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Old March 21st, 2015, 08:17 PM   #1
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Any true 6-channel field recorders?

I find a few like the H-6 and Roland R-26 that are marketed as 6-channel. But the channel count includes using the internal mics. However, I'm not in a situation where I can stand with the recorder in an appropriate mic position.

What I'm looking for is are field recorders with at least six inputs for external mics. And, as is often the case, price and portability are part of the equation. For example, the SD664 is out of reach. (Of course eight channels would be OK, but only if the bottom line is lower than a comparable six channel recorder.)

What's available out there? Does anyone have hands-on experience with anything like this?

Thanks in advance, and please excuse me if I've overlooked something obvious.
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Old March 21st, 2015, 08:28 PM   #2
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

The H6 has six true XLR inputs with the proper input adapter.

The Tascam DR-680 has six mic inputs with phantom power.
However two of them use 1/4 inch TRS connectors (vs XLR)
And then it has another two inputs via digital AES/SPDIF.
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Last edited by Richard Crowley; March 21st, 2015 at 11:19 PM.
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Old March 21st, 2015, 10:08 PM   #3
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Sound Devices 633??

Sound Devices 633 6-Input Compact Field Mixer and 10-Track 633
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Old March 21st, 2015, 10:21 PM   #4
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Wow!~ That sound device is pretty pricey. Probably for what it is, not so bad, but geez, I am using a zoom 2 channel for a lot less. How about using three zooms? You might even end up with shorter cable runs. You could do that for less than 1K, Synch in plural eyes or blow a whistle before your action. Add sound in your on cam mike to help synch better. It is more work and harder to monitor but a lot less expensive setup. A lot less to lose in the case of an accidental spill.
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Old March 21st, 2015, 10:52 PM   #5
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Chris,

Thanks for the suggestion, but the SD633 would break the bank for this situation.

Tim,

I failed to explain that this would be used for live music recording. I don't think three separate recorders could possibly hold sync close enough to be within a fraction of a cycle of the musical waveform.
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Old March 21st, 2015, 11:41 PM   #6
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

It is very difficult to sync in post, but it can be done. I used Adobe Audition on a short doc we were working on. Obviously, the more tracks from multiple recorders, the harder it is. A six or eight track recorder will save you hours in post, but could set you back a pretty penny. As I mentioned in another thread, we are constantly striving to do more with less.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 01:00 AM   #7
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder DR-680 B&H

This work?

Edit: Oops... somebody already mentioned this. ;-)

Edit again: Looks like you can gang two of them together, so if the 1/4 TRS inputs won't work for you, you can get 8 XLR inputs (at 2x the cost).
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 04:34 AM   #8
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Have you considered renting?

It may hurt your feelings to spend hundreds of dollars and not own the gear at the end but the once you work with something on the level of the Sound Devices stuff you won't give it a second thought on the next one.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 08:50 AM   #9
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

I've never used any of these (and they aren't strictly FIELD recorders), but the Zoom R16 can record from 8 XLR mic inputs simultaneously. (Correcting here to include Richard Crowley's note about phantom power only being on inputs 5 and 6.)

Street price is $400 and it gets good reviews.

Comes with an AC adapter or can use 6xAA batteries for 4.5 hours WITHOUT the phantom power on.

The are several other models in this category of music-style recorders with 8 simultaneous XLR inputs, like the TASCAM DP-32SD for $500 or the Zoom R24 also for $500.

The Tascam will supply phantom power to all 8 XLR inputs, using two switches to power inputs A-D and E-H separately. I haven't checked how many XLR inputs on the R24 can actually be phantom powered.

The Tascam doesn't have an internal battery option but a battery adapter wouldn't be hard to achieve. It draws 12 watts with phantom power ON and the input faders and screen are nicer than the Zoom's.

The R24 can use 6xAA batteries like the R16 and has the same rated battery life with phantom OFF.

With phantom power on, I'd probably rig up a larger battery supply if AC power isn't available.

How "portable" does this recorder need to be for your situation?

Last edited by Jay Massengill; March 22nd, 2015 at 08:55 PM.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 08:51 AM   #10
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

The AETA 4MinX is an 8-channel mixer/recorder with up to 10 input channels that can be mixed as you like to the 8-tracks. About £3k exVAT in the UK as an 8-track and perfect for music recording.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 10:30 AM   #11
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill View Post
I've never used any of these (and they aren't strictly FIELD recorders), but the Zoom R16 can record from 8 phantom powered XLR mic inputs simultaneously. Street price is $400 and it gets good reviews.
The Zoom R16 provides phantom power for only two channels (5 and 6)..

I have used mine as a backup recorder, and ended up using it as a primary recorder on an international tour from which a commercial CD was produced.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 10:37 AM   #12
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
The AETA 4MinX is an 8-channel mixer/recorder with up to 10 input channels that can be mixed as you like to the 8-tracks. About £3k exVAT in the UK as an 8-track and perfect for music recording.
If the SD664 exceeds Mr. Miller's budget, then it seems unlikely that the AETA is more affordable.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 11:11 AM   #13
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

If it's for musical performances, have you looked at this? 16 track standalone recorder.
ICE-16 - Allen & Heath

With this, you can record each track separately, and in sync. The advantage of this device is that you can connect from the board's direct outs or inserts PRE-FADER! So even if the event is mixed for the house but not for video, you could always go back in and remix it exactly the way you want it. Price is reasonable too, about $1K.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 11:23 AM   #14
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
If it's for musical performances, have you looked at this? 16 track standalone recorder.

With this, you can record each track separately, and in sync. The advantage of this device is that you can connect from the board's direct outs or inserts PRE-FADER! So even if the event is mixed for the house but not for video, you could always go back in and remix it exactly the way you want it. Price is reasonable too, about $1K.
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.
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Old March 22nd, 2015, 04:06 PM   #15
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Re: Any true 6-channel field recorders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
The H6 has six true XLR inputs with the proper input adapter.
I have been using a Zoom H6 several times a week for 18 months now, and have been pleased with its reliability and performance under differing conditions using external mics.

Clearly the H6 is not a professional quality field recorder, but it may well do the job for you on a budget perfectly adequately. It is a big improvement on the infamous H4n in terms of noise and much more suited for recording 6 channels than 3 separate recorders or an R16.

Note however that there is no phantom power available with the XLR module which replaces the internal mic module on the R & L channels. I use a separate mixer on the occasions when I need 6 or more 48V mics.
If you can work around the phantom power being on 4 channels only it is certainly worth considering.
I do find the extra 2x -12dB backup channels derived from the L & R inputs quite reassuring though I have only once had to resort to actually using the safety net recording channels in the delivered product.
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