Dragging Gear

No audio this time folks, but instead questions.  I battle with my desire to drag gear everywhere, but often question whether or not it is worth it when I am just trying to relax and disconnect.  I wish I could drag my schoeps MS/rycote/sound devices package everywhere, but it is far from compact or lightweight, and since I have moved back to NYC I rely on public transportation.  That change means that heavy bags, and lots of gear are not always an option.

I’m curiious, and there some compact low noise packages that users have that work well for them?  I have a zoom H4 and dpa 4060s that I often take with me, but I am not entirely satisfied and often wish I had something small that could be handheld instead of having to mount the microphones in my hat.

Thanks for weighing in!

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  1. Hi Micheal,

    I’m using more or less the same setup. I do not have a problem with weight during my walks. I made a custom protection shield for my m/s windjammer so it won’t get damaged in my backpack. I used to have a much heavier set, so I was very pleased when I got this one. I also bought a very small tripod which fits in my backpack. So might it be a problem with pakaging?

    all the best

  2. Michael–
    Regarding the relative performance of small, built-in, hand-held arrays vs. larger ones, here’s a quick test Matt Blaze did: https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/type/public/media/Blaze_D1_D50_Hn4_LS10_ARESMII_MysSor3Lrg.mov

    I suggest studying it with both speakers and phones. Someone did a comparison test with a high density foam barrier between the built-in capsules. If you prefer more left/right separation, I would think this could be built into the wind protection solution. Rob D.

  3. Have you considered the “WHB” headband made by Sonic Studios?

    It’s made for the DSM mics but you can put the 4060s in it easily enough.

    I consider it a mandatory part of my DSM rig, I can’t imagine using them without it; and while I like my 4060-based HEBs as well, I rarely if ever use them for binaural style recording precisely because Len offers no similar mounting option. One of these days I may semipermanently mount the 4060s in the second WHB I have as a result; but I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of using the 4060s in small resonant spaces and crevices etc. so it’s useful to have them bare.

    The reason I suggest the WHB or a DIY approximation (tip: wire cages for sparkling wine + old headphones + alligator clips + baby socks + modest ingenuity = WHB stand-in) is that they make using the mics brain-dead simple.

    Personally I find it of value to be required to sit still and listen while recording, but that is of course a drawback of this approach — unless you come up with a decent false head, which is non trivial in my experience…

    Have you considered the Core ‘Tetramic’…? Not used it yet but was quite intruiged, with a bit of DIY you can modify an H2 to take four external inputs and you could rig up a pocket-sized ambisonics rig… not the quietist, true, but genuinely pocket-sized… plus tripod perhaps…:).


  4. I think it depends on how stealth you want to go. I often hike considerable distances to where I want to record, and have found that I can carry a lot in a midsize camera backpack. The backpack admittedly is deadweight upon arrival, but it makes transit easy. I can find a Rycote windscreen (mic(s) mounted inside), boom pole, lightweight tripod and mic boom arm, a SD 702 in a portabrace, cans, adapters, and even a spare mic or two in a single camera backpack. Some, like those made my ThinkTank, are pretty inconspicuous. A messenger bag that’s about 18-20″ wide has also totally worked for me, it’s just a bit more jumbly and the parts aren’t as well protected. Again, going stealth you’ll have even less kit, but this way I’ve been able to schlep without sacrifice! 🙂

  5. Binaural in ear maybe one option, cons: not able to monitor. A set of small 10mm omni’s modified for an ear like diffuse response (see the “bump mics” in my blog) either used as a spaced pair or in a sphere – is my preferred small rig.
    I use a lowepro “swing” bag designed for SLR cameras, I can just about get a sennheiser dummy head + recorders in that, or the sphere rig with modified mics.

    EQ’ed Free Field

    http://urlme.net/audio/xlrbmdemo.mp3 eq’ed free field

    or native sound


    Only problem with those is the max SPL is around 120 dBA.

    Mail me if you would like to discuss your requirements for the mics.


  6. Thanks for the comments folks. Nathan, was wondering if you might have a link that backpack? And I am less interested in the stealth nature of things, and more interested in having a flexible rig. I sometimes wish I had bough the CCM series of schoeps so I could have a much small zeppelin, but such is life.

  7. I use a Schoeps MS rig with a CCM4 and CCM8. The corresponding Rycote blimp is quite small. I use it with a Nagra V so, in comparison to your system, what I save in blimp size is almost certainly consumed in Nagra V size (not to mention the extra weight). It all fits into a Targus sports backpack.

    I have tried to replace it with a smaller rig from time to time, but the results always sound disappointing relative to the Schoeps/Nagra combo. I play them back at home and say to myself, “I should’ve made the extra effort and taken the Schoeps/Nagra rig”. Perhaps the difference is marginal, but there is always that feeling of disappointment that I’ve let my recordings down, and that they could’ve been better if I made the extra effort. (Not to mention the sonic consistency from recording to recording, which is important to me.)

    Having said that, the major component of the sound is from the microphones, IMHO. So perhaps you could sell your existing Schoeps MS rig and Rycote, and replace with CCM models and smaller Rycote blimp. Maybe that would solve the problem without creating any difference in the quality of your recordings…

    1. Thanks Greg. I’ve thought about selling the full size cmc’s but the price with the euro being what it is, the CCM’s are so expensive. I think that move is the dream of all dreams for me, but it might just take a little time and money.

  8. I, like Greg, have the CCM4/8 M/S in a Rycote blimp. (into a Sound Devices 702) But a recent overseas trip found me modifying my Rode blimp. My problem was the 150 mm diameter of the Rycote blimp seemed just a little too big to fit comfortably in a backpack. (Greg’s may be the smaller 100 mm diameter version) I’m sure it would have been OK, but the Rode is only 100 mm and while it doesn’t sound like much, it was considerably easier to find a pack that fits it without to much ‘squeeze’ factor. Shoot me an email & I’ll send some photos of the Rode. I ended up with a Kata 3n1 30 (also slightly modified) The other issue is that it was my first overseas trip so I was a bit freaked anyway before going so the worry about the blimp size may have been unwarranted.

  9. I can second Aaron Ximm’s comments about the simplicity of the HEB setup – I borrowed his for a trip, and it was a very simple and fluid way to record.

    John- Can you tell more about your Kata bag setup? I take it your pre-rigged mics/windscreen goes in the “camera with lens” spot, for easy access? Where do you put the recorder?

    I’m imagining a similar setup. (And I wonder if there are any dealers in the Bay Area that have a bunch of Kata bags to check out – so far I’ve tried a few and nobody has much.)

Michael Raphael October 10, 2009