Using Audio Recorders for Video Applications

Sound systems include audio signal pickup, transmission, and reception equipment for studio, podcast, or field video applications. Microphones, including wired and wireless, tabletop, handheld, and hands-free models are the audio signal receptacles. Transmitter equipment that carries audio signals from mics to sound-amplifying and recording units include cables for wired mics and in-line or external transmitters for wireless mics. Reception units, called recorders or receivers, include portable digital recording devices, field mixers for controlling the quality of multi-mic transmissions, and press boxes for sharing audio feeds among different broadcasting and recording media.


Types of Microphones

Various wired and wireless mics have different "polar patterns," or sound wave configurations, designed to pick up single voices, small group instrumentation, or omnidirectional sound. Single-voice recorder mics include shotgun mics, mounted on tabletops in front of speakers, and handheld mics for face-to-face interviews in the field, and solo performances. Dynamic and large and small diaphragm condenser mics come with direct and omnidirectional pickup. They can mount to booms out of camera range, or on mic stands for small group performances or instrumentation. Studio broadcast microphones largely have direct voice pickup. Boundary mics, which are omnidirectional, are normally wall mounted to pick up the sound of large conference venues.

Wireless mics provide freedom of movement. Perhaps the most versatile of the wireless group includes lavalier microphones, which clip onto lapels, neckties, or collars and plug into a radio frequency power module. They provide an omnidirectional polar pattern, so they pick up voices clearly, even when not directly in front of the sound source.


Receiver and Field Recording Equipment

In the field, portable audio digital recorders are compact, handheld devices that give users a way to record digital audio files such as WAV and MP3, and transfer the recordings via USB to laptops and computers. Some portable devices have built-in stereo mics, while others have inputs for external mics. Outputs are available for headphones, ear sets, and speakers. Many of these voice or music recorders offer integrated, multi-track recording capability, while some attach to DSLR cameras with video functionality. Most are also available with memory-card storage capacity that can range up to 1TB.

Also available are portable field mixers, giving production audio crews a way to adjust and control the quality of sound coming from one or multiple mics before recording. Some have up to eight mic inputs. While many offer outputs for hooking up independent recording devices or devices with built-in recorders, including DSLRs, video cams, and smartphones, many portable field mixers have integrated recording units, some with up to 16-track capabilities. The mixers let audio technicians adjust the balance and volume of sound from the mics, filter out background noise, and blend audio.


Communication Equipment

Audio gear for video applications also includes devices for communicating directions or conferencing among production teams. Equipment includes wired and wireless intercom systems, two-way radios, and megaphones for mass staffing in large field productions. The audio gear also includes IFB equipment that gives set directors one-way communication to on-air interviewers or news reporters.


Check out B&H Photo and Video for a full line of audio equipment to support video production.