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.Use microphone SYNCO D30 for field recording

Photo by samuele_cavicchi


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, just check the article How to use studio recording microphone to get pro sounds? to get some knowledge.

Five requirements on microphone used for field and location recordings

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 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 use the microphone for outside. 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 microphone 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 microphone without cable like wireless mic or microphone that directly plugs into your device is ideal.

Types of microphone recommended

There are a wide range of recording mic brands 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, what kind of microphone can be applied? 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 of microphones used are different.

For recording in the fields, a lavalier microphone is recommended. It is a tiny microphone that is 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 microphone 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 microphoneShotgun microphone for location recording SYNCO D2

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 microphone, the medium shotgun microphone has a more directional pickup pattern and rejects more off-axis sound. A medium shotgun microphone 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 microphone angle can cause a significant decrease in audio.


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