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I use a Zoom H2 for some of my audio recordings. It has an option to select 4 channel recording that gives you two 2 channel stereo files. A trick I do at times is, using a gorillapod, attach the recorder to my camera so that the stereo pans with the camera. Using a cheap dog training clacker, I use the “click-clack” like a clapboard to sync my audio in post. It has a crisp sound that shows well when you view the waveform.
Then you can use something like Vortex Zoom Encoder that will translate the 2 separate stereo files into a 5.1 Surround wave file. All for under $225.
If you do choose to use the Zoom H2, I strongly suggest you work many sample test runs before you get to a real shoot, and yes follow the user’s manual. Though it has a simple push button menu it is not intuative in function for a first time user, especially so if you are under pressure to get a shot.