Perhaps one of the most important ingredients of a good audiovisual project is the quality of the sound; however, this aspect always depends on another equally important aspect: the budget.

There’s a rather old saying in the audiovisual and film industry that goes like this: great sound quality can compensate for poor footage, but great footage will never save poor sound. There’s just something that immediately gets your attention and ruins the whole I-love-to-watch-films experience when you come across poorly produced audio. 

Think of The Blair Witch Project, for example. Daniel Myrick decided to use a cheap handheld camera to record all the scenes; however, you definitely felt engaged with the film and became immersed into it simply because of the sound. The high-quality sound. Regardless of whether you’re a savvy audio professional or an audio enthusiast, you’ve certainly come across several visually excellent projects, but the presence of low-quality sound has prevented you from fully engaging with the film.

If you’re someone trying to make your way up in the film industry, you have surely given some thought to the state of your finances. You may think that you don’t have enough budget for top quality sound-recording devices to record high-quality tracks, but in reality, you do. A good audio toolkit traditionally includes a shotgun mic, a portable audio recorder, and a lavalier mic; however, here are three options for all kinds of budgets.

The Beginner Budget (Or I have less than $100)

Let’s say you’re just starting out in the film industry, and you want to shoot a short film or a short documentary —but you don’t have any money (which is ok. Don’t worry). If that happens to be the case, then this is the right option for you. You can start by acquiring the following pieces of equipment:

Audio-Technica ATR-6550 Condenser Shotgun Microphone ( $60)

This shotgun mic is perhaps the cheapest you will ever find, but you will still get good quality sound out of it compared to a handheld camera audio. If you don’t have a boom attachment, you can buy a painter’s pole for less than US $20 and attach the mic to it.

Audio-Technica ATR3350iS Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Mic ($30)

If you’re shooting a short documentary, it is vital to have a lavalier mic to get consistent audio of the people you’re going to be interviewing. This mic is normally wired and connected to a smartphone for recording (yes, you can record audio with your smartphone.) In fact, you can use your own smartphone as your personal audio recorder. The lavalier mic can be plugged directly into the phone, and you can use your device’s native sound recording program to get all the tracks.

If your device doesn’t come with a built-in or a native sound-recording program, you can get Audio Recorder from the Play Store or the App Store. Nonetheless, remember this is the low-budget version of a basic sound recording toolkit so you will not be able to monitor audio whilst you’re recording it.

The Intermediate Budget (Or $350 is all I have)

For those with perhaps a bit more experience in this industry (and budget, of course) willing to get a little more serious about their filmmaking careers, the following options comprise a decent sound recording toolkit.

Zoom H4nSP 4-Channel Handy Recorder ($159)

This recorder is, in fact, quite handy. You can plug both conventional audio jacks and XLRs. Recording on a personal audio recorder is pivotal when running audio, especially since it comes with dials you can use to adjust levels on the fly —along with your headphones so you can monitor your tracks.

Rode VideoMic Shotgun Condenser Microphone With Boom Pole ($150)

If you happen to have been working in this industry for quite some time, then you know that RØDE is a key player within this line of work, and pretty much every filmmaker usually gets one of these as their first pro or semi-pro mic. You can find several sets online that include the microphone and also the boom, the cable and the adapter for something around $150.

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Fifine 20-Channel UHF Wireless Lavalier Lapel Microphone ($35)

This wireless lavalier kit will come in handy and will complement your audio recording kit just fine. It will also give your subject the freedom to walk around as you record their lines.

With the aforementioned pieces of equipment, you will be able to record your tracks with high-quality sound, which will allow the audio post-production process make the most out of them, making your project look and sound more professional. 

As mentioned in previous articles, taking care of audio tracks is perhaps the most crucial part during the sound post-production process, as audio and sound engineers will spend a lot of time refining and even saving those dialogue lines in order to make your project enticing for the audience.

*The images used on this post are taken from