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Old November 5th, 2009, 03:33 AM   #1
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Field Recorders Gain Hiss

I have taken a recording of the microtrack II hiss at about 90% gain, and just as a reference i used my crappy laptop and an old tascam us-122 sound card which i had for guitar playing. the tascam was at full gain (would like more).

hear the results here:
YouTube - mic test

can i find a portable preamp with as clean sound (no hiss) but more gain (the tascam is on the low side)?


i need to record ambience and SFX and the microtrack was a bad purchase on my part for this. ready to spend more money but dont want to hear that mic gain hiss again.
thanks
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Old November 5th, 2009, 05:14 AM   #2
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Are you looking for a preamp to put in front of the Microtrack or are you looking for a new recorder to replace it?
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Old November 5th, 2009, 05:39 AM   #3
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thanks for the reply steve.
at this point i am willing to go either way. it would be great if i could put it in front of the microtrack and salvage something.

a test somewhere in this forum mentions a juicedLink feeding it, but they dont mention the connection in. possibly to the 1/8 input, but i dont know if thats feasable.

thanks
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Old November 5th, 2009, 09:19 AM   #4
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I think the Microtrack may have a S/PDIF in. The Sound Devices USBPre has top notch quiet pre-amps and converters. S/PDIF in/out. The MicroTrk. would sound very good using that interface. Essentially, a portable drive with monitoring and P/B capabilities.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 11:41 AM   #5
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thanks rick, this would be great. but unforunately its not portable. needs a PC connection just like the tascam sound card i have now. much better preamps for sure but still nailed to the PC.

the spdif is the way i wish i could go, i have seen the mic2496 as available but almost no user reviews or sound samples with the microtrack.

i was leaning towards the fostex fr2le and tascam hd-p2, then read that even these were lacking in gain, a bit cleaner but no push for low volume sounds like ambience.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 11:57 AM   #6
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The sad fact is that if you're looking to reccord very quiet sounds - crickets chirping in the night sort of thing - you're going to need excellent preamps such as found on top-shelf mixers, recorders, and mics. Something like the Sound Devices recorders or a Nagra, that class of machine. And of course they come with a top-shelf price tag to match (price an Aaton Cantar if you want nightmares LOL). It just may not be realistic to expect to get what you're looking for in a sub-kilobuck rig.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 12:11 PM   #7
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i am coming to that sad realization myself.
however some test on the web showed the tascam hd-p2 preamps to be on par with the sound devices.
my biggest fear is that i shell out 1,700 for the entry sound devices recorder, only to go out and hear that hiss again on low sounds.
thanks

PS and to be quite honest, all i really want to get is that good room tone to mix dialog to. the one where the presence of the room is there. that breathiness of the room, almost like going haaaa with your mouth open. every recorder i try comes out as hssssssss, which is not room tone but the circuitry of the recorder.
i am watching kislowski's decalogue films and there is just such a great presense under the dialog.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 01:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Zabetas View Post
i am coming to that sad realization myself.
however some test on the web showed the tascam hd-p2 preamps to be on par with the sound devices.
my biggest fear is that i shell out 1,700 for the entry sound devices recorder, only to go out and hear that hiss again on low sounds.
thanks

PS and to be quite honest, all i really want to get is that good room tone to mix dialog to. the one where the presence of the room is there. that breathiness of the room, almost like going haaaa with your mouth open. every recorder i try comes out as hssssssss, which is not room tone but the circuitry of the recorder.
i am watching kislowski's decalogue films and there is just such a great presense under the dialog.
I'd like to see the web tests showing the h2-p2 preamps match Sound Devices as I don't know anyone who would agree. Most people I know that use both, only ever run line-in to the HD-P2 just to get around the mediocre preamps. (For the money they're excellent, just not a match to SD)

For room tone, you take that from whatever mic/preamp/recorder combination was used on set. The idea is to match how that setup picked up the room so that you can insert room tone where you're removing the sound taken during the actual shot (due ADR, floor creak, floor noise, whatever). It's simply to smooth out the dialog to sound natural and should never be noticed on it's own.

The "presence under the dialog" you're likely referring to is ambience. Winds, rain, fans, air condition, ect... can all be used as elements under dialog. It's not uncommon to have 4-6 tracks of background ambiences playing during even a quiet scene. Most of the time it's barely perceptible.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #9
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I'd like to see the web tests showing the h2-p2 preamps match Sound Devices as I don't know anyone who would agree.
Sure they are not as good but VERY far from mediocre, in fact very good. Here are some, IMO, very precise measurements of some recorders.
Avisoft Bioacoustics - Microphone Input Noise Comparision
The EIN (Eqiv Input Noise) of the SD722/4 is -128dB. Theoretical perfection (68deg F Temp, 20Hz-20k bandwidth of a 150ohm resistor) is -130.922309dB
The HD-p2 is -125dB.
This is without the normal A weighting, which will improve the numbers by 2dB in both these cases.
BTW a new ZoomH4n I measured has a pretty rubbish -107dB EIN, with A weighting!

To get the full benefit of the noise performance of either the HD or SD you will need a very low self noise from the mic. The mic output level comes into it too.

An example, the far from noisy Schoeps CMC mics (16dB self noise) will have their noise performance degraded by less than .1dB by the HD or the SD.
Or to put it another way an EIN better than-124dB is kina pointless for a Schoeps. An ultra low noise mic like the Rode NT1a would need -129 to do it full justice. A DPA 4060 is ok with -110 EIN.

George Z said
"i was leaning towards the fostex fr2le and tascam hd-p2, then read that even these were lacking in gain, a bit cleaner but no push for low volume sounds like ambience."

Well IMO both these are very good in the noise & gain dept. Re gain; in this post recording on noisy stuff like analog tape times, there is not much point in having more than 60db of gain, you don't have to jack up the level to overcome the noise of the medium you are recording it onto.
But ultimately you are still stuck with the laws of physics. Eg if you were to have 130db of noiseless gain the basic noise of a perfect 150ohm source would give you full mod noise. And of course any half decent DAW has noiseless gain, it's just a pretty simple mathematical process. So don't worry about an atmos being at -20, you can "normalise" it with no quality loss. And if you want, do some DSP digital noise reduction, filtering etc, to get rid of want don't like.
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Old November 5th, 2009, 07:31 PM   #10
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thanks for the responses. lots of usefull info here for future searches.

john i am in europe now and have found a used fostex for 350 or so, close to what i payed for the microtrack way back.

there is a nice test here showing the tascam after the SD, in sound quality (only a tad drop in quality but not much, the microtrack i recorded is way worse comparatively)
https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/type/www...v-present.html

wish there was a similar test for the fostex. if someone has one, would love to hear a single ticking clock on high gain.

thanks again
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Old November 6th, 2009, 12:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by George Zabetas View Post
thanks for the responses. lots of usefull info here for future searches.

john i am in europe now and have found a used fostex for 350 or so, close to what i payed for the microtrack way back.
there is a nice test here showing the tascam after the SD, in sound quality
Thanks, but as soon as i tried to run your link i got Mugged by Apple Co.
I have already paid for a Quicklime Pro licence 4 times as they changed Vers.
So no way do i want another so called "Free" update that trashes my QT pro install - so I have to give yet another 30 to these avaricious B'tards.
J
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Old November 7th, 2009, 03:47 AM   #12
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hey john, thats weird with the apple quicktime. i have the free version and it plays fine. who knows.

re-reading your post makes me go with the fostex fr2le. i think normalizing in post would do the trick.

any relation to the john lundsten who recorded the song remains the same by led zep? my all time favorite band.
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Old November 7th, 2009, 06:51 PM   #13
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Most nature recordists I know of are enamored of the MKH30/40 combo for M/S recording of ambiences...even lower noise than the Schoeps. But you may not wanna go there, price wise. Just offering the info! ;-)

I own the Fostex FR2-LE and the Sound Devices 702 (any other SD gear will have similar preamp performance). The Fr2-LE blew me away for its price...low gain, but very low noise. For <$600, that is. For that alone, it's a screaming deal. I ultimately found the FR2-LE a nightmare to actually work with in the field, and since purchasing the 702, I now understand what real "value" is, and that value can exist even at high price points.

Here are my impressions of the FR2-LE and the Sound Devices 702.
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Old November 8th, 2009, 03:48 AM   #14
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thanks for the info.
i checked your website and liked both recordings actually.
i wish i could afford the sd 702 but right now i cant. thats why i have to go to the runner up like the tascam or fostex.



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Old November 8th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by George Zabetas View Post
any relation to the john lundsten who recorded the song remains the same by led zep? my all time favorite band.
Yes, I was one of many sound recordists who worked on that Movie.
John L
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