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Portable Recorder for a reporter
Robobo1
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#1
29th October 2007
Old 29th October 2007
  #1
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Talking Portable Recorder for a reporter

I'm looking for a portable recorder as a gift for a reporter.

Here are the specs... what are your recommendations?

- XLR or TRS mic input preferred (3.5mm jacks scare me, seem too fragile)
- decent pres with decent headroom and not much hiss (at this level of recorder I'm not expecting much)
- screen/meters must be visible in bright daylight (I've read the Edirol R9's screen is not visible in daylight)
- true +48V would be nice, but is not a deal-breaker
- seamless recording over 2GB (ie no split)
- SMALL, handheld (as in, I think even the Fostex FR-2LE or the Marantz PMD-660 might be too big)
- rugged, an accidental drop shouldn't break the thing
- SD or CF, doesn't matter
- AA batteries preferred, but internal battery ok

Seems like the specs on the new M-audio Multitrack II fit the bill... but it's not out yet, and I'm hesitant because I've heard the first model had a terrible mic pre.

This device will be used everywhere from quiet chic office spaces to the streets of third world countries. It will be used primarily with an RE50, but a condenser may be employed in the future.

Thanks!

Rob
#2
29th October 2007
Old 29th October 2007
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Tim Halligan's Avatar
 
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Rob,

Given that it's going to be used in third world countries, where getting it fixed should it cease working would be a rather large issue...


Look at the Nagra Ares series of recorders.


Cheers,
Tim
#3
29th October 2007
Old 29th October 2007
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Microtrack allegedly has only 30 volts phantom.
The Zoom H4 isn't exactly bad, got on-board mics as well as phantom-powered XLR mic inputs. Display is a little on the small side of things though.

That is, if you don't want to spend the money for the Nagra Ares.
#4
30th October 2007
Old 30th October 2007
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#5
30th October 2007
Old 30th October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch View Post
Microtrack allegedly has only 30 volts phantom.
The Zoom H4 isn't exactly bad, got on-board mics as well as phantom-powered XLR mic inputs. Display is a little on the small side of things though.

That is, if you don't want to spend the money for the Nagra Ares.
The MicroTrack II has full phantom and some other added features, but I'll bet the A/D and pre's are still weak links - they're pretty flimsy, too. I have an MT I that I use as a "bit bucket" for my RME ADI-2 - if only it had digital out as well as in. It works great for for what I got it for, though - and it was only about $275 with a 4GB CF card.

I think the new Sony PCM D50 is about $500, and it looks pretty good - not quite out yet, from what I understand:

http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Broadcastan...sp=83&id=90227
#6
31st October 2007
Old 31st October 2007
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My Recordings/Credits

Another one for the Flashmic...

I got to say, you cannot get any more portable with the HHB Flashmic.
It's available in omni and cardiod.
And, there's a version with the ability to record from another source other than the mic capsule.

Very cool stuff for sure!
Robobo1
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#7
31st October 2007
Old 31st October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post
Another one for the Flashmic...

I got to say, you cannot get any more portable with the HHB Flashmic.
It's available in omni and cardiod.
And, there's a version with the ability to record from another source other than the mic capsule.

Very cool stuff for sure!

I know... I just can't bring myself to do it. When that thing came out, posters sprung up around our building (as a bit of a joke) about how they were engineer replacements... the timing went hand-in-hand with some engineering changes here.
#8
31st October 2007
Old 31st October 2007
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- looking back at your original post, I'd go for the PCM-D50 - second gen. Sony and all. I wish I had enough of a need to get one, but the MT I is what I have and works for what I bought it for - compact, silent, modular and semi-portable 2-track, but this rig is not a field recorder:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/attac...s-mtdmpadi.jpg
Robobo1
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#9
1st November 2007
Old 1st November 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyoteous View Post
- looking back at your original post, I'd go for the PCM-D50 - second gen. Sony and all. I wish I had enough of a need to get one, but the MT I is what I have and works for what I bought it for - compact, silent, modular and semi-portable 2-track, but this rig is not a field recorder:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/attac...s-mtdmpadi.jpg
Nice rig.

I'm leaning towards the D-50. I'm curious about a few things though... one, can I take a hacksaw to those internal mics? Two, can it record true "mono" pcm (not summed stereo)? And am curious if Sony supports their machines with Software updates. Methinks not.

Also, I'm worried about the bling factor of this machine over the MTII. It's hot-looking. Very fancy. That could be a problem in some of the environments she will find herself in. Yes, it's supposedly built well (metal), but that means nothing if it's been stolen because it caught someone's eye! I'm thinking generous use of gaffe tape could help this issue when necessary.

But I dig the fact that she could use the pitch shifter for transcription purposes. That could be very handy! And the fact that she would have "backup" mics... both an external RE50 and the internal stereo mics.

And it's all decent quality (I assume).

The Microtrack II's compactness really appeals to me, as does it's TRS inputs. But if the pres really suck, as I'm told the first model's pres do, then it's out.

Last edited by Robobo1; 2nd November 2007 at 07:07 PM.. Reason: "bling" not "blink" :)
#10
2nd November 2007
Old 2nd November 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robobo1 View Post
Nice rig.
- thanks, I've been using the ADI-2 for over two years now. I usually use it with computer audio interfaces for higher quality conversion, but I've been doing quite a bit of recording that requires isolation or a silent rig - hence the MT I add-on as a "bit bucket." I have lots of other racked pre's, but got a good deal recently on the DMP3 ($109 new) and it's pretty much the same form factor as the RME. I think DMP is as good or better than the built-in pre's in most field recorders - enough about that, though.

Quote:
I'm leaning towards the D-50. I'm curious about a few things though... one, can I take a hacksaw to those internal mics? Two, can it record true "mono" pcm (not summed stereo)? And am curious if Sony supports their machines with Software updates. Methinks not.
- good questions! As you most likely know the MT's do mono - a feature I use quite a lot. Sony is Sony - there are always some feature quirks. But, I suppose there are with any brand. You probably found their expensive XLR to 1/8" box, too. It's unfortunate that so many of these recorders are short (or crippled) in one or more aspects.

Quote:
Also, I'm worried about the blink factor of this machine over the MTII. It's hot-looking. Very fancy. That could be a problem in some of the environments she will find herself in. Yes, it's supposedly built well (metal), but that means nothing if it's been stolen because it caught someone's eye! I'm thinking generous use of gaffe tape could help this issue when necessary.
On the other hand, the MT seems like a cheap (piece of crap?) toy - plastic and very light. I doubt it would survive a hard impact. Film people consider them to be kind of disposable. It looks like a cross between a Star Trek communicator and a garage door opener - maybe that would make it less theft-worthy.

Quote:
But I dig the fact that she could use the pitch shifter for transcription purposes. That could be very handy! And the fact that she would have "backup" mics... both an external RE50 and the internal stereo mics. And it's all decent quality (I assume).
I would expect the Sony to be good all around. I could see using the built-in mics "turned out" with one toward the subject and one toward the interviewer.

Quote:
The Microtrack II's compactness really appeals to me, as does it's TRS inputs. But if the pres really suck, as I'm told the first model's pres do, then it's out.
I don't think the pre's changed, but I could be wrong. I tried the little T-mic that came with mine, though it's probably so bad, you wouldn't be able to tell much about the preamps. I haven't tried it with any decent mics. I should at least try it with a good dynamic sometime. I think you can get modified units (Oade, maybe?) and much better 1/8" mics from companies like Sound Professionals:

Microphones, USB Microphone, Preamplifiers, Digital Recorders, Cables and more at Rock Bottom Prices from The Sound Professionals - Great deals on Microphone, Preamplifier, Digital Recorder, Cable and more!

If you haven't already, check out Taperssection.com - Index - I've found a lot of good info there, even though it's mainly about concert recording.

I know these machines will continue to get better give us all the features from your original post plus great pre's and conversion, digital I/O, and why not have it work as a USB or FireWire audio interface (like the Zooms?). Someone brought up a great idea in another thread: have XLR mic inputs on the top of the unit with removable swivel mics - or you could just pony up for the Sound Devices and not worry about any of this!

- good luck!
Robobo1
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#11
3rd November 2007
Old 3rd November 2007
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Thanks for all of your help!

A friend got in touch with Sony for me. The PMD-50 is NOT "firmware upgradeable" and does NOT record mono.
#12
3rd November 2007
Old 3rd November 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robobo1 View Post
Thanks for all of your help!

A friend got in touch with Sony for me. The PMD-50 is NOT "firmware upgradeable" and does NOT record mono.
So what are you leaning towards? It's a very tough call IMO, and I have no idea how much budget plays into the issue, but I'm curious to know what you decide to do!
Robobo1
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#13
5th November 2007
Old 5th November 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim vanBergen View Post
So what are you leaning towards? It's a very tough call IMO, and I have no idea how much budget plays into the issue, but I'm curious to know what you decide to do!
Not quite ready to bite the bullet... but getting close.

Probably towards the Sony... but I might wait until people have the Multitrack II in their hands and can speak about the pres.

I'll definitely post when I do make the purchase!
#14
8th November 2007
Old 8th November 2007
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Not to screw everything up...but I have the zoom h2 and love it. The mic input is not xlr, but the built in mics are very good sounding and it has some very interesting surround features. It is not built like a tank, but if you are careful with it it should be fine. If it is planned to be dropped off a cliff, maybe something else would do, but for normal use I think it is cool.
#15
8th November 2007
Old 8th November 2007
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We use Marantz PMD recorders here for all of our field reporters to record miscelanious cuts. XLR ins, extremely rugged, decent sound quality (of course dependant on mic used), easy connection to PC. It's a great field recorder for a reporter. And you said you were worried about the bling factor, the PMDs are as ugly as it gets. They are black, rugged and straight to the point. They work extremely well for the large network I work for.

I know you said you didn't want something that big, but the Marantz is really not that bad when traveling.
#16
8th November 2007
Old 8th November 2007
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I have a modified PMD660 that is listed right now. The mod greatly reduced the hiss and the unit itself has been highly praised by reporters.

FS: Busman Mod Marantz PMD660
Robobo1
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#17
8th November 2007
Old 8th November 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOLAfishwater View Post
I have a modified PMD660 that is listed right now. The mod greatly reduced the hiss and the unit itself has been highly praised by reporters.

FS: Busman Mod Marantz PMD660
I, um, couldn't help but recognize your avatar from Taperssection.com. Have posted this exact same question on that site!

That 660 is kind of big... maybe the 620 will be mod-able. Our reporters here use the 660s, and all of us engineers despise them! Big, bad interface, noisy... But if they sounded better....
#18
9th November 2007
Old 9th November 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robobo1 View Post
I, um, couldn't help but recognize your avatar from Taperssection.com. Have posted this exact same question on that site!

That 660 is kind of big... maybe the 620 will be mod-able. Our reporters here use the 660s, and all of us engineers despise them! Big, bad interface, noisy... But if they sounded better....
That's the price you have to pay for durrability. I had a reporter that left her gear in a fcuking flood and the Marantz kept on ticking. Now, the Comrex... well that wasn't so good. =)
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