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Equipment advice for a noob

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Old Sunday 11th February 2018, 00:02   #1
BoonHogganbeck
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Equipment advice for a noob

Ok, so I want to get into bird song recording. I've been birding for many years, but now have an interest in recording simply as a way to appreciate a new dimension of birding and to get re-acquainted with very familiar local birds.

My interest is not recording for documentation purposes, but to capture decent quality songs.

I don't want to spend an insane amount of money, but at the same time I don't want to buy equipment I'll soon grow out of.

That being said, I've been doing some reading and I'm pondering the following equipment to get started in this --

Portable recorder: Marantz PMD661
Microphone: Sennheiser ME66 or the ME67.

Can any comment on these or make recommendations? Is the ME67 significantly better than the ME66, or are they different instruments for different purposes?

What about recorders? Thoughts on the above, or other recommendations in the same ballpark in terms of price?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to link any relevant posts or equipment reviews as a way of answering.

Last edited by BoonHogganbeck : Sunday 11th February 2018 at 00:49.
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Old Sunday 11th February 2018, 09:06   #2
iveljay
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Busy at moment but the following will help with one of your questions.

http://recordingbirds.blogspot.co.uk...-and-me67.html
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Old Sunday 18th February 2018, 17:01   #3
iveljay
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I don't know anyone with the Marantz and most of my portable recorders are now discontinued, though still doing a good job. From a review I read, the Marantz seems to be relatively big, simple to use and strangely has a pair of built in stereo speakers. Its reviews seem a bit iffy too. However I have not seen one so cannot really comment.

To be honest, as long as the recorder has good pre-amps, most will give you a good recording. My advice is always get headphones for accurate monitoring and set up, none of my bigger recorders has speakers of any kind.

You don't say what you are going to use your recordings for, so its a bit difficult to understand the quality requirements. Remember, that a shotgun mike is designed to minimise sounds from outside its cardiac sensitivity pattern and does nothing to improve the distant quality of the birdsong. The main use of a shotgun mike is on a boom for fairly close up recording when it excels, but it doubles up for longer range work when you wish to exclude as many extraneous sounds as possible.

More directionality and potential quality come from parabolic systems, which are expensive, unless you build your own. The cheap ones will not give the quality you seem to seek.

We return again to the quality aspect, with the microphones you are discussing, you will not gain much in quality by spending a lot on a recorder.

If I was in the market for a new portable I might consider this:

https://www.sony.co.uk/pro/product/b...d100/overview/

or even

http://maaheli.ee/main/tascam-dr-100mkiii-quick-review/

However, I havn't used either of them. My favourites are long out of production, the Olympus LS-11 and Sony PCM-M10, of which the Sony is probably the more useful.

Unfortunately I have useable and reliable portables as noted above + a Tascam DR-40 and then for more specialised work use mains powered, multitrack portable studio recorders which are no real use for bird recording. The recorders in the links are what I might get if I wanted to replace my existing kit.

If you are really into the market for good professional field kit, then companies like CVP are a good source, however, I would urge you to gain experience before lashing out lots of money on a pro- quality recorder.

https://cvp.com/catalogue/department...nd+accessories

I note that they don't sell the Marantz, but they do sell recorders from under 100 to over 6,000, and I would tend to pick something in your price range and read the reviews. The recorder and microphones tend to be reliable and work, the problems tend to come from the wiring and the users. N.B. Note, as they are in the business of selling to film production companies etc., all of their prices are ex VAT. I only give you the link as they stock a very full range of suitable recorders and their list is rather more representative of the market place than say Amazon.

My concern is that there can be a fairly steep learning curve, and many people find getting good recordings consistently, takes time to achieve.

Last edited by iveljay : Sunday 18th February 2018 at 17:08.
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Old Monday 19th February 2018, 01:05   #4
BoonHogganbeck
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Thanks iveljay.

Since posting, I've have actually been looking at, and thinking about, both the Sony and the Tascam you linked to. The Tascam seems to have a much better price point and similar good reviews to the Sony.

I've been reading about and understand the mechanical and functional differences between the shotgun and parabola. The parabola sounds like the obvious better of the two, and it appeals to me, but also comes with a steeper price tag. So it's really a difference between what do I 'want' vs what do I 'need' to begin this as a hobbyist. I want to buy correctly the first time (to avoid double spending) but also would like to avoid unnecessary over-spending for my purposes.

I don't have any specific professional or scientific use for the recordings. It's more of a new way for me to continue to enjoy birding (I'm not into bird photography). I've been a computer engineer/programmer for a couple decades now (a little longer than I've been birding), so the idea of learning a new (to me) kind of tech (audio), learning bird-recording technique and learning and working with the associated software is attractive to me as a way to spend free time.

Anyway, thanks for your advice.

Last edited by BoonHogganbeck : Monday 19th February 2018 at 01:18.
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Old Monday 19th February 2018, 12:45   #5
iveljay
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One of the great things about audio recording is that unlike cameras and binoculars there is no arms race, I havn't come across an 'Alpha' microphone that all amateurs seek. The Sennheisers are a good way of starting, being reliable and capable of getting results that many users are more than happy with. I was mildly concerned that you had plans for commercial use of your recordings, where a bigger armoury of microphones is pretty essential.

One thing to budget for is an anti vibration mount as shotgun mics are very prone to handling noise, this is a relatively small expense.

Once you get going, you will work out what works best for you.

The price point that you are considering for the recorder is one where you can generally adjust recording volume with a dial rather than clicking buttons, this works better for me, but isn't essential. However do take some headphones or whatever for monitoring, this will at least help you in pointing the microphone in the best direction and get some idea what you are recording, otherwise it is a bit like trying to take a photograph without a viewfinder.

It can be frustrating at times - see previous threads, but its worth it.

Best of luck.

J
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