Portable Audio Recording Setup

Portable Audio Recording Setup
Portable Audio Recording Setup

Quiet on the pier, quiet on the pier! Why aren't the seagulls listening, I called for quiet? How's a fella going to record a voiceover when these gulls keep flapping and screeching in the breeze?

For everyone that's ever needed to record quality audio on location I've detailed my portable audio recording setup as an example of basic equipment to get the job done. You can watch the video, or listen to the podcast Episode to see it in action.

To begin with, consider what you need to record and why. In my case, I need to record my voice, in isolation, on a remote location without AC power. To facilitate my recording, I've enabled myself with a microphone, mic cable, digital audio converter, USB cable, laptop, mic stand, headphones and a minivan. I also brought my trusty assistant to capture the event for posterity.

Here's a breakdown of my gear.

Microphone – Electro-Voice MC200

Dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. This mic works just fine for me. It captures my tone accurately.

Headphones – Audio Technica ATH-M50

Our favorite headphones. One of the features that makes them really good for what we do - critical listening - is they are closed back so they reject some of the noise outside. When you're monitoring your recording at a remote location, these can be helpful as you try to figure out what the microphone is picking up and what it's not.

USB Audio Interface – Focusrite Scarlett Solo

My Scarlett Solo connects the microphone and headphones to the computer. It's a compact unit that runs off of USB power.

PC – Gateway 11.6” 2-in-1 Convertible Notebook

This tiny Windows PC has enough oomph under the hood to record using Adobe Audition for hours on end. You can record a lot before needing a recharge, even while powering the Scarlett Solo.

Voice recording is mono, not stereo, so a small PC can do quite a lot. I wouldn’t use it for multitrack audio recording, nor for recording video, but for voiceover this little unit is just the right fit. It’s super light, super quiet, and it gets the job done every time.

Mic Boom Stand – Proline MS112 Desktop Boom Mic Stand

Holding a microphone in your hand gets tedious. It also allows unwanted noises (thumps, bumps, etc.) To avoid concerns, I use a desktop boom mic stand. It has a weighty base that holds his microphone solidly in place. There are several adjustment points which allow for good, close mic placement.

Minivan - late model

Modern minivans offer a lot of space and really good acoustics in two dimensions. With windows up and doors all closed the weathertight seals block outside noise. Additionally, the interior is designed to mitigate reflected sounds from being an issue. This coupled with the soft, sound absorbing materials used in the cabin make the entire vehicle somewhat of a vocal booth.

The process.

I drive to location, set up my setup, hit record and capture the good vocals I need. I can review all the audio there on the spot, ensuring I've captured the perfect take. I can then return to my desktop setup and work with the resulting audio. If I want the ambient sounds of the location, I simply roll down the window.

If you'd care to share your remote setup, please reach out to us and do so.

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