Originally Posted by sallyK
So I just spent 6hrs playing with audio gear after being inspired by posts in here & and am convinced I'm not happy with the H4N in comparison with other results people have uploaded with the M416 particularly with the amp hiss. Maybe I'm fussy, maybe it was a little to do with the cheap headphones I was monitoring with but audio is now something I want to learn professionally even if it means knowing everything else on an amateur level.
Can anyone suggest a lightweight mixer & recorder for documentary/indie shortfilm format?
Listening on headphones often seems to make "hiss" seem more noticeable than listening through speakers. You might try listening on a decent set of monitor speakers, and also on a typical video playback system similar to what your intended audience might be using.
Having said that, there are certainly portable audio recorders that have better (and quieter) mic pres than the H4n. Most of the range of Zoom and Tascam "hand-held" recorders are about the same and if your mic levels are being limited by the mic pre noise floor and not the microphone itself you will see an improvement by moving up to a more "pro level" recorder.
Obviously the first thing to try is getting a stronger signal in the first place by moving the mic in as close as possible for the shot and using careful aiming.
You will find that "pro level" recorders are significantly more expensive than the common "consumer" level hardware, but generally you do get what you pay for in performance improvements and reliablility.
At the "pro" entry level there is the Tascam HD-P2
. Nagra makes a nice hand-held in the Nagra SD
, but most people use those with the built-in mics and thay are a minor "pain" to adapt to a phantom powered, XLR equipped, external mic.
Some of the best and most widely used recorders for professional film/video are the Sound Devices. For simple interview format recording the SD702
, SD 702T
(adds Timecode capability) and the SD722
are very popular and have exceptional mic pres. They are very quiet and any noise you hear will be at the noise floor of the mic itself. I personally use Sound Devices recorders and have found them to always exceed expectations. As I said, you do get what you pay for.
Another less expensive, but fully professional solution is to use the very small USB powered Sound Devices USB Pre2
external interface with a small laptop running a good DAW. A small MacBook or MacBookAir running Logic Pro and the USB Pre2 are capable of truly professional level performance and will work well with any microphone you choose including the Senny 416. There are also interfaces and audio "Apps" that will work with an iPad, but that market is changing rapidly and personally, I'd stay away from it for a while.