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Field Recorder - What do you carry, how do you use it?


McGlencoe
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Do you currently carry a field recorder for audio?

 

What do you carry?

-Your likes and dislikes of your unit?

 

Do you use the native internal mic or an external mic with your recorder?

 

Placement of your recorder and/or external mic?

 

How do you use it? On as soon as you open your door or just select times of your research trip?

 

 

 

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We've had a few discussions about each of the topics/issues you've raised.  Not sure there is a one-size-fits-all answer to each question.

 

I carry a recorder (SONY PCM-M10) with me in a backpack belt pouch. It is not on when I am en route to a location. One demerit. Once there, I turn it on and either have it in my hand or in my chest pack with zipper open. The SONY has a 15-second buffer and I can capture something if I hit record within 15 seconds of hearing something which provides a little forgiveness for my somewhat sloppy standards.

 

We've talked about where to carry a recorder or microphone while walking. I've never taken the time to rig up an external mic to the backpack itself which I know I should do. Second demerit. Ideally, I'd run a wire and have the mic somewhere at the top of my backpack but I've taken the initiative to do so. The simple truth is most of the things I've heard have happened once I've settled in. No excuse though as I would likely miss a whoop if I heard it while on my way to a location. Third demerit. 

 

In the evening, before retiring to the tent, the recorder is placed some distance from the camp and left to record throughout the night. 

 

There are several folks here who really know the ins-and-outs of audio recording and have done a good job at maximizing their chance of getting a good recording. Hopefully, they'll weigh in.

 

 

 

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I carry a years old Zoom H2 digital recorder.   It is good enough and moderately priced.    Early in my field work I missed an incredible opportunity to record a couple of approaching BF because I fumbled turning the recorder into record mode.    I heard the BF whooping at each other as they traveled in my direction.     I thought it did not start and pressed the record button a second time which took it out of record mode.   I missed recording the whoops back and forth,  the thud of when the nearest went into a crouch,    and the rapid wood knock that the nearest made to warn the other.      Learning from that experience I decided to pack mount the recorder and have it recording in a moderate sample rate where I could record all the time I was in the field.       It is mounted on top of the pack right on a camera mount screw right behind my head.      I get some pack noise but not much breath noise with it back there.      I run it in stereo mode which helps trying to figure out where a noise came from when I wear earphones for play back.      Because of the hours of recording I normally restart every couple of hours to have shorter files.     I also use a digital visualizer to be able to find an sound of interest when I play back.       Talking to yourself after a sound event helps to find the segment of interest.    Most external mikes of good quality have their own batteries which increases the chance of battery problems.    So I prefer to use the integrated recorder mikes.      

 

I figured that would cover pretty much everything that could happen but I was wrong.       One time I parked at my normal parking place at the hot spot for my research area.     My routine was to get out of the vehicle,  walk to the passenger side,   turn on the pack mounted recorder, then put on the pack, lock the truck and leave.      This time I had drunk a DIet Coke before leaving home,  had to pee really bad when I got to my research area, walked to the cover of the passenger side of the vehicle which was on the side away from the road, and started peeing.     All hell broke loose behind me from the tree line.     A BF watching me,  took offense to me brazenly peeing in front of it, and did the great ape chest slapping thing.      If I had not already been peeing I would probably have wet myself.      Anyway I missed that opportunity too.       After that I would turn on the recorder before getting out of the drivers seat, leave the drivers door open,   walk around,   put on the pack then lock up the truck.    

 

So my best advice is to run the recorder as much as you possibly can and hope you do not miss something.    

 

.   

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We've got 2 Zoom H4s, an H5, an H6. We run both native and external mics. Generally if we're not setting up the array we turn them on in the vehicle and off when we re-enter. For the array it allows for 18 total mics to run at one time which we set up and spread the mics up to 50ft  from the units and let them run for hours at a time while we conduct our research. We use shotgun, choir, parabolic, SM57, SM54SD, omi-directional, and stereo mics. 

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