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I am currently filming interviews for a project and to date, a friend has kindly lent me the following sound equipment. Unfortunately, I am going to have to give this equipment back very soon and need to replace it. I don't however, have the budget to replace exactly like for like so wanted to know what was really essential and what cheaper options I could buy to achieve more or less the same effect.

The equipment that is currently on loan to me is:

  • Pair of HD201 Sennheiser headphones
  • Alesis PalmTrack 24bit WAVE/MP3 Recorder
  • 2 x Levalier mics - ECM-77B Electret Condensor Microphones (SONY)
  • 1 Mixer - SignVideo ENG-44 (4 channel audio mixer)
  • 1 Cable to connect mixer to either MP3 recorder or to camera - jack to stereo XLR

I would really appreciate if anyone can help me.

Thanks!

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You could simplify your costs and needs with this approach to your kit:

Get a similar unit to the Alesis PalmTrack to record your audio, preferably on 2 channels, or as a pair of Left and Right inputs from suitable microphones. Monitor your Left & Right balance with suitable headphones to ensure the usual clean, distortion free audio. Later, you could remix your balance levels in Audio Editing software between the 2 Mic inputs. This would effectively eliminate the cost for the separate Audio Mixer, & the "live" audio mix.

Another solution could eliminate the need for 2 separate mics:

For any interview between 2 people, a pair of mics is almost always necessary. However, if the camera shot and setup allows, you could park your Audio recorder on the end of a "fish pole" or "boom" attachment, and hold this over your subjects, out of shot, to record the conversation. A bit of practise and skill is required for this to be successful. You do have to avoid the noise of handling the boom, as you 'pan' or 'swing' the recorder mics in the direction of either speaker.

Another alternative would be to park the recorder above the 2 persons, just out of shot and record audio from there. Correct positioning and minimum body movement of the subjects for the duration of the recording would be critical, however. Best done by seating both at a table, or similar.

A look online at some setup examples, like the searches below might help to visualise a rig:

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Film+interview+audio+setups&tbm=isch

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Film+interview+setups&tbm=isch

  • Thank you Robin for your great advice. I think a good audio recorder without a mixer is the way to go and would save a lot of money. Not sure about the fish pole or boom though - will have to try this out. – Alisa Heimann Jan 13 '15 at 11:10
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You really want to have XLR input capability to use decent quality mics, but you can get that directly in a recorder for a little bit less than the cost of the field mixer. Zoom makes a nice selection of products that are pretty popular for having XLR inputs at a cheap price.

You also don't need to use quite as expensive of mics. Audio Technica, among others, makes relatively decent condenser mics for as cheap as $150 or less.

For monitoring, you don't really need anything fancy, so any old cheap headphones will do the trick as long as they provide you with decent isolation and relatively low noise so that you can be listening for noise problems and making sure you have clean signal.

  • Again thank you AJ for your advice. Have been looking at audio recorders but was not sure whether they would be sufficient without a mixer. A friend has also recommended the Zoom H6 which would allow up to 6 XLR inputs so think need to look at that and the Alesis PalmTrack. – Alisa Heimann Jan 13 '15 at 11:13
  • I avoided mentioning specific products in my answer as they would date the answer, but yes. I would currently recommend an h6n if it is in your price range. I personally have an h4n and love it. – AJ Henderson Jan 13 '15 at 15:40

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