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Old March 18th, 2016, 11:02 PM   #1
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SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Please excuse this newbie query: I'm a still photographer involved in documentary projects for a non-profit. I own a Sony PCM-D50 and would like to upgrade to better audio for video. I'd like insight regarding technical as well as practical usage regarding staying with the D50 as a recorder and buying a Mixpre, or would I be better off with a SD 702 and selling the D50? (I would be using a Nikon D810 for video.)
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Old March 19th, 2016, 08:18 AM   #2
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

What does "better audio" mean here? Unless you can identify what it is about your audio that you don't like, we can't validate your conclusion that you apparently think you need better mic preamp?

What kinds of things are you shooting/recording? What mics are you using? What are the deficiencies in your audio that you think need improvement?

Clean mic preamp gain can't substitute for good microphones and good technique and good selection of location, etc. etc.
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Old March 19th, 2016, 09:57 AM   #3
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsu Terao View Post
Please excuse this newbie query: I'm a still photographer involved in documentary projects for a non-profit. I own a Sony PCM-D50 and would like to upgrade to better audio for video. I'd like insight regarding technical as well as practical usage regarding staying with the D50 as a recorder and buying a Mixpre, or would I be better off with a SD 702 and selling the D50? (I would be using a Nikon D810 for video.)
I don't think I understand what you're asking. I could make some assumptions which would probably be wrong. Or you could clarify. I recommend the latter.

What exactly are you going to try to do? Are you going to follow someone around on a trade show floor? Get their reactions to the game during the turmoil at the end of a World Cup match? Sit-down interviews in a quiet office setting?

What equipment are you trying to do this with? What microphones? How positioned? Boom op? Lav? Reporter's "stick" mic?

Are you wanting full second system audio recording, or do you want to record a scratch track in camera also? If you want that scratch track, what kind of input does your camera take?
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Old March 19th, 2016, 12:25 PM   #4
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Thanks for your replies - as I said, I'm new to this.

Primary use will be boomed sit-down interviews in a controlled space; voiceovers; and some outdoor interviews and environmental background sounds. I may occasionally record musicians and vocalists for their promotional use. Camera's built-in audio would be used for sync. Final output would be DVD or online.

The D50 is fine for outdoor environmental sound recording, but not convenient for indoor interviews. The audio quality is fine for my needs, but using the built-in mics has usability limitations so I would prefer to use external mics plus a mixer. I have not yet purchased mic(s) until I know where I'm going with this.

I would be buying used to keep my costs down. I know what the limitations of the D50 are for me, but I'm unfamiliar with using a Mixpre+D50, or a 702, and would like input. I figure this is the place to ask....
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Old March 19th, 2016, 12:43 PM   #5
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

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Originally Posted by Tsu Terao View Post
The D50 is...not convenient for indoor interviews. The audio quality is fine for my needs, but using the built-in mics has usability limitations so I would prefer to use external mics plus a mixer. I have not yet purchased mic(s) until I know where I'm going with this.
It sounds like you are saying that the built-in microphones on the D50 are not suitable for indoor interviews. That is correct. Those microphones were not designed to be used for that kind of situation. For controlled, sit-down interviews, a hyper-cardioid mic on a boom, or a clip-on lav mic are typically used.

It sounds to me like you may not be asking the right question. You have listed the kind of situations you anticipate shooting/recording. That is very good. Perhaps the right question at this point is: "Given these scenarios, what microphone(s) should I get on a budget of $???" Unless you specify an actual number for your budget you will likely be frustrated with suggestions which you cannot afford at this point.
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Old March 20th, 2016, 12:10 PM   #6
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

I use a 702 and love it. It's a great recorder. It also isn't cheap!

I haven't used a mix-pre but I'm quite sure that the pre-amps are better than what's in the D-50. But whether they're "better enough" to make a noticeable difference for voice recording isn't clear. From what we've heard so far it doesn't seem like the recording quality itself is an issue with your D-50, so if I were you I'd probably keep using it for now and focus on the front part of the chain, ie the microphones first. I think that's where you'll get the biggest bang for the buck.
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Old March 20th, 2016, 01:36 PM   #7
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Jim - Thanks for your input. I think at this time a 702 would be overkill considering the cost. So I now have to decide whether to invest in self-powered mics to use directly into the D50 (I'm now borrowing a Rode NT3) or to invest in a mixer that would provide phantom for more choices of mics. This is why I'm inquiring about the Mixpre. If I stay with self-powered, I'm considering the Senn MKE600. A lav would come later.
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Old March 20th, 2016, 05:14 PM   #8
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsu Terao View Post
Primary use will be boomed sit-down interviews in a controlled space; voiceovers; and some outdoor interviews and environmental background sounds. I may occasionally record musicians and vocalists for their promotional use. Camera's built-in audio would be used for sync. Final output would be DVD or online.

The D50 is fine for outdoor environmental sound recording, but not convenient for indoor interviews. The audio quality is fine for my needs, but using the built-in mics has usability limitations so I would prefer to use external mics plus a mixer. I have not yet purchased mic(s) until I know where I'm going with this.

I would be buying used to keep my costs down. I know what the limitations of the D50 are for me, but I'm unfamiliar with using a Mixpre+D50, or a 702, and would like input. I figure this is the place to ask....
Interesting. The big limitation of the Sony devices to me are the lack of balanced XLR inputs, and lack of phantom power. Not professional devices.

Based on your new input, I would suggest an entry level system like the Tascam DR60 or DR70. These are small, won't take all of your budget (unless you set it very low), use XLRs and supply phantom power, and they have reasonable sound quality. They have the design features that lets you use them fairly easily with DSLR type cameras, which can make them easier to use in "one man band" mode.

If you want to go higher, one possible way is the Tascam DR 680. The original version should be readily available on the used market since the mkII came out, and the original has two more micpres IIRC. But the mkII's preamps are supposed to be better.

Higher still might be the newish Zoom F8, which would give you the extra mic preamps to allow you to record more channels as you might want for music, and the mic preamps are reportedly quite good. Unlike SD, Zoom only has the eight preamp version, no four or two available. Yet.

All the above systems combine the functions of a field mixer and a separate recorder with various levels of success. If you really want separates you could use a MixPre-D with an SD 702, but it's a lot more money and a lot more bulk/weight. You'd probably want to bag it to make working with it reasonable. It would give you somewhat better sound quality, but you might not hear it -- you'll have to be very good with mics and mic placement to get that extra 10%. If you decide to go this route though, I'd suggest instead the combination of SD 442 mixer with an SD 704 recorder. At used market prices you may find that the extra two channels don't cost you much at all, and they would be useful with music recording.

If you want to go higher still, look at the newer SD units like the 633 mixer/recorder. But now you're talking real money. ;-)

Microphones and accessories are beyond the scope of this thread as you've defined it, so I'm not going there.

Last edited by Bruce Watson; March 20th, 2016 at 05:25 PM. Reason: added dr680 info
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Old March 22nd, 2016, 10:38 AM   #9
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Some of the above mentioned multi-track recorders have an internal software mixer. For instance the dr680, dr60d and F8 have this feature (the Dr70 does not). The 680 also has unbalanced (RCA) direct outs. The internal mixers are not good for mixing on-the-fly.
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Old March 23rd, 2016, 08:49 AM   #10
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Here's another approach. Go to a good pro audio shop and try out different combinations of gear to see what works for you. Bring your D50 with you and see if you'd be happy sending a signal from a good mixer into it via the line level input. You could always use it's on board mics to record the musicians. As others have already stated its important to start with good mics. They can be very expensive so why not rent what you need? If you're recording outdoors do not skimp on wind protection! Even a light breeze into a sensitive microphone can ruin your recording. Its also important to monitor as you're recording. A good pair of earphones is crucial. You don't want to assume everything is fine and then find out later that there was an issue.
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Old March 25th, 2016, 12:31 PM   #11
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Stick with the D50 and buy a used SD302 and start investing in decent mics. You clearly need quality wired lavs and instrument mics.
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Old March 27th, 2016, 02:12 PM   #12
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Re: SD702, or PCM-D50 + Mixpre?

Thanks everyone for your input - I now have enough info to make some decisions.
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