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Old July 28th, 2002, 09:06 AM   #1
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extremely portable HD location audio recorder?!?

I just wanted to run this idea by everyone and see if they had any thoughts?!?

I have been doing a lot of research lately on a portable recording setup for very mobile/high quality recording. My findings keep coming back to the tascam da-p1 or a pro minidisc recorder.

But I just put two ideas together and think it may work. First, I know the Nomad Jukebox 3 is a totally consumer device but if you look at the specs (someone also mentioned it on the site last week) it can record uncompressed .wav at 48 KHz. and comes in either 20GB or 40GB of storage with both*USB and Firewire connectivity. BUT it has a crappy front end....

Here comes the kicker, it has optical in! If one were to take the Denecke AD-20 a/d converter/pre-amp (http://www.core-sound.com/inbox.html) and use the optical out to drive the Nomad, wouldn't you have a clean digital signal to work with? Plus Firewire and USB to get to the files! (at a very afforadable price too, the Nomad 3 and AD-20 should be under $600 for the package)

Uncompressed .wav is exactly that, uncompressed! Going from a high quailty mic pre-amp to a digital signal in a professional device (the Denecke ad-20) and use the consumer device just to "hold" the audio, it seems like it would be a contender!

any thoughts?

Chris
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Old July 28th, 2002, 04:38 PM   #2
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It sounds totally feesable in theory, but real life often proves us wrong. I think the biggest problem might be setting the Nomad to record. I haven't used one, and know little about them in general. However, it was designed to be an MP3 player, not an audio recorder. I would be interested in the results though.
Good luck with it,
Keith
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Old July 28th, 2002, 05:56 PM   #3
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So true!

I want to be an optimist on this one as all the other solutions I have looked into cost more than double this price. The controls seem pretty straight forward on the Nomad from what I can tell, a nice sized record button on the front cover... Plus, if all fails miserably, the Nomad goes on Ebay and I get a PCM-M1 portable DAT and feed it digitally with a s/pdif to 7 pin cable from the Denecke AD-20. The AD-20 looks like a sporty little unit which I can probably find a few uses for.

But if it does work, I will have a very small, high sound quality, portable recorder. (several people have emailed me already and told me that they just feed their Nomads via 1/8" stereo plug only and it works great, I just dont trust consumer a/ds)

plus this way, I can stick it in the front pocket of my portabrace case that holds my mixer and have everything in one nice little pack.

Chris
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Old October 13th, 2002, 09:42 PM   #4
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Just been looking for recording solution and found this thread. Was wondering if you got anywhere with that solution?
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Old October 14th, 2002, 03:40 AM   #5
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Interesting.

I think I would still much prefer the sound from my SONY TCD-D10 PRO II, largely due to it being a total all-in-one solution with Abosolute Time Code. There isn't any provision for any type of time code with the setups you mention. Also, there is no Limiter. Not going to be easy at all to constrain the dynamic range of your field recordings with that setup. At least a good DAT deck such as the TCD-D10 PRO II or the TASCAM portable have very good preamps and limiters, which is key to recording good dialogue audio.

You mention "HD" in your post, I am assuming that you are referring to the fact that the .wav files are "uncompressed" and high-quality. I would suggest that if you were to compare dialogue recorded with that setup to a tried-and-true NAGRA IV STC, the NAGRA would sound much better - no high end aliasing noise or pumping, minimal or no clipping distortion, much warmer sounding due to the superior NAGRA mic preamps, minimal fuss in resolving to 24fps due to the SMPTE TC, and very easy to adjust and "ride" volume gain controls with high/ low pass EQ filtering.

I would also again suggest that the dialogue recorded from that setup would not sound as good as dialogue recorded with the SONY TCD-D10 PRO II or the TASCAM portable, since they each have much better preamps and limiters and high pass filter on the SONY.

Just a thought anyways,,, I'm sure that setup would be quite useful for certain things, but I bet you there would be some type of high end aliasing noise in the sample due to the lost cost of the components.
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Old October 14th, 2002, 06:33 AM   #6
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Don, the reason I posted this thread was in response to several of us looking for a cheaper 'all digital' hard drive audio recorder that could be easily carried while shooting. I know the sound quality may not rival a Nagra recorder but you are also looking at a fraction the cost and a much more portable unit. As for the preamps, the Denecke AD-20 has professional grade preamps but unfortunatley, no limiters...

Aaron, I ended up going with a Sound Devices MixPre (which sounds absolutely amazing!) and using the tape out jack to feed a Sony portable N707 minidisc recorder. I purchased the minidisc recorder under the condition that if it didnt work for me, the salesman said I could return it no questions asked. I brought it home, hooked it up to my MixPre and started recording, it knocked my socks off. The sound that little thing reproduced was great! minidisc has come along way, I still have my older units that dont come close to this new N707 I purchased. Im sure it helped having great preamps feeding it as well from the MixPre too.

I was never a MD advocate until now, that little recorder is velcroed to my porta brace bag and it was a very cheap investment as well. As for the main outputs of the MixPre, I feed my XL1s with those, a member here on the board made me up a custom set of padded cables that sound amazing. I am sold on the MixPre though, you have so much more control over your audio and the headphone amp also sounds 100% better too.

In the near future, I may look at swapping out the MD recorder for something along the hard drive line but for now, I couldnt be happier.

Chris
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Old October 14th, 2002, 01:33 PM   #7
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there are several companies that make housings for consumer minidisc recorders which allow you the use of pahntom power and xlr etc. some even have a built in speaker if needed.
heres a link.

http://www.minidisc.org/part_Professional_Housings.html

dont know any exact details of these products but they do look interesting.

matt
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Old October 14th, 2002, 02:03 PM   #8
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Thanks for that Chris. Couple of questions. Does that MixPre have one output? If so, that obviously means that you hvae to mix your audio and then you're stuck with that mix right? Do you find this a problem?

I had read a while back that minidisc recorders were dodgy because of the compression, and that the sound from them was not suitable for dramatic movie making. You seem happy with yours, do you have anything to comment on regarding dialogue recording?

Cheers


I'm starting to look at getting a basic sound kit together for my short movies, and I think I was unrealistic in the amount of $$ id' have to spend. I'm going to have to reevaluate or go secondhand ;)
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Old October 14th, 2002, 04:22 PM   #9
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MD does utilize compression - ATRAC i believe but over all i think it sounds pretty good. just like with any digital recording device u dont want to overload your signal or you'll get crap in the end product unlike the nice tape saturation you can get from hittin tape levels hard on a nice roll of analog AMPEX 2".this was a popular method of getting t hose fat huge drum sounds from the 60s & 70s not to mention all the tube compressors and limiters.
i say if you are planning for a major theatre released film then yeah you want the best audio as possible. but if you are producing video such as weddings or whatever do you really think that the person watching would be like " it sounds like they recorded this dialog on MD" i highly doubt it.
basically what im saying is that the general public could not tell the difference between a WELL RECORDED dialog take on MD/DAT/CD unless they all have "GOLDEN EARS" which is very unlikely.
ive recorded a lot with a sony consumer MD and an AT 822 stereo mic plugged directly in and got decent sound. to me its all about mic placement and setting your record levels correctly.
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Old October 14th, 2002, 05:40 PM   #10
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Aaron, the MixPre has 2 main XLR outputs (L+R) and a tape ouput. Each channel has a Left-Center-Right selector so you can actively mix both channel inputs. I run the tape output into my MD recorder and the main XLRs out to the camera. So the MD basically acts as a backup recorder. Using the MixPre allows me to control the audio I capture on my camera a lot better than just using a beachtek or ma-100/200. (and it sounds fantastic!)

Matthew is 100% right, I think it takes "golden ears" to differentiate between a good clean CD/MD/DAT recording. The key, Record it right the first time. Now most my work is event videography and dialog, anything else may be different...

I was totally hesitant about all the "compression" arguments as well, I wasnt even going to go the MD route becasue of it... but walking through my local Circuit City one day I picked up the N707 and started wondering... plus the price was right! as I said, I tried it and was very happy with what I came up with. Plus I saved alot of money too.

Again, I belive it has a lot to do with the high quality preamps and circuitry of the MixPre too. They make a good combo.

Chris
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Old October 14th, 2002, 10:04 PM   #11
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Chris,
How do you get the audio off the MD recorder into your computer? Do you do it so the signal stays digital or so the signal is converted to analog? I was thinking of going the MD route also but wanted to keep my sound 100% digital. You help is greatly appreciated.
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Old October 14th, 2002, 10:21 PM   #12
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I don't know if it qualifies as "extremely" portable, but the Deva audio recorder is a 4-channel HD recorder that is constantly recording input audio to buffer and backs up selected queues to DVD-RAM when idle. It's an excellent professional location-audio-for-film-production recording solution.
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Old October 14th, 2002, 10:28 PM   #13
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I think he was looking for somthing a little less than $10000. Just a thought. That thing looks like it would work pretty damn well though. Did you say it was for film? As in like hollywood uses it?
Thanks.
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Old October 15th, 2002, 06:27 AM   #14
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Yes, the DEVA is absolutely amazing! but so is the price tag that comes along with it... As much as I would love to have one, it may be a bit over-kill for doing weddings and documentaries. I believe it is gaining popularity among Hollywood film crews as we speak, several other companies seem to be following their lead as well, I know HHB is designing a portable multi channel HD solution as well. All ya need it $$$$$

Scott, as for retreiving the audio off the MD recorder, I was rather upset to find out that you cannot upload audio via the NetMDs USB interface yet (I think they are working on that with Sony), you can only download audio to the unit... So I used the included optical cable and did a straight digital copy to my external Tascam CD burner (it has optical in). Then I toss the CD into my mac and FCP gobbles it up. If you have a decent audio card, chances are it has a S/PDIF input, all you need is a little converter to change the optical signal into a S/PDIF signal and you have a lossless digital connection to capture from.

Chris
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Old October 15th, 2002, 02:30 PM   #15
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Jai Guru Deva, Ommmm

Well, I didn't say BUY the Deva. But if you're working on any kind of project that would have budgeted for a Nagra rental along with the rest of the location audio kit, go with a Deva instead. It's higher dynamic range, offers better options for monitoring levels, and a principle advantage of working with a Deva is that it can accept a synch signal from a camera and permit for really easy (i.e., automatic) audio track lineup in ProTools, etc.
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