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Old April 7th, 2008, 01:45 AM   #1
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recorder recommendations

I'm looking to add a **BASIC** solid state audio recorder to the bag. if money were not an object, a 744T would be on the way :)

realistically, what I want to do is

1: use it for recording nat SFX and extra sound in mixer bag
2: provide ideally MP3 for walk away at end of shoot for transcription, but I can encode on laptop so uncompressed -> laptop -> laptop encode is ok
3: back up record for camera on more important shoots so 96K 24bit is more then good enough. would also use when connection to camera isn't practical. this a very occasional use. 98% of the time camera audio is what is being used.

I plan to use the mixer to feed the recorder.

so several units came to mind

Roland / Edirol R-44. nice its 4 tracks, but chintzy plastic case, only 100db dynamic range, list $895. downsides - dopey 45 deg front panel is not conducive to bag use. Also too many buttons on side / top so I'd be making a plexi cover to velcro on to protect them from being hit. No TC options without going to $2k. has anyone used the other R series recorders and care to comment on dynamic range and pre amps ? is this unit worth considering against other others ? does its bad ergonomics out weight its 4 track recording ?

Tascam HD-P2 $990 2 tracks only but bag friendly, takes USB keyboard for clip labeling, TC IN as nice bonus.

Fostex FR-2 $1300 2 tracks, seems like a very solid respectable unit. option for TC IO board price unknown.

SD 702 $1900. has best dynamic range at 114db, but really a lot more then I want to spend for the amount of use it will get.

comments from those who have used at least two of these units ?
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Old April 7th, 2008, 02:18 PM   #2
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I own the HD-P2, I had cut my teeth with Tascam's DAP-1 so to me this felt like the next step up.

In short I love it. It can take a beating, and give me 24 bit recordings at ridiculous levels (I just do the standard 48khz since I normally just output to DVCAM, Mini DV).

I haven't had the chance to jam sync or run tc in. I just keep it simple, and do the tired yet true slate and sync in post, and I have never had sync drift.
Also, it's easy to use, and to operate unlike some other recorders (I read the Marantz and Edirol r4 are diffcult to operate at first)

Other pros
-Runs on Compact Flash cards type II and III
-Good limiter that can be grouped or separate
-Can take mic or line signals, and has switchable -20db pads built in.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 03:34 PM   #3
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I used a Fostex FR2 for a year or so as my main recorder, I've recently traded up to a 702T a few months ago. I do mostly mono recordings of production sound dialogue on indie shorts and features, 99.999% using wired boom.

The FR2 is a good unit, a bit big and boxy (empty box at that). Have you looked at the FR2-LE?

The 702T is fantastic, does pretty much everything the 744T does but only two tracks and no internal hard drive. I believe later 702T units can record to an external firewire drive at the same time.

The FR2 limiters are rubbish, the 702T limiters do their job.

The 702T wins on ergonomics. The FR2 has buttons and pots on top so can be inaccessable in a bag (I used to colour code mine with dots).

In the dark the 702T wins. Each button is illuminated (all lights on the 702T can be defeated with stealth mode if needed). No such luxury on the FR2, although the record-slider is pretty easy to find by touch.

The FR2 takes either 8 or 12 AA batteries - can't remember - good for about only 4 hours recording. Stick a cheap, big mAh camcorder battery on your 702T, and I've powered it that way continuously (except for 30 minute lunch breaks) for two shooting days of 8 hours, also it was supplying P48.

If you get the 702. You will not regret it. The FR2 is a reasonable unit, but perhaps the FR2-LE is more suited to your occasional use scenario?
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Old April 7th, 2008, 08:32 PM   #4
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I was leaning towards the tascam for its size, price, and overall layout. the FR-2LE I looked at but I think is a little too bare bones. at least its got a VU and level control on the top, but the main display and controls are on the side. I guess if i could try one out for a week maybe I might go that way. the only downside of the HD P2 is seems is no TC out. I also looked at the TC clock on the R-4 and it was something like 80ppm while the 702t was .2ppm. like always, you get what you pay for. I know I would not regret getting the unit, and if I needed it as a primary tool I would, but its really a secondary thing for my uses.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 05:10 AM   #5
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I've no experience of the Tascam ... I have heard it can be fiddly to switch on but I don't know if that would even matter for occasional use. I almost got the Tascam myself but when my order couldn't be fulfilled in time I got the FR2 instead. Previous to that I had a Marantz PMD660 which I was never fully satisfied with (relatively noisy pre-amps, 16-bit only) - but it did get me started and get my confidence in solid state recording.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 10:14 AM   #6
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Just out of curiousity (I'm really new to the game), what would you need TC out for? I understand TC in, and how the HD-P2 can be used as a black burst generator to sync your external audio to video when digitizing.

Last edited by Chris Hanyok; April 8th, 2008 at 10:18 AM. Reason: Mistake in terms
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Old April 8th, 2008, 10:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
Tascam HD-P2 $990 2 tracks only but bag friendly, takes USB keyboard for clip labeling, TC IN as nice bonus.
Bag friendly-ish...lot of important controls on the top. If you use their (often included) bag, it blocks off the keyboard and firewire ports. And there's no by-pass of the pre-amps, it just attenuates when you have line-level. But the main things I wanted to point out, though probably a really minor issue- it's not USB, it's a PS/2 keyboard connector.

Having not used anything else, my other opinions are probably a bit without merit.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 11:50 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hanyok View Post
Just out of curiousity (I'm really new to the game), what would you need TC out for? I understand TC in, and how the HD-P2 can be used as a black burst generator to sync your external audio to video when digitizing.
In film and in some film-style video, the audio recorder is the timecode master and the slates and cameras are jammed from it. The HDP2 is only a timecode reader, though, so you can't OUTPUT timecode to, for example, slave a timecode slate to it. Instead, the slate (or the camera) has to generate code and the Tascam slaves to it.

I don't think the P2 acts as a blackburst generator. It accepts video and will slave its sample clock to it but it's only an input.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 12:56 PM   #9
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Ahhh. Thank you for the clairification. There's only so much stuff they can teach in college; I'm just use to running audio directly into the camera, or clapper/slate and sync in post, since that was how they taught it. Any good books or pdfs you could recommend about syncing audio through SMPTE TC, just like the bare bones process of it ?
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Old April 8th, 2008, 01:05 PM   #10
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Chris: Check out the WIKI entry. It has about as much useful information in it that I have in two books on timecode. ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMPTE_time_code
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Old April 8th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hanyok View Post
Ahhh. Thank you for the clairification. There's only so much stuff they can teach in college; I'm just use to running audio directly into the camera, or clapper/slate and sync in post, since that was how they taught it. Any good books or pdfs you could recommend about syncing audio through SMPTE TC, just like the bare bones process of it ?
As Wayne said. As far as the Tascam goes, I think far more important than the timecode input is the video input. (Most prosumer cameras don't output timecode for it to read anyway) Timecode establishes a sync point where audio and video are lined up but it doesn't make them actually run at the same rate. Over long takes (> about 15min), though they start with them in sync, they can drift out of sync towards the end of the shot. Sending video or black burst so the recorder's sample clock is slaved to the video sample clock will help keep things in sync over such long takes.
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Old April 9th, 2008, 12:27 PM   #12
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Fostex fr-2

I don't know if this influences your purchase decision or not but BHPhoto has the fr-2 listed as discontinued with refurbs available for $750.

Refurbs of the model with timecode are $1299 and $1599 for new.
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