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Old October 21st, 2008, 09:23 AM   #1
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Ultra compact solid state audio recorder (like MP3 player) with external microphone ?

Hi there,
I am a videographer using the SONY EX1 for various types of video productions. Sometimes it is beneficial to seperate the audio recording from the video recording using an compact audio recorder next to the camera.
As I would like to keep filming alone- rather than working together with a dedicated audio engineer on site, I am looking for a very compact audio recording unit, which I can easily carry arround when working with the camera handheld/shouldermount.

I am seeking for the following features:
- As compact as possible
- battery powered. and low battery consumption (long battery lifetime)
- external DC power input
- Microphone input (not necessarily phantom powered condenser micros)
- line stereo inputs
- solid state recording (SD cards of Compact flash)
- high quality recording
- very constant speed, so even with longer takes (1hour) no genlocking necessary to the camera (possible ???) - genlocking will not work with the EX1 anyway...
- price not far exceeding $500

Somebody has an idea, which type of equipment I should look for ?
I am hoping to find something as compact as an MP3 player, but capable of doing good recordings ...

Any advice ?

Thank you very much!

Ulli
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Old October 21st, 2008, 10:06 AM   #2
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I have the M-Audio Microtrack. Here's the newer version:
M-AUDIO - MicroTrack II - Professional 2-Channel Mobile Digital Recorder

The reason I bought this one was because it has 1/4" connectors, and I use an XLR-to-1/4" adapter cable. I'd prefer XLR inputs, but most of these small recorders have the minis. There are some that don't but they are more expensive.

The recording quality of mine is excellent, but the thing most people don't like is that it has an internal rechargeable battery that is not replaceable. In my case this isn't an issue because I can use it with AC power. Also, there are third party battery packs you can buy if necessary.

I find it a little bit awkward to use and if I were doing double system sound in the field, I probably would look for something else. I did try out a Marantz 660 before getting this, but sent it back because it was way too noisy for narration recording. Go to B&H and do a search for audio recorders and you can find all the available brands.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 10:34 AM   #3
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The Sony PCM D50 is a very good unit too. Check some of the reviews.

I have had great results with mine.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 11:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulli Grunow View Post
...

- very constant speed, so even with longer takes (1hour) no genlocking necessary to the camera (possible ???) - genlocking will not work with the EX1 anyway...
- price not far exceeding $500

Somebody has an idea, which type of equipment I should look for ?
I am hoping to find something as compact as an MP3 player, but capable of doing good recordings ...

Any advice ?

Thank you very much!

Ulli
Alas, very precise and stable clocks don't come cheap. Long shots without drift are hard to come by in consumer grade equipment, be it cameras or audio recorders. Without genlock in the camera, the only way to guarantee no drift is to have a recorder that can take the video output from the camera and slave its sample clock to it and the cheapest one I know of that can do that is the Tascam HD-P2, which is more than double your stated budget.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulli Grunow View Post
Hi there,
I am a videographer using the SONY EX1 for various types of video productions. Sometimes it is beneficial to seperate the audio recording from the video recording using an compact audio recorder next to the camera.
As I would like to keep filming alone- rather than working together with a dedicated audio engineer on site, I am looking for a very compact audio recording unit, which I can easily carry arround when working with the camera handheld/shouldermount.

I am seeking for the following features:
- As compact as possible
- battery powered. and low battery consumption (long battery lifetime)
- external DC power input
- Microphone input (not necessarily phantom powered condenser micros)
- line stereo inputs
- solid state recording (SD cards of Compact flash)
- high quality recording
- very constant speed, so even with longer takes (1hour) no genlocking necessary to the camera (possible ???) - genlocking will not work with the EX1 anyway...
- price not far exceeding $500

Somebody has an idea, which type of equipment I should look for ?
I am hoping to find something as compact as an MP3 player, but capable of doing good recordings ...

Any advice ?

Thank you very much!

Ulli
Probably the smallest one is Yamaha Pocketrak 2G which looks like a fine flat stick. Its only drawback against your requirements is probably its 16bit/44Khz CD quality "limitation"; "limitation" when compared to eg edirol r-09hr and others doing 24bit/96khz, which present some advantages. I doubt the quality of the mic preamps. But it's still very small and I guess good quality for most uses.

One would consider the various means to attach the recorder to the camera... one can use a screw to screw the eg jacket of the r-09hr into the camera, or could use a bracket, or could simply use velcro, which can work ok with a device as light as the Pocketrak. Carefully considering dimensions and where on the camera should it get attached is also useful.

Alex
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 03:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexandru Petrescu View Post
Probably the smallest one is Yamaha Pocketrak 2G which looks like a fine flat stick. Its only drawback against your requirements is probably its 16bit/44Khz CD quality "limitation"; "limitation" when compared to eg edirol r-09hr and others doing 24bit/96khz, which present some advantages. I doubt the quality of the mic preamps. But it's still very small and I guess good quality for most uses.
Alex
Not having 24/96 is not a drawback with these small recorders, because the real resolution in nowhere near 24/96 due to preamp limitations (remember, even the VERY best recorders only have 20bit eq resolution in reality). What is missing form the videographers point of view is 16/48. Even that is moot, easy to convert 16/44 to 16/48 before post. If somebody says CD quality is not good enough for video, well, they are floating somewhere not in this world...

Olympus has a new, really good small recorder, by the way.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 07:32 AM   #7
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Thanks for useful information

Thanks to all answering to my post with very useful information...
Ulli
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Old November 12th, 2008, 11:39 AM   #8
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I use the Olympus LS-10 - very long battery life out of two AA batteries, 24/96, small and portable and excellent quality. UK street price about £230.

Otherwise look at the Edirol 09HR and the Sony PCM-D50.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 12:35 PM   #9
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I just recently got the ZoomH2. My applications are not real critical but the 2 occasions I have used it it has saved the day for me.

My son in law had to record a song with acoustic guitar with very short notice. First "cut" I set my Rode StereoVideoMic on a stand just in front of him and plugged the cable with mini jack into the external mic input on the ZoomH2.

The sound was extremely clear and crisp, for what he wanted, maybe too clean.

So for the second "cut" I used the ZoomH2 on the same stand and set it for 90degree pickup (also has 120degree and two modes of 4 channel, one being 360degree pickup). This take was just what he wanted with a bit more "warmth" and it is the one he used a few nights later.

Second time was doing some short notice video tutorials using screen capture and VO. There was a problem with my VO mic setup and the mic profile on the NLE I had to use. Without time to fully diagnose the problem, I grabbed the ZoomH2 and used it for VO (set it for 90degree pickup, 44k, and WAV format) and copied the files over to the appropriate folder, dropped them into the audio effects track in the NLE where I could trim and cut to match the screen.

How well it synchs with video I have no idea. I have read that very few of these things will hold synch for long sequences, but I tend to work in short sequences and put them together as needed anyway.

This unit has 4 microphones, an incredible array of options (accessed through menus on an LCD), and records to SD or SDHC cards. I keep a 2GB card in it most of the time. Power source is AC (included) adapter or 2 AA cells (I use photo lithium).

Price at Amazon is $167.97 today. I paid $179 or so almost a month ago.

The main reason I pick this up was to record some background "ambiance" for foley but this is something great to have with you for whenever you need to record anything audio.
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