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Handheld recorder accessory tips #1

We all know that a good handheld recorder has many advantages. But to really get the results we are after, we might need some useful accessory. Make no mistake, these little accessories can easily save your recordings.

In this first part, I will take a look at the most essential must have for any handheld recorder, the wind protection. It is mandatory to have some kind of wind protection, without it, you’ll face a lot of trouble and bad recording.

My favorite and trusty handheld is the Sony PCM-D50, so now I’m going to test a few solutions for this device, however these tips can be useful if you have any kind of hand-held recorder.

THE PROBLEM

We have two problems with handhelds, both inherent: wind and handling noise.

Now I focus on the first one: wind noise. These little microphones on virtually any little recorder are very susceptible to wind. Even a gentle breeze can ruin our recording. Here’s a test recording made in front of a fan, without any wind protection:

BEWARE! LOUD and DISTORTED SOUND!

As you can hear, this is completely unusable.

THE SOLUTION

Obviously some kind of wind protection. As I like to use my equipment in any possible circumstance, so I purchased different wind protectors to really know, and use what works. There are many options in the market, I only picked up three of them, and frankly I don’t think you need more than two or maximally three. Personally I would probably pick two.

At first there were 4 options, but one was a simple foam shield, and that was so bad protection wise that I simply left out of this test.

RYCOTE

This is a complete solution, not only wind protection, but today I’ll only test this part of the set.
It’s not a surprise that it is a huge improvement over the ”naked” microphones. It’s nicely manufactured with sewed in rubber, which really helps when you try to put it on the recorder, and also holds it safely in place. This manufacturer has a well-earned reputation in this business, and it’s good to see that they didn’t take the cheap way even in this handheld category. At first I thought the little label at the bottom of the windscreen is too big, but apparently it really helps the installation.

Rycote protection for handhelds 35-160$ depending on the kit

REDHEAD

A very friendly company who make wind protection for almost all hand-held exist. It’s cheap and we can choose from many colors. Of course audio recording is not a fashion show, but it’s still nice to have that many possibilities.
The product has a very nice finish and it fits on the recorder perfectly, although Rycote’s sewed-in rubber solution offers easier handling. It feels somewhat thicker than the Rycote, we’ll hear if that mean more protection or not. It has some rubber sewed in too, but it’s not fixed, so it’s not easy, elastic type thing, although it still good if you already managed to put the windscreen on the recorder.

Redhead windscreen 34.95$

WINDCUTTER

The third solution is somewhat different from rest, as this protector covers not only the microphones, but the whole recorder.
The concept is that it protects every side of the recorder while we are still able to reach the important controls, such as preamp gain, headphone volume, etc. With the transparent plastic on the front, you can see and use the buttons as well, while this offers even more protection for your device. For short periods it can protect the D-50 even from a light rain.
It has Velcros on the sides (for easy access to controls), and a velcro at the bottom for installing the device into it. When you try to put the device into it, it feels very tight, but it’s designed that way. The good thing is that this solution gives us considerably more overall protection of the recorder, but the downside is you need more time and patience to install it.

Windjacket for Sony PCM d50 59.95$

COMPARISON

Eventually what really count is the performance of these accessories. We heard that without wind protection it’s not a good idea to use a handheld recorder.

During the test the settings were the same, only the gain has been changed  in Pro Tools after the recording. No other processing was done. The Sony was on a stand, so the position was also the same, the fan stood right in front of the device.

Now let’s hear the three products in front of the same fan:

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