Best Field Recording Gear For Beginners
In the last couple of months & over the last years I got more and more questions from users asking me for advice about how to get started with field recording & what are the best field recorders & microphones to use when you get started.
What I learned on this journey is that field recording is not just having a recorder with one or two microphones.
Equipment Is Overwhelming
There is so much more to it. I discovered new recording techniques & recording devices, microphones that are experimental, fun & exiting.
Not only for myself but also for others to listen & later to use these sound recordings for sound design, post-production work, or game development just to mention a couple examples.
But if you’re just start out and researching about it you are later more confused and overwhelmed than ever. That’s why this blog post is all about what I would have wished using when I started out with field recording.
You will be surprised...
how much equipment you actually need and let’s be honest nothing sucks more then buying cheap equipment. You either lose interested because you aren’t happy with the sound quality, you give up or you buy twice.
microphone, wind protection, and XLR Cables
- Audio Technica AT 4025 – this is the perfect all rounder microphone. Cost currently $649 but if that is to much for you, you can also check out the Audio Technica AT 8022 for currently $399
- Rycote WS3 or Rycote BBG Windshield & Rycote Windjammer – Wind protection is super important and the WS3 is fantastic but the price with $629 can be intimating. For a cheaper option I recommend getting a Rycote BBG Windshield with a Rycote Windjammer. Both are under $200 and still great. Make sure you select the correct diameters. One of the main differences is that the WS3 has a pistol grip. For longer field recordings, you need a tripod, mic stand, or a Nanopole.
- Have you thought about XLR cables yet? No need if you go with an Audio Technica 4025 or even the cheaper 8022 version. A 5 pin XLR comes with it.
Audio TechnicA 4025 Real World Test Video
We need a recording device. I always had Zoom recorders and was always happy with it.
For the AT 4025 microphone, we need a field recorder with a minimum of two XLR inputs. To keep the cost lower I would go with a Zoom H4n, Zoom H5 or the older Zoom H6 depending on your budget. These are great recording devices for beginners.
Now with the new Zoom H8 release, I’m sure the prices for other H series recorders will drop. Keep an eye on it. If 32 bit is what you like to record, check out the Zoom F6. I use this recorder almost every day.
We have the microphone, we have wind protection & we have the recorder
But we can’t stop here. We need still need headphones & mic stand & of course a bag for all that gear.
Watch The Video About The zoom h8
Well from the very beginning I used iPhone headphones & I was happy that I discovered the Sony MDR 7506. After over 3 years I had two pairs but it was time to move on. now. Both headphones a great and for under $100.
I went through several tripods in the last years but I was never really happy with it or having an AB set is just something I’m not a big fan of.
It all takes longer to set up. Lots of screwing & knots in the cables. I did not love that part. 🙂
With a Manfrotto Nanopole, you can really save time & focus on what’s important. Recording sounds.
If you go with a cheap tripod, they are either heavy or made of plastic. A little bit of wind and they fall.
Maybe you remember when I fall into the Iberian Peninsula with the Wildtronics SAAM? Well that was because of a cheap tripod.
Also, they break easily or imagine you lose a plate. Then it’s over. I had always trouble with that.
Now I’m using a Cinela Albert and discovered the Manfrotto Nanopole 5001B. This is a perfect mic stand & wish I would have known before. Its light, compact & very robust. You can take out the pole & use it as a boom if you wanted to & if the cable is long enough.
The price is around $50 & it’s works perfect for me. They have a longer version & a more expensive version. The premium Nanopole is made of carbon fiber.
Watch The Video About Manfrotto Nanopole
Bag For Zoom Recorder
Remember to protect your recorder too if you out there. Rain, dust or even small particles will creep up over time. Invest in a bag that fits your recorder perfectly outdoor. Companies that sell bags are Zoom itself, K-Tek or Orca bags.
We also need power. Right now I use a mix between rechargeable Ladda batteries from IKEA and I use a 10000 mAh SKROSS Reload 10 power bank. The Zoom F6 runs for hours with it. I attach the power bank into the DC 5V connector and it works great. Don’t forget an SD card!
Why would I choose an Audio Technica AT 4025?.
The sound quality alone is great and a friend of mine had one. At the time I had a Rode NTG4+ (Mono) microphone & a pair of DPA 4060 and got so frustrated. I checked several reviews & people really love the 4025 or the cheaper 8022 version.
To be honest I was misguided, followed a wrong approach, and bought oh well let’s call it experience.
The AT 4025 is the perfect allrounder microphone. You can record ambience outdoor, concerts, interviews indoor but you can also record sound effects with.
You only have to deal with one microphone instead of two or sometimes even more. You save on weight, size ( for traveling), and if you have everything perfectly organized its an easy plug and record setup.
This would have been my dream beginner setup if I would have known before. I hope this post helps you make some good decisions and in my next blog post, I will talk about the best field recording equipment on a budget.
Thank you to Audio Technica for sending us the AT 4025. We made a new real world test video featuring this powerful microphone together with the Rycote BBG, the windjammer and using a brand new Ktek Klassic Pro boom pole.
We take you to Split, Šibenik and Krka National Park. Besides watching the video we created you two sample sound libraries. You can listen and download the tracks we have recorded with this microphone.