July 11, 2015 at 1:17PM, Edited July 11, 1:30PM

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Does it matter what Audio Recorder I'm purchasing if I'm also buying a Shotgun Microphone as long as it has XLR input?

Does it matter what Audio Recorder I'm purchasing if I'm also buying a Shotgun Microphone as long as it has XLR input?

The microphone(s) that I'm planning to purchase are the RØDE NTG 1, RØDE NTG 2 or the Audio Technica AT875R. Both the RØDE NTG 1 and the Audio Technica AT875R are powered by phantom power, however the NTG 2 can also run on one double A battery.

I'm an amateur filmmaker that has worked only on music videos but am looking to invest in audio equipment to expand my category of video.

Some may suggest why I'm bothering to purchase an audio recorder in the first place as I could easily buy a JuiceLink preamp and record audio from my microphone to my DSLR internally, however I am concerned with maneuverability of my sound team, as they will often be further away from the camera, and during filming in locations with busy streets and crowds, wires would easily be a hazard.

I hope someone can answer this question and give me some advice on what to purchase.

24 Comments

I owned a Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic for about 2 years, then sold it and replaced it with the better sounding Sennheiser MKE600 mic.

If you're buying a new shotgun mic I would strongly suggest that you take a look at the Sennheiser MKE600 mic because the price is close to what a Rode NTG-2 costs, and the MKE600 has better off-axis rejection and a better "top" end in the audio it captures. ( the Rode NTG-2 can be a bit on the "muddy" side )

As for which recorder to buy, all low cost portable recorders are NOT created equally. I would recommend looking at the Tascam DR-40, Tascam DR-60 Mk2, Tascam DR-70, Zoom H5, Zoom H6 if you want to be able to plug in and power a professional XLR mic. ( I currently own the Tascam DR-40 and the Tascam DR-70 recorders, along with a bunch of other recorders )

July 12, 2015 at 12:15PM, Edited July 12, 12:19PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32661

Regarding recorder, one factor is how many channels do you need? A two channel one will always be useful, but might you ever need more, as for example when recording boom plus several wireless mics? But in general, I would spend a lot more for mics than for the recorder.

July 12, 2015 at 9:05PM, Edited July 12, 9:05PM

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I'm only looking to record audio through one device (the shotgun microphone), so one channel will suffice. In terms of recommendations, I will look into the MKE600 and the several audio recorders mentioned.

Thank you both for the responses!

July 15, 2015 at 9:35PM

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안승주
Student Filmmaker
53

I have heard that the NTG-2 is a "quiet" microphone, so you need a good preamp/mixer or you'll get a lot of noise. I believe the Tascam DR-70D preamps are a lot better than the DR-40. I use the DR-40 with the original Sound Devices MixPre (not MixPre-D) with a "quiet" microphone and I get good results since the MixPre has excellent preamps.

The DR-70D is probably the best choice as far as preamps go, especially if you buy the NTG-2.

My shotgun microphone has similar specs to the AT875R. You'll be happy with it. It's cheaper, smaller and lighter than the ones that take batteries. You'll have a recorder with phantom power anyways with the Tascam DR-40 or Tascam DR-70D.

July 16, 2015 at 1:45PM

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Dan Fredley
After Effects Artist
117

I have a Rode NTG-2 with the Zoom h4n audio recorder.

I've heard of people having trouble with low audio, sometimes to the point of almost non existence with this combination. It never really happened on me except for one time when the output was a WAV file and it was being edited on a Mac. (I normally edit in Lightworks on Windows) On Windows I've never had this problem. Luckily the sound was pulled up and sounded good in the final film

July 17, 2015 at 8:40AM

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Andy O'Neill
Filmmaker / Cinematographer
2253

I've been using a Zoom H6 and a Rode NTG-2 for over a year and I'm really happy with the result I get. Obviously, there is noise if your recording levels are maxed and the sound you record is fairly low. But would recommend it for sure! I really like to have the opportunity to do several audio tracks recording at the same time, since The H6 can have up to 6 channels.

July 17, 2015 at 9:54AM

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Morten Furre
Director, Editor, Screenwriter
171

Really, as long as the recorder has the input you need, most of the rest just comes down to features and ease of use. Some recorders are built better, have more recording safety features, or longer battery life, but very few will actually have a better sound, with the same settings. My favorite is the Zoom h4n. Comes with phantom power, 2 XLR/TRS inputs, and is well built.

July 18, 2015 at 11:06PM

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Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer
1825

I would disagree here, as some of the better models have a noise-floor that is 10 - 20 dB lower than the poorer models.

I personally am not a fan of the Zoom H4n because of it's poor noise-floor ( -66 dB RMS ) and because it can't take a full LINE level signal without adding a 20 dB pad to the input.

The Tascam DR-60 Mk2 and DR-70, along with the Zoom H5 and H6 have recording noise-floors of -80 dB RMS or better and have no problem with a full LINE level signal.
( the Tascam DR-40 has a noise-floor of -75 dB RMS which is 9 dB quieter than the Zoom H4n, it has no problem with full LINE level signals, and it costs less )

Guy McLoughlin

July 19, 2015 at 11:52AM

Hi,
I have NTG2 and I record audio on computer via USB Mixer (mixer must be plugged in) and I have a way better sound better than on, for example, Tascam DR40 (I tested it).

July 22, 2015 at 2:49AM

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A lot depends on how you set your recording levels. The DR-40 doesn't have strong mic preamps, so you have to keep the amount of gain to a moderate amount and then boost the volume of your recording in post.

If you record using the higher gain levels on the DR-40 your recording will be quite noisy. The same is true for almost all portable recorders priced under $500.

Guy McLoughlin

July 22, 2015 at 12:19PM

It really matters how good the quality is of both the mic and the recorder. You can have an incredible mic and a terrible A-D converter and it will mess up your sound, and the same vice versa. I would say if you have a decent mic and a decent recorder, you should be fine as long as you know how they sound together and what you may need to fix in post.

July 22, 2015 at 2:50AM

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Seth Kays
Director, Sound Engineer
24

The key thing is to make sure you are not applying too much gain with these lower cost recorders, as most of them will become quite noisy beyond 50 percent of their maximum gain.

Guy McLoughlin

July 22, 2015 at 12:21PM

I once owned both the NTG-1 and 2. Later on I kind of regretted buying them at the time and waiting for an opportunity for something better to drop down roughly into my budget size. I currently own Sennheiser MKH-416 mics and a Sound Devices recorder and the difference in audio quality is staggering... Those NTGs with a Tascam sounded like toys in comparison. If you want "just better audio than internal camera mics" then Rode Video Mic (you can check the quality in devinsupertramp YouTube channel videos - almost all of them were shot using that mic) is the cheapest way to go. If you want professional audio then I suggest looking at or above the NTG-3 price point. Tascams will do a decent job (DR-40, DR-70 and above - not the handheld ones - these have different preamp tech - much inferior in terms of noise), I'd avoid Zooms (I have both personal and professional grudge against them), and when you have the cash and need for them - Sound Devices, Zaxcom or Nagra are the way to go.

July 22, 2015 at 5:05AM

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Michael Bialik
Sound Designer
117

You are comparing a $1000 mic ( MKH-416 ) against a $250 mic ( NTG-2 ), along with a $2000+ recorder ( Sound Devices ) against a $150+ recorder. ( Tascam )

If $3000 of audio gear doesn't sound better than $400 of audio gear, then something is seriously wrong.

I am also not a fan of the Zoom H4n recorder, which I consider to be one of the worst low cost recorders on the market, but the newer Zoom H5 and H6 recorders are pretty good.

I am no fan of the Rode NTG-2 mic, but the Sennheiser MKE600 or the Rode NTG-4 are pretty good for low cost microphones. ( under $400 )

Guy McLoughlin

July 22, 2015 at 12:27PM

The Rode NTG-3 is a good investment – very very similar sounding to the industry-standard MKH416, at half the price.

In the past, I've been a sceptic of Zoom, but I find the H6 a very versatile recorder. It's got nicer preamps and sounds MUCH better than the H4n. It has interchangeable mic capsules on top, and the battery life is good.

July 22, 2015 at 6:23AM

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Preamps. Preamps. Preamps... this is one of the biggest factors in the overall noise floor and reproduction qualities of any field mixer or recorder. The high end setups will usually use a dedicated field mixer, which is then fed into a field recorder, because the preamps on the mixer have a lower noise floor. High end units like the Shure FP33 will retail for around $1500-2k, just for the mixer. Lower end units like the Tascams, Zooms, etc. will generally retail for under $300, but will also have fairly low quality preamps.

Also, like others have mentioned, there are other features like number of XLR inputs, timecode, record modes, outputs, etc. that will make certain recorders better than others.

One of the best field recorders as far as preamps and noise floor is the Fostex FR-2LE, which retails for around $500, but is one of the best recorders you can get this side of a Sound Devices or Shure unit.

July 22, 2015 at 8:00AM, Edited July 22, 8:03AM

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Chris Hunter
Cinematographer & Editor
88

Many of the lower cost recorders have pretty good noise-floors ( -80 dB RMS ) as long as you feed them a strong signal from a good preamp. I've recorded very good audio using a Sound Devices mixer feeding an Olympus LS-12 recorder or a Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Guy McLoughlin

July 22, 2015 at 12:31PM

These days, the Sennheiser MKH-416 is the preferred mic for use on set. It will also run you around $1,000 from nearly all sources. The route I took was to buy the older Sennheiser MKH-415T off of ebay for less than $400. It's the exact same microphone, except for the power supply. The 415 makes use of the older 12V "T-power" standard. When 48V phantom power took over, these were discontinued and its sister mic, the 416, stayed in production. I've used mine with the Shure FP-33 mixer (which supports both standards) and the Tascam DR-40. I recently upgraded to the Tascam DR-70D due to the poor timing in the DR-40. Since you won't be able to use the 415, as-is, with modern recorders, you'll need a $40 T-power to phantom power adapter from B&H to solve that problem. In the end, you'll get a $1,000 microphone for about $450. I hope this helps.

More info:
http://recordinghacks.com/microphones/Sennheiser/MKH-415-T

July 22, 2015 at 8:52AM

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JP Fulks
Writer/Director/DP/Audio
86

Question: Since there is a voltage change, does the 415 sound any different than the 416? And does it add extra weight to your rig? I use my 416 on EVERYTHING and can definitely tell the difference when another mic is used.

Phil Lander

July 22, 2015 at 3:32PM

Hi Everyone,
I have very little knowledge in this topic. I'm planning to buy a audio technica at897 shotgun mic for my low budget short film. Which recorder do you suggest for this microphone without blasting my wallet?

July 22, 2015 at 10:31AM, Edited July 22, 10:33AM

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>>>I'm planning to buy a audio technica at897 shotgun mic for my low budget short film. Which recorder do you suggest for this microphone without blasting my wallet?

What camera are you shooting with ?

What's your budget for the recorder ?

July 22, 2015 at 12:33PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32661

I'm shooting with Panasonic GH4. I'm thinking around 200$ for recorder.

July 22, 2015 at 12:35PM

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Thank you all for so much for the responses, especially Guy McLoughlin for helping and clearing up with others on this thread as well.

Reading all of your replies, I realized that I've left out a key piece of information which was the budget. I have £400 to spend, or roughly $620 which solely focuses on the recorder and microphone (not including any cables or additional accessories).

I will look into the Tascam audio recorders and some of the higher end Zoom recorders as suggested, as well as Senheiser for the microphone.

Again, thank you all for the replies!

July 22, 2015 at 3:32PM

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안승주
Student Filmmaker
53

>>>I'm shooting with Panasonic GH4. I'm thinking around 200$ for recorder.

I would skip the recorder for now and upgrade your shotgun mic from the AT897 to the Sennheiser MKE600, which to my ears produces better audio and should produce a signal that is "hot" enough to plug directly into your GH4 camera with a simple adapter.

Kopul XRSM-015 3-Pin XLR Female to 3.5mm RA Stereo Mini-Plug Cable (1.5')
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1081984-REG/kopul_xrsm_015_1_5_xlr...

Use a proper XLR cable extension ( Canare StarQuad ) to connect your microphone to the camera audio adapter...

Canare Star Quad (L-4E6S) Microphone Cable 15'
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/194516-REG/Canare_CXLRP_XLRJ_15B_G...

When you are ready to buy a recorder, I would look at either the Tascam DR-60 Mk2 or the Tascam DR-70 recorder. ( the DR-70 requires a special cable to connect it to your GH4, because of a small design defect in the DR-70 recorder )

Tascam DR-60DmkII 4-Channel Portable Recorder for DSLR
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1084690-REG/tascam_dr_60mkii_porta...

Tascam DR-70D 4-Channel Audio Recording Device for DSLR
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1086798-REG/tascam_dr_70d_4_channe...

July 22, 2015 at 6:46PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32661

Of course the recorder matters, it really boils down to how much money you wish to spend and how many channels you need.

I think that two most critical elements are the quality of the pre-amps and AD converters after that comes durability and bells and whistles.

May 17, 2016 at 1:04PM

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Cary Knoop
Member
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