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What are you guys using for audio recording with your DSLR?
  • What are you guys using for audio recording? I come from a XL-H1 with XLR inputs so I have no idea what the best options are with DSLR audio.

    I own the following microphones:
    - Rode NT3 (XLR)
    - Rode NTG-2 (XLR)
    - Audio Techno 1800 Dual wireless system (Dual XLR)
    - Rode Videomic Pro (3.5mm)

    I have done some research and these are options I am considering:
    - Zoom H4n, Marantz 551 portable field recorders with XLR inputs
    GOOD: XLR, portable
    BAD: pre-amps not that good, battery life, size
    - Tascam P2 HD or Roland/Edirol R44 field recorders
    GOOD: XLR, 4 XLR inputs, line input, sound quality, pre-amps
    BAD: battery life, size, price
    - Sony PCM-M10, Olympus LS11, Zoom H2/H1
    GOOD: small, cheap, good pre-amps, size, battery life
    BAD: no XLR inputs

    I would like to hear how you guys are recording audio and what works and what not (from your experience).
  • 155 Replies sorted by
  • The P2 Tascam is nice. So is the R44
    The Zoom products belong in the trash can.

    I use Oktava, RODE and Sennheiser XLR mics and Tascam DR100 which I consider the absolute minimum for pro audio. Some of the units you've listed are way better.
  • I use Tascam DR-100

    Ideal does not exist, really.
  • Here's how I make the Zoom H4n work for me on a shoulder-mounted rig. The stereo shotgun mic bracket is attached to the front of the rig with a single large C-clamp, allowing me to mount it remotely from the camera when desired. I also have a self-powered long shotgun on a boom pole that works well plugged into the H4n's bottom mini-jack to bypass the built-in mics. The external battery for the H4n powers it for over 6 hours, available here:

    Satechi iCel 5200 mAh USB Rechargeable Battery

    Outside a soundproofed studio, environmental noise almost always drowns out any preamp noise from the H4n. I run it in 4-channel mode supplying phantom power at 24-bit/48khz.
    3136 x 2352 - 2M
  • DR-100 for 2 channels. H4n for 4 channels.

    I prefer a mic with its own battery.

    DualEyes app for video/audio sync. Or FCP X...
  • H4, Rode NTG-2 and a pocket full of batteries
  • I send my wireless and boom mics into my Sound Devices 302 mixer, send mic-level outputs from the mixer directly into my GH2, and line-level outputs from the mixer into an Edirol R09HR portable recorder.
  • @LPowell wow, that rig looks like a friggin' TIE Fighter!

    For my price range it was a toss up between the zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-100. I basically flipped a coin and got the zoom. In hind sight, the Tascam probably would have been better for me.

    Over-all, the H4N seems ok, though there are a few things that seem stupid to me, like there is no dedicated Line-in for getting audio off a sound board, the XLR connections don't lock, and the line-out and headphone jack are the same so you'd need a splitter if you wanted to connect it to a camera and also monitor the audio. And why can't the volume be set independently for the two XLR inputs????

    I realize the DR-100 has most of these features. Supposedly the Zoom has better compressors/limiters, and really, everyone I watch regularly online that was doing DSLR stuff was using it, so I jumped on the band wagon. Would have been nice to have had a chance to physically (and audibly) compare the two for a couple days, but nowhere around here sells them that I know of.

  • @Tristan
    Thanks, the rig looks elaborate, but weighs only 7kg total. The right-angle XLR plugs fit snugly into the H4n with no need for connector locks. I use an inline -20db XLR pad when connecting to the output of a sound board.

    Zoom released a firmware upgrade for the H4n that allows you to set separate levels for the two XLR inputs:

    The H4n has digital compressors, but no analog compression on the inputs, where it would be useful to prevent input clipping. However, I find its 24-bit range provides more than enough headroom simply by setting input levels at around -12db.
  • I've literally just got the DR-100 (arrived today). I've got a -35db attenuation to run the Tascam into the GH2, but in all honestly I think it might still be running a little hot. (I'll do some tests with a tone generator and sound meter to be sure). I was originally considering one of the Beachtek DSLR adapters but I got the DR-100 for less and now I also have the advantage of being able to easily record sound without being tethered to the camera.

    It's all a bit of a voyage of exploration for me - I'd still be filming on my venerable DVX100 until just recently, and I've been spoiled by having everything built in!
  • For quick and dirty I use either my Fostex FR2LE or my Tascam DR 680. If the highest sound quality is important, which it rarely is in live shoots, the next step up is the RME FF400 and the Octamic. Step up from that is the Grace pres and the Mytek AD converter. The FF400 or the Grace makes a great front end to the DR 680 but you really don't need it.
    The mics I use the most are the Sennheiser MKH 40s. They sound good on everything and are lightweight and have zero self noise issues. After that, the Schoeps MK41s, 21s, 2Hs and the Sennheiser MKH 80s get the most work. The big difference between the Schoeps supercardioid and the Sennheiser cardioid is that the Schoeps are a little sweeter and narrower, with longer reach, and the MKH 40s are warmer. warm is good. sometimes. Most "surface mount" gear sounds pretty mediocre...and that is most gear. However, the Fostex FR2LE and the Tascam DR 680 are decent for surface mount audio.
  • Sennheiser K6 plugged into a Zoom H1 does it for me. Mike is overkill but the high output from the senny means the input of the H1 is down very low.
  • Mics

    a pair shure sm58
    a pair shure sm57
    just Rode NT2

    Live situation

    laptop with Native-Instruments Audiokotrol 1

    In studio

    PC with sonic core scope xite 1

    My gear is more like from music studio (because i have one). In a moment i am searching small portable HQ device with XLR.

    But in a way i like to record sound straight to Nuendo (what is my main audiosoftware).
  • I don't have any, but a good friend is in love with the Marantz pmd 661 :

    It looks like a really good recorder.

    A short useful comparison :
  • Thanks everyone. I haven't made my mind up by appreciate all the feedback. Very welcome!
  • @LPowell
    I investigated and saw that my H4n had that firmware pre-loaded, so that was a nice find, just had to de-link the two channels.

    As far as the right angle xlr adapters, that looks like they would do a good job taking the stress off the connection in that setup. I don't have a shoulder rig right now, but I bought the B&H zoom package that comes with a portabrace case and some velcro clips. So I've got the zoom velcroed to my tripod, and the Zacuto EVF Flip pro up in the hot shoe. I clip my wireless receiver to the belt strap of the portabrace case, and everything is easily accessible, though not super portable. The XLR inputs are on the bottom and therefor any wired mic has a cable down on the ground at my feed. I found that a little nudge can pull that cable loose very easily. So I'm in the process of reconfiguring. Maybe need to invest in some sort of DSLR cage.

    What kind of mattbox is that on your rig, by the way?
  • The idea of super portabilty is thrown out the window when we attach lots of portable devices :)
  • Gear:
    Sound devices 552 mixer/recorder,
    6 channels of lectrosonics hybrid wireless
    4 mkh8040
    1 mkh8060
    8 DPA 4061
    1 sanken cos11
    2 countryman b6
    Lectrosonics IFB
    1 sanken css5
    Loon boom 10' pole
    rycote suspension and wind protection
  • @stonebat

    The Gini rig in the photo above is transportable, at least. The lens hood comes off and I remove the camera, lens, and Four-Thirds adapter from the quick release mount. I then remove the mic bracket and unscrew the external monitor and Zoom H4n. The front handles fold flat under the rig and the shoulder mount and counterweight slides forward without disassembly. The compacted rig then fits inside a duffel bag.
  • Don't get me wrong. I don't want super portability anymore. I like your rig. Practical and functional.
  • I'am going for this one if there are no major issues with the product:

    Out in october. Looks rugged, good specficiations and pricing is about right (cheaper than the Marantz and more portable than the R44 and P2 but still 2 XLR channels + 4 mics on recorder)
  • I've discovered that the DR-100 doesn't have strong enough pre-amps for my Rode NTG-2. I wasn't expecting this. After some googling I've ordered the Triton Audio Fethead Phantom ( There's also the Rode D-PowerPlug but a lot of reviewers have returned it for being too noisy.

    I'll let you know how I get on with the Fethead, I gather low power pre-amps seems to be quite common in these cheaper recorders.
  • Well, this has proved to be a little embarrassing. My Phantom Fethead arrived, but in the meantime I've discovered that monitoring headphones were on the way out. My DR100 is providing enough gain for my NTG-2, it was the damn headphones that were too quiet!

    I tested the DR-100 with a boomed NTG-2, about a foot away from the subject, DR-100 gain to high, sensitivity dial around 7-8, and then again with the NTG-2 + Phantom Fethead, DR-100 gain to medium, volume dial around 8 again. I peak normalised both recordings in post to account for differences and there's definitely more noise with the Fethead. (I've read some reports that say High on the DR-100 is normal and medium and low are actually pads).

    I'm not sure why there are threads on other forums reporting the DR-100 + NTG2 combo as too quiet, but perhaps these people aren't micing as close as we boom.

    I already (foolishly) deleted the test recordings I made, but I can repeat these next week if there's interest in hearing the difference. (48 hour film contest is coming this weekend! :) I may also make some tests at a larger distance (which would require a post-production boost for the setup sans Fethead), but this aren't really relevant to my filming style.
  • got h4n and tascam dr-680. Mic: Sanken CMS-10 for ms-stereo and a countryman lavalier on a Sennheiser wireless.

    Not very happy with either recorder.

    The zoom is not very ergonomic to handle. Try to adjust level while shooting. Preamps are not the best. Takes forever to fire up.

    The Tascam dr-680 would be nice but it draws so much power. It uses 8 AA batteries and they run it for approx. 1.5 hours. Two of the same batteries power a Sennheiser wireless for 8 h and a Shure FP24 mixer for 10 h.

    Still waiting for a better small 4 or more channel recorder.
  • I am waiting on the Roland R26... pre-ordered it for 399 EURO. Good price for what you get. As it shares internals with the R44, I am pretty sure this will be a high quality device and it offers everything I want: 6-channels (in different variations), XLR with phantom power, good on board mics (both omni and cardioid) and decent manual controls on the outside and it requires only 4 AA batteries. I studied the brochure and it looks like you can have 2x XLR (my Audio Technica wireless system) + stereo input (Rode Videomic) or both the X and Y on-board mic (great for room sound). Shipping in November from what I read... I will share my feedback once I get it.