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best mic for field recording.


I was wondering what's the best mic for doing field recording? I already own some studio projects mics (c3, t3, lsd2) can I just use these mics to do field recordings?

I am mainly looking for mics for doing field sound effects recordings, any recoomedation will be greatly appreciate it!



moonbaby Fri, 08/19/2005 - 14:15

You should probably look at a small-diaphragm mic for that, maybe even a shotgun. These will give you greater working distance from the source, and many of the models out there will let you operate them with batteries instead of phantom power, and this will add to their portability. Many times a mic that sounds great in the studio is not the ticket for the applications you have described. I think that you will find that the large-diaphragm condensers you have will be too "bottom-heavy" in response, even with the HP filter engaged.Plus, they aren't really portable or designed to be carted around in the field.
I have a sound designer friend who does backgrounds for small TV and film projects. He uses a mic that I personally find "blah" for serious music recording: the ubiquitous AKG C1000. He has a pair and gets great ambience and environmental tracks outdoors with them. They can run off of batteries, have a wierd attatchment that will make them more directional (yielding greater working distance), and they are easy to carry around and use with a minidisc or DAT recorder. They are also budget-priced. So are the Rode NT4 and NT5, and they will let you track in stereo, and they, too, run off batteries if you want. Smaller SD mics also have the advantage of getting into tight areas if you want. And AT has some very nice shotgun mics you might look at as well.
These are all budget-minded ideas. If you want to go the way the "big boys" do it, be prepared to shell out some serious cash for Sennheiser shotguns or the Schoeps mics. Very nice. But I don't think that they will run off of batteries...

anonymous Fri, 08/19/2005 - 16:38

hey, thanks for the advice, guys!

I'll be looking into a Sennheiser shotgun mic for general field recording. Probably won't need stereo mic, I don't think I'll do too much ambience stuff since I got quite a few stock ambience sound library already.


The Sennheiser MKH mics are quite expensive, how's the Sennheiser ME mics?

anonymous Fri, 08/19/2005 - 17:52

You can't go wrong with a Sennheiser.

The ME's require a K6 (battery or phantom power), K6P (phantom only w/rolloff switch) or K6CL (battery or phantom w/roll-off switch but reduced sensitivity) power supply which will add a couple of hundred bucks to the price of the capsules. But you only need to buy one if you are mono recording.

They certainly aren't as nice as the top of line shotguns, but the KP system makes it real easy to buy different capsules (long gun, short gun, handheld, omni, cardioid) so you can have a field recording system suitable for any application.

And I recommend a pistol grip from K-Tek, Rycote or Lightwave.

anonymous Fri, 08/19/2005 - 21:15

Just some suggestions:
Senn MKH 60 / Senn MKH 416 / Senn ME66+K6(or k6p) mono shotguns
AKG CK63uls+c480b / AKG CK93+391 - mono hyper cardioid
Shoeps CMXY 4V ($$$$) / Rode NT4/5 - for X/Y Stereo
Earthworks TC 30K omni pair - for use with a jecklin disk - OSS stereo.

Also when looking for mounts be sure to check out universal shockmounts/spider grips, it will save you alot of cash and hasle for use with other mics... Proprietary form factor accessories are evil period, avoid them if you can. IMO.

ghellquist Sat, 08/20/2005 - 01:27

Some ideas and thoughts.

You can of course use the mics you already have. They might not be the first choice as they are a bit on the large side, sensitive to wind and moisture and just perhaps a bit "colored" which might fit or not fit what you are recording. Generally (hmm, you should never generalize) the large diameter mics are tailored for recording singers so they have a bit of drop-off in the low bass and a bit off boost in the high mids somewhere if you compare to, say, a dedicated omni mic.

First you have to think about what you have on the other end. Does your field recording equipment have phantom power? If not, the selection gets more limited. You might want to look either at dynamic mics or at mics that can be power from batteries or so. A number of suggestions has been given above so I will not repeat those. Just remember to test your Shure SM57/SM58 while you are at it, often enought they are more useful than expected.

If you want to go the full way with phantom powered mics, the top things to aim for are the Sennheiser MKH series. An additional benefit is that they are, comparitively, insensitive to moisture. The combination of a MKH30 (figure 8) with an MKH 40 (cardoid) or MKH 50 (supercardoid) is a classical. Sort of breaking the bank though. You may often find the MKH416 used on ebay and such. That is a real workhorse as well.

Wind and moisture is a problem in the field. Condensor mics are generally most sensitive to moisture (with exception of the MKH mics then). So you would want to protect them. Rycote is the top manufacturer there, at a price of course. You might want to put a good windscreen on your mic, perhaps add an old sock on the outside. Sometimes you will even want to go the full way and put the mic inside a rubber protection (I have been seen using condoms for that, non-lubricated that is). All these does change the sound somewhat, so listen critically first.

Another gem to take a look at is the DPA4061. This very tiny, matchead size, omni mic sounds really great and can be placed real close if you want to. Takes a lot of abuse as well. One favourite among stealth recorders I think.


anonymous Sat, 08/20/2005 - 18:44

John Stafford wrote: Some of the best nature recordings I have ever heard were made with the Sennheiser MKH 20 (omni). The wonderful level of detail had a naturalness I have rarely heard on such recordings.

The Rode NT5 is great for field recordings. For this type of application they are amazing for the price.

John Stafford

Yeah for nature / room tones / general ambience, omnis in general are king especialy when used in a stereo w/ baffle type config.

anonymous Sun, 08/21/2005 - 03:34

I am wondering.
You said you need a good mic, for recording ambience, or just effects, like walking on grass, concrete, car tyre scratching...?
For effects i would reccomend the sehnheiser described. 70 is a really great mic and used by majority for field recording?

Another thing is what will you be recording through? Or on?
Will it be NAgra 5, or a small portable sony MZ-R900?
The pre-amps are the question?

Anway, for recording ambience, i've seen great results with 2 AKG 414 Being in omni mode, stereo spread or MS...

This is all quite an investments :lol:

Oh and by the way, great forum, i like it here!


anonymous Sun, 08/21/2005 - 05:43

just saw a review in the audiomedia on the rode ntg-1 & 2..
compares really well to a 416, and it's supercheap..
I like rode stuff in general anyway..

But if you have a bit of money to spend: get yourself a sennheiser 416, indestructable, and sounds super..
I've actually used in on toms (great) and vocals too..
oh, and on kickdrum, but that wasn't very great..
anyway; it's a very versatile mic..

I personally like the older 416 and 816 better than the newer mkh 70 and 60, but it might just be a psychological thing because they feel so plasticky..

anonymous Tue, 08/23/2005 - 14:40

hey, guys thanks for the suggestion.

The sennheiser shotgun mics seems to be quite the popular choice.

@ 11 miles:
sorry for not giving more detail of my setup.
I have a tascam da-p1 dat recorder (with phantom power). I plan on using the mic to record mostly effects like gunshots, and animal sounds, so I need a mic that can tightly capture the source sounds.

I guess I am looking for that "it" mic that can do both ambiences and effects well, I probably won't be recording too much ambiences, but if needed be, I'll probably get a seperate mic for it.

I am seriously looking at the senniheiser MKH 418S, it's pricey no doubt, but I like the option of being able to record in mono or stereo.



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