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Author Topic: I have a budget of $NNN - what gear should I buy?  (Read 26581 times)

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Offline Brian Skalinder

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I have a budget of $NNN - what gear should I buy?
« on: January 30, 2005, 01:31:15 PM »
Newbies ask this question all the time.  And it's a good question!  But there are ohhhhh so many different answers.  There are several steps to finding the right gear:

[A.]  Determine whether open or stealth gear is required
[B.]  Define the budget for primary gear
[C.]  Review the available gear options available for [A-B]
[D.]  Listen to the gear options
[E.]  Sort out miscellaneous gear
[F.]  Ask our resident experts
[G.]  Make the decision and pull the trigger!

So, off we go on our journey...


[A.]  Determine whether open or stealth gear is required

First off, you must decide:

  • Will you tape openly, gear layed out for all to see, primarily recording those bands who expressly allow audio recording at their concerts and possibly sharing of those recordings with friends and fellow fans?
  • Or are you primarily focused on stealth / low profile recording of bands who do not allow open recording?

Please note:  No tapers (of which I'm aware) support bootlegging - the sale of live recordings for profit.  If you want to bootleg, we probably can't keep you out, but you're certainly not welcome here and in the eyes of most are the scum of the Earth.  Enough said.


[B.]  Define the budget for primary gear

Pretty easy - how much are you willing to spend?  Like any tech-related hobby, you can spend as much as you want, and more!  Not much more to say, here.  :)


[C.]  Review the available gear options available that fit [A-B]

People usually have an easy time defining their budget.  For the sake of this discussion, let's assume we are only taking into account the primary recording components:

[1]  Mics
[2]  Mic Power
[3]  Gain
[4]  Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADC)
[5]  Storage Devices


If you're not familiar with this terminology - check out Getting Started.  We'll ignore, for the moment, the miscellaneous gear requirements like stands, shockmounts, cables, etc. (don't worry, we'll get to 'em in [E.] below).

As we go through the commonly used gear and prices, keep in mind when reviewing gear options that some devices provide one or more of the functions above.  For the sake of discussion, we'll lump [1-2] together, [2-3-4] together, and [3-4-5] together.  Confused yet?  Don't be, it really isn't that difficult - just make sure in selecting your gear options that you have all areas covered [1-5] and don't worry if there's some duplicate functionality in the gear options you select - most devices allow the bypassing of some functions.  For example, most storage devices [5] can provide [2-3-4-5], but allow bypassing of [2-3-4] and using the device strictly as [5].  Alright, here we go...

Note:  The following gear listings are hopelessly out of date and I don't foresee updating them any time soon, if ever.  I'll leave the list up, for now, for illustrative purposes.
 ____________________________
| KEY                        |
|----------------------------|
| +   _ballpark_ price only  |
| *   ~80% of new price      |
| (S) considered stealthable |
|____________________________|

[1-2      ]  Mics / Mic Power (priced per pair)
==============================================================================================================
New ($)+ | Used ($)* | Capability  | Make/Model/Description        | Comments
==============================================================================================================
     300 |       240 | [1-2      ] | AKG C1000S                    | internal battery or phantom power
   1,250 |     1,000 | [1-2      ] | AKG C414BULS                  | multiple polar patterns
     700 |       560 | [1        ] | AKG SE300B-CKx  (aka 39x)     | x = different polar pattern caps
     n/a |        ?? | [1        ] | AKG C460-CKx (aka 46x)        | x = different polar pattern caps
   1,200 |       960 | [1        ] | AKG C480-CKx (aka 48x)        | x = different polar pattern caps
     700 |       560 | [1        ] | ADK A51TL                     | multiple polar patterns
     400 |       320 | [1        ] | ADK SC-1                      |
     300 |       240 | [1        ] | Audio Technica AT853a         | (S) battery or phantom
     300 |       240 | [1        ] | Audio Technica AT853Rx        | (S) phantom only, x = diff caps
     300 |       240 | [1        ] | Audio Technica AT899          | (S) omni only
     300 |       240 | [1        ] | Audio Technica ES933/x        | (S) different pattern caps
     600 |       480 | [1        ] | Audio Technica 40xx           | xx = diff patterns
     600 |       480 | [1        ] | Audix Micros 1245x            | (S) x = diff patterns
     700 |       560 | [1        ] | Audix Micros 1290x            | (S)
   1,000 |       800 | [1        ] | Audix Micros SCX1x            | (S) x = diff pattern caps
      75 |        60 | [1        ] | Core Sound Low Cost Binaurals | (S) misnomer, these are omnis
      75 |        60 | [1        ] | Core Sound Low Cost Cardioids | (S) uses same batt box as CSBs
     170 |       136 | [1        ] | Core Sound Binaurals (CSB)    | (S) misnomer, these are omnis
     890 |       712 | [1        ] | Core Sound High End Binaurals | (S) misnomer, these are omnis
     200 |       160 | [1        ] | Core Sound Stealthy Cardioids | (S) uses same batt box as CSBs
   2,800 |     2,240 | [1        ] | DPA 40xx (compact series)     | (S) x = different polar patterns
     750 |       600 | [1        ] | DPA 406x (mini series)        | (S) omni only, x=diff sensitivities
     n/a |        ?? | [1        ] | Earthworks SR-71              | Discontinued
   1,100 |       850 | [1        ] | Earthworks SR-77              |
      50 |        44 | [1        ] | Giant Squid Omnis             | (S)
      50 |        44 | [1        ] | Giant Squid Cardioids         | (S)
     800 |       640 | [1        ] | MBHO 440                      |
   1,200 |       960 | [1        ] | MBHO 603-KAx                  | x = different polar pattern caps
   1,500 |     1,200 | [1        ] | MBHO 603A-KAx                 | (S) x = different polar pattern caps
   1,200 |       960 | [1        ] | Microtech Gefell M300         | x = different polar pattern caps
   2,000?|     1,600?| [1        ] | Microtech Gefell SMS2000-Mx   | x = different polar pattern caps
     n/a |        ?? | [1-2      ] | Nakamichi CM100-CPx           | x = different polar pattern caps
     n/a |        ?? | [1-2      ] | Nakamichi CM300-CPx           | x = different polar pattern caps
   2,000 |     1,600 | [1        ] | Neumann KM100-AKx (aka KM1x)  | (S, w/actives) x = diff pattern caps
   1,200 |       960 | [1        ] | Neumann KM18x                 | x = different polar patterns
   4,000 |     3,200 | [1        ] | Neumann TLM170                | multiple polar patterns
   4,500 |     3,600 | [1        ] | Neumann U89                   | multiple polar patterns
 200/400 |   160/320 | [1        ] | Oktava MC012x (aka MK012x)    | x = diff pattern caps
     140 |       112 | [1        ] | Sound Pros SP-AT831           | (S)
  60-300 |    48-240 | [1        ] | Sound Pros SP-BMC-x           | (S) x = diff make caps (omni)
 100-330 |    80-264 | [1        ] | Sound Pros SP-CMC-x           | (S) x = diff make/pattern caps
   2,200 |     1,760 | [1        ] | Schoeps CMC6+MKx              | (S, w/actives) x = diff pattern caps
     500 |       400 | [1        ] | Studio Projects C4            |
     250 |       200 | [1        ] | Superlux CM-H8K/x             | x = different polar pattern caps

[  2-3-4  ]  Mic Power, Gain, ADC
==============================================================================================================
New ($)+ | Used ($)* | Capability  | Make/Model/Description        | Comments
==============================================================================================================
     n/a |       300 | [  2-3-4  ] | Apogee AD500(e)               | continuously Variable gain, old
     n/a |       600 | [  2-3-4  ] | Apogee AD1000                 | continuously variable gain, old
   1,100 |       880 | [  2-3-4  ] | Apogee MiniMe                 | continuously variable gain
      15 |       n/a | [    3    ] | Audio Technica CP8201         | (S) fixed gain, pair required
      60 |        48 | [  2      ] | Core Sound (C-S) Battery Box  | (S) for all but HEBs
      90 |        72 | [  2      ] | C-S Batt Box w/bass roll-off  | (S) for all but HEBs
      30 |        24 | [  2      ] | Core Sound Low Cost Adapter   | (S) REQUIRED for LOW COST Bin/Cards
      60 |        48 | [  2      ] | Core Sound HEB Batt Box       | (S) for Core Sound HEBs (same as above?)
      90 |        72 | [  2      ] | C-S HEB Batt Box w/bass roll  | (S) for Core Sound HEBs (same as above?)
     500 |           | [  2-3-4  ] | Core Sound Mic2496            | (S) 24-bit, +$35-50 for breakout cables
     135 |       100 | [  2      ] | Denecke PS-2                  | (S)
     300 |       225 | [    3-4  ] | Denecke AD-20                 | (S) min +17dB gain, cont variable > 17dB
 300-550 |   250-450 | [  2-3-4  ] | Edirol UA5 (digi/w/p/t-mod)   | continuously variable gain (read the FAQ)
      40 |        48 | [  2      ] | Giant Squid Battery Box       | (S) for omnis/cards
     n/a |       650 | [  2-3    ] | Grace Design Lunatec V2       | continuously variable gain
   1,300 |     1,100 | [  2-3-4  ] | Grace Design Lunatec V3       | continuously variable gain
     n/a |       150 | [      4  ] | Graham Patten ADC-20          | stepped variable gain
      ?? |        ?? | [      4  ] | Graham Patten ADC-24          | stepped variable gain
     n/a |       400 | [  2-3-4  ] | Graham Patten DMIC-20         | stepped variable gain
      ?? |        ?? | [  2-3-4  ] | Graham Patten DMIC-24         | stepped variable gain
      20 |       n/a | [    3    ] | Hosa MIT-176                  | (S) fixed gain, pair required
     650 |       520 | [  2-3    ] | Shure FP24                    | (S) re-branded Sound Devices MixPre
     900 |       720 | [  2-3  ] | Sonosax SX-M2                 | (S)
   1,100 |       720 | [  2-3  ] | Sonosax SX-M2/LS2             | (S) factory-custom for KCY/lemo + caps
     n/a |       350 | [    3-4  ] | Sony SBM-1                    | (S)
     n/a |       550 | [      4  ] | Sony Oade-modSBM-1            | (S)
     n/a |       400 | [  2-3    ] | Sound Devices MP-2            | (S) continuously variable gain
     650 |       450 | [  2-3    ] | Sound Devices MixPre          | (S) continuously variable gain
      60 |        48 | [  2-3    ] | Sound Pros (SP) SP-SPSB-1     | (S) battery power only (no phantom/gain)
      80 |        64 | [  2-3    ] | SP SP-SPSB-1 + bass rolloff   | (S) battery power only (no phantom power)
      80 |        64 | [  2-3    ] | SP SP-SPSB-1 + gain           | (S) battery power only (no phantom power)
     100 |        80 | [  2-3    ] | SP SP-SPSB-1 + gain/bass roll | (S) battery power only (no phantom power)
     100 |        80 | [  2      ] | Stewart BPS-1                 | (S) Pair required
[/size]
[    3-4-5] Storage Devices
For the sake of this posting, we will not consider plug-in power provided by the recorder because it simply won't work with the mics noted above.  Having trouble deciding what recording device you should select?  Check out a thread on pros/cons of the most popular recording gear options.
==============================================================================================================
New ($)+ | Used ($)* | Capability  | Make/Model/Description        | Comments
==============================================================================================================
  16,000 |      ??   | [  2-3-4-5] | Aaton Cantar X                | $$$: Ouch.  Bet it sounds great, though!
     200 |           | [        5] | Core Sound PDAudio-CF         | (S) +$200-750 for PDA, software, etc.
     n/a |       150 | [    3-4-5] | Creative Labs Nomad JB3       | (S) HD recorder, discontinued (read FAQ)
      ?? |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Denon DN-F20R                 | Compact Flash recorder
     400 |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Edirol R1                     | (S) HD recorder
   1,500 |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Edirol R4                     | Hard drive recorder
   1,300 |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Fostex FR-2                   | Hard drive recorder
     n/a |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | HHB PortaDAT                  | Discontinued
  14,000 |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | HHB PortaDrive                | $$$: Ouch.  Bet it sounds great, though!
     500 |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Marantz PMD-660               | Compact Flash recorder
     700 |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Marantz PMD-670               | Compact Flash recorder
   8,000 |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | Nagra Audio Nagra V           | $$$: Ouch.  Bet it sounds great, though!
 250-450 |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Neuros HDxxGB Recorder        | (S) HD recorder, xx = hard drive capacity
     n/a |       150 | [    3-4-5] | Sony D7                       | (S) Old DAT recorder, discontinued
     n/a |       250 | [    3-4-5] | Sony D8                       | (S) Less old DAT recorder, discontinued
     650 |       450 | [    3-4-5] | Sony D100                     | (S) DAT recorder
     700 |       450 | [    3-4-5] | Sony M1                       | (S) DAT recorder
   2,500 |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | Sound Devices 722             | Hard drive recorder
   4,500 |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | Sound Devices 744             | Hard drive recorder
   1,200 |       960 | [  2-3-4-5] | Tascam DA-P1                  | DAT recorder, available new
  80-250 |    64-200 | [    3-4-5] | Mini-Disc, traditional        | (S) ATRAC only
 200-400 |   160-320 | [    3-4-5] | Mini-Disc, Hi-MD              | (S) ATRAC or uncompressed WAV
      ?? |        ?? | [    3-4-5] | Various laptop                | Too many options to list!
     n/a |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | Zaxcom DEVA II                | Discontinued
  10,000 |        ?? | [  2-3-4-5] | Zaxcom DEVA IV                | $$$: Ouch.  Bet it sounds great, though!
[/size]
[D.]  Listen to the gear options

Lots of options for listening to the gear you're considering:

There is no "right" answer, no "best" set of recording gear!  The key here is finding out what recording gear - obviously, that fits your budget and purposes - sounds best to your ears, on your playback system.


[E.]  Sort out miscellaneous gear

Now, to the miscellaneous gear.  Some of this miscellaneous gear isn't exactly unimportant.  For open taping, you'll need a mic stand and mic clips.  You may want shockmounts.  You'll need mic cables.  And cables to run between your pre and/or ADC and/or recorder.  And between your recorder and PC.  And...well, you get the idea.  For the time being, this section is what it is.  common miscellaneous gear tapers use:

  • external / remote power (some gear runs on internal batteries, other gear requires external power)
  • mic stand
  • mic stereo bar / mount bar
  • mic clips
  • shockmounts
  • mic cables
  • interconnects (between pre and/or ADC and/or recorder)
  • clamps
  • windscreens
  • umbrellas (for outdoors, obviously)
  • duct / gaffers tape
  • various cable adapters
  • headphones
  • gear bag(s)
Pretty sizable list, eh?  But not all of it is required.  So, which of this stuff should you get?  And once you decide which categories of miscellaneous stuff, what specific makes/models should you get?

Before posting away and asking about all this miscellaneous gear, do some research here at TS on your own.  Check out the Start Here! thread, and read the FAQ | Taping related section.


[F.]  Ask our resident experts

Done all your research and still need help?  Just ask our experts - the broad community of tapers here at TS.  Simply post your query in the appropriate forum and provide as much detail as possible, and odds are TS members will start replying swiftly.


[G.]  Make the decision and pull the trigger!

Well, now...go buy your gear and tape!

Our very own Yard Sale is a great place to pick up used gear.

Buying new or prefer used gear from a vendor?  Check the Retail Space forum.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2009, 03:33:17 PM by Brian Skalinder »

 

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