I’ve completed the first season of The Stitch TV Show and it has been quite the journey. One of the biggest challenges was getting good audio on a budget. Being a semi professional composer I had a few tools at hand. One was a 10 channel SoundCraft mixer that we actually didn’t deploy until a few episodes in.
We started out with a Tascam DR-40 handheld recorder. In the first episode the girls had a board on the table at an angle with their logo on it. I hid the recorder underneath and pointed the microphones towards them. It didn’t sound bad at all. Well, they decided to get rid of the board and so them I mounted the Tascam on a boom mic above. This was actually slightly better.
We ended up getting some inexpensive Lav Microphones. After doing a bit of research I settled on two of the Audio Technica ATR3350iS lav mics for smartphones. They are fairly small and they come with a wired in power module and 20 foot cable.
In my naivete, I thought a couple of the ⅛ inch to ¼ stereo adapters would be good enough to get the audio in to the XLR/Instrument inputs on the DR-40. Wrong! No matter how hard you cranked the preamp the4 signal just wasn’t loud enough. The I found the “Secret Sauce” I bought two Rode VXLR Adapter for VideoMic Mini-Jack adapters. Bingo! Those guys worked like a charm.
I was around this same time when I consulted with a few of my pro audio colleagues and they suggested I use the SoundCraft mixer I had as a preamp. SoundCraft is known for super quiet gear. So now my signal flow was this: ATR3350iS => Rode VXLR Adapter => SoundCraft Compact 10 Mixer => Tascam DR-40 on the XLR inputs.
The total cost for everything but the mixer when I purchased them was as follows:
- 2 Audio Technica ATR3350iS Lav Mics $60.00
- 2 Rode VXLR Adapters $20.00
- 1 Tascam DR-40 Recorder $140.00
That’s a grand total of about $220.00 which is about what you might spend on one decent microphone.
The setup isn’t perfect but it does the job. I do have to do some processing in post to tweak the audio. I’ll talk about that next time.