So I have been spending a long time trying to gather a decent beginner kit for my sound recording. I'm wanting to squeeze the very best I can out the money I have. My main focus is on very high quality mono sound effect recording, with some stereo ambience recording too (streets, forests, etc).

Marantz PMD661 with OADE Brothers FET Mod

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(source: audiofanzine.com)

Rode NTG3 shotgun microphone

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(source: production-room.com)

Rycote Softie Kit

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(source: jigsaw24.com)

PortaBrace AR-PMD661 case

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(source: taiaudio.com)

I'm wondering if this is a good enough starter kit? Anything else I should consider? My main goal is to record sound effects (possibly for sale), but it's also got to be portable too. I'm hoping that using the built in mics on the Marantz will cover me for a bit until I buy a stereo microphone solution. It seems mono is more important than stereo.

Any advice on this?

4 Answers 4


Value-wise, this seems like a smart series of buys. It's also modular, as you get better mics and preamps in the future. Besides headphones, though, you'll also want cabling and a stand or boom; for lightweight portability and cost, I use Manfrotto 001B Nano light stands with 1/4" to 3/8" adapters for pistol grips. You can always use a painter's pole or make a DIY boom until you can afford to buy one. You can also look for surplus army first aid pouches as alternatives to PortaBrace or Petrol bags if money's tight.

The NTG-3 is an amazing shottie for the money, but don't overlook tight-patterned hypercardioids. They can be way more forgiving indoors than shotguns, and I've found I use my hypers far more frequently than probably any other pattern. But that also depends on what-all you intend to record, so your mileage may vary! Just something to think over, if you've not so far.

Smart choices so far!

  • The little paragraph @NoiseJockey has written on the NTG-3 is absolute gold. Both on the NTG-3's amazing quality and considering a hyper cardioid for a lot indoor use! Completely agree with both points. Lovely stuff! Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 18:33
  • +1 on the Manfrotto! Awesomely lightweight, very compact, very affordable! Just remember to weigh the feet down. It's so light it'll blow over at the slightest gust of wind... Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 18:37
  • Do you have any good value hyper cardioid microphones you would recommend for indoor use? Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 13:21
  • There are many. Value doesn't mean cheap: It means quality relative to price. The MKH50 or a Schoeps 641 combo are pricey, but are worth every red cent, since they sound SO good. The Oktava MK012 is really cheap, and can't hold a candle to the Sennys or Schoeps, but also worth every penny. Røde's mics are largely insane values for how cheap they are and how good they usually sound. Final advice: Place any pattern of mic close enough to the sound source and it'll become directional (but watch for the proximity effect). Remember that signal:noise is more than just pattern! :-) Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 13:48
  • ...Is the Rode NTG3 just not appropriate for indoor use? Will I not get good results? Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 9:19

Good starter kit - now just get out there and do some field recording, you'll soon adapt, modify or change the gear to suit your own particular needs as you progress. Just a couple of shortcomings with your gear - (1) you will definitely need wind protection for the inbuilt mics on the Marantz; which you could make yourself out of faux fur, if strapped for cash. (2) I think the Marantz has got a tripod thread mount - if it has then buy yourself a monopod or a tripod -any size - tabletop or full-size; to reduce handling noise so common with handheld portable recorders. It also gives your arm a rest and enables you to concentrate on other things whilst you're recording. Have fun!


You'll probably need a good set of headphones if you haven't got these covered already - and maybe a mic stand / camera stand if you don't want to hold the mic all the time. Otherwise looks like a nice rig.

  • Thanks @RedSonic01 Yep, already got my Sennheiser headphones. Though I don't have a portable and lightweight mic stand. Any recommendations for that? Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 9:24
  • I use - manfrotto.com/product/8374.58969.82552.0.0/190XB/_/… which is very adaptable, I have found that for field work camera stands are more portable and adaptable than classic mic stands, but any camera stant will do as long as it has the right screw size on top.
    – RedSonic01
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 9:38

I have the Marantz PMD661. I really like its portability, and it's extremely easy to use. It's pre-amps are low noise and transparent. The only thing I don't like about it are the built-in mics. They're very noisy and I've never liked what I've captured with them. I definetly wouldn't use them in an quiet ambient situation like a forest however. I borrow a matched pair of condensers for recording ambiences (AKG 451s).

I also ended up investing in a Sony M10 later down the road, and I'm happy with ambiences I've captured with that.

Sonic Fields is right about the tripod mount, and I second Noise Jockey's comments too.

  • I understand that they might not be great. I do want a proper stereo setup eventually. I'm glad to hear about your opinions as the built in mics are something I've not heard much about at all. Have you (or anyone else) got experience with these? seelectronics.com/sE1a_Stereo.html Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 13:20
  • Just got a word back from Oade Brothers on the subject of the mod I want doing to the Marantz... The mod upgrade will improve the noise of the internal mics. They're apparently good mics, just a little noisey. The mod upgrade will sort that out (or at least vastly improve it). Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 15:38
  • Sorry, I'm not familiar with the se1 mics. If I was in the market I would consider them though. I would be interested in learning more about the Marantz mod. Can you email me info on it? jay_audio [at] hotmail [dot] com.
    – Auddity
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 1:29
  • Sent you a mail dude. Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 9:12

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