CategoryAudio for Video Production

Record like Casey Neistat – we set up our own vlogging rig

caseyrigOne of the things we have been experimenting with here at TheBestVoiceRecorder.com is how to capture thoughts that we might traditionally record using text or audio, and turn them into a video blog, or vlog, or just some kind of regular video published on YouTube.

Without a doubt one of the most successful and respected Youtubers currently practising their craft is Casey Neistat.  His particular style works incredibly well to tell his stories – one that we wanted to emulate.  Whilst our budget did not extend to the awesome DJI Phantom 4 drone which he uses to capture the sweeping aerial shots… or the Samsumg Gear 360 camera to produce 360 degree immersive video and audio experiences… they are still on our wish list!

What we did do however is build a simple but effective camera and most importantly microphone set up for our daily vlog – inspired by Casey!  Over the next few months we will be building up video content for a number of our different ventures focused on niche topics.  We wanted to ensure we had a reliable and robust solution that could be used to shoot high quality video, and most importantly high quality audio as well.

Here is our shopping list to build that you can use to build your own Casey Neistat video blog set up:

  • Camera: The Canon 70D or 80D.  Both a great cameras capable of high definition (1080p) video.  We purchased our 70D a few month ago before the 80D was released… but if we were starting from scratch today the 80D would have been our primary camera.
  • Lens: The 18-135 kit lens that you can get with the 70D or 80D works well (pictured above with our 70D) if you are on a budget, but for wider angle shots (or if you have short arms or a big head!) then you will need to invest in either the Canon 10-18mm or 10-22mm lens.
  • External Microphone:  The most important part of this rig as far as we are concerned.  No matter how nice the video is unless the audio quality can match it, then your video efforts will be a waste of time.  The Rode VideoPro with Rycote Shockmount attaches using the hot shoe on top of our Canon 70D DSLR and connects using the external microphone port… and gives clear audio for when you are talking directly to camera.  We have played around with the audio settings on the camera to leverage the gain available from the Microphone itself, improving the quality of the recording.
  • Tripod:  The Joby Gorrillapod Focus with Ball Head… adds a bit of weight to the rig which will minimise shake.  The flexible nature of the tripod means you can use it handheld to shoot yourself talking straight to camera, or set up your camera handing from a tree, a rail, or any weird or wonderful location to get that perfect Casey’esque time lapse shot!

Picking the best microphone

Now that you have the best voice recorder… usually most buyer’s attention goes to the next piece of kit in any producers arsenal – the microphone (or microphones).  There are so many options when it comes to picking the right microphone for the job.  Is it for a studio?  Is is for in the field?  Are you connecting it to a computer, or are you just connecting it to your recording device?  What is the difference between uni-directional, omni-directional, cardioid or dynamic?  USB or XLR?  Shotgun or Lavalier?

So many questions that you need to answer, and so many choices to sift through to find the best microphone for the job.

To help you navigate the microphone market, we have set up a sister product review site just for microphones.  The Best Microphone is all about helping you find exactly that – the best microphone for the job.

Check them out once you have picked the best voice recorder for your job!

Review: Rode NTG2 Shotgun Microphone

My school needed a “boom mic”. My club was given the assignment of finding something that was lightweight enough for anyone using it to hold, but still give us broadcast quality. We also couldn’t spend too much money, so we had to keep costs low. After looking around locally, we decided we could do better online. Seeing that the Rode NTG2 Condenser Shotgun was used for video engineering, and was light enough to mount directly to our video camera we selected this one. We were also interested because it said this one had rugged construction, so when out recording we didn’t have to worry about it getting broken when someone jostled it, or it got dropped.

From what we have seen this is a good mic, and it’s tough. It’s already been dropped once, but worked fine afterward. It’s mounted on the school’s Canon 7D with no problems, and does give us the broadcast quality we were looking for in the mic. It’s light which, makes it easy when other students use it, which was important for us. It’s also helped that it uses only one 1 AA battery that aren’t expensive.

The only problems we have are with keeping it in on the stand when there’s a lot of movement nearby. The windshield is hard for some people to get on and off, and it’s not effect in the high winds we have here. It does cut out the background noise, but some people have trouble holding all the gear and using the controls on the mic as well as the camera. While it’s great that it runs off a battery, it would be better if it lasted a little longer with each battery. We use a rechargeable, but it does die, if we don’t keep enough on hand.

 

Recording audio for DSLR video production

There’s no way to have quality sound for DSLR Video production without a good mic. Since weight is a consideration you want to have something that has a good range, stuff offers broadcast quality, and easy mounting. Finding the best is often the matter of knowing what you truly need for your own projects.

The Top Reason for Mic with Good Range

There are many loaded mics that you might consider, but recording when standing back a distance from a subject you still need to get the quality recording you want.

Those without a good range, usually also have some unwanted noise, or trouble with picking up nearby noises while muffling the very audio you want to record.

Broadcast Quality Recording

While a good range is necessary, so too is audio that’s free of buzzing, and frying. While broadcast quality is a vague term you want the mic to give you audio that stands up to commercial recordings.

There should be no distortion, and a suitable range of sounds without the pertinent audio being drowned out.

Easy Mounting

With easy mounting onto the camera you will spend less time having to make adjustments, or fumbling with the mic delaying the recording.

Easy mounts also make it easier to set up and move the equipment faster. This will keep the mic from moving, and picking up additional busy noise.

Zoom H5 vs Zoom H6 Digital Recorder

Zoom H6 Digital Recorder vs Zoom H5 Digital Recorder

In searching for a high-quality digital recorder, pills there’s no better name than Zoom. In looking at the H6 Digital Recorder versus the H5 Digital Recorder, cure you will find both have great features. The selection here comes down to what’s important to you when recording.

The Zoom H6 Digital Recorder

This a great recorder right out of the box. Capable of recording with crystal clarity, it’s surprisingly easy to use considering its complex appearance. Often used by those interested in recording live music it is easy to set up. An easy to use set of features, and excellent display make it simple, even for those who haven’t used a recorder in the past. It does have a noise issues at high input levels, and a lower battery life when used without a USB power adapter.

The Zoom H5 Digital Recorder

This recorder has longer battery life, and uses rechargeable batteries. Like the H6 its switchblade microphone capsules make getting a quality recording easy. The H5 is considered by some long-time users as somewhere between the Zoom H4 and the H6. The features are easy to use, and the quality is good.

Is the H6 or H5 Right for You?

The biggest difference between the H6 and H5 is that the features of the H6 are a bit better than the H5. There’s also more power to the Zoom H6 than H5. All the power and features could be the reason some battery life is sacrificed with the H6. Both are built to much the same specifics, including a stereo line for output to connect a camera. For those interested in high quality recordings for podcasts, both of these devices are good choices. If battery life is the key element than the H5 is the winner, but for the most features, and quality H6 is the better choice.

Portable Digital Voice Recorder Buyers Guide 2017

A portable recording device is useful for on the go recordings of any kind. These are usually handheld devices that can be used to record music, cialis sounds of any kind, pilule conversations, buy and thoughts – just about anything. Of course professionals require it to tape interviews or to record their music. So what are the top three essential things which you should be looking out for when buying these digital recorders?

  1. Internal or external microphone: Do you want an internal microphone or an external one is more appealing to you? Take a closer look at your work field and find out which one your nature of job requires more. Some devices have both internal and external microphone while some have only one. Others have built in microphones so you don’t have to worry about carying additional gear.
  2. Memory: How much memory do you need? Do you use and store a lot in your device? Again, assess your requirement to come to a conclusion about it. Pay attention while buying though, because many come with microSD or SD card support, while others do not. It is always good to have some additional features. Not having a microSD or SD slot may be a disadvantage.
  3. Accessories: Do you need a tripod, a Pop Filter or windscreens for better recording? Make sure all your necessary accessories are present in your device before purchasing it. If you need only one accessory then pick any one that has it, but we suggest you always pick the ones which come in a wide range of accessories.

Top 3 voice recorders which have these features:

  • Etekcity Dictaphone/Pen: This device is on the lower budget end and has all the basic features including 8GB memory drive. If you want a simple voice recorder with just plug and play feature, then this is the best one. It costs only 16 USD.

 

 

  • Zoom H4: The Zoom H4 is our favourite portable recording devices in the 200 USD price range.  and comes with prominent features such as noise cancellation, windscreen, etc.

Zoom H6 vs Zoom H4n

So, you are thinking of buying your first (or next) digital audio recorder. Which one should you pick? The Zoom H4N, or the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each model and help you decide which portable digital recorder meets your needs.

What is the difference between the Zoom H4N and the Zoom H6?

Apart from price – the Zoom H6 is around 180-200 dollars more expensive – there are some features which set the H6 apart.

  • You get six recording channels with the Zoom H6 – four XLR inputs, and two on device microphones. On the Zoom H4n you only get four channels – two XLR inputs, and two on device microphones
  • You can use an SD card to record up to 128 GB of audio data on the Zoom H6. On the Zoom H4n you can only record up to 32 GB of audio data on a single SD card
  • There are physical gain knobs and pads for each XLR input on the Zoom H6. On the Zoom H4n you can control gain through the on board menu system
  • You can detach the on device X/Y stereo microphone from the Zoom H6. On the Zoom H4n the stereo X/Y microphone is permanently attached
  • You can purchase additional microphone capsules for the Zoom H6 to extend the versatility of the device. For example, the Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Microphone Capsule can give your Zoom H6 a highly directional shotgun microphone. The Zoom XYH-5 Shock Mounted Stereo Microphone Capsule can minimise vibration and handling noise, perfect if you are capturing audio whilst the Zoom H6 is attached to a camera. The Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Capsule adds an additional two inputs so you can capture more lines in.
  • The Zoom H6 has a separate line out, whereas the Zoom H4n just has a Microphone Out option
  • Finally, you should get about twice the battery life out of a Zoom H6 than a Zoom H4n
Attention: The internal data of table “1” is corrupted!

So which one should you pick? Here is how I would decide. If you are just starting out, looking for an affordable portable digital audio recorder with the option of XLR inputs and good quality on board microphone recording, you can’t go past the Zoom H4N. It is a great device.

However, if you are looking to get into videography, and want to attach the audio recorder to the top of your camera rig – or are looking to record many different inputs, like different instruments in a live band set up, the Zoom H6 is worth the extra investment.

Recording a quick voice over with the Zoom H4n

Recording a voiceover with the Zoom H4nToday in the office we had a bit of an impromptu request from one of our Executive team.  “We have a video from one of our partner organisations – we have permission from them to add our own audio on top of it – can we do it, and if so how?

Luckily I had the Zoom H4nand my Behringer XM8500 Microphone
on hand.  We found a quiet room in the office, and whilst the “talent” rehearsed their 90 second script, I set up the voice recorder and microphone in about 30 seconds.

 

  1. Plug the XLR cable into the Microphone and into the bottom of the Zoom H4n.  Note it doesn’t really matter which XLR port you plug it into – generally I pick the one of the left – #1
  2. Place the Behringer XM85000 into a microphone stand.  The one I use happened to come standard with my other microphone – the Audio-Technica AT2005USB– but any desktop microphone stand will do!
  3. Turn on the Zoom H4n and wait for 15 seconds for it to boot up
  4. Check to see that you are using the right inputs.  In this case we were using the #1 XLR input, so I had to ensure it was lit up.  If the “Mic” light was on, it would have used the built in stereo microphones and picked up a lot more ambient sound in the room (the last thing I needed for a good quality voice over
  5. Hit the record button once to check the levels.  In this case I watched the LCD panel on the handy recorder and noticed that the levels were a little low – simply because the microphone was a little too far away from our “talent”.  We couldn’t really change the distance unfortunately, but I could increase the input level slightly by using the input switch on the right hand side of the voice recorder.   Normally I have it set to 80, but in this case I bumped it up to 90.
  6. (at this stage I should have put some headphones on and checked the sound that was coming in via the Microphone, but I didn’t have them handy.  Luckily in this case it turned out alright!)
  7. Hit record again and wait for the mandatory 3-12 run throughs until your hastily arranged voice over guy or girl gets it right (or close enough)
  8. Hit stop when you are done!

Behringer XM8500 with the Zoom H4n Handy Recorder

In this case there was a little editing of the audio required to join a few good parts from different takes together.  So I plugged my SD card reader into my Surface, popped the SD card out of my Zoom H4n into the card reader and transferred the .wav file across.  I then opened up Audacity to do the edits.

In Audacity I did a few things to ensure the final audio was of as high a standard as possible.

  1. Noise removal.  Select a bit of “dead air” on your track.  Goto the effects menu, and then click on Noise Removal.  Click “Get Profile” and then click ok.  Select the entire track, then go back to the Noise Removal effect via the effects menu.  Click ok to apply the noise removal effect across the entire track
  2. Whilst the entire track is still selected, go back to the effects menu and then click Compressor.  This gives the voice a much better “radio” sound.
  3. Finally, in this case as the microphone was a little too far away from my talent, I used the amplify effect to add an additional 10db to the audio.

Once happy, I simply exported to a .mp3 file, and handed the audio over to the Exec who did his best to add it to the video using none other than Windows Movie Maker.

Total process from “we should do a voice over” to “voice over applied to video” was less than 60 minutes.  With a “broadcast quality” voice over that we could not achieve with a standard USB microphone/built in laptop microphone.

//Track outbounds