Gear is not the most important aspect to field recording, but it certainly helps. Over the years I've had the opportunity to test various recorders, microphones and other equipment. Some of these were dropped along the way, others managed to withstand the abuse and are still around. Read on to find out why.
King of handhelds - Sony PCM D100
The D100 is top of the list because it sees more use than any of my other devices. It's always in my backpack ready to record unexpected sounds that I stumble upon when I'm not specifically out to do field recording. On top of that it's quite useful as an extra pair of mics that I can drop in certain spots when I'm out recording ambience. It's also small enough to take aboard a plane when a full recording rig wouldn't fit. Here's an example of a recording made with the D100:
The tank - Sound Devices 633
The 633 is my main recorder. It has brilliant preamps and limiters and it just works. Reliability is key when I travel to remote places like Northern Europe or West Africa, even with redundancy. Knowing I can rely on my gear gives me peace of mind and allows me to focus on my work.
Recent purchase - Sound Devices Mixpre 10T
I had to sell my Mixpre 6 due to its faulty limiters, so I had it replaced with a 10T. I was mainly looking to add more channels to my rig while still keeping weight to a manageable level. Unfortunately bad news about the Mixpre line keep coming, and I'm not convinced this unit will be with me for long.
New old tech - Sound Devices MM-1
The MM-1 has been around for many years but it's probably the best battery-powered single channel preamp out there. I got this one off Ebay and I will be using it to add more channels to my 633.
DMS team - Sennheiser MKH30 and 2x MKH8040
These mics are rock solid and offer excellent sound. They don't pack up in freezing temperatures, scorching heat or high humidity, circumstances in which I keep finding myself. On top of using all 3 as Double Mid-Side, I can also use the 8040s for spot FX recording. Neat!
Awesome lavs - DPA 4060, 4061 and 4061HD
The DPA mics I own get a lot of use on vehicle recording sessions. They're excellent for taping to parts in the engine compartment, the outside of the car, the inside of the car, etc. On top of that they can also be used for micing up bird song-posts and getting that sweet close-up sound.
Less used mics - Shure SM57, AKG D112, Crown PCC-160
I rarely use these mics, but they tend to sound surprisingly good in certain circumstances. The SM57 sounds great on footsteps, the D112 records excellent car exhaust low end, and the PCC can be used in quite creative ways due to its pickup pattern. They're a little more difficult to use due to their size, weight and form factor though.
Unconventional - JrF contact mics and hydrophones
Contact mics are rarely my go-to mics for a specific situation, apart from wire fence recordings. They work great as an additional perspective though, and keep getting brought along for this exact reason. Hydrophones can sound great on water and ice, but do not always yield interesting results.
Second pair of cardioids - Line Audio CM3
I was skeptical when I first heard about these mics, but I'm quite happy I got them. While not on par with the 8040s, they're the best sounding cardioids in their price range (and well above) I've tested. They sound great on spot effects, vehicles and even ambience.
DMS Blimp - Cinela Pianissimo
When putting together my DMS rig I had to choose between getting a Rycote MS blimp ( which I had to hack it myself) and getting the Cinela. The Cinela also came with rain-proof cover, which in the end made me choose it even if it cost almost twice as much. Fun fact: I once sat on it and it crumpled quite badly, but it just bounced back immediately. It doesn't look too sturdy, but it certainly is. It's also very light for its size, which means I can carry it around with relative ease. To top it off, the molded plastic carrying case that comes with it is a life-saver!
Still using it - Sennheiser MKH416 and Rycote WS blimp
This was my first "serious" mic. It got a lot of use on Foley and spot effects for the games I was working on, but lately I've been recording vehicle and aircraft passbys with it. It's an old design but works flawlessly and sounds great.
Extra blimps for the 8040s - Rycote WS9
These little blimps are excellent for spot effects recording. I can also pair them up on a T-Bar and record ORTF ambiences, although I don't do this as much as I used to (can't beat Surround ambiences, even if I love ORTF). Still, great to have in my bag for that occasional interesting sound I need to record up close.
I'm not a big fan of using fur, since it tends to dampen higher frequencies no matter how high-quality and "transparent" it is. In certain circumstances there's no way to go around it though, and that's when I prefer Rycote or Cinela variants.