Microphone For Beach Recording
September 17, 2011 9:22 PM   Subscribe

I plan to go to the beach with my laptop and record the sound of the waves for an hour. What microphone type/ brand (not crazy expensive) would I need to do this?

Yes, I know I could buy a recording already, but my goal is to create a serious of mnemonic recordings. My favorite beach, the crickets outside my house etc.

Any tips on how to deal with wind issues on the beach would be awesome too.
posted by forallmankind to Technology (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You will be fine with a digital audio recorder in the $100-$300 price range. Most of these will include built in stereo mics that are very good. You will also want a fuzzy wind screen. Solid foam does almost nothing to reduce wind noise.

I've got a Sony M10, but the Zoom H2n or H4n are both fine, as are the Tascam DR series.

The recording gear FAQ over at taperssection is a good place to start as long as you try to stay within your budget. No need to buy an $800 mic, $500 preamp and $700 recorder for your first field recording experience.

I strongly encourage you (and anyone else) to grab a nice digital audio recorder and try out a project like this. Recording, and then listening to, the world around you will change the way you perceive the world. Your brain filters out most of the sound around you. When you start paying attention, you will be amazed at the things you hear, and the way various sounds and spaces interact. Places that were extremely boring previously will be much more interesting.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:36 PM on September 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Do you want stereo or mono? If you're okay with mono, I'd use an AT-2020 USB; I use several of those and the mic quality and A-D converter quality are great for the money. More than you'd get from an onboard sound card.

If you want stereo, I'd look at a portable digital recorder, like a Zoom H2, or better, a H4N. Or you could just use two mono USB mics in a stereo array...
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:10 PM on September 17, 2011

b1tr0t has it. A digital recorder will be much easier to deal with than your laptop, and it'll probably provide better results. They're pretty inexpensive.

If you want to improve on the sound from there, you could get a starter microphone and a battery box (see b1tr0t's links for more on that -- you shouldn't need to spend much more than $100 total on these your first time out).

One major advantage: if you buy a decent cardioid or binaural stealth mic you could easily start getting into recording gigs and the like, if you have any interest in that.
posted by vorfeed at 10:19 PM on September 17, 2011

Note that the Sony M10 will go for hours and hours on a pair of eneloop AAs. I've done 8-hour urban soundscape recordings from a hotel room window with no problem.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:27 PM on September 17, 2011

Build it yourself. You buy Panasonic WM-61A mic capsules for $1 a piece. Then you can build something really simple:
Super simple recipe at DIYAudio.com

Or do the "Linkwitz mod" to the capsules which increases sound quality:
MonkeyPhones - simple and concise overview and explanation
– Here's the verbose and technical original at revered audio engineer Sigfried Linkwitz's site
Nice and concise recipe

Cheap, educational, sounds awesome. Sounds as good or better than the portable recorders. (Check the sample mp3s at the MonkeyPhones site.) The readymade portable recorders use the same type of capsule. The capsules in the Linkwitz mic are considered one of the best capsules, and have a very good design around them by Mr. Linkwitz.
posted by krilli at 5:59 AM on September 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

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