Field and location recording: what type of microphone is needed?

As we know, studio recording is used to record high quality sounds. But beyond studio, recording can also be conducted such as field or location recording. Maybe you are not familiar with them and want to gain some knowledge. So today let’s brief talk about it and learn about what kind of microphones are able to work for them.

SYNCO D30 microphone for field recording is used to capture nature sounds in snowy forests.

Photo by samuele_cavicchi

Definition

Field recording is the word for an audio recording made outside of a studio, which means there are no soundproofed walls, isolation booths, or a control room crammed with sound engineers, effects devices, and high-tech computers. Actually, the sounds it records can be divided into the following types.

  • Personal Spaces You can capture sounds in any room that is not treated acoustically such as kitchen, bathroom.
  • Nature Environments It is also of popularity to record the sounds of trees and wildlife. In general, everything that can make a sound in nature is the target of field recording.
  • Urban Environments It offers a great deal of sounds for filed recording. Public markets, malls, avenues and suchlike are all ideal places to capture valuable audio.
  • Transportation Sounds This is also popular. The train whistle, car horn and so on will be captured.

As for location sound recording, it aims at capturing sounds on location. That is, the microphone records the sounds as the shooting device is working. It happens in many situations such as recording live concert performance with many professional microphones via multi sound tracks, capturing the dialogues of characters for the film.

Unlike field or location recording, studio recording takes place indoors and has the different miking principles for high-quality audio. If you want to begin your studio recording journey and make your studio recording microphone sound professional, just check the article How to use studio recording microphone to get pro sounds? to get some knowledge.

Five requirements on location and field recording microphone

To achieve high quality location or field recording, the microphone is supposed to meet some standards. Generally, it should meet the following requirements.

  • Portability This is quite important. A portable microphone enables you to carry on your recording with less burden especially if you are going to travel remotely for the sounds you want to capture.
  • Battery or device powered It is usual that there is no power supply when you have exterior shooting. Therefore, a battery-powered microphone or a device-powered one is really necessary.
  • Resistance to bad weather As is often the case, there is wind in the fields and sometimes it rains, which will impact the recording. To make sure a clear audio, it is better to invest in a microphone with solid construction and accessories like windscreen to decrease the influence especially when you are looking for a microphone for field recording.
  • Easy to set up Sometimes you are supposed to have on-the-go shooting, a recording device that enables you to record sounds as soon as you power it on plays a big role.
  • No cable restriction The talents you record can not always be still. So if you want to record the sounds and move freely at the same time, a wireless or plug in microphone is a better choice.

Microphone types for field or location recording recommended

There are a wide range of recording microphones in the market. Each of them is in unique design and suitable for different needs. If you want to take up field recording or location recording, which one should you use? We can decide according to the polar patterns.

Omnidirectional microphone

A microphone featuring omnidirectional polar pattern means that it can record sounds from all directions. If you want to capture everything you hear, it is a perfect choice. But the types are different.

If you want to use omnidirectional microphone for field recording, a lav mic is recommended. It is tiny and affixed to an actor's body or clothing and designed to be small and light. So it is easy to carry. And the clip-on design reduces the time of mounting.

As for microphone for location recording, a handheld one is ideal especially when there are several people speaking in turn. You can pass it back and forth. If the talents stay in one place, it can be easier. You can place it in a suitable place with a mic stand, and the sounds can be clearly captured.

Directional microphone

SYNCO D2 shotgun microphone for field recording connects to the recorder by XLR cable and comes with a foam windscreen.

Photo by Richard Wong

Shotgun microphone is a typical kind of directional microphone. It comes in three types if classified by the length of barrel, including short, medium and long shotgun mics.

A short shotgun mic is the best microphone for field recording since it is durable and portable thanks to its small size if you are going to capture a specific sound and block sounds from the sides and rear, then . Also, it can be used for location recording like interview, vlogging and other circumstances where you require a portable but directed mic. 

Medium shotgun microphone is better to use it to record on location. In comparison to the short shotgun, it has a more directional pickup pattern and rejects more off-axis sound. It is the safest bet if you're booming and recording voices for TV and cinema. They're rather directed, but they're still straightforward to use and give you some positioning options.

Long shotgun microphone is the best shotgun microphone for professional location recording because it offers the tightest pattern and the largest range. As a result, a boom operator is required to direct the microphone at the subject, as changes in the positioning angle can cause a significant decrease in audio.

Conclusion

By learning about the concepts of location recording and field recording and different kinds of microphone they require, the next time you come across the sounds that you really want to capture, you can know what to use and start your shooting happily.

Note: Cover Photo by samuele_cavicchi