• Huge selection of professionally recorded sound effects.
  • No-Risk Guarantee: If you don't end up using the sounds, let us know
    within 30 days and we will re-credit you.
  • 5 free sound effects each week in your free user account.
  • Royalty-Free use in all your media productions, forever.
  • More discount the more credits you buy - up to 40% off everything!
  • Standard WAV files, CD-quality or higher.
  • Read more on our info page and in our blog .

Friday, August 26, 2016

Choking, gurgling, wheezing and dying sounds added today

Today at 1SoundFX.com we have added 20 great new "human vocalization" sounds to our sound library. Sounds of shouting and screaming, gurgling in blood, wheezing and gasping for air, shushing and evil laughs, spitting and choking. We think you'll find these "close up" sounds a powerful addition to your media production, be it a film, game, or other media. Enjoy! Here they are: https://1soundfx.com/search?title=a20160826&sort=createdAt

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Ambient Horror / Mystery / Crime / Scifi soundscapes

Today we've added 149 new sounds to the selection here at 1SoundFX.com and I'm not going to list them all, as they are spread out among a wide variety of sound effect categories; representing everything from evil witches incantations, to a regular person taking a shower, of clothes being moved, keys being rattled, gentle wind blowing through trees and much, much more.

But I wanted to stop for a moment to showcase a few sounds that I think are a bit special, and very useful for horror films, mystery and crime, stalkers and creeps. These individually created and carefully crafted "sound beds" just stay in the background and provide a nervous tension, a somewhat sickly feel. Let's have a listen!

Horror Sound Bed 01. A bleak, desolate, mystery / horror sound bed. Creepy and cold.

Horror Sound Bed 02. A dark and threatening, unstable and sickly feeling underscore / background drone for horror and mystery.

Horror Sound Bed 03. A creepy and cold, eerie and suspenseful underscore drone, for horror and mystery.

Sci-Fi Mystic Sound Bed 01. An unstable, uneasy drone with creepy sound elements. Mysterious, cold, foreboding.

Like I said, these were just 6 out of the 149 new sounds added here today. I hope you "enjoyed" these, even if they are pretty dark and gloomy. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beautiful, mysterious, haunting sound textures from Sampleconstruct

If you're looking for unique, spacey, beautiful (some times in a dark way) ambient sounds, you should check out some of the work of one of our regular contributors, Sampleconstruct. Here are his 5 latest creations - haunting and eerie, strangely beautiful sound beds:

Use these sounds safely in your film, game, app, in-public presentation or any other media project. Your purchase at 1SoundFX.com includes a license for commercial exploitation of the sounds in business, and in public.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When an Orc visited our studio this week

Making sound effects and recording sounds is fun. But some times it can be grueling, hard work, and this was the case when 1SoundFX.com owner and sound contributor Bjorn Lynne decided to add some mega intense Orc / Beast vocalizing sounds to our catalog this week.

On the left, me, leaving it all out there in search of beastly howls and growls. On the right, how I felt after doing that for about an hour.
I created the sounds in the "old school" way, quite simply by shouting very loudly into a microphone. I tried to do a variety of shouts, howls, growls, grunts and other vocalizations. :-). The sounds were then pitched down by -2 semitones, just to make them that little bit deeper.

The result: 59 Orc sounds which can be found at 1SoundFX.com by doing an exact search for LYN149 as that has been added as a Keyword to each of these sounds.

I then took the same raw recordings and post-processed them differently, with a more heavy handed approach this time. The raw recordings were pitched down -3 semitones and placed on one audio track. Another copy of the same recording was placed on another audio track and pitched down -5 semitones, so that the two sounds were playing on top of each other with slightly different pitches (but the same duration). I panned these two layers slightly left/right, and the result is a deeper, richer, scarier stereo version of each sound. These sounds appeared to me to emanate from something even more malevolent than an orc, so I decided to call these sounds Demon Beast and you can find these sounds by going to 1SoundFX.com and doing an exact search for LYN150, which is a keyword that I applied to each of them in the database.

The LYN150 / "Demon Beast" sounds are deeper, meatier, punchier, richer and maybe more "impressive" to the ear; part of the reason being that they are in stereo, so the sound is wide and rich.

But the LYN149 / "Orc" sounds are more suitable for certain applications, because they are in mono, they can better be positioned, for example, within a 3D game world where the sound would emanate from a point - not from a stereo source - and also, they are "less processed" so they sound a little bit more realistic.

All in all, it took one full day of recording and processing sounds. I think the results are pretty good. I hope that these sounds will find their way into some cool productions - games, videos, commercials, presentations, animations etc. - over the next few years. I hope you'll find them useful.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to write Sound Blog articles

You’ve just crawled out of a taxing Foley recording session. Perhaps you’ve returned to the studio after hours trudging through wilderness recording atmospheres. Sound work requires stamina. Who has time or energy at the end of the day to compose a fascinating 1,000-word article for your sound blog?

But yet, you must. I wrote in my previous article that you must blog about sound. However, the problem remains: how do you find the time and energy to represent your work and ideas, and network with others? Isn’t there a cheat sheet for writing about sound?

Today’s article will explain how you can write posts that will represent you well, and connect you with others. Of course, the articles won’t write themselves. However, the tips here will help give your writing direction and strength, and keep your readers coming back for more.

Four Blog Writing Hazards

Field recording, sound design, and editing are complex crafts. You can learn quite a bit in schools and workshops. However, there is always more that can be absorbed. There are dozens of tips and tricks that are only discovered over time. New recordists and even seasoned pros love the craft of sound. They’re always eager to learn more. Sound blogs are a powerful way to share and learn. I shared seven reasons for starting a sound blog in the last post.

So, the need for a sound blog is clear. It benefits your career. There are perhaps under 50 sound blogs on the Web. They range from personal diaries to massive sites, such as designingsound.org. This is good, but, compared to the number of sound pros, it’s actually a small number. Then why aren’t there more sound blogs?

Unfortunately, it’s easy for a blog to fade away. Here are reasons why this happens:
  1. Lack of time. Writing takes time and concentration. Sound editing and field recording are demanding crafts. Schedules are long, and narrow deadlines can appear suddenly. Blog writing can quickly become a distant priority.
  2. Lack of topics. What do you write about? What would be interesting to readers? Isn’t everything written already?
  3. Writer’s block. The battle is not over after you’ve decided on a topic. Many writers describe the terror of facing the blank page. They stare at their computer screen for hours. They simply don’t know how to start.
  4. Atrophy. Writing anything on a sound blog is a success. It’s tricky, though, to keep this going. Your publishing schedule may slip as a new gig demands more of your time. And, as it does, your readers fade away.
These issues aren’t as bad as they seem, however. You will overcome these problems, and I’ll show you how.

What a Good Blog Looks Like

First, let’s see what draws a reader to a blog.
  • The stories must be fresh. Popular blogs have compelling posts that make readers visit, and stay to read more.
  • The blog must be updated regularly. As they say, no one would visit the New York Times if had the same front page every day. Articles must be released on a predictable schedule.
  • Good blogs have strong writing. You don’t need to be Shakespeare, of course. However, you must be able to communicate ideas clearly. Spelling errors and bad grammar drain a reader, too.
  • Communication. Visitors become readers. Readers become fans. Unlike newspaper journalism, these people want to be included in the discussion. Good blogs facilitate communication. This includes commenting, as well as clear links to the stock social media sites.
  • Decent design. There’s no need to have Apple’s UI team design your blog. However, the layout does need to be presentable. That includes text itself. Walls of text dumped upon pages with a jarring colour scheme guarantee visitors will flee within seconds.
What about sound blogs? What makes writing about audio appealing?
  • Sound. What sound blog would be complete without audio? Field recording missions share attempts, successes, and samples. New libraries tempt with clever previews. Good sound blogs pair audio with text. Embed sound snippets using SoundCloud, or a native audio plug-in.
  • Simplicity. Field recording and sound editing are complex crafts. Ideas must be explained clearly and simply. Sound blogs that parcel procedures and techniques into simple, bite-sized steps are better. Simple, informative posts become the most popular sound articles.
  • Good sound blogs describe the process. They may explain a field recording shoot, or a mixing tutorial.
  • Images. All good blogs posts include images. It’s especially essential for sound blogs. Are you describing an elaborate microphone arrangement? Have you arranged a complex chain of plug-ins? Photographs and screen shots break up heavy technical text, and explain how to get things done in precise detail.

Broad Decisions

The best way to start writing a sound blog is to decide the biggest decisions first.

  • Choose your audience. Who is visiting your blog? Yes, they are sound pros. Wait. Or are they? Maybe you’d think so because you’re a pro yourself. But it’s more likely that it is beginners who are drinking up every tip you’re pouring out onto your blog. Don’t stop there. Dig deeper. Sure, readers are interested in sound. But are they field recordists, sound editors, mixers, or Foley recordists? Your writing fortifies as your audience narrows. It becomes specific, more pertinent, and increasingly prized the more intimately you address your audience.
  • Is it a you blog or a me blog? A me blog writes about yourself, the author. For example, this type of blog may list your journey discovering field recording, or experimenting with a suite of plug ins. It’s a diary. Readers love these sites because they offer a glimpse into a professional’s life. Me blogs may also be used for promotion. This is a great idea, since there are few ways for a freelance sound pro to get noticed, or break into the industry. The articles may guide readers toward products at a store. They may highlight the author’s skills, leading them to hire their services. A you blog may write about similar topics, but its approach is completely different. It’s written specifically to help others. Because of this, the writing is shaped so that it can be understood by beginners of the craft. These blogs are incredibly helpful, become popular, and cultivate loyal fans.
  • Good blogs offer something of value. People visit blogs because they get something from them. They may learn a new trick or technique. They may read a review for gear they were considering buying. The writing may be entertaining. Whichever the case, readers visit a blog because they are want something. Your blog must help them. If it doesn’t, there’s no point for anyone to visit, is there? The idea is that your sound blog must be created to provide value not just for yourself, but for others, too.
  • Choose a maximum of four topics. Share with readers a limit of only four storylines. They can be we whatever you like, however you must be consistent. Varying topics confuses readers. They won’t know what to expect. Does your blog share video tutorials? Does it describe how to record ADR properly? Maybe you interview pros. Your blog presents your professional identity, online. A concise identity sticks in people’s minds. Are you the blogger that knows everything about Waves plug-ins? Or are you the writer that covers microphones, music production, and community events? Too many topics dilutes your message, and loses your identity in the chatter. You can strengthen your identity by focusing on a maximum of four topics. For example, I write about field recording sound effects worldwide, creativity, and sharing sound on my blog, jetstreaming. I don’t write about studio recording, mixing, or dialogue. That means readers know what to expect and look for when they visit my site. It creates a destination.
  • Your writing must be original. I don’t mean avoiding plagiarism. That’s obvious. What I mean is that no one wants to read the same tired subjects. That includes reviews of old gear or describing established techniques. That’s boring. It’s unhelpful. You won’t be able to pierce the noise with bland topics. Instead, provide a new spin on an old idea. Write a post that differs from prevailing opinion. Criticize established ideas (respectfully, of course). Bring together unusual subject combinations, and discuss. Take your work in a new direction, perhaps by describing a unique combination of atypical gear, a new style, and a novel subject.
  • Write about what you’ve accomplished. Describe your experiments. Feature your successes. The point is that you’re writing about what you’ve already done. Writing about what you plan to do isn’t as valuable. Readers value your experience instead. Time, combined with experience, provides a reflective perspective that readers value.
  • Be natural. Avoid sales pitches. Don’t use blatant promotion. Why? No one wants to spend their free time reading advertisements. Instead, write about what you feel. Share your thoughts, and your experiences. Write in the same way you’d speak to a friend. Readers can sniff out when you’re trying to manipulate them to purchase something. Avoid this.

We Need You to Write

You bring something unique to your craft. Yes, everyone knows how to use the same software, and microphones. We’ve all heard the stock sound effect tricks, and microphone mounting tips. But you, as a creator, offer a perspective that is more important than stats, charts, and to-do lists.

This is why you must write. These ideas define your personality, craft, and creativity. When you share them online, you begin to shape your career for others to see. You help them on their own journey. This combination creates a tight mesh of fans, collaborators, and peers. It’s what makes the sound community grow, with a pleasant bonus: it amplifies your own craft as well.

About the author: Paul Virostek travels worldwide recording the sounds of cities and cultures. He shares his collection at airbornesound.com, and writes about his experiences field recording, and sharing sound effects at jetstreaming.org. He is also the author of "Field Recording: from Research to Wrap - An Introduction to Gathering Sound Effects", which was published in 2012.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why you must start a Sound Blog

Writing helps you in several ways
How do you start a sound editing career? How can you begin and grow a network? How do you “break into the industry?”

These are some of the most common questions new sound pros want to know. But, despite a cascade of Google search results, the answer remains unclear.
I’ve been field recording sound effects since 1996, and blogging about creativity, and sharing sound since February 2011. I’ve found that while the question is indeed a tricky one, it’s essential to answer.
The easiest, and quickest way to break into sound and begin a network is by starting a sound blog.
Today I’ll share why you must start a sound blog. I’ll explain how you can do this, and include tricks that will help you build an attractive blog, and share your thoughts and discoveries with your fans.

Why Blog?

Blogging isn’t new. In fact, as of February 2011, there were over 156 million blogs on the Web. You may wonder how a blog can help you if it is merely one in a flood of others.
Also, you likely know that blogging is commonly used to share written articles. But aren’t writing and sound production radically different crafts? Yes. How, then, can something so different as writing help with your sound career?
The answer is that constant, valuable, and reliable information is scarce. This is especially true in the sound community. It’s not that existing blogs are poor. There are many excellent sound blogs on the Web. It’s just that there are so few of them, and they’re not regularly updated. Sound schedules are demanding. It’s hard for a sound designer to carve time from their schedule to write every week. A blog that releases a steady stream of valuable information is attractive, and invites traffic.
Another reason is because of sound professions themselves. There are so many creative and technical nuances to the craft that no college course can cover the black magic tricks the sound pros know. With a few clicks you can share your knowledge with millions instantly. In this way, a blog is a publishing tool. It removes the need to learn code, or even design. Instead, you can simply share your ideas with other sound pros easily.

Seven Reasons Why a Sound Blog Helps You

That explains how blogs are appealing to others. How can a blog help you?
1.   It offers a constant flow of information. Blog articles are time-based. The most recent is always seen first, and others ripple down beneath it. Regular articles keep you relevant with the community. A blog provides up-to-the-minute answers about the work you do for curious fans.
2.   Blogging is your online resume. It creates a timeline of your successes and gig history. It shows what you have achieved and what you are capable of to anyone who Googles your name.
3.   A blog is your demo reel. Embed sound and video into your articles to showcase your skills with a single click.
4.   It evolves your craft. You may write orchestral opuses. You could be a plug-in sampling wizard. Your blog can help you evolve these ideas, and explore your creativity. It’s a way of fulfilling your creative vision beyond audio itself.
5.   You own the content. You may already be sharing news on Facebook or on Twitter. Using third-party services like these are good first step. However, they have a problem. You’d don’t own your words. You can’t alter how they’re portrayed much. When you blog, you control every aspect of what you share, how it looks, and how long it remains on the Web.
6.   You design your own PR. Are you proud of your talents? Want to showcase your work, ambitions, and goals? You may wait forever for another blog to discover you. Worse yet, they may misrepresent your aims when they do. Use your blog to cultivate your preferred professional image yourself, instead.
7.    It provides instant and free, massive exposure. “Location” doesn’t exist on the Web. Every site is a neighbour to another. A blog lets you share each of the points above on a vast scale. You can connect with millions instantly, then broaden and mesh with these people until they become your network.

Blogging Options

So how do you begin? The first step is to pick a blogging platform. There are dozens available. Most platforms are split between self-hosted or web-based.
Self-hosted means you build and maintain the skeleton of the blog yourself. It requires you to pay a yearly fee for a server computer to host your files. You also need to buy a domain name. And, finally, you’ll need to install the software on this computer yourself. It’s more work, but this option allows you great flexibility to control the design and structure of your blog. The result often looks more professional.
You can also choose to a web-based platform. There’s no need to download software and install it on a host you rent. You merely need to log onto the platform site, then compose your articles within a Web browser on that site. You’ll avoid coding errors, conflicts, and bugs that may occur if you host and modify the blog yourself. Web-based blogging is usually bulletproof and problem free. The trade off is that you have less flexibility with design decisions, your site name, and other options. Some web-based platforms, such as wordpress.com, Google’s Blogger, and Yahoo!’s Tumblr are free. Others, such as TypePad and Squarespace, cost a yearly fee.

Popular Options

WordPress is currently the most popular blog platform on the Web. It’s used by Fortune 500 companies. The software is sophisticated and bug-free.

How Do You Choose?

Which do you pick? The decision depends on:

Big Decisions

  • Your budget. Hosting your own site will cost you around $75 a year. If you choose to host on an existing site, the price is $0.
  • How much customization you need. Do you have a radical idea for your sound blog’s layout? Self-hosting will allow you to tweak every pixel of your site.
  • How much work you want to do. You can begin blogging in minutes with options like Blogger and TypePad. Hosting your own blog takes time and effort before you begin writing your first post. You need to install the software yourself, set preferences, design, and so on, all before you begin writing your first sentence.
  • Community. A strong blogging community means vast forums with support for any problem you may encounter.
  • Plug-Ins. This is a big one. Each platform begins with a bare-bones installation. Plug-ins are small software packages that enhance your blog. Examples are displaying a Twitter feed, your Facebook friends, latest photos added, and so on. A large amount of plug-ins means that you can customize your site to match your precise needs, without sacrificing power, or having to hire coders.

Smaller Features

Once you’ve decided on the broader scope, consider what smaller features you want on your sound blog.
  • Social media. A hidden blog is worthless. You must connect with others. Can your platform mesh with Twitter, Google+, or Facebook? Is RSS baked in? Does it support mailing lists?
  • Media access. Is it easy for your blogging platform to add YouTube videos, or SoundCloud audio snippets? You work with sound daily. It’s essential to have a way to describe your work beyond words using sound and video. What about photos? Most platforms can add photos easily, but can they display many of them attractively in a gallery?
  • Design flexibility. Blogging platforms are able to change their design quickly via themes or skins. Browse blogs already created using the service you’re considering. Do they have a “cookie-cutter” look to them? Do they all look the same? Are there many free themes? Are there premium, paid themes available? Is it easy to switch between them?
  • OS support. Is it easy to access the admin on your OS, or preferred browser? What about viewers? Is your blog responsive, or accessible equally on desktop, laptop, and mobile browsers?
  • Comments. It’s important to communicate with your readers. Are visitors able to leave comments? Can the blog filter out spam, or moderate comments? Is there a method to alert you to new comment submissions?
  • Tracking. Knowing which posts are popular with your fans allows you aim future articles. Web stats and Google Analytics integration allow you to track visits and traffic simply.
  • Simple editing. Not everyone wants to wade through HTML to make bullet-point lists, or change fonts. Look for a visual editor to present your text exactly as it is written as you compose it. Built-in spell- and grammar-checkers are a plus, too.

Beginning Writing

Take some time to choose your platform. However, don’t agonize over it. Sound pros like us love stats, tinkering with tech specs, and gadgets. It’s natural to become engrossed with building the blog, flipping the switches, and customizing its design.
However, the most important thing is that you must begin blogging itself. Start writing. Getting your ideas and sounds on the Web now means they’ll slip into the minds and ears of others. They’ll also be indexed by Google and Bing sooner. Your network will begin to grow. It’s easy to refine the blog’s look or prefs later, perhaps between gigs, or the downtime when you’re waiting for deliverables. Start writing your ideas now, and spread them into the sound community.
Of course, writing is the biggest job. We’re sound pros. Perhaps you have no writing experience. How can you compose articles other sound pros will want to read? That’s in my next post. Stay tuned.

About the author: Paul Virostek travels worldwide recording the sounds of cities and cultures. He shares his collection at airbornesound.com, and writes about his experiences field recording, and sharing sound effects at jetstreaming.org. He is also the author of "Field Recording: from Research to Wrap - An Introduction to Gathering Sound Effects", which was published in 2012.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Choose A Field Recording Kit

Do you use sound effects every day? Are you interested in recording your own?

Perhaps you're the adventurous type, and wish to capture sound clips outside, beyond your home, classroom, or studio.

This is known as field recording. It is much different than studio recording, inside. It requires new techniques, and, of course, different gear.

How do you begin? Which equipment do you need to capture audio in cities, markets, and swamps?

The answer is detailed, but don't worry. I'll explain what you need to start. And, I'll also share a way to choose gear that helps you record wisely.

What Do You Need?

Let's begin by looking at the facts. What, technically speaking, do you need to record sound effects outside of studios?

There are endless gadgets and trinkets that a field recordist can add to their kit. However, at its simplest, a field recordist needs:
  • A microphone to capture audio.
  • A preamp to amplify the microphone's signals.
  • A data-capturing device known as a recorder.
Those are critical. Without them, sound can't be captured.

You'll also likely need:
  • A windscreen.
  • A stand, shock mount, or pistol grip to secure the microphone.
  • A bag to carry everything as you travel.
These are the essentials. However, a thoughtful consideration of field recording equipment is more important than just a shopping list.

How to Begin

How do you begin collecting field recording equipment? What's the best way to arm yourself, and start recording sound clips in the world around you?

It seems like a bewildering task. The pro audio world is difficult to understand. After all, recording sound takes finesse, skill, and precision. The equipment needed to do this can be elaborate.  You will encounter a jumble of manufacturers, equipment versions, firmware revisions, and more.

What do you use to record audio? It's common to find advice that suggests one particular model. Some pros sneer at certain brands, and praise others. That attitude isn't helpful. There isn't a single way to record audio. There is not a single, proper answer that works for everyone.

Instead, this article will suggest a different way to choose a field recording kit.  It is an approach that will help you choose gear throughout your journey recording sound.  This will help you find the right equipment, no matter what sound effects you pursue, or how you do it.

I believe find the right kit is answered by considering three qualities:
  • Fidelity of audio.
  • Usability, or how easily gear helps you capture sound effects.
  • Budget.
These three factors are tightly linked. Simply providing suggestions based on price or sound quality alone is incomplete.  Why?

Context is key. Even an inexpensive recorder can capture excellent audio, depending on the subject you choose. And spending on a pricey kit when you are just learning may be wasting money spent better elsewhere.

Let's look at gear suggestions a different way: based on how you'd like to record sound. Of course, veteran field recordists capture sound differently than new people. How someone learns field recording happens in three stages.  These are:

  1. Beginning field recording.
  2. A little more time, and a bit more money.
  3. Becoming a professional.
Each of these stages uses a separate mix of equipment, and produces different sound. Let's look at each of them.

Note: I will refer to specific models. Use these as a guide to inform your search, not as a final answer. They are relevant for late 2012. Prices are in US dollars.

1. Beginning Field Recording

When you begin recording, the best thing is to get a recorder, any recorder at all, and start. It's true that iPhone recording apps such as Audiofile Engineering’s FiRe 2 are not ideal fidelity. Dictation recorders are similar. You'll certainly want better fidelity as you record more sounds. However, if you have nothing else, use them. Why?

You'll learn not only how sound interacts with equipment, but how to accommodate for challenging gear. And, you'll get away from your computer screen and actually record sound effects.

The significance of doing this cannot be overstated. Beginning is the most important step when exploring field recording. Many new recordists waste weeks or months reading reviews and flipping through catalogs. They dither instead of beginning practicing. Every step you take right now starts building an invaluable sound library for your projects, no matter how small and with which gear.

In many cases you'll have more flexibility than apps and Dictaphones. The best, first step is to choose equipment that integrates a microphone and a recorder.  These portable recorders are popular, produce decent audio, and are cheap. Options such as the Zoom H1 record high resolution audio with a stereo microphone for less than $100.  If you have a higher budget you can climb Zoom's ladder to the H2n ($180). Sony offers a well-reviewed recorder, the PCM-M10, which is $250. That recorder will provide fine recordings. Other manufacturers, including Tascam, Olympus, and Roland offer a few tiers of recorders under $250.

Since you're gathering field recordings (as opposed to recording inside), you'll need a windscreen to protect your microphone from the buffeting and fluttering aspects of wind. Most manufacturers offer custom windscreens for a bit extra. There are also after-market manufacturers that sell them, too. Find them on eBay for half the price.

2. A Little More Time, And A Bit More Money

Once you've recorded for some time, you may find yourself wanting more sophistication. Perhaps you've learned as much as you'd like from inexpensive field recording gear. You're want to spend more time recording outdoors. You want to focus on capturing expressive sound, instead of wasting time competing with cheaper, yet limited, gear.

For a little more cash you will gain significant benefits. Recorders that range from $300 - $600 capture finer sound, and provide a smoother recording experience. Features such as pre-roll, sophisticated user interface (level control, buttons, switches), inputs, and rich displays will help you get your job done easier. Many offer multiple stereo patterns: wide for atmosphere recordings, and narrow for specific sound effects. They're also built more sturdily. Durability means the recorder can handle trickier field recording shoots, and can be toted with you anywhere.

This means you'll produce better sound more easily, and more often. This allows you to move beyond merely operating equipment, and focus more on developing your skills.

Explore recorders like the Zoom H4n, Sony PCM-D50, and Tascam DR-100 mk II. Use your budget to move beyond table-top stands, and purchase sturdier options.

3. Becoming a Professional

As you continue to record, you will encounter unusual sound effects. The method to capturing them won't be immediately apparent, and that will make recording them challenging. Some may be too quiet, such as forests and fields. Others may be too loud (jets), or complex (cars). To record these advanced subjects properly, you will need professional equipment. How do professional kits differ from what we've explored so far?

Well, there are many ways, but the most obvious is that they use separate components. Professional recorders no longer combine the recorder, microphone, and preamp into one pocket-sized package. Instead, each piece is purchased separately, and is larger. Why are they separate?

This is because a manufacturer will be very good at one technology, such as digital-to-analog conversion in recorders, but not as experienced with others, such microphone transducers. Choosing separate pieces means that a recordist is picking gear that is specialized, and superior. The components will be better, resulting in cleaner, smoother sound.  Features will become more sophisticated, and add equalization, limiters, and other frills that help during challenging recording sessions. They allow professional inputs from XLR cables. The design becomes more thoughtful.

And, of course, prices grow to match this specialization.

Separate components also allow a recordist more flexibility. Instead of being limited to either a narrow or wide recording perspective, recordists are now free to swap out microphone types at will.

They may choose to spend the majority of their budget on a preamp. They may select a recorder based on their recording style.  This idea also allows a recordist to expand their kit over time, adding or swapping new equipment as they need it.

Microphones vary greatly. Your choice will depend on what you want to record. Brands such as Røde and Audio Technica create good entry-level microphones. The Røde NT4 is popular, and costs just over $500. You may wish to choose binaural microphones, which are compact and cheaper, but produce entirely different recordings. Higher-end brands of microphones include Sennheiser, Sanken, and Neumann, among others. Some cost as much as $3000, with sound quality to match.

Since the microphones are no longer integrated with the body of a hand-held recorder, you will need to buy stabilization to support it. Options include pistol grips, boom poles, or professional stands with a shock mount. Also, you'll need to buy a custom blimp windscreen to protect the microphone from wind.

A kit's preamp has great power to affect field recordings. Good preamps allow a recordist to capture sound clips with little noise, and may contribute a "smoother" and pleasing aspect to the sounds. Recordists choose separate, dedicated preamps to control this aspect.  Examples include preamps and mixers by Sound Devices, such as the MixPre-D.

Recorders vary tremendously. Some are made from metal. Others are plastic, and are meant to sit at home on a desktop. Their price increases based on their construction, the amount of tracks they record, storage space, and more.  They range in price from $600 to $3000.  Examples at the lower end of this range are the Fostex FR-LE 2 and Tascam HD-P2. Sound Devices also produces recorders. Models such as the 702 and 722 occupy the upper end of this price range.

And, as you add components, you will need cabling to connect them, and batteries to power them.

When a field recordist chooses to expand their kit with separate components, they are doing more than just spending additional money for superior gear. They are choosing to specialize themselves.

Some Tips When Purchasing Field Recording Gear

Every field recordist will prefer a different brand, size, and design from their equipment. Perception of sound quality also varies.

Whichever the case, look for these features to ensure you're making a wise purchase.
  • A long warranty.
  • An established, reputable company.
  • Good customer service.
  • Sturdy manufacturing.
It's a good idea to rent or borrow gear before you purchase. Test recordings in a variety of environments.  When you do purchase, consider buying pre-owned gear if the recorder has been gently used.

Choosing Gear to Compliment Your Recordings

Field recording is much more than the hardware that's involved. This is why the best way to choose field recording equipment considers the tightly-meshed trio of budget, fidelity, and usability.

What are your goals? Are you looking to simply get started? Do you have more time, and an moderate budget to help you focus on developing your skills? You can choose to upgrade futher.

Are you looking to specialize? Then, and only then, is the most expensive pro gear the best choice. There is not point to buying a Ferrari if you only drive it around the block. It was built to race. Buy pro gear when you are ready. Until that time, inexpensive options are appropriate and wise.

Choosing gear can be overwhelming. There are many options. You'll hear contrasting opinions. It's difficult to make a decision. Don't let this stop you the most important decision: actually stepping outside and gathering sound.

About the author: Paul Virostek travels worldwide recording the sounds of cities and cultures. He shares his collection at airbornesound.com, and writes about his experiences field recording, and sharing sound effects at jetstreaming.org. He is also the author of "Field Recording: from Research to Wrap - An Introduction to Gathering Sound Effects", which was published in 2012.