It’s always a struggle to take just enough with you into the field without being encumbered by gear that’s too heavy or too bulky, especially if you need to hike or schlep any appreciable distance to get to your location. My strategy is to ensure that everything I take with me is flexible, modular, and lightweight.
Being an avid photographer, I’ve been a longtime fan of David Hobby’s Strobist blog, where he focuses on maximum impact from incredibly portable equipment. Applying this knowledge to field recording has been not only easy, but some of the equipment can do double-duty. Hobby loves the Manfrotto 001B nano light stand (formerly the 3373) : It’s two pounds and collapses to 19″ in length. I’ve found it to be stellar for small flash units, so I decided to adopt it for audio recording as well.
I decided that the rest of my kit should be about the same length, as it fits perfectly in many bags that I own. I added a cheap On Stage telescoping mic boom, using a 3/8″ to 5/8″ adapter for mounting a pistol grip or windscreen, and a K-Tek KE-79 boompole. Finally, my Røde Blimp windscreen even fits into this range.
This kind of planning echoes some great backpacking advice I once got: buy your pack last, after you have everything else. All of these items now fit handily in a messenger bag or backpack, or you can even use bungee cords to strap it all together and throw it over your shoulder. Most importantly, though, they also fit inside most carry-on luggage. In high winds they might not be perfect, but I’m happy to sacrifice some weight for portability – besides, one can always weigh the stands down with one’s (now empty) bag, the field recorder itself, or your own fat arse.
The photo in this post features two Manfrotto 001B’s in a hyper-reverberant cow tunnel under Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, California…oddly enough, this is one of my favorite places to record (shown here at dawn, when there’s less traffic), and it’s about 1/4 mile away from world-famous Skywalker Sound. I set up my old Zoom H2 and a Røde NT4 stereo mic to compare their sounds. The NT4 (feeding into a Fostex FR2-LE,with which I had a tumultuous relationship) captured the crisp articulation of a rock being thrown in the tunnel (its original subtle phasing now lost to MP3 compression, sadly, but you’ll get the picture).
Tags: audio equipment, digital audio, field recording | 4 Comments »
[Røde NT4 stereo microphone into Fostex FR2-LE field recorder]