Compact high quality sound effects / ambience recording rig


I am new to field recording (being a musician and sound designer)and am looking to create a portable stereo recording rig to record sound effects and ambiences. So far i only recorded indoors. (except for some bad h4n experiments).

I basically need to invest in a full rig and want it to be of very good quality from the get go to avoid having to upgrade soon. low noise and light weight.

1.Low noise mics able to fit in a compact Rycote rig Question:Any suggestions for a compact and future-proof set of mics? Maybe go modular with the Schoeps system? I think i want to do mono and M/S recordings mostly.

2.Recorder (either SD Mix-Pre + D50, or a 702) Question: Which option of the two above would you recommend? Or are there any alternatives in that price range that offer the same quality / durability but are more compact or lighter? I tend towards the 702 without the HDD to save weight, or maybe that is a bad idea?

3.Rycote modular kit. I suppose thats the best way to go for pistol grip and wind protection, thinking that i may change to a different mic combination at some point?

Any suggestions would be very helpful.

Thanks a lot!


Posted 2014-07-10T10:13:36.013

Reputation: 155

1while this is more a buyers advice question than a sound design question, i think you could help us answer your questions, by letting us know what type of material your interested in recording. loud sounds or very quiet atmospheres require different microphones and recorders. and a location/budget would help also. – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-10T10:35:36.983

Hi, I know, and i feel a bit bad for asking here. Maybe there are still some opinions on the above.. I would be interested in rather quiet atmospheres, some medium loudness sfx, i am not trying to record gunshots... Budget would be in the range of examples above. I'd be willing to pay more now to have something decent, rather than upgrading in the near future. – dadad – 2014-07-10T10:52:35.820

1hi dadad, don't feel sad :) it's more interesting than a "how to plug in a cable to your mixer" question. field recording is a design process just as much as editing sounds for a game or film. so in the future don't hesitate to ask questions on this topic! – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-10T11:27:56.347

2agreed. this question is entirely appropriate for this forum. Further questions before I dive in with an answer - why is weight so important? are you backpacking? is weight more important than durability? – Rene – 2014-07-10T13:57:38.677

1Thanks Rene! Well, i would like to keep it as compact as possible because: – dadad – 2014-07-10T14:15:16.853


  • I like the option of travelling and riding my bike taking the rig with me. I will be touring by bike anyways quite often, and it would be great to just have a compact setup with me all times. And yes, backpacking is a possible scenario too. But this may be an unrealistic option... so its not an absolute requirement. But i think i'd favour something compact over multiple heavy items. I dont want to trade that off to quality which is why probably i'll have to settle with a 702? I think the 702 might be compact and lightweigt enough unless there are options in the same quality. Thanks!
  • < – dadad – 2014-07-10T14:23:07.250



    Ok, so for backpacking and biking, here are the component parts:

    recorder: SD 702 - quality sound, durable build, simple operation. Its the heavier and bulkier of the viable options, but it won't ever fail you.

    SD mixpre + Sony PCM M10 - still quality sound, lighter and more compact, but also a little fiddlier since you're dealing with two devices that are tied together with a 3.5mm plug on either end. Metering on the mixpre is good, but not as good as the 702. You can get excellent results with this rig, but its more of a hassle to set up.

    mics: line audio CM3s wide cardioids - inexpensive, super tiny, sound great, low self noise but also require more preamp gain than other mics. Not the most appropriate mics for quiet ambiences, but very good for everything else.

    DPA 2006c omnis - medium expensive great quality, perfect for ambient sounds, super tiny. Omnis have thier own unique charachteristics and challenges, but properly applied they do what others cant.

    Schoeps MS rig (CMC6 x 2 with mk8 and mk4 capsules)- expensive, excellent sound, industry standard. This rig has character and gets the midrange just right. handles transients very well. sensitive to humidity.

    Sennheiser MS rig -(MKH30 and MKH50) more linear than the schoeps rig, quieter than all other mics listed here. very robust in adverse conditions. MKH 50 is my favorite mic in the world at the moment.

    wind protection: Rode Blimp - biggest blimp, slightly heavier, better suited for internal ORTF mounts than the Rycote blimps

    Rycote blimp - most expensive blimp, too small to mount even the tiny mics ORTF inside.

    Rycote MS blimp - fattest blimp, also expensive, does its job perfectly.

    DPA foam windscreens - super light and portable, will protect in winds up to about 10mph, after that it starts breaking down. very transparent sound.

    mic stand - use a superlight camera tripod with a thread adapter. sturdy and light.

    Also consider making a custom 5 pin xlr cable with breakouts. It will be eaiser to wrangle when out in the world. I love mine.

    my personal superlight go rig is the Line Audio CM3s, mixpre plus PCM M10, and the DPA windscreens. all fits in a messenger bag.


    Posted 2014-07-10T10:13:36.013

    Reputation: 10 706

    Wow. Thank you so much Rene. That was exactly the information i needed. I'll let it sink in for a bit,do some reaearch and may post some follow up questions here, but thanks again for the head start on the subject! – dadad – 2014-07-10T20:53:32.073

    Perfect post from Rene. I have a 702/Schoeps MS combo myself and have recorded everything from gunshots to morning dawn chorus with it. For what you're after I couldn't recommend it more highly! I did a blog post on it years ago if you want to check it out -

    – Joseph Dutaillis – 2014-07-11T00:01:16.083

    Plus one on the mkh50 (it's a magical microphone)! And regarding those dpa foam windscreens, do you have a link rene? – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-11T17:45:02.880

    Ahh those! Sorry i thought you were talking about windscreens for other mic's. I ue bumblebee's for my dpa's, awesome windprotection, available in lot's of colours. – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-12T09:32:47.917


    Another tip if your packing for ultra light situations: buy a nagra sd and a pair of dpa 4060's or 4063's. And get wired coathanger as a stereo bar. You can look at a binaural setup here (not my site BTW).

    But I agree with Rene that the 702 is perhaps a better allrounder that lasts a long time. You can pick them up second hand for a good price nowadays. Do prepare to invest in good batteries (spent money on good ones, not knock off's or fake ones).

    Arnoud Traa

    Posted 2014-07-10T10:13:36.013

    Reputation: 2 886

    I <3 my PowerEx rechargeables. – AJ Henderson – 2014-07-11T22:09:15.967

    Hi AJ, those look like AA type batteries, i was referring to these types:

    – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-12T09:37:13.513

    Aren't those kind of bulky? I mean, they are big right? – Arnoud Traa – 2014-07-13T16:58:05.507


    If you already have h4n plug it into SD mixpre. If you need a budget stereo pair Rode nt5 pair is ok imo.


    Posted 2014-07-10T10:13:36.013

    Reputation: 496