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I did some research and thus far came up with the following list of purchases and would like your thoughts. My immediate budget is $1000-$1500.

Phase 1 Purchase

  • Tascam HD-P2 or Tascam DR-680 or Edirol R-44 Field Recorder (not sure which one)
  • Rode NTG -1 Shotgun Microphone
  • Rode Blip and accessories
  • Rode Mini Boompole
  • Audio Technica ATH-M35 Headphones

    Phase 2 Purchase

  • Mac Book Pro 15" 2.0GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD with Apple Care
  • Avid Mbox 3 with Pro Tools 9 software
  • Glyph 500GB 7200 RPM portable HD

    Phase 3 Purchase

  • Sennheiser EvolutionEW 112P #G ENG wireless transmitter / receiver w/LAV

    Thanks

    Carmine M

  • @Carmine, you can probably get good sound with this... how are you going to listen to it? :) Did you think about budgetting for headphones too? – Justin Huss May 7 '11 at 16:41
  • Thanks Justin: I was going to purchase the Audio Technica ATH-M35 headphone but another thread convinced me to go for a Sony model which has better all-a-round sound. – Carmine M May 9 '11 at 6:24
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Out of those recorders, I'd definitely go with the R-44. Heard lots of good things about it - I'd say it's the best bang for it's buck in that price range.

The RØDE NTG-1 is a decent mic to start with, but that would be one of the first things I'd upgrade once you get a bit more money. There is a very large price jump from low end shotguns to high end shot guns, so I realize it won't be able to happen right away - but again, the NTG-1 is a great mic to start with.

Love the RØDE blimp. Haven't seen the RØDE boom pole, but I'm sure it's fine. I like the fact that it has foam on the grip - will help with handling noise a lot.

If you are going to be using the boom pole indoors, I might consider getting another shock mount (in addition to the blimp) since the blimp is a little big and heavy to be used indoors, and your NTG-1 will only come with a simple mic clip. The NTG-1 is very susceptible to handling noise, so you will want to make sure it's properly shock mounted. You can usually find a decent shock mount for a boom pole for under $50

The only other thing I would really look at is the headphones. I would see if you can upgrade to the Sony MDR7506 headphones if you can - they are pretty much standard issue field phones.

One last question - why the wireless? Or is this gear for production audio as well? Remember that you'll need some sort of bag (pro or otherwise - pro is usually easier, but I've seen people make do with less) to do ENG work. In that price range, the Sennheiser Evo series is definitely the best, just realize that it doesn't have a very long range (safely). In a crowded room, I MIGHT give it 50' - 75' line of sight before I start worrying about hits and dropouts. If you are doing ENG and staying close range though, you'll have no problems.

Hope this helps!

  • rode blimp on a boompole is ridiculously heavy. that blimp is made for tripod mounting for sure! – Rene May 8 '11 at 1:40
  • Thanks Colin for your advise. I will definitely look at the R-44. Being a Novice Sound Recorder, the advise provided by everyone on this post has given me direction. My intent is to create a Sound FX library for special effects and not so much production audio at least at this time. The wireless purchase is not on the radar at the moment. I will look at a better microphone and the Sony Headphones as well as I have used Sony headphones for personal use and like them. – Carmine M May 9 '11 at 6:31
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Colin makes some very good points. The most important one I think is whether or not you plan on doing production sound recording in addition to FX recording for sound design. If yes, then you're on the right track, gear-wise.

If not, then the Sennheiser wireless kit and possibly the boom pole as well aren't necessary for immediate purchases. For FX recording (depending on what you're doing), a shockmount may be a more significant initial investment than a boom pole.

Don't forget to budget in for XLR cables, some kind of harness or bag to keep your hands free and a case of some kind to keep it all together. If you plan on doing Foley or performance-based recording of any kind, a mic stand is a good idea as well.

  • Thanks Paul. My focus will be on FX recording as opposed to production sound recording. The wireless equipment is not on the radar at this point. I will take into account the shock mount and I have plenty of XLR cables and mic stands from my mobile DJ days. I should probably consider a good set of speaker monitors for listening to the recordings in the studio. What do you think? – Carmine M May 9 '11 at 6:35
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I use the R-44 and can thoroughly recommend it.

  • although many people seem to like R-44 (including myself) most of the media ignore it and go with Fostex and Sound Devices, why is that anyways? The only seemingly "real" excuse i got was about the mic pres being lower quality! – Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis May 8 '11 at 11:10
  • Thanks lain. My next step is to test drive some of this equipment and from all the posts the R-44 is on my radar. – Carmine M May 9 '11 at 6:36
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Personally, I wouldn't buy the M-box. But that may just be a result of unbelievably huge bias against Avid. I know the new line is supposed to be a huge step up from the previous one, but I have a hard time believing it.

There's also the matter of it only doing 96k. I'm sure it doesn't seem that important right now, but once you start playing with your sounds (especially time stretching), you're gonna be annoyed that you can't get up to 192k. There are a lot of good interfaces out there with better specs than the MBox.

Then again, I'm sure you end up gettting a better deal on the software than buying both PT and another interface.

By the way...

Ditto on the phones. The 7506s also fold up into themselves, which just about halves the amount of space they take up.

  • Thanks for your input. I think Tascam and Edirol are my main focus at this point, – Carmine M May 9 '11 at 6:38
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I'm going to respectfully disagree with most comments here to choose the R44 over the DR680. The DR680 has way better (and more) preamps. The R44 preamps are quite hissy.

Battery life between the two is about similar. The R44 has a more solid build quality, but if you're careful with the DR680 you will be fine. The metering and display on the R44 are a bit better, but if it was me, I would choose preamps over metering. The fact is that in this price range, you won't get a 'perfect' recorder.

So, the DR680 isn't perfect, but out of the options you've given, I'd say it is easily the best bang for buck, due to its quiet and ample preamps (6 analog, 2 digital). Get a battery pack for it such as a Tekkeon MP3450, put it safely in a good bag, and you're all set.

Bear in mind, that even though a DR680 has quiet preamps, if you were to use it with a NTG-1 you will hear the mic self noise, which is rated at 18dBA - meaning it will definitely be audible on quiet source material. However, it's safe to assume that you will buy higher quality microphones down the line, therefore having a recorder with quiet preamps will suit you better in the long run.

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Please don't get a zoom as your primary recorder. I have one and it sucks for sound fx. It's noisy preamps are under all quality. Shure. They're quite good, and recording detailed and deep ( for that price) but they're massively hissy and silent sounds, like you will record for sound fx, you'll. Need a better one. I read forums and articles since one month. Mostly on gearsluts. These guys are really professional. And i will get a dr680 because of it's silent preamps and a lot of Channels. For sound fx it's never bad to have more mics on your object to capture the perfect take :).

Go for the tascam. Thumbs up !!!!

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You know, with your budget, and the intent of solely recording SFX, I would almost recommend to not use a the tascam or the r44 and snag something like the zoom H4N. You get stereo recording at 96k + matched stereo condensors to grab ambiances.

Yes the mic pres on the zoom are not as good as the others, but, in my experience, if I am having to gain it up that much on my zoom and am getting noise, I also am getting pre noise on my HDP2 with the same sound.

You lose the ability to name clips before recording, audio slating them and then renaming while you catalogue will be the other option and it will also help you build a solid workflow/ system.

I would snag a used mic stand also.

You can then take that extra money and put towards phase 2 or towards getting a better recorder/microphone. That money could also be combined with the Mbox money and get something like maudio profire instead, which would give you 8 channels of record into pro tools for a larger sfx session when needed.

Spend a little money and invest in a soldering iron. Learn how to use it. It will save you oodles in cables and repairs, plus you can then make your own nifty little tricks and things.

I own both the zoom and the HDP2 and find myself whipping out the zoom more often than the hdp2. I got my tascam before the zoom came out and got it used for about the same price as a zoom.

That's my $.02

  • 2
    My god! This guy is just starting out and has listed some great recorders which can get some phenomenal results, and you are suggesting not getting one of them and getting a Zoom H4N, are you crazy? The Zoom should never be a primary recorder!!! Carmine, please please please do NOT get the Zoom as your primary recording device. – Si Charles Sep 20 '11 at 7:55
  • @SiAudio I think when you are on a tight budget like that, what you get for $300 with a zoom to start out will most definitely get you rolling and getting technique down, while you save some more money. Although I did not realize the price has gone down on some of those recorders, still thought the hdp2 was around 1000. – Michael Gilbert Sep 20 '11 at 20:50
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Hi Carmine

Sounds like you've done your research, and for the money you should be able to get some great sounds.

I would however avoid the Rode blimp as it is much heavier than the Rycote blimps, perhaps have a look at the Rycote S-Series, it doesn't have a removable 'fluffy' cover but it's very light and extremely good. I have one with my Rode NTG-3 and use it all the time on the end of a boom pole. Plus it's pretty much the same price as the RODE blimp.

As for the recorder, I have used the HD-P2 and it's a great recorder, but you might prefer the Edirol as it's slightly smaller, has 4 channels and from what I have heard has better battery life than the HD-P2. Speaking of battery life, I'd invest in a few sets of rechargeable batteries and a decent charger, will be much cheaper in the long run.

Definitely see if you can get a pair of Sony MDR7506 headphones as they are fantastic. I've had a pair for about 6 years now and they are still going strong.

Good luck.

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