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Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:01 PM   #16
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

any suggestions on a comparable quality mic to the 44B or 77B that is in the sub $300 range?
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:42 PM   #17
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

RODE Microphones - Lavalier
The RODE lavalier is 'affordable' and appears to have good specs.
( -33.5dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (21.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz )
It also has interchangeable connector options so for instance, the same mic can be used in a hardwired XLR configuration or with a wireless system.
I have never used one, but they are highly regarded by trusted sources. Search this forum for more info. I recall Chadfish and Guy Cochran did test/reviews a year ago or so when it was released. Both were well done.
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 06:37 PM   #18
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

You know Rick is right in that not a lot of people here use Azden brand mixers. But honestly it's been so long since I really took a look at Azden mixers, there's a chance there is something workable in that brand. It might be worth a shot to try one.

After all Azden is a original equipment manufacturer for many other brands that are re-branded. So there's a chance we may have already used a Azden product by another name and been satisfied with it.

The Azden FMX-42a appears pretty decent.

Here's a review on it. Azden FMX 42-A Field Mixer (Review) | Anything Sound

And if you look on B&H there are some very positive reviews. I wouldn't rule it out.
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 11:02 PM   #19
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

Ok, so I just borrowed a Sony 88B lav mic from a friend to do some comparison tests between it and the 44B.

I would say for the most part, they performed about the same, the 88B had a bit more dynamic range. Both had low output signal, and the same noise level. So it seems clear the issue is with the Tascam DR-40's preamps (I also tested it with a cheap-o hand held dynamic mic, mostly the same deal.)

The input level on the DR-40 was at 68 percent. I have attached a sample of the audio of the 44B, which peaked at -18.5 dB. I then normalized this to -2 dB in Adobe Audition, so you could hear the noise level at a practical amplitude. Also, I'm attaching a screen shot of the spectral graph and amplitude statistics from Audition prior to normalization.
Attached Thumbnails
low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40-sony44b_testnoise01.png  
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File Type: wav 44B_test01_audio.wav (7.69 MB, 95 views)
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Old April 4th, 2013, 12:09 PM   #20
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

That's a bit noisy, it's difficult to distinguish the electronic from the acoustical borne BG noise.
I've never used my DR40's own preamps so out of curiosity I plugged in an ECM55, with an near spent AA battery. The mic was plugged directly into the DR40's XLR-L, mono mode, Phantom Pwr. off, 44.1k/16bit .wav. The DR40 rec level was set to 75, whilst recording the meters were peaking around -8.0dBFS, then peak-normalized to -2.0dBFS in Sound Forge Pro. The noise floor sits around -48dBFS. Similar to your test, the electronic/acoustic noise floors blend together. Not great, but better than I anticipated.
Attached Thumbnails
low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40-dr40-ecm55-test.jpg  
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File Type: wav DR40-ECM55 test.wav (2.81 MB, 75 views)
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Old April 4th, 2013, 12:52 PM   #21
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

Rick, I'd say you definitely got less noise in your recording (even though you had the gain on the DR40 set a tad higher). I was recording in my bedroom at night, and only my desktop computer would have been producing fan noise at the time.

After doing a bit more research (particularly the video blogs posted by JuicedLink - biased, I know), I've determined that neither the H4N nor the DR40 have powerful enough preamps for such low output condenser mics. This means I will need to get a mixer/preamp.

Now it just comes down to cost. I know you said that the brand was of questionable reputation, but there is someone on Craigslist selling a Azden FMX 32 for $200, which maybe I can haggle down. 3 xlr inputs, xlr output, phantom power, level meter. It does not camera mount, which is the biggest draw back.

There is also some deals on a few JuicedLink DT454's on Ebay. It's a discontinued model, if that matters. 2 xlr, 1 unbalanced 1/8" input (though it can take 2 channels from the tip and ring?), 1/8" output, phantom power, level meter, AutoGain Control correction, and Hi-LO gain sensitivity adjustment.

Any suggestions, recommendations, warnings?
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Old April 4th, 2013, 03:07 PM   #22
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

As I stated, I have no hands-on experience with either Azden or JuicedLinks gear. The general consensus is, Juiced Link makes good reliable products (in the US), plus JuicedLink's president (Robert Rozak) frequents the DVi and DVx audio forums whom one can talk directly too. (Try that with Azden) Personally, I would choose the JL over Azden any day
That said, I don't know this for sure, but.. the JuicedLink DT454 is designed more for DSLR's unbalanced mic level input, and does not have balanced +4dB XLR outputs, which is what you want to use with the DR-40... and/or a camcorder w/ XLR inputs.
BTW, what camera do you plan to be using?
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Old April 4th, 2013, 03:49 PM   #23
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

I'm using a Canon 7D. I actually have the firmware update, so truthfully, auto gain override is a low priority. Phantom power is also low on the list, since the Sony 44b doesn't have it (plus I would rather not risk the drain on the recorder batteries.). For the promo, interview, event, and personal projects that I work on, 2 XLR inputs is enough (especially since the DR40 only has 2). Being able to mount it to the cam or recorder, is a big plus, as is level metering, since I'm often the only guy on the shoot.

I don't really know the benefits of balanced XLR, versus unbalanced 1/8". I think it means that you can have a longer cable with out interference, perhaps since something like the JuiceLink would be either tethered to the recorder or to the camera, it would need a few inches of cable at most. Still XLR out sounds better.

I don't know anything about noise floors, impedance, harmonic distortion, or nominal input levels.

I'm a videographer not a audio guy, but that still means that I often need to record sound quickly, easily, and with usable results. I'm not looking for pro level audio with pro level options and capabilities. I just want to avoid spending a few hundred dollars and then realizing it's not what I needed or wanted or simply does not solve my problem.

Right now, the 44b lav straight into the DR40 is not producing acceptable results. Case in point: would I have saved money in the long run by spending more money on a better recorder? Or a better lav mic?
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Old April 4th, 2013, 04:05 PM   #24
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

Sorry if I sounded a little testy at the end there. I appreciate your help, I'm just a bit overwhelmed with information and my indecisiveness.

I've basically come to the conclusion that that what I'll end up getting is either a JuicedLink or a BeachTek, its just that the Azden happened to seem like a good deal for under $200. Though they have some cheaper options, the JuicedLink and BeachTeks that look good to me are more in the $300 - $450 range. Since this is all steaming from my desire to get my lav mic to have less noise, $400 seems like it doesn't have the right cost to benefit ratio.

Now the challenge is, which JuicedLink; which BeachTek?
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Old April 4th, 2013, 04:30 PM   #25
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

Denez - just thinking of what one might want down the road and I'll bring up this thought. The latest update for Final Cut Pro X (don't know what you're using so it may be different) has the capability for three audio tracks. Apple - Final Cut Pro X - What?s New (~ 1/3rd of the way down the page).

For example, Interview, Boom, and Ambience. The Ambience mic in the example is in stereo so lets make that four tracks.

Granted, you're basically working solo right now but what about in the future? The Ambience mic would be really nice to have and it'd add some really nice audio if it could be included.

I've got some higher priority items to work on right now but I'm wondering how to accomplish four tracks and it looks like I'll probably have to get a four-track recorder to go this route.

Frankly, I'm basically solo too, although I've got some cheap labor available (wife). Er, well, make that 'maybe not so cheap' but at least still available. More or less.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 05:08 PM   #26
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

John
I'm confused about the 3 audio tracks?
What edit system wouldn't allow 3 audio tracks? Maybe I'm misunderstanding?
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Old April 5th, 2013, 01:42 PM   #27
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

Al - There are various editing systems and I know about only two, one of which is FCPX; hence my statement to couch how many audio tracks that could be edited.

As an aside, the third track that was mentioned is for Ambience and is in fact stereo so that would actually make four tracks total.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 03:13 PM   #28
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

John, maybe I'm missing something but I would imagine ALL editing programs support multiple audio tracks. I'm using Premiere Pro and you can have upto 99 video and 99 audio tracks... but this is off topic.

Can anyone tell me how much concern I should have for running the Juiced Link or Beachtek into the Tascam DR40? My only concern is going from 1/8 inch stereo out to XLR, in order to connect them. I don't think any of the Juiced Links or Beachtek's have XLR out.
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Old April 6th, 2013, 11:20 AM   #29
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

If the JL has only a 1/8" unbalanced mic level outputs (which I believe it does) you would need a proper unbalancing adapter or cable. Even then, your still going through the Tascam's preamps. You may be just as well off running the JL directly into the 7D. (on manual gain of course) I have no experience with this type set-up so other opinions should be considered.
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Old April 8th, 2013, 09:06 AM   #30
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Re: low signal & noise - Sony 44B & Tascam DR-40

Rick, yeah going from 1/8" to XLR has always sounded like a negative, but I don't have a solid reason that this is so. If it's just that I need to get an adapter, 1/8" mini to XLR adapter costs only $6 or so.

Anyway, here is my new possible solution - instead of adding a $400 mixer to make my $150 recorder have decent preamps, why not just sell the recorder and buy a better recorder?

The two good looking options are:

The Marantz 661

or

The Tascam DR-60D

Would either of these have comprable preamps to using a Juiced Link? Better?
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