November 20, 2014 at 2:32PM


Field Solutions for Recording Audio

I will be (hopefully) shooting a short indie film summer 2015, and it will be my first film where much of the action takes place outdoors. I am currently drafting a budget for sound gear, but I wanted peoples opinion on several aspects of the sound recording:
1) Hypercardioid vs supercardioid for outdoor mic selection (or something else?)
2) Use of a Cloudlifter pre-amp to help with noise-free amplification.
3) Best portable recorder for field recording (ideally under $1k).
Thanks in advance!


Hi Joseph--

1- For an outdoor mic you want a shotgun mic for film recording. Indoors I use a cardioid or hyper but outside its best to go with a shotgun. You'll also want a decent shock mount for it, and probably some kind of blimp or at least a decent Rycote wind cover. You also want to invest in a good boom pole, if you can afford carbon fibre then your arms will thank you - if not at least try to get one with a cable preinstalled, makes setup and use much easier. My usual kit is a Sennheiser ME66 shotgun, which goes on the K6 preamp. It can run off battery or use phantom - and because its a modular system I can attach other mics to the K6 like cardioid and hyper heads. I have the Rode blimp as well.

2- A cloudlifter is used for dynamic microphones - you wouldn't have a need for it using condenser mics to record for film

3- I use the Tascam DR680 - which is about $450 on B&H. It is a great 6 channel recorder with good mic preamps. I have never had an issue powering any of my mics, and it allows you to record 6 individual channels and a master stereo mix all to SD card. I have been very happy with the quality and the ease of use. Porta Brace makes a bag for it, which is great for protecting and gives you a very nice shoulder strap - highly recommend it as well. When maxing it out I've run a shotgun and 5 lavs through the recorder at the same time and everything worked just as it should!

November 23, 2014 at 12:04AM

Scott Selman
Festival Producer, AFI DOCS | Filmmaker | Producer

>>> 1) Hypercardioid vs supercardioid for outdoor mic selection (or something else?)

As Scott mentioned, a shotgun mic with proper wind protection is the best mic for outdoor recording. Here are some mics I would check out...

Sennheiser MKE600 : costs less than $400

Rode NTG-3 : costs less than $750

>>>2) Use of a Cloudlifter pre-amp to help with noise-free amplification.

I haven't used a "CloudLifter" but it looks like it is a dedicated +25 dB gain pre-amp which would probably work quite well provided you've got a mixer or recorder that can supply the 48 volt phantom power to run it.

With a good mic mixer or recorder you won't need to use a "CloudLifter", as your mixer or recorder can supply 25+ dB of clean gain all by itself.

>>>3) Best portable recorder for field recording (ideally under $1k)

I would go with a used Sound Devices mixer like the older MixPre model (buy used for $500 or less on eBay) which will power your mics and supply up to 60+ dB of clean gain to the mic signal, and then buy a low cost recorder like the Tascam DR-40 or DR-60 Mk2 to do the actual recording. ( this is what I'm currently using when I want premium quality sound for my shoots )

Other recorders that work well with a SD MixPre mixer are: Olympus LS-12, Sony PCM-M10, Zoom H5 or Zoom H6. ( avoid the Zoom H4n if possible )

November 24, 2014 at 12:41PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

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