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Old January 26th, 2008, 09:37 PM   #1
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Countryman B6 -> ?

Simple question- what's the cheapest, most high quality way to record from a countryman b6 lav? (that's pocket-portable)

From what I can see, a Sony MZ-RH1 sounds like it has the best preamps in it's price range, and Linear PCM recording. (not bothered about software or media, just results).

Am I missing something? Is there a better way, in this price bracket? (i.e. microtrack i/ii, edirol r-09, zooms, what else?) I can't see any.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 11:47 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Kris Bird View Post
Simple question- what's the cheapest, most high quality way to record from a countryman b6 lav? (that's pocket-portable)

From what I can see, a Sony MZ-RH1 sounds like it has the best preamps in it's price range, and Linear PCM recording. (not bothered about software or media, just results).

Am I missing something? Is there a better way, in this price bracket? (i.e. microtrack i/ii, edirol r-09, zooms, what else?) I can't see any.
You can have "cheap" and you can have "high quality" but it's very difficult to have both at once. What are your prirorities?

Lot's of folks are liking Zoom H2 and Zoom H4.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 08:41 AM   #3
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The price range was kinda implied by my list of examples- $300-400. I hear the preamps in the zooms are poor?

Anyway, I'll rephrase- what's the best preamps and the cleanest signal I'll get out of the B6s (whilst being pocket-portable) for <$400?
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Old January 31st, 2008, 01:21 PM   #4
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I would go through a mixer such as SD 302 which will have better pre-amps than the Zoom (line level in)
you can prob rent one and not have to buy it.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 01:54 PM   #5
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I think the pres in the H2 are actually fine. The real problem is that all four mics are adding noise to the circuits when you use the line or mic in... I'm going to have mine modified to disconnect the mics.
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Old January 31st, 2008, 09:59 PM   #6
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I think the pres in the H2 are actually fine. The real problem is that all four mics are adding noise to the circuits when you use the line or mic in... I'm going to have mine modified to disconnect the mics.
I don't understand the statement. When I connect my 442 to the line input it bypasses the pre-amps in the H2. If you run a mic-level into the mic input it also bypasses them as well.
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Old February 1st, 2008, 12:28 PM   #7
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I don't understand the statement. When I connect my 442 to the line input it bypasses the pre-amps in the H2. If you run a mic-level into the mic input it also bypasses them as well.
I don't understand this. How can the mic preamps be bypassed when you use the mic inputs?

Don't you mean the internal mics are bypassed when you use the mic inputs (or line inputs), but the internal mic preamps are not bypassed?

I have an H4 and it is marginal when using external mics with mic input level - the gain must be cranked very high, adding hiss to the recording, and that is with condensor mics. With Dynamic mics it would be worse. Using the H4's internal mics you can get an OK recording, but any attempts to adjust any settings (buried in menus) will create bad handling noise on the recording. If you use a high quality external mic preamp/mixer, like the Sound Devices 302 or 442, and send into the H4 line level, you can get OK sound, but the H4 user interface, to me, is a nightmare, with items buried in menus.

I don't think there is any inexpensive digital audio recorder that has high quality quiet mic preamps. The Sound Devices 7XX series have great preamps, but they are not inexpensive. The Tascam HDP2, discounted for about half the cost of the Sound Devices, is still not inexpensive, but has OK mic preamps - not as quiet as the SD 7XX series. Supposedly the Marantz 671? has fairly quiet preamps. I don't think any recorder in the sub $500 range has quiet preamps.

Unfortunately I've discovered in audio that you generally get what you pay for, with some exceptions. Fortunately the gear has a long life and good resale value.

The H4 and the H2 are wonderful little devices for what they do, but they can't replace a pro quality recorder with great preamps and limiters.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 01:24 PM   #8
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Take a look at the Sony PCM-D50 portable recorder, it's under $500. I recorded a quick sample for you in our conference room last week, just now got a chance to load it up. So this is the Sony PCM-D50 with a Countryman B6 plugged directly in via the 3.5mm jack. http://dvcreators.net/media/SONYPCMD50_MONO_B6.mov
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Old February 6th, 2008, 01:57 PM   #9
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Guy, that's really great, the best answer I've found so far. It's a tad more expensive and larger than I'd ideally like, otherwise it's a great solution. Don't need built in mics.. but the limiters would be brilliant. I'm sure you can see what I'm ideally looking for, a tiny device with PCM-D50 class analogue components recording mic (and line) to cheap flash, to record HQ lav sound to a pocket. Doesn't seem to exist though, the R-09 'should' fit the bill but the preamps don't have a great reputation, the PCM-D50 is just a little overkill. I don't suppose you know whether the Hi-MD devices will adequately power the B6s? i.e. deliver a hot enough signal to get a SNR close to doing them justice. I know the MZ-RH1 has a great SNR, I know the B6s do, but are the B6s happy with the plug in power it provides?
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Old February 6th, 2008, 02:42 PM   #10
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I haven't tested the HI-MD stuff.
Just so you can compare, here is the Edirol R-09 recording using the same Countryman B6, in the same room.

http://dvcreators.net/media/examples/R09_MONO_B6.MOV

The levels are a bit hotter, but you'll definitely appreciate the cleaner sound of the Sony when compared.

I know what you mean about the size/weight. We just weighed them with batteries:

Sony PCM-D50 12.6oz
Edirol R-09 5.2oz

The Sony is like carrying a can of soda in your pocket, vs. the Edirol feels like a pager. To be honest, I carry the R-09 around in my backpack with my laptop just because of the size, but I love the sound quality of the Sony.

Along with a JK Audio QuickTap, the Edirol R-09 is also great for recording conference calls.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 05:15 AM   #11
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That's brilliant, really appreciate it! (I'm sure was an interesting exercise :)

Interesting that the sony has such a 'clarity', making the r-09 sound slightly muddy, even though the self-noises are comparable when equalised to the voice (obviously mic proximity, voice level, and gain characteristics prevent a true SNR test), really valuable!
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