Portable Recorder with low noise floor? - Gearslutz.com
Portable Recorder with low noise floor?
Old 25th April 2012
  #1
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Portable Recorder with low noise floor?

Im trying to find a robust high quality portable recorder to record outdoor sounds and other sounds as well (not music) that has a minimal noise floor

i´ve been looking at the:
- Tascam DR-07 MkII
- Zoom H4n

i´m not touching anything made by Edirol even with a 5 foot pole since all products i´ve bought that were Edirol has broken down..
(soundcard, midi keyboard, recorder)

i read the that the Sony PCMD50 is one of the best but it´s twice the price and way bigger so that one is out for me

i want it to have a mic input since i got a Rode NT4 that i might want to use on occation..

EDIT: i found a recorder comparison and so far seems like the Tascam DR-07 MkII has the lowest noisefloor at least from the ones compared in that test: http://magazine.dv247.com/2011/06/17...er-comparison/

Most of them had a horrible amount of noise

but between the Tascam DR-07 MkII:
http://soundcloud.com/robin-heyworth/tascam-dr07

and

Zoom H4n:
http://soundcloud.com/robin-heyworth/zoom-h4-n

the Tascam seems to have less noise but does have slightly muffled sound compared to the Zoom...
so the lower noise floor on the Tascam might just be because it doesn´t record as much of the high end and mid as the Zoom does

i´d love to hear both recording some bassier effect sounds.. since the Tascam might be better for low end... hard to tell how the Zoom would do in such a recording

any thoughts?

Last edited by Sienis; 25th April 2012 at 01:26 PM.. Reason: found new info again
Old 25th April 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Sony PCM D50 is worth its price.

Check out its cousin, the PCM M10. Unbelievably low noise floor.
Old 25th April 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 

The link below has a good list of the recorders available and their noise floors. Note that my Zoom H2 sits at the bottom of the list, probably explains why it sounds so crappy and why I'm too in the market for a new quiet portable recorder. Been looking at the M10 as well but looks like it is no longer in production.

Avisoft Bioacoustics - Microphone Input Noise Comparision

Some good reviews of some audio recorders with some spoken word audio samples (so you can hear the self noise) are available here:

Transom
Old 25th April 2012
  #4
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Thanx guys!!

In the end those tests make me more certain about what i want to buy..

The Transom link was very useful!

but damnit.. the Sony PCM-D50 does sound 40% better than the Zoom H4n that i was leaning towards..

the Sony PCM-M10 sounds pretty good too.. better than the Zoom H4n as well..
guess i´m dropping Zoom all together now and will be looking for Sony
Old 25th April 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
Yes the Sony is good but no xlr input for your Nt4.

Look at the avisoft list. The second in the list is the FR2LE. It's really the top on the noise criteria. And it has plenty of other advantages for outdoor recordings.
Old 25th April 2012
  #6
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
i got a small mic jack cable as well for the NT4

hmm.. the Fostex FR2-LE seem really big n bulky... think i´d rather have something that i can bring with me to gigs in other countries where i can record just random outdoor sounds
Old 25th April 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
firby's Avatar
 

I had a zoom something and I took it back and bought marantz. The zoom was a piece of junk. I felt like I really dodged a bullet by taking that thing back within the return window. My needs are different from yours - I don't need an XLR input although that zoom had them. Anyways, the zoom was pretty dog gone junky and it was junk.

I also was using it for outdoor sounds. I got binaural mics for the marantz and I am quite happy. The Marantz has made it onto several tracks for release.
Old 25th April 2012
  #8
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
i duno which one you have but i listened to the Marantz PMD 661 and the noise level was noticeably higher than the Sony´s...

thing is when i record outdoors i will mostly use the built-in mics and then most of the time do some compressing/limiting on the WAV file to hear the sounds that are further away so the noise level needs to be very low

i got my Rode NT4 just in case i want to try it out if it´s any better than the built-in mics.. which i suspect it is.. but i´m guessing about 80% of my recording will be done on the built-in mics since i record abroad in other countries and don´t wanna carry my expensive NT4 with me..
but i want to have the option to use it if i want

i would not have space for it anyway since i need most of the space for my gear and clothes
Old 4th June 2012
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anthonythecat View Post
The link below has a good list of the recorders available and their noise floors. Note that my Zoom H2 sits at the bottom of the list, probably explains why it sounds so crappy and why I'm too in the market for a new quiet portable recorder. Been looking at the M10 as well but looks like it is no longer in production.

Avisoft Bioacoustics - Microphone Input Noise Comparision

Some good reviews of some audio recorders with some spoken word audio samples (so you can hear the self noise) are available here:

Transom
-95 db noise level on the H2, sounds quite low to me, try this test, load a piece of music into your DAW and normalise it to -95db, play it back and see what you hear. I suspect you will struggle to hear anything at all.

I noticed the Zoom H4n being used by Gary Barlow, to record bits for what may very well become one of the biggest selling records of 2012.

Sing - Gary Barlow & The Commonwealth Band featuring Military Wives - YouTube

so it can't be that bad.
Old 4th June 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
jeremy.c.'s Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by firby View Post
I had a zoom something and I took it back and bought marantz. The zoom was a piece of junk. I felt like I really dodged a bullet by taking that thing back within the return window. My needs are different from yours - I don't need an XLR input although that zoom had them. Anyways, the zoom was pretty dog gone junky and it was junk.

I also was using it for outdoor sounds. I got binaural mics for the marantz and I am quite happy. The Marantz has made it onto several tracks for release.
That's not exactly helpful as Zoom has a range of products. I've been using the H4n for years, used on multiple short films and for interviews with the internal mics as well as a shotgun in and never had a failure, breakdown, random disassembly or too much noise. It's extremely flexible and handles really loud bands as easily as quiet nature sounds.
Perhaps the Marantz is better, and definitely suited better to you, but the Zoom is definitely not junk.
Old 5th June 2012
  #12
Gear Head
 

The pmd661 has basically the same noise level as the d50. I recommend an oade modded 661 which will decrease the noise level even more.
Old 7th July 2012
  #13
Gear Head
 

don't want to start the same thread, but have one more issue. Which one is the most accurate and "sharp" when it comes to very close sound-recording? e.g.: fire crackles, wooden creaks, tiny taps, springs and that kind of field recordings, when the task is to capture close, sometimes tiny sources.

signal-to-noise factor along with bassy, rich sounds as much as possible
Old 13th July 2012
  #14
Gear interested
 

Have you considered a Sound Devices product? I'm looking into the 552 myself...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sienis View Post
Im trying to find a robust high quality portable recorder to record outdoor sounds and other sounds as well (not music) that has a minimal noise floor

i´d love to hear both recording some bassier effect sounds.. since the Tascam might be better for low end... hard to tell how the Zoom would do in such a recording

any thoughts?
Old 13th July 2012
  #15
Gear Addict
 
Jaymz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by trumpetlore View Post
Have you considered a Sound Devices product? I'm looking into the 552 myself...
The 552 is a mixer with a backup recorder. A 702 would be cheaper, smaller, have better pre's and better A/D conversion.
Old 7th September 2015
  #16
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremy.c. View Post
That's not exactly helpful as Zoom has a range of products. I've been using the H4n for years, used on multiple short films and for interviews with the internal mics as well as a shotgun in and never had a failure, breakdown, random disassembly or too much noise. It's extremely flexible and handles really loud bands as easily as quiet nature sounds.
Perhaps the Marantz is better, and definitely suited better to you, but the Zoom is definitely not junk.
at4040->Marantz Pmd 661-> pro tools 24/48 000
test
https://soundcloud.com/fonografist/a...rophone-at4040
Old 7th September 2015
  #17
Gear Maniac
Depends on your budget.

The Sonys, Zooms, Tascams and all the rest are a long way off from the Nagra Seven in terms of preamp and conversion quality. A long way off...

I have a Sony PCM D100 and it is good considering its size and convenience. The preamps are clean enough that you can use them along with an outboard phantom power supply for decent results with condensers. I like to keep it in my camera bag when shooting stills to collect sound to go with pictures. It's also great for use with the Soundman binaural mics and the Aquarian hydrophones. However, as I said, it is a far cry from the Nagra Seven or the SD702.

Last edited by bwanajim; 7th September 2015 at 07:49 PM..
Old 8th September 2015
  #18
I get excellent results from my Tascam DR-70D fitted with National LME opamps. Noise is not a problem, even less so with higher output condenser mics. I've yet to hear any hiss from it so far.

SD might be better, but is it 10x better? The price is 10x more. I'd rather put the savings into great mics.
Old 9th September 2015
  #19
Gear Maniac
Hardly something you can buy off the shelf, or even have done for a set fee, Jim. And, if I remember correctly, it's a bugger of a job to DIY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
I get excellent results from my Tascam DR-70D fitted with National LME opamps. Noise is not a problem, even less so with higher output condenser mics. I've yet to hear any hiss from it so far.

SD might be better, but is it 10x better? The price is 10x more. I'd rather put the savings into great mics.
Old 9th September 2015
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Over on TapersSection some comparisons were made (but nothing like a proper bench test) and the consensus seemed to be that modding the DR-70D didn't cause an obvious difference in noise floor - not sure if the mod was identical to Jim's, however.
Old 9th September 2015
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Maybe consider this (if you have an iPhone):

RØDE Microphones - i-XY

Specified (Rode specs are usually reasonably reliable) self noise is 18dB(A) - about the same as my Schoeps MK8 fig 8, only 3dB worse than the MK41. I assume A/D conversion is done in the device so no issue about iPhone "preamps". Mic physical array is similar to handhelds like the H4n ...

I intend to invest in a field test for this device in the near future.
Old 9th September 2015
  #22
Lives for gear
 

(BTW, note that the original poster hasn't been active for three years so he is unlikely to be still awaiting our opinions...)
Old 9th September 2015
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozpeter View Post
Over on TapersSection some comparisons were made (but nothing like a proper bench test) and the consensus seemed to be that modding the DR-70D didn't cause an obvious difference in noise floor - not sure if the mod was identical to Jim's, however.
Noise is dominated by the input transistor pair at higher gains so the opamp noise is washed out. At lower gains the opamp noise dominates and it's very quiet now. The sonics are also far better with the added slew rates and decreased THD. I also added tiny NOS Wima polyprop film bypass caps to the phantom blocking caps, another large improvement. The transients are now excellent when they were damped stock.
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