Nature recording system setup.


New member
Hi All,

I recently posted regarding research on a highly sensitive & low noise microphone for nature recordings such as insects. And everyone was wonderfully helpful and insightful.

I am now attempting to create a certain audio system setup for my study needs.

I need to create a system that can...

- Play live sound
- Able to record and play back sound, nearly instantly via a speaker
- Be able to quickly play pre-recorded sound via a speaker

So I thought I might need the following:

- Microphone
- Pre-amp
- Speaker/s
- A mixer??
- Recorder

Could someone by any chance, let me know if this system setup is correct? Still not completely sure how to connect all tho.

(I am familiar with mic, pre-amps, speakers but not sure about recorders or a mixer?).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Well-known member
Firstly you never told us you were trying to record nature in your previous post. That type of recording is a totally different kettle of fish to what you led us to believe by saying that you wanted similar microphones to the Rode mic you mentioned. Because of that you got mostly the wrong information. Recording nature requires completely different recorders and microphones.

In this post and your requirements, what exactly are you trying to record, play back and edit? Your nature sounds or?


New member
Hi Orson!

Thankyou for the reply, I am currently attempting to record nature sounds in general but my primary interest is in insects.

I am generally curious to what type of sounds, I may pickup with such a mic. I was thinking about using the microphone in-house to record spider sounds and such. I might have to two different types for my needs.

The previous information from the thread was quite helpful.

My requirements are generally at this point of time. I haven't decided about the self-noise and such.

I was wondering what equipment I would generally require, to perform the desired needs.

Any sounds that I gather - whether collected by the indoor mic or outdoor mic will be treated roughly the same for now.

I hope that helped?? If not please let me know.

Ty again for your help!


Well-known member
For recording outside nature sounds you will need portable recorders. These vary greatly from something like a Zoom H1 for $100 up to thousands. A Zoom F6 is one of the latest quality field recorders at approx $600 and you can record with stereo mics with this recorder.

Microphones again differ and its all down to money. Mono or stereo depends on what and why you are recording. As I said before that Sennheiser 8070 or another favoured mic is the Audio-Technica BP4025 $600 is also stereo.

You need decent headphones. Headphones to listen when setting up recordings and again when editing. They are better than speakers/monitors for this purpose.

The pre-amps are in your recorder and the better they are the more $$$$$.

You do not need a mixer to record, edit and playback.

You do need a pc obviously.............................and a few other accessories depending on what and how you record.

Most field recordists record in stereo and there is another recording set-up called ambisonic. Again mono is the cheapest. Stereo is more expensive and ambisonic ???? can see the way this works..............basically it is never ending. So a good idea would be to think about what you aim to do with your work/recordings. Hobby or business.

I have never heard of anybody recording spiders. Now I am wondering what they sound like.

You say that the other thread was quite helpful, but I am sure by now you may be realising that each microphone is usually produced for a specific purpose. I can only guess that you would require something like a directional microphone? (shotgun type of microphone)
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Well-known member
I'm wondering if you could even hear the sound from a spider. Depending on where you are doing the recording, the ambient noise level could be much higher than the subject noise level. In my basement, with nothing running, with my NT1 (self noise of 4.5dBa) and the gain on the input at the mid point, I see an ambient noise of about -75dB on my meter. Turning the clothes drier on in the other room, that level jumps to about -50dB. Any quiet sounds would be obscured by that 25dB of noise. So it will be important to consider the environment for things like appliances, wind, traffic noise, HVAC, etc.

I would think you might need something like a shotgun microphone, pointed directly at and very close to the subject,

Consider it to be akin to macrophotography. You don't try to take closeups of the wings of a butterfly by doing a panorama of a field. Likewise you wouldn't try to take photos of fireflies during a sunny day.


I also question whether you can pickup the sounds of a spider. A quick Google search shows me insect noises that are loud: I.E. buzzing noises from flight, crickets, cicadas, etc.

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Most natural history programmes feature Foley artists because so many of these sounds simply sound 'wrong', and many are impossible to record unless they produce volume your ear can hear - and most don't. I had a short secondment in a UK broadcaster here in the 80s, and I got to do lots of things. and the most fun was the audio. So much was shot on real film - and lots of this was mute, so there was no soundtrack, so we created it - old fashioned motorcycle gauntlets held at the cliffs and flapped became big eagles wings, and the sound of the mouse being crushed by the snake was a matchbox crushed in the hand. We had real sound for creatures that created it - so the birds and mammals were predominantly shotgun mic sources, because they were loud, and we could get in close to get purring, although one clip I remember being really noisy from a lion - the recordist was just too far away, so we recorded the cat one of the team had, and with a bit of varispeed we got a pretty convincing lion. I doubt very much a spider makes noises capable of being recorded, and if it did, they would almost certainly sound 'wrong' even though they were accurate.

Field recordists record the vistas in stereo because the image the camera shoots has width. When you go to the closeup stuff, it tends to revert to mono, because there is no width - the width will come from the other effects and beds laid over the focus animals sound.

Just be aware so many sounds we recognise immediately are not what these animals tend to emit without treatment. Snakes I discovered don't make noises - the noise comes from them pushing the ground or foliage supporting them out of the way - so you are hearing the sand, not the snake. In the UK we don't have rattlesnakes. I wonder if the sound of one in the undergrowth is the same as the ones we hear on the movies? Hopefully, close?

I'm still confused why you are playing the sounds via an amp and speaker? What for? If it helps - for theatre and TV Q-Lab is the most common playback source.