Best audio recorder and shotgun mic for dslr
I'm looking into buying a new recorder for my video production purposes. I currently have a Zoom H1. I mainly plan on producing short films, documentary work, interviews, and live events like concerts. Based on my research, I think I've come down to either the Zoom H4N Pro or Zoom H5, but I'm open to other suggestions. I've read countless articles, but wanted to try posting here to get some personal opinions.
I'm also looking into getting a new mic (hence why I need a new recorder). My search has come down to either the Senheisser MKE 600 or Rode NTG4+. Any advice on those or other mics?
Hello Wesley and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.
Perhaps these will help: http://tyfordaudiovideo.blogspot.com/2015/04/rode-ntg4-and-ntg4-shotgun-mic...
Cow Audio Forum Leader
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog
consider the super portable roland r-26 $379, much, much better preamps than h4n pro or tascams. getting an expensive mic but a subpar recorder is a waste of money imho.
2nd choice recorder would be Tascam DR-60D which has similar noise floor but not as smooth. $174.
both the Senheisser MKE 600 and Rode NTG4+ are excellent value. ntg4+$399.00 and sen 600 $329 not quite as sensitive as 416 but still good sound.
so to match mic quality with recorder:
1. fostex fr2le + Sennheiser mkh 416/sanken CS3e
1. roland r-26 + sen 600/Rode NTG3
2. tascam dr-60d + ntg4+
3. h4n with senn ME-66/NTG2/Videomic Pro/Audio-Technica AT875R
The problem with low budget mics and low budget recorders is that they don't work well together. Low budget mics tend to not be very sensitive and thus require lots of clean gain. Which the low budget recorders can't deliver. Which generates a noisy result. Said another way, low budget recorders can't deliver much clean gain, so require a sensitive mic.
This is compounded by the prevalence of one-man-bands using mic-on-camera, which nearly always is a recipe for bad sound. That's because the optimum placement for a mic is almost never the same as the optimal placement for a camera. And guess which one "wins" in the one-man-band situation...
Still, you wanted suggestions. So... I'd look at the Tascam DR-60 or DR-70. Why? They'll do an acceptable job of recording, and because you can mount it under your camera which gives you at least a chance of observing the meters. Not that you will (I find it difficult anyway), but at least you'll have a chance (if something spikes you might see how close to clipping it went). And it puts the headphone plug right there with the camera so you have no excuse not to monitor your audio. Not monitoring your sound through headphones continuously, is like framing your shot without looking at your viewfinder.
Then get a good pair of headphones on the order of the Sony MDR-7506s. Use them. Every. Single. Time.
Then, if you can only afford a single mic, I'd get a hypercardioid, not a shotgun. Why? Because a hyper is far safer to use inside, and can certainly be used outside. Shotgun mics (interference tube mics) don't handle early reflections well, like you get off of nearby walls and ceilings inside. The result is often audible comb filtering, which you won't like and will have a devil of a time trying to fix in post with dubious results. So I'd suggest something along the lines of an Audix SCX1-HC, or an AT 4053b (both of these come up used from time to time if you look for them).
Finally, it's really advantageous to have a c-stand, grip-head, sandbag, boompole holder, and a boompole (get it all used). For interviews for example, this will let you come in from the side and place your mic where it will work best, with nothing in the picture. Place the mic just above the frame line, centered in front of the inteviewee, pointed down at the interviewee's mouth at about a 45 degree angle. This will put the mic in the range of say 45-60cm from the mouth. Which will sound so much better than mounting the mic on the camera that it will blow your socks off. And you can do it and still be a one-man-band.
Thanks so much guys. Really useful info to go off of. The thought of the hypercardioid mic is pretty interesting. Bruce, you said the hypercardioid would work well indoors and outdoors, does that apply to live concerts where it's pretty loud?
The majority of my work should be indoors, so the better quality of the hyper cardioid intrigues me, but I just want to make sure I'll have a mic that can assist me in most situations (until I can afford more that is).
[Wesley Harrison] "The thought of the hypercardioid mic is pretty interesting. Bruce, you said the hypercardioid would work well indoors and outdoors, does that apply to live concerts where it's pretty loud?"
How loud is "pretty loud" and where is the mic in relation to it? Most mics can handle impressively high SPL before they start distorting the signal (clipping). That Audix is listed as having a max SPL of 130 dB for example. The AT 4053b is listed as 145 dB. Both of these very high SPLs would hurt your ears (quite badly I suspect) and even a very short exposure would risk permanent hearing loss. Protect your hearing.
A rule of thumb I use (of course YMMV) is that if I'm willing to put my head there and listen, it's probably quite safe to put a mic there so it can listen.
If the live concert is unamplified acoustic instruments, no worries. If it's a loud electric rock band and you're anywhere in the audience area (not on stage) it's unlikely you have any worries, but check to be sure. When you start talking about getting close to speaker towers, guitar cabs, or a few cm from a drum head, then you need to find out just how loud your loud actually is and what the maximum the mic can handle is.
For amplified music, perhaps the best place to record the music from is front of house (FOH). That's because the person doing the live mix is there, and (s)he's mixing the live mix for the audience using what (s)he hears from the mixing console. See my rule of thumb above. It's often worth asking if you can record from there. Just don't block the line of sight for the FOH mixer.
I guess this is where I should understand audio terminology better. I'm just learning all the different aspects of audio, but the concerts I'm thinking of are high volume, amplified rock concerts and I most likely would be recoding FOH. But live concerts would only be about 25% of my projects.
This is gonna be a one time buy and serve me for probably 5 years until I can get a secondary mic.
shotguns generally give better sound isolation/rejection but often not work well in reflective rooms. It all depends if it is a proper soundstage or cement/hardwood walls. You can be outdoors in a quarry with a cardiod or a small voice over room with a supercardiod. It's about mic distance and reflective surfaces, not indoors/outdoors.
you may find that hypercardiod mics don't provide the proper noise rejection necessary for outdoor film work. you CAN use shotgun mics (supercardiods) in highly reflective places so long as your mic is very close to the audio source. Here is an example of a 416 shotgun in a small cement room with no comb filtering keeping inside minimum critical distance.
what is critical distance?
on the other hand, you may record in highly reflective soundstages far away from the audio. choose the mic that will match the majority of your work.