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Old April 30th, 2013, 09:45 AM   #1
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Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Hi all,

I have a DR-40, and looking at another Tascom recorder that has only 2 XLR inputs as well. What I really want is an affordable 4 XLR input, or maybe even 6 or 8. I would think that in 2013, they could build a sub-$300 4 to 8 channel audio recorder with 4 or more XLR inputs? I don't know if having 4+ phantom powered XLR jacks would require more juice than my current 4.5v DR-40 or not. Ideally I'd want a 4 track to 8 track recorder with matching inputs so that I could put a few lav mics and a couple boom mics on one recorder. I am going to venture a wild guess that scenes with lots of actors typically require the more expensive capable recording devices.. or do they just mix all those audio channels into 2 tracks while recording?
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Old April 30th, 2013, 10:54 AM   #2
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Zoom recently intro'd the 'H6' a four-XLR input deck similar to Tascam's DR-60 for the DSLR folks. Based on the 'you-get-what-you-pay-for' price, I would conclude it has the usual POS preamps, like most sub-$500 devices.
However... 'less demanding' folks may find them usable.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 01:45 PM   #3
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Are the preamps really that bad on these devices? I don't seem to hear any noise from my recordings? I am using a cheap $250 boom mic with my DR-60 and a $250 vocal mic as the 2nd input and it sounds pretty good. If anything I seem to pick up more ambient noise than I want, but then I am not right up on the lips of a person either.

I love the idea of a pro recorder with 8 tracks of audio recording, but don't make the money thus can't justify that kind of cost for this being a hobby only at this point. But if I did hit the lotto and were to buy something good, what would you recommend in the couple grand range for audio recording (as well as mics)?
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Old April 30th, 2013, 02:01 PM   #4
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Interesting.. the DR-60 was the device I Was about to buy.. but that H6N looks better. It has 4 XLR inputs, plus an optional boom mic or an optional 2 more XLR inputs and records 6 channels of audio. It's not cheap but not ridiculous either for what it offers.

I'd still like to understand why for most things the preamps are considered so bad on this? I'd use phantom powered XLR mics if possible.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 02:06 PM   #5
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

I am seriously thinking about one of these as a more flexible but low cost addition to my P2 cameras and audio mixers, eight inputs 16 track and battery operation too: R16 | ZOOM
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Old April 30th, 2013, 03:20 PM   #6
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

My 2 cents, but the issue is WHAT will you be primarily recording?

If you're recording Izaac Perlman playing a Strad, then you are seriously concerned with the most pristine and perfectly realized recording possible. You want not just the playing, but every conceivable overtone and tonal color and bowing variation you can possibly capture. And if he's just a PART of the symphony, then you want recording techniques and devices that can handle anything from tympani to piccolo with equal perfection.

OTOH, if you're doing a VO of a medium male voice, the range and tonality of that signal is WAY less complex. And if you're going to eventually compress the heck out of it and want it to cut through traffic noise on a broadcast radio spot, then you might not care at all about 95% of the stuff the person recording that violin might want to consider.

It's horses for courses.

I use a H4n for most of my work and virtually ALL my VO recording. And as a paid voice talent with more than 300 gigs behind me, the H4n is more than enough capability to cleanly capture the full quality of my voice.

Don't get trapped in reading about recording and thinking that because one person has an opinion about recording gear or techniques, that those apply equally to ALL recording gear and techniques.

Find what works for your situation. And the best way to do that is trial and error - particularly in the area of learning how to listen to understand the basics. Don't be satisfied until you KNOW what a good signal to noise ratio recording sounds like. What full frequency recording sounds like. And what common problems sound like. The trick is not always just hearing what IS there - it's also knowiing what's NOT there. And that takes experience.

I know people who are "mixing" on systems that can't even REPRODUCE 60 hertz. So how in the heck can they telll if there's any ground hum in their audio if the system they're monitoring on can't reproduce it?

That stuff is WAY more important than whether someone uses a Grace or a Manley or a Zoom pre-amp in their recording chain.

FWIW.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 04:32 PM   #7
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

There is HUGE snob value on esoteric preamps, and unless you really are trying to record very quiet sources at a distance, the preamps in these devices keep most users very happy. Spend ten times the amount and you might hear a tiny improvement when needed high gain.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 04:52 PM   #8
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Tell you what, that H6N is exactly what I want! I really like the tascam DR-60, but only 2 inputs. I like the 4 inputs and 6 channel recording of the H6N, and it looks like it has individual knobs to set the 4 input levels and meters.. oh my! The $400 is a bit steep for my budget but I'll find a way to get that one. Wonder when it comes out.. not even seeing it listed on there site yet.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 05:09 PM   #9
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Ok..just checked out the 744t, which is a pro field recorder. For $4000+, with only 4 channels, what makes it (as someone else said) 10x better? I agree there is a snob value in saying you own/use a 744t. However in my mind, for that much money it should be recording 32 channels or something. That's just nuts how much it costs. So for any of you with a 744t (similar Sound Devices hardware) how is it way better than the H4n and the likes? I know it's better, just wondering how it's so much better that you'd opt for it rather than something 10x less in price?
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Old April 30th, 2013, 06:12 PM   #10
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

I've been using the Zoom R16 for nearly 3 years to record stages shows. I just plug in my 6 Rode mikes and a feed to the PA mixer, preset the levels and let it record 8 channels for 2-3 hours on a set or rechargeables.

The results are stunningly good for the price - I just don't understand why the R16 hasn't become the standard workhorse for video work at this level.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 06:44 PM   #11
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

I have used an Zoom R24 (next model up from the R16) on a couple of shoots..... seemed to worked well.
I ran on AC because it was a sit down round table chat, 6 mics ISO and a full mix to ch 7 / 8.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 07:12 PM   #12
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Duffey View Post
Ok..just checked out the 744t, which is a pro field recorder. For $4000+, with only 4 channels, what makes it (as someone else said) 10x better? I agree there is a snob value...
My theory is this:

The Zoom and similar recorders are at a consumer/prosumer price point that is really quite recent. The home recording market has exploded, and it is a mass market. So little plastic recorders with commodity chips & such that hardly existed 10 years ago are now not only affordable, but better quality than ever.

Stepping up to a 744t you do get somewhat better sound. But this is a case where each increment in sound quality costs a lot. The more money spent, the less you get per dollar.

But that's not the whole story on the 744t. Yes, it has two great preamps that give you those last bits of performance, but also a custom engineered all aluminum case, extremely flexible powering options, recording on an internal 250GB HD and flash media and external HD, serial connections between multiple 744s, a premium timecode reader/generator licensed from Ambient, recording up to 192KHz sample rate at 24bit (with preamps quiet enough that it might actually be usable), jamming to external sync or external TC, analog-domain limiters, high pass filters. And of course it's really well engineered in every way.

(you need an external mixer to provide preamps for mic channels 3 and 4.)

But when you need those features you need them.
In short, a gazillion professional features that some working pros MUST have, in a much smaller market than home recording.

It isn't all snob appeal, though there's certainly an expectation at a certain level of work that high-level pro tools like it are required.

I don't have one, because it's not 10x better for my use. I'm happy enough with my Zoom H4n, but I'm not recording orchestras, mostly the paying work is dialog. I can rent higher-end gear when needed.

PS. have you looked at the Edirol 4-channel recorders? They're actually shipping... Near as I can figure out no announced dates on the Zoom H6.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 01:50 AM   #13
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Audio for video and audio for film, that came before it was always a niche market - think back to the seventies where even reliable speed control for sync was a premium price product costing not ten but maybe 50-100 times more money. I suppose this is why some of the current specialist products are very expensive. Perhaps their price could be the 'real' value, and we've just got used to cheap, mass produced, wide consumer base products.

These multi-channel devices are being produced for the music people as primary users - portable multitrack audio recording, and video people just love them too. I just get irritated by the constant comments about poor audio performance, where the audio people rarely have issues, because they have always been far more careful about levels and mic to subject distances. Video expectations are that we want quality audio at greater distances, and these products are clearly not designed with that feature as a big hit point. They're produced to cope with somebody bellowing down a microphone pressed up against their lips. High gain is NOT a design feature - it's unimportant to the majority of users. It's simply unfair to dismiss theses products as somehow poor without some thought. Cranked up to full, they will hiss. I just wonder why so many video people find they need these high gains? I really don't know if the camera audio channels in my cameras hiss when turned up very high, because what I do never seems to require levels that high with external mics. As to the quality issues - I'm now at an age where I've lost most of my hearing above 16KHz, but even when I had it, I found it difficult to say that 96K sampling, let alone double that again was something I can hear. I record 48K, 24 bit usually nowadays - only using higher when specified by a client. I cannot hear the difference myself. I accept there is one, but to me - it's not a key feature. I've just finished a project for a client who is a hi-fi fanatic. After spending a lot of time in his cinema - complete with sumptuous leather seating, huge screen, mega audio system, I really cannot hear what he hears - and I know from the comments he made about the audio that other people's interpretation about audio 'quality' are not remotely subjective and repeatable. From my own time in audio studios, when I pointed out features in some of his favourite recordings, he'd not heard these.

We must not drift into subjective comment, but keep it to facts. Too many people slag off a product based on what for me, are dubious data.

Cheap = Poor quality.
Cheap = Unprofessional

I think most people would view the GoPro cameras as a turning point in high quality, easily accessible video, yet the audio performance was pretty dreadful. Most users (me included) didn't mind. However, we now read more complaints about the video performance of the first generation. The complaints seem very similar to the complaints about cheap audio capture. If you have thousands to invest, then you can buy expensive kit and have all the quality you want. We're talking about recorders at a very low price point. Using one gives plenty of possibilities we didn't have before.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 03:47 AM   #14
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

I would love to be buying rolls royce quality kit all the time but the daily rates no longer reflect that investment, prosumer kit can give far better results than we had 30 years ago and with careful application they can be a godsend on location work, but you also need to have the post processes and experience to deal with the audio and dub it to the standard required.

I see a lot of kit as almost consumables these days but can get broadcast standard audio out of my AT875r mics, Twelco budget mixers and my ten year old digidesign 002 dubbing set-up.

Ok not very audiophile but I am sorry but if new meedia muppets can go around shooting self op with little attention to audio for the post process and we have self op sep sound for DSLR's I will use low cost kit to get what I need and it will still be far superior to 50% of the audio we hear on our TV's.

I used to own AMS Neve DFC's and Logic dubbing consoles that cost me 350k ten years ago but my total investment now for P2 HD camera, lighting, sound, FCP editing and Pro Tools dubbing kit is now less than 25K
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Old May 1st, 2013, 10:47 AM   #15
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Re: Is there a 4 XLR input audio recorder out there?

Audio has and always will be a very debated and subjective topic. Are there differences between the sound of a recording done with an H4N vs. a 744T? If you A/B'd them I would bet that at least 90% of the people would be able to hear a difference. Which you would prefer? That may be interesting. From years of being immersed in the wonderful world of esoteric audio equipment I learned that what some think is good enough is not even close to acceptable for me, and that for some there will never be good enough.

While there is a bit of bragging rights, one-upmanship that goes on with your equipment, I wouldn't say that it is usually a snob factor. One of the things that you have to take into consideration is that an SD 744T will be running long after a consumer product especially when you consider the rigors and abuse that equipment takes when used on location. Pro-equipment is generally more reliable also. If you're getting paid, asking for a retake due to equipment failure because you're using "cheap" gear will probably help to make it the last time you work with that producer. That doesn't mean that expensive equipment won't ever have problems, but it is generally less prone and the perception of those who have hired you will be that the reason for the problem was because you don't have industry standard equipment. There is a noticeable, at least to me, sound quality improvement also. The final thing to consider, if you make money with your equipment, you need to consider what the market demand is. You may not agree that there is a quality improvement, but if that piece of equipment will help you get a job, it can and will quickly make up for the added cost. So there are a number of reasons other than being a snob, why people would buy say a 744T over an H6N.
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