I would like to record footstep to create a personal sound bank. I wonder what preamps and what microphones you usually use for this kind of thing in studio? I do not have specific or maximum budget, So do not hesitate to suggest me very expensive stuff (of course less expensive is cool too).

The constraints include:

  • Very good S/N ratio : I would like to record some tiny variation like sneak walk.
  • Several microphone for several mic position (suggest several config)
  • Neutrality and precision

In the past I used dual DPA 4006A for near recording in combo with dual DPA 4011A for distance. Unfortunately my preamp (Aphex 1788A) was not good enough (too much noise) but I was still satisfied with the sound from DPA. So I am open to alternative or similar suggestion.


5 Answers 5


Hi guys, well here's a tip for you. Ive been using a Nuemann KMR81i for 90% of foley recording. Been doing foley for more than 25 years, so have tried it all. The 416 was the standard many years ago but it does have a nasty kick around 3k which really bites with chains, keys or foot grit, the KMR 81i is much warmer. The 416 is what I use for location foley on some films as its better in the wind and really brings in the feet thanks to the 3 k kick!

As far as mic pre's go, I use a DBX 768 with the digi out ( unfortunately these pre amps are no longer available). the other I like in the TL Audio C1 valve pre..very nice for impacts and just warming up the sounds, its also a very quiet pre. Just remember that no matter how quiet the mic and pre combo are, if the space your recording in is noisy, then thats as quiet as you will ever get.

Hope this helps..Good luck

  • It's a shame, the dbx 768 could be the perfect candidate. However TL Audio C1 seems to be very good. Is that the tubes do not sound too typed?
    – Axel S
    Sep 2, 2012 at 14:29

the hollywood standard is a 416 for footsteps, though I've recently been considering running some experiments.

the thing about footsteps is that you never run them very hot in a mix, so consequently noise floor is less of an issue than if you just listen to them in isolation.

the real tricky part is smoothing out some of the swingier transients that grit and rubble can produce - you don't want one footstep sticking out too far above the others on accident.

As such, i've been considering running some mics that have slower transient responses and slightly warmer characteristics to better compliment final usage.

  • It's interesting I had already noticed that smooth transcient footstep is "more realistic" (imho). I noticed it when I played with compressor. I also found that Flux BitterSweet can correct quickly your transcient (only if they are not too hard). May be Large Diaphragm Mic (C414?)is able to produced better smooth transcient footstep.
    – Axel S
    Aug 29, 2012 at 8:29
  • LDCs would certainly be an option. I'd even go so far as to try out a ribbon mic, though they may have low enough output gain that the noise floor would indeed become an issue.
    – Rene
    Aug 29, 2012 at 11:15

I haven't tried every combination of mics and preamps out there, but i can tell you what i use and am happy with:

In the studio i use Sennheiser Mkh 50 or 40 with RME Fireface 800 for foley/small objects and sound fx. If i'm recording footsteps in stairs or loft i bring my Sound Devices 702. If you ever get out of your cave (recommended) i've found the Rode NTG3 to capture footsteps in mud, snow or whatever really well. But get a good handheld solution from Rycote...

Since i'm not only working on films and TV i also often record these things in stereo. Yes, a lot can be done in post, but on the right location, natural ambience/roomtone and reverb is a killer! Try spaced omnis like Sennheiser Mkh 8020 on a stand in the room together with a handheld Mkh 40 or 50, pointing at your feet or on a stand for pass by effect. Then you can mix and match later in the studio.

Also, don't forget to experiment with good contact mics on squeaky floors etc.

  • Your second setup (spaced omnis + handheld mic) can be a good solution to manage distance in mix. This depends heavily of your room but I can try. Good idea too for contact mic. I did some tests with a lavalier microphone put very close of my shoes in the floor, It was interesting. I must try to put the mic directly on my shoes It may give something or not.
    – Axel S
    Sep 2, 2012 at 14:18

A great combo for footstep (outdoor) is Rode NTG3 with Sound Devices MixPre-D. I always get really good stuff with them. For other configurations (?) I suggest a good figure8 mic to combine in M/S with the Rode (Sennheiser MKH 30 for exaple). Anyway, for more info I'll hand over to the experts...

  • There's very little, if any, benefit to recording footsteps in stereo. So, I'd suggest avoiding M/S. Aug 28, 2012 at 11:42
  • Thanks Feel but I am looking for inside setup (and stereo is even less benefit like Shaun suggests). I still keep in mind your setup if I come out of my cave, one day.
    – Axel S
    Aug 28, 2012 at 12:05
  • @AxelS: for indoor uses, I think that a good cardioid or multipattern mic is a pretty good solution. And of course a warmer response, as Rene says, is also a great point; so, for example, you can easly remove Rode mics (NT1000/2000) from your catalog. A Shoeps MK21 will be a good solution. Maybe.
    – Filippo
    Aug 28, 2012 at 13:00
  • @ShaunFarley: I've suggested the M/S setup for to capture particural reverberations, if any. But it is obviously a (big!) supposition from a non-expert user :)
    – Filippo
    Aug 28, 2012 at 13:02
  • Why remove the rode NT mics? Great mics that handle the hardships of a Filey studio with ease. And when it finally breaks its inexpensive enough to replace without braking the bank. Low noise and the off axis sound works often in your advantage when needed. Great utility mics. I personally dry much doubt that a shoeps will outlast a Rode in a dusty studio where it will be banged about a lot. But the Shoeps does sound nice. In the old days we use to record foley with Neuman M269 tube mics to mag. Sounded nice but noise was Occaisionally an issue from the tape.
    – ErikG
    Aug 29, 2012 at 6:24

For preamps, I love using Milenia (HV-3D) and John Hardy M-2 pres. Great S/N ratio, even frequency response, and tons of headroom.

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