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Old March 26th, 2005, 12:12 PM   #1
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Any recorder & mixer combo out there?

So I think I've decided on a Sound Devices 302 field mixer. Any thoughts or experiences with this?

As I was looking at the SD site, I was looking at their HD recorders. Very cool products. I was wondering, is there a combo mixer/recorder out there? Most of the time, I would just use this unit as a mixer going into the XL2, but it's never bad to have a backup recorder going. It sure would be nice to unplug occasionally and still have audio being recorded, too.

The SD devices defintely are recorders only, unfortunately. They even say "great used IN CONJUNCTION WITH the 302..."

Thanks.

Kevin
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Old March 26th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #2
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what I bought...

I too went for the 302 and then bought a Fostex FR2, which will only be used for line in. It all works very well together. Bought a couple of CF cards, low power consumption and robust recording. I also bought a cheap LiOn battery pack to run the whole thing for several hours. My thoughts were to spend most of the budget on mics and mixer, thinking that the FR2 in line mode would be quiet enough for recording purposes. My results have borne that out and I am happy I went for the best 'front end'.
I love the 302, for its diminutive size it packs a powerful punch, nice transparent limiter so you can be set up that it never clips the digital recorder. That for me sells the whole system. I get good level on the dialogue without any fears of digital clipping.
Rob Dunford
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Old March 26th, 2005, 04:05 PM   #3
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Thanks, Rob. I'm not sure why these manufacturers don't add the mic level/XLR outs and call these units "mixer/recorders." Surely I'm not the only one that wants an integrated unit that is a mixer AND a redundant recorder.

Thanks for the 302 thoughts. I haven't run into any negatives so far, so I think it's on my "to buy" list very soon.

Kevin
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Old March 26th, 2005, 04:10 PM   #4
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Korg has a good line of HDD recorders/mixers. I had a D12, with xlr and 1/4" i/o, and 8 recordable channels.
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Old March 26th, 2005, 04:22 PM   #5
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Keith, if I'm not mistaken, those aren't field recorders. I'm sure they're great for studio use. Thanks, though.

Kevin
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Old March 26th, 2005, 04:36 PM   #6
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Then go with a Lexis Diva
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Old March 26th, 2005, 05:05 PM   #7
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Not sure what you're talking about now, but if you mean a Zaxcom Deva...well...it's about $11,000 more than I'm willing to spend on audio going into an XL2.

Thanks, though.

Kevin
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Old March 26th, 2005, 05:20 PM   #8
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That's the one! Freakin sweeet, ain't it? I'm like you though, and still looking for the right "in-between". Lots of use, little cash.
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Old March 26th, 2005, 06:08 PM   #9
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I have a 302 too and love it. I do wish that SoundDevices made a recorder that didn't have its own gain levels and limiters in order to keep costs down. Having limiters on their current recorders seems redundant if you already have a 302 or 402. Currently, we use the small Portabrace bag and have an AD converter that fits perfectly in the lower carrying space. I then velcro a minidisc recorder to the outside of the bag. Haven't used it on a shoot yet, but it's a very compact setup.
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Old March 26th, 2005, 06:15 PM   #10
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I couldn't 'afford' the Portabrace after getting the 302, FR2 & mics etc!!, so I found this Tamrac camera bag, with some slight alterations and some hard foam in the right places is serving me very nicely as my sound bag. Of course, I would love a Portabrace or a bag from KT Systems here in the UK. I talked to a few people who really poo pooed the camera bag route, but it works very well and there's a little pocket for the battery pack!
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Old March 26th, 2005, 06:21 PM   #11
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Marco, is the A/D converter necessary in going to minidisk? Is it because the minidisk's A/D isn't good? Where in the audio chain are you putting it?

Very interesting. I'd love to hear about results when you use it on a shoot. It sounds like an inexpensive solution that won't take up much space.

Kevin
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Old March 27th, 2005, 12:17 AM   #12
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The chain goes mic, 302, ad converter, minidisc. The 302 has an unbalanced, tape level, stereo output that will interface just fine with the line input on the minidisc if you want to keep things simple. I was just experimenting with that last night, actually. You have to buy a special cable from SoundDevices. It sounds pretty good, probably better than any prosumer camera, assuming you have a way to capture the audio digitally. Regular minidisc was crippled unfortunately, so most people used to do an analog transfer. We use a deck with optical outputs. The new HiMD units correct this problem, but there's no Mac support whatsoever -- curse Sony, curse them all to hell! -- so we aren't switching. The AD converter (we have a Denecke AD20) significantly boosts the signal to noise ratio. The preamp on the minidisc, Sony MZN10, sounds pretty good on its own, but with the AD20 there is no hiss whatsoever. Or anyway, our playback equipment has higher internal noise than what we're recording, so I can't detect anything from the AD20 at low gain levels. At higher gain levels it's definitely there, but with the 302 I don't have to use any additional gain, so I just turn the AD20's preamps completely off. Plugging straight into the AD20 with an ME66 gives excellent results as well. It helps to have a hot signal. The AD20 doesn't have enough useable gain (at more than three quarters there is definite hiss) for the Shure dynamic lavs that I own, which is a shame, because that was the reason I bought the thing in the first place. By the way, I'm still trying to determine the right setting on the 302 to interface with the AD20 using the XLR jacks to get the optimum performance out of both units. I've posted in here about that before. Negative 16 dbs attenuation seems to work pretty well, but I may end up building my own attenuators eventually. Also, I had to get a right angle optical cable adapter to get the AD20 to fit in the lower bag compartment, but it's really beautiful how well it sits in there. It's almost like the bag was made for it.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 12:24 AM   #13
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Thanks for the info. You got me thinking about minidisk and I found this one from HHB:

http://www.hhb.co.uk/hhb/usa/hhbproducts/portadisc/index.asp

What a cool way to go, if going with minidisk. I would guess, with this unit, you probably wouldn't need the additional A/D converter.

Kevin
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Old March 27th, 2005, 11:38 AM   #14
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The Portadisc is really cool, but pricey, and I think you're still limited to a real time capture. It would be cool if they made a HiMD version. Minidisc uses a lossy compression routine. I can't hear the difference, but some people claim that when you apply audio filters, the deficiencies become apparent. I don't know. It's working just fine for us. I love how inexpensive minidiscs are, and durable.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 11:47 AM   #15
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Actually, with the new Hi-MD player/recorders, you can record in uncompressed PCM as well as their compression routine...

I have a Mac too, but am using a friend's PC to import the audio and convert to WAVS using Sony's free Wav conversion tool and put on hard drive or burn to disc. It's an annoying extra step, but the best cheap solution I could come up with...
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