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Old March 23rd, 2015, 08:21 AM   #16
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Thank you all for your suggestions thus far!

Here are some comments that will answer some of your questions and clarify a few issues.

There is no rental house nearby, and these are one-time non-repeatable performances, so I would much prefer to have my own known-and-tested recorder, and eliminate variables like shipping, etc.

Any of the recorders mentioned are a suitable size for this application, namely recording live music, usually in an "acoustic" setting (i.e. no amplification, so no house mixer in existence). Therefore, I would greatly appreciate a recorder with mic inputs; otherwise I would need to provide a source of preamplification, which adds to price and complexity of the setup.

Syncing multiple 2-track recorders is not a good idea for this application. Any timing slip between recorders would result in phase cancellation and comb filtering. (I do not expect to close-mic the performers, so there will be some inevitable bleed between mics. Yes, I know that's not really ideal mic technique, but this venue, and some of the performers, don't want mics to be obtrusive, so I'm forced to hold back on the distance. But the venue acoustics are too live to allow recording with just a stereo pair. I realize this is not ideal, but it's not negotiable, and it's been discussed here before, so please let's not rehash it in this thread.) And if the two machines drift around by even as much as 1 msec, that will create moving comb filtering right in the middle of the audio band. In other words, sync requirement here is much more stringent than lip sync would be.

The H6 with XLR module (I had forgotten about that option) might be a reasonable solution. I might be able to come up with two self-powered mics for those inputs.

The Zoom R16 seems almost too good to be true, but then one notices a few drawbacks, including lack of phantom powering on six of the eight inputs. Even so, it's tempting to take a closer look. I'm puzzled by the specs. It says "Audio interface: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz sampling rates." But it also says "Recording data format: 44.1 kHz." Can anyone tell me with certainty whether it recording is actually limited to just this one sampling rate? And since Mr. Crowley has used this to produce a commercial CD, I would especially appreciate your comments about the preamp quality and any other comments you might have.

The R24 also looks similar, but from the product photos, it appears that only inputs 5-8 have phantom available. Is that correct? (And, if so, why is Tascam holding back on phantom power???)

The DP-32SD also looks very attractive (although a bit large), and lack of battery power would not be a drawback, at least for this particular project. And the DR680 also is interesting.

Finally, I've just stumbled across the Roland R88, although it's somewhat pushing the price barrier. Has anybody had any experience, or heard any personal feedback, about this machine?

Thanks again for all the useful input! More is always welcome.
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Old March 23rd, 2015, 08:49 AM   #17
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Greg,

From what you have posted here I think you should hire a company that already has the equipment and experience to do the audio side of that job. I think you are going to be behind the 8-ball trying to gear up for that one. That would allow you to concentrate on the shoot and the edit.
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Old March 23rd, 2015, 12:02 PM   #18
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Chris,

I have been called in specifically to do the audio. Nobody has yet gotten really good audio in this venue (for reasons discussed in another thread) and the client is willing to let me take a stab at it. I've agreed to do this on a "proof of concept" basis, with confidence that my first attempt will be better than what has been done to date by others. If my first recording isn't good enough (hah!) then we will make adjustments before the next gig. The client is even allowing me to add some acoustical absorption to try to tame the reflections (the room is very live, provided it doesn't detract from what the audience hears.

I have a more than adequate collection of mics, I simply don't have the multi-track recorder that I need. Hence, this post soliciting suggestions about recorders. As I said above, this has already been discussed at length in another thread, I would rather not be redundant by rehashing all the details here.

You're right, though: it will be a challenge. That's why I agreed to do it!

Thanks.
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Old March 23rd, 2015, 01:05 PM   #19
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

The mic preamps in the Zoom R16 are adequate. They are likely very similar (or even identical) to the mic preamps in other portable digital recorders (like the popular H4n, etc.) I typically used it with a more proper mic preamp feeding it (Studio Projects SP828). However on the tour of South Africa a couple years ago, I ended up with the R16 as my ONLY gear, operating on AA batteries, no less. But from the tracks I recorded, they mixed and mastered a good-sounding CD:
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ARISE O MAN - 2012 Brotherhood Tour, South Africa, Arise O Man CD
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Old March 23rd, 2015, 02:25 PM   #20
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

There are some discussions on gearslutz re use of a laptop or mac mini with an interface to record 16 tracks, so that might be an option with room to add mics if needed.
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Old March 23rd, 2015, 06:32 PM   #21
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

What about a 6 or 8 mic mixer married to a laptop?
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Old March 23rd, 2015, 07:46 PM   #22
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Seems to me that the suggestions regarding the Zoom R16 are by far the simplest and most affordable option. As Richard said, the preamps will be similar or the same as those in other moderately priced digital recorders. Ok there are only two phantom powered inputs, but at the price of the R16 you could easily get a simple external phantom power unit for some extra capacitor mics if you need them. Here's a dual one for £27 Dual channel Phantom Power Supply: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

You've got onboard 8 channel recording, plus effects, compression, eq if you need it, you can whip out the SD card and transfer straight to your DAW for multitrack editing, or onboard if you want a quick portable edit. It's also powered by 6 AA batteries for several hours portable recording and you can use it as a hardware controller for your software DAW if you want. It even comes bundled with Cubase LE if you haven't already got suitable software. At a price of less than £300 it's a giveaway, so I'm going to get one for my own use :-)

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Old March 24th, 2015, 03:47 AM   #23
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
...
The Zoom R16 seems almost too good to be true, but then one notices a few drawbacks, including lack of phantom powering on six of the eight inputs. Even so, it's tempting to take a closer look. I'm puzzled by the specs. It says "Audio interface: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz sampling rates." But it also says "Recording data format: 44.1 kHz." Can anyone tell me with certainty whether it recording is actually limited to just this one sampling rate? And since Mr. Crowley has used this to produce a commercial CD, I would especially appreciate your comments about the preamp quality and any other comments you might have.

The R24 also looks similar, but from the product photos, it appears that only inputs 5-8 have phantom available. Is that correct? ...
These two recorders can be used as audio interfaces for computer recording and in that mode can deliver up to 96 khz. It's common for Zoom recorders to include an audio interface mode.

The R16 is specced by Zoom to record internally only 44.1 16 or 24 bit.
The R24 is specced to handle 44.1 or 48 khz with 16 or 24 bit depth when recording to the internal card.

The R24 has 6 phantom powered inputs.

I found the R16 to be similar in preamp performance to the H4n and H2n. The H6 preamps have less self-noise. I haven't used the R24. Unfortunately Zoom doesn't provide specs on the EIN of the R16 and R24.

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Old March 24th, 2015, 06:52 AM   #24
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
That and the products from HOME - cymatic audio and JoeCo (and likely others) are a new breed of compact recorders. But they are line-level in and out, so they don't appear to qualify for Mr. Miller's requirement for mic-level input.
There is a JoeCo with mic.inputs.
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Old March 24th, 2015, 06:56 AM   #25
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
I've just stumbled across the Roland R88, although it's somewhat pushing the price barrier. Has anybody had any experience, or heard any personal feedback, about this machine?
A friend has one and swears by it - he is very happy with it.

Yes, it's a bit "plasticky" but gives excellent results in its price bracket.

Actually, the ideal choice for someone who really can't stretch to a Sound Devices, AETA or Nagra.
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Old March 24th, 2015, 08:12 AM   #26
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

I have used the Tascam 680, which has 6 mic/line inputs and 2-additional mix tracks (digital) which sounded very good.. (and was reliable through-out a 64-day shoot). The preamps however are in-line with the price point. The recently released MkII -allegedly- has better components and other GUI niceties.
FWIW. I used exteranl preamps, via line-in, which hard-wire (by-pass) the POS mic pres.
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Old March 25th, 2015, 01:26 PM   #27
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

The Tascam DR-680 is a nice 6-channel recorder. The Edirol R88 is a larger option for 8-channels. The TRS (1/4') inputs on the DR-680 can take microphones and provides phantom power -- they just ran out of space for more XLRs, helping to keep it small. Get an adapter cable and you are set.

Here is a six-channel recording using the built-in preamps on the DR-680.

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Old April 6th, 2015, 01:51 PM   #28
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

If you are looking to enter the world of real film production audio (which I am not)
then you might also need to provide a slate and timecode.

One of my pals who makes his living doing this has a Zaxcom Diva, which is like 12 channels.
But when I went to their site just now, I don't see it.
Perhaps it has been replaced by the Nomad. Not as many channels, but it has a TC output.

Nomad | Zaxcom

Another guy I know who does a lot of Indy Film sound uses this Tascam = $2.4K
Tascam HS-P82 8-Channel Field Audio Recorder HS-P82 B&H Photo

Nagra has an nice 8 channel audio recorder = $10K
Nagra Nagra VI 8-Channel Digital Recorder (Slate Gray) 7032001

Other film sound guys use this:
Sound Devices 788T = $7K
Sound Devices 788T-SSD 8-Channel Portable Solid-State 788T-SSD
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Old April 6th, 2015, 02:41 PM   #29
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

There are rumors of a Deva 32 machine coming from Zaxcom around NAB time. There's also the recently released Sound Devices 688 with 12 inputs and up to 16 track recording, for a little over $5k.
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