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-   -   Time to buy a portable audio recorder (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/145619-time-buy-portable-audio-recorder.html)

Dylan Couper March 11th, 2009 12:49 PM

Time to buy a portable audio recorder
 
I'm starting to shoot some more important projects with my Canon 5D mkII, and need to capture better audio than what it is capable of.

Hopefully you guys can give me some feedback/suggestions, here are my criteria:
1) 24bit recording onto removable media
2) very portable + battery powered (should fit in a large coat pocket).
3) clean sound from external mics, no hissing (had too much of that over the years)
4) price range of $300-$500
5) easy to use/works great out of the box/an automatic mode. I don't know a lot about sound, so a unit that can do most of the work for me would be my #1 choice.

XLR inputs would be a bonus, but I know most don't have them. I'll almost be exclusively using my own mics (lavs + shotgun) rather than the built in ones, so the quality of the onboard mics isn't a big deal for me. 4 channel recording may be a bonus, but again, not critical.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions, thanks!

Chris Barcellos March 11th, 2009 01:07 PM

First, I am not giving up on in camera sound. I will be shooting some footage this weekend testing the 5D hooked to my ME66 through my Beachtek.... I did just a a brief test earlier this week, setting the beachtek imputs at 6 oclock position. I will post some footage.

Second, in past I have used a HiMD recorded again directly hooked into my ME66 via the Beachtek to get double system sound. HiMD records PCM level sound. Setup allows use of the good powered XLR mic. Of course, some Beachteks, and other XLR adapters, also have phantom power. If I was buy today, I would look at Zoom H4 or a Tascam rather than HiMD. When I record with the HiMD, I just Velcroed the two units together.

With a sound guy and double system, we will likely run things through our Sign ENG44 and the HiMD or a TasCam that is available to us.

Stan Harkleroad March 11th, 2009 03:41 PM

Have you looked at the Sony PCM-D50? It is a little bulky but has an excellent build quality with dedicated controls for all major functions and high quality preamps and nice quality internal mics. Battery life is amazing also. Main drawbacks are the size and it use proprietary memory sticks if you need more than the built in 4GB.

Also the Edirol R-09HR is getting some good reviews. The internal preamps are fairly good and it has decent built in mics also. It uses SD cards I blieve. I've seen numerous people who used the original R-09 say the HR is a huge improvement.

John Paxton March 11th, 2009 05:09 PM

Greetings,

I'd recommend not using an H4 for anything that requires it to power two mics with a phantom supply. You can find more info on this thread Zoom H4 - Page 5 - The Digital Video Information Network but in short it beeps and my unit's battery life display is wildly optimistic.

I use mine to record from a SD302 and once set up it gives a very good account of itself. However,it's an ergonomic nightmare to use quickly even when you know where everything is. The display is tiny, it takes quite a bit of time to wake up and if the power fails the settings vanish back to the defaults. Levels are behind a menu so there's no easy way to adjust it without fighting a nest of wires, e.g 2 mics, headphone, power and manipulating it with one hand is pretty much impossible. I still love the thing on it's internal mics as a walkaround capture device but am shying away from using it as anything but a 2nd backup.

In it's time it was one of the best of it's kind/cost but I think it's been beaten out by its replacement. The new H4N seems to have resolved all these issues but I haven't gotten mine yet.Though some audio / reviews can be found here Brad Linder's blog

The Sony rocks but can't directly use XLR's and doesn't have phantom power, just a low voltage substitute plug in power. It still fits more criteria than any of the rest.

Nearly every other choice has compromises re your #3 within the range but

http://www.bswusa.com/assets/pdf/BSW...onChart_v4.pdf gives a pretty good idea of what each can do at a glance. Transom.org/tools has a lot of good in depth reviews too.

Seth Bloombaum March 11th, 2009 06:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John Paxton (Post 1026209)
...I'd recommend not using an H4 for anything that requires it to power two mics with a phantom supply. You can find more info on this thread Zoom H4 - Page 5 - The Digital Video Information Network but in short it beeps and my unit's battery life display is wildly optimistic...

My life with the H4 became a lot happier when I built a high-capacity battery for it. There is a 9.6v NiMH pack for radio-control cars from Radio Shack and an OK charger... my total outlay was about $35, for which I got a life of about 16 hours per charge. More info available via google, or pm me.

This doesn't solve all the problems, but not having to deal with batts is huge, completely eliminates the beeps problem, phantom is now fun! I think some of my hair is growing back...

Ben Moore March 11th, 2009 06:55 PM

I recommend the Marantz PMD620 and the Edirol R09HR. I have both and they both sound great. The Marantz unit is a little smaller and has the mic input on the top, so it's better suited going into a pocket IMO. Both are in your price range, no XLR though.

Marantz | PMD620 Professional Handheld Digital Audio | PMD620

Edirol / Roland | R-09HR Portable High-Resolution Audio | R-09HR

Ben

John Newell March 11th, 2009 07:46 PM

I've owned the Marantz PMD620 and the Sony PCM50. I still own the Sony. I liked the media format of the Marantz better, and it's smaller. However, using the onboard mics I found the files less satisfactory than the Sony, which was also better with external mics but less noticeably so. If at all possible, it would probably be very beneficial to try a couple side by side before you buy, although that's hard in most locations.

Chris Swanberg March 11th, 2009 07:47 PM

Dylan...

I have been watching this market for over a year now, and lusting for a 4 channel recorder but realizing my budget was more like 2. My desired model choice has changed over the last year from time to time but at the moment anyway the Marantz PMD 661 has to be my all out favorite. Oade Brothers also is going to do mods for it, and their mods are always worthwhile. It is a little over your $500 (Street at $599 w/o mods) but I suggest you look at it. It is geared towards pro use and appears to be designed that way from the ground up, instead of being an upgraded consumer recorder.

Battle Vaughan March 11th, 2009 10:00 PM

We have had good luck with the Edirol r-09 recorders, which have been superceded by an improved HR version lately for the same price ($399 list). Easy to operate, good quality recordings, even our reporters can operate them (oops, I never said that!). I was on a shoot recently where an MTV crew was working --sound guy with a big boom and zeppelin, humongous mixer, cables galore, and riding on top was --- an Edirol R-09..... The Marantz 660, recently upgraded, is used by our PBS Radio crew who work in our office, has XLR but a little preamp hiss (which doesn't bother them). The Edirol works with XLR mikes if you use an xlr to mini plug cable, we get mono cables made by soundprofessonals.com, fwiw..../Battle Vaughan / miamiherald.com video team

Nicole Hankerson March 11th, 2009 10:57 PM

I know your budget is 500 but save up 300 more and you could get the Edirol R44. Using it on a set now and the sound on that thing is amazing and also you get 4 individual tracks as well as 4 individual inputs. Definitely check it out when you get the chance.


Nicole

Bill Rankin March 11th, 2009 10:57 PM

Dylan, Zoom Handy Recorder H4n

Zoom H4n pocket handheld recorder - CNET Reviews

David Morgan March 11th, 2009 11:07 PM

Wait!
Is everyone forgetting the other numerous posts about these recorders not being good for double system work?
They don't run at an exact enough speed. They won't stay in sync with the video!!!

Nicole Hankerson March 11th, 2009 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David Morgan (Post 1026388)
Wait!
Is everyone forgetting the other numerous posts about these recorders not being good for double system work?
They don't run at an exact enough speed. They won't stay in sync with the video!!!

Are you referring to the Zoom recorder? If so yeah I heard there was timing issues with that recorder.

Nicole

Ben Moore March 11th, 2009 11:13 PM

The Marantz PMD620 and The Edirol R-09HR stay in sync perfect for me. Just remember to record WAV files and use the same frequency and bit rate as your camera's. The Cheapo voice recorders that record mp3 format at 44.1 don't stay in sync well, but their are work arounds.

Bill Rankin March 12th, 2009 01:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ben Moore (Post 1026391)
The Marantz PMD620 and The Edirol R-09HR stay in sync perfect for me. Just remember to record WAV files and use the same frequency and bit rate as your camera's. The Cheapo voice recorders that record mp3 format at 44.1 don't stay in sync well, but their are work arounds.


Yes, duplicate the freq and bit rate for the most optimum match and then tweak for exact sync. However, when it comes to music bed over a wedding reception, sync not always required.

Dean Sensui March 12th, 2009 03:01 AM

Dylan didn't mention what sort of film he's making.

If it's a Chinese Kung-Fu movie, lip sync doesn't matter. :-)

The Tascam P2 is outside the budget but I read nothing but good reviews. Only two channels. The Edirol R-44 has 4 channels and, from what I've read, good performance.

Also, for the length of takes in filmmaking, there shouldn't be significant or detrimental sync drift. Maybe on very long takes as you would find in a concert or live performance. But even then it might be workable.

John Willett March 12th, 2009 09:40 AM

My choice in this bracket (after I had rejected the rest for one reason or another) came down to a close-run thing between just three:- Edirol R-09HR, Olympus LS-10, Sony PCM D-50.

In the end I bought the Olympus - pocketability is perfect and build quality superb - and the batteries last ages (10 hours plus from a couple of AA).

Brian Standing March 12th, 2009 09:41 AM

Just a quick plug for the Zoom H2 (the H4's little -- and more talented -- brother).

They're insanely cheap -- about $160 street -- run forever on AA batteries, record 24-bit 96khz to SD media, are small enough to take with you anywhere, and have surprisingly good sound. Plus, the 4 installed microphones let you pick between a 90-and 120- degree pick-up pattern, or do 4-channel surround.

For the same price as some of the more "professional" units, you could buy two (or three!) of these little guys. I own two. I've been using them mounted on a couple of light stands to record live outdoor musical performances. I haven't had any problems with sync over the span of a 5-7 minute song. One of the performers in a local Klezmer band -- a classically trained clarinetist who's picky about sound -- commented that he was sorry the band had spent so much time and effort working in a studio, cause he thought the live audio I recorded of them playing on a bike path sounded so much better!

I've also had success dropping them in a subject's shirt pocket when my wireless mike died.

They may not work for every application -- they only have 1/8" mini jack input and output, and they won't stand up to much abuse. But if you operate on the theory that you get better sound with a cheap microphone closer to the subject than you get from an expensive microphone too far away, then you can see how planting one of these units close to the subject can be a pretty effective strategy. They kind of look like a large condenser microphone, so if they get in the shot for a musical performance, they look like they belong there.

Too cheap, too small and too versatile not to have in your camera kit.

John Willett March 12th, 2009 09:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brian Standing (Post 1026546)
Just a quick plug for the Zoom H2 (the H4's little -- and more talented -- brother).

But very plastic and two to three times larger than the Olympus LS-10. ;-)

Brian Standing March 12th, 2009 10:04 AM

The Olympus looks like a very solid, professional unit. It's also more than twice the price. I don't see how the H2 is twice the size of the LS-10. According to the specs on B&H, the H2 is shorter, a tad thicker and lighter than the LS-10. Mayber you're thinking of the H4 instead? The Olympus doesn't have the H2's 4-channel capacity [nor the built-in guitar tuner!;-)], but does have built-in speakers, which the H2 lacks.

You're right that the Zoom is a flimsy piece of plastic that needs to be treated with kid gloves. I wouldn't recommend it for heavy duty use. But it's remarkable for the price, and cheap enough that you can buy multiple units and deploy them in a way you couldn't (or wouldn't) with more expensive units. Think of it as a crash cam for audio.

Vasco Dones March 12th, 2009 10:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Battle Vaughan (Post 1026354)
We have had good luck with the Edirol r-09 recorders, which have been superceded by an improved HR version lately for the same price ($399 list). Easy to operate, good quality recordings, even our reporters can operate them (oops, I never said that!) (...) /Battle Vaughan / miamiherald.com video team

Ohsoverytrue, Battle! And that's exactly why yours truly (a former reporter-producer turned Jack-of-all-trades) bought it and loves it! It's idiot-proof, and this is no small advantage when you're having your hands full & your mind running (?) at full speed to keep an eye (just one, literally) on all the possible screw-ups...
IMHO, the Edirol R-09 is slightly overpriced for what it delivers, but its ease of use makes it a winner - especially if you go for the upgraded version (R-09 HR).

Having said that, I'm waiting for more reviews on the new Zoom H4n (and for more $$$ in my wallet).

Best

Vasco

Jase Tanner March 12th, 2009 10:25 AM

Dylan

About a year ago I looked into buying a modified unit from the Oade Brothers. I would have, except at least at that time, they didn't ship to Canada. So I bought the Sony D50. It was a good choice. Very clean sound, very easy to work with. Only word of caution I would have is that I also bought the Sony XLR adapter made to be used with it. Not only is it overpriced (which of course I knew at the time - it was just easy to get it) but the mounting plate that comes with it for securing the 2 of them together is poorly designed.

Also the prices for the memory sticks vary wildly form store to store. One place will have a great deal on the 8 gig but really overcharge on the 16 gig. Another store will give a good deal on the 16 but gouge on the 8.

Seth Bloombaum March 12th, 2009 11:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David Morgan (Post 1026388)
Wait!
Is everyone forgetting the other numerous posts about these recorders not being good for double system work?
They don't run at an exact enough speed. They won't stay in sync with the video!!!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicole Hankerson (Post 1026390)
Are you referring to the Zoom recorder? If so yeah I heard there was timing issues with that recorder.

Nicole

That certainly proved true of the original Zoom H4 recorder. The H4n has only been shipping for a few days - we need some user reports on this issue! Zoom did think to do BWF-format time and marker stamping on the PCM files in the new version, I sure hope that means they also improved the clock.

Guy Cochran March 12th, 2009 11:12 AM

Dylan,

You're just about an hour away from our studio north of Seattle. If you'd like to come and visit, we have the Sony PCM-D50, LS-10 the Edirol R-09 and the R-44 as well as the Canon EOS-5D Mark II and a few other cool mics, shoe mounts and pre-amps that I can show you. Hear it for yourself! You'll get the DVinfo.net homie hook-up discount too :)

Chris Barcellos March 12th, 2009 11:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Guy Cochran (Post 1026612)
Dylan,

You're just about an hour away from our studio north of Seattle. If you'd like to come and visit, we have the Sony PCM-D50, LS-10 the Edirol R-09 and the R-44 as well as the Canon EOS-5D Mark II and a few other cool mics, shoe mounts and pre-amps that I can show you. Hear it for yourself! You'll get the DVinfo.net homie hook-up discount too :)

Guy, what are you recommending for the Canon 5D2 soundwise ?

Battle Vaughan March 12th, 2009 02:13 PM

Actually, our reporters double-take frequently with the R09's and the Canon HV20's, and the synch is remarkably accurate, at least over 5 minutes or so, haven't seen any clips longer. Set everything to 48khz wave file, 16 bit, and --- at least our combo, don't know about others --- works fine. It is easy to match up the second audio track on the timeline if you have a little spike to match to --- an accidental cough, a handclap, however THAT might--accidentally--happen...../Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team

Dylan Couper March 12th, 2009 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Guy Cochran (Post 1026612)
Dylan,

You're just about an hour away from our studio north of Seattle. If you'd like to come and visit, we have the Sony PCM-D50, LS-10 the Edirol R-09 and the R-44 as well as the Canon EOS-5D Mark II and a few other cool mics, shoe mounts and pre-amps that I can show you. Hear it for yourself! You'll get the DVinfo.net homie hook-up discount too :)

I keep forgetting you aren't that far... I've been past you a couple times in the last 6 months, should have stopped in to say hello!

As Chris asks... what would you suggest for the 5D2?

Guy Cochran March 12th, 2009 06:30 PM

There's some options opening up later that we're exploring, in the meantime for productions right now, we're using the Edirol R-44 4-Channel Field Recorder.

Also, your might want to read this article Canon 5D Mark II at DVcreators.net

The audio you hear at the bottom of the article is simply a Sennheiser Evolution G2 wireless transmitter with Countryman E6i headset fed directly into the Edirol R-44.

Be warned if you get a chance to stop by our facility Dylan, you're probably going to want at least 4-5 other gizmos. It just happens :)

John Hartney March 13th, 2009 04:25 AM

Fostex fr2le does what you need very well.


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