field recording in japan (tokyo/osaka)

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Member Since: Jul 11, 2007

Hello HRC,
I have been bumming around japan for the past year or so and would love to start recording the sounds of japan. I've been looking into a couple different set ups and I would like to get some of your recommendations.

Here's what I'm looking to do:
--Record things in public spaces (crowds, ticket machines, sounds of toilets, vending machines, children fighting, japanese people saying "so- so-so-so-so" name it I want to record it).
--record in stereo

What I want:
-- a portable recorder.
-- I want a solid state recorder. SD cards are cheap here. I can pick up a 2 gig card for 30 bucks. but i can compromise on this.
-- a decent mic all around mic, and a pair of bi aural stealth mics (people look at you weird when you have a mic out on the train).

Important things to know:
--my budget is about 500 to 600 dollars.
--i realize that i will probably only be able to buy one mic initially

What i really care about:
--the proper recording device/ mic combination. God knows I don't want to buy some three hundred dollar mic that I can't use with my recorder without some 250 dollar accessory. or something that will blow up if if i cross the streams.

What i don't care about:
--studio recording. i won't being doing any. i don't want a setup that has be bolted down and linked up to a laptop and cray computer to work. (though i will use my computer to store my library).

Lastly, if anyone who reads this lives in the Tokyo area and has equipment I'd love to take a look. I just want to look and see what someone else is using. I might want to touch it too..but I promise not to do any harm.

Thanks, I hope someone can help me.

Your friend in japan,


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I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Jul 11, 2007 12:05 pm

I think that Zoom, M-Audio, and Sony all make hand-held portable recorders that have built-in microphones. They're used by concert tapers a lot for audience recordings. I think that only the Sony units use a proprietary media format and all the others use either MiniDisc or SDRam.

I've heard terrible things about the M-Audio's reliability. My friend just did an audience recording with the Zoom (haven't listened to it myself yet but apparently it didn't deal with wind noise very well), and the Sony is over $1,000. So they all seem to have their warts.

That's about all I can say. I know that there are a few field recording enthusiasts here, and to my knowledge they primarily use MiniDisc recorders.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jul 11, 2007 12:20 pm

That was my choice, had a minidisc recorder, with a 80$ stereo mic, which worked very well.

I wish I still had them, but alas, they are gone now.

A mic might be a little more difficult, but i'm sure a creative electronic-type person could rig something up, to be more stealthy.

Here's a quick page from Mr. Google:

that has some info on stealth minidisc recording, it may be helpful, as there seems to be a bunch of info .

Eat Spam before it eats YOU!!!
Since: May 11, 2002

Jul 11, 2007 01:11 pm

this has some nice features
(problems with video sync though)

Since: Jul 11, 2007

Jul 11, 2007 08:48 pm

pjk --- what mic were you using?

Since: Jul 11, 2007

Jul 11, 2007 08:49 pm

Oh, and I really don't want to use the internal mics on recording devices.

Eat Spam before it eats YOU!!!
Since: May 11, 2002

Jul 11, 2007 10:13 pm

To get the isolation you have to use a shotgun mic... they are 12 to 20 inches long basically look like this:

Thats the Sennheiser ME66K6 which is what I use, and is an industry standard... however it's about $600 in it's own.

So another one that is popular has been the AT835b ...but this Rode NTG1 looks nice (but requires phantom power:

Since: Jul 11, 2007

Jul 12, 2007 08:56 am

Well since this is my first foray into field recording, I'm hesitant to drop 600 bucks on a mic. I've played with a couple edirol R-09 in stores thats what I'm leaning towards right now. has anyone actually used the Edirol CS15 cardioid stereo mic that edirol seems to pushing with it? becuase...i might get that unless some one can steer me away.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Jul 12, 2007 03:45 pm

There's the one. I recorded a campfire with my MD, and it was very good. The stereo image was very good, keeping everyone in their own sonic place, not at all like a mono source.

I didn't turn too many up in my google search, hopefully you'll have better luck, if that's way you go.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Jul 12, 2007 07:56 pm

The one pjk is linking to is a very good entry level mic for sure. I still own one and used it frequantly.

Very good bang for the buck on that choice.

Since: Jul 11, 2007

Jul 12, 2007 09:13 pm

what are some other good entry level mics?

Since: Nov 18, 2016

Nov 18, 2016 08:31 pm

Well...almost 10 years I'll give it a shot.

Are you still in Japan? How are your field recordings going?

I am writing from a field recording label based in Shanghai and am looking for people to join my project called 60 minute cities. "This album series focuses on an individual's genius loci or the 'spirit of a place'. Each album contains 60 minutes of characteristic sounds taken within their own personal surroundings and includes photos and text to describe the significance of these sounds and places."
It's not only about recording the natural elements of your surroundings but the elements that make you who you are. It's an introspective piece that not only shows the world your country or city but also makes you look into how where your live makes you who you are.
If you are interested to know more, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Since: Jul 11, 2007

Nov 19, 2016 04:37 pm

Hi bivouacrecording,

I unfortunately I no longer live in Japan...but I do live in Seattle. Send me a message at [email protected] if you want to chat more.

Though it's funny, every couple years I'll search for field recording stuff, get to this post, and I'll be blown away. I think to myself, "this guy is trying to do exactly what I was trying to do in Japan 10 years ago!!!"....then I will realize I'm the author of the post.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Nov 21, 2016 10:08 am

OK, that is funny...

I actually started responding...then realized how old the thread was. LOL

Eat Spam before it eats YOU!!!
Since: May 11, 2002

Nov 25, 2016 09:01 am

... but the OP responded... so not a necropost? This isn't supposed to happen this way...

Since: Jul 11, 2007

Nov 25, 2016 11:23 am

Well, if anyone is interested in revisiting this...

After I made the original post, I acquired a used mini disc player, and made my own stealth biauraul microphone setup (as was the style at that time). I recorded about 8 or 9 full minidiscs of recordings, and I was generally pleased with the audio quality. Over the course of a decade of moving between countries I lost my box of minidiscs.

The original post was made in's nearly 2017. If I wanted to put together a new setup (Christmas present for myself)...what should I get?

My requirements are pretty much the same as they were in 2007.

-- about 500 dollars (I'm married I have to run it by the boss)
-- A portable recorder that can record stereo
-- A decent mic that can isolate nearfield sounds

And if anyone lives in the Seattle area, I'd love to see what you're using.

Eat Spam before it eats YOU!!!
Since: May 11, 2002

Nov 26, 2016 04:30 pm

I currently use a Tascam DR40 however I try as hard as I can to borrow a Sound Devices 302 mixer to use as a preamp while working on projects. I am still using the ME66K6 though :)

I was also very impressed with a Wendt X5 preamp into a Juiced Link preamp into a DSLR camera. The headphone output on the Wendts are horrible though so I was supprised when I heard the actual end product.

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