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Old October 28th, 2005, 12:07 AM   #1
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Looking for a 4 Track Field Mixer Recorder

Who makes a solid 4 track field mixer/recorder. I'd like something with nice preamps, that records to tape or disc, and is battery powered. Speaking of why dont they make multitrack field recorders that record on dv stock? or do they.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 12:22 AM   #2
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Is the Sound Devices 744T within your budget? About $4k at B&H
http://www.sounddevices.com/products/744t.htm
Sound Devices makes excellent products that are very well thought-out for field recording (i.e. recessed switches that are hard to accidentally knock, very nice metering).

Quote:
Speaking of why dont they make multitrack field recorders that record on dv stock? or do they.
DAT is a tape format that used to be very popular for field recording.

But I believe computer-based recording (flash, hard drive) will come to dominate since they allow metadata, are flexible, and can have very fast transfer speeds.
I'm not sure what kind of metadata the 744T allows.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 12:33 AM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Varner
Who makes a solid 4 track field mixer/recorder. I'd like something with nice preamps, that records to tape or disc, and is battery powered. Speaking of why dont they make multitrack field recorders that record on dv stock? or do they.

Have a look at the Edirol R4. I've got one, and aside from some nit-picky things, I'm enjoying working with it. LANC controllable, decent although not awesome pre's, 4 tracks, Flash media, USB exportable, BWF capable.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #4
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Although I lust after a SD 744T, although it records 4 tracks, it only has 2 mic pre's inside. So if you want to record 4 tracks, you're looking at using a mixer besides.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 08:01 PM   #5
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Hi Douglas...

With the LANC control, can the deck be started and stopped by the camera? We could use multi-track audio every once in a while.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 09:03 PM   #6
 
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Hi Douglas...

With the LANC control, can the deck be started and stopped by the camera? We could use multi-track audio every once in a while.

Yes. This is one of the major benefits of the device. I sure wish the MicroTrack had a LANC connect, but it's only 2 channel.
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Old October 28th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #7
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Unless I'm mistaken, I know of no product that is truly a mixer and recorder in the typical, lower-end pro line (under $2k). I would absolutely love a Sound Devices or Edirol unit that records, but has XLR outs and mixer functions. Anyone know of such a product? Everything I see is either a mixer OR a recorder with just rca outs.

How nice would it be to have both for backup or audio during tape change needs. Seems it would be very easy to do...

KW
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Old October 30th, 2005, 09:48 PM   #8
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The piece you need to look at is the Aaton Cantar; very, very, very.

http://www.aaton.com/products/sound/cantar/index.php

The Edirol R-4 with LANC is an interesting entry. No timecode, so with a Canon XL2, the R-4 has diffferent record start times enough so you have to time align each cut. If you have a lot of cuts, that can be a pain.

USB transfers are not very fast, at least not on my G5. If you are doing big files, build in more time for file transfers.

Oh, eight AA batteries per 90 minutes means you also should think about external, rechargeable camera batteries.

Enjoy,

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Old October 30th, 2005, 09:57 PM   #9
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Ty, is there a reason why the R-4 doesn't have balanced, XLR audio outputs? It seems like it would be such a small thing to do for Edirol that would turn the recorder into a mixer/recorder. It seems like such a no-brainer to increase the capabilities for little cost, unless there is something I'm not thinking of.

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Old October 30th, 2005, 10:10 PM   #10
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I asked them earlier this year about the lack of SMPTE. At that point, they really hadn't even considered it. The answer I got was something like, "Hmm, so you think SMPTE?"

From this, I can only guess that because they come from the MI (Musical Instrument) market where unbalanced audio is not that unusual, they weren't thinking about video. They did hold open the idea that they might add SMPTE to a future device.

It obviously costs more for the XLR connectors and a bit more for the differential circuits. So money (or managing the trigger price) is always important.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old October 30th, 2005, 10:17 PM   #11
 
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I'd agree with Ty that Edirol's positioning is that they come from MI, but as far as the lack of XLR, I don't think it's a cost thing. I think it's a market positioning issue. No one makes a mixer/recorder in that price range aimed at professional markets, I'd imagine tech support plays a big role in that decision on virtually everyone's part. Having the feature might seem a no-brainer to some folks, but it also means it opens up a market that they may not necessarily want. Tech support for this particular kind of gear is exceptionally expensive, it nearly killed Tascam's budgets a few years back when they put too many features into a product. Product was yanked pretty quickly.

As far as the rest of it, I'm regularly using the R4 with HDV (Z1) and while it's not the same as genlock, it's as close as non-locked devices are going to get. Capture to a USB2 interface is very fast on my laptop and desktop, but I've also never connected it to my G5. (It mostly gathers dust except for when I need to review or train on Apple software)
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Old October 31st, 2005, 09:31 PM   #12
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Laptop Then

Hmmmmmmmm. You all have good suggestions but for the price it seems that it's worth dealing with the hassle of a laptop and an external box like the Traveller or something similar. Does anyone know of a good bluetooth control surface?
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Old October 31st, 2005, 11:06 PM   #13
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Using a laptop as a field recorder can be very cumbersome to operate and, with all the potential to hit the wrong keys, risky and unreliable.

I would prefer to have a purpose-built system handle this task for the conditions in which we work.

At least the Edirol R4 has XLR-in. For my own applications I'm not concerned with field output, just gathering audio. And while it doesn't use the camera's timecode, the simple abililty to start and stop with the camera is a major feature.

We generally slate our shots if we're using more than one camera and could easily do the same if we're doing double-system sound. At the very least a simple hand clap works wonders.

Once in a while we find ourselves with more than one guest and it would be nice to have everyone set up with wireless lav mics.

Sorting out and syncing up the shots can be, as Ty said, a pain. But for the price and the added flexibility, it's still worth considering.
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Old November 1st, 2005, 07:01 AM   #14
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Dean for Presisdent!

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Old November 15th, 2005, 01:56 PM   #15
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I've got the R4 and am very happy with it, probably one of the best bits of kit I own. The lack of external battery input is an issue but that's not unique to the R4, I suspect Edirol never thought through how it'd be used by us video guys. Still with a little engineering on my part it'll be easy enough to fix.
As to the lack of TC input, well I thought carefully about that but in reality even if it had it how would one use it?
Unless you happen to own expensive cameras with genlock capability it's pretty well nigh useless to you. And even then you've got to get the TC signal into the recorder which means either distributing TC via RF links which is pretty expensive or running a cable to the unit which kind of defeats the idea of using a field recorder.
I guess my only other gripe is the inclusion of quite useless FXs in the unit, they might be quite good FXs but a field recorder is not the place for them. One thing I'd like to see Edirol offer is a simple record start/stop LANC controller that could be fitted to mics, I've got a small Sony unit that sadly Sony no longer make that'd do the job but it's got a number of other unneeded functions on it.
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