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Best inexpensive recorder

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Stephen Lewis
Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 20, 2013 at 7:05:53 am

I just bought a Sound Devices 302 mixer. Yay! I have a Zoom H4n but I hate it because the XLR inputs are mic only and the TRS inputs are line level but unbalanced! (the 302 xlrs are balanced)

The Tascam DR 40 looked nice and I was going to buy it but I thought I ought to consult the seasoned sound professionals here on the COW first. Can I get GREAT audio with the SD302/DR-40 pairing? Would you suggest a different portable audio recorder?

What is the best way to interface the two? 302 xlr to DR40 xlr or some other combination of outputs/inputs on the two devices?

Thanks for any help!

PS: If I wanted to output audio from the 302 to BOTH a camera with a 3.5mm jack and an audio recorder (like the DR40), how would I do it?

PPS: If these seem like dumb questions it's because I literally have no idea what I'm doing. Just thought I'd be frank with all of you.


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Craig Alan
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:56:47 pm

[Stephen Lewis] "I have a Zoom H4n"

vs

[Stephen Lewis] "Tascam DR 40"

Not a lot of difference in quality. To me a waste of money to buy the other if you have either one.

on the 302:
Line-Level or Mic-Level (or somewhere in between)
The XLR Output Level can be attenuated anywhere from a Line level signal to low Mic level signal.
See Setup Menu for adjustment.

I'm pretty sure you can use the tape out with the right interconnect to go to your camera. I haven't done that and if no one else answers call sound devices tech support. They give great support.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Eric Toline
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 21, 2013 at 2:24:43 pm

I've got a DR40 that I feed from a Sound Devices 442. The DR40 line in will accept both an unbalanced or balanced input. I would suggest feeding your DR40 from the TA3 2 channel unbalanced mixout connection on the 302 to 2x 1/4" mono tip, sleeve unbalanced plugs. Doing it that way leaves the 302 XLR's for feeding another camera, recorder whatever.

Self serving plug follows: If you are hesitant about building the mix out connecting cable I can do it for you. I make and offer all types of audio interconnecting cables. For more info: 954-255-7628

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Craig Alan
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 21, 2013 at 2:48:08 pm

Eric, is that like one of these?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/293005-REG/Sound_Devices_XL_3_XL3_Min...

If so what do you charge?

We use 7 mixpre-d's under out smaller cams and the students have broken a couple of these cables. What do you charge?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Eric Toline
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 21, 2013 at 3:43:22 pm

The cable in the B&H listing is what you want. I charge $30 each. Please call me and we can discuss exactly what you need. 954-255-7628

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Ty Ford
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 21, 2013 at 3:52:29 pm

Craig,

Eric has made many cables for me.

Enjoy,

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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Craig Alan
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 23, 2013 at 5:52:08 pm

Thanks Eric. I don't have a budget right now but will keep you on file for future needs. Is it worth sending you broken cables for repair or is it best to start from scratch? Also would you advise my learning how to do these repairs or is it best left to a pro? Our XLRs take quite a beating too.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Eric Toline
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 23, 2013 at 8:11:57 pm

If your cables are taking a beating because of carelessness then it's up to you to have a talk with those people and to hold them responsible for the repair or replacement costs. There is no excuse for that kind of irresponsibility. Since you seem to be on a limited budget I would suggest you learn to repair the cables yourself.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Craig Alan
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 24, 2013 at 12:42:36 am

I am lending the gear out to hundreds of students every week. This includes 6 production kits with as many as 12 xlr cords, 6 mixers, 12 mikes, interconnects with the cameras, boom poles, etc. I have had a very good track record, far better than most I have seen, but things do get worn out or on occasion mishandled. When we are in the production stage of a project, we are usually cramped for time. One period ends and the next begins. There is a check in and out procedure but I do not have time to put gear through its paces so its more like an eyeball and organization thing. On the cables that have gone bad, it’s a loose connection and usually this is discovered after the fact and often intermittent. I must say that the better quality gear tends to hold up better.
As far as budget, in the past two years we have spent over $200,000 on the program. But school budgeting is not particularly well thought out; there is no budget for on- going expenses. It’s a matter of taking advantage of grants that must be applied for and the money spent within a set period of time. Getting the grants and following through on the orders is a job in itself.
As far as holding students responsible, I address this on a regular basis – both the proper handling of gear and the issue of respect and safety. However, no one has empowered me with the ability to charge parents for any damage that occurs.

In the past year, I had two XLR cords develop an intermittent connection. They had been in service for, I’m guessing, 3 years. I also made the mistake of ordering 15-foot cables a while back. If I were to do it again I’d go to 25 feet.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Ty Ford
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 23, 2013 at 8:24:54 pm

Craig,

Your XLRs take a beating? Please explain how and why this happens.

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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Craig Alan
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 24, 2013 at 12:00:01 am

Sorry I worded it that way. I have a pretty good track record in terms of loss and damage to production gear. However, I am lending out gear to hundreds of students day in and day out during the school year.. Every so often i find an xlr cable that seems to have a loose connection. If I had an inexpensive way to repair the connection I would. But I have never done these type of repairs. I assume I'd have to learn to solder and follow a wiring diagram.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Ty Ford
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 24, 2013 at 12:34:37 am

Ah, students!

Yes, got it.

Get a small Weller soldering pencil and some solder and jump right in. It doesn't take a lot to learn and it will save your butt. I have Eric do my big jobs, but I still handle the occasional soldering chores that pop up.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3348443

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


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Craig Alan
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 24, 2013 at 12:46:02 am

Any good links on making your own XLR connections?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Ty Ford
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 24, 2013 at 1:26:43 am

google says "How to solder XLR connectors"

http://tinyurl.com/nyhws8j

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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Stephen Lewis
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:08:10 am

Thanks to all of you for the help/info.

Two things...

A) Let's pretend for a moment that I don't have any audio recorder at all. Which recorder in the $300-ish price range (or lower) will go best with my SD302 mixer? At this point, I'm still leaning towards the DR40 because of the MIC/LINE level XLR inputs. (h4n is xlr mic-level only)

B) I called Sound Devices today and they were very nice. As Eric pointed out, I can go from the tape out (TA3) to dual 1/4" plugs into the H4n recorder (to stay at line level.) Eric... how much would you charge for such a cable? Or would a different cable be better if I go ahead and get a Tascam DR40?

The other thing I need to keep in mind is that the tape out will not let me pan individual mics to L or R channels only.
So, I guess I would want to feed the tape out to the camera and save the main XLR outputs on the 302 for the higher quality of the recorder? (Am I right about the tape-out being L+R "mixed" together, meaning the recorder wouldn't record L and R separately?)




I'm sort of chasing my tail here... please somebody slap me across the face and speak wisdom to me.


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Ty Ford
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:38:48 pm

Stephen,

What gives you the impression that tape out does not follow the main out?

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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Stephen Lewis
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 27, 2013 at 3:52:49 pm

I was confused. On page 13 of the manual, the section "Tape Out" is followed by "(Mix Output)". In my infinite wisdom I took that to mean it wouldn't give me discrete L or R stereo channels. I understand now that it just means it can be used to link multiple mixers together.

Thank you Ty/Eric for helping me dislodge my head from my own arse.

With this question resolved....

I'd like to save the XLR outs on the mixer for a camera. (presumably, I can buy a dual female XLR to male 3.5mm stereo cable off the shelf somewhere)

I would then use the Tape Out for the recorder.

So for interfacing with a recorder, is it more optimal to have a TA3 to dual 1/4" cable custom made or have a TA3 to dual XLR cable made? Is one connector more robust than the other?


Steve


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Eric Toline
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:15:22 pm

Stephen,

The tape out on the 302 is a 2 channel unbalanced output. So what ever is on channel one in the 302 will appear on channel 1 (L) in the tape out, same for channel 2 (R).

Be aware that the mix out on the 302 is at -10 pro-sumer level-vs-the "0" line level (.775vac) from the XLR outputs on the 302.

All that means is that you'll have to turn up the input gain on the recorder a bit more. The cable that you want will run about $45 including shipping. Call me at: 954-255-7628

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Stephen Lewis
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:02:45 pm

Thanks for the clarification Eric.

Good point about the level mismatch...

Reading page 13 of the 302 manual says the Tape Out is a fixed -15 dBu level. The Line level input on the recorder (DR40 for example) is +4 dBu. If I have to increase the level on the recorder, will this introduce the lower quality DR40 preamps into the equation? If so, then am I negating the benefit of the great preamps in the 302?


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Eric Toline
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jun 27, 2013 at 8:06:38 pm

Going in line level bypasses the mic preamps. I have a DR 40 and it works fine with a line feed from a mix out or any line level source from -15 to +4. All you do is adjust the recorder level to where you want the reference level to be. Usually -20dbfs. Don't overthink the line feed setup. this is not brain surgery.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Stephen Lewis
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jul 5, 2013 at 8:11:54 am

Eric,
I decided to go for a Tascam DR100mkII. Is it possible to buy a stereo TA3 to dual XLR cable? (for interfacing the 302 Tape Out with the XLR inputs of the Tascam). I can't seem to find a cable like this online. How much would you charge for this kind of cable?

OR

Maybe I should just go Tape Out to 3.5mm line input of the DR100mkII? (with this cable: http://www.markertek.com/Cables/Audio-Cables/Mini-to-XLR-Cables/Laird-Digit... )


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Eric Toline
Re: Best inexpensive recorder
on Jul 6, 2013 at 2:04:35 am

You could use the 3.5mm cable from the tape out on the 302 to the Tascam but depending on how you plan to use the setup it's not the most secure connection. Personally I always prefer a more secure locking connection such as you would get with a TA3 to XLR. Why not call me and we can discuss your requirements. 954-255-7628.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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