Needing some advice for a small budget sound recording setup...



I'm currently into a project where I'll be needing to provide sounds in various formats, covering a whole spectrum of topices (ambience, household, human, impact etc). I will need to be providing these in a variety of formats 44.1khz 16bit, 48khz 24bit, 96khz 24bit. The sounds have to be of a good and usable format for others to use in their multimedia projects.

Currently (and it's not much) but I have a MacBook Pro, an Apogee Duet interface, a AKG C 414 B-XLS microphone, a Zoom H2 and a Shure SM58 microphone.

When it comes to a setup sound stage to record sounds, I plan to use my MacBook Pro, the Apogee and my (and whatever other) mics. But out and about? I've found the Zoom H2 just doesn't cut it. The sounds it records are lifeless and dry, though I didn't expect much to be honest.

So I was looking into options for a portable digital recorder and other mics to get so I can really get this project going. I need some help! My budget is £600-£700 (which from what I can see isn't much).

The Tascam DR-100 looks good, as I'm thinking XLRs are important for this. But then what microphone to get? Do I get a shotgun and a stereo mic? Do I get two microphones and use them as a stereo pair? (but then what about travelling around with this?) Do I need to get a stereo and a mono microphone, or can I just use the stereo with one channel when it comes to recording mono? I hear the Tascam DR-100 is quite quiet when recording with the XLRs, so the gain has to be up, resulting in noise fuzz.

Even after deciding on what portable recorder, and what mic(s) to get, do I need a boom pole? A pistol grip? Wind protection? head is literally spinning with the options out there. And it's made tougher due to my small budget and the fact I have no real places to test all this stuff out before buying. I'm really concerned with quality, but I know my budget will sacrifice it. I want to ensure the very best for these sounds... Where do I turn?


Posted 2010-07-23T19:47:08.197

Reputation: 531

@Joe Thanks for putting me on to this. Looks like a good deal. I'm also thinking seriously about a Tascam HDP2. As I can seem to get one for about £600-ish. I'm thinking I may need to just rent the microphones (so that way I can get much better ones that 90% i wouldn't be using anyhow) – littlejim84 – 2010-07-25T16:54:32.893



Hey Jim,

I bought a DR-100 from Red Dog and yes I do find it noisy. The onboard mics are ok with the gain (the stereo pair of cardioids performs ok, but obviously the omnis are crap), but in XLR it's another story. The thing is I'm using an AT8015 that has a 250 ohms output. Since then I found out that you want your mic output impedance to be about a tenth of your preamp input impedance, which in the case of the Tascam is of 1.2kHz.

Iain McGregor suggested I get myself a Rode NT1-A since it's a non-expensive cardioid with lower self-noise. It happens that it has a 100 ohms output impedance which, in theory, fits the Tascam pretty well! I was looking at NT5's but I got recommended the NT1-A instead (in a low budget situation).

I got recommended the Tascam on GearSlutz for its preamps low noise floor, and I listened to recordings from it with a KM184, a 50 ohms output mic.

The Tascam is a joy to use otherwise, it just needs a roughly 100 ohms output impedance mic :)

EDIT: I had the same budget as you do and the Tascam was the best candidate I found. Then you'll probably want a cardioid condenser mic like the NT1-A. I don't think the wind kit fits in your budget and I don't feel like I can help any further.

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Justin Huss

Posted 2010-07-23T19:47:08.197

Reputation: 2 656

@Justin ...I've never heard about this before. And these ohm rating are listed with all microphone statistics? ...So you do recommend the Tascam DR-100, as long as I use it just for XLR inputs? The rest of the unit is cool? (all built in mics are going to be pretty rubbish really). I'm still not sure I understand how this ohms stuff works or relates to noise there... (sorry for my ignorance!) – littlejim84 – 2010-07-23T20:10:50.567

Sorry I assumed you'd be a bit more of a geek :D No offense! Look, here is a thread of mine: . You'll certainly be interested in looking at the article I was reading, to which I provide the link in one of the comments to my original post. It's a nice document to read, not long and it makes it all clear :)

– Justin Huss – 2010-07-23T20:28:32.137

@Justin Thank you for your detailed answer. It's helped me learn something new about microphones and has made me change my mind on what direction to take my setup. Thanks! – littlejim84 – 2010-07-31T16:33:48.577


I'm far from an expert on the subject, but I think a used Fostex FR2 would be in your budget, I hear they're pretty damn good.

Anyone else want to chime in with some experience on the subject?



Posted 2010-07-23T19:47:08.197

Reputation: 999

Do you mean the FR-2LE? Here is the thread I started on GearSlutz where I got recommended the Tascam :)

Still haven't tried the Fostex.

– Justin Huss – 2010-07-23T21:02:00.807

I'm reading the thread again and I can't even believe I was being such a pest :D And it was not so long ago... – Justin Huss – 2010-07-23T21:07:04.227

Oh yeah that's the one big problem with the Fostex: crappy headphones amp, noisy as hell... – Justin Huss – 2010-07-23T21:08:53.350

The LE is a cut down version, not read a lot about that, but the FR2 is the model that existed before it, I think supposed to be pretty good. – JTC – 2010-07-24T07:39:09.697

@Justin @Joe ...After thinking about it a bit more... I'm thinking the Tascam HDP2. I heard that is a very good unit and a little more sleak than the Fostex. Generally, the two seem to be of the same standard? Anyone have experience with the Tascam HDP2? ...I may just rent microphones, so I can get better ones. That way, still sort of in budget. A decent base recorder is my first port of call I'm thinking. – littlejim84 – 2010-07-25T16:56:26.307

The Fostex FR2LE is a great recorder for your price range. Fair enough, the headphone amp is louder than my more expensive recorder but for the price it is a quality piece of equipment to get going on. I still use it as a backup, ps if you end up buying it don't buy the case as it has next to no protection and is badly designed, I had to take a knife to it to even get my headphone socket into the unit. – Lenny – 2010-07-25T17:00:41.157

If you're looking at the HDP2 I would say its closest competitor is the Edirol R44, I haven't used any of these. I know @Iain McGregor owns the Edirol and certainly looked at both units before making up his mind. He might have something to say about these two recorders. – Justin Huss – 2010-07-31T19:53:40.310