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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:50 PM   #1
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DR-680 versus R-44 ??

Hi -

I've recently been searching for a good field audio recorder to use in a double-system set-up on small short video shoots (narrative short "films").

It's pretty much going to be a one-man option so I'm looking for a simple device I can set up and count on without tons of support or mixing necessary.

I'd like a mixer/recorder combo if possible, at least 4 channels for future expansion, and around a $1000 or less.

With that in mind (and reading many of the helpful comments here and on other forums), I had narrowed my choice down to the Edirol R-44... but then I came across the DR-680.

The Edirol is currently listed at $995 on B&H.
The DR-680 is listed at $795 and comes with the Tascam carrying case (which is a nice add-on though it's not swaying me in any way)

So, my question is this:

Is there any reason that anyone can cite that I should buy the R-44 instead of the cheaper Tascam?

From everything I've read, the pre-amps sound comparable, along with most of the other features, except that the Tascam has 2 more mic inputs and is made of cheaper materials.

Are the limiters comparable in what they do?

Considering the $200 difference, I just wonder if I can justify getting the R-44 (which for whatever reason, I have some kind of preference for. Maybe it's because I've read the sound is "warmer").

Anyways, thanks for the help!
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Old March 5th, 2011, 09:34 PM   #2
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Re: DR-680 versus R-44 ??

I have no experience with the R-44 but just picked up a DR-680 and though I've not field-tested it yet, I've fired it up and feel that it will suit my needs very well. The pres are clean and it's a pretty easy recorder to figure out. More clean channels for less money works for me. It was also smaller than I thought it would be. Bonus.

Regarding warmth, I would be surprised if you could hear any real difference even in optimal listening conditions, unless you've got a headset on. It sounds good.

Also, I ordered the case (didn't come with the deal I got) and personally, now that I have it, I wouldn't want to use the recorder without it. BH throwing in the case really sweetens the deal, and if you go for it, you'll see what I mean. The case is very well made and has all the access points in the right places. I was pleasantly surprised how good it is. It minimizes the fear of damaging the recorder.

Here was a helpful review for me: Tascam DR-680 Review
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Old March 5th, 2011, 09:47 PM   #3
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Re: DR-680 versus R-44 ??

Thanks for your reply, Kent.

Unless you can get an R-44 used for a nice price, I don't understand why anyone would buy the more expensive unit with fewer channels (even if you don't see yourself using them) and poorer mixing controls. The only other difference I can think of, on the side of the R-44, is the ability to control the level of each line on a separate knob, though many people have said the "virtual" knobs of the DR-680 work just fine - especially in a controlled filming environment.

Nice to hear that the case that ships with the unit from B&H works well. The fact that this comes with it (for $795) completely neglects and then some the supposedly sturdier build of the R-44.

I'm kind of shocked that Roland/Edirol has not reduced the price of the R-44 to compete with the DR-680's street price. I guess the point of my posting originally was for me to confirm that I hadn't overlooked some aspect of the R-44 that justifies this sticky price-point.

I think I'll be ordering a DR-680 soon and putting the extra $200 I save into a nicer microphone.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 09:13 PM   #4
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Re: DR-680 versus R-44 ??

Hi Kent,

Just a quick question. Just got my DR-680 and I'm really impressed! You were right. The unit is a lot smaller than I expected and the bag is amazingly well-designed.

One thing I'm noticing: When I power up the unit, without a mic or headphones plugged in, the built-in speaker is on and releasing a low level of white noise. Is this the same with your unit? I assume this is normal and won't happen when actually recording, but just wanted to check as it seems weird to me that the default setting for the speaker when not recording is "on".

Thanks!
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Old March 14th, 2011, 08:18 PM   #5
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Re: DR-680 versus R-44 ??

be sure to updated it to the latest firmware ! tascam.com

you may have the volume turned up all the way. I normally have headphones plugged in full time all the time so I've never noticed this before.

also something else, if you aren't recording some channels because they have no input, turn them off. ANY audio input without a mic on it will generate some hiss. in this case, its only the headphones / output mix, but if you aren't using them, no point in filling up the card when you record with empty tracks. Also as part of the last firmware update, the unit now remembers correctly which audio tracks where armed for record which makes life a lot better.
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Old March 14th, 2011, 08:47 PM   #6
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Re: DR-680 versus R-44 ??

Thanks for the advice, Steve! Your video review was a very compelling reason for me to buy this unit.

As for the external speaker, even when I am not monitoring, am not in Record/Pause, and have the headphone volume turned all the way down, my DR-680 still produces a bit of white noise from the speaker. Granted, I have to put the speaker to my ear to hear this noise in a normal environment and I'll be using headphones all the time anyways but I do think this is odd.

Do you mind checking your unit to see if it's doing the same thing? Basically, turn it on, unplug headphones, and put the speaker to your ear.

I assume it must just be on all the time (without headphones hooked up) for fast playback functionality because when the recorder is not in Record Standby, it's basically in Playback Standby. Regardless, curious to me that this is the case.
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 10:02 PM   #7
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Re: DR-680 versus R-44 ??

Hi Joel-

Sorry for the delay in responding. I was out of town and just got back to the forum tonight. As for the hiss, I just checked it. And yes, there is a faint sound - like a speaker powered up but with no signal - if that makes sense. When I plug in the headphone jack, the sound is gone.

Unless it's something you can hear without having to put the unit relatively close to your ear, I wouldn't worry about it.

BTW, I finally put the recorder to work officially, and I'm very pleased with how well it performed and how easy it was to check, mix, and solo levels.

I'm not at all disappointed. Quite the opposite.

Kent
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