Recording into Laptop at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 13th, 2007, 01:21 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
Recording into Laptop

Hello!

I am starting to buy gear for my next movie short and I am looking for a USB/Firewire interface so I can record the audio on my laptop.

I am considering the Mackie Onyx Satelite: http://www.mackie.com/products/satellite/index.html

- It is only $180 at B&H. Is the sound quality very good?
- It seems that most interfaces use balanced TRS for to record line-level signals. Will this be ok for taking the line signal from my SD 302? I know it will work, but I don't know much about the mechanics of TRS vs XLR. Since they are both balanced, it would seem that the only difference between the two would be the physical connectors. Is this true?
- Are the TRS jacks stereo or mono? Not that it really matters for location sound, I would just need to know which kind of XLR to TRS cable to get.
- It says that the pod can be powered by firewire. Does it have to be six-pin firewire? Are there any other ways to power the pod aside from placing it in the docking station?

If the Satellite isn't a good option for location recording, would you mind recommending a few good options? It needs to output 24 bit/96kHz via usb or firewire and needs to have balanced line-level input. I would prefer something under $600, but if that is to low for a good recording interface, just tell me.
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 02:40 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Croydon, England
Posts: 277
Just curious - why are you recording sound seperately to a laptop instead of to the camera, or a DAT?
Paul Jefferies is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #3
Kino-Eye
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 455
I can think of many reasons for using a laptop for recording, for example, one of the things I love about Boom Recorder is the detailed sound reports and the ability to customize how files are named which helps me out in post. For documentary and ENG shooting it makes sense to record sound on the camera, time, attention, and bodies are at a premium, but for more elaborate feature shooting, live events, multi-track recording beyond the two channel recording of a camera, etc. good old double system sound enters the picture with many advantages. Imagine getting a set of files and sound reports with all the information you need in terms of timecode, slate, scene, take, roll number, person speaking, etc.
__________________
David Tames { blog: http://Kino-Eye.com twitter: @cinemakinoeye }
David Tamés is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 03:08 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
I'm recording to laptop because it is better quality than to camera - 24-bit 96mHz instead of 16-bit 48mHz (which is what camera audio would be). Also, from what I read, the camera pre-amps tend to be noisier than those of a dedicated audio recording system. What I'm hoping is that, by sacrificing the mobility of a flash- or drive-based self-contained recording system and recording to laptop, I can get sound quality that will match or come close to that of a $2k+ system only for a lot less.
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 04:39 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Dude,

24-bit 48 is fine.

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 04:49 PM   #6
Kino-Eye
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 455
Ty is right (he's the audio expert), 24-bit @ 48KHz is fine, but in a pinch, 16-bit @ 48KHz is acceptable for dialog. It's practically universal since that's what many digital video cameras record.

If the only reason to record on a laptop is to get 24-bit @ 96KHz then I would say, do you really need it? Why go through all that trouble? For dialog (if that's what you're recording) camera audio (16-bit @ 48KHz in the case of the DV and DVCPRO HD formats) is just fine. I would certainly avoid the alternative DV format of 12-bit @ 32KHz.
__________________
David Tames { blog: http://Kino-Eye.com twitter: @cinemakinoeye }
David Tamés is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 04:51 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Stoltzfus View Post
- It seems that most interfaces use balanced TRS for to record line-level signals. Will this be ok for taking the line signal from my SD 302? I know it will work, but I don't know much about the mechanics of TRS vs XLR. Since they are both balanced, it would seem that the only difference between the two would be the physical connectors. Is this true?
- Are the TRS jacks stereo or mono? Not that it really matters for location sound, I would just need to know which kind of XLR to TRS cable to get.
...
Yes, TRS can be used interchangably with XLR. Physically they're both 3-conductor and can be wired for a balanced signal.

XLR is used in the field more often because it locks. Manufacturers like TRS because you can pack more of them on a panel.

So, yes, buy or make some XLR-F to TRS-M cables and you're physically ready to go from your 302 into the interface.

TRS stereo or mono? It depends. The TRS connector can be used for either. If TRS is being used on a mono input channel then it's likely balanced mono.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #8
Kino-Eye
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Stoltzfus View Post
[...] from what I read, the camera pre-amps tend to be noisier than those of a dedicated audio recording system [...]
While true, it really depends on the camera. For example, the Panasonic DVX100 (and the HVX200 for that matter) have surprisingly good pre-amps for prosumer cameras). Now what I do most of the time is go into the camera with LINE level from my Sound Devices 302 mixer, so the microphone pre-amps in the camera are not an issue. Good mixers have better limiters than cameras do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Stoltzfus View Post
[...] by sacrificing the mobility of a flash- or drive-based self-contained recording system and recording to laptop, I can get sound quality that will match or come close to that of a $2k+ system only for a lot less.
With a good audio interface and a laptop, yes, you can put together quite a good recording set-up, but is the additional quality worth the loss of mobility? I do laptop recording when I can (I love the sound reports) but most of the time, portability is more important than anything else, and thus I record sound on the camera.
__________________
David Tames { blog: http://Kino-Eye.com twitter: @cinemakinoeye }
David Tamés is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 08:20 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
Yes, quality is more important than portability. First off, I'm using an XL2, not a DVX100 or DVX200, and I have read complaints about hiss in the XLR jacks. Not to mention it records mic level only through its XLR jacks. Second, although the instigating project for this is a movie short, that will not be the only use of my audio setup by any means. I produce promotional videos, and I need the higher sound quality to lend production value to my project and to save me time (and sometimes headache) trying to clean up a hiss filled audio track. Third, I'm a purist and somewhat of a perfectionist, so I am always gung-ho for better quality even when it might not needed or even readily apparent.

So, with all due respect, my mind is made up - has been for a while. The question at hand is this: would you guys recommend a usb or firewire interface that sounds good but is cost effective enough to justify purchasing it instead of a stand-alone digital audio recorder?

Thanks!
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 13th, 2007, 09:41 PM   #10
Kino-Eye
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 455
My general experience has been that FireWire audio interfaces work better, and specifically I recently had a chance to use a MOTU Ultralite, a 24-bit, 96kHz FireWire interface, very nice. It was loaned to me by a friend who's a composer and does a good bit of recording too. The Ultralite sports eight analog inputs, two are microphone inputs with 48V phantom power and preamps, and the rest are balanced line-level 1/4" TRS (which saves space on such a small interface). It's also got S/PDIF digital I/O.

By the way, Firewire is a much better interface for audio than USB: USB is an asynchronous interface, while Firewire has two modes, asynchronous or isochronous. What this means in practical termis is that Firewire devices can count on a dedicated amount of bandwidth, and therefore audio travels without interruption. Your better audio interfaces use Firewire for this reason.
__________________
David Tames { blog: http://Kino-Eye.com twitter: @cinemakinoeye }

Last edited by David Tamés; September 14th, 2007 at 05:59 AM.
David Tamés is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2007, 05:54 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
Thanks a lot, David. I had suspicions that firewire would be better, I just didn't know specifics. Thank you for the info! The UltraLite seems like an excellent unit. I am wondering, though, if I would be paying for a bunch of I/O that I don't need or for superior quality with that unit. Since it is for location dialog, I really only need one or two line-level inputs.
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2007, 10:40 AM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 152
Nobody does dialog at 96k. Editor won't like it.
RME fireface is pretty good if you are going the laptop method.
Really should consider a mixer with extra outputs to run to camera as backup. Laptop not reliable for production sound.
Brooks Harrington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2007, 10:47 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooks Harrington View Post
Laptop not reliable for production sound.
You might want to check with Take Vos in The Netherlands. His Boom Recorder software for Macs has been adopted by some location sound people.

www.vosgames.nl.


Regards,

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ephrata, PA United States
Posts: 257
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooks Harrington View Post
Nobody does dialog at 96k. Editor won't like it.
RME fireface is pretty good if you are going the laptop method.
Really should consider a mixer with extra outputs to run to camera as backup. Laptop not reliable for production sound.
First of all, I AM the editor, so I will like it. :) And why isn't dialog done at 96k? If I don't record at 96k but do record other sound (such as the music track) in 96k, won't Premiere have to resample the rates that aren't the same as the project rate? And if so, won't that introduce artifacts or distortion?

Second, I am using a mixer - I already said I'd be taking the line out from my SD 302. I will be sending two channels to the firewire interface to be recorded as separate mono channels with the volume one set a little higher than the other. I will be sending the RN out to the camera for scratch track and backup.

Third, although a laptop can't be quite as reliable as a dedicated recorder due to the possibility of it locking up etc, as long as you are careful of your connections, I don't see why it couldn't be reasonably reliable as long as the laptop/interface assembly is stationary during recording.
Dale Stoltzfus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: switzerland
Posts: 2,131
a laptop can be rock solid as long it is a dedicated machine.
no antivirus starting a disk scan in a middle of a 8 track recording.
no wireless card looking for network
no screensaver trying to download new pictures
no windows update trying to call home.
most of services disabled, you can get a fast PC even with a P3 and slow hard disk, able to cope with 8 track a 48Khz from firewire. (mine has the HDD led blinking only every 2 or 3 sec., so the disk seems not too busy...).
I use an Alesis multimix 12 firewire and a 15$ firewire pcmcia card on an old Dell latitude.
Giroud Francois is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:41 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network