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Old July 3rd, 2007, 05:15 PM   #1
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Portable 4 channel recorder ?

Hi,

I'm looking for a portable four channel recorder, hopefully in the $500 range. The Zoom H4 fits the bill excepting those "overly clever" nested 1/4"/XLR connections for external microphones. I wish it were possible to connect four microphone sources , as well as output a mix or selection of them to the outpus. Basically, I want to use this device either as a standalone four channel recorder or as a backup recorder for four channels while routing two of those channels to my camcorder. Do you know of any battery-operated devices that fit the bill?

Ideally, I'd like a portable four channel recorder that could also be synced to the camcorder on playback. Dream on?
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 06:26 PM   #2
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The H4 is not a 4-channel recorder in your application, it only records in stereo or in 1 channel at a time to 4T.

Edirol R-4
Edirol R-4 Pro
Sound Devices 744
HHB Portadrive (8-channel)
Several models of Zaxcom Deva (8 to 10-channel)

So far as I know, the above are the choices. There are some differences in the Edirol models you should look at, then, a substantial price jump to the SD 744... then another big jump to HHB and Deva.

Sorry, none of these are in the $500 range - I think street price on the R4 is about $1200.

You could do two Zoom H4 at $300 US each... plus cards. But no timestamps, you gotta' be careful doing sync with the H4, two would easily be twice the fun.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 06:48 PM   #3
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It may not be either portable enough or rugged enough, but if that's not a problem, then how about recording to a PC?
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 07:05 PM   #4
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Yeah, given the price of what I need, a PC with a breakout card is looking to be nice. I really need something portable. I guess my needs are so darn specialized that all of these four channel recorder companies aren't interested.

Seth, thanks for the tips on the portable four chanel recorders. I just may end up with that R4.
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Old July 3rd, 2007, 11:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Gints Klimanis View Post
Seth, thanks for the tips on the portable four chanel recorders. I just may end up with that R4.
I'm happy with the R4
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Old July 4th, 2007, 02:54 PM   #6
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I'm also happy with the R4. However you might consider buying the R4-pro as it has better (quieter) preamps and also continues to run from batteries when ac-power fails (the R4 turns itself off and needs to be turned on again leaving a very audible gap in the recording).
Other than that, the R4 is fine.

BTW, the Sound Devices 744 plays in another league compared to the R4 (quality and price-wise). But it has just two preamps (the other two channels are line-in). So you would need an extra preamp for four channel miking and that might compromise portability.
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Old July 4th, 2007, 06:42 PM   #7
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Tekkeon MP3400 Battery

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I'm also happy with the R4. However ...(the R4 turns itself off and needs to be turned on again leaving a very audible gap in the recording). Other than that, the R4 is fine.
Does the R4 (basic) actually safely turn itself off if it looses power? I was under the impression that if you lost power, you were in danger of loosing your data! That kind of scares me. So, at the suggestion of a couple other colleague's, I purchased the Tekkeon MP3400 battery to use instead of AC power when I'm in the field.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 10:22 AM   #8
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Does the R4 (basic) actually safely turn itself off if it looses power? I was under the impression that if you lost power, you were in danger of loosing your data!
Actually I never tried this myself. An increased risk for loss of data seems very likely.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 03:06 PM   #9
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... BTW, the Sound Devices 744 plays in another league compared to the R4 (quality and price-wise). But it has just two preamps (the other two channels are line-in). So you would need an extra preamp for four channel miking and that might compromise portability...
True and what more; those two extra channels have only got menu adjustable levels whose gain range are very limited. Not at all meant to control live recording from microphones without first passing a mic amplifier WITH ordinary level controls.

But I successfully use the 744T channel 3 and 4 for a wireless stereo receiver giving line levels where the basic gain is roughly set at the transmitter.

Those Sound Devices 700-series are solid like a brick with nearly 100 menu functions to adapt it to many different situations. Quality built like a Nagra IV-S but much smaller.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #10
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I'm actually interested in more channels, but nothing exists in my price range, which is under $5k.= that can be synched with timecode. The ability to drop a few small recorders here and there, obliterating the need/ for wireless microphones (and their quality loss) while adding channels is totally appealing.

How well will these devices sync to each other ? Will two non-pro Edirols sync to each other (One is master, other is slave. Someday, the master will be a slave to a house clock) ? How about two or more Tascam HD-P2s ? How about a Tascam HD-P2 to an Edirol R4 Pro?
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Old July 9th, 2007, 08:07 PM   #11
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Dear Gints,

Do you want more than 4 channels? I wasn't clear by what you mean by "more channels".
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Old July 9th, 2007, 08:20 PM   #12
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Dear Gints,

Do you want more than 4 channels? I wasn't clear by what you mean by "more channels".
Hey Dan,

I'm interested in 6-8 channels of top notch digital recording, though I see myself running four on one camera (Sony Z1U) and two on another (Sony FX1). Though, some of those would be at a distance from a moving camera, so running XLR cables wouldn't be possible. I like the idea of having a four channel main unit with time code and some smaller units with time code. The little recorders would do a better job at the same cost as a pair of decent wireless transmitters.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 08:34 PM   #13
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I was wondering if a few of the little cigarette pack size recorders might work for you (ie Zoom or M-Audio, etc)

Although your comment about "top notch" seems at odds with such units. But then again, compared to wireless, maybe they would be "top notch" enough.
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Old July 10th, 2007, 07:47 AM   #14
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Dear Gints,

Most all cameras record at 16 bits whereas the Sound Devices 744t can record at 24 bits.

You could record the least critical tracks in the camera and most critical ones in the 744t.

Multiple 744t's can be linked together, but this exceeds your $5,000 limit.

I believe that you would be very happy with the quality of a 744t, but it appears that you want to record from multiple sources which are some distance apart.

You could consider getting a 744t and then one of the other Sound Devices recorders, maybe a two channel unit with time code.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 12:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
I was wondering if a few of the little cigarette pack size recorders might work for you (ie Zoom or M-Audio, etc)

Although your comment about "top notch" seems at odds with such units. But then again, compared to wireless, maybe they would be "top notch" enough.
As you point out, those handheld units are an excellent choice for remote recording given that they are about the same price as a decent wireless microphone. You gain quality but lose monitoring ability.

Someday, one of these manufacturers will figure out how to set the timecode of these units via a USB, either from a computer or one of these units.
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