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Hello everyone,

I am a 3D artist who is undertaking a few independent projects in the area of app development. As such, I am now exploring the world of audio production for the first time.

The first iterations of my work where I was responsible for all areas of production utilized sounds that were primarily sourced from the Internet along with a few purchased tracks from sound libraries. So far the audio clips I have obtained remain unmodified from the originals although I am starting to delve into the editing phase with help from resources found online.

In an effort to produce original content, I invested in a TASCAM DR-100 MKII field recorder. The results so far are mixed with a lot of poor recordings along with the occasional happy accident where I nailed the sound effect I had hoped to pick up. I attributed most of the poor results to the recorder's operator, of course.

Although my work is steadily improving as I experiment with various different placement options, I’m a very long way from producing a personal effects library that compares with that of commercial offerings. Albeit a bit flat sounding, most of my recordings are serviceable however.

From the outset I left open the possibility of purchasing separate microphones to improve my recordings which is what initially led me toward purchasing that particular TASCAM model and hence, my question(s):

Will I be served best by purchasing some good quality microphones and learning to produce better recordings with those in tandem with my DR-100 MKII? Or would the absence of a better recording device negate any appreciable gain in quality to be had with external mics?

My needs focus on achieving realistic sound effects such as footsteps, doors opening and closing, plumbing, vehicle sounds, machinery, ambient noises both indoors and outdoors, etc. I don’t foresee any need to record dialogue at this time.

Two locations in particular that I have access to for recording are a construction site and a Pratt and Whitney manufacturing plant.

Assuming I would go with an external microphone, what suggests would you have for a make/model? Anything that would fit in a backpack (ThinkTank Shapshifter) would be a huge bonus.

As for software, I have Adobe’s Audition, which I am now learning to use. Should I considering looking at anything else?

My set budget is around $1000 (USD).

Thanks in advance.

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You're missing out on a nice opportunity to team up with a sound person here. You can cover twice the ground and stick to doing whatever it is you (and they) do best.

That said, it is possible to get sound effects with just your DR-100. Mind that most of the time a good sound effect has undergone some processing before you find it in a finished product. This can vary from simple cleanup, through EQ, compression, all the way to layering and doing all sorts of other processing (and then layering those in).

So tl;dr: not necessarily.

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Effects are spliced into your recordings. They are supposed to be clearly audible and thus come with considerable gain. If they come with a non-trivial noise floor, this noise floor will be spliced in as well and will define start/end of the effect in a manner separate and distinguishable from the signal itself. The kind of signal you describe is more of the silent but noticeable variety, so gated/spliced noise will likely be apparent.

Field recorders with their comparatively small built-in capsules tend to fare not all that well in the equivalent noise department. Take a look at the specs of something like a Røde NT55: this is a "small diaphragm" microphone, so gives a fairly accurate sound representation. At the same time (IIRC), it has an internal voltage doubling circuit for the phantom power and its true condenser capsule, leading to quite an impressive equivalent noise level that some large diaphragm condensers would be proud of.

Of course, you still need high quality preamps and recording equipment, and for outdoor recordings, deadcats/blimps and/or other wind protection. Otherwise, you'll be back at the "noise determines my sound work" stage after all.

So even if the initial estimate of equipment like that looks favorable to your budget plannings, don't underestimate what manages to make it to the bill as well.

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It depends.

Main concerns in portable recorders and their internal mics:

  • Suboptimal/poor signal-to-noise ratio, which may or may not lead to recordings with too much noise depending on how quiet sources you're recording.

  • Limited polar patterns or polar patterns of the wrong type and the general inability to record in mono or spread the capsules apart for a good stereo image.

You can get "usable" recordings with portable recorders, depending on the sound source and how well you place the recorder, but the aforementioned things are what will cause problems when you'd like to record in a way which is not practical with the portable recorder or with better frequency balance or S/N ratio.

Not all "external" microphones will offer better sound (because if they're cheap, they can perform poorer than the recorder's internal microphones), but good microphones will offer much more flexibility and better sound quality, at the small expense of having to carry them around and rig them up. I would advise using something in the range of e.g. Rode microphones as the standard for usable and practical recording and leave the internal microphones of portable recorders to other user groups than sound recordists and for the occasional use, where you know what you're getting. It really pays off to get the recordings right, rather than have the gear ruin them or limit what you'd really want to pick up.

As for software, "everything works".

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My view, is you can get brilliant SFX from location recording ( although definitely invest in the tascam rode Windjammer ) - however the sounds will be very real. brutally real.

In order to create something more iconic and stand out,( like app sfx ) you'd need to edit and layer numerous things.

As an owner of a DR100, and a owner of a posh schoeps, I still think you can get good audio without falling into the better kit obsession. I like the tascam and I think if you learn about location recording and processing after you can get good sounds without an external

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