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What microphones are people using?

Hey guys. I’m looking into getting a microphone to use for recording audio while shooting, and was wondering what people out there are using and how useful they’re finding them. I did a search for posts about this and there are a few but none particularly well-detailed… seeing as people are doing a lot more audio work now than even a few months ago I figured we could create a database of knowledge on mics…

Also, does anyone has specific knowledge on microphone types (uni-directional, cardioid etc) and what type is best for general purpose audio gathering (ambient, interviews, etc)?

Specifically I’m looking for something compact, with a battery-booster (my recorder has no phantom power) and hopefully something that will mount onto the hotshoe of my camera while I’m shooting (or gaffer-tape to the side of my flashgun when I need some fill). Not too bothered about a wireless mic, I think a long-enough lead stretching back to the recorder in my pocket should be fine.

by Ed Giles at 2007-05-18 02:09:15 UTC (ed. Apr 27 2008 ) Sydney , Australia | Bookmark | | Report spam→

excellent question…or, rather a timely question for me. And anyone who answers, could you also include the recorder you use. I think I have the recorder figured out, however, like Ed, the choice of mics…if any besides the built in one….is really confusing.

by T.S. Sullivan | 18 May 2007 02:05 | Philadelphia, United States | | Report spam→
I’m looking for the relatively the same
thing. But I’m also looking to buy a good
quality recorder as well…

I think the problem i with putting it on
the hot shoe is i will pick up vibrations
from the mirror and shutter — but i cant
think of a better place to put it.

by Edward Cheng | 18 May 2007 02:05 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Well, a lot of the video shotgun mics I’ve looked at (e.g. Rode Video Mic http://www.rodemic.com/?pagename=Products&product=VideoMic) have vibration-absorbing setups that allow for a bit of shake-and-bake going on with the camera… this one has a battery-booster, too. It’s on my short-list but is maybe just a bit too bulky – especially concerned that its length with mean it’s visible in the top of my wide-angle shots…

by Ed Giles | 18 May 2007 03:05 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
I use a Tram lavallière with lectrosonics wireless packs and a me66 shotgun with a zoom h4 digital recorder. This setup is expensive but I use it in my video work as well.. The tram can be fit to any mic situation or any wireless/wired units. it is tiny and quality is finest kind.

by [former member] | 18 May 2007 03:05 | Charlottesville, Virginia, United States | | Report spam→
Well my audio gathering technique is based on my working method: fast, light and very mobile. I have been using the Sony Hi-MD RH-910 recorder because it’s tiny and the sound quality is superb while having instant startup unlike the M-Audio unit. However I will be picking up the new Zoom H-2 recorder when they are released in about two weeks.

I have a main mic: the AudioTechnica AT822 which is a stereo condenser that is self powered. I use it for all my ambient sound – all my ambient is stereo. I have it recording nearly all the time that I’m on the scene since I don’t want to miss anything. I have it attached to a 5×6 Domke belt bag with velcro so that handing noise is reduced. For field interviews I use an AudioTechnica AT835 shotgun if it’s noisy. However these mics are 11-16 inches long so they are not the kind to just pop in your bag. When I have to move quickly I’ll forgo the 835 and grab my Audix OM2 cardioid as it is much smaller and more rugged than the AT. For quiet interviews it’s a great warm mic. I also have an AT825 condenser lavaliere with a Sony wireless system for remote sound.

Mic’s are like lenses and no single lens/mic does everything. To learn more about them try here: http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/studio/studio-microphones/buying-guide.php

by Jonathan Castner | 18 May 2007 04:05 | Denver, United States | | Report spam→
i pod nano 8GB with a belkin microphone attachement. on my belt or bag strap. perfect.


the new (much better) stereo model:

and this one looks like a beauty:

and finally, for those adventurous enough… here’s a little ipod hack:
Plug in earphones
Activate Diagnostic Mode – Reset (hold MENU and PLAY) and hold down PREVIOUS, NEXT and CENTER buttons at Apple logo – Release buttons and you’ll hear a chirp and Diagnostic mode will appear
Use Next button to navigate to “J. RECORD
Speak into Left earphone when “BEGIN…” appears
You’ll get about 6 sec. of record time and then “DONE
Press center button for playback
Press Play/Pause to return to list of tests This is just the mono record feature… as noted here there is also a stereo line-in but that is in the dock connector and activated by “F. LIN REC

…I’m sure Apple will release a new Firmware update for the iPod shortly that will provide recording capability in full. Stay tuned.

by [former member] | 18 May 2007 05:05 | Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | | Report spam→
Ok, just found a good review on Cnet about the Belkin Stereo iPod microphone

“Overall, Belkin succeeds in adding a high-quality audio recording feature to the iPod, although processor requirements create a fairly serious battery issue. Video iPod users looking to record high-quality audio will find that it works great for short-format recordings. The TuneTalk is perfect for mobile podcasters, and it’s a solid option for anyone else who needs to record an hour or less of high-quality audio at a time.

On the other hand, if you just need to record simple voice memos, go with an earlier model, such as the Griffin iTalk for iPod Voice Recorder or the Belkin iPod Voice Recorder, which record at a lower quality and don’t require as much processing power. Or, if you want to record high-quality audio for longer than the approximate hour of battery life the TuneTalk/video iPod combination offers, check out the stand-alone Edirol R-1; it records for longer and offers an optional battery pack. "

by Ed Giles | 18 May 2007 06:05 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
I use this one:

I’ve had one for about ten years and it’s never let me down. Recently I picked up a second, because I saw it cheap.

I used it with an MD recorder, back in the day and now with an Olympus VoiceTrek.

Edit – they also make a model for camcorder use that has a hot-shoe mounting stand.

by [former member] | 18 May 2007 09:05 (ed. May 18 2007) | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
M-Audio CF recorder, with old-ass minidisc backup. I carry a Audio Technica ATR-55 small shotgun mic, some generic brand uni-direction (singing) mic – these are great for when you can get the mic very close to the speakers mouth that way they almost automatically balance the voice and ambient, a simple omni-directional stereo mic that extends an inch off the recorder for ambient only recording. I’ve had very few troubles with my audio and I’ve spend less than $100 bucks on all three of my mics.

by Cameron Knight | 18 May 2007 23:05 | Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | | Report spam→
I need to buy a mic too, so i am in. Thank you.

by [former member] | 19 May 2007 11:05 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

by Ed Giles | 20 May 2007 06:05 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Currently using a Sennheiser MD 42. (Dynamic mic, so no need for +48v)

by [former member] | 22 May 2007 17:05 | Delhi, India | | Report spam→
I use an ElectroVoice 635A/B with a Shure Line Matching Transformer Model A96F. The recorder is an Olympus Digital Voice Recorder Model DS-30. The Olympus is a great recorder and has a noise cancellation feature. It records in stereo or mono and the stereo mice (included) is actually quite good and very sensitive. The Electrovoice mic is an industry standard – rugged, good voice quality and dependable. It is a smaller version of their field mic which has been used in radio and television for decades. Not a cheap combination of mic and recorder but I occasionally do interviews in the field and this combo works for me. Also, since I do so many fire assignments, it’s lightweight so I can RUN FAST if I have to. I use a modified MP3 case with an arm-band and to carry everything conveniently I use a Case Logic mic case with a locking carabiner that I just snap onto a belt loop. Ta Dah!

by Frederick Miller | 13 Jul 2007 14:07 | fm6298, United States | | Report spam→

Great gear.


by Harry Lime | 13 Jul 2007 16:07 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
For ambient sound recordings, try the Soundman binaural mics.


These are stereo mics that you wear as ear buds. I love them because they are very discreet and no one can know that you are recording. Also, since you don’t need to hold them, you can continue shooting.

Here’s a sample recorded while wandering around in the San Telmo barrio of Buenos Aires. If you listen to it with headphones, you will get the three-dimensional sound that these mics render.


by Enrique Pardo | 13 Jul 2007 19:07 | Geneva, Switzerland | | Report spam→
Where can I buy and how much are the soundman Enqique?

by [former member] | 13 Jul 2007 23:07 | The Dirty South, United States | | Report spam→
Andy, I got mine at an online reseller here in Switzerland and it cost me 240.– swiss francs (about $200).
It’s pricey but the results are worth it.

If you check their website or send them an email, they have distributors worldwide. For the US, I found:


by Enrique Pardo | 14 Jul 2007 06:07 | Geneva, Switzerland | | Report spam→

by [former member] | 14 Jul 2007 08:07 | The Dirty South, United States | | Report spam→
I’m using an audia-technica shot gun and an edirol r-1 recorder. The correspondents at NPR are using marantz recorders.
The R-1 isn’t bad. My only complaint is the mic input. Its mini-jack and not xlr. The mic is a mono and that’s what I recommend, although a stereo mic is good in some cases.

by Bill Putnam | 14 Jul 2007 16:07 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Mics from the following supplier could be of interest, particularly to those on a slimmer budget: www.soundprofessionals.com.

Though they won’t fit everyone’s bill, I can recommend both the binaural omni mics (model SP-TB-2) and the stereo omni mics embedded in collapsible headphones, which have a switch to toggle between headphone and microphone use (model ISI-HMA-1). I’m using these with an Edirol R-09 and no added battery paraphernalia. Being hands-free, they’re very convenient and discreet. Though being mounted in your ears, that rules out eating, sneezing and general head-scratching during recording… I have a couple of sample recordings here.

Ed, I’m in Australia as well, and had no problems ordering from them.

by [former member] | 15 Jul 2007 11:07 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
Those in-ear mics sound pretty good, might be worth a go. Thanks, guys!

by Ed Giles | 15 Jul 2007 12:07 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Beyerdynamic M58. great for ambient sound. can do interviews too, although its omnidirectional nature will have some limitations. still, it’s good all-rounder, I think cbc guys are usig these quite a lot, too.

by [former member] | 16 Jul 2007 10:07 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
I do a lot of video as well as still shooting and lately I’ve been doing a project shooting famous chefs preparing their signature dishes. Getting good sound in a restaurant kitchen is not easy but here’s what we use:

The recorder is a Sound Devices 744T (4 channel digital) which has never, ever failed to give me a good recording. For video, we front-end this with a Sound Devices 442 mixer. The mix is fed back to one of our two Panasonic HVX-200 cameras and we record to the 744 for backup of the raw mics. The 442 has good high pass filters that cut down the vent and refrig noise in the kitchens.

We use Sanken COS-11 lavs with Lectrosonic SM and UCR401 wireless equipment. All my mics are selected for a matching warm sound so I tend to stick to Neumann shotguns, Sanken lavaliers, and a Sanken CMS-10 MS stereo mic which is my general purpose live performance mic. I also use a Sanken CUB-01 boundary mic which is great for picking up all the folks around a table. I have a few Countryman B6 lavs in various colors for hiding in scant clothing. They don’t sound quite as good as the COS-11s but they sure are small.

We’ve got a bunch of other mics that we use if we need plants. Some Sennheisers, Oktavas etc. but the Neumanns and Sankens are always my choice for the best sound (IMHO).

If I’m wandering around with my Leica and just want to grab some sound with the stills, I would take just the 744T with a couple lavs.

by Bill Southworth | 21 Jul 2007 04:07 | Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States | | Report spam→
What about the Edirol / Roland R-09 – Portable 24-Bit WAV/MP3 Audio Recorder with the Edirol / Roland CS-15 – Stereo Microphone Kit for R-09? Expensive, but is it a very good combo choice?

by [former member] | 21 Jul 2007 14:07 (ed. Jul 21 2007) | New York, United States | | Report spam→
I make my living on radio and TV — and my advice is probably the same photographers would give me if i said i wanted to take up snapping; you don’t need top pro gear unless you’re selling pro work.

What matters most in audio, like photos and video, is technique.

The more pro the gear, the more the engineers expect you know how to use the equipment properly, and it is less forgiving. Mic placement, audio levels, etc are as key to audio as f-stops and focal lengths are to cameras.

Why spend $1000+ if you’re setting it on “auto” anyway.

Unless you’re filing for radio or TV you don’t need edirols or marantz or m-audio units.

Flash and web compression will wipe out the quality, and benefits, of most of that top gear anyway.

Frankly all you really need for multimedia slideshow is a simple digital “dictaphone” — built in mic — that will probably run $100. An ipod mic is a great, if you already pack an ipod. Just make sure your can download the audio easily to your computer (directly or through flash card).

also audio can be cleaned up, boosted, isolated, in the free audio editor Audacity, using free VST plug-ins, just like photoshop cleans up a snap.

So don’t waste your money.

Taping a mic to your still camera doesn’t make sense. It will pick up the camera shutter, and probably your scapes and movement on the camera, and ruin the audio. I know shutters are the sound of music to snappers, but after about a dozen clicks it drives listeners mad.

If you do need just one, good, all-around, xlr mic, you cannot do better than the ElectroVoice 635A. its about $100, the industry standard, forgiving, and will last a lifetime. (nicknames “the hammer” because salesman used to drive mails through the mic, and it would still work. I know people who bought their’s 30 years ago ).

If you are shooting high quality video (pd-150 type camera or better) you already know you need a better shotgun mic, like a AT or a Senn ME-66, which requires external (phantom) power. But otherwise you probably don’t need it.

Why? Better, expensive, equipment never means better content.

Good,clean, clear, captivating, audio is about getting close to the subject you’re trying to capture.

sound familiar?

And if its an interview, it is about asking the right questions,

But that is a different thread.

by Tom Popyk | 21 Jul 2007 16:07 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Tom, that was the best advice I’ve seen on these forums for new users! Thank you so much. Feel free to start that thread about asking the right questions and editing tips for those of us just getting our feet wet with this sound recording world…

by Jamie Rose | 26 Aug 2007 14:08 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Amazing advice considering i am in the market for a new one. Now the next question would be what software is everyone using to tie both image + sound into the presentation?

I love SoundSlides and was wondering what the latest Plus version was like

by Daniel Cuthbert | 26 Aug 2007 15:08 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
Interesting to see this post pop up again. Just last week I bought a Rode Stereo Video Mic (Super-Cardioid ‘shotgun’ mic) that I’m now putting on the hotshoe mount of my camera. Works a treat so far.

by Ed Giles | 26 Aug 2007 16:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
When asking fellow LSer Jennifer Warren about her audio setup and how she learned audio so well, this was her response which was killer helpful:

Here is a place to start:


Edirol R-09 (takes SD cards, AA batteries, flimsy battery/card cover but otherwise great) http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=757

OR M-Audio (takes CF cards, chargeable battery like an iPod – downside, no rechargeables or AAs in an emergency)

MICS (You’ll need atleast 2 mics – a ‘close-up’/‘telephoto’ mic and a more general sound-gatherer)

Azden Super-Cardioid (comes with a tripod mount for the mic, this is for distance ‘telephoto’ recordings and interviews)

Sony Stereo Condenser Mic (for general ambient, background noise, music, stage, very loud, etc)



I bought the Soundslides software online and started experimenting. www.soundslides.com. At this point, you should buy the $60 version instead of the $30. I took a workshop at NSC to learn how to transfer Soundslides files into Flash for more control over the final product. Also check out www.multimediashooter.com and www.digitalartwork.net to see what people are doing. Soundslides is pretty self-explanatory and their online-wiki is great. I have gotten better at capturing audio by trial and error.

by Jamie Rose | 26 Aug 2007 18:08 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Weird that this is my first post, but here it goes. Beside photography, I do a bit of freelance work for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio. The mics used exclusively here are EV 635

by Bojan Fuerst | 26 Aug 2007 20:08 | Saint John, NB, Canada | | Report spam→
Hi Ed, I did some quick (not-exactly technical) tests the other day with the Rode Stereo mic. For what you have described you need, it is probably the best bang for the buck there is — so it was a pretty good choice. A clean, warm stereo signal, compact and solid enough to be put into a pouch quickly when need be.

by David Dare Parker | 27 Aug 2007 07:08 | Perth, Australia | | Report spam→
Yeah, I found it spot on for size, sound and build quality. It’s more expensive than the Video Mic but is also made from a much more solid alumunium so along with being shorter (less likely to cop a beating from too-close and wiley subjects) it’s looking pretty strong, too. Best thing on it for me is the 10dB cut switch so if ambient sound suddenly jumps up a notch in volume I can have an immediate way to cut the signal down from my mic without digging into my pocket and re-adjusting my input vol on the recording unit. Bonus…

by Ed Giles | 27 Aug 2007 11:08 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
First of all, I hope every photographer is jumping into audio. I’ve been doing audio slideshows for more than a year now, and even bad stories look good.

As for equipment, I use the Marantz PD660. It’s the smaller version than the one radio reporters use, but no loss in quality. Records on Compact Flash, costs about $500 and there’s a Porta Brace case made for it. It’s also solid state, so no moving parts that will break. Lightweight, and accepts external mics (even XLR).

For purposes of comparison, I’ve used the M-Audio and think it’s a piece of junk. Can’t replace the battery, so when it dies, so does your story. Really small, compact and lightweight, but that still doesn’t make it worth it. And for the price, its worth spending a bit more for the Marantz.

As for mics, I was using a Sennheiser ME66/K6 shotgun, but just sold it because it’s really more for video and too big to carry with my camera gear. I’m looking for a smaller mic that will work with both the Marantz and a future HDD camcorder I’m going to buy (maybe a lav for interviews).

If you want, check out the 660’s sound: www.allbillnobull.net. Click the audio slideshows link.

by Bill Glucroft | 05 Nov 2007 03:11 | Boston, United States | | Report spam→
There are some new solid state recorders out there with good built in mics.

take a look:



by Harry Lime | 05 Nov 2007 10:11 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Similar to binaural style mics -amazing 3D sound: Dimensional Stereo microphone from http://www.sonicstudios.com/

by Hank Graber | 06 Nov 2007 00:11 | Miami, United States | | Report spam→
Also http://www.core-sound.com/default.php



A friend of mine is a musician / mixer and swears by these.


by Harry Lime | 06 Nov 2007 00:11 (ed. Nov 6 2007) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Any updates, i’m looking for a mic to put on a camcorder…?

by [former member] | 09 Apr 2008 13:04 | Moscow, Russia | | Report spam→
For an audio recorder I use the Edirol R-09, it’s not the most solid bit of gear, but it’s working well so far.

As for mics, I use a lapel for interviews and either the R-09 on-board mics for ambience or a cardioid. I don’t own a shotgun because I would only see them as useful as a boom mic, and I don’t usually shoot or record with a crew.

Bill, I reckon the ME64 is a great buy in a mic, much smaller and broader pick-up pattern than the 66, also would make a good on-camera mic for doco work if coupled with a decent attachment. ’Tis a bit pricy though…

The main thing is that the interviews are good though, if you don’t have a lapel, stick the mic as close to the interviewee as possible.

by Tyler Freeman Smith | 26 Apr 2008 10:04 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Anybody who is thinking of purchasing a mic should first read this.

Next, listen to these and then read this.

In short, there are a lot of good mics out there, and much of your buying decision turns on the recording situations you will be facing. In some senses, mics are like lenses – to optimize results you need different ones for different scenarios.

by [former member] | 26 Apr 2008 12:04 (ed. Apr 26 2008) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Good links, Neal. Transom is a great resource.

The classic workhorses are the Electrovoice RE50 for omnidiretional and the Sennheiser ME66 for shotgun. I’ve used both, and they’re of great quality and build. And don’t skimp on the windscreen for the ME66 — it makes a big difference.

Here is a good range of audio gear from a list compiled by Regina McCombs of the Star Tribune, “Planning for Multimedia Budgets.” The list is geared toward newsroom folks to present to their eds, with high- and low-end options for software and gear. If anyone wants it, PM me.

Audio Field Gear

Omnidirectional microphone:
Electrovoice 635A $110
Electrovoice RE50 $150
Shure SM-48LC $49

Directional (cardiod) microphone:
Beyerdynamic M58 $177
Sennheiser MD 46 $170

Short shotgun (directional) microphone:
Sennheiser ME66 $450
Beyerdynamic MCE 86 S.1 $400

Wireless microphone:
There are a huge range of systems, but expect to start at about $500 for a microphone and transmitter, going up to about $2500 for the quality you’d typically find at a large broadcast news outlet. These are optional for an audio only system, but incredibly useful if you’re shooting video or keeping your hands free while shooting stills. I wouldn’t work without one.

Good ones for under $1,000:
Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 $500
Sennheiser Evolution G2 500 $850
Sony UWP-C1 Microphone $500
Lectrosonics 100 series $1200

Lavaliere (lapel) microphone:
Sony, Shure, Electrosonic: $100-300

by [former member] | 26 Apr 2008 12:04 | Philadelphia, Pa., United States | | Report spam→
M AUDIO microtack with a small sony ECM-MS908C. they are both small and the mic is powered by a AA. it comes with a few accessories, one of which allows it to be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe. Im gonna buy a roland recorder soon as the M AUDIO only has an internal battery that does not last that long. the roland equivalent runs on AAs.

by [former member] | 27 Apr 2008 06:04 | Mogadishu, Somalia | | Report spam→

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Ed Giles, Photojournalist Ed Giles
Sydney , Australia
T.S. Sullivan, Photographer T.S. Sullivan
Brooklyn, Ny , United States
Edward Cheng, Traveler-Photographer Edward Cheng
New York , United States ( EWR )
Jonathan Castner, Photojournalist Jonathan Castner
Denver , United States
Cameron Knight, Photojournalist Cameron Knight
Cincinnati, Ohio , United States
Frederick Miller, Photojournalist Frederick Miller
(Have Camera, Will Travel)
Fm6298 , United States
Harry Lime, Photographer Harry Lime
[undisclosed location].
Enrique Pardo, Photographer Enrique Pardo
(Knows how it feels)
Geneva , Switzerland ( GVA )
Bill Putnam, Producer. Bill Putnam
Washington, D.C. , United States
Bill Southworth, formerly retired Bill Southworth
formerly retired
(Still and moving images)
Portsmouth, Nh , United States
Tom Popyk, Journalist/Videographer Tom Popyk
New Delhi , India
Jamie Rose, Photojournalist Jamie Rose
Washington, Dc , United States
Daniel Cuthbert, button clicker Daniel Cuthbert
button clicker
London , United Kingdom ( LHR )
Bojan Fuerst, lightsmith/wordsmith Bojan Fuerst
St. John's, N.L. , Canada
David Dare Parker, Photographer David Dare Parker
Sydney , Australia
Bill Glucroft, Multimedia journalist Bill Glucroft
Multimedia journalist
Haifa , Israel
Hank Graber, Designer/Photographer Hank Graber
Miami , United States
Tyler Freeman Smith, free range storyteller Tyler Freeman Smith
free range storyteller
Sydney , Australia


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