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Field recorder and/or field mixer?

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Matt Roemer
Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Jun 22, 2008 at 11:45:00 pm

To start out, I'm a complete noob at sound recording. I'm buying a decent shotgun microphone/boompole and a Zoom H4 field recorder. Do I also need to buy a field mixer? I'm recording my audio off-camera onto the Zoom H4, and I can only afford a Rolls MX124 or something of a similar price if I actually buy a field mixer. Any advice would be great.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Jun 23, 2008 at 3:29:47 am

Hello Matt and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Why do I need a mixer? Answered

Mixers are more than knobs that let you vary the volume.

1. They let you vary volumes without shaking the camera or getting in the way of the camera op.
2. You may need to do that a lot with some people. I ride gain even if one person is talking if their voice fades on the end of each line. You can only do this in a relatively quiet environment, otherwise you bring up the ambient noise.
3. Mixer preamps (good ones) sound better than camera preamps.
4. Good mixers have input transformers that scrape off RF before it get into your audio.
5. Good mixers have limiters that allow you to record hotter, keeping your audio further above the noise floor without distorting.
6. Good limtiers have EQ that lets you roll of LF HVAC noise before it gets into your audio.
7. Good mixers have mulitple outputs so you can feed more than one camera, or separate recorder simultaneously.
8. Good mixers make your sound better. If they didn't pros wouldn't use them.


Regards,

Ty


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Matt Roemer
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:45:54 am

Sorry, I should have phrased my question better. What I meant is that I can only afford a really cheap mixer (probably the Rolls MX124 or something else around $150-$200), and I can barely afford that. Most of the reasons you gave for getting a mixer mention good mixers. I can only buy a cheap one, so I doubt its a good one. You also mention that it's bad to record directly onto the camera. I'm recording onto an external recorder. So given that, is it even worth it to buy a cheap mixer? And also, if a really cheap mixer is actually worth buying, what one's would you recommend that is under $200? I'm a complete noob at this, and any help would be greatly appreciated.



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Matt Roemer
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Jun 23, 2008 at 7:09:27 am

I have another question (sorry). I realized I have another potential option. Should I
A: Record through my microphone, through a mixer ($200 dollars or less), onto a digtal recorder
or
B: Record from my microphone, through a mixer ($500 or less), and then directly onto my camera?
or
C:Any other options?

My camera is a Sony HDR SR11, and it only has a standard microphone input. Again, any help would be greatly appreciated.



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Ty Ford
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Jun 23, 2008 at 12:02:38 pm

Hello Matt,

You spent about $1k on the camera. It has limitations. (per the camera's instructions, there is no such thing as a "zoom mic". That's just marketing copy.) The camera doesn't have industry-standard XLR audio connectors. I don't know of what quality the audio system is, but recording audio separately would probably get you better quality, if:

you use a good recorder
you have a good mic
you have a good mixer
you know how to get the most form them

you say you don't have the money for good audio gear. A good shotgun mic costs $1k. There are others that are not as good that cost less.

These aren't the answers you want, but throwing $250 at audio doesn't get you much in the way of quality. If your expectations are low enough, it doesn't really matter. Go shoot and have fun. Forget the mixer for now. If you're really serious, get the zoom and a mic and see how that works. You're still below the line for quality audio gear, but you will learn something and that's why we're here.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Jorge Reyes
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:27:07 am

Hello there. Thank you very much in advance for your time and advice. I'm currently starting a production sound company. Of course, the equipment is expensive (I want to get good equipment) so I can't afford to buy it all at once. My first piece was (some months ago) my boom operator kit. Now I'm ready for the next step, and here is my question: Should I get the mixer or the field recording first? My original idea is to get the mixer (Sound Devices 302) since most of the productions i've work on record oudio directly to camera, then 2 or 3 lavalier systems, and finally a field recording. Any advice? thanks so much!!! Jorge


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Ty Ford
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:36:03 am

Hello Jorge and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Hopefully your boom kit includes a shotgun and a hypercardioid; both with wind protection.

A light stand or C stand with a grip knuckle and boom cradle for locked down interviews is also very handy.

Yes, a mixer is next. The 302 is a good start and is lighter then the 442 I started with. I don't often use all four inputs, but when you need them, they're there. The 442 mixer also has direct outputs which I use to feed my Sound Devices 744T recorder.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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James Harrison
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on May 17, 2011 at 10:49:56 am

Ok ow this post is a little dated but I find myself in a similar position a post sound guy making the transition to field work just purchased a mhk 416 an I'm thinking about purchasing a sound devices mix pre d 2 which is only a two channel recorder ( which is almost Hals the cost of the 302) but can double as an audio interface if need be on the post stage for ADR etc. Any thought? Or other options?


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Ty Ford
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on May 17, 2011 at 12:49:30 pm

Hello James and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum,

Neither the MixPre D or USB Pre 2 are recorders and a 416, by itself, won't get you very far.

To do solid work, the minimum kit includes.
1 shotgun
1 hyper or supercardioid
wind gear for the above mics
1 boom
2 wireless lavs
1 mixer
mic cables
mixer
mixer to camera (or recorder) cables with headphone return
headphones

and that's the minimum.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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James Harrison
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on May 18, 2011 at 9:14:38 am

Thanks for the response I appreciate the feed back, I'm using the zoom h4 as my recorder, picked up the mix pre d today in hopes of using it as my two channel mixer. I understand the wind protection but what exactly are the uses for the "1 hyper or supercardioid's" are they reserved for indoor use to limit reflections that might be caused from the 416 indoors? Please enlighten me if you can find the time.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on May 18, 2011 at 8:34:32 pm

James,

reflections and any sort of off-axis sound is handled unkindly by an interference tube mic as compared to one that doesn't have such a tube. That's why directors have PAs call for "quiet on the set" before a take.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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James Harrison
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on May 19, 2011 at 1:16:12 pm

I understand, in your opinion would an oktava 012 be a nice second mic for my sennheiser 416 (lavs soon to follow)?


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Curt Goodwin
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Aug 26, 2013 at 2:59:41 pm

Hello

I'm shooting a documentary and need some advice on audio. I need to capture quality sound on a budget. I'm shooting interviews and I'll also be doing some field recording, specifically someone running, crowd noise and some sound bites from people on the fly. I'm using a canon 1dx and also the 5d mark 3. I found a Shure FP 33 for 600$. Will that work for me? And what's a decent mic to use on a boom? Would appreciate the advice. Thanks!!


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Ty Ford
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Aug 26, 2013 at 4:00:08 pm

Hello Curt and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I see you hijacked this thread. In the future please start a new thread. It makes things easier to follow.

You have two DSLRs. DSLRs in general are notoriously bad for audio. You have chosen an OK mixer but getting your audio to something decent to record while running.

It sounds to me like you may be in over your head here and, if you want good audio (not budget or useless audio) you might consider hiring a competent sound person rather than risking a disaster.

Where are you ?

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Curt Goodwin
Re: Field recorder and/or field mixer?
on Aug 26, 2013 at 5:49:54 pm

Hello,

Sorry, i'm new to this forum. But thanks for responding. We have access to the 2 cameras but don't necessarily use them both at the same time. In fact, it's rare that we will, given our needs. We definitely don't have a budget to hire anyone to do sound. I know what you are saying about DSLR sound quality. In the past I have used a beachtek and a boom mic for interviews and the sound was very good. Perhaps that is good enough?? But we are contemplating taking our sound needs up a notch by dedicating sound to a separate recording device/mixer/person, so as not to overburden ourselves with having to handle sound through the camera while we shoot. Also, WE won't be running, our subject will be and we'd either like to record him as he passes. We may possibly attempt to record during the length of some tracking shots with a dolly and glide track, but we are more concerned with getting good audio during filming and during interviews, and I was curious as to the quality of the mixer I mentioned, or if there are any better ones out there. Your thoughts. Thanks TY.


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