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Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder

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Daniel Martinez
Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 22, 2014 at 6:15:13 am

I am currently a film student at UCR. One of my goals is to enter the world of film/broadcast recording. I have been doing tons of research including reading The Location Sound Bible. I came into this with a basic understanding from my exposure to mixers, amps, etc in bands.

My goal is to hit the ground running and really do this right. I am amassing a kit which I hope will carry me through the extreme low-budget indie and into actual paid work. I have been researching mics, recorders, and work management. I would like to teach myself as much as I can with equipment that will create polished professional work in an environment such as episodic TV.

My tentative budget is in the $2000 range including a budget minded recorder like a roland r44/zoom H6/tascam DR680. I am open to spending more if it will pay dividends in the long run. As of now I purchased a MKH-416 used.

I appreciate any insight you can give me. As of now my biggest hurdle is finding a field recorder/mixer. There appears to be a massive leap from pro-sumer products and pro recorders. I'm looking for a solid recorder that I can grow with. The recorder/mixer obviously is the least of my concerns until my technique using the tools increases.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 22, 2014 at 3:29:47 pm

Daniel. I've been through a lot of recorders in the last 5 years, and would have to say that if I was going to start over again, and wanted to try and get hired in the LA area (UCRiverside, right?), you might try and keep your eyes open for a used Sound Devices unit. They do come up on Ebay, seems like in waves. There haven't been many lately. They are considered the workhorses, due to their ruggedness and specs.
Sort of have to decide how many mics you are going to run at once though, so given your goals the higher end seems to be the way to go. Or rent them when needed.

A very good friend who does sound engineering for me and is super picky about sound, has always loved the specs of the Tascam, and recently bought himself a 680. He loves it. He does not do much pure field video production though. Usually he is stationary with control and electricity. For the price, to also be able to get Digital S/PDIF is a big deal to him, and is not available on most models in this price range. He claims the noise floor is super clean, but of course, there are others here that have argued that. All I know is that I've done video shooting of a long time pro musician, and he and my buddy have loved the audio results from the shoot.

I'm not sure you'll love the onboard mixing abilities of the Tascam. You'd likely want to try it first on a 4 mic test shoot. You might find, for the price that you need a good mixer with bright LEDs also. Which then brings you back to the Sound Devices used price range. You can buy a 702 new for under $2k, and front it with any amount of mixer channels you want leading to the 2 in.

It really comes down to what kind of work you anticipate doing. If you can find the right rental shop in your area, I'd suggest that first. You'll quickly find what you like to work with.

Al


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Daniel Martinez
Re: Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 22, 2014 at 6:05:09 pm
Last Edited By Daniel Martinez on Apr 22, 2014 at 6:19:51 pm

As of now the Sound Devices units that I have seen pop up in the local market are the 744t and the 552. Ideally, the unit that seems to capture most everything that I think would work for me is the 663. Close enough to my desire budget. I am capable of splurging more if it truly will help my career in the long run.

The Tascam Dr680 is a great unit from what I have researched. The biggest issue is that it will malfunction in temps exceeding 104 degrees. This is documented by Tascam which makes me very leery of getting one and relying on it. Besides that issue, it is the best unit I have seen at it's price point. Currently it's only in the $400 range. I am thinking of getting one and using it as a tool to learn on. It lacks timecode and other features that I would like to integrate. More importantly its file managing system would force me to be very detailed with my note taking during any filming.

Here is the big feature that I am essentially stuck on. How many recorded channels should the machine be capable of delivering. The traditional two track workflow seems like a big drawback. Having multiple iso tracks just makes sense to me. Yet again I've never done it, I'm all ears.


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David Jones
Re: Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 23, 2014 at 3:03:56 am

Hi Daniel,

I just picked up a 633 for documentary work and love it. It gives me 6 iso tracks, 2 master L/R tracks and 2 Aux tracks. It has timecode, can record to SD or CF or both at the same time.

I've been on many different shoots, all wanting something different. You'll find on one shoot they'll want to do "double system"; and on another they'll want a transcription recorded. Another will want you to record M/S stereo. And still another will want two wirelesses and a boom mic - all iso as well as a mix track.

The mixer/recorder is the heart of your system (and business) and you should choose it wisely. I've owned several Sound Devices units and have loved all of them.

Best,

DCJ


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 23, 2014 at 9:19:03 am

It's interesting how many newcomers to the industry think a recorder is the first purchase, OK they are in the mindset of 'student films' but that sort of workflow is often a lot different in the Professional market.

My suggestion for anyone entering the audio workforce is find employment where the money is rather than playing around with little or no money sectors of the industry.


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Daniel Martinez
Re: Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 23, 2014 at 6:55:50 pm

Thanks for the advice everybody. Brian you have a great point and it is something that I really do need to address and consider. I am currently applying to the usual suspects for internships. Any hidden gems or opportunities that you would recommend?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Beginner to audio world, guidance with recorder
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:17:24 pm

Thats easy..... The TV / Radio broadcast industry currently has a shortage worldwide for audio people, Audio Directors and Audio Assistants that can cope with 'live to air' productions. NOT just a computer jockey with an 'undo' button.
In my location the youngest broadcast audio person is mid 40's with no one young coming up the ranks.
So get your head around TV or radio outside broadcasts, Live to air studio productions.
Start with your local community TV / Radio station and be a volunteer.

I've been doing it for 30+ years and currently busier than a 'one handed wallpaper hanger'


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