Hello everyone,

My friend and I are starting a small documentary and we're looking for a recorder/mixer and a good microphone that would be sturdy enough to cope with heat and humidity. Our budget is 5000$. There's only one person at a time on screen and two mics for the interviewer and the interviewee. But ideally we'd like to add 3 more mics.

We had a look at the Zaxcom and 4minx features. We like the Zaxcom which is cheaper and the NeverClip function as well as the 137db dynamic range of its preamps. But if we buy the zaxcom I don't think we'll have enough money to get a decent mic. We'd like to have your opinions.

Thanks a lot for your help :)

2 Answers 2


Hi Staann,

Depending on the length of documentary and your future needs for recording equipment, I would suggest you to rentthe gear. Although it is very tempting to buy gear. If you are not experienced yet with using field recorders and different mic's, why take the risk?

5000 dollars is a lot of money, which you could also save up and spent on 2nd hand gear, when you start on a new project. I've taken small steps in building up my recording setup. First starting with a DAT machine and cheap mic's,adding better ones, when the opportunity rised.With my first recording gig I rented gear that seemed good. I was a bit dissapointed in the gear and changed some bits (different mic's etc.). It got me going and I learned a lot.

When I had the opportunity I bought my first Mic (MKH50 still use it!) and a SQN mixer (now my back up mixer). On bigger gigs I rented a Sound Devices and was pretty happy with it. In the meantie my mic collection had grown and not until recently I bought a Sonosax recorder for recording SFX and small documentary gigs. It took me 5 years to build this up and I appreciate every device (with it's merits) and now when to use which devices.

If you're already experienced as sound recordist (with the recorder you talk about) than you could still rent it and save money. But that's up to you.

Good luck with your decision.


  • @Arnoud : Hey thanks for your answer. We're living in Tahiti French Polynesia and the taxes here are dissuasive :) so we picked up the gears that seemed appropriate for what we want to do. We can't rent gears because there are no shops selling this type of audio devices. The only solution would be to travel to the US or New Zeland to try them out. We want to record a trio and run an interview with at least two of the band members. Voila.
    – Staann
    Dec 8, 2012 at 20:17
  • 1
    @staann: wow the middle of the south pacific! ok, that explains your 'need' to buy :) hope everything goes well! btw how does tahiti sound? any chance you could let us hear something 'typical tahiti'? Dec 8, 2012 at 20:50
  • @Arnoud: Yeah I know, that's why I had to ask before buying. It's crazy to buy gears you haven't used. As soon as I get the gears I'll record something so you can hear how the island sounds ? Thanks Arnoud
    – Staann
    Dec 9, 2012 at 20:59

I like the idea of building modular, so I reckon

1 x Sound Devices MixPre-D

1 x Sennheiser MKH416 or Sanken CS-1

2 x Sennheiser G3 Wireless Sets

2 x Lavalier Mics (Countryman, Sanken, or Oscar Sound Tech)

1 x handy recorder (take your pick, too many to list from)

1 x boom pole + windshield + bag + cables + accessories

Depending on what you get, you should be able to get em under $5000 or thereabouts. The MixPre-D can be used to expand the inputs of other Sound Devices mixers, so it's a good way to go. The Sennheiser wireless will be good for wireless hops or director's feeds when you decide to upgrade to better wireless sets. Altogether it'll be a light kit and plenty good for interviews.

  • Thanks Tak, it really helps not to have to filter through a lot of brand and models. Thanks.
    – Staann
    Dec 9, 2012 at 20:54

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