Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Gadget Bag: Field Audio Recorders
Add sound to your video and slideshows
Putting together a top-notch slideshow is within reach of any nature photographer. Software like Adobe Lightroom, Apple iPhoto and Aperture, Boinx FotoMagico and Photodex ProShow Gold are just a few of the powerful options at your disposal for combining images, video and music into a show that’s far beyond anything we could do with film.
Including a soundtrack in your slideshow is as simple as clicking a box to add music, but there are occasions when one would prefer to have the sounds encountered while shooting instead of a melody from the iTunes library. If you’re shooting video with your DSLR and incorporating motion clips into your slideshows, you’ve probably already discovered that the internal microphones aren’t the best sound-capture devices. The sounds of a rushing brook can be overwhelmed by wind or just conversation among other people who are nearby. You can get a much better result with a dedicated audio recorder.
With features like directional microphones, high bit-rate recording and fast direct connections to a computer, compact field audio recorders are a far cry from the old microcassette devices that many of us would use to record field notes. In Gadget Bag, we’re presenting a number of recorders that you might consider. In future issues of OP, we’ll explore sound recording and how to use audio in more detail.
Despite its low estimated street price of $129, the Alesis PalmTrack is far from a low-end portable recorder. With four built-in microphones, the Alesis can record in several different modes, including omni and stereo, and you can plug an external mic into the 1⁄8-inch jack for more flexibility. The Alesis records WAV files up to 24-bit/48 kHz or MP3 files at 64-320 kbps, and it takes SD cards.
Fostex designed the FR-2LE for on-the-go field recording. Its rugged construction withstands rigorous usage, and its estimated street price of $599 gives you ample features. The FR-2LE has two built-in stereo microphones, with two XLR/TRS inputs with phantom power. You can record WAV files to a CompactFlash card at a rate of up to 24-bit/96 kHz. You also can record in MP3 format. A two-second “pre-buffer” records the two seconds prior to you hitting the button so you won’t miss anything. The FR-2LE also has Fostex’s one take=one file system, which is designed to prevent you from overwriting a file.
The Korg Sound on Sound is favored by musicians for its ability to record multiple parts on top of one another unlimited times. For a nature photographer, the most attractive aspects are the built-in, high-quality stereo microphones, compact size and reasonable cost ($299 estimated street price). The Sound on Sound records to microSD or microSDHC cards, and it takes AA batteries.
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