Having used my Sony A7 for over 1 year I am planning to get better sound on my Videos once I get my new camera. The onboard microphone is more or less useless when filming in a windy place and in general you get better audio with an external microphone. Here you can also find an example with the Sound Devices MixPre-3.

best external audio recorder Zoom H5 sony a7

My Zoom H5 on top of a Slik tripod


First of all it was important to know which type of microphone I would need. The Zoom H5 comes with an X/Y microphone which seems to be a good microphone to record the environment but also towards a certain direction. I will also get the the APH-5 extension pack for the Zoom H5 next week which comes with a wind shield and a remote control.

You could also buy the new Zoom H4n Pro if you are on a budget but I prefer the Zoom H5 since you can detach the X/Y microphone if you don’t need it. Also the level control on the front is much nice on the H5. For a more focused recording (e.g. if you want to record a bird in the distance), a shotgun microphone would be even better and I might consider buying a Sennheiser MKE 600 in the future as well.


Features Zoom H5

  • Shock mounted X/Y microphone structure which minimises external vibration noise
  • Possible to connect it to your DSLR and record on both - the H5 and the DSLR (for a backup)
  • The recorder can be mounted on a tripod and placed nearby the sound source
  • Input signal to the DSLR can be adjusted
  • Possibility to connect several Microphones e.g. a combination of wired and wireless microphone
  • Comes with free audio editing software from Cubase and Steinberg
  • Size and wight are ok
  • Offers Phantom Power to external microphones
  • 2 AA batteries needed but can also be powered by USB with an external battery like the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C which can even charge a Macbook.

Zoom H4n Pro is not as expensive as the Zoom H5 but you won’t be able to remove the microphone on the H4n Pro


Weight Zoom H5

  • 276 grams for the Zoom H5 including X/Y microphone & excluding 2 x AA batteries
  • 47 grams for 2 AA batteries
  • 42 grams for the USB cable
  • 311 grams for the SLIK Mini Pro III
  • 248 grams for the 10.000 mAh Anker Astro 3 battery (there is also the Anker PowerCore 26800 available which comes with 26.800 mAh) and weights 485 grams.

Protecting your Zoom H5

It’s always good to protect your electronic devices when you work outdoors. Zoom offers a protective case - the Zoom PCH-5 which comes with a fold-away clear window cover for making adjustments, removable mic element cover, belt loop, boom pole sleeve and keyring mounting options.


Features Sennheiser MKE 600

  • Maximal rejection of side noise
  • Switchable “Low Cut” filter
  • Phantom or battery powering
  • Battery switch with “Low Batt” indicator
  • Rugged all-metal housing


Windshields for Sennheiser MKE 600

The Sennheiser MKE 600 comes with a foam windshield and a shock mount. However I might also consider getting a Rycote 15cm Classic-Softie (19/22) for outdoor recording like the Sennheiser MZH 600.


Shock mount

I am using a Rycote InVision Video Mic Lyre Shockmount to attach my Sennheiser MKE 600 to my Sony A7.

If I plan to attach both - a LED light (see below) and my Sennheiser MKE - to my Sony A7, then I attach also mount a Rycote 20cm Hot Shoe Extension on my Sony A7.


Cables

To connect the Sennheiser MKE 600 straight to your Sony A7 you would need a Sennheiser KA 600 cable. If you want to connect your Sennheiser MKE 600 to your Zoom H5 then you should also get a XLR cable. To connect the Sennheiser MKE 600 with the Zoom H5 you also need to have XLR male to female cable.


USB Battery

On my trips I always have a USB battery with me like the Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C which charges my other USB devices e.g. Petzl Nao, Suunto Traverse, my Sony A7 or even a Macbook which comes with a USB-C port. If you need more battery capacity consider getting the Anker PowerCore 26800 but comes without USB-C charging capability.

The Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C can even charge a Macbook.

I will most likely test the Zoom H5 on our trip to Lapland which we have planned by end of January. Let’s see how it performs (also considering the cold temperatures there at the moment -30C) and I hope that I am able to provide great audio on our videos in the future.


Improving Lightning

Obviously, with the equipment mentioned above you should get great audio quality for your videos. To improve your videos and pictures I would also recommend an additional LED light. I recently discovered that Manfrotto has a really nice and compact LED light - the Manfrotto LUMIMUSE 8 LED Light - which I am planning to use for indoor or night filming. It should also work quite well to take along on hiking trips since it is so compact.

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