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Author Topic: Field Recording Gear  (Read 8605 times)

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Offline a-dub

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Field Recording Gear
« on: June 04, 2008, 09:22:21 PM »
Hey all,

Sorry to fill this forum up with "what kind of field recorder should i get" questions, but man I have exhausted myself researching google and different forums to find one that works for me.

First off, I'm going to be recording different outdoor environments-calm to chaotic. Pretty much nature and suburban ambiance.

Second, the sound devices gear is waaaay out of my budget so pretty much anything $600 and under.

Third are external mics really important if you have good internal mics? Example: Sony PCM-50 internals vs say Marantz PMD 660 or Fostex FR-2L with rode nt4?

I'm just trying to find a good quality sound setup with clean crisp sound and low to zero unwanted machine or preamp noise. Thanks  :)

 
Shhh, silence is golden.

Offline digifish_music

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2008, 09:49:58 PM »
Hey all,

Sorry to fill this forum up with "what kind of field recorder should i get" questions, but man I have exhausted myself researching google and different forums to find one that works for me.

First off, I'm going to be recording different outdoor environments-calm to chaotic. Pretty much nature and suburban ambiance.

Second, the sound devices gear is waaaay out of my budget so pretty much anything $600 and under.

Third are external mics really important if you have good internal mics? Example: Sony PCM-50 internals vs say Marantz PMD 660 or Fostex FR-2L with rode nt4?

I'm just trying to find a good quality sound setup with clean crisp sound and low to zero unwanted machine or preamp noise. Thanks  :)


I'll start off with a ~budget 'giant-killer' system (for field-recording). Yes it will be more than you want to spend, however it's just an example, but there is method in my approach, read below...

Sound Devices MixPre ($660)
Edirol R09HR ($350)
Audio Technica AT3032 pair (Omni) or AT3031 pair (cardioid) ($320) or Rode NT4 (in a blimp)

TOTAL = $1300~1400

This will give you a system that has extremely low self-noise and will pull field-recordings that are world class. It also has the advantage of being configurable from stealth (with the addition of some mics mentioned below) or full-blown cables-n-lights-everywhere rig.

Now I know that's not what you had in mind, however if you start with an R09HR you have the basis of an excellent setup and can add other bits as you gain confidence that this is something you want to continue.

So for now I would suggest Edirol R09HR + Sound Professionals SP-TFB-2 Microphones (run of the mic power from the R09HR), Church Audio or build your own mics = TOTAL $400~550.

The internal mics of almost all gear are useless for field-recording ambiances as they are too noisy and closely spaced. Zoom H4 and H2 however do an good job there (but they are the exception in anything below ~$600).

You can browse my field recordings with an R09 + various gear and mics here...

http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/usersViewSingle.php?id=29541

Some pics & samples, these aren't necessarily great recordings, just showing some of the places I record with my rig...

Semi-stealth...

Click here for the recording



Exposed :)

Click here for the recording



...

Click here for the recording



digifish

« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 07:18:29 AM by digifish_music »
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Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2008, 10:49:39 PM »
Zoom H2's four mics can provide something the others can't when it comes to ambient recordings.

http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/9/22/1451533/Dogs%20in%20park%20for%20net%20MS.mp3 is a recording of me walking my dogs in the park (H2 - can't now remember whether 4 mics or two, actually).  Several people have said they bought theirs on the strength of that sample!

edit - found the details of that sample - "simply me up the park with the dogs. M, 100, 4ch mixed down with my MS method to mp3, Rode dead kitten windshield, all settings on their defaults.

You hear distant urban sounds, Australian birds, much panting by the dogs, and then us getting into the car and the car and its radio starting. The sample shows the available dynamic range pretty well. "
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 10:58:01 PM by Ozpeter »

Offline digifish_music

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2008, 11:10:55 PM »
Zoom H2's four mics can provide something the others can't when it comes to ambient recordings.

http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/9/22/1451533/Dogs%20in%20park%20for%20net%20MS.mp3 is a recording of me walking my dogs in the park (H2 - can't now remember whether 4 mics or two, actually).  Several people have said they bought theirs on the strength of that sample!

edit - found the details of that sample - "simply me up the park with the dogs. M, 100, 4ch mixed down with my MS method to mp3, Rode dead kitten windshield, all settings on their defaults.

You hear distant urban sounds, Australian birds, much panting by the dogs, and then us getting into the car and the car and its radio starting. The sample shows the available dynamic range pretty well. "

Very nice, I keep hearing great recordings from the H2's internal mics.

digifish
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 11:44:10 PM by digifish_music »
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Offline a-dub

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2008, 12:26:12 AM »
Digi, what did you record the lake sounds with? That recording sounds very good!
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Offline digifish_music

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2008, 01:38:58 AM »
Digi, what did you record the lake sounds with? That recording sounds very good!

Rode NT4 ... note, all the background noise is 'live' background noise, not from the rig/mic.

PS: lots more Rode NT4 recordings here...

http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/searchText.php?search=rode%20nt4&start=1&searchDescriptions=1&searchTags=1&searchFilenames=0&searchUsernames=0

This one is not bad, NT4 walking along (mic in blimp)...the green trace below is the path. The orange was for another recording.

http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/samplesViewSingle.php?id=44480



Here's the 68 meter recording...

http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/samplesViewSingle.php?id=44479

digifish
« Last Edit: June 05, 2008, 01:50:54 AM by digifish_music »
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Offline rastasean

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2008, 11:14:44 AM »
I am becoming more interested in field recording as well and I have been in communication with digifish. He has excellent advice and in concur with it all. If you just want to start out, I would recommend the Edriol R-09HR and a pair of the binaural mics digi linked you to. This should be quite sufficient for you for awhile. I have heard the h2 to be a nice recorder but I have heard it uses batteries a little too much.

What kind of field recordings are you interested in doing?
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Offline a-dub

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2008, 12:41:19 PM »
I am becoming more interested in field recording as well and I have been in communication with digifish. He has excellent advice and in concur with it all. If you just want to start out, I would recommend the Edriol R-09HR and a pair of the binaural mics digi linked you to. This should be quite sufficient for you for awhile. I have heard the h2 to be a nice recorder but I have heard it uses batteries a little too much.

What kind of field recordings are you interested in doing?

Thank you both for steering me in the right direction. Just by listening to digifish's recordings, you can definately appreciate the clean sound quality. As for field recodrings, pretty much forests, creeks, anything with water, city sounds, everything and anything I can get a mic close to.

Ratasean: How do the binaural mics sound for you? Did you buy them from sound professionals or make them yourself? And when you record with them, is there alot of unwanted noise or are they pretty clean sounding?
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Offline rastasean

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2008, 01:15:53 PM »
Thank you both for steering me in the right direction. Just by listening to digifish's recordings, you can definately appreciate the clean sound quality. As for field recodrings, pretty much forests, creeks, anything with water, city sounds, everything and anything I can get a mic close to.

Ratasean: How do the binaural mics sound for you? Did you buy them from sound professionals or make them yourself? And when you record with them, is there alot of unwanted noise or are they pretty clean sounding?

Those are the kinds of recordings I'm interested in as well--basically anything. haha.
Did you know the artist andy warhol used to record everything as well?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_warhol
Audio: At one point Warhol carried a portable recorder with him wherever he went, taping everything everybody said and did. He referred to this device as his "wife." Some of these tapes were the basis for his literary work.

I don't own the pair yet but I think I may by the SP and make my own. Basically any stereo omni mics are good enough to be binaural, its just the placement in/directly the ears that makes them special. The other night I attempted to do a recording using a pair of giant squid audio mics I own but I was not very good just because the mics aren't that crisp, it was kind of muddy or something.

I still don't know what I want for my 'rig'. In addition to doing the ambient recordings, I want to do music recordings as well. Right now I don't know if I want, well i want BOTH, R-09HR and eventually a mixpre to do phantom power or the fostex fr-2LE and perhaps a mod from one of those guys that do them. Since I will be getting the 09HR (Provided people don't complain too much about them), I'm almost wondering if the mixpre would just be better all around.
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Offline a-dub

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2008, 03:32:38 PM »
I'm feeling the same way about just getting a mixpre with R-09HR or fostex. I'm not sure how clean the fostex's preamps are though. If you think about it, it would be cheaper getting the fostex with a rode nt4 rather than buying a good mixpre for the R-09HR and an external mic. I'm just really concerned about unwanted noise from both rigs. Which would be cleaner? Digifish did mention that R-09HR + SD preamp + rode nt4 would give you world class recordings. I wonder if fostex and rode nt4 would have similar results?
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Offline rastasean

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2008, 03:59:18 PM »
I'm feeling the same way about just getting a mixpre with R-09HR or fostex. I'm not sure how clean the fostex's preamps are though. If you think about it, it would be cheaper getting the fostex with a rode nt4 rather than buying a good mixpre for the R-09HR and an external mic. I'm just really concerned about unwanted noise from both rigs. Which would be cleaner? Digifish did mention that R-09HR + SD preamp + rode nt4 would give you world class recordings. I wonder if fostex and rode nt4 would have similar results?

Well glad to see I'm in your boat! I have heard of people people who love their Fostex FR-2LE recorders and there are people who can upgrade the pre-amps in it for a couple hundred extra bucks...http://www.oade.com/digital_recorders/hard_disc_recorders/FR-2LE_upgrades.html

Just thought I would toss that to you.
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

Offline a-dub

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2008, 04:29:47 PM »
Looks like the basic MOD is right up our alley:

Stereo Ambient & Nature Recording/Birds/Foley/FX

PMD 660 ENG
PMD 660 Ambient
FR2LE Basic
FR2LE Super
HDP2 Super +6B
Edirol R4 Ambient
Edirol R4Pro Ambient
FR2 Super

Not that bad of a price either. The FR2LE goes for $599.99 without the mods at some places. Have you heard any recordings with the mod compared to the original?
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Offline rastasean

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2008, 05:20:11 PM »
Digifish,

While this was intended to be a pre-amp review, can you you tell us how you like the mixpre? I found these comments on a forum, I think they mainly do audio for video, though.

the battery life is shi* with phantom power on and led illumination ,
no mic level outs , no individual high pass filter
no individual channel monitoring , no ms matrix , no headphone ms matrix
the pots are to small
let say if you need mixer its not something to consider , if you need additional preamp to add to your setup it could work .
by the way it sounds good what doesnt make it ideal for normal jobs
http://dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=110933
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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2008, 06:01:44 PM »
Digifish,

While this was intended to be a pre-amp review, can you you tell us how you like the mixpre? I found these comments on a forum, I think they mainly do audio for video, though.

the battery life is shi* with phantom power on and led illumination ,
no mic level outs , no individual high pass filter
no individual channel monitoring , no ms matrix , no headphone ms matrix
the pots are to small
let say if you need mixer its not something to consider , if you need additional preamp to add to your setup it could work .
by the way it sounds good what doesnt make it ideal for normal jobs
http://dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=110933

You'll notice the comments are from Oleg.  Do a search for Oleg here...

Considering the size and performance of the MixPre, it is one of the best devices for our hobby. 

Consider the Grace201 Preamp (about $1400 more than the SD): http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/m201/  Even this $2000 device doesn't have all the features Oleg lists. 

You should ask Oleg what pre-amp he uses that has all the feature he lists.

Terry


« Last Edit: June 05, 2008, 07:53:02 PM by twatts »
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Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Field Recording Gear
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2008, 07:36:59 PM »
http://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm is essential reading for nature/ambient recordists.

 

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