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-   -   Portable Recorder (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/479136-portable-recorder.html)

Burt Alcantara May 21st, 2010 11:44 AM

Portable Recorder
I'm looking for an inexpensive, $100 range, recorder that I can use to record in the field. I like to record natural sounds and combine them into collages. If it would interface to a T2i, so much the better.

Any suggestions are welcomed,

David W. Jones May 21st, 2010 12:40 PM

Nothing I can recommend in the $100 range.
Now if you were to up your budget to the $300 range or better things change dramatically.

John Willett May 22nd, 2010 05:49 AM

Nothing at all at your price - you set the bar far too low.

Inexpensive recorders worth looking at are:-

Olympus LS-10
Olympus LS-11
Edirol R09HR
Zoom H4N
Sony PCM-D10

Andrew Dean May 22nd, 2010 07:54 AM

Nothing I'd want for $100. But you could probably get a used dat recorder like a da-7. but not with mics. I agree that things dont really get interesting until around the $300 mark.

Burt Alcantara May 22nd, 2010 10:25 AM

Seems like most of the recorders John mentioned are in the $300 range. Are there others worth mentioning?


Rick Reineke May 22nd, 2010 10:56 AM

You may be able able to find a used H2 for around $100. The internal mics sound decent and have some spacing/front-back/quad options. If recording low SPL environmental sound, internal pre-amp noise may be an issue. The external mic input sucks altogether. If you have a good external mic & pre-amp the H2's line-in is an option.

Nicole Hankerson May 24th, 2010 06:34 PM

You may get lucky and get a second hand Zoom H4(original) for about a 100 bucks. Check out the ones below also. All below 200 bucks.

Ikey Audio G3(
Ikey Audio M3
Tascam DR-07
Alesis ProTrack
Zoom H2
Alesis Palmtrack
Tascam DR-1
Teac VR-10
Tascam DR-08


Burt Alcantara May 25th, 2010 09:09 AM

After reading thru all the posts it seems like the Zoom H4N is the most popular and probably the most suitable. I can pick one up for about $275 so I'll save the pennies and bite the bullet.

I'm not a professional and I don't have aspirations for rewards of any sort. This is my first venture into video. My output will be strictly for myself so absolute standards are not essential.

Thanks for all the input,

Jay Massengill May 25th, 2010 10:44 AM

One thing to keep in mind if you want to send the output of the recorder into the T2i, many of these recorders (including the newer H4n) have only one output that serves as both headphone and line out.
The original H4 had two separate connectors for headphone and line out and would therefore be a lot easier to monitor when also sending the signal to a camera with no headphone jack of its own.
I'm not familiar with all the recorders that have been listed in this thread, but I know many of them only have one output jack. You might want to research for any that have two separate outputs.
Since you will also need some accessories like a furry windscreen, attenuator cable between the recorder and camera, a mount or a stand for the recorder, spare memory cards and batteries, etc., it would be great if you could find one that was less expensive than the H4n. Especially if you're doing this just for personal projects and with a camera that has a relatively short maximum clip length like the T2i.

Burt Alcantara May 25th, 2010 08:00 PM

Thanks for that advisory. I didn't even think about output jacks. Just assumed everything would be there for whatever I wanted at the moment. However, now that you mention it, what about sync? How does that work? Is it something to worry about or just let everything roll? I doubt I'll ever need anything with dead-on sync longer then a very few minutes but it's something I should be aware of.

Also, I read alot about the perils of agc. Is this a curse or is there a cure?


John Willett May 26th, 2010 07:16 AM


Originally Posted by Burt Alcantara (Post 1531205)
After reading thru all the posts it seems like the Zoom H4N is the most popular and probably the most suitable. I can pick one up for about $275 so I'll save the pennies and bite the bullet.

This is definitely your best option and the H4N is much better than the earlier version.

Jay Massengill May 26th, 2010 09:42 AM

To achieve sync between a dSLR and a separate audio recorder, you should obviously record audio on both devices. The method of doing that (mainly on the dSLR) varies according to your project, your equipment, how much effort you want to go to in the field, etc.
Some additional practices such as good slating habits at the beginning and end of each shot, as well as setting both devices to the same clock time, will help you keep organized after the fact.
Really, keeping organized is a bigger potential headache than actually achieving sync on your timeline, which is not too hard to do.
Back to the camera, there are several methods to record audio, each with benefits and limitations. With the T2i you can't avoid AGC but there are some methods that can prevent AGC from being a huge problem but that adds more expense.
You don't have to connect the output of your audio recorder to the camera, but that is the easiest way to get essentially the same audio on both devices. (As I said before, that can require additional steps in order to monitor your sound correctly depending on the recorder.) This can be very beneficial if you're using software like PluralEyes to achieve sync automatically. However, if you're trying to do very mobile shooting with a stabilizer, then having the two devices physically linked together can be a real problem.

You can also add a separate inexpensive mic to the camera to get better audio than is recorded with the built-in mic, but this is really just to give you a better signal to sync with, not as really useable audio.

Tell us more about how you envision shooting so we can narrow down the discussion of possible ways to do double-system sound.

Burt Alcantara May 26th, 2010 10:37 AM

At the moment, most of the sound recording that I envision is ambient sound, i.e., wind in the trees, crowd noise, water, cats, dogs, etc.

Knowing the way things go in real life, I know that once I get going with the camera and sound recorder, I'll be doing things that I can't presently imagine. Start off doing A but end up at Z.

From what I hear about the Canon DSLRs, recording decent sound is somewhat of a challenge. I'm trying to cover my bases but being realistic at the same time. My output will never get past the occasional posting to Vimeo or YouTube. (I'm old, cranky, tired and retired).

A very long time ago I was a musician/composer and worked with 4 track tape and synthesizers. A lot of the "music" that I wrote was made using tape, a razor blade and sound I made walking around using a Nagra. When I made these sound collages, I would "see" the sound. At that time portable video was black and white and weighed about 75 pounds (and cost a lot).

I still hear those sounds. Now, I can add vision to that sound. I guess that's what I'm trying to capture. So I'm trying to get a handle on the various ways of capturing sound and what problems I will encounter.


Jay Massengill May 26th, 2010 01:08 PM

Sounds awesome! I'm from that era too, but was a senior in high school when I first used a black&white 1/2-inch reel-to-reel Sony video recorder (which could be easily clogged by fingerprint oil and tape oxide if you didn't thread it correctly!). Times have certainly changed!

I think you can work easily by keeping the audio recorder on a stand and simply slate with a handclap and audible comments at the start and end of any take or important new subject.
The H4n does a good job of keeping sync without much drift.
The minimal consideration with feeding audio into the camera is to get enough signal that you can listen to and more importantly see as a waveform on the timeline in order to double-check your sync in the middle of a long take (where checking the slate clap may be inconveniently far away on the editing timeline or may have been cut away completely when you start chopping segments down to smaller parts.
With ambient sound the requirement for critical sync is lower, but also the ability to recognize clues to achieve sync is also lower. You may not have many noticeable waveform peaks to hone in on with either device so you'll need those sync claps.
If you go to the trouble of mating and locking whole video and audio takes from the two devices (or rendering out as a new file with better audio) and then cutting down to smaller bits, you'll spend a lot of time and physical space on your timeline with long files to start with, but you won't get frustrated with trying to get sync just by listening to the wind for example. On the other hand, if it's just the wind and you're doing different layers of sound anyway, it's up to you where "sync" is from a creative standpoint. Distance from your subject may also play a role here, you may need to shift the audio to account for the delay of sound in relation to your images.
I think you easily have the experience to try it out and modify your process from there.

Burt Alcantara May 27th, 2010 12:48 PM

My T2i arrived yesterday. The sound is horrendous. Will an external recorder override the agc noise if plugged into the camera?

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