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Field Recorder

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Richard Schiller
Field Recorder
on Jul 6, 2012 at 7:26:05 pm

Colleagues

I am looking to add a field recorder to our current set-up. We record short films (3 to 10 minutes) in even shorter scenes. We use a variety of camera gear but as so often they have wonderful video but poor audio capability. We often use a studio condenser mic but also sometimes a shotgun and lavalier mics. The recorder would have to double as a field unit for recording sounds without the video rig - like waves crashing on the sea shore, squeaky gates or whatever is needed. It would be a bonus if the built-in mics would service that need but it is not essential.

From what I have seen on-line the Tascam DR-100 MkII fits the bill. We need the phantom power and XLR balanced connection. I like the fact that so many functions are on dedicated switches. I prefer the old-fashioned rotary but individual volume controls (we would mostly record mono and when the second input is used it could well be a back-up mic). Apart from setting the record level most functions will be left the same for every recording and all the unit will do is record. Pretty simple requirements I think. Much of the time the unit would be powered from the mains and I would buy the power supply but still would appreciate the flexible power choices for the times when we are out of the studio (for studio read any room we can commandeer).

Anyone NOT think that this would be a great unit for our needs? If so why?

The display looks a bit crude - but does that matter? The meters do not look as sophisticated as one might hope but I guess they let you know the basics. Some people talk about it having noisier pre-amps but I am struggling to get a sense of whether that is significant or not. Finally, just so you know, then no I cannot aford something lots more costly but I could afford say 50% more if that is what was needed. More spend on this unit will mean less on new microphones.

As ever I am really grateful for your help so your thoughts are very much appreciated.

Richard Schiller

Working amateur

Panasonic Camcorder 1080p, Nikon SLR with video acquisition 720p, Sony Vegas editing software.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field Recorder
on Jul 7, 2012 at 11:59:14 am

Hello Richard and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum,

You don't give us much detail on what you're using to achieve sound that you don't like or why you don't like it. I think that needs to addressed before considering a recorder.

Capturing good audio is a craft as much as focus pulling, videography or plumbing. I could have en entire plumbing truck at my disposal and the results would be underwhelming.

You don't mention a mixer. The right mixer between the mics and camera (or recorder) is a wonderful thing.

Perhaps you could elaborate on what you don't like about your sound now and what your gear setup is.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader


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


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Al Bergstein
Re: Field Recorder
on Jul 7, 2012 at 3:56:20 pm

As Ty said, while you have given us a bunch of good information, a bit more can really help pinpoint your needs.

For example, you don't mention if you need more than two XLR mic inputs. That could be crucial. Nor if you need it to have timecode for multiple camera shooting/synching.

There are a variety of really nice semi-pro decks out there under $1000.00. I have owned a Tascam DR-1 (great audio, but no XLRs, a consumer product), a Zoom (XLEs, but no real line in, which in the music business is essential for great audio), a Tascam HD-P2 (a bit of a dated unit, but my sound engineer loved it.

I would *highly* recommend considering either the Marantz PM661 (which I currently own and love), or the Edirol R-44, needed for more than two XLR in's. Both are high quality pro level units (at the lower end of pro). The Marantz is often standard equipment these days for news gathering on radio. I've used a Edirol, and they are excellent units.

And as Ty said, a field mixer, if you have someone that is a good sound guy, is a great addition to getting clean, low noise input to the deck. Almost all decks improve with one.

Al


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Richard Schiller
Re: Field Recorder
on Jul 9, 2012 at 6:38:20 pm

Ty/Al

Thanks for your replies. Apologies for the tardiness of my response here as I only get to a computer occasionally just at the moment. I hope these comments clear some of the questions...

Our set-up is about reasonably good quality but in a highly practical form. Like using the studio condenser mic for the video shoots. Uncommon I believe but the sound is wonderful and very tolerant of things like gain settings because of the low noise floor. As our shooting environment is so controlled hiding the mic is not too much of an issue.

We are not using a mixer at the moment and my desire is not to use one in future for our general recording so I want a recorder with a pre-amp and phantom power. I do have a mixer by-the-way but less equipment makes for easier and more reliable shooting of course. I take your point though Ty that the pre-amps on a good mixer are likely to be better.

We use one mic at a time but I would be happy to have the capacity for two. This is because we only have one presenter and our films are mono.

Using DSLRs, and that type of camera, means wiring sound into the camera is messy. The inputs are unbalanced. plugs are not very secure etc. So we record sound separately. Now I want to make that easier with a self-contained separate recorder.

We do not put timecode on the audio tracks. when you are only shooting short scenes finding sync using the clapper board seems to work fine.

I have seen that the Marantz gets fine comment for its pre-amps.

I guess to sum up I want a low-noise solution with good dynamic range for ease of use. The end product is not a classical concert recording though or anything like that so the need for quality is simply so that we have less likelihood of a problem than because of any audiophile needs at the end of the chain (does that make sense?).

I hope that helps.

Richard

Richard Schiller

Working amateur

Panasonic Camcorder 1080p, Nikon SLR with video acquisition 720p, Sony Vegas editing software.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field Recorder
on Jul 9, 2012 at 7:17:56 pm

Richard,

Again, which microphone?

Regards,

Ty Ford


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


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