Do I need expensive equipment?

Continuing on with our location recording discussion, John Ballentine of Campfire Radio Theater talks about the making of the brilliant Hungry Hollow

“We used a Zoom recorder, it’s a Zoom H2N, and we actually used the built in microphones, we didn’t use an external microphone to record with. The Zoom is a handy little recorder; it does a lot of things really well, it fits in the palm of your hand, you can take it anywhere.


One of the things I thought my main use for it would be was recording sound effects and ambient environments for use in the show. The more I played with it I thought “well this thing sounds pretty good”, I think it sounds more or less as good as my studio mic setup.

So I felt pretty confident about taking it in the field, taking it on location, and trying to record a show with it. We put it on a tripod, took it out in the woods, and that’s how we recorded Hungry Hollow.

We sort of blocked some movement around the Zoom, and sat it on a tripod. We didn’t actually do any movement with the recorder itself, we just kind of kept it stationary and have actors move around it. And we didn’t do a lot of movement, not nearly as much as I really probably would’ve liked to.

We did some very basic blocking, and had an actor positioned off to one side, or another actor positioned more centrally, and then we might have somebody that enters the scene, and they might enter from the far left or far right, then somebody exits the scene and you have that movement.”

We mention previous episodes where even the biggest names in audio production are encouraging learning to use gear correctly before spending money on better, more expensive equipment.

“Technique trumps technology” Ric Viers

“I recommend that they (those just starting out and/or with no budget) go out on location. Take a portable recorder like an H2 or an H4, or the Edirols, or whatever you can get. Take a portable recorder, and play with it. 

Work out how to get the best result, the best balance of voices with background without it being too cattery, or too distant, or too echoey… because, you immediately remove one problem, which is setting your action somewhere atmospheric. You’ve already found that. So as soon as somebody says to me “oh I’d love to do it, but I can’t afford a studio”, I say you don’t need a studio if you have one of these little recorders, and once you’ve got one you can go anywhere, and do pretty much anything.” Dirk Maggs

“Find out what works the best for you. Find out what works the best for the show you’re trying to produce. There is no one way to do things. You do what works best for you, whatever capabilities and resources that you have available to you, that’s what’ll dictate what you can do, and what you can’t do. Field recording is a great approach, if you’ve got the resources and people locally to pull it off, and I highly recommend it… at least try it!” John Ballentine

Elsewhere, we play some clips from recently created audio dramas Time is Money, and The Accident. We talk about Patreon as we received a pledge from talented voice actor Karim Kronfli. We had some feedback on Aftermath. Friend of the show Scott Lamond of Goodpodcasts is in the podcast award finals (we’re going to vote for him, look under ‘PodSafe Music). And there’s an audio drama community on Reddit, brought to you by

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