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Old October 26th, 2011, 08:16 PM   #1
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worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Hi folks.
Have been reading through a lot of thread on related topics..

Going to record wedding for a friend.
Iím trying to decide on a recording device and lav mic combination, to plant on groom. Lower price point.
Letís presume I go with a cheap second hand Olympus WS-311M. (any other suggestions?)
Since I already have a Sony ECM-44B and 66B in kit, Iím considering getting xlr to 3.5mm(1/8) converter and strapping either 44b or 66B to the WS-311M for grooms pocket. Would this work?
OR,
For a smaller profile, Iím considering getting a Giant squid or (same price) Olympusí own ME-15 mic, and doing same.
Iíve read mixed reviews on Squids, and seen youtube review of ME-15 and was not impressed. (only one out there, so not hard to find if youíre interested)
Would the Sony mics offer significant increase in quality?
Also, should I use 44 or 66??
Many thanks.
Anthony
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Old October 27th, 2011, 10:15 AM   #2
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

I strongly suggest a different recorder.

The best recording quality on that Olympus is a digitally compressed WMA file at 128kbps. That's fine for dictation but marginal quality for a legitimate soundtrack. You want something that will record uncompressed WAV format as a bare minimum requirement.

If low price is important, start with the Tascam DR-03, and work your way upward if you can afford better.

The Tascam (like most decent recorders) also uses a removable memory card so you are not limited by the storage capacity of the recorder's internal memory.

Of those two mics, I'd suggest the 44 because of its omni pattern. That will do a better job of picking up the bride, as well as giving a more consistent level and response on the groom if he turns his head while speaking.

Either one of those mics, though, with its big battery pack, and then an adapter to feed audio to the recorder, will create a huge kludge in the groom's pocket. (As Mae West said, "Is that a recorder in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?") There are plenty of electret lavs that would plug directly into the Tascam, and would be powered by the Tascam's "plug in power" without the huge external battery lump.
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Old October 27th, 2011, 10:26 AM   #3
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

The Sony lavs sound pretty good. Unfortunately they are relatively large if 'hiding' them is an issue. You will most likely get better results using the ( omni directional) ECM44. The 66 is a cardioid lav and better suited for live sound, plugged into a sound system where feedback could be an issue.
You will also need to use a battery in the Sony's XLR power supply. It will not work with plug in power alone.
I would look for a different recorder too.
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Old October 29th, 2011, 05:07 AM   #4
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Thanks for that info on the 44..and Iíll take your advice re a different recorder. Thank you.
Wasnít long before I was revisiting my old wishlist and reconsidering the Marantz 661, Zoom H4N, Tascam DR 100 etc.. but thatís a purchase for another day.

I was surprised to find the DR-03 no longer listed with B&H.
If I do get one (or equivalent like the H1) can you recommend any lower-end, passable lav mics I might consider? <$100
Many thanks.
Anthony
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Old October 29th, 2011, 09:33 AM   #5
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

I would take a look at the OST 802. It sounds and looks a lot like a Tram. Services
The last time I checked the mic cost just under $100.
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Old October 29th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #6
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

The Tascams are still out there... just use Google. They're still listed on Guitar Center, Musicians Friend, etc.

Sadly, it seems the price has gone up since I bought mine (elsewhere) for $60. They must be in demand.

There are other minimal recorders with some of the features. For example, the Sony ICD-SX700 (which seems to be designed for the dictation market) has an external mic input (with "plug-in power"), can record linear PCM at 44/16 rate, has adjustable recording gain and recording level bar-graph display. But it does not support an external memory card, so you're limited to the internal memory size. Personally, I'd prefer the DR-03.

Last edited by Greg Miller; October 29th, 2011 at 02:02 PM.
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Old October 29th, 2011, 09:58 PM   #7
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Again, thank you for the advice.
I can remember looking at those OST's years ago. Will have to refresh my memory.

So the DR-03 is topping my list atm.

I have some time before the wedding, so I might get a DR-03, and see how 'low profile' I can be with the ECM-44B.

Based on your experience, would you offer an educated guess on the length of battery life I might expect with such a setup? (recording highest quality.)

Many thanks.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 02:19 AM   #8
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

The DR-03 manual says the unit will run about 6 hrs. with Alkaline cells when recording MP3 files.

I always use NiMH cells, and I've never tried to run them down until the recorder quits, so I can't give you any further information.

Presumably you already know what kind of battery life you get with your mics.

When using your present mics with the DR-03, be sure to use a correct adapter cable; if the wiring is incorrect, it might cause "plug-in power" current to be drawn from the recorder (needlessly) which might slightly reduce the recorder's battery life. Of course this won't be an issue is you use the appropriate mics which are designed for the "plug-in power" scheme.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 08:05 AM   #9
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Thanks Greg.

Battery in the ECM44B lasts 'forever'.. rated at thousands of hours.
Interesting point on the adapter. How would I differentiate one cable from the other, say if I were shiopping through B&H?.

Thanks.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #10
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

That depends on the actual output circuitry of your present mic. There are a lot of variables.

1.) Does your mic (a.) have an audio output transformer, or is it (b.) "active balanced"?
2.) Will your mic (c.) run on phantom voltage from a typical professional mixer, or (d.) always need its own internal battery?

Ideally one should check the internal schematic for the mic, to be confident about the answers to those questions.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 01:57 AM   #11
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

ha :)
The only question I can a) understand and b) answer is:
d) The 44B operates on battery power only - does not accept phantom.

Someone more knowledgeable may deduce something from this:
http://www.picturehire.com/pdf/Sony%...n%20Manual.pdf

update: This looks relevant(!?):
Output Impedance 250 Ohms, (+/-20% (1kHz) Balanced)

Last edited by Anthony Milic; October 31st, 2011 at 02:51 AM.
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Old October 31st, 2011, 08:55 AM   #12
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

It may be helpful to know that the mic won't accept phantom power.

We knew the output is balanced, so unfortunately that data sheet doesn't provide any further information about the output circuit.

So, there are two possible output configurations.

1.) Transformer balanced. In this case, the (+) and (-) output pins are each connected to one end of the an internal audio transformer's secondary winding. For this to work, you need continuity through the secondary, so that current will flow. You would need to connect the (-) audio output to ground, and the (+) output through a coupling capacitor to the input of your recorder.

2.) Active balanced. In this case, there are actually two separate output leads, (+) and (-) polarity. Each is driven directly by a solid state device (transistor or IC) but are pretty much independant of each other. If this is the case, you could theoretically just use the (+) output lead, through a coupling capacitor, to the input of your recorder; you could ignore the (-) output, or terminate it in an appropriate resistor.

The catch is that, if you have an active balanced output, and you mistakenly use the connection that would be appropriate for a transformer balanced output [i.e. grounding the (-) output lead] you may damage the mic's output circuitry.

So, not being there to look at your mic, and not wanting to give you any advice that might possibly cause damage, I think there's only one choice that is guaranteed to work and guaranteed safe with either type of output. That is to use an external audio transformer between the mic and the recorder input. And I would still advise using a coupling capacitor between this transformer's secondary and the input of the recorder, to block any "plug-in power" voltage from feeding into the transformer. You'll have to use an appropriate transformer that's got adequate shielding for a mic-level circuit.

At that point, you've got a three objects (and more wiring) to cram into the groom's pocket: recorder, transformer, mic power supply. It certainly would be simpler, and less cumbersome, to use a mic that's intended to work with the "plug-in power" scheme.
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Old November 5th, 2011, 08:38 PM   #13
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Thanks for all the detailed info Greg.

I've just purchased a couple of giant squid mono omnis. @ $30 ea, I couldn't refuse. Will have a play and see if they're passable.

Just revisiting Tascam and Zoom now for a small recorder.
While you can still pick them up, Tascam has definitely discontinued the DR-03. I'm looking at the PR-10 as well, but don't see any significant difference between the two. (is it just the mics?)
Am I missing something?

Basically my choice will come down to the Zoom h1 or the Tascam dr-03/pr-10.. seems much of a muchness.

Thanks

Last edited by Anthony Milic; November 5th, 2011 at 10:30 PM. Reason: extra info
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Old November 6th, 2011, 08:24 AM   #14
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Anthony:

The PR-10 seems to be very similar to the DR-03. It has all the features that I'd consider necessary for your project: mic input with "plug-in power," adjustable recording gain, recording level meters, PCM recording. I think this would be a much better choice than your original Olympus suggestion.

Check the dimensions, I think the PR-10 would fit more comfortably inside a pocket, compared to the H1. On the other hand, for other projects the X/Y cardioid mics on the H1 might give a better stereo image than the PR-10.

Search this forum for comments about the Zoom H1... I believe I've seen a few folks having problems but I don't recall the details.

Let us know what you think of those mics, and how the project turns out.
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Old November 8th, 2011, 12:02 AM   #15
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Re: worth adapting Sony ECM-66B/44B for vows, or...

Hi Greg,
I've been pouring over the comments on H1 and DR-03 for a while now. Can't find much on the PR-10 though.
Have checked out some samples, and what I've heard puts the H1 just above the DR-03. DR-03 has a little more noise at higher gain, and revealed more vocal "tss". Despite this, I believe Iíll still side with one of the Tascams. Not as flimsy (apparently) as the H1, comparable recording quality, and lower profile.
Iím still confused as to why there were two so very similar items (DR-03 and PR-10) produced seemingly around the same time. If one superseded the other, Iíd understand, but that doesnít seem to be the case. Theyíre both just there.. taunting me!
Anyway, while that issue stews, (and unless someone can highlight a significant difference) Iím going with the PR-10.
I'll be glad to post my findings with the Giant Squid and recorder.
(In terms of forum protocol? should I include my findings here, or create another thread?)
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