Sound Effects Tips: 3 Essential Pieces of Gear for Field Recording
Want to create sound effects for your productions but not sure where to start? We've compiled some quick tips and tricks to get you on your way to take your sound game to the next level.
Lets start with some gear talk cause you're gonna need some to get started recording. There's three main items you'll need:
- A field recorder
- A microphone
- A pair of headphones
There are plenty of additional accessories to help you with your sound recording but these are the main three that will get you going to begin with.
Firstly a field recorder is the device that will store the sounds you record. Think of it like a portable hard drive for capturing sound. These range in features and price, start from around $300 all the way up into the $2,000+ range. The common difference is how many channels of audio the device can record at the same time, as well as quality of audio it can record (referred to as bit-rate and sample rate). There are so many other other features but these are the most common for the price difference.
When selecting a field recorder, think of the types of sounds you'd like to record. If you want to record amazing ambiences for 5.1+ surround sound mixing, then you'll need a recorder that has 6+ audio inputs. The Sound Devices Mix Pre 6 or Zoom F6 are good options. If you want to record stereo effects, the any recorder with 2+ audio inputs will do the trick. For a basic entry level recorder, the Zoom H4 is great and comes with a stereo microphone input to get you started right away.
Next you'll need a good quality microphone to capture what you're hearing. The best rule of thumb is to get the best quality microphone your budget can afford. There's a wide variety of microphones out there all with different purposes. Think of them like a chef does with their knives. Some knives are better for filleting, others for fine delicate cuts.
For ambience recording, a microphone that captures all angles is best. Something like the Rode or the Sennheiser Ambisonic Mic range from $1,200 - $2,700. Now you'll need to make sure your recorder that has 4+ audio inputs.
If you're doing more precise recording such as cars or foley, then a directional microphone is best. Either a shotgun or supercardiod such a the Sennheiser MKH860 or the Scoeps MK41 which range from $2,500 - $3000 for a pair.
Lastly you'll need a good pair of headphones for listening to what you're recording, a.k.a monitoring. Try to avoid anything that colours the sound, meaning adds it's own equalisation to what you're hearing. You're after a pair with a flat frequency response so that what you're hearing out in the field will be the same as what you hear back the studio. You don't need to spend a fortune on headphones, a pair that is light, comfortable and closed back will do just fine.
What does closed back mean I hear you ask? Closed back headphones mean they don't have any sound leakage from the headphone, they literally mean they're closed on the back so that no sound escapes. they If you're looking for a well respected brand, check out the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro.
Once you've got these items, you're ready to get out there and start recording the world around you. There's plenty of accessories that can help with recording, we'll be back to cover this another time. We hope you found this useful and a good reference for your future in sound effects creation.