Looking for Podcast Equipment for Recording in the Field

by Daniel H. Steinberg

The latest edition of Distributing the Future featured excerpts from a keynote address that Cory Doctorow did at EuroOSCON, an interview Danese Cooper did with Ben Laurie during that conference in a room we'd set up, and a Skype session I did with Andy Oram. For Danese's interview with Ben we were fortunate to have help from Good Company Productions who does the sound for O'Reilly shows.

I'm about to hit the road and would love to gather sound from upcoming shows like ApacheCon, MacWorld, and ETel. It's time to gear up.

I'm looking for a portable recorder and a mic that works well with it. I started out looking at the Marantz PMD 660's but Doug Kaye talked me out of them while Jack Herrington had positive things to say and Michael Geoghegan recommended the PMD 670's instead. I'm open to either of these or even the 671. Either the 670 or 671 looks like it would be a good machine to record into so I can sleep the G5 and reduce the studio noise at home. I'm finding this sound buying thing to be a slippery slope where it's easy to spend too much money.

Actually, I began by looking at the Edirol R1 but they weren't readily available the last time I was ready to buy. Now they are and I'm not sure about some of the features (like a lack of XLR inputs). M-Audio has a new flash recorder that is getting some positive reviews and Tascam has a device that's almost ready. Sony's is way too expensive (got to draw the line somewhere).

Once I pick up a recorder, I'll need to find a good field mic to match it to for doing interviews etc.

Phewww. Any thoughts? What do you like or don't like that's out there right now.

What would recommend for a field recorder (not MD) and mic?


2005-12-05 16:46:38
Other recorders
Hi Daniel. We just reviewed the MicroTrack over on the O’Reilly Digital Audio site (http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2005/11/30/m-audio-microtrack-review.html). It appears that many of the initial shortcomings (and bugs) in that unit have been addressed in last month’s firmware upgrade. For a street price of under $400 (assuming you already have a big CompactFlash card), it’s probably the best fit-your-goals-for-the-buck right now.

The HHB Flash Mic (http://www.hhb.co.uk/hhb/usa/hhbproducts/flashmic) looks very interesting, though it’s mono and won’t be out for a few months.

Another option would be to soundproof your home studio and use an inexpensive voice recorder on the road. The Olympus ones I’ve reviewed (http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/7392) sound pretty good, are super easy to use, and they do take external mics (although not phantom-powered ones). —David