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Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard

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Matt Whittemore
Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 7:32:13 pm
Last Edited By Matt Whittemore on May 10, 2016 at 8:13:27 pm

Hi there, I'm having an issue that I'm trying to figure out. There are times when I need to plug in my recorder to a soundboard, such as one a DJ or band have. At times, I get a signal that is so loud that it clips, even if I turn the recorder levels down to zero. Is there anything I can do? Asking the DJ or band to turn down thier levels is usually not possible. I'm using a Zoom H2n. Any help would be most appreciated.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:06:08 pm

Sounds like you are feeding 'line level' into a 'mic level' input and overloading the preamps, the only way to solve your problem is to use external pads to lower the level.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:08:12 pm

What do you mean by external pads?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:12:23 pm

Its a group of small resistors that will lower the level from the line level down to microphone level. It doesn't require any powering and can often be built into the connectors.

http://www.uneeda-audio.com/pads/


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:16:29 pm

So if I was to start from scratch, what's the best way to record a clean signal from a soundboard?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:24:13 pm

Any recorder that doesn't have a connection that will accept 'line level' WILL distort.....

Lets work through this, you are using a H2n and is the input 3.5mm socket (mic level) and the DJ mixer has (what sort of connector) out? RCA or XLR?
If we know that we might actually find a cable on the web to purchase off the shelf.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:30:22 pm

Thanks for your help. Yes, using an H2n with the 3.5mm socket. The mixers are always different (weddings, etc), so sometimes xlr, sometimes RCA. So I've been using an xlr or rca to 3.5mm cable, depending on what plug they have available. Sometimes it's alright and other times it's blown out.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:41:45 pm

Just looked at the specs of the H2n it can cope with 0db to -39db.... RCA is normally -10db (so RCA output mixers should be ok) ......BUT XLR mixers are normally +4db output so about 14db hotter than RCA level. So even with an adaptor plug the signal is still to high and that needs to be lowered by at least 15-20db and thats the attenuation pad you will need.... 15-20db


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:45:48 pm

That's odd, because the last time it was and rca output and I had to turn the recorder level to 0 and still got distortion. However, it was a brass band, so pretty loud. I'd like to keep it as simple as possible, so do you know of any recorders that could handle this? I'm willing to buy a better/more expensive recorder.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 10, 2016 at 11:46:31 pm

I don't know where you are but here is a start..

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=attenuation+pad&N=0&InitialSearch=...


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 11, 2016 at 12:12:35 am

Level matching is just part of audio, even if you used a different recorder you will probably need pads or adaptors to suit, an external mixer like the Sound Devices 302 or similar may be useful.... but its more gear to carry and use.
For just a few $$$ you can normally get most recorders, recording from most mixers.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 11, 2016 at 12:13:56 am

Thanks, I'll look into the pads. I appreciate your help.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 11, 2016 at 12:55:09 am

Don't forget you will need one pad for left channel and another for the right channel if you are taking stereo from the DJ mixer.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 11, 2016 at 2:10:08 pm

I do a lot of 'off the board' recording and have never had a problem. I would assume it's your H2N. I recently used a H5 (which is nice!) and ran two XLRs from a line board out feed, and had to lower the dB about 10%. If you are looking for a good recorder for board feeds, it's been my experience that Zoom pre's are a bit harsh. I tend to go with my PMD661 Marantz. It has the most neutral sound. No harshness at all. Just sayin' in case you are looking for a new recorder.

Al


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Al Bergstein
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 11, 2016 at 2:19:43 pm

Just did a quick read of the manual, and yes, the line in is meant only for microphones, not a true line in. I would recommend buying a better tool for the job you want to do. High quality recorders are very cheap these days. I was not happy with the H4N for the same reason, in that the line in needed padding. The H5 and Marantz have never needed one. (though I'm sure there's some situation that might warrant it).

Al


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 12, 2016 at 1:16:49 pm

Thanks Al, I'll check it out for sure. It doesn't always happen, but seems to be happening more and more.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 12, 2016 at 1:33:59 pm

What about using a mixer to get a suitable level, instead of going straight to the recorder?


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 12, 2016 at 1:51:05 pm

Also, I just read that the Zoom H1 has a true line in, but I have a feeling that my H1 would handle the signal even worse than my H2n. Any thoughts?


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 3:12:36 pm

Hello Matt,

Great advice you're getting here, from Brian and Al. (Thanks guys!)

I know you're using a recorder, but if I'm taking a board feed I usually use a mixer in-between the board and camera to control levels. Pre-fader outputs are best because the gain doesn't change unless someone tweeks the input tim.

If you're getting a post-fader signal, you may have a busy day ahead of you.

When I get a line level board feed, it's usually low and I have to choose between the mic or line level inputs on my mixer.

Mic input may be too sensitive, Line input may require more mixer preamp gain.

Having some adapters can give your the opportunity to take the output from the mixer at a better point.

If there's a podium mic, I also bring a small foam pop filter because most podium mics pop like crazy.

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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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 4:34:33 pm

Hi Ty, thanks for the info. I was going to buy either a better recorder or a mixer this week because this past weekend it happened again, audio from the DJ feed being distorted. Do you have any recommendations for a portable field mixer that won't break the bank?


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 4:36:01 pm

Oh, and what kinds of adapters do you suggest?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 5:20:55 pm

Ok.... Back to the top of the thread.... Pads
A simple $20 pad will solve your problem.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 6:25:33 pm

All the pads on B&H are special order. Is an attenuation cable the same thing? Like this one?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004U3S1JA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=U...


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 6:49:14 pm

So, in researching mixers I came across the Tascam DR-70D. I got it because it allows me to record track at different levels (the music is usually louder coming from the DJ's mixer than the microphone). I can also use it on camera when it's not hooked up to the board, so more options. Good mixers were out of my budget so this seemed like a good alternative. I do plan on getting a pad as well, just to cover all my bases.

Thanks to everyone for the great info!


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 10:38:33 pm

B&H claim to have attenuation pads that are switchable from many manufactures that are 'in stock'
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/In-Line-Mic-Accessories/ci/14723/N/399160...

Attenuation cables is just a pad that is moulded into a specific cable connectors, a separate XLRM > XLRF is better as they can easily be used with other jobs......

So let me get this straight... you are now wanting a separate feed of the music ONLY and another separate feed of the DJ mic ONLY and what about any other speech microphones you will need a separate feed of those as well? And then mix them back together in post production.

Sounds like you are going to have to run a large multicore cable to the DJ position.... and can they give separate splits of the different components?


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 10:42:44 pm

No, I just mean that the music and the mic (toasts, etc) are usually different volumes.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 10:48:56 pm

So are you prepared to run several cables to the DJ position?

A simpler way of doing things is take just 1 feed and ride the levels at the recorder.... and if the level is to hot use a 'pad' so you don't get clipping on the LOUDEST sections.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 10:51:20 pm

I'm not sure what you mean. I'm just talking about the DR-70D's ability to record the same thing to two files at the same time, at different levels. That way I can record one lower, just in case.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 10:58:28 pm

Why not just record the signal and keep in mind the high levels and then in post production just raise the level on the quiet sections..... way simpler.
Most recorders that have 2 level recording (for safety) do it a a preset level.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 11:02:44 pm

I suppose I just like the idea of having a backup.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 11:16:54 pm

Why not just adjust the volume curve / line in post prod, it has to be a LOT easier than doing a cross fade to another track then adjust that level to match.....


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 11:25:04 pm

That's what I do, but it will be nice to have a backup recorded at a lower level in case something clips, the DJ decides to raise his levels without telling me, etc. The second recording is a backup. That plus the fact that I can use it with a camera when there's no need to record a DJ feed made me think it'll be a good option. Mixers are out of my budget and this seemed like a good compromise. I'm still going to get a pad in case this doesn't work out.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 11:32:44 pm

What sort of video camera are you using?
This is where 'auto level' on the video camera will save you hundreds of hours of work.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 11:33:27 pm

A Canon C100


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 11:57:03 pm

So why not get a feed fro the DJ either by cable or wireless feed it into your camera input and run your camera in 'auto mode' page 77 of the c100 manual.... The audio level will then be adjusted by your camera.
Drop the file into the video edit time line... presto all done.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 17, 2016 at 12:07:55 am

Ok, I'm starting to get confused. Let's forget about recording to camera for a second. If I was to go from the DJ feed to the recorder, I need an attenuator (pad). Those are basically an XLR male to XLR female adapter that lets me lower the db. So when the soundboard only has rca or 3.5mm available, am I just plugging in adapters? For example, the soundboard has rca out and my recorder is 3.5mm in. I would need an rca to xlr adapter and a second xlr to 3.5mm adapter? The problem is that the sound board isn't always xlr.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 17, 2016 at 12:27:42 am

Ok.... the output of the DJ mixer is LINE LEVEL and comes out either on an XLR or RCA connector.
This CAN be plugged into the input of a recorder / camera with a LINE LEVEL input (without the use of a pad or any sort of attenuation)

If you want to feed the DJ signal into a recorder / camera that DOES NOT have a line level input and only has a Mic level input (like the H2n) then the incoming signal level needs to lowered (externally before going to the recorder / camera) this is called attenuating the signal and is done with an 'Attenuation PAD'

If the incoming DJ signal level is all over the place and beyond your control then you will need to adjust the level at some time in the production..... either at the time of the recording either by using a recorder / camera with 'AUTO LEVEL' where the electronics in the recorder unit does the work for you...... or manually adjusted at the moment of recording by a human adjusting a knob up or down.... or record the DJ knowing that they will get louder and keeping this as your highest level and accepting the lower music / speech level and doing the adjust in post production.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 17, 2016 at 12:40:54 am

ok, I get that. So if the signal comes out of an RCA connector, I'll just need an RCA to XLR adapter, since all the pads I see are XLR. And when the DJ mixer only has a 1/4" stereo plug available, same thing...1/4" to XLR. Is that correct?

For reference, this is the pad I purchased:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000K67U52/ref=ya_st_dp_summary


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 17, 2016 at 12:48:26 am

Yep you've got it.... the Pad you ordered is fine.
And the reason for putting it into an XLR barrel is there is some electronic components in there, and they fit in nicely. tying to put them into an RCA or other sort of connector is quite difficult.

Pads can be used in EITHER direction...... so there is no defined in or out


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 17, 2016 at 1:03:38 am

Awesome, thanks so much!


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 6:52:10 pm

yes, it appears so.

Ty

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


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on May 16, 2016 at 6:49:29 pm

Matt,

Sounds like the typical post-fader send. The party gets to rocking' and they jack up the sound and blow you out .....I'm guessing.

I like a Sound Devices 302 http://tinyurl.com/h4omdb8

or USB Pre D. Both very solid. http://tinyurl.com/hmz79tt

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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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 5, 2016 at 10:24:22 pm

So, I've tried using the attenuator 3 times so far. It literally did nothing. Line out via XML to the attenuator, out of the attenuator via XML/3.5mm to the mic in of the recorder, with no resulting change. Could I have gotten a bum attenuator or am I missing something?


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Bill Davis
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 7, 2016 at 4:57:10 am

What type of Attenuator? They are usually measured in db's of attenuation. If you bought one with only a very modest level of attenuation, and you're presenting a strong signal to it, it's quite possible that the lowered output is still overloading the mic input.

I carried a switchable 15, 20, 30db attenuator for years. In some recording circumstances (I did a shoot with a "jet car" years ago where 30db was nowhere NEAR enough.!!)
There are 20, 30, 50db attenuators. And you can buy a single one at 15db that might just not do the job.

So it might be working and just not strong enough. Or it might have a flaw. If you have a laptop with a sound recording app, you can likely measure the effect and know for sure.

Good luck.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 7, 2016 at 5:18:21 am

Hang on doesn't the recorder have 'auto level?' if so you won't notice any difference as it will work out its own 'correct' level ...BUT now with greater head room and isn't this what the OP was wanting?


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 7, 2016 at 12:01:19 pm

The problem is that it's a line out going to a mic in, so the signal out is too strong.


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Matt Whittemore
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 7, 2016 at 12:00:25 pm

It's an xlr attenuator with a 15/20/30 db switch.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 7, 2016 at 11:30:17 pm
Last Edited By Brian Reynolds on Jun 7, 2016 at 11:34:16 pm

Have you adjusted the input level to suit high levels? (P 70 of the manual)
Also just checking that the 'plug in power' is turned off? (P 16 of the manual)


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Bill Davis
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jun 8, 2016 at 7:39:43 am

Ok. 30db will usually pad a line level to a mic input just fine.

So have you stepped through your overall gain structure?

Is the source signal clean and of the correct amplitude?

Time to isolate signals and swap out gear stages until you locate where the problem is coming from.

Good luck.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Allen Cavedo
Re: Audio Recorder Clipping When Plugged Into Soundboard
on Jul 9, 2016 at 7:51:37 pm

Wow, a ton of advice here, all of it good but a lot to digest. I think some of the problems you had were not only level matching but also impedance matching, but let's not get crazy at this point!

I have a pile of Sound Devices pro audio gear and know exactly how to do what you want using that gear. But what would I use if I did not have that SD gear? I would try my TASCAM DR-100 mkII recorder. I bet $10 that recorder could get an excellent recording, why? Because it has real Line inputs on XLR connectors (not fake Line in's like on a Zoom H4n), it also has a stereo 3.5mm Line input, take your pick. It also has a real limiter (not an Automatic Gain Control but it also has that if you want although not recommended for use on your application but maybe, depending. I know that is vague so you will have to experiment as I would). The limiter sounds pretty good if you set the input level correctly. Most board mixers I've seen have RCA Tape Outputs which should work into a Line input although you will need a lot of gain, or try Mic level with gain set low (there are 3 Mic gain settings in addition to the gain knobs).

So I would connect the Mixer RCA Tape outs to the DR-100 Line input using either the XLR (switched to Line) or 3.5mm Line input depending on what cable you get (get both). Turn on the Limiter to prevent unexpectedly loud stuff from clipping, and set the gain so the loudest sounds, be they music or the intros and toasts, peak before the limiter starts limiting (around -6 dB). The DR-100 has huge semi-pro flexibility and that is why I ditched the old H4n a couple years ago.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/832911-REG/Tascam_DR100MKII_DR_100mkI...


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