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Best of the current handy recorders? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 8th July 2017
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
I don't know how you can evaluate the noise performance of the unit based on the recording of sheep and fireworks with a noisy background, over the internet...
Not that one.
He has a recording called "Dynamic omni mic" where he uses the same mic to say the same phrases, then records about 10 seconds of silence (noise floor) on both.
Import both files into your DAW, carefully level match if you want, the Sony clearly has more hiss in the silence than the Tascam.
Not sure there's any need to get defensive over it, the Sony is clearly a great machine and superior in some respects (over timbre / sound quality of the preamps, and built-in mics).

There's some SoundCloud recordings floating around - can't find the link at the moment - of someone who made the same recording with both the Tascam and SD, and the SD was way quieter (and if the Tascam's already a bit quieter than the Sony, it stands to reason the SD is quieter than the Sony as well).

The specs bear this out. SD's EIN specs are quieter than the Sony, and also have significantly more available gain. They're among the quietest preamps in existence (all of which hover around -130dB EIN).

Last edited by dasbin; 8th July 2017 at 02:37 AM..
Old 8th July 2017
  #32
Gear Addict
The thing about these handy recorders is that a big part of their primary mission is to be able to record on a whim, very quickly. Being good at that one thing is, to me, the most important factor.

My own use for them is to have one in the camera bag to capture audio to go along with still images for slide shows, etc. The D100 is really the best sounding of the ones available. If I'm on a trip that is primarily photography, I'll have it in my camera bag along with the Rycote suspension. When I want to use it with proper mics, I just connect it to my USBPre2 (running in stand-alone mode) via TOSLink.
Old 8th July 2017
  #33
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Thanks folks, you've answered a lot of my questions here, especially about powering and the Mix Pre. I'm still going to get the Mix Pre 3, I've made up my mind. I did think about the Sony machine, but it's lack of XLR inputs is a deal breaker for me.
Another question, I don't have a windshield! Are there any reasonably priced windshields for shotgun mic's? I've looked at the Rycote ones, and they are really expensive, just wondering about alternatives.
I also want to use the Mix Pre for recording my girlfriends grand piano, I'll be able to run it off the PSU while I'm at her place, but I was wondering about the phantom? and is it up to powering a wide range of mic's?
Old 8th July 2017
  #34
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Check out Movo Windscreens.
Old 10th July 2017
  #35
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I need to find out if the Mix Pre 3 has M&S decoding built in, or is that on the 6 only?
Old 10th July 2017
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyburger View Post
I need to find out if the Mix Pre 3 has M&S decoding built in, or is that on the 6 only?
The 3 has it as well.

-Mike
Old 10th July 2017
  #37
The newer Tascam DR's use BurrBrown OPA opamps, very nice stuff and quiet. 4 or more tracks is also nice. Invest in the best 48 volt mics you can. I use an external USB battery pack, way better life than any AA cells. The 48 volt phantom supply will drain those quick.
Old 11th July 2017
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dasbin View Post

[snip]
Sonosax Minir82
+ Extraordinarily small and light. Kind of a freak device in this respect. Very appealing in this respect.
+ Sound quality and noise extremely good, on the same level as the Sound Devices, possibly even better
+ Good battery life just on 4 AA's (>3.5hrs)
+ 8 channels! In such a small device!
- No idea where to buy this or if it's even still manufactured
- Many unknowns about possible issues or how the interface is etc.
- Extraordinarily expensive. Probably disqualified on this alone.
I would put Sonosax as the very best of the very best with a sound quality alongside the Nagra and AETA recorders and a step up from Sound Devices.

Though SD is a big step up from all the others.

IMHO
Old 27th July 2017
  #39
Here for the gear
 

I've used a fair few in my time. From Nagra ARES-M to Zoom H5. But my go to recorder is the Sony PCM D100.... quality wise it's way above any others and you get what you pay for.
Old 10th August 2017
  #40
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Thread Starter
I'm still stuck in confusion about buying a recorder, no definite decisions made.
I'm missing all sorts of really great recording opurtunities as time goes by.
Some essential info, a friend has a place in the country, her garden is a great source of bird song, and there is a railway marshalling yard a couple of miles away, which has this amazing ambience at night. Also she has a wonderful grand piano in her house, we are both pianists, and I'd like to record that as well. Plus there are some great thunderstorms in this part of the world, and she has a conservatory with a glass ceiling which really sounds spectacular in the rain!
So, you see, I've got multiple recording jobs here, and I'm trying to fit one recorder to all tasks. I'm OK with the piano, just an M&S pair plugged into a preamp, then into the handy recorder line in. But the outside stuff I'm still not sure about. Should I go stereo? will the built in mic's of say, a Zoom H5 be "good enough" to capture the ambience of the railway yard? I'm still totally confused, and my instinct is to treat each job seperatly, a fixed recording set-up for the piano, and a dedicated recorder for the wildlife. Trouble is we aern't there all the time, I have a studio at home where I do most of my recording, hence the need for a portable rig.
Old 10th August 2017
  #41
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Peter Allison's Avatar
in this world of commercialism, you most certainly do get what you pay for, and in my very humble view of a very very amatuer recordist (compared to most on here, I think?)I had a very sensible want, something that did to job, to my lowly specification and wants. And as I just record just the odd public Organ Recital, and nothing else, I just had the need for something that would fit my budget. As all I record is just for my own ears, and the playback is done on half decent stereo equipment, I made the decision to just go with the lowly Zoom H4N pro (yikes I hear you say, will run for cover now)
. I recorded my first thing the other week, a concert in York Minster, and although the results were not as good as a high end recording system, it came out well, for me
So I am very definitely in the camp of "you get what you pay for"
A very good friend uses a cheap Tascam and a old pair of Tandy PZM's, and was using a portable DAT, until 2 years ago and has had good recordings with that
Old 10th August 2017
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyburger View Post
I'm still stuck in confusion about buying a recorder, no definite decisions made.
I'm missing all sorts of really great recording opurtunities as time goes by.
Some essential info, a friend has a place in the country, her garden is a great source of bird song, and there is a railway marshalling yard a couple of miles away, which has this amazing ambience at night. Also she has a wonderful grand piano in her house, we are both pianists, and I'd like to record that as well. Plus there are some great thunderstorms in this part of the world, and she has a conservatory with a glass ceiling which really sounds spectacular in the rain!
So, you see, I've got multiple recording jobs here, and I'm trying to fit one recorder to all tasks. I'm OK with the piano, just an M&S pair plugged into a preamp, then into the handy recorder line in. But the outside stuff I'm still not sure about. Should I go stereo? will the built in mic's of say, a Zoom H5 be "good enough" to capture the ambience of the railway yard? I'm still totally confused, and my instinct is to treat each job seperatly, a fixed recording set-up for the piano, and a dedicated recorder for the wildlife. Trouble is we aern't there all the time, I have a studio at home where I do most of my recording, hence the need for a portable rig.
Well, one option would be take your MS mic, get a furry windshield for it, run the cables inside and record your exterior that way. If you want one for other uses it comes down to price and ease of use/bulk/battery life etc. But I wouldn't overthink it. Just get a decent one, Tascam, zoom, sony etc for standalone, or Sound Devices for separate recorder and mic setup, and go with it. All of them are capable of a good job, and many people use them. You can upgrade later if you get more particular, but don't waste time procrastinating when you could be recording. Most of us end up with a few different recorders, and they all have their uses, specially the small ones for pocket size convenience.
Old 10th August 2017
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyburger View Post
I'm still stuck in confusion about buying a recorder, no definite decisions made.
I'm missing all sorts of really great recording opurtunities as time goes by.
Some essential info, a friend has a place in the country, her garden is a great source of bird song, and there is a railway marshalling yard a couple of miles away, which has this amazing ambience at night. Also she has a wonderful grand piano in her house, we are both pianists, and I'd like to record that as well. Plus there are some great thunderstorms in this part of the world, and she has a conservatory with a glass ceiling which really sounds spectacular in the rain!
So, you see, I've got multiple recording jobs here, and I'm trying to fit one recorder to all tasks. I'm OK with the piano, just an M&S pair plugged into a preamp, then into the handy recorder line in. But the outside stuff I'm still not sure about. Should I go stereo? will the built in mic's of say, a Zoom H5 be "good enough" to capture the ambience of the railway yard? I'm still totally confused, and my instinct is to treat each job seperatly, a fixed recording set-up for the piano, and a dedicated recorder for the wildlife. Trouble is we aern't there all the time, I have a studio at home where I do most of my recording, hence the need for a portable rig.
What's the budget?

I use the Nagra SD as my small portable unit with the green-ring stereo mic.. I also have the Nagra adaptors for mono mic. and line-in. This is the review on the WSRS website.

The Sony PCM-D100 is also excellent and the Tascam DR-100mkIII is worth considering.

The Tascam is the only one with built-in XLRs.
Old 10th August 2017
  #44
Gear Head
 

I think the new Tascam DR-100mkiii will be your best bet for a versatile handheld recorder. It has so many options including xlr & digital in, really good preamps, and the internal mics are not shabby. It's rugged and can use USB battery packs for super long record times.

Buy it!
Old 11th August 2017
  #45
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Thread Starter
Thnaks folks, well, I'm going to get the Tascam DR100 MK111, I've made a decision. On the proviso that you can power it in realtime using the USB input, is this possible?
The reason why I'm going to get this is because it's not too expensive, just about what I want to pay, the metering is very clear, with -12db slap bang in the middle of the screen, plus, it seems to be a "no messing" design, all obvious controls are right there. Also, XLR inputs for mic and line.
And yes, I'm going to get a windshield for my M&S rig, and just run cables down the garden, as for more remote recording, well, I'll experiment with the DR100 and see how it goes!



WB.
Old 11th August 2017
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyburger View Post
On the proviso that you can power it in realtime using the USB input, is this possible?

WB.
Yes.
Old 13th August 2017
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
Yes.

Thanks, I've been listening to a lot of tests, to my ears the DR100 sounds good, more natural than the Zoom, I think the detachable mic's on the Zoom are a bit irrelevant to me, I'm sure on the rare occasions when I'm going to be using built in mic's, the probably, minor differences between the Zoom and Tasacam ones are going to be unimportant.
Old 14th August 2017
  #48
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What will it cost to replace the built in battery at some point in the future?
Old 15th August 2017
  #49
USB external batteries are around $30. They will also last much longer.
Old 28th August 2017
  #50
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dariva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The newer Tascam DR's use BurrBrown OPA opamps, very nice stuff and quiet. 4 or more tracks is also nice. Invest in the best 48 volt mics you can. I use an external USB battery pack, way better life than any AA cells. The 48 volt phantom supply will drain those quick.
Having a bit of hard time to find out which are the newer ones besides the DR-100 MK III. In an ideal world, it would have been a 4 track recorder, so one could use the internal mics and the external inputs simultaneously, on separate channels of course. So which one of those Tascams are the newest 4 track capable recording boxes? Thanks!
Old 29th August 2017
  #51
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I've only given a quick scan of this thread, so I beg forgiveness if this is redundant.

I own the Sound Devices MixPre6. It's a really nice little box with some amazing features at its price point (LTC!!). If you are really interested in using external mic's, and have no need for a digital input (as I often do), it is great. I've only owned it for a short time, so not yet familiar with all its idiosyncrasies, but my biggest complaint is about power and battery use/life:

It does NOT come with a power adapter - you must order this separately (this is not a problem in the middle of the woods tho').
You MUST use NiMH batteries - alkaline and lithiums will not power this thing for more than a couple of seconds at best. Even then, it will suck the NiMH batteries dry in about two hours. There is a double-capacity battery sled available - you may wish to consider buying this if you are going into the field, and buy A LOT of NiMH's if you will not have access to power for a day or two to recharge them.
Battery sled is a little cheap-feeling - I do worry that one day it will fall off on its own.

I also own the DR-680 (MK-1 modified by Busman Audio) - nice value, but may be a bit noisy for wildlife and ambience work. Can be powered for hours with regular AA's. Not the most rugged thing in the world...

One thing that is perhaps not on your radar: the Zoom H2n. It cannot record external microphones, so if that's an issue read no further; BUT with a recent firmware update, it has the capability of recording semi-Ambisonic (at least in the horizontal plane), and is extremely small. It can be powered with 2 AA's and fits in your pocket. Admittedly, it is not the highest quality audio, but if you are just looking for a little box you can take with you anywhere, anytime; and the fact that you can record immersive/spatial audio (which is becoming a thing), it's hard not to just grab one, since they cost less than $150. I recommend buying the accessory kit for the Zoom Q2N (Video Recorder) as it comes with a hairy windscreen which is quite functional for the H2N - especially outdoors. I was able to use it at the beach with no wind issues.

I should also note that Brahma is making a model of this h2n with a proper tetrahedral mic array, instead of Zoom's Rube Goldberg attempt with XY and M/S. Not sure of price.

Just putting it out there. As always, YMMV, and this advice is worth every penny you paid for it...
Old 4th September 2017
  #52
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson View Post
I've only given a quick scan of this thread, so I beg forgiveness if this is redundant.

I own the Sound Devices MixPre6. It's a really nice little box with some amazing features at its price point (LTC!!). If you are really interested in using external mic's, and have no need for a digital input (as I often do), it is great. I've only owned it for a short time, so not yet familiar with all its idiosyncrasies, but my biggest complaint is about power and battery use/life:

It does NOT come with a power adapter - you must order this separately (this is not a problem in the middle of the woods tho').
You MUST use NiMH batteries - alkaline and lithiums will not power this thing for more than a couple of seconds at best. Even then, it will suck the NiMH batteries dry in about two hours. There is a double-capacity battery sled available - you may wish to consider buying this if you are going into the field, and buy A LOT of NiMH's if you will not have access to power for a day or two to recharge them.
Battery sled is a little cheap-feeling - I do worry that one day it will fall off on its own.

I also own the DR-680 (MK-1 modified by Busman Audio) - nice value, but may be a bit noisy for wildlife and ambience work. Can be powered for hours with regular AA's. Not the most rugged thing in the world...

One thing that is perhaps not on your radar: the Zoom H2n. It cannot record external microphones, so if that's an issue read no further; BUT with a recent firmware update, it has the capability of recording semi-Ambisonic (at least in the horizontal plane), and is extremely small. It can be powered with 2 AA's and fits in your pocket. Admittedly, it is not the highest quality audio, but if you are just looking for a little box you can take with you anywhere, anytime; and the fact that you can record immersive/spatial audio (which is becoming a thing), it's hard not to just grab one, since they cost less than $150. I recommend buying the accessory kit for the Zoom Q2N (Video Recorder) as it comes with a hairy windscreen which is quite functional for the H2N - especially outdoors. I was able to use it at the beach with no wind issues.

I should also note that Brahma is making a model of this h2n with a proper tetrahedral mic array, instead of Zoom's Rube Goldberg attempt with XY and M/S. Not sure of price.

Just putting it out there. As always, YMMV, and this advice is worth every penny you paid for it...
Thanks, I've bought the Tascam DR100 MK11, it's great for the money, very pleased with it, apart from the low headphone output.
The Zoom H2n is also good, I'm going to get one for the ambisonics, a friend has one and it sounds far better than it should for the money.
Old 4th September 2017
  #53
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I just bought a new Zoom H4 PRO, just to get a snapshot, of pipe organ recitals on, as they are a kind of hobby of mine. And I recorded a large scale Franz Liszt piece on saturday night at Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, UK (B.A. C. H.), and on a very modest playback system, it was very very good. So OK, maybe not the "best" recording device, but for the
£££, it did the job admirably. Now if I was to do a "proper" recording, it would be SD and microphone hire

Peter
Old 7th September 2017
  #54
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Allison View Post
I just bought a new Zoom H4 PRO, just to get a snapshot, of pipe organ recitals on, as they are a kind of hobby of mine. And I recorded a large scale Franz Liszt piece on saturday night at Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, UK (B.A. C. H.), and on a very modest playback system, it was very very good. So OK, maybe not the "best" recording device, but for the
£££, it did the job admirably. Now if I was to do a "proper" recording, it would be SD and microphone hire

Peter
I've always been unhappy with recordings I've heard using these built in mic's, on any handy recorder, they're OK on things like speech, and limited bandwidth stuff, but as always, it depends on the context the recording is going to end up in, built in mic's may be just what's needed.
Organs have a very wide frequency range, and I'd be surprised if the built in mic's could cope with pedals! but you probably wouldn't notice the lack of bass on your average hi-fI.
I didn't get the Sound Devices machine in the end, couldn't justify the price, plus, I didn't like the powering options, it was all too much bother.
I've been out on a couple of field recordings with the DR100 and I'm more than pleased, the recordings are super clean, hardly any noise at all. I'm using an Audio Technica 4073a, recording at 24/96, it's way more than good enough for what I want to do, nature recordings, sound effects etc.
Old 7th September 2017
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyburger View Post
I've always been unhappy with recordings I've heard using these built in mic's, on any handy recorder, they're OK on things like speech, and limited bandwidth stuff, but as always, it depends on the context the recording is going to end up in, built in mic's may be just what's needed.
Organs have a very wide frequency range, and I'd be surprised if the built in mic's could cope with pedals! but you probably wouldn't notice the lack of bass on your average hi-fI.
I didn't get the Sound Devices machine in the end, couldn't justify the price, plus, I didn't like the powering options, it was all too much bother.
I've been out on a couple of field recordings with the DR100 and I'm more than pleased, the recordings are super clean, hardly any noise at all. I'm using an Audio Technica 4073a, recording at 24/96, it's way more than good enough for what I want to do, nature recordings, sound effects etc.
Hi, so you are doing mono recording with an external mic most of the time? Just trying to understand what people are finding the DR100 mkIII useful for, thanks!

Last edited by dariva; 7th September 2017 at 05:18 PM.. Reason: wrong gear model
Old 7th September 2017
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dariva View Post
Hi, so you are doing mono recording with an external mic most of the time? Just trying to understand what people are finding the DR100 mkII useful for, thanks!
I think he bought the DR100mkIII.
Old 7th September 2017
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
I think he bought the DR100mkIII.
Thanks, edited the recorder model! We all do need to be exact when talking recorders, that's for sure
Old 7th September 2017
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dariva View Post
Thanks, edited the recorder model! We all do need to be exact when talking recorders, that's for sure
Especially because the mkIII is such a step up from the mkII.
Old 8th September 2017
  #59
Quote:
Originally Posted by dariva View Post
Having a bit of hard time to find out which are the newer ones besides the DR-100 MK III. In an ideal world, it would have been a 4 track recorder, so one could use the internal mics and the external inputs simultaneously, on separate channels of course. So which one of those Tascams are the newest 4 track capable recording boxes? Thanks!
That would be the DR-70D. The newer version uses Burrbrown OPA opamps, the original (mine) used NE5532 opamps. I changed those to LME49720MA, but there is no need on the current new product.

The DR-70D does have the built in omni mics, they are ok in a pinch. With 4 channels you can run those and another external pair. I used mine over the weekend with a set of my AKG 460 mics. I used some Mogami 3080 digital AES/EBU 110 ohm 20' cables and all I can say is wow, that stuff is way more open than any audio mic cable. Get it from Redco, highly recommended.
Old 8th September 2017
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
That would be the DR-70D. The newer version uses Burrbrown OPA opamps, the original (mine) used NE5532 opamps. I changed those to LME49720MA, but there is no need on the current new product.

The DR-70D does have the built in omni mics, they are ok in a pinch. With 4 channels you can run those and another external pair. I used mine over the weekend with a set of my AKG 460 mics. I used some Mogami 3080 digital AES/EBU 110 ohm 20' cables and all I can say is wow, that stuff is way more open than any audio mic cable. Get it from Redco, highly recommended.
Thanks for the clarification! I am also looking at Tascam DR-44WL - also a 4 track recorder in a smaller form, potentially easier to carry around plus some wifi features.
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