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Equipment

Need to improve your audio gear?

You're in the right place! Here's my personal selection of equipment for making good audio tracks. I've used all the gear on this page so the reviews are from personal experience. All of the product links on this page are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!


 
The Sennheiser EW-112-p G3 wireless lavalier is a work-horse microphone system. You will be able to use this mic plugged into a digital audio recorder to capture great audio for interviews. The mic is small and easy to hide from view. The mic cable locks to the transmitter so it's secure. And the receiver comes with a hot-shoe adapter.

Pros: great sound, works well in all environments, dependable
Cons: you can find cheaper wireless lavalier mics on the market
You can hear how this mic sounds compared to a RODE Videomic on this demo I shot.


 

The RØDE Lavalier is a wired lavalier with adapters to fit most any recording system. Unless you need on camera talent to walk and talk, I highly recommend using a wired lavalier. You'll get less noise, fewer technical issues, no need to carry extra batteries, and you'll save a lot of money.

Pros: great sound, works well in all environments, dependable, adapters to fit most any recorder
Cons: you can find cheaper lavalier mics on the market


 

The Shure 58 series of microphones are work-horse microphones used for years on stages and for hand-held reporter mics. They are dynamic microphone so they do not require batteries. They have a built-in pop filter that works well for normal voice recording though you'll still need to add a "dead cat" wind filter for work outside.

Mics with a cardioid pickup pattern have good rejection of sound from the back of the microphone but are not as focused as a shotgun mic. In smaller rooms a Shure 58 will usually sound better than a shotgun as it will pick up less of the room. They are very sturdy and should last for years.

The PG58 is the lower cost version of the SM58. It's a great choice for limited budgets while producing solid sound.

I recently picked up a Shure Beta 58a supercardioid microphone and it's an excellent mic with higher output levels than either the PG58 or SM58. It has a tighter pattern – supercardioid rather than just cardioid – so it's a great choice between a regular mic and a shotgun mic.

Pros: sturdy dynamic microphones with reliable directional pickup patterns
Cons: not very sexy looking next to a shotgun mic


 

The RØDE VideoMics are designed for DSLR and small camcorder mounting. They can also be used on a mic stand or boom pole.

Both of these mics use a 9 volt battery (with about 70 hours use per battery) and have they 1/8" mini plug on a very short cable. They have several screw mounting holes on the bottom plate along with an adapter for a hot shoe mount. The mics come with special rubber bands to suspend them from the mounting bracket to reduce handling noise.

The sound quality is very good, especially considering the low cost of the mics. They have a medium narrow pickup pattern for a shotgun mic. The Videomic Pro is a bit smaller than the Videomic and it has a switch that will let you cut the output by 10db or boost the output by 20db. That's handy to have to help match the input of your recorder.

Both mics have a low cut switch to help with wind or camera noise. However, even with the included wind screen they are very noisy in the wind so you will need the RØDE Deadcat Wind Muff.

I recommend picking up the RØDE 10' Stereo Mini Jack Extension Cable so you can get the mic close to the sound with the recorder safely away from the action.

Pros: good quality sound for the price, no phantom power required, light-weight
Cons: needs protection from wind, works better when not mounted on the camera but closer to the talent

You can hear how this mic sounds plugged into a Canon T2i and a Zoom H2 on this demo I shot.


 
The RØDE NTG3 is a professional shotgun microphone with sound quality equal to microphones costing twice as much. Plus, it's built to handle tough environmental issues like humidity. It requires phantom power so you'll need a mixer or recorder with 48v power.

The NTG3 is fairly directional so you'll need to wear headphones to make sure it's picking up the sound you want. You'll also need extra wind protection from a Rode WS7 Wind Screen for NTG3.

The mic is very sensitive to handling noise so I recommend a Shock Mount.

If it seems like I'm in love with RØDE mics that's because they deliver very high quality sound and service at an affordable price. The work well for me and I can recommend them without hesitation.

Pros: high quality professional shotgun microphone, rapidly becoming the go-to mic for many professional recorders
Cons: requires phantom power and an operator with headphones


 
The Sennheiser HD25-1 II headphones are my choice for monitoring. I've used Sony headphones for years and was so comfortable with the sound that I wasn't looking to change. With headphones you need to make sure they have decent sound but mostly you need to get to know them well so you can hear if you have problems with the sound – before you record it.

Then a good friend let me hear his HD25's and I was blown away. The bottom is much cleaner, the mids are clearer, and the highs are sweeter. After using them on one project I also noticed how much more of the room they block. And they come with cloth ear pads that are much cooler than vinyl for long sessions.

They should last for years making this an excellent investment in high quality sound equipment for your rig.

Pros: great audio quality, block out almost all room sound, very comfortable for long sessions
Cons: not the least expensive option but worth it


 
The Tascam DR-40 is my choice for a medium priced recorder. Why? Because it has XLR inputs, phantom power, fairly quiet microphone pre-amps, controls that are easy operate, and costs less than $200 USD.

The built-in microphones are perfect for capturing ambiance, a small group of people talking to camera, a musical group, and foley or sound effects on location.

When you compare the features, audio quality and usability of the Tascam DR-40 to other recorders on the market, you'll agree that it's a solid value.

Pros: good built-in mics and mic preamps, XLR inputs, easy to use
Cons: nothing – great recorder


 
The Roland R-26 has recently become my favorite recorder. Why? Because it has very high quality mics and mic preamps and it will record 6 channels of sound at one time. This lets me capture audio with several mics to get the best options for mixing in post.

The internal omnidirectional and cardioid mics are excellent and perfect for capturing ambiance, a small group of people talking to camera, a musical group, and foley or sound effects on location. It also will accept 1/8" inputs from RØDE Videomics or wired lavaliers. And it will supply "plug-in" power for those mics that need it. The XLR inputs have 48v phantom power, feed very clean mic preamps and can handle line level inputs with ease.

The kicker is that you can use any combination of internal, mini-plug and XLR inputs to record up to six channels of awesome sound at one time. Plus Roland has created the easiest way to set recording levels perfectly I've ever seen.

Pros: great built-in mics and mi preamps, mini-plug and XLR inputs, six channel recording
Cons: bigger than hand-held recorders, you'll want to read the manual to learn how to use all the features


 


The Zoom audio recorders have become a standard in DSLR recording, for good reason. They sound good, work well, and are reasonably priced.

The Zoom H4n accepts XLR cables (so that RØDE NTG3 shotgun will work great), and has phantom powering (needed for the shotgun and other pro level mics).

It also has a good pair of microphones built right in to the top of the recorder so you can always just set it down facing the source of the sound and get a decent recording directly.

The Zoom H2n is the little brother to the H4. The original H2 was a bit smaller but the new H2n has better microphones and some useful features. It's less expensive than the H4n, smaller and easier to carry, but does not have XLR inputs or phantom power.

The H2n have more options for using the built-in microphones. You can set them to record 90 degrees stereo, 120 degrees stereo, or 360 simulated quad.

The Zoom H1 is the low cost and smallest addition to this solid portable recorder family. But it still offers better recording options and sound than any DSLR on the market.

It only has a 1/8" mic input and no phantom power but it's also only USD$99. And, thankfully, they put the mounting hole on the back of the device so it easy to work with.

It's small enough that you could plug a regular lavalier microphone into it directly, check your levels, hit record and drop it into your talent's pocket. Or you can mount it on your DSLR hot shoe and capture stereo ambiant sound.

Pros: high quality audio recording, a variety of price points and functions
Cons: plastic battery and card doors are easy to break


 
The Azden FMX-42 field mixer has four microphone inputs, phantom power, good meters, built-in limiter and other professional features.

You will not believe how much better your audio sounds when you start using a quality field mixer to capture your sound.

Pros: four mic channels, good metering, headphone monitoring
Cons: you'll need a bag and extra cables for support

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