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Old June 7th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #1
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Purchase Dilemma!

Hi there,

I know this question has been asked before (ish) and I know I have hinted at it before. I am just trying to overcome the 'buyers dilemma' and guess want some backup to know I am doing the right thing! If anyone could help, that would be great!

Okay, I have a potential (and kind of urgent) purchasing dilemma between the following Tascam HD-P2/SD mix pre into existing gear/Fostex FR2 or FR2-LE

I will be using various mics, from the Rode NT-4 to Senn 416 a various points and hope to purchase my own MKH 30/40 combination soon.

Primary reason for purchase soundscape capture, Nature recording, sound effects and possible Location audio on a documentary. I potentially will also be 'off grid' for periods of time too, therefore battery life (and recording media) is also a prime factor I currently have access to an Edirol R4 as well.

Okay, this is why the dilemma comes in. My main issue is wanting to only by quality gear and currently I can't stretch to a Sound Devices recorder. I would like to get something that will have a fair bit of life in it, serve many uses (i.e. a good investment!). I am feed up with buying stuff that doesn't work properly and is superceeded almost instantly (i have learnt that lesson the hard way!)

So as far as I see with that in mind the devices above have the following pros and cons

FR-2LE

Pros ? Decent preamps and cheap

Cons Having read some of the reviews there seem to be a fair amount, eg i/o options, one format per card, bad metering, mono as stereo etc

HD-P2

Pros ? battery life, i/o options
Cons Preamps (given we have moved up from the FR-LE ie in the price range), Ruggedness

FR2

Pros - Good preamps, good features
Cons - Appalling battery life!!

SD Mixpre

Pros - Excellent preamps, rec to various sources (eg video camera etc), I can use it in my studio too.
Cons? None?

Therefore part of me is going for the Mixpre and using it as a frontend for recording on to various media, and sitting tight until the next range of recorders come out (Actually will probably wait until the 3rd generation), which will no doubt overcome a number of the issues in the existing recorders. I feel that with the Mixpre, I am getting something that will pretty much keep it's value compared to the other recorders.

Therefore, does it make sense??

Thanks

Neil
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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:53 PM   #2
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If you're considering the MixPre, also take a look at the 302. Better metering, additional channel, generally more flexibility, still reasonable in cost. MixPre is great choice but you'll probably want a more capable field mixer one of these days and so going with the 302 now will work out cheaper in the long run.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:27 PM   #3
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Thanks for that advice Steve

The 302 looks like a great option and worth the price.

I guess my main question was about the logic of my arguement. Does getting a mixpre or 302 make more sense currently and provide a better investment than getting a first generation CF recorder.

Thanks

Neil
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Old June 7th, 2007, 03:59 PM   #4
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hi Neil ... well, I am certianly not the expert in terms of # of hours logged on the equipment, but I can't help but jump in to say that comparing mixers to recorders is a bit apples to oranges as they say.

mixers mix and recorders record, and those two are different (in my mind anyway, and I'm sure the resident experts can say differently).

I happen to have the HD-P2, and while I can't compare it to others b/c I haven't owned them, I have been very happy with its use so far (event recording). I find the menus easy to use, the operation rock solid, and especially for events, feed a signal from my cam to the hd-P2, which then keeps the P2 clock rate in sync with the video for long takes. The plastic design is very light. You'd need good protection for it..certainly not as rugged as a metal mixer or probably the 744, etc. But, overall, I really like it - built in limiters, stereo linking of the limiters, pads, easy to glance at the display and get a very good handle on what is happening, bright red record light that I can see is on, battery life good, and a large & of features. the software build also seems quality.

When I bought this stuff, I could not afford the 302, so bought the PSC 3 channel mixer. Does not have the build quality of the 302 or all of the features, but I think has decent pre-amps, sufficient controls to get by, bright meter, tone generator, confidence monitor input so I don't have to switch my headphones between camera & mixer, and is light as well.

As soon as I can, I'd like to upgrade to a 302, but I have to say, I've gotten nice recordings from that pair, and the PSC was around $500 (??) or so, much less than the 302. Not sure it will hold resale value like a 302, but I will continue to put it to good use.

Anyway, food for thought ... most important is to prioritize your own requirements and buy accordingly. if you can get by with 2 channels on your cam, and the audio quality (16 bit in HDV?) is sufficient, you might be best off investing in the 302. If you really need more channels than your cam has, want higher bit depth and resolution, or have other reasons to record on a separate device, then maybe the priorities shift. Technology will always be on the move ... buy for what you need most now, with the quality that you can afford, and there'll always be more stuff you can buy later.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 01:07 PM   #5
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HI Dave,

Thank you for your useful insights. I know technically I shouldn't be comparing mixers to recorders. I guess at this point I am comparing pre-amps to preamps as well as shelf life and worth investment.

I guess my thinking is, that a first investment in a Sound devices mixer (mixpre or 302) is a better option as it is

a)something I can currently use with a number of different backends (eg minidisk, edirol r-09/R4 and my laptop) with the SD overcoming the shortcomings in the devcies preamps
b)it still something I can use in the future when I invest in a better recorder (when the 2nd or more likely 3rd generation CF recorders come out in the next couple of years)

My worry about the Tascam is that the Pre-amps aren't as good as the Sound Devices and that may soon be obsolete for me.

I should stress that location audio currently isn't my primary function for these items (if I do location audio it will be with hired kit currently), but for the recording of sound effects and natural sound environments.

Thank you once again

Neil
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Old June 8th, 2007, 01:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Bruce View Post
HI Dave,

...
I should stress that location audio currently isn't my primary function for these items (if I do location audio it will be with hired kit currently), but for the recording of sound effects and natural sound environments.

Thank you once again

Neil

Of course with just a mixer such as the MixPre or 302 you still need something to record the audio to. Seem's like waste of hours on a DV camera to use it as a fancy audio recorder if the audio is all that you're interested in, such as with sound effects or natural enviromental ambience.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 01:20 PM   #7
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Hi Steve

I currently have the following recorders which i use, hi-md minidisk, edirol r-09 and R4 and my laptop.

Thanks

Neil
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Old June 8th, 2007, 08:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Neil Bruce View Post
HI Dave,

Thank you for your useful insights. I know technically I shouldn't be comparing mixers to recorders. I guess at this point I am comparing pre-amps to preamps as well as shelf life and worth investment.

I guess my thinking is, that a first investment in a Sound devices mixer (mixpre or 302) is a better option as it is

a)something I can currently use with a number of different backends (eg minidisk, edirol r-09/R4 and my laptop) with the SD overcoming the shortcomings in the devcies preamps
b)it still something I can use in the future when I invest in a better recorder (when the 2nd or more likely 3rd generation CF recorders come out in the next couple of years)

My worry about the Tascam is that the Pre-amps aren't as good as the Sound Devices and that may soon be obsolete for me.

I should stress that location audio currently isn't my primary function for these items (if I do location audio it will be with hired kit currently), but for the recording of sound effects and natural sound environments.

Thank you once again

Neil
hi Neil -- yes I see your thought process. I would assume that the preamps on the SD devices would be better than those on the tascam, just comparing those aspects, although I can't say for sure b/c I've never really looked at the specs for the tascam pre amps (not sure if they are published or what the builld quality is).

one thought, although it's an set of features that I haven't used on the tascam is that it's got a pretty good set of features for doing retakes, for naming your clips, etc. something that I would think would come in handy with a lot of short clips. also can record up to 8 seconds (or so?) of stuff in the buffer if you decide to hit record after what you want was input to the recorder. also, you can attach an external PS2 keyboard directly to it for easy naming of clips etc if you choose not to use the built in jog shuttle as your input device.

so I guess the question is if the the pre-amps in the tascam are good enough, would you value the recording features above (as examples) over the better preamps (e..g would the different in the preamps matter even if the SD's are better), or if you wouldn't really use those features now, are you better off spending on something that gives you the best possible pre-amps (in that price range).

the tascam manual is avail. online, and maybe there's a way for you to borrow / hire one in the UK and test it out to weigh the features. when I saw the hd-p2 in your post, I decided to reply, b/c in the times that I've used my tascam, it's been really solid and I've really enjoyed it... not that the SD recorder woudn't be even better, but I think the tascam is a really good product.

anyway, good luck .. maybe you'll get some additional posts and also pls. let everyone know what you decide & why for future reference...

Last edited by Dave Stern; June 8th, 2007 at 08:55 PM. Reason: fix typo
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Old June 9th, 2007, 04:23 AM   #9
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I was looking at buying my own mixer a few weeks ago, and the MixPre was also a contender (I already own a FR2). However I read in one review that the MixPre had a short battery life when using phantom power, I forget the hours quoted, maybe 3 or 4 (at least one, perhaps two, battery changes per production day). Battery changes may not be a big deal for you in your environment, but they are for me - so I took a deep breath and plumped for the 302 - and wow!

If you're not going to need more than two channels and the battery swaps won't stress you out then the MixPre seems like a good choice.

(edit: I should note that to overcome the FR2's appalling battery life I augment internal batteries with an external Tekkeon myPower battery pack which is good for around 12 hours).
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Old June 10th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #10
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Thank you Mike and Dave for your very through replies.

I should really apologise for the post, I guess it is just difficult when facing a purchasing decision and need some more support to back up what you are thinking. The reason for my logic is that I have been bitten so many times in the past in investing heavily in gear (mainly studio recording and computer gear) only for it to have lost value instantly and not have all the features I hoped for. I know this is a problem for modern digital gear and isn't the case with something like a decent microphone (or my guitar and amp collection which always functions and doesn't loose value...phew!).

My concern with the Tascam and Fostex are that they are first generation pieces of kit and having trawled the net and forums seem to have a number of issues. The tascam seeming to have less operational issues, but perhaps slightly worse preamps than the fostex. I am sure that these products will be enhanced in the future and I am weary of spending cash at the moment only for them to be replaced in a few months. Now I know that this is not the right attitude and I shouldn't be waiting for forced dreams, but currently my interest is in a great noise free preamp for recording very very quiet sounds and nature sounds (yes I am on the nature sounds forum too!). Hence my thought of buying a decent preamp/mixer first, something which is a great piece of kit and the SD gear not being digital (field mixers that is) is something which will last a longtime and have a good resell value (should it be required.)

Hope that explains where I am coming from!

I am just a nervous wreck when it comes to buying gear these days, as I am surrounded by thousands of pounds of investment which is now worth peanuts.

All the best and thanks for your time

Neil
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Last edited by Neil Bruce; June 10th, 2007 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Typo
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