Friday, September 26, 2014

Nagra SD

Nagra SD recorder
Nagra SD recorder - photo borrowed from BHPhotoVideo

Best handheld recorder that I have ever used. The preamps are up there with Nagra's recorders like the LB, but it is in a handheld package.

Not too long ago I picked up the Nagra SD recorder. I have to say that it has taken my audio recording to a whole new level. There are plenty of good ways to get excellent audio in an external recorder for your high end videos. To capture the ambient sound and stereo movement across the frame this thing is hard to beat. I use the Green band microphone for stereo recordings. Mounted on top of the camera, when  the audio is either cut into the  video in post or plugged directly into the camera from the line out, you would think you were there. I recommend cutting the audio in from the recorder in post if you have the time since it is better quality than the line out feed to the camera.

I recommend picking up the Nagra NM-MICSII stereo Green band microphone and the Nagra NM-MICMC mono White band microphone. The green is great for stereo ambient sound and the white is great for areas where there is an echo. You have to buy the microphones separately. Oh - and the white sounds just like the green except it is mono and is better than the green for high echo areas.

Great reviews are here:
BHphoto review of the Nagra SD (has sample Video with audio)
Wildlife Sound Recording Society (has sample audio)

This is my go to audio recorder. It truly is broadcast quality in your hand. Yes, I have used the Marantz, the H4n, and many others. This thing is just better. If you looking for a broadcast quality recorder for some kind of National Public Radio type recording of an event, then this is the the perfect solution.

It comes with a single XLR input cord. A stereo XLR (two connector) input cord can be purchased separately. Using the cords, one can connect one or two XLR inputs to the Nagra SD.

Keep in mind that I am using this for quick interviews or recording performances when I am primarily shooting stills. (I am frequently asked to "just get a few short videos.") This is not a complete audio solution for recording by any means. It is just and easy way to truly get broadcast quality (background sound primarily for me) into your video for under the usual $3k mark and have such a small handheld that you can just carry with you. There are plenty of other microphones like the Senken CS3e , Sennheiser MKH-416, Schoeps CMIT-5u; Mixers and recorders from Sound Devices (Mixpre-D as a small example used by DSLR run and gun people), Nagra and so many more.

I still use the Rode Video Mic Pro for run and gun interviews in loud areas (again - when asked to "just get a few short videos"), but is nowhere near the audio quality or pickup of this thing. I use the Rode usually to cut out and isolate the sound and then add in the real background from the Nagra SD recorder.

I will be showing my newer audio/video setup sometime soon.

I hope that you find this helpful.

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