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I'm hoping someone can help me here. We are in Thailand right now, working with an NGO and part of our job will be to collect stories from farmers and villagers in rural Laos.

We will be going back to the States in a few weeks to collect some gear and so I'm trying to order it now so that it will get there by the time we arrive.

My question: all I have right now is a little digital pocket voice recorder. I'd like something better but it needs to not be expensive (<$100). The ultimate goal is to take the audio and put it to a slideshow of pictures.

I have a macbook, so I guess I could use a USB mic. And I have that Sony digital recorder I mentioned. I don't have a video camera. I'm looking at lapel/lavalier mics because I don't want to stick some big honking mic in a poor farmer's face and freak him out. I'm confused though - I've been looking on Amazon and some mics look great, but then what do they plugin to? Do they need their own battery pack? Why is the end so big?

What set up would you recommend for what I am proposing here? Thanks so much for any and all input!

I should mention that I am only interested in capturing the interviewee, not the interviewer.



Jeemy Mon, 01/31/2011 - 15:39

i'm thinking the best thing for you would be a MiniDisc recorder. An old Sony will set you back $10-$20 and there may be many fakes/cheap deals in Thailand. I have had truly amazing results using a Shure SM57 stuck upwards in the middle of the room with a band at full pelt, going straight to Minidisc via an XLR-to-3.5mm mono jack. You'd need to wire the cable yourself to get in budget, and have a Minidisc system that would take audio down via USB to your PC, but its an oft-overlooked format that fits perfectly for the short time runs you want. The Shure would set you back the standard $79, don't skimp as its the mic that will fire the system. Let us know how you get on.

dvdhawk Mon, 01/31/2011 - 22:00

I have two old Sony portable MiniDisc recorders, love 'em! Very portable, and surprisingly good sound quality. Make sure you can get a supply of blank MiniDiscs or it will be worthless to you.

A Shure SM57 would be good. You might also look at the Shure SM58, because it would be more durable.

Or maybe better yet for field interviews, the omni-directional Electro-Voice 635. They are widely used for new gathering. It's a shade over $100, but I'm sure you can find one used well below your budget - much like an SM58 they're practically indestructible.