• Owen Spencer

My Sound Recording Equipment and Why It Matters To Production Workflow

Digital Audio Recorders and Mixers

At the heart of my sound recording setup are Sound Devices 6 Series digital audio recorders - The 12 input 664 and smaller 6 input 633. Both can be used as either portable PSC "in the bag" or on one of my sound carts. Portable, but extremely feature rich and powerful.

Recording at video production / film industry standards 24bit BWAV up to 48khz (664) or 96khz (633), each input is recorded pre fader isolated from the rest avoiding the need to "bounce tracks" (boom left radios right) technique for multiple inputs used in the past. In addition to the pre fader iso tracks a post fader stereo mix is provided for dailies.

Files are recorded to approved SD and CF cards simultaneously for redundancy and the tracks and format to record can be configured for each card. As standard I record all iso and mix tracks as full BWAV for backup but if needed the SD card could record a timecoded mp3 mix track for transcription.

BWAV files can be recorded mono (each track has its own file) or poly (all tracks as individual mono files with a single file) depending on post specification though it it a simple process to split or combine these at a later stage.​

One of the many advantages of the BWAV format is the ability to add meta data to the track and file names. Character names, take notes, scene and take numbers, start, end and duration etc can all be embedded within the file. All of this data along with production and my details are provided in the daily sound report which can be opened in a spreadsheet application such as Excel / Numbers - Clear and accurate which makes editors happy.


Other features of the 6 series that make it an excellent production sound recorder include built in Ambient Timecode generator / receiver compatible with all standard frame rates, a 6 second pre roll in RAM, multiple output routings an two Aux Tracks, line or mic pre amp inputs, control via Wingman App and bluetooth USB, rotary faders for in the bag mixing or compatible with the CL12 linear fader mixer the list really does go on....

In short, the 6 series audio recorders are professional, reliable work horses. Full comparison of the 633 and 664 here

Wireless Talent Radio Mics

I use Lectrosonics as my primary talent wireless system - this includes 3 double battery SMDB, 3 single battery SMB Transmitters and 3 duel channel SRB receivers for a total of 6 channels as standard.

Lectrosonics use a priority system called digital hybrid which without going into the technical details benefits from the range of traditional RF wireless and the audio integrity of modern digital systems.

In the real world they perform superbly and I am impressive with the built in limiters which can handle unexpected loud bursts without distorting. ​Talent appreciate the low profile transmitters and the receivers can switch from an in the bag system with whip antenna to a sound cart using an RF distro and sharkfin aerials.

Sanken COS 11 D are my go to lavalier microphone though I also also DPA that are preferable in certain situations. I have a large range of tapes, clips, mounts, custom fixings, stickies, wind protection etc to enable well hidden lavs whilst maintaining quality sound.

Timecode and Sync

Precision timecode is essential to quickly and accurately sync digital audio and video files in a video editor. I have invested in the very latest (and in my opinion the best) Timecode solution - the Timecode Systems Wave master and Ultra Sync One lockits.

What makes this system so special..? Wireless! I run the Wave in my bag/cart as a master and the Ultra Sync Ones in slave mode constantly sync to the Wave when in range. If more devices need timecode, no problem set up another USO as slave and it will automatically sync to the master frame rate and timecode.

The Ultra Sync Ones are one of the smallest sync boxes available which makes camera operators happy, On a full charge they will more than last a full production day - basically once they are attached in the morning there is no need to take off for a battery change or a rejam of timecode to avoid drift - Only rock solid timecode all day without missing a frame - saving a lot of time in post.

Using the BLink app connected to the Waves Wifi I can monitor the devices and change any settings on the master which are instantly sent to all slave devices. I also have the Denecke/Timecode Systems digital smart slate for visual representation of timecode - In addition to the numerical timecode there is space for more characters such as the production name or slate/take number which I can control via the BLink app.

As well as being extremely accurate as it fits into the wireless timecode master/slave system it also looks pretty cool - a video of my slate in action is here