If you're not currently working with a professional audio recorder, now's the time. The Zoom H4n is currently on sale for an instant savings of $-100 OFF (limited supply). Now just $169, this is the lowest price i've ever seen since it's release. Check it out (here).
First test with the new Zoom H6 portable audio recorder out of the box plugged into my Rode Procaster microphone . (No EQ applied, so it might sound low or flat.) I was not able to use this mic directly with the Zoom H4n without adding at least a Cloud Lifter in between.
The Rode Procaster will sound better when used with the the Tascam DR-60D, but now it appears this Zoom H6 has become my favorite portable audio recorder. I'm sure people will complain about not being to lock the input gain dials on the H6, but compared to the H4n, I prefer the dials over the digital input adjustments on the H4n.
BTW, if you're in the Bay Area and looking for a Tascam DR-60D, i've got a barely used one for sale..
Here's a few images unboxing the new Zoom H6 Portable Digital Audio Recorder. You can see what it comes with, including it's own travel case.
A few accessories include X/Y Mic & Mid-Side Mic..
The back of the box shows optional accessories..
Comes with it's own travel case..
Now it's time to fire her up and see how she performs. With the additional XLR inputs, I will already be satisfied if it sounds exactly the same as the Zoom H4n. Of course if it sounds better, that's just more of a bonus.
As far as recent portable digital audio recorders go, there has been quite a buzz around the Tascam DR-60D Portable Recorder + Field Recorder. The Tascam proves to have good quality sound as a preamp, but when compared to something like a Zoom H4n, the Tascam does not offer a single built in microphone. Besides having to carry around a separate microphone, the form factor is a bit on the large side (so does that still qualify as a portable recorder?).
Samson's Zoom line of portable recorders have always included a set of microphones, but the new Zoom H6 Portable Digital Audio Recorder takes it to the next level by offering a very modular Mic and Input system among other new advanced features. The Zoom H6 basic kit includes includes an XY Microphone, Module, Includes Mid-side Microphone Module, Four XLR/TRS Inputs, Record Up to 6 Simultaneous Channels, Record Up to 24-bit/96kHz Audio, Doubles as USB Audio Interface, Uses SDXC Memory Cards. Add-ons will be available such as a Shotgun Mic, XLR/TRS Inputs Module, and Hot Shoe Mount. The brand new Zoom H6 Portable Digital Recorder is available for pre-order now via (B&H) Click here.
Here's a clever little tip for carrying around a portable audio recorder 'hands free' and at the same time having quick access to the screen and controls. Vimeo member Bruno Chansou uses a B-Grip Camera Belt (found here Amazon), normally used to clip a DSLR camera combined with a Manfrotto Ball Head for positioning the recorder. [Thanks Bruno] The B-Grip Camera Belt Holster system can be found via Amazon (click here).
B-GRIP EVO Camera Belt - via Amazon
The B-Grip Camera Belt Holster is a nice little solution for a belt mounted audio recorder, but it's a system that can run over $50 dollars. If this is something you might want to tackle on a budget, there are other belt clip systems that might be modified to work in a similar manner for less than $7 dollars via eBay (found below)
DSLR Belt Clip Camera Holster
If you're looking for a good LAV Mic, go for the Rode LAV which runs $249 dollars. Doesn't require very much gain, and sounds very clean. The Rode allows you to use an exclusive MiCon adapter that can be swapped to support basic 3.5mm, XLR, and more.
Ok so $250 for a LAV is a hike for many, so on the other end of the spectrum is a few inexpensive LAV mics. One you might have heard about is the Audio Technica ATR3350. The sound is not to be compared to a $250 lav mic, but as long as you have a decent portable audio recorder with enough gain, it works in a pinch. We use this $17 dollar LAV mic quite a bit mainly because of the very very long cord that can be run from the the talent all the way back to the Camera Operator without using a wireless setup.
Another cheap LAV with a 4 star review is the Pearstone OLM-10 Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone. It's also designed with a very long cord that can be worn by the talent and run to the camera a good distance away. Currently it's on sale for the next few days at just over $16 dollars via B&H (click here)
Pearstone OLM-10 Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone
Another budget LAV mic shared by J Hanna in the comments is the Olympus ME-15. This one does not require batteries like the other two above, and comes with a 3.3ft short cable. You can find this for just over $20 bucks (click here)
Olympus ME-15-LAV Microphone
[Updated Entry 2014]
Recently my new favorite affordable LAV Mic is the Aspen Mic series. These LAV mics require very little gain from your recorder so the sound quality is very comparable to high end lav mics. Priced under $45 dollars, it's by far the best of this lineup if you can't afford the $250 Rode LAV. Check out the Aspen Mics website for their products (click here).
Aspen Lavalier Microphones Mono / Stereo / Sennheiser G3
Disclaimer: I help to design products for PhotographyandCinema.com. The article below is information about the new P&C GearBox. There are many other great DSLR style cages available within articles of this blog that you may also want to consider.
It's been several weeks, but the new P&C GearBox is now available at PhotographyandCinema.com. The name 'GearBox' was submitted by David during a June contest, so congrats David, PhotographyandCinema.com will be sending one of these GearBox cages your way.
There are many High End, Super Heavy, Robust video cages available for the Professional market, but we found a lack of more affordable options for smaller style video cameras such as the Sony NEX-7 or Popular GH2. The P&C GearBox is designed to be simple, lightweight, modular, and of course - affordable.
The GearBox has a solid metal bottom and top bracket with several 1/4-20 mounting options for your accessories such as an LED video light, Portable Recorder, HDMI LCD Monitor, Microphone, Wireless Receivers, etc. To take up minimal space in a bag when packing up or traveling, the GearBox can easily be disassembled with a single Hex driver.
The GearBox will support a quick release plate underneath if you want to mount the rig onto a Tripod. Extension adapters are provided to support taller cameras, or if you want to add a quick release system into the cage unit allowing you easy removal of your camera body. The rubber coated side handles provide a non-slip comfortable grip and are spaced further apart to add stability for hand-held shooting styles. Interested in a Rail System? Soon to be released is the 15mm Rod adapter (sneak peek here).
As a new item, there is an Introductory Price of just $79.99 over at https://PhotographyandCinema.com (Click Here).
P&C GearBox - DSLR Cage Video Accessory Bracket
Looking for the most simplest way to mount a Rode VideoMic, LED Light, and Zoom H1 to your camera - all at one time? There's nothing more simple than this Triple Hotshoe Accessory Bracket. Under the bracket's mount is a 1/4-20 thread so you can also use this on a lightstand. Great for stacking several small LED lights to a single stand for a larger light source.
Even the basic Vello Triple bracket can run for about $30 bucks (seen here), but right now this other Triple Bracket has recently been reduced in price to about $12 dollars and ships free for Amazon Prime members too check it out (Click Here).
Triple Mount Hot Shoe V Mount Bracket for Video Lights, Microphones or Monitors VBrack3
I was shooting this for my own journal and didn't think I would actually publish the video, as i'm pretty private about certain things I work on. Then again, I was pretty happy with the results and wanted to share what my treatment was.
Keep in mind that this is not for Sound Isolation. This is not a Sound Booth that will block out all ambient noise. This setup is merely just 'treatment' of a small space to make the vocals sound better (get rid of echo and deflection).
Sorry fellas, I have to warn you that the video (below) even gave me a bit of motion sickness. If you're not interested in building out a room for voice recording, maybe you should just skip this one. At about 3:50 into the video, you'll hear a before and after comparison (turn up your volume).
There are low budget options to sound absorption, but I wasn't very happy with those results (I tried). When it comes to covering the most amount of square footage on the walls, the AudiMute stuff was my best bet.
I tried the heavy moving blankets to absorb sound, but going with the more expensive AudiMute Sound Absorption Sheets was worth the difference (and look much better). You can get a pack of (5) 4x8 sheets for $230 dollars.
AudiMute Sound Absorption Sheets
I also tried a variety of cheap foam, but in the end, a box of Auralex foam wedgies solved all the deflection issues. I used about 12 on the ceiling and another 12 to make a Reflexion filter behind the Rode ProCaster microphone. A box of 24 Auralex Wedges will run you $99 bucks. You don't need to cover every square inch with this stuff, just a few will treat a room very well.
For the floor we just added some thick padding. So for about $330 dollars, I feel we got some really good results in a fairly professional looking voice recording room. Hard to tell from the audio of the point and shoot camera I was shooting on, but through a high quality vocal microphone it's a world of difference.
If you're looking to buy Foam by the piece (not the box), you can find a variety of types on eBay starting around $5.00 dollars (Click Here).
Foam Wedges Pyramids Acoustic Sound Panels