kit designed to eliminate the guesswork in configuring a shotgun microphone system for the new breed of video enabled DSLR and other interchangeable lens cameras. It delivers quality and reliability while remaining cost effective.

The NTG2 from Rode NTG2 is the featured shotgun microphone in this kit, supported by a universal shockmount, universal hand grip, cabled boom pole, windscreen, a right angled XLR cable and a impedance matching transformer cable for use with the video HDSLR. Rounding out the kit is a neoprene bag made to carry a boompole.

The kit is an all-in-one solution for event videos, budget film work, budget broadcasting, Electronic News Gathering (ENG) and field production applications that use an HDSLR camera. It can be used either on-camera, or as part of a secondary recording system.

This Kit Includes:

this is the issue i have been having, no good sound record in my sony Z5 video cameras and how to set the functions at the menu for a good video production.

Thanks, for the article,realey you are great.

If you are looking for a product that will help you in synchronizing your audio and video files, for better quality performance, there's actually an app called DreamSync, a standalone application that's built for the novice user as well as professionals. It syncs your footage and audio into one single clip so that it can then be imported into applications like iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut X, or any other editing suite. 
http://dreamsyncapp.com
Both apps are effective depending on your editing workflow and how much (or little) time you want to dedicate to learning another interface for syncing audio/video footage.  

I am shooting a movie and this sounds interesting. I am from India. How & where can I find these devices & what is their prices?

We offer international shipping on most items. You can find the items above as well as pricing on our website. By adding the items to the cart you can also calculate shipping.

Hi there,

I would like to make a video and have a camera that has decent filming quality (panasonic lumix DMC-TZ7), the only problem is that it does not have an external microphone jacket. In order to improve the sound quality, I understand that we could use a wireless external microphone. We are in a small room and not moving (just sitting behind a table). What kind of microphone would you recommend in this case (low budget)? What does it mean for the editing when you use a wireless external microphone? You're talking about using a clapper, but is that because you will have a sound and image flow that you need to edit together?? Perhaps it's a very stupid question, but I am bit lost with this whole subject!
Thanks so much for the help!

One of the best (specific and easy-to-read/understand) instructional sets, especially for newbies like me, I have ever read!
Absolutely outstanding! I learned much, and will now have some wisdom in purchasing a PDR as well as understand Gain settings.

Very good write up especially for newcomers in this field. I have Nikon D800 and this article will be helpful in setting workflow for video shooting using dslr. A quick question- I have recently purchased Canon XF105 video camera. Will this workflow applicable to video camera? Does B&H has a bundle package that includes Shot Gun mic, wireless lavlier mic and audio recorder that is below $ 700-800 ?

I have a Canon T2i and a Rodeo shotgun mic. I want to recorded my son upcoming choir performance. He has a solo and I want to get the best sound possible. On certain occasions the sound I get is good enough but on other occasions when he performs the sound just doesn't seem to be just right. Could you help me out with this issue so I can get the best sound.

Thanks

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?

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??

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!

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?

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.

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

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

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?

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.

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 ...

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

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???

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