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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Audio Recorders: What to buy?
Jordan Murph, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu & Los Angeles | HI/CA | USA | Posted: 8:42 PM on 04.21.07
->> I'm doing research so I can purchase my first audio recorder for multimedia work. I've gone through all the message board threads that I could find about audio recorders and microphones. There is a lot of information, but a most of it is from last Fall and I'm hoping to get get some updated information.

I'm looking for a light recorder that can easily slip into my shirt pocket or in my waistpack, a general mic for interviews and ambient, and a shotgun mic for audio at a distance.

I really like the small size of the Olympus ws-200s which I had a chance to borrow.

Thanks in advance.

Aloha,
Jordan
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Tucson | Az | USA | Posted: 10:57 PM on 04.21.07
->> http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=20467
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Jordan Murph, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu & Los Angeles | HI/CA | USA | Posted: 11:01 PM on 04.21.07
->> Yeah...already read that thread..."gone through all the message board threads that I could find about audio recorders and microphones."

Looking for updated information if there is any.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Tucson | Az | USA | Posted: 11:03 PM on 04.21.07
->> So much for that.
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Timothy J. Gonzalez, Photographer
Salem | OR | USA | Posted: 11:17 PM on 04.21.07
->> I use the Olympus WS-200s and have been very pleased with it. I purchased at Sony ECM-DS30P microphone that does a great job with interviews. I recently purchased a Sony ECM-MS909C shot gun mic, and Sony WCS-999 wireless microphone system, both from B&H, but not had a chance to use them with the Olympus.

I hope this helps.

Tim
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Crystal Chatham, Photographer, Assistant
La Quinta | CA | United States | Posted: 11:18 PM on 04.21.07
->> Jordan!

As for more recent information, posts, etc... check out this thread on the Lightstalkers site. The last post here was Friday, April 13.

http://www.lightstalkers.org/m_audio___microtrack_24_96_or_roland_eiodirol_...

I've got the M-Audio Microtrack recorder and it does take a while to boot up and has a seemingly limited battery life (though I've yet to have it totally die). The consensus over at Lightstalkers is the Roland recorder of similiar build.

-C.
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 11:32 PM on 04.21.07
->> Jordan ---

I've used several audio recorders over the years. I am not that experienced in this area of "rich" media --- though I have plans ahead to catch up --- the standard for most serious portable audio capture for still photographers is the Edirol R - 09:
http://tinyurl.com/cc3uu

I've used Sony mini-cassette, Olympus, Sony mini-disk, M-Audio digital recorder (
http://tinyurl.com/9tlta) and now the Edirol.

The Edirol's advantages, as many have stated before me, include built-in mic, choice of formats (24-bit WAV, MP3), small and to me the most important ... takes standard AA batteries.

The M-Audio was the choice of newspaper shooters for a while until we all found out the terrible disadvantage of having a non-removable battery. The M-Audio also did not have a built-in mic, but does use compact flash cards to store the audio files which is nice because we all have CF cards because our cameras use them as well.

All of the audiophiles out there will tell you that the most important thing with recording audio is the microphone. Having a very good external mic is a must. But I will tell you that I have relied on the built-in mic of the Edirol and its performance has amazed me.

Trying to shoot and capture audio is a real juggling act. I have enough trouble holding my cameras ... let alone a microphone plugged into a recorder. So as much as the audiophiles and real pro "rich" media shooters out there will blast me for doing this ... I tend to rely on the built-in mic a lot.

I was recording the Miami Heat's Dywane Wade during the NBA All Star media day and with literally dozens of people around us making noise, the audio I picked up from just having the Edirol on the table in front of D-Wade was amazing. His voice was crystal clear and the background noise was not noticeable at all.

But I do recommend getting a good external mic for any recorder you purchase.

The Edirol stores data on SD cards. The one complaint I do have with this recorder is the battery/memory card door is a little difficult to open and I always feel like I am going to break it. I haven't ... yet. But I am sure that day will come when I am trying to change batteries or SD card in a hurry and get bumped.

Anyway, there are a lot of options out there obviously... the Edirol is not cheap ($400) but as I said, it seems to be the standard for newspaper shooters doing the "multi-media-thing".

Determine how much money you have to spend ... remember to think about an external mic as well ... and get the best you can for your budget.

You audiophiles out there ... please chime in on other options, especially in the budget range ($150-$200).

Mahalo!
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Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 11:41 PM on 04.21.07
->> I also went with the Edirol and I am really pleased with using it with the built-in mics. I am just not in a position to be dealing with an external mic and that was a big issue for me.

With that said I have heard nothing but good reports about the Olympus units. When you are ready to buy one check in with Jody at Robert's. He really knows about them.
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David Butler II, Photographer
Somers | CT | USA | Posted: 12:00 AM on 04.22.07
->> Hi Jordan,

I didn't see links to Brian's site posted yet... good info here...

be good,

David

http://mediastorm.org/submissions/gathering_audio.htm

http://mediastorm.org/submissions/audio_kit.htm
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Jordan Murph, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu & Los Angeles | HI/CA | USA | Posted: 12:16 AM on 04.22.07
->> Timothy, I'm really interested in the shot gun mic. Bert told me the Sennheisers are the best (but a little out of my range right now). I couldn't find info on the Sony ECM-MS909C shot gun mic, is it still in production? I want to be able to get "telephoto?" or directional sound, whatever the term is.

C! Great info at Lightstalkers.

Bert, I loved your cool Edirol recorder...I've been mulling over it and I think it's a little out of my price range since I am still learning the audio. BUT, it's better to buy quality and not cheap right. Knowing that it is good at blocking out/not recording background noise sounds great. Would the recorder itself or the microphone be responsible for that, or is it dependant on both?

Ian, thanks for the info too.

Thank you folks who took a moment to contribute useful information so far. With equipment changing pretty fast and being a new realm for so many photographers, I thought a more recent collection of data would be useful not only for me and my search but also for others looking to get into audio as well.

More info is definitely welcomed.

Aloha,
Jordan
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Tommy Metthe, Photographer
Abilene | TX | | Posted: 12:59 AM on 04.22.07
->> We just picked up the Edirol R-09 and I can't say enough good things about it! The sound quality without a mic is fantastic, most recorders I've seen have pretty crappy built-in mics, but the audio quality is just sweet.

The only place you'll run into problems is if you're recording in windy conditions, since there is no wind guard on the Edirol's built in mic you're going to pick up wind noise in anything more than a calm wind. If you're indoors though, there should be no worries about an external mic.

Hope this helps
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Colin Corneau, Photographer
Brandon | MB | Canada | Posted: 1:31 AM on 04.22.07
->> One thing I'd like to have Sportsshooter members chime in about is some info about the hardware of recording sound.

The Kahuna isn't the only one who has a learning curve ahead for multimedia...for example, there are different kinds of mikes -- shotgun, wireless, etc. so what ARE each kind, and how do they work.

This would help a lot of shooters make some informed decisions, and save a bit of money and aggravation by matching the tools to the type of assignment they're working on.
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Crystal Chatham, Photographer, Assistant
La Quinta | CA | United States | Posted: 2:00 AM on 04.22.07
->> Just ran across another audio-specific forum on the SoundSlides website... topics include hardware, technique, etc.

http://www2.soundslides.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=13

Might be useful, -C.
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PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 4:28 AM on 04.22.07
->> And another link:

http://www.transom.org/tools/recording_interviewing/200703_recorder_reviews/
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PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 4:38 AM on 04.22.07
->> One more (from the NY Times review of three recorders):

http://tinyurl.com/rmn87
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Ramsay de Give, Student/Intern, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 5:07 AM on 04.22.07
->> The Edirol R-09 is the best in my opinion. If you have the $, then go with the PMD-660 -- though you'll also want to spend at least $500 on good mic. I think that as long as you get a good external mic, then you'll be good to go.

I use the Edirol R-09 these days.

IMHO, the M-audio microtrak is not acceptable.
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Timothy J. Gonzalez, Photographer
Salem | OR | USA | Posted: 1:19 PM on 04.22.07
->> Jordan,
Here is the link for the shot gun mic. The cord is not very long as it is designed for use video cameras.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=WishList.jsp&A=details&Q=...

Tim
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Jean Finley, Photographer, Photo Editor
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 1:32 PM on 04.22.07
->> I have a handout from the video class I taught last year that talks about mics. I'll see if I can find it. I explains the jargon youi might all be confused about.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Tucson | Az | USA | Posted: 2:10 PM on 04.22.07
->> I just wanted to throw out some links to a guy I have been watching online who offers a wide range of information regarding video and audio, including suggestions and uses for various kinds of microphones that work well and won't break your budget.

His name is Israel Hyman and he is based out of Phoenix. His website, which is listed below, offers downloadable Quicktime files which explain clearly and demonstrates the how to's of video and audio. Some of this is very basic stuff. On the other hand, being newbies to all this, the information is very good and the best part of it all IT'S FREE.

Two of the links below discuss microphones. I strongly urge anyone who wants to learn more to check his site out. Also, these Quicktime videos are also available in larger formats on iTunes podcasts. Do a search for Izzy Video.

http://www.izzyvideo.com/


http://img669.libsyn.com/img669/7a072ec4ab0cb5b403aa7172291a18b3/462ba2fc/7...

http://img670.libsyn.com/img670/b81b9703a85698622963d736c4947b97/462ba3c9/6...
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Peter Gaby, Photographer
Madison | WI | US | Posted: 2:25 PM on 04.22.07
->> Hey Jordan: Edirol also makes a shotgun mike for the R-09.

I believe its the CS-15

should be able to find more info on both of these models here

http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=757&ParentId=...

hope that helps

Pete
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Jeffrey Furticella, Student/Intern, Photographer
Muncie | IN | US | Posted: 2:55 PM on 04.22.07
->> Jordan,

Here's the kit that I use...

http://www.novuscript.com/nsc_prod_detl_.html?olympus-ws300m&ProdID=0oVnBtB...

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Pro24/

The Olympus recorder is great, it's idiot proof, and it gets good battery life. Oh, and it's durable despite it's small size, mine's taken a couple decent falls and hasn't been phased yet.

The microphone I've found is solid, but it does have its limitations. It can do a lot of things pretty well, certainly well enough for my uses, but it's not going to give you the quality of using something like a Mirantz and a $500 mic. It does great interviews and pretty decent for nat sound.

The combination of the two fits in my Northface or pant pockets, and I can handhold the whole thing with one hand, so it's very compact and easy to maneuver. Perfect? No. Reliable, pretty good quality, and great for a starter kit? Absolutely.

Like you, I'm also just starting into this stuff, and the way that video is going I might not even need to be buying much more expensive stuff than what I have right here since audio slideshows might become "so last year" in a short matter of time. Whatever you end up with, make an effort to try it in person before you purchase it, that's the only way you'll know what's going to work for you. Good luck.

- furt
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Barry Markowitz, Photographer
Hawaii Kai | Hi | USA | Posted: 3:39 PM on 04.22.07
->> Ironically, yesterday I was asked to be on air talent for an "Insider" segment on a new sports radio show...in the old days as a Radio New Zealand International shortwave news & sports correspondent I used little $30 micro cassette recorder and actually played the audio interviews over the telephone from Western Samoa to New Zealand (circa 1992). Since this new Hawaii radio sports show starts this Thursday, I wanted to be up and running fast and be able to easily e-mail or FTP the audio when I am "on location" in rural Hawaii areas, in the Mainland or in a foriegn country. At my son's suggestion I picked up a simple $50 XtremeMac "Micromemo" mic for my 80 gig video iPod. Its got a little swing boom mic that I can probably extend from my shirt pocket while I am shooting. The "Micromemo also allows me to plug in clip on mic, wireless mic and a shotgun mic. I did a mock interview at the Apple Store last nite and sent it after compressing/converting in iTunes to AAC. For an in your face interview, it is a terrific setup, with amazing crystal clear digital audio results. I work daily with primarily professional XLR mics (long handled interview mics, lapel mics, and oncamera shotgun mics)...so my "news sense" of good audio is relative critical. Murph, good luck on this next adventure, local boy.
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Jordan Murph, Student/Intern, Photographer
Honolulu & Los Angeles | HI/CA | USA | Posted: 4:37 AM on 04.23.07
->> Wow, thanks for all the help and information everyone!

After reading everyone's suggestions and scouring the web I'm dreaming of an Edirol R-09 and a Sennheiser ME66, but I think I'm going to go for something in the range of the Olympus WS-200s and spend money on an upscale mic like the Sennheiser ME66. From a nobody like me's point of view, the audio recorders are like digital SLRs (technology is replaced quickly) and the mics are like glass (useful for a long time)?

I have no problems spending more money for quality but what are the major differences in the final product between something like the Olympus WS-200s and the Edirol R-09 if they both are being used with a high end mic like a Sennheiser?

Any more suggestions or information on microphones would be great. Thank you all again for the help.

Aloha,
Jordan
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PJ Heller, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 6:37 AM on 04.23.07
->> Jordan:

You might want to check out the Olympus Web site, as I believe they have recently released some new models (DS-30, DS-40 etc.) which may be worth checking.
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David Sokol, Photographer
Reading | MA | USA | Posted: 12:05 AM on 04.25.07
->> Jordan:

I have been using the Olympus DS-30 and like it a lot. Cheap, good battery life, and has a few nice features like built-in noise reduction and an ok stereo microphone. I do however recommend purchasing a good external microphone for interviews and such. I have an audiotechnica lavaler microphone (only about $40.00). With a little practice and correct settings the audio isn't all that bad.
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Curtis Clegg, Photographer
Belvidere | IL | USA | Posted: 2:49 PM on 05.03.07
->> Here is information about the newly-released H2 Zoom from Samson:
http://www.multimediashooter.com/wp/?p=317
which in turn links you to the fuller review on engaget:
http://www.engadget.com/2007/05/03/samsons-zoom-h2-sd-voice-recorder/
with even more information on the Samson page:
http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1916

It should retail for about $200 when it is introduced later this month... about 2x the cost of an Olympus DS-2, but half the price of an Roland R-09. It records direct to WAV or MP3 on an SD card, with a 1/8" stereo microphone jack, and has adjustable gain and recording levels, three built-in mics, and AA batteries.
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Thread Title: Audio Recorders: What to buy?
Thread Started By: Jordan Murph
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