Hi Guys

Just starting to get into foley and field recording for my University project. I've got a budget of around £500 and need some advice on which type of mics to purchase. Im essentially looking for microphones which will help me with recording foley and field recordings.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



5 Answers 5


If you're just starting out, I'd recommend a hypercardioid condenser first. Mid-range shotgun mics (and cheaper) will give poor results indoors unless you're specifically in an acoustically dead space, which limits their usability. A hyper will let you do dialogue, SFX, foley, and more without such limitations. I bought a shotgun before a hyper, and in hindsight I really should have done it the other way 'round.

The all-in-one field recorder option is also a fine approach for just starting out. The Zoom H4n and the Sony PCM-D50 are supremely versatile, and have important differences between the two, and you'll find most recordists have invested in one or both. There are yet-cheaper options (Zoom H1, Sony PCM-M10), but you'll trade off noise floor and features.

In my opinion, Rode has the best signal:noise ratio for the money on the market today, period. They're not the most transparent, or the most rugged, or the "best" (whatever that might mean to you), but they're a great value. The Oktavas are great for medium-to-loud sound sources, but have a pretty high level of self-noise for quiet foley. Know these limitations, shore them up with what you want to record in terms of subject matter, and make your choice accordingly.

If you go with buying mics, please don't forget that your budget must also include a pistol grip, shockmount, and windscreen, as well as any supports you might want like a boompole or stands. You can't record anything meaningful by holding a condenser mic by hand (unless it's an omni, and/or made by a firm like Earthworks). :-)

  • Out of interest Nathan, any particular budget hyper-cardioid mics you'd recommend? Or just Rode's stuff?
    – JTC
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 16:10
  • Thanks for the advice. I was considering the Rode NTG-2. Have you had any experience with them.
    – Squareal
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 16:12
  • @Joe: I own an OktavaMod MK-012, modded by Michael Joly. I also recommend the Rode NT5. @Squareal: Yes, I own the NTG-2. It's not as solid a design as the NTG-3; it uses some different design principles. It's relatively quiet, doesn't have much character, isn't totally flat in terms of freq. reponse...but it's also inexpensive. Hasn't let me down in terms of build quality...but I use other mics much more frequently. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 16:26
  • Ive been looking at the nt5, do you think that if I got a pair I could use them for field recording as well as foley recording.
    – Squareal
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 16:48
  • @Squareal Absolutely! You can use a pair of cardioids for XY or ORTF stereo field recording, and many other techniques. You might also consider the NT6's, whose small remote capsules are easier to mount in pairs in standard-size windscreens for XY or ORTF stereo. They're almost quiet enough for quiet nature ambiences, but just on the edge. Remember that the Rode NT4 is just a pair of NT5 capsules in one body, but less fiddly setup means less flexibility... – NoiseJockey 0 secs ago Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 17:01

Ah, low budgets are tricky for getting decent setups!

I've been using an Oktava MK012 with a hypercardioid capsule for foley, and it's been good to me so far. Obviously not as good as a Neumann KMR 81, but similiar in its pickup characteristics. They come cheap, but make sure you don't buy a fake; here's a link with some pictures to help: http://recordinghacks.com/fake-oktava-mk-012-photos/ It's pretty sensitive to handling noise, so make sure you get a shockmount; and if you're recording outside with it, you'll need a pretty thick windscreen.

If you're wanting to do field recording, you may want a stereo mic as well. A flash recorder with a built in stereo pair like a Zoom H4N/H2, or the other leading brands, would help you out there. If you get one with XLR inputs, you can use that as your field recorder with other mics too (assuming you mean FX recording and not location recording).

Also, Rode do some pretty decent yet cheap shotguns: www.rodemic.com

Hope that helps!

  • @Roger - Totally forgot about the H4, you can use the on board stereo along with two separate mics making it a great device for field recording. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 0:00
  • I've already ordered the Marantz PMD661 for a recorder, I'll check out some of the rodes shotgun mics. Cheers.
    – Squareal
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 12:33

Ah a fellow student :), it really depends on what you plan to record for your project.

My project involves recording cars which will require mics that can handle a high SPL. I'm getting dynamics (couple of SM57's and a bass drum mic), a few pencil mics that handle high SPL (small diaphragm condensers), a ribbon mic (also good at SPL) and a Sennheiser MKH-416 (shotgun mic) which is an industry standard mic for Foley work.

Obviously depending on your project some of my set up won't be appropriate. If you can explain your project a little more I'd be happy to assist.


  • Im making a motion comic based on Night of the Living Dead. I need to record outside ambience, foley and dialogue amongst other stuff which is too much to mention. I was considering a pair of NT1a's but still unsure about a shotgun mic.
    – Squareal
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 12:32

+1 on the Rode mics when your budget is tight. For Foley work, the NT1-A is a bargain. If your in the UK you can pick one up for just over £150. For stereo field recording, the NT4 is a good place to start. Most people I know used this mic for stereo work and later upgraded to a more expensive, but more flexible MS rig. For mono shotguns, the Rode NTG-3 is also very competitive in terms of budget. Of course, there are better mics than the above mentioned, but your budget will rocket!

  • +1 on the NT1a. If you don't need to do a lot of field recording - or if you do and you're willing to make your own DIY windscreen - the NT1a is simply befuddling how such a clean, quiet, solid mic can be so cheap. Absolutely recommended...and Colin's right, it's easy to be seduced by sweeter, pricier mics! It's a disease we all share! :-) Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 16:35

Sennheiser or Neuman is my choice.

  • Nice and specific there... :) Commented Nov 15, 2010 at 23:43

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