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Tag: rycote

Handheld recorder accessory tips #2

Last time I made a wind protector comparison featuring some well-known vendors. This time I’m going to offer some utilities which can help you use your handheld recorder anywhere, anytime more conveniently.

Don’t over think it, it’s only a handheld, not a big Sounddevices rig, so the accessories are not so expensive and the list is not a big one. Obviously the first and most important in the list is wind protection. Let’s continue with the rest.

BAG

I consider this item to be very important for a number of reasons. First, the bag shall be comfortable to wear/hold/carry, or we won’t use it. Even more importantly, this bag should be able to not only hold our recorder, but protect it. For me, these are the requirements of a good bag:

  • have plenty room for the recorder
  • have some room for additional accessories
  • shock protection
  • weather protection
  • made from quality materials, so it will last for a long time

With these in mind I considered many alternatives, but eventually the Lowepro Apex 120AW won. I know that probably your first thought is that it’s too big. But for me, it’s not. The Sony fits in very well with wind protection on it, you can adjust the space inside the bag, it can hold every necessary accessory and maybe even a little more. It is made from quality material, and weather protection is top notch. On a holiday trip you can put your wallet into it, while you still have your handheld with you.

Take a look at the fully packed bag:

The package includes:

  • Sony pcm D50 with windjammer on
  • Rycote shock mount
  • Windcutter protection
  • Joby gorillapod
  • spare batteries
  • Sennheiser px-200 II headphones
  • Denon earphones for backup

HEADPHONES OR EARPHONES

While I love big headphones like the Sony MDR 7506 or the Audio-technica ATH-M50, they are too big to carry, and if you want to go into stealth mode, these big ones will draw more attention. There are two good alternatives. The first one is a very good sounding little headphone, the Sennheiser px 200 II, which is small enough to fit into the bag comfortably, but still offer very good audio quality. And as it is a well-known iPod headphone, you can wear it anywhere without getting noticed.

The second one, or the backup if you like, is a simple in-ear headset (a good quality iPhone headset for example). It’s cheap, sound quality is good enough, and again, most people will think you use it for your phone, not for some recorder. Of course it’s possible to record without monitoring it, but I love to hear what I record.

GORILLAPOD

This little flexible tripod is perfect for any location. You can put it onto the ground, fences, trees, etc. Really virtually on everything. Make sure you adjust the legs so it really holds the recorder at place. If you are ready, the Gorilla pod will hold the Sony, and you can make some nice photos. This is a great utility when you are at a place and would like to record ambiences. You don’t have to hold the recorder for minutes without any movement. Just attach it to the pod and let it record for a few minutes. Easy and very convenient.

THE RYCOTE SET

I’m a long time Rycote lover, so it was a natural choice for the handheld category. I had one little fear: most occasions companies tend to economize on these products aimed for semi-pro things. Fortunately the Rycote set made for these handhelds are the same professionally made accessories you’ll encounter with their pro-line. I already wrote about their windjammer which works wonders on a handheld, but if you choose the more expensive option (which I recommend), you’ll have some great additions.

The soft-grip, which is a shock mount for your recorder with some built-in extras. First, it is a superb shock mount, I’ve tried to abuse is, and it’s really remarkable how effectively it reduces or completely eliminates any handling noise and vibration. It holds the recorder tight, no chance of any damage. Very comfortable to hold it for longer periods. With a little screw, you can adjust the angle, so you can easily make it even more comfortable. A little cable holder is the icing on the cake really.

And  above all, this grip let’s you put the handheld on virtually any stand you want.  I know that this usage is not a real priority with these little recorders, but still, it comes very handy many times.

And even more: you get a little adapter which is good for smaller threaded stands, or DSLR’s with a flash shoe. So, as you can see, you get many things with this little package. I have one very small addition to this set, I bought a short screw driver so I can easily adjust the angle whenever needed.

CONCLUSION

You don’t have to carry all these things, but remember, they can help you use your handheld in a much more effective way. I received many questions on comparing the Sony and its accessories to much larger things like a Sounddevices recorder, but I tell you that it really pointless. Because they serve different purpose. There are many things a handheld is good for, and a big pro-set is not really convenient. But make no mistake, obviously these little recorders won’t make the pro rigs useless, they are good complement to them.

And at last, let me recommend some excellent article on my favorite little handheld (tests, comparisons):

René Coronado wrote some very good shootouts:

Paul Virostek from Airbornesound wrote an excellent series on these handhelds:

 

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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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