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Old November 29th, 2003, 03:40 AM   #1
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Alternative to MD for field recording

Like many others, I use MD for wild audio capture, but have always been bothered that I can't move the digital audio to the computer and can only do an analogue transfer using my sound card. I just ordered a Creative Nomad Jukebox 3, which is an MP3 player with a 40 GB hard drive that can run for up to 22 hours on a pair of internal Li ion batteries. I bought it strictly to use as an MP3 player, but looking over the specs, it can do audio stereo capture, either line or mike. It also comes with a driver that allows Windows to see it as an external drive using either USB (1.0 only) or 1394. I haven't received it yet, and the specs don't indicate what format it uses to capture, but it looks like this might be a good alternative to MD, both because it's a direct-to-digital device, and because of its huge storage capacity and extended battery life. I'll report back when I've had a chance to play with it a bit.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 03:50 AM   #2
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Yes it's got some good points but it lacks the finesse of a pro unit.
I bought a marantz PMD670 flash recorder. This has every balanced feature that you'd want in a pro mixer. It's well worth the moneyand the drag and drop feature is excellent.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 07:27 AM   #3
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Jay Rose started a thread about using an iPod as a location recorder over on the DV Mag forum about a month ago ("Yet another cheap location recorder..."). A few alternatives were mentioned. If my search missed a similar thread here, I apologise for not mentioning it.

Meanwhile Core Sound (www.core-sound.com) are developing a range of gear based on a PDA.

To me, the advantage of the PDA approach is that you have a wide choice of ADCs, including the Apogee Mini-Me.

Best,
Helen
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Old November 29th, 2003, 09:53 AM   #4
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The mini-me is one cool dude, but ouch! The price. The Denecke AD-20 is supposed to be a pretty good front end for that Jukebox. Let us know how it works out for you.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 12:17 PM   #5
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I've had the Nomad Junkbox 3 for a while. I don't use it much.
The good thing about it is it's a hard drive (1394, capacity). The bad thing about it is it's a hard drive. The "mic in" feature is a joke. There's no hardware preamp. It's done through digital amplification. Here's a good analogy. I've got a camcorder that has 10X optical zoom and 700X digital zoom. Have you ever seen what "digital zoom" does to image quality? Bottom line on the Nomaddening's mic-in feature is that, by the time you turn the gain up to a level where you are getting a good signal, you're also getting a good degree of hiss.
Like I said, being a hard drive, you should also prepare for lock-ups requiring reboot. It'll be playing along and just freeze on a certain note. Sort of like the Emergency Broadcast test signal. All the keys are unresponsive. Being a hard drive, you also get the following. Make an important recording. Go to retrieve it. Guess what. "File corruption error, sorry file not accessible." SOL. Sorry.
The included computer software is non-intuitive and buggy. For example, say you make a recording in the field. You want to 1394 Firewire it to computer using the software. Guess what.
You get the message: "Nomad not connected". Nothing you do will get it to recognize the connection. So you figure, fine, I'll do an analog recording. Guess what. The analog recording has a lot of crackles and pops in it.
One of the reasons I got the Junkbox is because it could do lossless WAV recordings. Guess what. WAV recordings come
accompanied with intermittent high-pitched squeeling noise. Every 15 seconds, lasting for a couple seconds. The higher kHz quality recording you make, the louder it gets. I think it may be picking up hard drive read/write movement, but not sure of this. Only the lossy modes are quiet.
Another thing. Line-in recording gives a choice of -3dB, +6dB, et cetera, adjustments. These are your basic gain/attenuation. Best off not to use this feature. Do all your adjusments at the preamp and set the Junkbox to 0 dB. Any settings either way from "0" and signal-to-noise falls off a cliff.
Speaking of preamps, you should know that the line-in input
is easily overdriven, leading to nasty distortion. Definately consumer level gear. One time I was making a recording going mic to preamp to Junkbox. I watched the levels on the LCD level meters on the JB and everything looked fine. Guess what. You can't trust the meters. Upon listening to the recording, it was all distorted. The waveform of the file, viewed in my NLE, was all mowed down. The input was being overdriven but the meters were reading normal.
Speaking of the input. It's 3.5mm miniplug. The socket itself seems rather wobbly/fragile/loose. It'll probably be one of the first things to go on it. What I did is install a right-angle miniplug in there and used a piece of electrical tape to hold it in place. I use this right angle to make all my connections because I don't
think the Nomad's 3.5mm socket is gonna stand up to too many
connect/disconnect cycles.
Other than what I've described above, the JB's an okay unit. The back-lit face is welcome.
If I had to do it over, I would've spent a little more and got
Beas's Marantz. Probably twice the price but four times the value.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 12:22 PM   #6
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Doesn't the Nomad have optical in? If not, it doesn't sound too useful. Thanks for telling us about your experience. I've been pretty curious about this thing, but haven't heard what people's experiences have been like.

Helen, Core Sournds claims their gadget is actually shipping. 24 bit, 192Ks on a PDA! Wow. Still, I'm going to stick with minidisc until I can raise enough money for the SoundDevices hard disk recorder, if they ever manage to release it. Couldn't find the iPod posts at the DV forum. That's something I'd really like to read.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 01:10 PM   #7
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I just wish they made the Korg D12 portable. All it would need is a battery source to be perfect.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 01:53 PM   #8
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Dear Santa~
I finally found the answer to all of my portable audio recording problems. Please check these out, and I would be VERY happy with any one of these. Thank you.
http://www.zaxcom.com/audio/devas.shtml
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Old November 29th, 2003, 02:51 PM   #9
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Actually, I've been looking at the iriver 500 Series as being a *real* alternative to MD. Same price as MD ($299). Half the size and weight. Back-lit face. Twice the storage space (256MB vs. ~150MB). Locking record "on" feature so that recording can't be stopped accidentally. Mic in. Line in. Optical out. Faster-than-real-time uploads. 328Kbps mp3. 90 dB S/N. Plug-in power for electret condenser mics.
Someone here aught to get it and write a review. Hint, hint.
Myself, I'm this close to getting it. I've been kicking around the
idea of pairing it up with a Denecke 48V phantom powering unit and a nice hollywood-type lav mic. Those lav mics don't have the best performance when powered by the 2.5 volts typical of plug-in power.
My main concern, and maybe someone can help with this, is what
type of glitches could there be with flash recorders. I need something very reliable, where the recording isn't going to just
disappear or become inaccessible. Anyone have an idea how much recording time you'd get using the 328Kbps setting?
http://www.iriver.com/product/info.asp?p_name=iFP-590T
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Old November 29th, 2003, 03:07 PM   #10
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I actually started to add up all of the additional gear and the inconvenience and decided that I'd be spending almost as much on a kluged rig (McGivered) as I would on a piece of pro gear.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 06:05 PM   #11
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The DV Mag thread on the iPod is here I hope. It is currently about number 90 in Audio Solutions.

If you want to dream, at least dream of the Aaton Cantar-X.

Best,
Helen
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Old November 29th, 2003, 06:21 PM   #12
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The Cantar X is also about $5,000 less than the Deva... Not too shabby!
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Old November 29th, 2003, 06:25 PM   #13
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"If you want to dream, at least dream of the Aaton Cantar-X."

Man, that thing looks like something out of the movie Alien.
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Old November 29th, 2003, 07:34 PM   #14
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Keith Forman wrote: The Cantar X is also about $5,000 less than the Deva... Not too shabby!

Is it? The Cantar was about 24 thousand bucks when I asked.

What price have you been quoted, and can you say where?

Best,
Helen
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Old November 29th, 2003, 08:11 PM   #15
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$24,000? Holy cow! I just did a Google search for Catar X, and the results had prices ranging from around $2333 to $3000. Maybe I should have actually looked closer... Those prices must have been for the custom neck strap?
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