Hear the Difference


When I first acquired my Nikon D7000 one of the features I was most interested in was the ability to record video with depth of field. I love the look of video taken with good glass. The camera settings also allowed me to video at 1080p in 24 fps, giving me a film look 1. The problem was the audio was terrible.

I experimented with setting a shotgun microphone on my camera, but the audio was noisy and I didn’t feel like running out to grab a pre-amp to clean it up. Also, none of the microphones in my price range had any way to monitor what was being recorded through it 2. So I determined I’d wait for an opportunity to pick up a good audio recorder, and began researching possible options. It took a couple of years until I both found a recorder with the features I wanted and the means to pursue acquiring one.

The model I chose was the Tascam DR-40. It has two on-board condenser microphones which can be set in either an X-Y or A-B pattern 3, and two XLR jacks on the bottom for connecting external sources. Each of these four channels can be recorded on to separate tracks, giving an impressive amount of control over how a user interacts with the audio in an editor. It also can record at the same bit rate at which cameras record video, making the recorder ideal for capturing external audio which can later be synced in a video editor 4.

My initial tests with the recorder are encouraging, though I’m still working out the balance between volume and the elimination of background hiss. Even so, I captured several recordings in my bedroom while a fan was running and my wife was watching a movie without any unwanted noise. I also recorded an interview with my Son while a Phillies game played in the background, and the device picked up nothing but our two voices.

I’ve included an audio comparison below which switches between my Nikon D7000’s microphone and the DR-40. The difference make me want to delve back into video.

  1. Yes, 4k is so much better than HD. Blah, Blah, Blah. I’ve got my iPhone and an action cam for that. 
  2. My price range at the time was “non-existent.” 
  3. The first is to capture a single subject, the second is great for interviews. 
  4. The onboard microphones can also be set up to be a “safety track,” in case something goes awry with with any external inputs.