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Old November 15th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #1
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Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

Hi all. My last couple of productions I've had access to a glorious SoundDevices 744T for my audio but that's not an option for my next. I'm looking for a recommendation for field recording of both ambience and dialog in the sub-$500 range that will give me the closest audio fidelity to a high-end, professional piece of gear like that.

Timecode is not important, phantom power is.

Haven't kept up on all the Zoom/Tascam/Sony discussions so I'm not sure what the state of the art is like right now in these small stereo recorders. This is for a project to be shot on the Canon 5D Mk II and I'm also open to something like a JuicedLink solution if the audio quality can be kept high enough for a feature film.

Typical mic used in the production will be a Sennheiser ME66. Thanks!
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Old November 15th, 2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

I use a Sign Video ENG44 to feed a Tascam DR07 or Zoom HN1. Essentially like a component recording system. Seems to work well for me with my ME66, as well as NTG2, NTG3, and various other sources.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 01:26 PM   #3
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

I had the sign ENG 44 and sold it as it was not very robust for location work, I now have a twelco LP4S mixer and it has some very good pro features for the money: http://www.twelco.hu/links/3.pdf

He normally sells them as factory re-furbs direct or on e-bay and if you search for twelco on this forum there are a few posts.

As for budget portable mixers I have just bought two of these shure M367 mixers and they are superb quality and very robust, they offer a good low cost six channel mixer with tone osc return input and phantom power with transformer balanced inputs and outputs: SHURE Microphone M367 Mixer "NEW Sealed Box" 6 channel in 2 out PORTABLE | eBay

Spec sheet here: http://www.shure.com/idc/groups/publ..._specsheet.pdf

Ok it's mono but as I record most of my dialogue in mono anyway that is not a problem, the new tascam DR40 would be a good choice as a recorder as you can record four audio tracks at the same time for less than $200.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 03:31 PM   #4
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Schuldt View Post
Hi all. My last couple of productions I've had access to a glorious SoundDevices 744T for my audio but that's not an option for my next. I'm looking for a recommendation for field recording of both ambience and dialog in the sub-$500 range that will give me the closest audio fidelity to a high-end, professional piece of gear like that.

Timecode is not important, phantom power is.

Haven't kept up on all the Zoom/Tascam/Sony discussions so I'm not sure what the state of the art is like right now in these small stereo recorders. This is for a project to be shot on the Canon 5D Mk II and I'm also open to something like a JuicedLink solution if the audio quality can be kept high enough for a feature film.

Typical mic used in the production will be a Sennheiser ME66. Thanks!
Fostex FR-2LE, Edirol R-44 or Tascam DR680 would be the ones to look at.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #5
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

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Originally Posted by Gary Nattrass View Post
I had the sign ENG 44 and sold it as it was not very robust for location work,
.
Not sure what that means. I've had mine for 8 years and it has been abused by many a novice user, and I have seen no problem, not even once.


edit: I think I exagerated. Might be about 5 years. But I haven't had a thing go wrong with it.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 04:25 PM   #6
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

If you go the route of recording into your 5D, You want to make sure you stay away from passive device and get one with Preamps. I personally selected the Juicedlink cx231 YMMV

You also need to understand the workarounds for AGC (AGC Disable) if you go the route of a Juicedlink adapter and record in your camera instead of a separate recorder as you've been doing.

There's plenty of discussions on the H4N vs Tascam et al and searching here will give you far more information and sooner than waiting for people to discover this thread and make a post.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 01:07 AM   #7
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

The new Tascam DR 40 costs only 158.00 USD at B&H right now. The only known drawback of that unit versus H4n is that you can't set the levels separately for external sources, it's quite an issue for some uses. But at this price it's to be expected that they cripple their software as usual.
In the other hand if you are about to use only one external microphone the DR40 can record a safety track which comes really handy for less experienced boom operators/recordists.

T
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Old November 16th, 2011, 01:12 AM   #8
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

lately i've been using a combination of a Juicedlink preamp (CX211 or CX231) and a Zoom H4n with great results. The JL allows me to send a very clean signal to the H4n which in turn records in high quality 24bit mode. Plus i just screw the H4n on top of the Juicedlink to form a very compact solution.

You can get this combination for about $500-600 new.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 01:26 AM   #9
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

I'm also in the market for a good but cheap recorder. My research so far has indicated that John Willet is right about recommending the

Fostex FR-2LE, Edirol R-44 or Tascam DR680

But they all have flaws, and I suspect there are cheaper recorders that would do better than the h4n, but which are new enough not to have test results on the web yet. I'm just not sure which ones they are.

I'm currently using the sub-$100 Tascam DR-05 fed by a Sound Devices Mixpre that I bought used for $600ish. I think that's a decent combo with an ME66... the SD provides very usable gain control knobs and decent meters, and of course a very clean gain stage. If the levels of what you are recording don't fluctuate too much, this is very workable.

But I'd like to have a bag-friendly recorder that has a higher dynamic range, XLR inputs, decent meter and level dials so I can run it without the Mixpre.

Anyone found good web sources for test results to compare noise floor and dynamic range for different recorders? The best I've found so far is: http://www.wingfieldaudio.com/portab...d-samples.html but I'd like more quantitative comparisons (noise spectra graphs for instance).

Last edited by Tom Morrow; November 16th, 2011 at 02:02 AM.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 02:40 AM   #10
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

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Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
Not sure what that means. I've had mine for 8 years and it has been abused by many a novice user, and I have seen no problem, not even once.


edit: I think I exagerated. Might be about 5 years. But I haven't had a thing go wrong with it.
HI Chris I work in pro video for film and broadcast and found the switches on the ENG-44 were a bit small and not up to the job, also it didn't have a tone oscilator and the overall feel was not as robust as others such as the twelco which also has PPM meters.

Don't get me wrong the ENG44 is good for the price and sounds OK but it did not fulfil my needs after a short amount of use.
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Old November 17th, 2011, 01:56 PM   #11
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

P.S re the shure M367 I just bought two second hand ones from e-bay and got one in immaculate condition from this guy in the USA: Shure M367 6 Ch Mixer in 19" Rack! ..Limiter..Mic/Line..AC/Battery W/Rack Ears! | eBay

These are good budget mono mixers with great transformer balanced ins and outs, a good limiter and battery operation. They are also world mixers so can operate on 120 or 230v mains and have a lot of switchable options.

Full manual here: http://www.performanceaudio.com/medi...186/3450_m.pdf
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Old November 18th, 2011, 03:24 AM   #12
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Re: Can't Afford Sound Devices - Recommended Alternatives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Morrow View Post
I'm also in the market for a good but cheap recorder. My research so far has indicated that John Willet is right about recommending the

Fostex FR-2LE, Edirol R-44 or Tascam DR680

But they all have flaws, and I suspect there are cheaper recorders that would do better than the h4n, but which are new enough not to have test results on the web yet. I'm just not sure which ones they are.

I'm currently using the sub-$100 Tascam DR-05 fed by a Sound Devices Mixpre that I bought used for $600ish. I think that's a decent combo with an ME66... the SD provides very usable gain control knobs and decent meters, and of course a very clean gain stage. If the levels of what you are recording don't fluctuate too much, this is very workable.

But I'd like to have a bag-friendly recorder that has a higher dynamic range, XLR inputs, decent meter and level dials so I can run it without the Mixpre.

Anyone found good web sources for test results to compare noise floor and dynamic range for different recorders? The best I've found so far is: Portable Recorder Sound Samples but I'd like more quantitative comparisons (noise spectra graphs for instance).
You have to pay for quality hence the price of the SD 702 and the Nagra LB are what they are.

At the sub £1,000 level - the new Nagra SD may be something to consider (I am playing with one at the moment).
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