November 5, 2015 at 11:27AM

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Low budger recording with lavaliers

Hey Guys,

I'm going to shoot a documentary, where I will have the need of using lavalier mics.
I do own Rode NTG4+ and an ZoomH6. Which will be mounted as 2nd audio recording, away from camera.

But, there are some places where I'll need to use lavalier. Which is a good setup for this specific locations where I'd need to use this lavalier setup.

I am looking for a low budget setup ( since I've spent all my money on the zoom and the rode, and the accessories...)

I was looking at a simple dictaphone with included lavalier, which costed only $12, what do you think of that ?

TL;DR

Is a $12 dictaphone + lavalier good (enough) for documentary audio production ?

This:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/1Set-Free-Shipping-8GB-USB-VOR-Rechargeab...

This:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rechargeable-8G-USB-Digital-Audio-Voice-Recorder-Dictaphone-MP3-Player-CU3-/181423866893?hash=item2a3db4840d:g:~XoAAOxyhS9ThqaY

Or maybe this? :

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-4GB-PX-Series-MP3-Digital-Dictaphone-Voice-IC-Recorder-with-Microphone-New-/151701425164?hash=item23521c0c0c:g:AQUAAOSwZjJU8HJw

The documentary is not commercial.

18 Comments

Every dictaphone/voice-recorder mic I've heard sounds absolutely terrible for audio. Fine for transcribing text, but definitely NOT for recording quality audio.

The cheapest lav mic I've heard of that some people like is the Audio-Technica ATR-3350, which costs about $30 from Amazon.com. I've never used one, but I've heard it's possible to get usable results from it.

http://goo.gl/fmOSjJ

The cheapest lav mic that I use is the Oscar SoundTech lav mics that cost less than $100 and produces professional audio sound. This is my favorite general purpose lav mic, and you have to buy it directly from the Oscar SoundTech website. ( email them for a quote, and they will send you the exact price including shipping )

http://goo.gl/wwSB24

November 5, 2015 at 3:47PM, Edited November 5, 3:52PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32551

Thanks for the answer, it is helpful and bad news, since I will have to go on a spending spree again.

What would you advise on using to record the sound from either of these mics? Something that is not too expensive( again) ?

P.S.

How do I edit the post to correct the title ?
I never noticed the mistake until I pressed post.

Pece Zdravkovski

November 5, 2015 at 7:07PM

Also, what do you make from this guy's perspective?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwWlxKLrZ-w

Pece Zdravkovski

November 5, 2015 at 7:18PM

Cheapest lav mic I have used was bought from the electronic market in Pune, India at around $0.15 (yes it is true). I connected them with Zoom H2n and little post work fixed it to the desired quality. You can check them out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqw8yP2nVjw and also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJtvTTr7vwo I bought five cheap condenser mics from the electronic shop and connecting each to Zoom H2n selected the two that sounded better. My purpose was solved. I don't think you can have cheaper solution than this ;)
I checked that link in the YouTube and yes PROXIMITY is what is most important. Otherwise those $0.15 mics would not worked for me! I have built my own boom mic as well with those cheap mics. I have used soft toy furs as wind shield and have saved a huge amount of money....

November 6, 2015 at 9:05AM, Edited November 6, 9:30AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
723

Hey Dibyendu

Thanks for the solution, but how did you connect lav mic to the recorder? You probable used 10m wire or ?

I've found an even cheaper solution, I cut my iphone headphones off and converted it's mic into lav mic. It's not the best out there, but it serves its purpose.

Pece Zdravkovski

November 6, 2015 at 10:08AM, Edited November 6, 10:08AM

What exactly is this mic? Would you know where I can find it in Mumbai?

Pranav Bhasin

November 9, 2015 at 9:23AM

I checked that link in the YouTube and yes PROXIMITY is what is most important. Otherwise those $0.15 mics would not worked for me! I have built my own boom mic as well with those cheap mics. I have used soft toy furs as wind shield and have saved a huge amount of money....

November 6, 2015 at 9:17AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
723

>>>What would you advise on using to record the sound from either of these mics?

For standard lav mics with 3.5mm connection plugs I would look at the Tascam DR-05 recorder which costs about $100. It's an excellent recorder ( good sound, low noise ), has pretty good built-in mics ( great for stereo ambient sound, or can be used as an interview mic if you point one of the mics directly at your subject that should be no further than 3 feet from the mic ), it also supplies 5 volt "mic" power so it will power your lav mic, and it's relatively small so you can clip it on to a belt or stick it in a pocket.

I own two Tascam DR-07 Mk2 recorders, which are basically suped-up versions of the DR-05 recorder, but these have been discontinued so the DR-05 is the only choice remaining in a low-cost small recorder. ( I owned a Zoom H1 for one year and eventually sold it because I hated the control interface. It definitely sounded good, but the controls are horrible. )

>>>Also, what do you make from this guy's perspective?

The Sennheiser MKE400 is garbage ( terrible mic ), but the MKE600 is a fantastic mic. ( physically they are very different mics )

Any mic that is further than 3 feet from your subject is going to sound bad, so it doesn't matter how good the mic is, never use any mic further than 3 feet.

I would never trust the performance of a $1 eBay mic, but if you have a no-money budget it didn't sound that bad in this gentleman's test. They definitely could be used, but I would buy a bunch of them in case they don't last in use.

November 7, 2015 at 1:21AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32551

>>>Thanks for the solution, but how did you connect lav mic to the recorder?

Rode make a 10 foot 3.5mm extension cable for their VideoMic Pro, which can be used with lav mics too. Keep in mind that you never want to use a mic with a 3.5mm UNBALANCED connection with more than 10 feet of cable because the audio signal gets weak and you run the risk of picking of RF ( radio frequency ) noise from many different sources including cell phones. So the Rode 10 foot extension is a realistic limit when working with mics with 3.5mm UNBALANCED connections. ( XLR mics are BALANCED mics and you can use XLR cables that are hundreds of feet long but you may need to add a signal booster if the mic signal gets too weak, normally a 50 foot XLR cable is no problem at all in terms of signal strength )

November 7, 2015 at 1:28AM, Edited November 7, 1:29AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32551

That's the best tip I've ever got for video.

Pece Zdravkovski

November 10, 2015 at 2:22PM

Most low budget shooters nowadays use an H1N connected to an Azden lavalier mic. This is a great high quality solution for about $110. You can also get a belt clip for it on amazon. I wouldn't really recommend a cheaper setup for a documentary you care about, but if you want to step up seinheiser wireless lavaliers is what most docs are using. That cheap audio technica mic with the really long cable is pretty bad, I had one and threw it away.

November 7, 2015 at 7:25AM

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Hello Pece, sorry I did not mention it earlier about how did I connect those DIY lav mics to my Zoom H2n. I purchased five meter long single core shielded wire from the same electronic shop along with 3.5mm normal earphone jacks and sockets. I also made a extender with a stereo 3.5mm jack that goes in the mic-in of H2n and other side has two mono 3.5mm socket to take in the lav mics So, at a time I can connect two mics to H2n one for each channel. Later I can mix them in the post as required. Each lav mic with five meter wire and 3.5mm jack cost me around $1 each!!! If you want I can share the schematic diagram with you. The condenser mics I used do not even need phantom power to operate. They have permanently charged diaphragm inside.

November 7, 2015 at 11:44AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
723

Wow, that solution seems like a bit complicated when working outside.

I renamed my iPhone earphones into a improvised lav.

I will work like that until I get wireless lavs, after that we'll see.

So much to spend, but money aren't coming as easy!

Pece Zdravkovski

November 10, 2015 at 2:38PM

OP: I get that you are strapped for whatever reason, so take this with a grain of salt.

You need to invest in professional equipment. That's the short answer.

I'm no audiophile, but wow, it's pretty amazing how one thread can center around the pros and cons of buying a Red, and in the next it's all about penny-pinching on $12 dictaphone contraptions and "high-quality audio solutions for $110."

Kind of sad how audio is often treated as a lower-tier consideration in this racket. Nothing irritates me more than a professional "looking" piece that is absolutely ruined, botched, castrated and FUBAR'd by lousy sound. It screams amateurism.

Work that skimps on sound actually works better if it has crappy visuals to match. I'm dead serious about this. Otherwise, there's a weird disconnect in the viewer's brain. I think it's for this very reason that docs and reality crap can get away with sloppy sound whereas orchestrated narrative pieces cannot.

Sorry if this comes across harsh. I just spent a week trying to rescue a piece because someone didn't learn how to manage levels and room tone.

I guess my basic point is, make the proper investment (sell a lens or a slider or a drone or other toy if you have to) and train yourself to achieve perfect or near-perfect sound. If you're skimping on it, you are probably in way over your head and should look for another career path.

November 7, 2015 at 9:05PM

2
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Steve Smede
Magazine Editor/Photographer/Videographer
152

Hey Steve,

Thanks for the reply, but I never said I want to get "pro quality" from $12 lav mic.
I also mentioned that I own Rode NTG4+ and Zoom H6 ( my camera setup is Canon 650D and Sony a7s), so you can see that video = audio over here.
If I were capable of owning RED, I wouldn't be asking for $12 quick solution, would I?

I was hoping that the mediocre quality lav that I'll buy combined with my shotgun would do me good and won't ruin the overall audio quality.

Also, I'm still learning. I'd rather destroy projects now, than in 5 years when I'm doing something of great importance.

And what is the best way to learn the downsides of audio if not with bad microphone ?

Thanks for the harsh reply, I really do appreciate replies like this one, it hits you back in reality!

Pece Zdravkovski

November 10, 2015 at 2:32PM

I use the Rode SmartLav+ in a variety of scenarios. They are designed to be recorded into a smart phone, but with an SC3 adapter can be popped into something like a Zoom H1. Less than $100 for that lav mic, very impressed with the capsule for price.

Like Steve says, professional gear costs what it does for good reason, but if you're working with a budget, can't go past Rode in my opinion.

November 8, 2015 at 12:12AM

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Nick Kelly
IBeAFilmDude
219

Hey Nick,

I made my iPhone headphones into a smartLav+( with a big Minus).
It seems to work better than some cheap Chinese microphones, I will use that temporarily, while I try and learn to get the most of it.

Then I'll probably invest some $300-500 on wireless lavs, which should do the work just fine.

Thanks for your great reply!

Pece Zdravkovski

November 10, 2015 at 2:34PM, Edited November 10, 2:34PM

TL;DR

All of those who said low budget means shitty audio were right.

The cheapest solution is :

Zoom H1 + Oscar SoundTech OST-801/802.

I've found that only this thing gets you good audio for low price.

November 12, 2015 at 6:44PM

3
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Pece Zdravkovski
Studying Film
231

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