October 13, 2016 at 10:48PM


Best Low Budget Sound Setup?

Hello! I was wondering what the best sound setup would for low budget independence filmmaker like myself. I would like my setup to be everything I need to record quality sound including the sound recorder, shotgun mic, boom pole, dead cat, cable, and whatever else I may need. I would like to keep this to under 400 dollars, thanks!!!


The responses to others who have asked the same question (in terms of sound recorder, shotgun mic, boom pole, dead cat, cable, and whatever else I may need) result in answers in the $800-$1000 range: http://nofilmschool.com/boards/questions/i-have-1000-audio-equipment-nar...

My answer in that thread (see original for hyperlinks):

A realistic minimal budget would be:
$700 for microphone & boom pole
$100 for closed-ear headphones
$200 for Zoom h4n

Total: $1000. Learning to use a boompole and headphones will take some time. And you simply cannot wish away the fact that getting good sound is an active job that somebody has to do, independently and collaboratively with everybody else.

October 14, 2016 at 3:09AM


If you check the link that Michael posted you will see that even on a bargoon audio budget you are looking at closer to $1000 for everything.

Also keep in mind that low cost shotgun microphones don't perform well when recording sound indoors in typical home/office size spaces, because they pick up as much sound from behind as they do in front so you get all kinds of nasty audio reflecting from the walls, floors, and ceiling of the rooms you are recording it. Outside with good wind protection these low cost shotguns can be quite good.

For indoor recording there is a really good low cost cardioid "pencil" condenser microphone that you can order on eBay for about $60. It's the Takstar CM63 cardioid condenser micphone : https://goo.gl/rdCkQW

You will need to use a recorder that can provide 48 volt "phantom" power to power the Takstar mic, such as the Tascam DR-40 or Zoom H4n recorders.

This Takstar mic does NOT pick-up audio from behind like low cost shotgun mics do, so it sounds fantastic in places where a shotgun mic might sound awful.

Given your $400 budget I would get some basic audio gear that you can use to eventually flush out to a full audio kit when you can afford it. So here's the list I would start with:

$ 60 Takstar CM63 microphone
$166 Tascam DR-40 recorder
$ 99 Rycote Medium Hole Softie Lyre Mount & Pistol Grip
$ 25 Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Microphone Cable - 15'
$ 25 Sennheiser HD 202-II Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones
$ 20 Seaport Digital Painter's Pole Adapter ( converts painter-pole to boom mic pole )

The prices are from B&H Photo and the total comes to $395. This kit would enable you to record great sound both indoors and outdoors. ( the Rycote Softie & Grip work pretty good in low to moderate wind ) The Canare XLR cable is one of the best brands of mic cables, and you can get them in about eight different colors. ( I like buying orange cables so people won't accidentally step on them )

You will need to add a painter's pole to use with the Seaport Pole adapter, which is a really low cost way of making a boom-pole for your microphone. ( just make sure you get a pole that doesn't squeak when you adjust it )

One last pointer... To obtain high quality audio recordings you have to position your microphone less than 3 feet from your subject, which is why camera mounted microphones are almost always a bad idea. ( other than using them for reference audio that you are going to use when syncing the "good" audio that was recorded with a boomed microphone ) So using a boomed mic makes a huge difference to the quality of the finished audio.

October 14, 2016 at 3:08PM, Edited October 14, 3:53PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Im a novice when it comes to sound. But I like my results when I had no money and the following kit:
H2 ($80 roughly on ebay, H2N is the new model for $169 roughly)
Rode Video Mic ( I had this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rode-VideoMic-directional-video-condenser-microp... $62 on ebay, the newer ones will work as well)
Rode boom pole (Cable in the pole would be nice but this boom will work, you can find older versions on ebay for cheap)
Sony Studio Headphones (cheap studio headphones)
Theres options with this, you can try getting a ball head mounting the h2 or h2n to the boom pole itself. Using the same cable to extend your rode mic to the recorder can be used to headphone monitor this method. Use this setup til you want to move to a DR40 and maybe an NTG mic or other XLR. All of what I outlined above can direct feed into your dslr, aside from the boom pole, unless you want to use it that way.

This setup I used when i was a one man band, still throw it together when I record myself sans the shotgun mic.

October 14, 2016 at 7:25PM

Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer

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