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Old November 19th, 2007, 09:58 PM   #1
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Nature Audio

Hi everyone,

Im currently shooting a nature docu with a Canon H1 on the HDV format. The mic with the H1 is not good at all and Im getting a Audio Technica 897 as a replacement.

As for the sound, I would want to have a portable solution and record to a digital recorder and have narrowed my options to the Zoom H2, H4 and Edirol R-09. Im leaning more towards the H4 as there are XLR inputs and would be perfect with the AT 897.

The H2 has the 5.1 feature that may be useful but the mic inputs are non-XLR which I think are unbalanced?

Any comments on the AT897 with a H2, H4 or R-09 will be appreciated.

Cheers

WeeHan
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Old November 20th, 2007, 10:52 PM   #2
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I wouldn't use the Zoom for what you're doing. Nature recording is very specific. People go so far as to get Parabolic mics for that sort of thing.

The Zoom is really made for musicians. It's a great piece to have if you want to get your ideas down.

The biggest downside to it is that you can't fine-tune the levels. You only get the option of adjusting low, medium, or high via a 3 position switch on the side. Low is generally for line level. It does have 2 XLR inputs. The input is a combo 1/4" and XLR. The internal mic is really sensitive to handling noise so the ZOOM sounds better when you have an external mic attached. It also has phantom power which is cool.

I bought it a week ago and only used it once. I wanted it to screw around with and that's exactly what it was good for. I was disappointed. Didn't want to return it 'cause the place would've charged me a "handling" fee. If you want to buy mine, let me know.

If you really want to do audio recording, I'd recommend going a step up and looking at the Fostec PD-2 or the PD-2 LE. It's not as expensive as the Sound Devices but I think it's a good bet. The PD-2 works with time code, the LE doesn't. I've used the PD-6 and liked it. I can't imagine the PD-2 is that much different. Tascam also has an audio recorder I forgot the brand. Haven't used that one though so I can't give an opinion about it.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 02:41 AM   #3
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What about the M-Audio Microtrack?
I guess, if it all comes down, I would choose the H4 simply
because of the xlr inputs.

If you can rent the Tascam HD-P2 I think you will like it.
But no point buying if its one off.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 10:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hsien Yong View Post
What about the M-Audio Microtrack?
I guess, if it all comes down, I would choose the H4 simply
because of the xlr inputs.
I am pretty sure the Microtrack would be similar to the Zoom H4, in terms of recording quality. I have a Microtrack - old version - but I pair it with a good field mixer, so that I have a solid line-level signal to send to the recorder. I am very happy with the results.

Don't put too much weight on XLR inputs - a cheap TRS-to-XLR adapter will let you connect XLR devices, with a balanced connection. Instead, try to use each device that you are considering if at all possible (borrow from a friend, or rent) to see if the sound quality and overall handling characteristics suit your needs.

Speaking of handling characteristics, that's my one big complaint about the Microtrack. Maybe the new version is improved, but I find the operation of the device rather inconvenient (the sound is good, though!).

- Martin
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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:21 AM   #5
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If you're recording quiet, low level nature sounds you're going to want to explore the idea of getting a portable pre-amp/mixer of some sort. I have both the Edirol R-09 and the Audio Technica AT-897 in our studio for testing, both are good components for their pricepoint but the missing piece is a quiet gain stage that allows you to "boost" the level of the shotgun while also converting XLR to the 1/8" mini Line level input of the Edirol. This will be the difference between noisy audio and clean audio. Next step would be a better mic, and better recorder, but to make what you have very useable now, I'd just explore getting a very high quality portable mixer.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 11:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Anna Harmon View Post
The biggest downside to (the Zoom H4) is that you can't fine-tune the levels. You only get the option of adjusting low, medium, or high via a 3 position switch on the side... The internal mic is really sensitive to handling noise so the ZOOM sounds better when you have an external mic attached. It also has phantom power which is cool.
There is an inconvenient but precise level setting function in the input menu.

It really can't be used while recording with the internal mics because of the handling noise issue.

I've gotten a lot of use out of my H4, but I do agree with Anna that it is designed for musicians, not video support. Not bad at all for collecting wild sound with an external mic... and with some work-arounds it can be used for sync sound as well (no time code, no file system date/time, not precisely 48KHz sampling...)

You'll not do better for $300 US, but there is no question that the cost of a device like the Tascam HD-P2 ($1000 US) or better is very easy to justify in professional work - it will save you time and money while giving better results.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 09:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Hsien Yong View Post
If you can rent the Tascam HD-P2 I think you will like it.

But no point buying if its one off.
Good point about the rental thing. But it's never a one off is it? One project always leads to another and another...

The PD-2 LE without timecode is $500. Not that much more than the ZOOM.

I would recommend renting a device before purchasing if it's super expensive. 'Cause there's a risk of not liking it. Some places don't return electronics.

I apologize if this post is incoherent. I'm tired, just got back from a 2 day shoot and as a matter of fact, not sure why I'm online and not relaxing on the couch.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!!
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