My first question to this group. Maybe a gear question is kind of a lame start, but here goes.

I've been field recording for quite some time and have acquired over the years some Neumanns, DPAs, Sennheisers, and my beloved Schoeps pair. (My ears are happy, but my wallet not so much).

Wondering what mics you use when you don't want to put your nice ones in harms way? I've tortured some SM57s and some cheap Audio Technicas in my time. But I'm looking to get a couple more "guinea pig Chuck Yeager test pilot" mics for mounting on vehicles, water/fire recording up close etc.. Just picked up a Sennheiser 835, but I'm looking for another dynamic and maybe a couple condensers. Any experience with low end mic gems would be appreciated. I've heard good things about torturing Marshall MXL and cheap lavs mics for example.


7 Answers 7


I've used MXL mics for bullet impacts and got good results. The MXL's cost me $99 both for a small and large diaphragm condenser. At that price, I would have actually been excited to see a bullet go through one, just to tell the stories! They both lived, I actually haven't used them since. One the same shoot, John Fasal used some old Radio Shack PZM's that I've also seen him drop cars onto.

  • +1 on Fasal's PZM techniques. Great open sound with plenty of low end. Jun 3, 2010 at 7:18

Oktava MK-012 is just about the cheapest condenser mic that's worth a &$#% that I'd put in a risky situation. I have dynamic mics cheaper than even the SM57 that I'd put on the front lines, but this thread is titled "nice SFX recording mics," after all... The world's your oyster if you don't need low end! :-)

  • I have an Oktava that has a dent on the side of the capsule casing from when I hit it with a piece of metal years ago. Now, I like to bang on large, heavy pieces of metal near my MKH800's. Yes, I'm nuts. Jun 4, 2010 at 7:56

I have a small pile of Realistic/Radio Shack Highball II mics that get lots of use in the field for just that reason--I don't really care if they get destroyed. As NoiseJockey said, I'm not sure you'd call them "nice" mics but I certainly have gotten bunches of good and useable sounds with them.


Depends how you define "cheap". I'd go with SM57s for sure, plus try some Radio Shack PZMs (the older Realistic ones) and possibly some DIY contact mics.

PS> I'd even put a Zoom H2 in this category as it's a great little 24/96 recorder for the money. But could you get the SD card out if it's been destroyed? :)


57s! And another +1 for MXL stuff too. Depending on budget, you might be able to grab some Røde M3s or AKG C1000s's, etc... Realistic PZMs are a good choice too.

You might try going on Craigslist or Ebay and finding some of this stuff used, even roughly used, since you are planning on destroying them anyways. You can often find 57s for $40 or so used.

I'm also all for the DIY Contact Mics, as Jay suggested. You can make them for under $4 a piece (cheaper if you already have connectors available). I've done this a few times, when I taped my DIY contact mic onto a fire cracker... It lasted about 4 takes...

  • +1 on AKG mics - usually pretty cheap, durable, and don't sound too bad.
    – VCProd
    Jun 4, 2010 at 13:56

i would go for condenser - behringer stereo pair or just single (c1 , c2 or something like that) - condenser, small membrane, nice for sfx. bit noisy, but they are so cheap that you wont care if something happens to them - just get another one :)


  • I bought a pair of those a few years ago with the purpose of destroying them (using the capsules for my own project). I ended up not doing that so I still have them. Anyone have some good ideas on how to sacrifice them for a greater, sonic purpose?
    – EMV
    Jun 9, 2010 at 8:40

Naiant Audio make some EXTREMELY cheap microphones and though I havent used them I have heard good things from them! For about $50émic yuou cant go wrong!


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