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Old February 8th, 2010, 12:50 AM   #1
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Needing advice for what audio equipment to buy


I am looking to purchase audio equipment. What can I squeeze in on a budget of $1500, $2000, at the most $2500. I like to have more than decent sound, but at least decent sound. I only have an AT835b mic. I want to start shooting weddings, webisodes, indie features, and maybe TV Broadcast. I may be foolishly ambitious. I'm waiting to purchase possibly the Sony NXCAM, if that matters. I plan not to record into the camera. I have an old Tascam DA-P1 non-timecode dat - (is it still viable to make use of this? - I called B & H, thinking I could still in someway use it; and they laughed at me when I asked for dat tapes.) There may be applications where it's just me, and I would need to put the shotgun on a stand - so what kind of stand? How about hardwired lavs that could eventually be used with a wireless system ( I read the order of what to use first, second, etc. ) Can I use headphones to monitor sound in the field and also to edit. I have a new Macbook Pro, 2.8 Ghz, 8 Gig Ram, but I would like to get another sound card, but cannot use the firewire port because I will run my external harddrives in the only firewire port; it would have to be USB, I suppose. True, I need a mixer? And, if I wanted to get a scratch track into my camera, how should I approach that, output from mixer to camera, or cheap wireless transmitter for that purpose. Should I squeeze in a decent wireless system or is that something behind a better shotgun (looking at Rode NT3 for now), and wired lavs? And how about a field recorder? Can you help me decide for those 3 budgets the possiblities. I thank you some much in advance for your time.

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Old February 8th, 2010, 06:47 AM   #2
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Hi Aleetha,

I use the Rode NTG2 and Sony UWP-V1 wireless system. This cost me around AUD$1200. I'm looking to add a Zoom recorder (not too sure of the model yet) for these times when I want to plug into the soundboard at a concert or when I want to place a mic on a lecturn or stage. All this should be less than USD1500. Then you should spend a few extra bucks on shockmounts, maybe a fluffy windsock, extra XLR cables, etc.

I haven't really used any other mic's - I bought these ones because they were fairly cheap and I was familiar with them because it's what we used at University, so I can't comment on how they compare to other options.

Audio is my weakpoint at the moment because up until recently I've mainly shot surfing, but now I'm starting to invest in Audio gear a bit more.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 06:52 AM   #3
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Hi Aletha,

Headphones - Sony MDR-7506. Industry standard in the field and for editing. Highly recommended.

Firewire ports are designed so that you can daisy chain devices (meaning you can connect your HDD to your Macbook's FW port, and then connect an audio interface to the extra FW port on the HDD). Or you could go USB, just so you know both are options.
And I highly recommend sending a scratch track to camera. Ideally you have a mixer, and can send a line-level output to the camera. Cables are better and more reliable, so that's my suggestion. Only do a wireless hop if you really need it.

I'd say ditch the DAT. It's outdated and a Zoom H2 recorder is going to be simpler and smaller. (While on that note though, is there a reason you don't want to record straight to camera?)

On gear, no wireless is better than cheap wireless as at the end of the day, it either works or it doesn't and cheap wireless is hard to count on. Cheapest I would recommend for professional shoots is G3 with a COS-11d lav, roughly $700 each. So I would honestly hold off on it.

For a mixer, Sound Devices 302 is a fantastic one. $1300, but worth every penny.

"Location Sound Package 4" at is a fantastic deal.
RODE NTG-3 Shotgun Mic at
NTG-3 shotgun, blimp, boom pole, cable

For one-man-band shotgun holder, I'd use a boom pole holder on a regular C-Stand.
General Brand | Boom Pole Holder | REMBOMAST | B&H Photo Video

That's all solid gear that'll hold up well over time as you build a kit.

If you need to go cheaper, I'd say the "Location Sound Package 4" kit, and a Marantz PMD661 with Oade's Super mod to improve the pre-amps (since in this option you wouldn't have a mixer, so the recorder needs better pre-amps).
Ordering for Oade Brothers Audio: Marantz PMD 661 Super

As for how much should you spend, I've never regretted buying the best I could afford.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 10:17 AM   #4
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This is my wedding audio recommendations:
Never record audio with out headphones.

No need to purchase a mixer if you plan on recording direct to camera (most cameras have a 2 channel mixer buit in). if you want a mixer you will need to hire someone to adjust levels and run the recorder as you operate the camera.

I like to place shotguns on a stand next to the bride and groom and run a xlr mic cable to my main camera (right channel). Then I use a wireless system hooked to my main camera (left channel). A Sennheiser G2 is the best budget wireless system I would recommend. Also when you come across any used XLR mic cables... buy them, you will need them.

Look at this kit: DV Cam Audio Package - Sound Packages - Trew Audio

For weddings I would substitute the boom pole for a mic stand.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 09:24 PM   #5
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Hey, John, Alex, and Mark,

Thank-you every so much, all of you, for your expertise. I have been investigating all your suggestions. I waited like a kid on Christmas for your replies; and your much needed help was like a new shiny red bike to me. Alex, I'm reading articles and books, some of which say, yes, into the camera; others say, never, never into the camera, the audio is always terrible, too much camera noise, etc.; so, I just decided to be safer than sorry, wanting to do my best. Although, into the camera would be what my level of expertise could handle. I would love your permission to go ahead and do that! I'm even rethinking getting that camera just now; and instead spending the correct amount of "nickels and dimes" on the audio. That you all take the time out of your professional lives to answer questions from us that are gathering information, makes me ever so grateful to have found this site. Thanks, once more. I'll be back for more answers!

Aletha Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 10th, 2010, 10:54 PM   #6
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I think whether the camera audio is "good enough" or not depends as much on what the audio is as on the camera. For simple dialogue - maybe the cam is good enough. For a symphony performance - ha! Forget the camera!

Even if you use an external recorder, though, it is a good idea to also record to the camera - it will help when it's time to match the external recording up to the video. Even the camera's mic would probably be good enough for this usage.
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Old February 11th, 2010, 08:59 AM   #7
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You may find this to be helpful
Location Sound: The Basics and Beyond

Dan Brockett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 12th, 2010, 03:35 PM   #8
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Thanks, Jim, for the insight; because it should depend on the need. And, Dan, I read through your white paper 3x. I'll keep it close as a guide to help me remember to cover the basics, and keep the process straight in my head. The best educators are able to convey knowledge in easily digestible and conversational form. I appreciate it, thanks!
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