Audio Production from the Field
One of my first jobs in radio was for a small public FM in Santa Cruz, CA. We had a remote truck that was basically just a bunch of 1/4" stereo tape decks mounted in racks inside. It was, and remains, a great way for a radio station to present exclusive content. Stations with a long history often have quite a tape archive.
If you were charged with going into the field and capturing long-form programs in this day and age, how would you go about it? That's our topic this time around.
Clearly the way you would design your remote system would depend upon what you were planning on recording. For example, if you were planning on recording a speech, the requirements are obviously less than if you were planning on recording live music; and, if it is live music you intend to record, will it be a small ensemble, or a 20-piece band? Will you record that material as a single track, or multiple tracks? Do you intend to edit in the field, or will you send the entire thing back to your HQ, unedited? There are many details to consider, and quite a few items to have on hand to ensure success.
Microphones are an entire topic unto themselves so we'll just talk about them in the context of remote recording.
Many times you might find yourself recording a speech along with others - like at a press conference. The podium mic might have 12 outs available, and you might be the 13th person to show up; for this reason you always want to have some sort of microphone splitter along. Whirlwind is a good resource here: the IMP-Splitter-1X2 would be a handy item to have in your kit: XLR input, two XLR outputs, and a ground-lift switch. Likely you'll have multiples of this anyway.
Perhaps your assignment is to make a more complex recording - say a string quartet at the local university. Again, stereo mic techniques are an entire topic; but just to make it easier (and to perhaps whet your appetite for learning even more) you could simply take a stereo microphone with you. An easy solution would be the Rode NT4; this is two mics (matching capsules) physically mounted together, with a 90 degree, X-Y arrangement. It needs phantom power or a 9V battery. The unit comes with a custom stereo output cable (XLR or mini). Other examples would be the Tascam TM-STPRO or the Audio-Technica AT8022. These also have two capsules in the X-Y configuration and come with a custom stereo output cable. Both operate on phantom power or AA battery.
- continued on page 2
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