Miracle Bag

Photo blurb

It is a sad reality, but for many people there is an invisible hurdle tripping them up from getting involved in something that could literally change their life. A perceived barrier to entry which, in reality, is more often than not, an illusion. And to be clear, I am not excluding myself from this group. Mics, recorders and even the very “best” cables call to me from their expensive online listings, promising a result that was previously only an unattainable fantasy. Of course, this is hardly groundbreaking news. But, I believe it is worth belaboring at every opportunity in order to stave off the constant temptation to buy the best or the newest before starting in field recording… or any other field for that matter.
So, is this GAS or Gear Acquisition Syndrome? No, I don’t think so. I guess the hesitation to get out there and start recording can be attributed, at least partly, to the amount of information we can pipe almost directly into our brains. YouTube has endless reviews extolling the wonders of the latest gear offering a “never before seen capability”. And of course this is true for every other activity that requires some sort of gear. Think of photography… The prices of pretty much everything connected with taking a still image is extraordinary. And it’s getting worse. We are told by manufacturers that the newest model will do XYZ. Right on the razor’s edge of innovation. If you pre-order, you can even save money on a bundle of some description. BUY NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!
Let’s be honest for a moment. While new toys are shiny and fancy and fun, the tech used successfully yesterday didn’t suddenly become obsolete because a new model of whatever came out. Dare I say someone who knows their craft could run rings around a serial upgrader or a newcomer who has fallen for the hype and who has become beholden to the gear as opposed to the art form. So in essence, cheap doesn’t always mean, “not worth a damn”. And old(er) doesn’t mean obsolete.
And so, dear reader, after that long-winded essay of an introduction, with too many commas,,,,, we arrive at my Miracle Bag. A bag packing an incredible punch for such a small footprint – size wise AND bank account depletion wise. And let me tell you, the size aspect is a HUGE advantage. Something that can perhaps only be appreciated after spending hour after hour carrying a 70 liter ruck filled with mics, recording equipment, tripods, wind protection, batteries and more… My shoulders groan just thinking about slogging through overgrown and mountainous bush with an anchor’s worth of gear that I brought just in case. My Miracle Bag is as (relatively) light as a feather. It doesn’t contain thousands of dollars of gear, is ready to go almost instantly, can be worn or hung or left, doesn’t require a tripod and is stealthy…ish. So, what is contained in this miracle bag of mine, I hear you ask? Let’s get into it.
Now, let me get something off my chest here. I bought these after trying – and failing – to get my hands on the Usi Pro mics from LOM. I’m not exaggerating when I say, when LOM puts these up on their online store, you literally have seconds before the entire batch is sold out! In anger – at myself because I forgot to log into LOM’s store before hitting ‘BUY’ – I stomped my way over to micbooster.com and ordered a pair of omni EM272; going to bed with the bitter taste of defeat in my mouth… Stupid LOM… do you make only 4 mics at a time?… … … Forgive me. I know not what I say… I’ll be lining up again for the next release and I’ll get those mics.
Anyway, a couple of weeks later the “Clippy” mics – a descriptive yet, it has to be said, completely uncool name for the EM272s – arrived in my admittedly unenthusiastic hands. And, as luck would have it, rainy weather was forecast. So, I attached them to the second component of my Miracle Bag, the Zoom F3 recorder; a device so capable at its exceptionally reasonable price point, I feel there must be a life threatening flaw which irradiates the user or something similar. Seriously, this little 32bit/96kHz, 2 channel recorder is a great place to start if you’re just getting into recording audio. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, this product is a handy and portable back up or beat up rig. Maybe I should buy ten more of the things before someone in the marketing department realizes they have made an error.
The f3 is powered by an Anker PowerCore 10,000 PD Redux 25W Mobile Battery which I cinch on to the Zoom with a couple of velcro straps. With mics and power sorted, I connected my AIAIAI TMA-2 Studio Wireless+ headphones with their acclaimed low latency, lossless audio signal transmitter. Please note, “low latency” definitely does NOT mean “no latency”.
That being done, I prepared myself to be underwhelmed with the results. Afterall, there was no way these little capsules with their 105db rated dynamic range, max SPL of 120db, and eye-watering £134.88 price tag could compete with the other expensive mics on roster, right? Right?
Look, I do like to salivate over specs like any other ‘normal’ freak, but at the end of the day whether it’s audio gear, cameras, cars or a bottle of wine, the only answer that matters to me is does it sound, shoot, drive or taste good? Pedigree be damned. And the long and the short of it is, these mics sound great! The audio image they produce is transparent and immersive. Coupled with the budget friendly Zoom F3 and the AIAIAI wireless headphones, I was reclined on my bed in a state of sonic bliss as the rain came down outside.
On occasion, I have used the Miracle Bag for recording low frequency sounds, courtesy of LOM’s GeoFon mics in stereo (I love you LOM… forget everything I’ve said up until now). But in those cases I was using a Sound Devices MixPre-6 II for more control and it was a bit more fiddly given the size difference of the recording units. With the Zoom F3 and the Clippys, it feels like I truly have a small, light bag of electronic miracles that will serve me in any situation where capturing clean sound unobtrusively is the goal. And if you haven’t already, I urge you to put together something similar and prepare those smile muscles for a workout!!
I’ll add a recording to this post and let you make up your own mind whether the Clippys are worth your attention as you (obviously) put together your own Miracle Bag. Keep in mind, it’s an MP3 file.
Check out the libraries below for more Sound-E-Scape Studios work! And remember, The Time Machine Series is completely FREE.