Building An Audio Bag (for the amateur sound recordist)

While my page about my equipment certainly includes my microphones, there's a lot more that goes into an audio bag that is crucial to sucessful sound mixing. In this post, I'll go over everything that I carry in my bag!

Disclaimer: While nearly all of the links in this post link to BH Photo Video, they did not sponsor this post nor can I guarantee the best prices for everything. However, I do like to support BH when possible as they are excellent when it comes to all sorts of equipment. Plus no sales tax!


The Bag and Harness

First off, let's start with the actual bag! Because I have a Zoom H6, there's no great dedicated bag that will accommodate everything that one carries in a mixing/recording bag. Thus, I had to figure out what to buy.

My bag is not actually an audio bag, but a video bag. I use the Tamrac Stratus 15 Shoulder Bag. Although it's meant for cameras, the bag is so easy to customize that, after three hours of in-store testing, I made the decision to purchase it. The Stratus 15 runs for about $200, but due to the "customizability", it was certainly worth it.

One thing I love about this bag is how sturdy it is. I know that I will be able to take this thing everywhere without a fear of it tearing, which is a huge relief. It also has a billion or so pockets, which is much appreciated when it comes to audio gear and accessories.

Another massive feature is the harness hooks on the bag, which is crucial for live mixing when a cart configuration isn't feasible. Having a harness during shooting makes life so much easier because while the included strap is very nice to carry the bag, mixing is very difficult on the side of your body. Thus, I also purchased the Think Tank Digital Holster Harness, which clips on quickly and proves to be very comfortable, and runs for about $40.

Audio Equipment

Upper level of bag, prior to taking out dividers. RX-CAM and TX-XLR on the left, two RØDE lavaliers in the middle, and headphones/harness on the right.

For now, I keep all of my RØDE systems and the recorder inside the bag for ease of use and organization. Although this might change when I get my new Pelican 1520 foam, it works very well for now and I'm not sure if I'll ever switch everything to a Pelican.

Inside the bag, I have two RØDE Wireless Filmmaker's Kits, one RØDE Wireless Newsshooter Kit, the Zoom H6 and interchangeable microphones, and the Audio Technica ATH-M50x HeadphonesWith all listed, it ran me about $1,800.

Lower level of bag, after to taking out dividers. Two RX-CAMs and two TX-BELTs on the left and the Zoom H6 in the middle.

I arrange them in a very organized fashion (I'm a hyper-organized person), with the middle compartment containing the Zoom H6 and accessories, and in the very middle, I have the RØDE lavalier microphones in their carry bags. On the left side, I have two RX-CAMs and two TX-BELTs on the lower level and on top of a divider one RX-CAM and a TX-XLR. On the right side, I have the headphones and, room permitting, the harness.

On the two exterior side pockets of the bag, I carry two XLR cables (each running about 15'), and in the interior left side of the bag, I also carry two shorter XLR cables (one 6' cable and one right-angle 2' cable).

Mophie Powerstation XLs in right front pocket.

Accessories

As I mention on my equipment page, accessories are just as important when it comes to audio, and there are some small things that are crucial.

The first thing I purchased was an additional Mophie Powerstation XL (I already had one). These ultra-powerful, long-lasting external battery packs are some of the best I've ever seen, and the price of $70 is absolutely incredible. I carry two fully charged packs in one of the bag's front pockets which allow for charging the RX-CAMs and the Zoom H6 via two USB ports per Mophie.

EBL rechargeable AA and AAA batteries with charger and case.

Speaking of batteries, I highly recommend the EBL Rechargeable Batteries. Although the Ni-MH batteries will not last as long as their cheaper and easier to find alkaline and lithium counterparts, these batteries are one step towards making the world cleaner. Plus, they're rechargeable, so you never will run out. They also come with sturdy cases for the batteries. I often have two or three charged cases in my bag at a time. They charge through an 8 Bay Charger which accepts both AA and AAA batteries for nearly every need, and addition EBL chargers are available for C, D, and 9V batteries.

Popout pocket plus left battery storage pocket.

Behind each of the front pockets in the bag comes a small removable bag. Although designed for CF or SD cards, I utilize one for five USB cables for charging (one for backup) and the other one for 3.5mm connector cables, plus the iPhone 7 Headphone dongle and RØDE SC4 TRS to TRRS Adaptor. I also store a simple 3.5mm to 3.5mm in this bag for line out purposes.

Also stored in the front pocket of the bag are five RØDE VXLRs. These are so incredibly useful for anyone needing to convert a 3.5mm jack to XLR, not to mention that they're only $10. I bought five just in case I needed to run a RØDE VideoMic Pro in for ambiance or backup. In the same pocket, I store three pens and the RØDE InvisiLav kit. In the adjacent pocket, I store the 10' RØDE VC1 for the same reason.

Finally, and probably something people think the least about when they think "audio," are SD cards! Yes, field recorders do need something to record to. Thus, I have a ton of SD cards for every purpose. My favorite and newest is the SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB, but I also own two Sandisk Extreme 32GB, one Sandisk Ultra 32GB, and multiple other Sandisk 16GB cards that I've collected over a few years (as many filmmakers do). I store all of them in the Beeway Memory Card Carrying Case, which is also totally waterproof as I proved when I accidentally spilled my water bottle on the case.


Overall, this kit, including all of my microphones, ran about $4,800, so for the amateur filmmaker, it's probably not feasible. But, I think that for someone who's really looking, this setup is ideal while staying on a moderate budget.

I very much so hope this post inspires you either to build your own audio bag or (hopefully) to hire a sound mixer like myself! Comment and like below to let me know if this post is helpful! I believe that we all have our niches and audio is mine, so if you're looking to hire someone, please let me know! #shamelesspromotion