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HHB Portadrive 2000
Old 1st September 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
HHB Portadrive 2000

Hi all - Does anyone here have first-hand experience of using the HHb Portadrive 2000 ? I am interested in people's first-hand experience of sound quality compared to other recorders and also helpful tricks and tips, ways people have used the mixer engines together etc..

I can hardly find any info on the internet other than some more technical industry reviews and the previous posts on here seemed to quickly change topic toward discussing the more common gear (as often happens with equipment that wasn't popular).

I do actually have one coming my way soon but as a budget user (it's costing me £350 with all the accessories) I don't get the chance to compare to other gear.. but perhaps others have?

It would be good to at least have one thread discussing people's experience of it somewhere on the internet, good or bad opinions!
Attached Thumbnails
HHB Portadrive 2000-pdr2000cutout.jpg  
Old 1st September 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

The ones I heard sounded good. But as a former user of HHB gear I can tell you that their support was spotty at best, and since they stopped making equipment themselves quite a long time ago now service, parts and accs are hard to come by. Maybe check in with the current HHB company (an equipment vendor) if you haven't already and see what help they can be...
Old 1st September 2019
  #3
Gear Nut
Thanks for that. Where did you hear them? At trade shows/demos on in use?

With regard to service or parts, I always puchase secondhand items like this with no expectation of any help form anyone, other than perhaps previous users and spare parts from old machines. Having said that, I might see if HHB still are able to provide v3.0 software if it's not fully up to date. I shall see! If they can send it, with their permision, I'd post it up somewhere for others.

The one I'm getting, appears to have a good few accessories, like a bag, three drive caddies, firewire caddie dock and a DVD drive. It's ex-educational equipment and looks like they bought a package originally.

You've prompted me into firing off an email to HHb .. so I will see how helpful they could actually be.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #4
Gear Nut
A small update: HHb can provide firmware updates although say they can't service it any more.

Very responsive and helpful tech support though in the UK.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
 

I had a colleague who had 2, and did a few movies with them. Pretty clunky for bag use but on a cart just fine. They disappeared from production use pretty quickly in favor of other recorders. The media delivery was kind of a hassle compared with later machines, this was particularly an issue on long-form jobs. They were also pretty expensive. If you can get some drives that work with it, and if you can somehow get the thing to record to some form of flash media (cards, SSD) then it could work very well for a long time.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Nut
I do have an IDE flash card interface, one that would have normally sat inside a PC. I might try to see if I can get it working in one of the caddies.. HHb said they'd be interested to know the results too, lol.

Sadly none of the batteries that came with the recorder seem to want to charge.. :( I might see if I can jump one to life but I suspect they may have fallen bellow a voltage that would damage the cells.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
Simmosonic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat8808 View Post
Hi all - Does anyone here have first-hand experience of using the HHb Portadrive 2000 ? I am interested in people's first-hand experience of sound quality compared to other recorders and also helpful tricks and tips, ways people have used the mixer engines together etc..
I had one for a couple of years, took it all around Nepal, Tibet and India. I loved it overall for making direct-to-5.1 recordings with the Holophone H2 Pro. I was always happy with the sound quality and thought it sounded pretty good alongside my Nagra V. BUT it was over-engineered and ridiculously heavy as part of the kit because apart from the machine itself I had to carry enough spare batteries plus the charger and the caddies, an uninterruptable UPS and so on. It ended up needing an entire backpack of its own to keep it useful, LOL!

Also, most of its technologies were unfortunately outdated by the time it actually hit the market. USB 1.0, SCSI, etc. It was a continual workflow hassle.

Another problem with the OS at the time is that it dropped the bundle when a sound file exceeded the maximum file size of the drive format. I was recording a Tibetan puja (prayer) in a monastery one morning, six tracks of 24-bit 96k, all as one interleaved file. (BIG MISTAKE!) After about 30 minutes or so, when the file reached its maximum size of 2GB, the machine simply stopped recording. No message, no warning, nothing. It just simply stopped recording. Furthermore, it had no ability to close the file properly and automatically start another one (as my Nagra and others would do). Thankfully, I happened to look at the machine and realise the red recording light was no longer on and it wasn’t recording. I had to do a whole lot of tricky/clever work to extract the file from the hard disk caddy because the machine had not written in the appropriate metadata so it had no file type. It was just a huge 2GB file (2GB was a HUGE file size in those days, 2008 or whenever it was) with no file type, only visible through disk repair software. I had to mess around a lot with terminal software, and also creating another similar sized file on the HHB but stopped and saved just before it reached the file size limit, then copying that file’s metadata and pasting it in to the other file, etc. That worked but I had lost a significant part of the puja recording due to this. I wouldn’t have minded so much if I had not woken at 4am and endured sub-zero temperatures and quite a long walk to get to the monastery in time to catch the morning prayer, and it was in a village I was passing through overnight so I did not have the chance to do it again the next day. The lesson there, really, was not to make six track interleaved files at 24-bit 96k, LOL!

Charging those batteries was a nightmare. One charge would provide about 1.5 hours to 2 hours of six track 24/96k recording, so I carried three batteries. Charging a battery from inside the machine itself would take about 8 hours; it was an overnight job.

To charge a battery from inside the machine you had to connect it to the AC adaptor (of course) then put the machine into ‘battery charge’ mode. In many of the places I was in the mains power would drop out from time to time during the night. The moment the mains power dropped out the machine would drop out of ‘battery charge’ mode but didn’t power down. Instead, it would sit there turned on, stupidly using up whatever charge was left in the battery! It would not automatically revert back to ‘battery charge mode’ when the mains was restored. So I’d often wake up in the morning with a flatter battery than I started the recharge with the night before. Sigh...

To make it useful in the field, I ended up buying a small UPS that would give off an alarm if the mains power failed during the night. Then I would wake up, turn off the HHB, stay awake until the power came back on again (if it did), power up the HHB, put it back into charge mode, and go back to bed.

In the end I bought the external charger which could do two or three batteries at once. So, my HHB remote field recording kit consisted of the HHB Portadrive itself, three disk caddies, the disk caddy reader so I could transfer files, three batteries, the external battery charger, the small UPS in case the power failed over night and I was charging a battery from inside the Portadrive, and more. I employed an extra porter just to carry it all around. It was very over-engineered, all metal and so on with good rubber bumpers around the sides, which I appreciate, but man it was heavy and, basically, a complete PITA by today’s standards. At the time there wasn’t much to compete with it.

Here’s a link to a magazine article I wrote years ago about using it on one of my 5.1 recording expeditions; in this case, an educational expedition with a group of audio students:

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2b243...68924617df.pdf

I hope some of this has been useful. I think the linked article includes some stuff on how to set up one of the internal mixers to monitor the 5.1 recordings as a stereo downmix. It also includes a kind of built in review of the Portadrive, with its features being praised appropriately as the article goes on.

Last edited by Simmosonic; 4 weeks ago at 01:48 AM..
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