One Man’s Compact Field Recording Rig

November 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

waterfall_recording_web

I wanted to talk about my current field recording rig – what I consider a pretty powerful, convenient and relatively small package. The entire thing can fit on a scooter and can be set up and taken down rather quickly.

I’ve tried out several combinations of equipment and finally settled on the following gear:

Microphone: SPS200

Recorder: Tascam DR680

(Busman Mod)

Wind Protection: Rode Blimp

Tripod: Manfrotto 5001b

Battery: HDB NB-3C Power Bank

Bag: Petrol PS601

Headphones: Sony MDR-7506

Backpack: Common nameless backpack

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When I started out, I wanted affordability and convenience. Affordability because I didn’t know if I would slowly lose interest; Convenience because between my recording business and family, free time isn’t something I have a lot of. I didn’t want to spend the day out recording and only come home with a few recordings.

There was also another major requirement: Everything MUST fit on a scooter. Yes, a scooter.

And no, I’m not one of those environmental guys. If you live in Taiwan you’ll understand. Scooters are the major form of transportation in these parts. You can get almost anywhere with them, and parking is quick and easy. A few nights ago I even drove up towards the top of a mountain on a “path” that should only be hiked. Here’s the best looking part of it:

Nice PathIt slowly became overgrown with weeds and was littered with rocks. But I kept on scootin’! And then after dark set in, I was trying to drive down…

Mountain Path at Night

What you CAN’T see is a sheer drop-off on the left side of the picture. One false move and that’s it my friend. And all of that on a scooter. (125cc to be exact; so kind of a small motorcycle in scooter form factor). I would really be lucky to get half as much recording done if I drove a car. So having everything fit on a scooter is essential.

Here’s a recording from that night. You can hear a Taiwan garbage truck playing the typical “garbage truck song” off in the distance. And occasionally you can hear some rocks falling. Although it may sound like me walking around, I assure you, they are rocks or something similar falling.

 

Recording Chain

SPS200>Tascam DR680 (Busman Mod)

Processing

SurroundZone Plugin >ORTF(ish) Stereo Mp3

Download: 24bit 48k B-Format .rar file

Mountainside Small Town – B-Format Merged

(You’re free to use in your project with written permission)

Although I am very happy with this setup, I do plan to eventually upgrade. It’s a never-ending process right!? A Sound Devices or Nagra recorder will be on the menu. As much as I’ve grown accustomed to the Tascam, it IS a bit fragile. I can totally see myself breaking it in the future. I’ve also heavily considered using a Rycote Baby Ball Gag instead of the Rode Blimp – and I do have one. It would make the package even smaller, but I feel keeping it in a blimp offers the whole mic protection, rather than just the capsules. I think I will eventually switch to the Rycote windshield that’s recommended. It’s a bit smaller and more suited for the mic.

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Glenn

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