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Best affordable mic and camera for a very portable recording setup?


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Hey all, I've been doing a lot more recording myself playing, just using my phone and a "gooseneck" with a flexible body and seating clamp and phone clamp so I can position the phone right to record myself. Mainly doing lyre, ukulele, toy melodeon, but I got my beater English concertina back from a friend and working on re-learning how to play that.

 

The video on my phone is quite decent (got a 6S put planning to upgrade soon), but the mic isn't great and also there are points where being able to put the mic other than right by the camera would be excellent. So I'm thinking I need at least a decent mic, and I'm open to hearing whether a standalone small camera is worth it, or if an iPhone 8 or 10 will be better camera-wise. I would be plugging these devices into my MacBook and/or phone, and I'd love for mic (and potential camera) to be relatively compact and durable since I'll be tossing them in a satchel and carrying them around downtown. I could do $100-200 for the mic (cheaper is better, if quality is good enough for YouTube), and if a ~$100 is notably better than an iPhone camera, open to that too.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

 

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Take a look at the newer models of the Zoom line of recorders. 

 

I have an older model (H2N) and it can be used as both a stand-alone recorder or as a microphone connected directly to a computer via its built-in audio interface*.  In recorder mode you can position the microphone anywhere you like without having to wire it up, then you can later export the audio files into your computer for post-processing or blending with video.

 

*I do find that the audio interface in the H2N has a lot of latency so it is useless for Jamkazam or its ilk, but then it was made in the Pleistocene era.  Hopefully the newer models use faster tech if this is important to you.

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I have been very impressed with my H2 Zoom recorder - not the H2n, mine is an older model but still going strong.  I recently learned it can also be used as a USB mic (haven't tried) and it is currently being used to copy all my old minidiscs into digital format.

 

I've just ordered (should receive tomorrow) a gently used Zoom Q8 video recorder, it is supposed to have very good sound.  It's a little overkill for what I need and I would have preferred their previous model, the Q4n, but it's discontinued and nearly impossible to get hold of.  The Q8 can be used as a standalone mic if you don't want to record video.  Not the cheapest option though, as it runs $300 to $400 new depending on seller and accessories.

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Thanks for the Zoom endorsements, but I'm look less for a "digital camcorder" and more for a camera without standalone capability that I would for example plug into my phone or laptop, clamp it to a park bench, and film myself playing music. Less something I set up on a tripod, looking for a camera and mic that are basically cargo-pocket sized and somewhat better than the mic and camera on the phone.

 

It may be that the camera on an iPhone 8 or 10 (haven't finalized my upgrade from 6S yet) is good enough for YouTube as it is, but I'd still want a mic probably for mic placement plugged into my phone or laptop.


Does that help clarify the size/capability I'm looking for? I'm not a tech guy so I didn't quite know how to explain it.

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It kinda sounds like you are looking for a nice webcam. Webcam tech has kinda stalled for the past decade, but you might look into the logitech 920 series, which have 1080p and stereo mikes. Not sure how it would compare to iphone cameras. With an iOS device specifically, it seems like you can hack together a solution for some hardware combinations, but it might not be anything quick. See here:

 

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Warning, no concertina content!

But here’s the results from last summer using the Boya MM1 microphone on an iPhone 6 using a 5 metre (16 feet) extension lead. It costs about £30 plus the lead. The audio quality is better than iPhoneX internal mic, but it’s very position dependent (directional) and I use FilmicPro app £4? to be able to control gain.

The microphone is in the leaves near my right foot (hence the slopping sounds from the foot tapping), the lead crosses above the stream to the left out of camera shot.

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