TagInterview

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!

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.

Tascam DR44WL vs DR100MkII

Thinking about buying a digital voice recorder?  We compare two popular options, clinic the Tascam DR44WL and the Tascam DR100 MkII.

The Tascam DR44WL and the Tascam DR100MkII are both very similar in rugged construction, pilule and design. Each has unique features, and both have a few issues that separate them.

The DR-44WL

The Tascam DR-44WL allows you Wi-Fi transport control from a remote start so you can set up and walk away before recording. The sound is comparable with other more expensive recorders, and you can transfer files and stream to smartphones or computers over Wi-Fi. If recording with four channels or dual recording mode to create a safety track are among the features important for your purpose this is a good choice for the price. You can also create a 96kHz/24-bit recording for an MP3, but you also have the option to create a WAV or BMF. You have options when transferring files of popular OS software, including Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android. The issues for some are the “click” wheel instead of button menu, it uses only 2 batteries, the SD cover is not well protected, “real-time” is often difficult to use, and some have had issues with the Android app.

The Tascam DR-100mkII

Two sets of microphones and a dual battery system, giving you hours of play are strong pluses for the DR-100mk. This device also has a rugged construction giving those who need to use it in the field a better opportunity for clear recording. While it does have wireless remote control (RC-10) it is more limited than the DR-44WL. A windsock does offer you a better chance of getting solid, great recordings no matter the conditions, and omnidirectional pickup makes it a great choice for the outdoors.

Looking at the Choices

In looking for a recorder that has the quality of preamps, and can match the abilities of more expensive recorders both are good buys. The differences between the two will mean taking a good look at what you need, and which is more suited to your needs.

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.

The recording gear you need to start your Podcast

A lot of people ask me what recording gear would I recommend if you are starting a podcast.  Now to be completely honest, simply using the recorder on your iPhone is a good start!  But what if you want to take it to the next level.  Here is a list of recording gear that could be on your shopping list

  1. Hardware voice recorder

    For the perfect balance of robust recording capability, as well as the flexibility to have more control over your recording when you improve your skills… the Zoom H5 Four-Track Portable Recorder is a great place to start.  It has a great on-board microphone, as well as the ability to add specialist microphones via the XLR inputs… or as a capsule attached directly to the recorder.
    is a great place to start.  Recorders like the H5 make it easy to record anywhere!

  2. Microphones

    My “go to” microphone I use now for almost every podcast I record – whether I am out in the field interviewing people in their office, or at home connected to my PC… is the Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone.  Great sound quality, with the flexibility of an XLR input (for your hardware voice recorder) and USB connectivity (to connect it to your PC or Mac).  I now have a couple of them which enables good quality two person recordings.If you are using the Zoom H5 and you want a great way to capture voice in crowded or public spaces whilst minimising the need for bulky microphones or cables, I really like the Shotgun Microphone Capsule you can attach directly to the Zoom H5 (or the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder).  It is small, portable and doesn’t draw attention — and enables you to capture great voice from yourself or your talent

We are all looking forward to hearing your podcast!

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.

Portable field recording at a conference with the ZoomH4n

I had a great opportunity to travel from Australia to Singapore to deliver a presentation this week.  At the conference I wanted to capture some field based interviews for my Yammer podcast.  As I was only going to be in Singapore for about 47 hours, illness I decided to travel with carry-on luggage only.  The small and light nature of my Zoom H4N
and my two microphones made traveling and recording a breeze.

I have taken the ZoomH4n through airport security at least eight times now – I thought due to the design of the voice recorder (and specifically the stereo microphones on the top of the audio recorder which look similar to the silhouette to a stun gun) my bags would be stopped for closer inspection more regularly.  To be honest it has only been picked up once, and that was by a trainee xray machine operator.

At the conference I wanted to capture a few different pieces of audio.  Firstly, I captured some background noise – the vibe or buzz of the conference room that we were speaking in.  To do this I turned on the Zoom H4N
and then used the built in stereo microphones.  After pressing record, I checked the levels and notice they were a little low, so I used the “rec level” button to push up the sensitivity of the recorder.

After I had captured the ambient noise of the room, I decided to record my the introduction / preamble / monologue for the podcast.  To do this I switched from the built in stereo microphone on the Zoom and instead used my Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
connected via its XLR connection.  The sound was fantastic – despite the loud voices in the room from the 10 tables of 8 people working on desk exercises in the room – I could talk with my normal voice into the Audio-Technica Microphone and get a very good recording.

Finally I plugged in another Microphone – my Behringer XM8500
– to do some 1 on 1 interviews with some of the conference organisers and attendees.  Again some great conversations were captured with next to no issues.  Despire the loud background noise of all the people speaking in the room the ZoomH4n coupled with the two microphones did a stellar job!

You can check it out for yourself – listen to Episode 8 of The Yaminade at http://www.theyaminade.com

Recording Skype / Lync calls for Podcasts with the ZoomH4n

It has been about 8 weeks since I kicked off recording my new podcast – The Yaminade – using the Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder.  Previously I have posted about how I use the voice recorder to capture  my voice, and the voice of my guests in person using the Behringer XM8500 and Audio-Technica AT2005USBmicrophones.  In person this set up works brilliantly!

But for the past three episodes of the podcast, I have interviewed people that I couldn’t sit down with face to face.  For example, with the episode where I interviewed Stan Garfield from Deloitte about how they use Yammer as part of their knowledge management strategy – because he lives in Chicago and I live in Australia, I had to record it over Microsoft Lync, or Skype.  Sure, I could have used a call recording application for Skype… but to be honest my biggest fear was if the app crashes half way through an interview.  I wanted to use the ZoomH4n so I had a robust hardware based recording solution.  So how can I record a Skype call using a hardware based voice recorder?

One way I discovered online was to use a very clever hack using the Audio-Technica AT2005USB.

First – plug in the USB cable you received with the Microphone and connect the microphone to your computer. This basically sets it up as your skype Microphone. Which means the person you are interviewing will be able to hear you.

Second – plug in the microphone using your XLR cable into the #1 input on the bottom of the ZoomH4n. That will enable the ZoomH4n capture your voice when you are on the Skype call. Your voice is going both to your PC or Mac for the Skype call, but now also to the ZoomH4n to be recorded.

Third – because there is a headphone jack on the microphone (so you can hear what you are saying) your PC or mac treats the Audio-technica USB/XLR microphone as both a microphone, and a speaker. Which means you can use a CMS105 1/8 inch TRS to 1/4 Inch TRS Adapter Cable to connect that headphones jack directly to the second input on the bottom of your ZoomH4n. This will enable you to record the voice of the person or people you are interviewing on the Skype or Lync call.

Finally – we need to be able to hear the person talking! Plug your headphones into the headphones jack on the ZoomH4n, and hit the record button once so you can test your levels and hear the people on the other end. When you are ready to record (with the permission of the people on the call)… hit record again!

Here is the YouTube video from Ray Ortega which inspired me to buy this gear, and has enabled me to quickly record some great guests on the podcast

Recording Qualitative Research Interviews

Qualitative Research Set up with the Zoom H4n

As a Master of Business (Research) (Management) student I have just commenced the most exciting part of my research – data collection!  My study is qualitative in nature, with my data being captured through approximately 30 interviews.  With about 20 questions, each interview will probably go for up to 60 minutes.

After a lot of discussion with my supervisor regarding interview technique, and revising the interview question schedule a few times, we were finally ready to go.  The last piece of the puzzle was a RELIABLE way to record how the subjects of my research were responding to my questions.

There are a few different options – I could have:

WP_20140702_001In the end, I went down the path of a dedicated piece of audio recording hardware – for me it reduced the risk of losing data.  This was really important for me – as a part time research student I don’t have the luxury of time (and to be honest the patience) to go back and re-interview people if I lose the data due to a software crash.  After an exhaustive look at a lot of different voice recorder options from brands like Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, TASCAM and more… I settled on the Zoom H4n.

Recording an interview with the Zoom H4n

With the room and my subject’s calendars booked, it was time to set up for my interviews.  I used a reasonably relaxed, out of the way room in our office.  My room setup was pretty simple – with me I had my laptop (which had my interview questions loaded on it), my notebook and pen, a class of water… and my Digital Audio Recorder to capture everything that both the interviewer (me) and my interviewees say.

WP_20140702_004One of the things you need to try to do in any qualitative research interview is to ensure that your subject is as comfortable as possible.  The Zoom H4n does look a little imposing at first sight – which could raise the heart rate of any one you talk to.  In fact one person commented when they first saw my Zoom H4n that it “looked like a taser!”.   Fortunately this can be overcome by using the windshield which comes as standard with the Zoom H4n.  Simply cover the built in microphones with the wind shield, and the device looks like a much friendlier microphone.

As I wasn’t near a power point, ensuring that you have a fresh set of AA batteries on hand is very important.  The Zoom H4n should record for about 6 hours on a fresh set of good quality AA batteries.   Switching to the stamina mode by popping the battery cover off and sliding the Stamina switch on will almost double the life of the device – perfect if you plan to spend a bit longer in the field, or have some of your interview subjects telling some very, very detailed (or very waffly) stories!

WP_20140702_007Just before my first victim subject arrived, I turned on the device to do a quick test run of the audio.  I got out a pair of earbuds which came with my mobile phone, and plugged one end them into the side of the Zoom H4n, and the other ends into my ears.  To test the recording levels I simply pressed the “REC” button once.  I sat in my “interviewer” chair and said a couple of the questions out loud – it sounded very clear and had good volume.  I then sat in the “interviewee” chair and repeated the process.  Again sound quality and volume was very good – I was good to start.  I removed the headphones as I wouldn’t need them for the rest of the day, and hit the “STOP” button.   Now just a few more nervous minutes needed to pass until my first interview candidate would arrive.

WP_20140702_006Once they arrived and were seated, I confirmed that their interview consent form had been signed and ran through a few of the context setting discussions for the interview.  When I was ready to collect data, I looked across at the Zoom H4n, and:

  1. Pressed the “REC” button once
  2. Checked that the “MIC” button was lit red (to ensure it was still recording from the built in stereo microphones
  3. Checked that the levels were appropriate for the volume that the interviewee was speaking at (in this case they were a soft talker so I increased the recording level by 10 using the switch on the right hand side of the unit)
  4. Checked that I had enough empty space to record the entire interview (with my 32gb SD Card I had another 46 hours of capacity left so that shouldn’t be a problem!)
  5. Checked that the battery indicator showed that there was plenty of juice left
  6. Crossed my fingers, took a deep breath, pressed “REC” for a second time, and then commenced the interview

My first interview went for approximately 45 minutes – lots of great content and very vivid stories which will contribute to a some great discussion in my thesis.  Once the interview had finished, I simply hit the “STOP” button and the recording was saved to my SD card.

The Zoom H4n really did it’s job!  I just wish it could transcribe the recording for me as well!  The good thing is that the quality of audio is so good that it really makes transcribing a breeze – whether you do it yourself, try to use machine based transcription, or outsource your transcription to a 3rd party provider.

 

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