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Old February 15th, 2010, 06:20 AM   #1
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Edirol R-4 Pro or SD 552

Frinds ! I am an Indie maker.Often shoot live folk music and interview for my documentaries.I was planning to purchase a decent recorder and mixer for my PMW EX3.I can not afford both as I have a budget of approximately$2700.Can anyone please guide me what to buy.I was thinking of buying SD552.But its recorder aspect not known.I am attracted towards a recorder Edirol R-4 Pro . Now basically I am very confused between a mixer cum recorder and a high quality recorder.Please help me.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 08:41 AM   #2
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The SD552 is an excellent mixer but IMHO its internal recorder should be considered more applicable to backup, dailys, and transcription recording rather than used as the primary recorder for production sound. High quality single-system sound needs a good mixer. High quality double-system sound needs both a good mixer and a good stand-alone recorder. My only quibble with the R-4 is the on-board special effects (noise gate, compressor, graphic equalizer, etc) - you're paying for a "feature" that has no business being on a production recorder and you need to resist the temptation ever to use it.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #3
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Normally I shoot with one PMW EX3 camera.As per your advise I think I should buy SD302 mixer and SD702 recorder but then budget is the problem. i.e.$1295+1875=$3170. Please steve suggest some cheaper options.Steve how do you rate Maranz PMD661 and Zoom H4n type of cheap recorders as professional recorders for a quality production ?
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Old February 15th, 2010, 01:38 PM   #4
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How many tracks do you need?
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Old February 15th, 2010, 01:38 PM   #5
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I can't directly comment on either but uncomfortable with the idea of using the cheap Zoom-type recorders for serious productions. I know a lot of people love them but I wouldn't be confident showing up on set with one of them as my primary. About the bottom level I'd consider would be the Tascam HD-P2.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #6
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Hi Steve,

I'm picking up a used HD-P2 to try as a location recorder? I'll be using it for both small indie movie productions as well as live events. For most live events I'll be getting feeds from the speakers mics off of the PA system and for movies we usually use mics on the level of the ME-66 or NTG-2.

Any recommendations or suggestions to get me up to speed as quickly as possible with using it. I shoot primarily with a Sony EX3 and am planning to use the TC feature for easier sync in post. up till now I've recorded audio onto the camera through a mixer and also used a Sony D50 as a backup.

Thanks,
Garrett
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Old February 15th, 2010, 02:59 PM   #7
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Ramji... if you need more than two tracks, have you looked at the Edirol R-44?

I use one for my own production and am very satisfied with its performance.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #8
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Hey Ramji,
This is kind of tough. The R-4 has time code and four tracks, but the SD552 probably has cleaner preamps (better recording), and way more functionality. If it were me, I'd live with two tracks and get the 552.

A particular problem is that the R-4 lacks balanced outputs, so sending a scratch track to the camera is dodgy. In fact, if you're doing a documentary I'd suggest recording direct to camera most of the time anyway. The EX3 has some of the cleanest preamps of any camcorder. For music, you could take the time to slate and send a scratch track to the camera for syncing later. That's just how I'd do it anyway.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 07:53 PM   #9
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You know, I was just looking over the owner's manual of the SD552, and it seems you can remove a track or a pair of tracks from the main outputs and still retain control of the faders. That may mean you could mix three tracks down to two for the internal recorder and route two separate isolated tracks to the camera for a total of four. Of course you should check with SoundDevices to make sure I'm interpreting that correctly if it's something you want to attempt.

There is also another option. You can buy the SD744T four track recorder used for $3,000. They are readily available.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 05:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
The SD552 is an excellent mixer but IMHO its internal recorder should be considered more applicable to backup, dailys, and transcription recording rather than used as the primary recorder for production sound.
Steve,

can you please elaborate on why the 552's recorder is not the best option (or at least the same as say a 302 and 702 used together)? I am about to purchase and thought the 552 solved all my problems...:)
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Old February 16th, 2010, 06:13 AM   #11
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Magat !I need two channels.I think that is what the Discovery HD specifications also says.
Yes Fredericks ! I was also of the impression that 552 will solve my recording problems.But after Steves comments I am not feeling confident .I will be feeding two channels to my EX3 as Marco Leavitt says EX3 has some of the cleanest preamps of any camcorder.If still I need a professional recorder then please through some more light on this.Somebody may please help.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 07:00 AM   #12
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Hey Ramji,
One thing to remember is that the EX3 has an undefeatable (and undocumented) limiter. So if you are using a mixer remember that you want to peak well before the top on the EX3's meter. If I remember right, the limiter kicks in about 4 to 6 dB before the top.

Also Ramji, when I say that the EX3 has great preamps, that's with the understanding that you are feeding it a nice, hot, line level signal. In other words, you really need to use a mixer with it. If you are feeding the mic directly into the camera you won't get that kind of performance.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 08:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt View Post
You know, I was just looking over the owner's manual of the SD552, and it seems you can remove a track or a pair of tracks from the main outputs and still retain control of the faders. That may mean you could mix three tracks down to two for the internal recorder and route two separate isolated tracks to the camera for a total of four. Of course you should check with SoundDevices to make sure I'm interpreting that correctly if it's something you want to attempt.
This is a great idea, I'm gonna try it today. Remove two tracks from the mix then use the removed channels' direct outs for the camera. Should work. Thanks, Marco
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Old February 16th, 2010, 09:54 AM   #14
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552 also features an internal stereo recorder, which can capture WAV or MP3 files at either 16-bit or 24-bit; with sample rates from 44.1kHz all the way up to 96kHz.
I am again asking -Is it not sufficiant for a documentary film maker like me or I still need a saperate pro recorder with time code ?
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:44 AM   #15
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Ramji,
You haven't mentioned how you plan on working, but in general, documentaries are almost always recorded direct to camera. This is because of the logistics of doing double system in a run and gun situation like that. Very high end productions, like say for PBS, would probably do double system, but they have the budget to hire qualified crew to handle it, in fact, we're talking about the very best in the business.

As far as audio quality, the internal recorder of the SD552 is most likely as good or better (probably quite a better) than the Edirol. The advantages of the Edirol are that it is four track, and it has timecode. I'm betting that you won't be able to take advantage of the four tracks on the Edirol, and you don't seem to have the expertise to take advantage of the timecode functionality. Direct to camera is by far the safest way to go.

To give you a more definitive answer, we need to know exactly what you are shooting and what the environment is. Do you have a sound person? Can he/she remain tethered to the camera? What equipment is he/she using, and in particular how much (and what kind of) wireless does your sound person have available?

Regarding Steve's comments about the limitations of the internal recorder of the 552, I agree to a point. It's not a question of sound quality, but rather the interface. If I were hired as the mixer on a feature film of a decent budget, for instance, yeah, I'd rather have a full featured recorder with four tracks or greater, although I wouldn't settle for the Edirol. I would also need to have a timecode slate, a dedicated boom-op, and at least three top end wireless systems. The more the better.

If I were a sound guy on a documentary, I'd rather have the SD552 and send a wireless hop to the camera. I would also use the internal recorder as a backup and set the camera's timecode to time of day. The SD552 recordings should also carry the time of day stamp in the metadata. Adding a sync box to the equation would also be a good thing.
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