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Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?

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Erin Herbst
Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 4:24:07 pm

I'm a newbie DSLR videographer and have been getting a lot of local jobs recently doing interview-style videos with small business owners and non-profits. I have a job coming up where I'm interviewing the chief at a local fire station. Wanting the end product to turn out like this:





I'm going to use my Rode NTG-2 shotgun and my AudioTechnica AT803 lav mics going into two separate Zoom H1 recorders. I want the audio to be really crisp on this though (want to eliminate as much white/pink noise as possible before editing) and am wondering if I should invest in renting the Tascam DR-100? I heard that it has a high-pass filter and delivers really good end-quality audio but not sure if the difference would be noticeable enough to merit the deduction from my bottom line. Also we will be filming at the fire station which is essentially a giant garage. Not sure how that affects acoustics...
So what are the audio professionals' thoughts? If I'm already using good mics does the audio recording device I use make that much of a difference?
Thanks in advance!


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 13, 2014 at 10:07:56 pm

So Erin let me see if I have your request for info right... You want to shoot a Doco on a DSLR stills camera with poor audio capabilities so you want to record the sound on basicly 'toy' audio recorders with poor pre-amps and you want to asking us which toy is better?
The mics you have chosen is it based on quality or price?
I assume that you will be taking the role/s of Camera,Sound, Lighting, Direction, Producer, Editor etc......And you want to deliver 'Professional' results right?

Yes it can be done, but often you need luck to go your way.
My suggestion is get a good group of 'friends' around you to take on some of the other roles and take the weight off your shoulders.
Yes you can get good audio off 'toy' gear but it takes good people with good skills and a focus on the 'one' job they need to do.


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Erin Herbst
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 14, 2014 at 4:54:29 am

Well now I feel stupid...I had been basing my mic decision off of this article (http://stillmotionblog.com/howtorecordaudioforaninterview/) which suggested the Rode NTG-3 but their link to rent the mic took me to the NTG-2 and so I ended up renting the NTG-2 and not the NTG-3 and now I'm learning that there is a huge difference in audio quality. I can't rent the NTG-3 online anywhere (and don't have $700 to drop on a mic) so now I'm considering canceling my NTG-2 rental and renting one of the following:
Rode NTG-8 (https://www.lensrentals.com/rent/audio/microphones/rode-ntg-8-long-shotgun)
which from what I understand is the same features as the NTG-3, just a longer length
OR
Sennheiser ME66 (http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Sennheiser_ME66?source=auto-suggest)
OR
Sennheiser MKH-14 (https://www.lensrentals.com/rent/audio/microphones/sennheiser-mkh-416-shotgun-interference-tube-mic)
I will be behind the camera and my partner will be operating the boom, but other than that we're a two person crew.
Am I on the right track with these mics and do you have a recommendation between the two? And do you have suggestion for a good audio-recorder I can rent that is better than the "toys" I'm currently using? Can I get away with using the Zoom H1 as my pre-amps if I'm using something like the Rode NTG-8 or one of the Sennheisers?


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Erin Herbst
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 14, 2014 at 4:58:15 am

I'm sorry if these are all really stupid questions. I'm 17 and don't have any formal training in filming as you can probably tell. I've learned everything through reading posts here on Creative COW and just getting out and working through trial and error. Unfortunately budget plays a huge role as I don't have a couple thousand of dollars (atlas not yet) to invest in buying a really good mic and recorder yet, so I'm just trying to figure out how I can turn out the best quality work I can for this client without breaking the bank and working with the "toys" I've got.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 14, 2014 at 4:25:26 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Dec 15, 2014 at 12:11:03 am

Erin, just to be clear, there is nothing stupid in your question. An answer like that one goes against the spirit of places like the Cow. There are other boards out there where you sort of expect it.

Your current mic choices will do fine for now. I would get the Sennheiser ME-66 with the K6 so you don't have to use phantom power in the field. use the battery and you'll get through a day just fine. Focus on mic placement and getting the right field recorder. You may also need a blimp and dead cat (fuzzy) for wind cold be an issue, which it almost always is outdoors where I live.

You will get better control and better sound out of a Tascam 100 mkiii (the newer model), as Tascam sound is generally better than Zoom (I have owned many models of both) but you likely will be better served by the Tascam DR-60d for the price, which mounts to the bottom of the camera, or on an arm. It will allow you to record from any kind of mic input, meaning either an xlr or 3.5 jack. It also allows you to record a second scratch track at -6 dB under the main one automatically, so if you get it wrong, and the levels are too hot, you can have a backup. It's incredible that these very inexpensive units have the features they now have, not available just a couple of years ago. While they are not the quality that you get width super good mics and field mixers, they can be very effective if you take the time to experiment with them before getting in the pressure of the field.

It's great that you have a partner willing to run the boom and listen to the sound going in. That's a huge plus!

The good news is that cameras are getting much better sound inputs from just a few years ago. The newer Canon 5dMkiii that I have has much better sound quality than the previous version. The GH4's out there also can do great work recording. Adding something like the 60d (which is not much more than a 100, is a good way to go. Good luck with your career!

Some examples of what I would consider "decent" sound on a DLSR. It's not Hollywood, but what you can do with a bit of paying close attention and knowing your gear.
This one was shot with a lavalier mic and run directly in. I had no time to setup the field recorder. It's fine and this video was included in One Day on Earth collection.


This one, was done in one day on no budget for a small governmental committee of volunteers. It was shot with the 5Dmkiii and uses the Audio Technica lavs again and Tascam mk60 on a few of the interviews, can you tell the difference?. While I have to go back and redo the titles one of these days, it was a quick and dirty set of interviews that was used to show the county commissioners what the committee did for them over the last year, and who they represented. They loved it.


Al


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Erin Herbst
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 14, 2014 at 7:49:11 pm

Al,
Thank you so much for your input... I really appreciate your advice! I'm going to take your advice and rent the Tascam DR-60D (http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Tascam-DR60D-4Channel-Linear-PCM-Record...) this is the right one, correct?
I cancelled my rental order for the Rode NTG-2 after reading Brian's response so I need to rent another mic. Since I'm already going to be renting the Tascam from BorrowLenses I'd prefer to rent the mic from them too, which limits me to either the Sennheiser ME66 or the Sennheiser MKH-416. MKH-416 is $40 more...do you think for my purposes it's worth it? My primary fear is getting that humming noise and not being able to remove it in post-production without my interviewee's voice becoming "hollow" sounding, and if the Sennheiser MK416 is likely to prevent that then I'm willing to make the extra investment, but if it's unlikely to make that big of a difference then I'd rather save the extra money!
I can definitely tell the difference between the two videos you posted. Is the Tascam MK60 that you used different from the Tascam DR-60?
Appreciate your help!


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Al Bergstein
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Dec 14, 2014 at 11:54:35 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Dec 15, 2014 at 6:59:01 am

Yes, the Tascam at that link is not the latest version, but the latest version just shipped, so it's expected you would have that one in a rental pool. It should do ok for your needs. It's the one I have also. The only thing about it is that if your boom operator or you is going to ride levels while recording, it has a stepper on the volume control, meaning that your jump to the next level is going to be hard and not soft. So if you can get by setting the levels and leaving them on each clip you shoot, then it's fine. If not, you probably need a better more expensive unit. When I have that need, I plug in a Sound Devices Mixpre-d. It allows riding of the levels with no 'stepping'. I go from that to the camera or to the recorder, or both.

I own a MKH-416, and it's a great mic, noticeably but not vastly better than the ME66. But my model needs phantom power, no battery power. The Tascam eats batteries for breakfast, so buy a box for a day's shoot (4 at a time and 1 hour with Phantom on has been my experience!). So really, powering the Me-66 with a single battery is going to be much better, and you should not hear any hum, unless you have some in the room. If there is, the Tascam or your mic can throw a filter on it, (as can your NTG2!)if you take the time to work with it before heading to the field and learn how. If you have to use a phantom powered mic be sure to bring a real voltage meter with your sound guy, and if the battery levels look low, have the sound person check that there is more than 1.30 volts, as that seems to be the cutoff, I've found. Fresh batteries ought to be 1.5 or more, and you can sometimes get by for a short interview with used batteries starting at 1.40 volts.

The MKH-416 is built for rugged outdoors use, which is why I own it, and as such, if you are shooting in rainy conditions, or just fog, you might want to get that one. However, all these mic's are really built pretty well.

Frankly, I think your Rode NTG-2 is probably fine! And notice that in your video you posted, you can see the lav clipped on the tshirt of the second interview. While I sometimes stupidly do that too, I try and clip to the inside or tape to the chest. You can find video tutorials on how to do this on youtube if not on the COW.

Hollowness is not something that a better mic "fixes". You need to do close mixing to get rid of it, or a better room. A lav is likely to be the only 'best' way to fix it if you can't find another room. Sometimes a boom that is really close, and a tight head shot, can get it done, but boy, it's better to find the right room if possible. A fireman is likely to force you to the truck, but maybe outside is better than inside for the actual interview.

That room I shot the wood carver in is a good example. It's a big hollow space, and a mic at the throat barely kept it in check, as you could hear. It wouldn't have mattered if I used a NTG-2 or a MKH-416.

"Producing Great Sound For Film and Video" by Rose is a good overview for the bookshelf on issues for field sound problems, some which you'd never know and rarely are covered by free videos on the web (i.e. the lay of ceiling panels conveys whether the wall might be better at soundproofing or not.) That book has been very interesting reading and review.

Edit: I was checking out DVxuser tonight, and guess what I stumbled on? A comparison for you.
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?289043-Rode-NTG-2-vs-Rode-NTG-3

Al


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Richard lague
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Feb 25, 2015 at 8:37:38 pm

Erin

I have had great results with Tascam and the advice from Al is terrific.

Not sure what side of the bed Brian got up on!!

Lots of pros are that way. They are used to thinking that only the most expensive hardware is any good. There are some good people on this site who are not that way.

How did your project come out?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Feb 25, 2015 at 9:50:57 pm

I think you need to go back and read my original post again...... I have never said that you should only use pro gear......

What I said 'or implied' is that very basic gear can deliver great results when used with skill and good operation technique..... On the flip side of that pro gear can also deliver disastrous results when not used correctly...... But basic gear used poorly will deliver terrible results.

If you actually arm yourself with enough people with a good knowledge base and perhaps use the 'cheapest' of gear you will deliver good results. But try and do everything as a one person crew with basic gear, good luck you are going to need it.

Celebrating 40 years of Broadcasting Audio....
Started with Magnetic stripe and Sprocket holes to now Gigabytes and Touch Screen Mixing Consoles......


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Richard lague
Re: Worth upgrading from Zoom H1 to Tascam DR-100?
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:44:03 am

This is the part of your post that got me. "You want to shoot a Doco on a DSLR stills camera with poor audio capabilities so you want to record the sound on basicly (sic) 'toy' audio recorders with poor pre-amps and you want to asking us which toy is better?"

That is a pretty harsh statement to throw at someone who asked a great question.


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