Field Recording Gear Update – Autumn 2021
The time has come for the long-awaited Back Pocket Sound field-recording gear update.
Over the last ten years my passion for field recording has evolved from a curious side project, to a full-on addiction. As my recording opportunities grew, so did my gear requirements. Today I’d like to write about the investments I’ve made, and the different iterations of recording setups I’ve used. Let’s jump into it, starting with…
Nanuk 955 Hard Case – Gear Storage
In my humble opinion, there is no better option for hard cases than Nanuk. They are a Canadian alternative to the Pelican case, and take the win for me in both price and functionality.
This particular case is the Nanuk 955. It has a large surface area which allows me to have all my gear front facing. It’s also deeper than the average case, which gives me two layers of storage. I’ve had this case for 2 years now, and it’s served me incredibly well. It’s great piece of mind to have a safe and secure place for all of my important gear when it’s not being used. It also helps me stay organized. Everything has a place, so I always know where to find things.
I ordered this case from a Canadian realtor called Custom Case Company. I would highly recommend you check here first if you’re looking for a new case. They have a large selection of brands, styles and colours. The price was good and they were great to deal with.
What’s In The Case
In my Nanuk 955, I keep all my important and expensive gear. This includes all of my microphones, recorders, headphones, cameras, and lenses. Below the top layer, I have extra cables, adapters and mounts.
This is my microphone collection. Pictured from left to right we have:
- Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic with a Rycote Super-Shield Blimp
- Two Rode NT5 pencil condensers
- Neumann TLM103 LDC
- Shure SM58
- Two DPA 4061 lav microphones
- 2 AKG C411 / PP contact microphones
- Sony PCMD100 Handheld Recorder
- Zoom H6 Handheld Recorder
To be frank 90% of my Back Pocket Sound catalogue has been recorded on the Sony PCMD100 and the Zoom H6 with their internal microphones. As far as convenience goes, it’s hard to compete with the point-and-shoot nature of portable handheld recorders. Especially when I was just starting out, I needed things to be easy.
The Zoom H6 is such a great place to start for anyone wanting to start their field recording journey. It has all the convenience of a handheld recorder, along with four XLR inputs for external microphones, and an extremely fair price. I used this recorder exclusively for many years. I eventually invested in the Sony PCM D100 handheld recorder, which admittedly blew the Zoom out of the water for point-and-shoot recording. However my Zoom H6 remained my only way to record with external microphones, so it stayed very relevant in my kit.
That is until…
Sound Devices Mix Pre 10 II + K-Tek Stingray Small Recording Bag
This year I took a plunge and purchased my first proper field-recorder/mixer. After much deliberation, I opted to go with the Sound Devices Mix Pre 10 II. I used one back on a summer shoot, and was impressed with how intuitive the interface was. Five minutes into playing around with it, I knew how to do everything I needed to do. I didn’t need to be sold on the Sound Devices preamp and converter quality. Ever since I used the 744T in school ten years ago, I knew I wanted a Sound Devices recorder.
The sound bag I went with is the K-Tek Stingray Small Audio Bag. It says it’s designed for the Sound Devices 833, 888 and 633. But I have to say it fits my Mix Pre-10 perfectly. This bag has so many hidden nooks and cranny’s, giving you countless places to hold gear, tools and mounts. Sound bags are expensive and can be hard to justify, but every feature is designed with your recording equipment in mind. In my opinion, this bag is worth every penny.
Contrary to what some may say, you don’t need to break the bank to get into field recording. As stated above, 90% of the Back Pocket Sound catalogue was recorded with handheld recorders, and I think those recordings sound pretty great. Of course with every new investment my sound quality improved, but I have to tell you I’m still using sounds I recorded 10 years ago with a Zoom H1 pretty regularly when sound designing for commercials and film. I thank my younger self for not getting caught up in the gear I was using, and just recording because I liked to do it.
Often times the right sound is the right sound, and it doesn’t matter what it was recorded with, only that someone took the time to record it. Thank you for reading.