December 31, 2015 at 10:47AM


low-budget audio for one-man band

I'm trying to solve my audio problems for under $400. This is mostly for unplanned shoots and experiments.

I'm cheap -- I shoot short films on my Sony Nex 5n with vintage Nikkor lenses -- by no means a great camera, but it's small and good enough. For bigger projects I look to outside cinematography help.

When I use my Nex 5n setup, I'm usually a one-man-band. I've been recording audio to my i-phone with attachable tascam condenser mics. It's time for an upgrade. I want to primarily record dialogue indoors, but would like the option to shoot interviews outdoors for documentary work.

Because my 5n is small and portable, and because audiophiles rave about the small and portable Sony PCM m10 (around $200), I've been thinking about using that. The lack of phantom power and xlr inputs kind of freaks me out. Are the stereo mics on the Sony PCM m10 any good? Would I end up buying an external battery powered mic? If I do that -- are the 1/8th audio inputs noisy? If I get an external mic, might as well get a recorder with phantom power and xlr inputs, right?

My other option is the Tascam 60dmkii which is $160 these days. It supposedly has better pre-amps and is cheaper than the tascam 40d. I found a used Oktava mk012 for $150. I think they'd make a nice audio set-up, but the tascam is bigger than my camera, and maybe harder to operate by myself. So at this point I might as well just get a sound person.

Any advice would be appreciated.


The Sony PCM-M10 is good for ambient recording with it's built-in omni-directional mics that essentially pick-up everything in the room.

The noise-floor is good when fed a LINE level signal, but the built-in mic preamps are pretty noisy when used with a MIC level signal. I own a PCM-M10 recorder that I ONLY use with a Sound Devices MixPre-D mixer and this combination works great, but I am feeding a LINE level signal from the SD mixer into the Sony recorder. ( It's a very compact recorder so it fits right into the front pocket of my SD mixer bag )

If you want a recorder for general purpose recording I would recommend the Tascam DR-05 which costs less than $100, works perfectly with LAV mics, records good stereo ambient sound, and can be used in a pinch for dialog recording if you aim one of it's mic's directly at the person speaking, with the recorder just outside of your shooting frame.

The Tascam DR-60D Mk2 recorder is a great low cost device when you want to use a XLR mic with your camera, or even just as a recorder all by itself. For a low cost mic to use with the DR-60D Mk2 I recently read about an inexpensive mic you can buy on eBay that is supposed to be good for indoor dialog. It's the Takstar CM63 mic, that you can buy for $60 US. I plan on buying one in the New Year to test against my $600 AT4053b mic, just to see what a $60 mic can do :

The Oktava mic is generally a good mic but it's very sensitive to handling noise, so make sure you get a good shock-mount for it. There are several places that sell modded Oktava mics that cost $100-200 more than the regular mic but are supposed to improve the sound and the handling-noise to some degree.

It's out of your budget, but my favorite low-cost shotgun mic is the Sennheiser MKE600 mic that works well both indoors and outdoors. ( as long as you have a blimp for wind-protection outside )

December 31, 2015 at 2:30PM, Edited December 31, 2:31PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Thanks for the detailed response, Guy. I didn't mention it before, but I think I'm going to go with the Zoom H5 with its shotgun mic attachment. I found a good deal, and it seems like a versatile device. (it sounds good too)

That Takstar mic looks interesting, especially for $60. I'll have to check that out once I expand my sound arsenal. I'll look for your comparison once you test it!

January 1, 2016 at 9:31PM

Alex Phillips

Zoom H5 is a great recorder, and I've heard some good recordings made with the shotgun mic attachment, so that sounds like a good place to start.

I just ordered the Takstar mic to see what it can do. I'll post some test results against my AT4053b and AT3031 mics once I've had a chance to play with it. It might be a good affordable "starter" mic for indoor recording.

January 2, 2016 at 6:18AM, Edited January 2, 6:19AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

For person-centuries of good experience, spend some time over at gearslutz - . There some very seasoned opinions on all aspects of recorded music. Search with a few of the keywords, and spend some time reading through the posts. The guys who answer tend to be purists, but you will get a feel what can be done, and what kit works in what situations for what sort of people.

January 2, 2016 at 10:40AM



February 1, 2016 at 2:51AM, Edited February 1, 3:08AM

Youth Pastor

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