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Any other comparable field recorders?

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Daniel Frome
Any other comparable field recorders?
on Dec 29, 2011 at 8:02:18 pm

Hello audio gurus. I've come to ask for your opinion on a specific audio setup.

I'm buying an audio recorder and my requirements are the following:
1) Must have 4 channel input/recording
2) Must have SMPTE timecode in/out support

So far I've only come across the Roland R4-Pro that meets these needs. However, this unit is coming on 6 years old, has poor battery life and still uses a spinning HDD.

Are you guys aware of any more modern, comparable products? I'm just trying to compare and gather as much data as possible at this point.


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Ty Ford
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Dec 30, 2011 at 12:12:35 am

Hi Daniel and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum,

How about this?

http://www.sounddevices.com/products/744t.htm

Regards,

TyFord


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide


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Daniel Frome
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Dec 30, 2011 at 12:18:21 am

That's indeed a comparable recorder. The 744t was on my short-list until I saw the price. Perplexing that the price is $4,095.00. While the R4-pro is $2,395.00. I wonder what's responsible for nearly double the price?


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Eric Toline
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Dec 30, 2011 at 1:45:34 am

Long term reliability and tech support. The 744t will be around and working long after the R4 is a forgotten memory. There has to be a reason it's the preferred 4 track with t/c in the professional community.

Eric


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Ty Ford
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Dec 30, 2011 at 2:58:48 am

Dan,

Bullet-proofosity. :)

I own one. It rocks.

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Jan 1, 2012 at 4:18:44 pm

While i agree with Ty that the SoundDevices is the way to go, there are alternatives.
One of the best sound guys i know around here uses a Tascam DR-680.
(Business for dedicated sound guys is slow around here, so he wasn't really willing to spend a lot of money, and this thing is just 700 USD)
While it does not have TC, that can be done with sacrificing a channel for LTC.
So, if he is master (normally the case), he uses an iPhone with Jumpstart as a TC generator, feeding the signal to one of his channels on the Tascam, and to the cam (either the TC input if it is there, or an audio channel if there is no tc input on the cam.)
The other way around, if he is slave, he just records the incoming TC to one of his channels.
Of course this means cabling yourself to the cam. If that is a problem, you can always use any transmitter / receiver you have (LTC is a very simple robust sound signal), or invest a bit more in some Ambient stuff.

Next step in post is to decode the LTC and create BWF files for the sound, and do the same for the video if ltc went to a sound channel.
This is a fairly fast process. If you got an avid to finish, it is very easy to do. Otherwise you need this:
http://www.videotoolshed.com/product/26/fcp-auxtc-reader

It will take you a day to create decent cabling and test everything, but that day will save you a couple of grant on investment.
Pick your poison :-)

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Daniel Frome
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Jan 1, 2012 at 4:25:30 pm

I bought Jumpstart LTC on my iphone for testing this exact scenario last week. However, I noticed that the app stated "not to be used as a master clock" - which I assume is exactly what this process is doing?

Perhaps the timecode isn't perfectly consistent, which is why I don't recommend feeding it constantly as an audio channel? I don't really know.


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Jan 1, 2012 at 4:38:38 pm

Do not worry about this.
It means that you cannot expect it to stay in sync with another device for a long time, if you lock that and loose the connection.

But this is NOT what you will be doing!
Both the sound and video will start at about the same time.
(most of the time within 30 seconds, perhaps sometimes with a few minutes difference)

Now the drift in that time (time difference between recording starts) is very little. So it does not really matter if the Iphone tc runs slightly different than the 'real clock'.
Keep in mind that for TC decoding only the first few frames / samples are used, and the rest is calculated from there.

Just do NOT lock your cam to the Iphone and loose the connection, and expect it to stay in sync for a long time. If you need that, you need to look at the Ambient LanC logger, or the Clockit boxes.

Of course if the cam has no TC input and you need to rely on audio TC on the cam as well it is obvious you need a constant connection.

Toy with it. The FCPauxTC app. has a free demo that will let you test your entire workflow. If you run into trouble, don't hesitate to contact me direct!

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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Daniel Frome
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Jan 1, 2012 at 5:25:30 pm

[Bouke Vahl] "Keep in mind that for TC decoding only the first few frames / samples are used, and the rest is calculated from there."

That's a good thing to know. I was actually curious about this point.

It's definitely something to consider. Both devices just getting their LTC from an iphone. I wonder if it's easier to hook to the iphone directly into the DR680, but then feed the one of the RCA line-outs to the camera (a canon 5D in this case).


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Any other comparable field recorders?
on Jan 2, 2012 at 3:09:07 pm

Whatever works for you :-)
However, taking the signal out the audio recorder is a risk.
There might be a small delay (my software can compensate for that, Avid cannot!).
And, you want a constant flow of sound coming out of the output, not only when it is recording. (Chances are the cam starts recording before the sound does. That'should' not be a problem, as my software is smart enough to keep searching for valid TC, and calculate back from there, but it takes a bit more time)
And if there is no timecode found at all, you end up with a clip that does not have a 'logical' timecode...
I would just split the sound into two lines, one to feed the sound recorder, one to feed the cam.
While you're at it, you have two channels on the 5D. So it makes sense to put an audio mixdown or your main mic on the second channel of the 5D, just for a backup to sync if things go wrong.

I would concentrate on making really handy cables. That means, the correct lenght (not too short, too much tension on the connectors, not too long, too much cable salad in your bag.)
Pick the right connectors (especially for the mini-jack, as they are vonurable. Pick between straight or 90 degree)
The long cable that goes to the cam should have a connector close to the cam, something like a Mini XLR, so you can quickly connect / disconnect from the cam. Make the short piece equiped with some velcro and elastic to take the tension of the connector.
To really get nerdy, the connector between the long and short cable ideally has the female part on the long cable. (That one tends to fall on the ground, females are stronger than males).
And of course you need some resistance to attenuate the signal to accomodate for the levels on the cam.
You cannot overmodulate timecode (it is already a blockwave), but that does not go for the mixdown of course. And of course you don't want to blow out the audio part of the cam...
If you do it well, you can put in the resistors inside the (mini) XLR plug. (That is a fun job...)

It is a lot of work (outsource if you're not good with soldering), but it will pay off in the end.

Bouke

http://www.videotoolshed.com/
smart tools for video pros


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