Recording on a Budget

As you begin to apply for performing arts programs, the need for a high quality audio and video recording becomes very apparent.  Many programs are accepting recorded auditions and prescreening submissions, so making a good first impression is key.  This process can become very expensive, so here are some suggestions for equipment to use to create a quality audio/video audition recording:

Lighter Budget (>$175)

Zoom Q2HD

Zoom H2n Portable Recorder

  • These devices are your best bet for an affordable and quality recording with little hassle.  Built into these devices are an HD camera and high quality PCM audio recorder with condenser microphones.  This means that everything you'll need for an audio/video recording is contained within this one device.  Most of them, especially the Zoom, is designed for the average user to be able to turn the device on, choose their settings, point, and record.  

Mid-range Budget ($250-$400)

  • Entering the middle-grade consumer (or "prosumer") level has the potential to become tricky.  There will be research and education needed to use some of the equipment and software at this point, as the control over your recording increases.  Once you're able to invest some money into the project, you'll want to look into buying a nicer camcorder and audio recording device.

Zoom ZH4N Portable Digital Recorder

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface

Avid Fast Track Duo with Upgrade to Pro Tools Software

  • Keep in mind that if you're using an external audio recorder  apart from the video camera, like the Zoom, you will have to align the audio with the video file in either iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker.  This is a more intensive process, and requires some know-how in Windows Live and iMovie.  Below are some tutorial videos that walk through the process in each program:

Windows Live -

iMovie -

Higher Budget (~$600)

  • Starting to buy equipment on this level can bring along the task of extensive training in working with the equipment and software.  Once you reach this tier, you may want to look into hiring a professional engineer for the recording.   This can potentially save you money and time spent learning a new program.

Rode NT4 Stereo Condenser Microphone

Avid Pro Tools + Mbox

Sony HDR-CX260V Handycam

  • Above are some suggestions for equipment in this range.  Now venturing into the pro-audio realm, you'll be purchasing a stereo set of microphones (or in this case, an all-in-one stereo microphone), and an "audio interface", which is a box that will let your computer interact with audio equipment, microphones, etc.  Also, you'll need some recording software for your computer.  In the last link above, Protools is the program that is included with that audio interface, and should be more than enough to do the trick for your recording.  These types of programs can be very dense, but fortunately have many support forums and tutorial videos available online.  For tips on the actual recording process, take a look at this tutorial video.

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