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Old March 25th, 2016, 12:46 PM   #1
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Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

I'm starting a project that will require me to be ready to record an interview at any moment. I'm planning to use a couple of Giant Squid lavs and need to find a tiny recorder that I can carry in my pocket constantly. Ideally it would have a decent DAC and manually adjustable levels, but for the time being size is the most important feature, as is the ability to download the files digitally. I would prefer that it didn't even feature a speaker in order to save space. I just need a mic input with plug-in power and a headphone jack. Any suggestions?
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Old March 25th, 2016, 02:18 PM   #2
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Any of the commodity voice recorders would likely be adequate.
The Giant Squid home page lists the compatible recorders.

The mic capsules are the limiting factor, not the DACs.
As for manual level control, good luck finding that along with "tiny".
People who use "tiny" voice recorders are not the kind who adjust levels manually.

It has never been clear to me what is the big deal with Giant Squid products?
They appear to be dramatically overpriced Asian commodity mic capsules (which sell for <<$1).
Perhaps someone can enlighten me with actual engineering data (vs. marketing prose)
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Old March 25th, 2016, 02:25 PM   #3
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Hi Marco, Zaxcom ZFR 200 & 300.
.
"[i]"It has never been clear to me what is the big deal with Giant Squid products[/i?]"
> Same here. One of those was given to me a few years ago. I think it was a cardioid. I gave it to a friend's kid who didn't give a sh_t.
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Old March 25th, 2016, 03:09 PM   #4
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

At the low end of the spectrum, at one time Tascam made two very similar models: DR-03 and PR-10, which are now discontinued. They were easily pocket size (125mm x 40mm x 15mm), had 3.5mm stereo mic input w/ plug-in power, headphone outputs, manual recording gain control, and recording level meter.

They also had a pair of integral omni mics, and a tiny tinny speaker. Pwr. from 2 x AAA.

They may occasionally pop up on eBay (no DR-03s listed as of this afternoon, but there are a few PR-10s). FWIW, when new they were each closed out for ~~ $50.00.

--

Ditto on the calamari. There's another company, Sound Professionals, which makes some similar mics, but also a much wider product line and, IIRC, possibly better prices. Additionally, they sell some name brand stuff: Audio Technica mics and cans, Tascam recorders, etc. Occasionally they have some good sale prices.

--

I guess one key question, unanswered so far, is: what are you going to do with the recorded interviews? Are they for voiceovers? Commercial broadcast? Typed transcription? Do they need to be "feature film" quality, "news actuality" quality, or ... exactly what? You may well get away with using a DR-03 and a $20 eBay mic, or you may need something much higher quality & price.

Last edited by Greg Miller; March 25th, 2016 at 09:04 PM.
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Old March 25th, 2016, 09:23 PM   #5
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Greg

For some reason they stopped them in the USA but the Tascam DR-10CS and the various mic interface modules are still available in Oz.

https://www.videoguys.com.au/scripts...chCat=&srchID=

Chris Young
CYV Productions
Sydney
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Old March 25th, 2016, 10:17 PM   #6
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Chris,

Thanks for your note, but the DR-10CS you refer to is entirely different from the PR-10 that I'm talking about. The PR-10 was marketed strictly as a consumer product, much less expensive, and much more cheaply built. Still, it might work for the OP (if we knew the exact nature of his goal).

Product: PR-10 | TASCAM

Last edited by Greg Miller; March 26th, 2016 at 02:20 AM.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 08:59 AM   #7
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Yeah I also forgot about the DR-10. Unfortunately the 10-S, which has the G2/3 type locking 3.5mm jacks, cannot be sold in the US.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 09:21 AM   #8
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Thanks for the suggestion Rick, but ah, Zaxcom is not exactly in the budget at the moment.

Just to explain the project, I'm going to be collecting narration over a period of months to be used with archival and other video footage that is being collected seperately. These are personal stories, and it is impossible to predict when an opportunity is going to present itself so I want to have some basic recording equipment on my person at all times.

That PR-10 is exactly what I'm looking for, and I will probably pick one up if I can find one.

In defense of the Giant Squid product - they are pretty open about sourcing and assembling the parts from various Asian sources. I suppose you could order the parts and make your own for much cheaper if you were good at that sort of thing, although with shipping costs and research I doubt it would really be worth it. There is a misconception that Giant Squid lavs are somehow on par with professional gear, which of course they are not. They are a decent micro-budget product with quality cabling and solid workmanship. I think they're a great deal for what they are. I can't speak to their current products, but I picked up a few some years ago when we were still shooting weddings and was surprised at how good they sound. They remind me a bit of the way Trams sound. I'm not saying they are as good as professional gear. Of course they aren't, but they have a very pleasing timbre to them. Not sure how else to explain it. Like I said, I bought mine quite a few years ago when the company first started, so maybe the new ones aren't as good. I couldn't say. I would never use them if I had my regular gear available, but failing that, my philosophy (taking a cue from the iPhone camera) is that the best microphone is the one you have on you when you need it.

To that end, I'm now leaning towards just getting a lavalier that fits into the headphone jack of my iPhone. I know Shure makes one, as do quite a few other companies. Has anybody used those before? Are some better than others?

Of course this will require me to finally solve the memory allocation issues that continually plague me. I have no media whatsoever on my phone, and I'm still always out of memory. ITunes shows that I have a whopping 7 gigs (out of 16) that are taken up by the dreaded "other" category. I completely wipe my phone every couple of months just to get rid of it, and within weeks it comes creeping back. Argh!
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Old March 26th, 2016, 01:31 PM   #9
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Though I'd be somewhat skeptical of a $50 recorder's quality. Like most other Tascams', the PR-10 has single-channel mono mode which is all that's needed for a single person talking scenario, which make the files half the size of a two-channel PCM file. OTOH, the DR-10/S was around $250 USD as I recall. AFAIK, they're can be shipped in from vendors outside the US. Otherwise smart phone pre-amp/interfaces are available. I've heard lavaliere mics plugged directly into smart phones and they did not sound very good, though the persons doing the recording were folks w/ limited audio experience, I would also be nervous giving an expensive fragile device to an unknown person to run with as well.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 02:00 PM   #10
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

I've been looking at some preamps and they all seem incredibly cheaply made. I have some at899 lavs on hirose connectors that I would love to be able to power and connect to the Mic input of the phone. I wonder how hard something like that would be to build.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 02:25 PM   #11
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Apologies. I think I meant to say the dr10 is what I've been looking for. Why do all these products have such similar names?
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Old March 26th, 2016, 04:00 PM   #12
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Most of the smart phones I've encountered had TRRS 3.5mm jacks. If you could find one of those plugs, soldering the mic's cable on should be easy, unfortunately they're all no wired the same though. If you wish to make a Hirose to TRRS adapter cable, the Hirose connector terminals are really f__ing small and not fun tp work with. I've made a few of the Hirose connector power cables and needed a few shooters afterwards to regain my composure.
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Old March 26th, 2016, 04:12 PM   #13
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

deleted-deleted-deleted

Last edited by Rick Reineke; March 26th, 2016 at 04:14 PM. Reason: deleted
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Old March 26th, 2016, 10:07 PM   #14
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

I would love to see a comprehensive spreadsheet showing audio recording capabilities of various phones, including comments about features (e.g. VU meter, adjustable gain, etc.) and audio quality. OTOH do you want to use a $700 phone to capture audio, if a $50 recorder will do the job?

I'm sure the DR10CS is a nifty recorder, if you can get one legally. But I honestly suspect the PR10, at $50, has quality comparable to the Giant Squid mics. Does it make sense to get a $250+ recorder to capture audio from a $20 mic? (Unless you have a more appropriate use for the recorder later ...)
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Old March 27th, 2016, 02:35 AM   #15
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Re: Tiniest recorder with plug-in power

Surprised no one has mentioned the Little Darling.
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