Field Recorder Solution Under $40

Since we use DSLR’s for our video production (not streaming), we also use field recorders. Michael uses a Zoom HN4 ($300) that he bought for his business (Studio En Fuego). Video is a hobby for me, so I just can’t justify $300 just to get better sound. But, I found a solution, for under $40, that works pretty well. It also happens to be a great solution for smaller churches that create video content. I’ve put together a little video describing the solution (after the break).

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Things to consider:

  1. You still need a mic and a long XLR cable, but your church should have some you could borrow during your shoot. Understand that a solo mic is not going to work for capturing anything more than dialogue. To get broader sound, you’ll need to get a shotgun mic.
  2. You need to isolate the mic. It will pick up even simply shifting your hand on the mic. You can put together some DYI dampening rigs using thick rubber bands of small bungee chords.
  3. iRig Recorder – better overall interface, but pausing to set gain sucks. I’ll still use it for quick stuff, though.
  4. Blue FiRe – interface kind of clunky, but being able to adjust gain WHILE recording is awesome! That makes it the better choice for capturing lots of audio.
  5. The XLR to iPhone adapter is awesome and cheap! The only “issue” with it, is that you’ll have to remove your iPhone’s case to use it – it has VERY FAT plastic insulation at the 1/8″ male jack.
  6. I’m using iMovie for editing, so there’s not much in the way of “refining” the video or audio. I can’t wait until Final Cut Pro X is released!
  7. Don’t forget to put your phone into “Airplane Mode!”
  8. You can use your iPhone’s stock headphone-mic if you’re recording yourself. Just watch-out for scratches and clicks as it rubs against your clothing.
  9. In the video, when I say “most churches” I mean “most small churches.
  10. If you want to pony-up for the $300 Zoom HN4, you won’t be sorry. It’s an excellent device, and actually has two XLR ports!
  11. Recording length is, of course, going to be contingent upon the available memory in your phone. Thankfully, both Blue FiRe and iRig Recorder have great “off-load” capabilities.
  12. Battery life – you need to keep in mind that these recorder apps are going to drain your iPhone’s battery faster than normal. iRig recorder does have background recording support. But, have a charger close by. In general, you should put together the adapters and cables needed to power all your gear from wall sockets anyway.
  13. UPDATE: This unit does NOT provide phantom power. If you need to connect a mic that requires phantom power, you can get a phantom power supply like the battery or wall powered unit by ART.

10 Replies to “Field Recorder Solution Under $40”

  1. this is so cool! I just got the Zoom H4n but I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but this looks to be a solid alternative for sure. BTW, Herb how did you get the moving graphic intro? I’ve been looking for a good intro for my videos and haven’t been able to figure it out myself. Is that a function of your video editing software? I’m using iMovie right now and it doesn’t have many options for intros. What video editing software are you using?

      1. That would be cool Herb!, although eventually I’d need to figure out how to do it on my own just because I’ll be helping a few different companies and churches with their video needs. You want to shoot me an email with the details? Btw, is 3D Studio software or a website? I tried Googling it but only found a website, and is FCPX available yet? I’m definitely wanting to upgrade from iMovie. Thanks Herb!!!

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