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Thread: Recording on the go (off camera)

  1. #1

    Default Recording on the go (off camera)

    I need to record sound, (at a decent quality, but low end) off camera, to load into an editting package at a later date.

    DAT recorders are quite expensive and I wondered if there was a cheaper alternative. Maybe Miini-disc? Or an MP3 recorder??

    I'm also ignorant when it comes to microphones. Reading about them I think a shotgun might be best for what I need. But do I need anything else to convert a microphone output to a "line in" socket on the device I choose? Or would I be better getting a device with a mic input?

    Also, I can't seem to find any local companies that sell what I need, never mind be able to advise me. If you have any suggestions of internet companies, please let me know.

    Thanks for any help you can offer.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries


    Unfortunately there's no easy answer. It really does depend on the following equation R=E([K/N]A)+W when R is Result, E is effort G is the good (Key) equipment N is the bad (negative) equipment, A is the correct Application and W is the Work.

    So the quality of the result is a combination of your experience and effort using various types of equipment. In the same way a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, the [K/N] part of the equation is just a way of saying that it's the poorest quality equipment which defines the final quality.

    Put simply, an expensive recorder, top computer and software will still sound rubbish if you used a cheap microphone. In the same way a Neumann microphone (2 grand plus) will sound pants if recorded on a cheap audio cassette recorder.

    Both mini-disc and MP3 compress sounds by ignoring (ie not recording) sounds which are outside, or near to, the limits of our hearing range. For most applications, and certainly for most domestic or pro-sumer video, this is acceptable.

    So, you can start off with a mini-disc recorder (max one hundred pounds)connected to a Shure SM58 microphone (also costing a hundred quid) for acceptable voice recording, or move up to a Sennheiser K6/ME64 microphone and record near-broadcast quality voice-over sound for five hundred quid or be really flash and use Shure KSM32 with a dat recorder for two and a half grand.

    Having got a bit of a learning bug, I've just spent weeks learning about sound recording and have pestered soundies, annoyed salesmen and tried and tested all sorts of equipment, hence my equation - reproduced sound is only as good as the weakest link. One thing I noticed though was that a voice recorded on mini-disc compared with a voice recorded onto a laptop computer (both with a Sennheiser 416 Microphone, at just under a grand and in a soundproof TV studio) had no noticeable difference in quality BUT, any soundie will tell you that recording music requires much more finesse than plain voices.

    It really isn't worth spending less than a hundred quid on a microphone though, certainly not on cheap makes like Vivanco or Hama. If the microphone has "made in China" on the box, walk away! Added to that: I personally don't think that Rode are that much cop either.

    As for recording media, DV and Hi8 PCM camcorders will record faithfully what's given to them, as will Mini-disc. Better still are the hard-disc and CF recorders such as those from Marantz, Fostex and Edirol (although I have no personal experience of these... yet) and finally "professional" gear such as Dat and Nagra recorders are at the top of the tree. Although it seems that the hard-disc and card recorders are pushing the traditional pro equipment out of their top place.

    But, what I'm trying to say is that if you only have a limited budget you can't expect to find a system which does everything well, either concentrate on one aspect or accept that you'll have to spend money to get a versatile system which gives good quality.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Bracknell, Berkshire, UK


    Well, I don't feel qualified to offer anything on top of The Guru's advice.

    All I'll say is that I use a Marantz PMD660 for this job. Very much at the bottom end of the 'proffessional' level of recorders. I connect my Sennheiser ME66/K6 microphone to it and the results (so far) have been just fine. The Edirol R1 looked promising but I wanted balanced XLR inputs.

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