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Old March 25th, 2009, 09:17 PM   #46
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Interesting Tascam Recorders

Those looking at the H4n might also want to take a look at some of the new Tascam units:

TASCAM

What I find interesting about these is that they seem more oriented toward pure audio recording than the 'musician tool' approach of the Zoom.

Note the analog audio limiters - a plus if you are recording 16 bit.

The new DR-100 looks especially interesting to me.

-Mike

Last edited by Mike Demmers; March 25th, 2009 at 09:48 PM.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 09:23 PM   #47
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Hi guys, I'm looking for a solution record wedding vows. There has been a lot of articles about the H4n, Sony PMD 50 and Marantz models and I'm so confused! My main applications are:

- Placing it on the podium/table to record dialogues between the solemniser/pastor and the couple. I alr have a senny wireless lav that I hook on the groom. It picks up the bride and groom reasonably well but not the pastor if he is too far away. I have heard the recording from the H2 via ME66 shortgun and onboard EX1 mic. The H2 was a clear winner! A lot of noise gets cut out and the dual/four channel onboard mic is great for recording both the couple and solemniser voice. In fact, I think I could have one channel on board and the other channel feeding in via XLR from the wireless.

- To record directly from the mixer. I read somewhere that recorders with 1/8" jack usually cant handle signal voltages from mixers due to the onboard pre amp limitations. I'm not sure about this thou. Do you record directly from the mixer using the 1/4" inputs? I normally use a IFP iriver directly to the line but I have experienced a lot of clipping, or very low levels at times. I'm not sure if it is due to the iriver's poor pre amp or the mixer settings. All I know I set the iriver line input.

- To record from an external condensor mic . I have a AKG C3000B for Voice overs which is really nice but if the H4n can work with it like the Lexicon Lambda I have, it would be a great bonus but not a must.

Budget wise I'm leaning towards the H2 but I could prob sell the Lexicon to go for the H4n or even the Sony/Marantz if they meets my needs well. Appreciate all your inputs.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 10:48 PM   #48
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Mike, I agree...Tascam is worth taking a look at before buying a recorder. The only substantial difference I see is the H4n will recorder both inputs simultaneously. I am not sure what the difference is between analog limiter and Comp/limiter. Something tells me it's basically the same, but I'll let some other more knowledgable person comment on that one.
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Old March 25th, 2009, 10:53 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post

The new DR-100 looks especially interesting to me.

-Mike
Agree with you Mike. Now we need a shoot off - Zoom H4N verses the Tascam DR-100
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Old March 26th, 2009, 12:26 AM   #50
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I am not sure what the difference is between analog limiter and Comp/limiter. Something tells me it's basically the same, but I'll let some other more knowledgable person comment on that one.
Well, there are two different comparasins here:

digital limiter vs analog limiter - analog is preferable because it helps avoid clipping pre-converter.

comp vs limiter - a limiter is a compressor with a really high ratio.


Hope that helps.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 12:46 AM   #51
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It's all about your specific use, I think.

The only substantial difference I see is the H4n will recorder both inputs simultaneously.

I initially really wanted that. But after some thought about the actual circumstances of my expected use, I realized that if I really needed four channels at the same time, it would probably be far more convenient and flexible to have two separate unts, even if cheaper ones, for that use.

I am not sure what the difference is between analog limiter and Comp/limiter.

The compresor/limiter in the Zoom is a digital function - it happens after the A to D converter. This means you can have a perfectly fine input that does not overload the mic preamp, but does overload the a/d converter.

At 16 bits, any halfway decent mic and line circuitry will have much greater dynamic range (110+ db) than the 16 bit converters (96 db max). If the limiter/compressor is analog, it does its job before the converter, so you can safely run your inputs much hotter without fear of overload - maximizing your S/N ratio.

The fully pro gear like the Sound Devices preamps take this even one step further, putting the limiter right into the feedback loop of the mic preamp itself - actively varying the gain - which makes these pretty near impossible to overload.

If you are recording at 24 bits this is less important.

A shootout would be great - send me these and I would be happy to do one ;-)

It's really hard to compare these with the information given in the specs, it is just too limited. Tascam for example, gives a noise spec for line inputs and leaves it off for the mic inputs, which of course is where it really counts!

They need to be tested on a proper bench with controlled circumstances. You can't tell much from random bloggers with no controls and who knows what kind of setup.

What I really want is a device with two quiet, individually controlled mic inputs, with proper mic gain controls and pad, and a smooth analog compressor/limiter with an LA-2 or dbx like curve and simplicity of control. It could easily be done in these price ranges, so far none are quite there, as far as I can tell.

I don't want 'ALC', the only feature of ALC I have ever found useful is the off switch. It is possible to do that right, but none I have ever seen in a camera or a small device like this has ever done so.

-Mike
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Old March 26th, 2009, 01:26 AM   #52
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To record directly from the mixer. I read somewhere that recorders with 1/8" jack usually cant handle signal voltages from mixers ...

Whose/which mixer?

Many mixers reference output level is +4 DBu. Most consumer gear expects a reference level of -10 DBu. The right way to handle this difference is by padding down the input of the consumer device to drop +4 down to -10 with a resistive pad. If instead, you are tryng to use the level control on the consumer device, you are very likely to overload its input stage.

Some mixers also have a -10 level switch, but of course if this is a house mixer you will have no control over this.

In a pinch, you can just drop the mixer main fader down, this will make the mixer meters fairly useless, but will have less risk of overloading consumer level inputs.


Budget wise I'm leaning towards the H2 but I could prob sell the Lexicon to go for the H4n or even the Sony/Marantz if they meets my needs well. Appreciate all your inputs.

The mic pres in the Lexicon would likely be much better than those in either the H2 or the H4n. Given that you thought the H2 worked well on one of your primary uses, I'd probably just buy that - and two proper pads! - and keep the Lexicon, which has many uses.

-Mike
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Old March 26th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #53
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Depending on the mixer, you can also tap off a lower amount of signal using the Aux Sends to prevent overdriving an input if a pad isn't available. This will allow running the mixer's main output at full level, allowing the meters to work at normal visual levels. Of course, most field mixers don't have this function, but house or music mixers would if they aren't already being used up for effects or monitors.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
To record directly from the mixer. I read somewhere that recorders with 1/8" jack usually cant handle signal voltages from mixers ...

Whose/which mixer?

Many mixers reference output level is +4 DBu. Most consumer gear expects a reference level of -10 DBu. The right way to handle this difference is by padding down the input of the consumer device to drop +4 down to -10 with a resistive pad. If instead, you are tryng to use the level control on the consumer device, you are very likely to overload its input stage.

Some mixers also have a -10 level switch, but of course if this is a house mixer you will have no control over this...
Whose/which mixer?
This is pretty important - and likewise to understand how people are using mixers for sound reinforcement. By and large, a live sound operator just doesn't care about running levels per the meters, they only care about how it sounds in the speakers, that they not overload their own mic preamps.

Which means that you might get anything from such a mixer, from very low line level to very hot... Most small and medium churchs won't have a sound op - the pastor knows how to turn things on, and to set the knobs to the marks that they are always set to.

There's been lots of discussion about how to equip to be able to walk into a facility and patch to their board, including:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/all-thing...ion-audio.html
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Old March 26th, 2009, 01:07 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
Those looking at the H4n might also want to take a look at some of the new Tascam units:

The new DR-100 looks especially interesting to me.

-Mike
I agree, VERY interesting. But where are the reviews? I can't find a one.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #56
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If the Tascam DR-100 does everything the manufacturer says (TASCAM DR-100 Portable Recorder Gets Less Offensive Headline At Winter NAMM 2009 | Gearwire), and does it well, it is a killer product, especially at that price point. I wonder if it's too good to be true???
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Old March 27th, 2009, 01:28 AM   #57
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I agree, VERY interesting. But where are the reviews? I can't find a one.

I can't either, but I think I read somewhere that these are not actually shipping until the end of the month.

So maybe we just have to wait a bit.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:12 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
Those looking at the H4n might also want to take a look at some of the new Tascam units:

TASCAM

What I find interesting about these is that they seem more oriented toward pure audio recording than the 'musician tool' approach of the Zoom.

Note the analog audio limiters - a plus if you are recording 16 bit.

The new DR-100 looks especially interesting to me.

-Mike
Yes but neither of these units can record 4 channels of audio via built in mics and external XLR inputs like the H4n can. If they did I would drop the bones on them in a second over the Zooms. As I trust Tascam's ability to build a proper unit with great pre amps and limiters.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 08:51 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
Those looking at the H4n might also want to take a look at some of the new Tascam units:

TASCAM

What I find interesting about these is that they seem more oriented toward pure audio recording than the 'musician tool' approach of the Zoom.

Note the analog audio limiters - a plus if you are recording 16 bit.

The new DR-100 looks especially interesting to me.

-Mike
Aaah! I just pulled the trigger on a Zoom H4n 12 hours ago!

Had I known about the Tascam, I probably would have gone with it, since I don't really need the 4ch recording of the Zoom. Oh well, c'est la vie.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 10:19 AM   #60
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H4n initial impressions from an H4 user

Tascam seems to be $100 more in street price - but when a manufacturer says it that usually means that $450 will be the minimum advertised price. It may go for less. For that, you also get a remote.

Wow, does the Tascam look like a reengineered H4?

I've been using the H4 for several years, my H4n arrived yesterday. I'll do some more in-depth reviewing, but briefly:
* This box seems much sturdier. The microphones are mounted in a chunck of metal that comprises the front part of the body - very beefy.
* The box now has its own tripod socket - no more silly plastic cradle. This feature has actually proved to be very useful for stereo music recording, which I do all the time.
* In addition to the built-in mics, and the phantom-able XLR-1/4" dual inputs, the H4n now also has a 3.5mm mic socket with switchable plugin power. That's a nice addition, especially for those who have some mics like the small Sony Mid-Side that was so popular with minidisc recording. Also, an MS decoder, for those who want to decode to stereo on the fly rather than in post.
* Gone are the mic sensitivity switches. I've not found any pads - instead, there is now an easily adjustable hardware control for recording level.
* All controls are beefier, feel more solid, and promise to hold up well. The original H4's controls were nowhere near this solid.
* Menu is now much easier to read, and the regular recording/playback display too.
* Menu structure has been reworked. Those tools that non-musicians don't need? They'll never see them, they won't be in the way, they don't take up space in the controls. The new menu system is very easy and intuitive.
* As anyone who has read the manual knows, the H4n doesn't have a full-featured timecode generator. You don't get to choose DF vs. NDF or any other modes - it's really just a clock, albeit a much better clock than the H4. However, the file system has been greatly improved with choices to include recording date in the filename, as well as the timestamp in the BWF header. Is this a fully featured pro sync recorder for double system sound? No. Will its timestamp system get your takes matched up with your prosumer camcorder so you can do fine sync in the NLE? Easily.

All in all, it seems to be a big improvement over the H4. Zoom seems to have listened well to their users and created a fine 2nd generation product. Well worth $50 more (street) IMHO. I'm looking forward to receiving the (optional) remote, currently backordered.

Those impressions gathered in 30 minutes of poking at it at my desk. I'll have a chance to use it tomorrow and will write back. So far, so good! I expect I'll be selling my original H4 with high capacity rechargeable battery pack next week... Alas, the external power voltage has changed in the H4n.
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