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Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?

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Stephen Lewis
Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Aug 9, 2013 at 10:39:48 pm

I'll be shooting sit-down interviews using a wired XLR lavalier mic.

What will sound better?

A) wired lav into Sound Devices MixPre-D into Tascam DR-40 (or similar inexpensive recorder)
or
B) wired lav into Tascam DR680 WITHOUT the Sound Devices mixer

Thanks for any help.


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Craig Alan
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Aug 10, 2013 at 1:50:01 am

Can't speak for tascam. Though reviews indicate good sound w some customer service issues. But the mix pre d is a great little mixer with one weakness-underpowered for Dynamic Microphones. Other than that its got great quiet sound, great monitoring. Handy in post for voice overs. Great company and support. And you can mount under your cam. Sd 302 has more power three inputs more control. If you don't loose sound quality with cheaper recorder I'd go with sound devices. I know this doesn't answer your question but thought it might help a little.

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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Stephen Lewis
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Aug 10, 2013 at 2:30:41 am

Craig,
You mentioned "underpowered" twice. I am using a lavalier mic (condenser) so dynamic mics don't matter too much to me. The second time you mentioned underpowered, did you mean that it has short battery life or it has trouble providing enough gain? (for say, a wired xlr lavalier mic)

Ultimately, what I need help with is rounding up a good list of audio gear for shooting interviews. I've already bought mics/xlr cables and now I have $1200 left in my audio budget. What should I buy?

Thanks


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Craig Alan
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Aug 10, 2013 at 3:14:55 pm

It's a great mixer for condenser mikes. It takes 2 double A batteries. I use rechargables. Eneloop. Easy to swap out. But this is not the recorder. What I meant by underpowered is you have to turn up the gain control almost all the way and then maybe turn up the gain on the recorder's input. For dynamic mikes with less than high sensitivity only.

But the mix pre d at bhphoto is now $900 and another $96 for the cam mount. Doesn't leave much unfortunately for a good recorder.

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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Malcolm Matusky
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Aug 15, 2013 at 10:04:44 pm

I own the DR680 and bought it because it's a 6 track recorder, not just a mixer. You do have the option of sending a 2 track mix back to camera if you want, or recording it internally, much more functional than a 2 track mixer. Busman audio does have a 4 or 6 track preamp upgrade for this recorder, but so far I am fine with the quality I have been getting with the stock unit, but then my work does not play in theaters. If it did, I would probably spend a few $$ for the upgrade.

Comparing a multi track recorder to a two track mixer is not really a "comparison" but two different ways of working, choose that first and then the gear. For the doc/industrial work I do the DR680 is a fantastic buy and has more features than I need.

Good luck,
M

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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Stephen Lewis
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Aug 16, 2013 at 12:05:49 am

I went ahead and bought the MixPre-D so we'll see how it all shakes out. If the sound is as good as Sound Devices' reputation would have me believe,then I won't be too upset about only having two inputs. I also like how the mixpre d has xlr outs, 3.5mm tape out, aes out and a mic level out on a ta3 output.

I'll report back when I've had time to take it for a test drive.


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Chuck Schilling
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Oct 22, 2013 at 2:47:27 pm

How can a mixer be "underpowered" for a dynamic mike, which doesn't use power from the preamp? Are you suggesting that the MixPre-D doesn't have enough gain available to make the output from your dynamic mikes audible? If that's the case, I'd suggest the problem lies with your mikes, not the MixPre-D.


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Craig Alan
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Oct 23, 2013 at 4:01:53 am

Have you used dynamic mikes with the mix pre-D? Different results?

The dynamic mikes are audible but to get them to a good level like +8 (on the Mix pre-D meter) and above, the gain control needs to be pushed to 3 or 4 o'clock depending on the talent. The phantom power from the mixer works fine and with more sensitive mikes we don't have this problem. There is nothing wrong with our less sensitive mikes. I spoke to Sound Devices support and they are aware that the mix pre-D could use a more 'powerful' pre-amplifier. Maybe I'm using the word "power" incorrectly but my experience with the mix pre-d is extensive. I know Sound Devices confirmed my experience with less sensitive mikes. For an average talent, I should be able to get in the positive range with the input gain controls at about 12 o'clock. That gives us room both higher and lower to make adjustments. If I start at 3 or 4 o'clock there is not much room to play. That said, I do not hear distortion or excess hum or noise at this setting. I also have the option to recalibrate the camera gain so that the 0 tone on the mixer reads slightly higher than -12 on the camera rather than -12 or lower (which I prefer).

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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Chuck Schilling
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:00:47 pm

I don't use dynamic mikes - have no need for them. Which are you using and for what purpose?

I have exactly the opposite problem. I am typically recording in a high SPL environment with sensitive condenser mikes and in order to get to a reasonably adjustable gain range on my MixPre-D have to pad heavily - think -10db on the mike and -20 in an inline pad. Sometimes even more.

I'm curious about the mikes and situations you're having this trouble with - seems to me such insensitive mikes are going to have all manner of self-noise.

Btw...are you sure you're even having a problem? Have you tried boosting your levels in post? I usually record with peak gains at a max of -12 db (and usually lower) so I can EQ and normalize in post without having to compress.


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Craig Alan
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:46:03 am

Electro Voice RE50

Sennheiser MD46 - Cardioid Handheld Dynamic ENG Microphone

Shure SM58

Sennheiser E825S - Cardioid Handheld Dynamic Vocal Microphone with Switch

Basically ENG mikes. For interviews, instructionals, voice over’s, performances on a mike stand, and for rugged mikes to start learning audio in production teams. Then we move on to wireless countrymen and hyper cardioids on booms. Mostly we use the SD 302 when we are using the studio for higher-level productions. The RE50s were a bust - Too Omni directional in a crowded multi-team studio with different productions happening at once. The MD46 is my favorite ENG for interviews. Nice long reach and good sound. The senn 825 are rugged and a good learner mike but very dependent on the talent's proper use. Off access and the sound drops way off. Thus I thought the RE50 Omni would be an improvement but didn't work out. I like the Shures for performances - singers mostly or instructionals, news reports. Anything on a mike stand. We also have the instrument version. Forget the model number.

Getting back to the mix pre-D. Basically with a talent who does not project, I just would like the mixer to have higher gain at 12 o'clock. Again, with a combination of adjusting the calibration and teaching the talent to keep the mike closer and aimed correctly you can definitely get decent sound. Don't like leaving good levels to post when capturing sound on a consumer level camcorder. With our better cams and hypercardoids the sound is cleaner and adjusting in post is more successful. The best sound I've been able to record is with the SD 302 and Ki Pro as recorder (thought the meters and headphone output is pretty poor). I'd love to get the SD mixer/recorder.

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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Chuck Schilling
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Dec 4, 2013 at 10:39:20 pm

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I know nothing of ENG applications - but am totally flummoxed by your preference of using a camcorder as your primary sound recording tool. Even the lowliest Zoom will serve better for this than any camcorder (or DSLR or even any cine camera, for that matter).

You can record at what appear to be inaudible levels on your MixPre-D and will be shocked at how much it can be boosted in post. As long as you're seeing LED's at all, you're getting enough signal. What are you trying to set your peaks at? I try to set it so that I never hit the orange LED's, much less the limiters.


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Craig Alan
Re: Mixpre D or Tascam DR680?
on Dec 5, 2013 at 6:20:35 am

I only use the mix pre-Ds and dynamic mikes for beginner students in a crowded multi-shoot environment or for interviews. With more advanced and after school stuff we are using mostly Audio-Technica AT4053b Hypercardioid Condenser Microphones and lavs. Though I do like the shure vocal mike.

In any case yes we are recording to Canon HV40 Camcorders and Panasonic AG-HPX250PJs. Or sometimes a KIPro.

On the Panasonics I aim for -12. On the Canon's I aim above -12 but enough headroom to not clip.

I think if you shoot in a sound controlled environment you can record at lower levels. However, I do have a recorder on my wish list.

I will do some experimenting with what you are suggesting about boosting in post. However I use FCP X (after FCP legacy for a few years) and not a dedicated sound editing program.

I have heard the opposite advice from audio pros about level being as high as possible without clipping. But I think the cleaner the sound and the less unwanted b.g. noise the more you can boost.

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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