Archives For gear

Are you just beginning field recording? Unsure of what gear to use to start capturing sound effects beyond the studio? New field recordists face a common dilemma: is it best to buy cheap gear and begin recording now, or wait and invest in a superior kit later?

It isn’t an easy question to answer. In fact, the previous post was dedicated to exploring both approaches. That article was designed to help people new to field recording choose what’s best for them.

Still having trouble deciding? You’re not alone. The truth is that the decision is inherently challenging because of what I call the gear gap.

What is this? Today’s article explains. It explores an unusual intersection of circuitry and craft. It’s an aspect of field recording that beginners and pros alike often forget, and manufacturers have yet to grasp.

This post is designed to further explore the thought process behind gear selection. It’s meant to help people think about both field recording gear strategies – fast and cheap, and slow and pricey – and why these challenging decisions exist.

Want more than theory? No problem. The next post will offer concrete gear suggestions for beginners to help bridge the gear gap and make satisfying equipment choices.

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I’ve seen a growing trend occurring during the past six months. More people are becoming interested in field recording. While that’s exciting, there’s a fascinating theme to the emails I’ve received: the writers know nothing about sound.

Who are these people? They’re photographers, videographers, and hobbyists. We all love heading outdoors to capture the cool sound we hear. It’s encouraging to see the appeal of field recording is spreading beyond classically trained sound pros. These new people are a bit bewildered, though. Why?

They’re not sure what gear to choose. I wrote the Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide a while ago. That post aimed to help people browse options and lead them through gear choices. However, it did not answer a few common questions that keep appearing in my email inbox:

  • Is it better to start with inexpensive field recording gear or save for a pro kit?
  • How can you use pro microphones with inexpensive portable recorders?
  • Is it possible to record excellent sound effects using cheap equipment?
  • How can you capture pure nature recordings with novice gear?

So, this month will feature a series that tries to decipher the relationship between equipment, capturing remarkable field recordings, and the kit needed to get the job done.

Today’s post explores the first question: is it better to buy cheap gear now, or wait and buy expensive, better gear, later?

Please note: I explore this idea in detail. This article should take you about 10 minutes to read. Click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.


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It seems like everyone is on vacation during August. So, while everyone’s away I’ve taken the opportunity to post updates of older, popular posts.

The last to be updated is the Digital Sound Recorder Buyer’s Guide. It’s different from the larger Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide in that it focuses specifically on audio recorders. It also was designed to give field recordists tools to make informed choices by examining basic features, advanced features, fancy, bonus features, and extra considerations. There is also a section to discover audio recorder models in three price brackets.

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A few months ago I published a new list of field recording equipment. It wasn’t the first time I examined gear choices for sound pros. My first stab at it was the Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide. That helped people new to the craft explore gear options in an evolution from basic kits to intricate, expensive microphone, preamp, and digital recorder combos. Thanks to you, that post remains one of the most popular articles on the site.

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A few years ago I published a post called the Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide. It was intended to help field recording fans decide how to choose the best pro audio equipment for them.

It wasn’t just a list of gear stats, though. It was written for new field recordists. After all, it’s hard to know what is the best gear amongst the hundreds of options available. So, the post was designed to help people grow through their kit choices. It begins by sharing sub-$200 kits that help beginners get started. Each later section of the post included ideas on supplementing their existing kit economically, then switching out to more expensive upgrades, later. That was meant to mimic the natural progression of a field recordist’s career: from simple, enthusiast equipment to elaborate, expensive pro options.

Today’s post also features field recording equipment options. However, it takes a different approach. Some field recording equipment is used only in rare, special situations. So, it’s not commonly added to a growing sound pro’s kit. That’s why specialized equipment didn’t appear in the previous post. Just the same, we shouldn’t leave unique or unusual field recording tools neglected, should we?

Today’s article explores those options in The Unconventional Microphone Buyer’s Guide.

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Today I am very happy to feature a special surprise final guest to the “A Month of Field Recordist” series.

Frank Bry has been field recording for game audio and sound fx publishers since the 1990s. He has been an inspiration for the field recording community. He has generously described techniques for capturing tricky sound effect subjects on his blog and on Designing Sound. He shares his work in pristine sound fx libraries hosted on his Web shop. He has been a pioneer of the indie sound effect library movement that has reshaped the way sound effects are shared worldwide.

Frank kindly shared his thoughts on field recording here on the blog back in 2013. Today he graciously agreed to describe his kit and the workflow he uses to capture his field recordings.

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Last year I compiled the advice from the pros in the “A Month of Field Recordists” into a compact post explaining how to choose the best gear yourself: the Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide.

Of course, no single kit is perfect for everyone. So, that article offered tips to help people choose gear that was best for them along the arc of their field recording gear.

Today, I’ve published an update. That page now includes more suggestions, including tips from the pros in the 2016 series, and community advice, too.

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Today’s post features the second of three articles about community field recording equipment. In the last article, we looked at what portable and dedicated audio recorders people prefer, and why. Now we will see what microphones the survey respondents liked, their dream field recording kits, their budget selections, and more.

Let’s get started.

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The posts last month taught us a lot about what gear field recordists use in the field. Those 23 interviews, as well as the 26 from the year before, gave us a comprehensive overview of what those field recording fans choose when capturing sound effects beyond the studio.

That series showed us how those 49 sound pros explore field recording. Last week’s post dissected their equipment preferences. Of course, there are field recording fans all over the globe performing the craft in their own way. I wanted to give everyone a chance to share their views. So, I set up a brief survey to learn what kit you use, what equipment you crave, and your advice for beginners. I curious to learn if pro choices matched the reality on the street.

Thank you very much to everyone who participated. And participate you did. There was lots of fascinating information, so much so that I’ll share your ideas in three, quick posts:

  1. Audio recorders.
  2. Microphones and favourite kits.
  3. Community tips.

Let’s get rolling.

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Last year we were given a rare treat: 26 field recordists came together to share their wisdom in a series I called “A Month of Field Recordists.” This year I revived the series. Twenty-three new people shared their insight in a second series of posts about field recording origins, equipment selections, and reflections on the craft.

My heartfelt thanks for everyone who spent their considerable time sharing their knowledge with the rest of us.

What choices were common? What portable recorders were mentioned again and again? Were there patterns in the microphones pros brought into the field?

Today we will find out.

Please note, I am very detailed. This post will take about 21 minutes to read. Click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.



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