Portable carry-on kit for sound recording?


#1

Hey everyone,

I’ve been looking to purchase or put together a carry-on sound kit for recording sounds that I may find while going about my day. Up until this point I’ve always carried with me a zoom H4n and it’s been very helpful for recording interesting sounds that I may want to add to my library for use in future projects.

However, the built-in stereo microphone of the H4n isn’t good enough in some cases (too much background noise, it’s not directional enough…) and I was wondering if I’d be a good idea de purchase a small microphone (and a case to carry it in) to carry with me at all times with my H4n so that I may use it to improve the quality of these recordings.

Is this a good idea? Is it worth it? Any recommendations for a good microphone that could work in this scenario?

Thanks a lot in advance,

Albert


#2

Hey Albert!

So generally speaking, most smaller microphones won’t be super-directional, but still might get you better results than the built-in stereo mics. If you’re recording a distinct sound source from a few feet away, a condenser mic should be just fine. However, most decent shotgun mics will be fairly large; I’m not sure if a cheap small one would be worth it.

I use an Audio-Technica AT4041 for a lot of my on-the-go recording, though mostly for voice performance and foley directly connecting into my I/O device to a computer. Here it is for comparison (on top of its case) next to an H4n:

Generally speaking, I’d definitely recommend having something other than the Zoom’s built-in mics for on-the-go recording. The stereo mics are originally meant more for live band recording, and they’re good for picking up background recordings, but obviously aren’t ideal for all other situations. If you can generally record pretty close-up, I’d look for a decent condenser mic that fits your budget.

On the editorial end, do you have any denoise options available? Rather than putting a ton into a mic that you’ll be carrying around with you a lot (and thus might potentially damage or lose), it might be smarter to split the difference between an okay, modestly-priced mic, and then some software you can use to clean up unwanted noise out of your recordings (which is also just really useful for dialogue and effects editing in general).


#3

That’s a very good point @Kevin_Senzaki, I had not considered the option of splitting my resources between an ok mic and a solid noise removal software program or plug-in.

So far, when I wanted to use noise reduction tools I’ve always used a mix of EQ and the various built-in noise reduction tools that come with Adobe Audition.

I must say that I just purchased an iLok key yesterday and plan to purchase my Pro Tools 12 student license once it arrives and I don’t know what built-in noise reduction tools Pro Tools has to offer.

What would you recommend? I’ve seen that in the “An Into to Noise Reduction” video you used izotope RX4 Advanced but are there any other options that you think are worth considering?


#4

So if you have Audition, that might be worth keeping around for denoising. Pro Tools does not include any denoise functions, so within a Pro Tools environment, you’ll need to rely on additional plugins. I would check if RX has a student license at a discount, and you don’t need the Advanced version when you’re starting out - the normal version is plenty in most cases.


#5

Brusfri is worth checking out at as well.

However it is a very bad attitude to take a “we’ll fix it in post” approach! :-o

Instead get the best quality sound you can on set :slight_smile: By using a quality mic that is well positioned (by an experienced boom op!) with a good recorder (not the frankly terrible H4n).