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I have a Canon 550d, which I have started to do some video work with. Recently while recording a friends blues band at a gig, the location I was in was too close to the speakers, causing the audio to clip (the onboard is good, but not that great anyway).

Through various voluntary work I do, I have access to three different solid state recorders which I could use as a preamp: Zoom H2N, Zoom H4N, Marantz PMD661 - my understanding is that with all of these a line to mic cable would be appropriate to connect them to the DSLR, and also that whilst the internal mics are better than the DSLR mic, they still aren't fantastic.

What should I look for when buying a mic to use with one of these recorders (the H4N and PMD661 have two XLR connections, I'm pretty sure the H2N only has 3.5mm stereo mic input). At the moment my intended uses are: 1) future band recordings (live gig venue) 2) field recording (I have another friend who runs geology courses and is interested in making a video in the mountains!)

I appreciate that these are two very different situations - one has power available, no wind, and I can park right outside so no problem taking as much kit as I want. The other doesn't

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This is no different from choosing a microphone for any other situation. It's incredibly broad and depends on the specific situation. It's also worth noting that a simple preamp could be used rather than needing a full digital recorder since you don't actually need any of the encoding and sampling support that the recorder provides. You only need an analog device capable of dealing with the microphone. –  AJ Henderson Dec 23 '13 at 15:43
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