technology

Build a Portable Studio Microphone

Shooting outdoors can be quite a hassle with your recording device not being able to pick up sounds and the quality of the audio turns out to be distraught, all the planning and preciseness of the shoot feels useless if the quality of the audio is deemed to be substandard.   

Field recording microphones are not the most accessible and can cost quite a fortune, building your own studio field recording microphone may not seem possible however, with this article it can be possible.  This article will guide you to built your own portable studio microphone with an extremely low self-noise and is best to pick up sounds in a quite environment.  

Being aware of some basic knowledge on the different components that make up a microphone might be helpful is fully understanding this this guide; however, the article will not leave a beginner clueless.

Materials

2 Rode NT1-A microphones

Metal mesh

Bird feeder

Battery

Cable wires

Elastic bands

Rotary switch

Furry fabric

Zoom H1

The first step is to take your Rode NT1-A studio microphone, it is highly recommended to use studio microphone over portable recorders, as studio microphones have really low noise floor than a portable recorder, which has a typical noise flow, this makes a studio microphone perfect for field recordings.

Remove the microphone covers, leaving the capsules and PCB exposed, the PCB acts as the microphone’s power regulator and amplifier, but its output is very low for recorder, to get the signal boosted you need yet another amplifier, if you decide to commercially purchase one make sure to keep an eye out for the size and noise as they can decrease the quality of your work.

Finding the perfect amplifier can be hard as most of them can be quite expensive or just not the perfect fit for your project, another alternative to this is to make your own amplifier, for this you’ll need a schematic for a low noise preamp, you can also modify it using a free software called Fritzing, this software will help you rearrange components so that you can construct a layout that you find appropriate, and with the help of a CNC you can edge out the design on a circuit board and then add the components.

Mount the boards together, use a grounded sheet of aluminium and sandwich it between the microphones original blue PCB, which will then be sandwiched between the homemade amplifiers (lets go over the order again, a homemade amplifier at the bottom followed by the original PCB then an aluminium sheet then the original PCB and at the top a homemade amplifier).

You can then proceed to strap on the capsules on the side with some cable wires. You will now need 2 fine mesh grills that will be used to cover the capsules.

Now let’s move on to make the frame, for this you’ll need a large bird feeder as it is strong enough and the perfect size for your microphone. Use small aluminium plates to keep the switches and charging ports in place. Using a voltage regulator, LM2577 mosfet will boost the battery voltage up to 25 volts for the preamp circuit.

For gain control use a rotary switch, with resistors through carefully selected values this is done to maximize dynamic range depending on the loudness of the environment.

Using an elastic band, this will help keep the microphone inside the birdfeeder in place, this is done to eliminate any handling noise that could occur while recording, working as a shock mount.

The final step is to add the wind cover, this can be done by wrapping some furry fabric over the birdfeeder, the fabric should be acoustically transparent, this is done so that it eliminates any wind noises that disrupts when recording outdoors. 

The handle used for the microphone can be made by using a zoom H1 (handy recorder), chop off the ends and attach a band to act as the handles.

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