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Portable recorder for classical chamber music Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 8th January 2017
  #31
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Antonio,

As others have said, I do use CM3s with a DR-70D to record classical / all-acoustic music for the school groups myself and my colleagues direct, and also the occasional choir concert I perform in. The quality is certainly good enough for what I am doing, so long as you stay away from the HIGH+ gain range which is very noisy. 95% of the time I'm using the MID range, which seems to work best for music with a wide dynamic range.

So, YES the 70D will be quiet enough with your CM3s for chamber music. I find that the self noise is a non-issue (again if you stay away from HIGH+), compared to the HVAC in the churches and halls where I am recording, which is the constant annoyance and has me reaching for iZotope RX frequently.

I had my 70D modified according to Jim Williams' specifications, which did not lower the self-noise but did make a noticeable improvement in the treble clarity. Previously I was using a Sound Devices MixPre feeding a Sony PCM-M10, but the modified 70D equals the performance of those two, to my ears. The quality of the stock 70D is certainly very good on its own though.

Attached are two tracks of the CM3 with my pre-modified 70D. This is our high school wind ensemble, at close over / behind conductor position with CM3 angled down in NOS spacing.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z6v58ole92...2003.flac?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/l9hxutprri...2002.flac?dl=0

The 70D does have some operational quirks and annoyances that take getting used to. I collected all of that here (scroll down to "known issues").

All of that said, if you do not ever need 4 inputs, I would definitely buy a DR-100 mkIII right now if I were in your situation. Given the parts used, the recording quality is likely going to be a step up from the 70D, and you get ganged gain control (not possible on 70D) as well as the DUAL REC feature from the 70D to record a set of lower-level safety tracks. That last feature is absolutely essential for recording wide dynamic range material when you may not have the opportunity for a proper sound check.

Good luck,

Anthony
Old 8th January 2017
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
The little tascam units are perfectly good recorders, but may not provide adequate clean gain for the CM3s. The DR60 or DR70 would be a fine match with mics like the Neumann km184 and similar. Since I would be wary that any of the entry level portable recorders has adequate gain for the CM3s, and since the recorders that can adequately drive the CM3s, such as the SD702, are quite expensive, I would suggest investing in a pair of higher end mics which will match up better with an affordable recorder like the DR70.
I read about the CM3 needing lots of clean gain many times on this forum before buying the CM3s, but with the 70D there's no problem at all, in spite of the CM3s output impedance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
I believe the preamps in the 70 are the same as those in the new v of the DR100.
It's actually the upgrade to the 70D, the DR-701D that has the same preamps as those in the DR-100 mkIII, or at the very least they use the same opamps - TI OPA1652. The 70D is a different design using lower-quality NE5532A opamps.

I suppose the 701D is another one for Antonio to consider if two mic inputs is not enough.
Old 8th January 2017
  #33
Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
... you get ganged gain control (not possible on 70D) as well as the DUAL REC feature from the 70D to record a set of lower-level safety tracks. That last feature is absolutely essential for recording wide dynamic range material when you may not have the opportunity for a proper sound check.

Good luck,

Anthony
Anthony, any insights on how the Dual-Rec function works? I looked over at Tascam and the information there wasn't helpful. I'm guessing that either:
  1. The A/D converter has plenty of headroom (maybe the equivalent of 28 or more bits internally?) above the analog preamp and the recorder writes one signal 12 dB lower than another, so that if the full undistorted analog signal is hotter than 24 bits the -12 db version won't be, or;
  2. They drop the analog gain 12 dB, and digitally trim one signal 12 dB hotter before writing it to file.
If they aren't doing one of those two, I'm at a loss as to how they avoid overload within the preamp itself, in which case you're going to record a distorted signal no matter what, with one being 12 dB lower. It's a neat concept, I'm just trying to figure out if/how it protects against distortion in the analog domain. Maybe it doesn't, since that distortion may be thought pleasing, and will certainly be nicer sounding than carrying it through and clipping in the digital domain.

If you've had tracks where the "normal" was clipping and the "safety" wasn't, can you tell us how the safety sounded?

Edit - thanks also for your comments about the gain needed on the CM3s vs the 70D.
Old 8th January 2017
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
Anthony, any insights on how the Dual-Rec function works? I looked over at Tascam and the information there wasn't helpful. I'm guessing that either:
  1. The A/D converter has plenty of headroom (maybe the equivalent of 28 or more bits internally?) above the analog preamp and the recorder writes one signal 12 dB lower than another, so that if the full undistorted analog signal is hotter than 24 bits the -12 db version won't be, or;
  2. They drop the analog gain 12 dB, and digitally trim one signal 12 dB hotter before writing it to file.
If they aren't doing one of those two, I'm at a loss as to how they avoid overload within the preamp itself, in which case you're going to record a distorted signal no matter what, with one being 12 dB lower. It's a neat concept, I'm just trying to figure out if/how it protects against distortion in the analog domain. Maybe it doesn't, since that distortion may be thought pleasing, and will certainly be nicer sounding than carrying it through and clipping in the digital domain.

If you've had tracks where the "normal" was clipping and the "safety" wasn't, can you tell us how the safety sounded?
Tascam's documentation is very sparse and not frequently updated. That's why I made the 70D FAQ page I linked above, because the manual was just too confusing.

I believe it's the first option you listed. On the 70D you can actually set the DUAL REC tracks anywhere from -1 to -12 dB. I always use -12, and while I rarely need to use them, the -12 tracks simply sound like quieter duplicates.

The second method is how I believe they implement the digital limiter, which sadly adds 12dB of noise to the final recording, making it pretty much unusable for acoustic music. If you need good limiters, you probably have to purchase a higher tier recorder that uses analog limiters.

What's interesting is that when using the gain pots (which are just digital encoders) the gain adjusts in 2 dB steps, yet you can set DUAL REC and a couple other things in 1 dB increments. I found through my own testing that the gain is actually changing in 0.5 dB increments as you turn the pots, but when you stop moving them they settle into the closest 2 dB step. That's actually a helpful thing when matching levels given the lack of ganged channels.
Old 8th January 2017
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
Tascam's documentation is very sparse and not frequently updated. That's why I made the 70D FAQ page I linked above, because the manual was just too confusing.

I believe it's the first option you listed. On the 70D you can actually set the DUAL REC tracks anywhere from -1 to -12 dB. I always use -12, and while I rarely need to use them, the -12 tracks simply sound like quieter duplicates.

The second method is how I believe they implement the digital limiter, which sadly adds 12dB of noise to the final recording, making it pretty much unusable for acoustic music. If you need good limiters, you probably have to purchase a higher tier recorder that uses analog limiters.

What's interesting is that when using the gain pots (which are just digital encoders) the gain adjusts in 2 dB steps, yet you can set DUAL REC and a couple other things in 1 dB increments. I found through my own testing that the gain is actually changing in 0.5 dB increments as you turn the pots, but when you stop moving them they settle into the closest 2 dB step. That's actually a helpful thing when matching levels given the lack of ganged channels.
Thanks, that's helpful. I know that most ADCs are doing 1 bit sampling at some number of megahertz, and then mathematically writing out the PCM signal at the appropriate bit depth, so it make sense that as long as the max input to the ADC has sufficient headroom above the max output of the analog preamp, you can avoid adding additional distortion during the ADC process until it's time to write the actual PCM words at the required bit depth.

I'm going to do some experiments with the X32, and see if I can do something similar - bring in a source through one preamp to two channels, and on one channel leave it alone, and on the other digitally trim away 6 db. Then increase the source signal level until channel one is clipping digitally, and channel two isn't and compare the two channels outputs - If the trimmed channel isn't showing distortion, then I can use this technique when recording in the future. Of course, at some point if you've got too much gain you WILL overload the analog section...

Edit - well, my X32 experiment was a bust - while I could take a single preamp, and apply a digital trim on one channel, both channels showed identical clipped wave forms even though one was down by 12 dB. So I've got to assume the digital "trim point" in the X32 is AFTER the ADC has done its work and written out clipped 24 bit words, rather than in the ADC itself. Guess I'll just have to continue to be careful with setting preamp gain.

Last edited by TMetzinger; 9th January 2017 at 12:56 AM..
Old 8th January 2017
  #36
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First of all I would like to thank you again for all the helpful comments. I think I will go for the dr100 mk3 since the preamps are apparently quite good for its price and it would be very portable and also the battery life seems to ok too.

I have one final question about the dr100 mk3 though. Is it possible to record at the same time with the two XLR outputs and the internal mic on the device?
Old 9th January 2017
  #37
Quote:
Originally Posted by as1734 View Post
First of all I would like to thank you again all for the helpful comments. I think I will go for the dr100 mk3 since the preamps are apparently quite good for its price and it would be very portable and also the battery life seems to ok too.

I have one final question about the dr100 mk3 though. Is it possible to record at the same time with the two XLR outputs and the internal mic on the device?
It doesn't appear so - for that you'd want a multichannel recorder, like the DR-701D that Voltronic recommended. It has two built in omnis and supports four additional mics too. Somewhat different footprint than the DR-100mkIII
Old 9th January 2017
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
I'll think about your comment about overposting, but be assured that I'm not following you around just to argue with you personally.
For what it's worth, I appreciate the vast majority of the comments from BOTH of you. You're clearly knowledgeable and experienced and offer many useful insights and opinions.

Personally, I think the disagreements about Chinese manufacturing have been talked to death here. It seems those with entrenched views won't change their minds, so the constant resurrection of this issue feels pointless.

Aside from that one issue, I really appreciate all the contributions you both make, and hope to see them continue.
Old 9th January 2017
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
It doesn't appear so - for that you'd want a multichannel recorder, like the DR-701D that Voltronic recommended. It has two built in omnis and supports four additional mics too. Somewhat different footprint than the DR-100mkIII
I was just wondering why for example a (lower level?) Tascam DR-44wl is able to do that and a dr-100 mk3 not. I just thought that with the right placement a mix of the internal XY and a pair of externals could in some cases produce a nice result.
Old 9th January 2017
  #40
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DAD x-32
Old 9th January 2017
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by as1734 View Post
I have one final question about the dr100 mk3 though. Is it possible to record at the same time with the two XLR outputs and the internal mic on the device?
If you need/want this and overdub capability you should get a Zoom H6.
Old 9th January 2017
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by as1734 View Post
I was just wondering why for example a (lower level?) Tascam DR-44wl is able to do that and a dr-100 mk3 not. I just thought that with the right placement a mix of the internal XY and a pair of externals could in some cases produce a nice result.
I believe it all comes down to sales across as many market segments as possible. The DR-44WL is marketed as a "four-channel" recorder while the product page for the DR-100 mkIII says "the pinnacle of two-channel performance." I would say that given the hardware components and the fact that it actually can record four channels (but only two inputs to 4 channels using DUAL REC), the DR-100 mkIII is definitely capable of being a true four-channel recorder, but the firmware is specifically written to not give it that capability.

Quite simply, Tascam makes too many other devices that will record from 4+ inputs that they want to keep selling. The DR-44WL is also likely marketed towards the more casual home recordist who will set it on a shelf and control it via WiFi from their phone while seated at their instrument. Otherwise, we could be talking about why there isn't WiFi control in the DR-100 mkIII or any of their other newer recorders.

Another example of this: I've repeatedly Tascam customer service and tech support for the past year to implement channel ganging into the DR-70D as well as to make some fixes that I am certain could be remedied through a firmware update, but this unit clearly is no longer a priority for them. I suspect the reason why is the DR-701D is a clear upgrade to the DR-70D, so they are trying to drive users from one unit to the other. This is different from the DR-44WL vs. the DR-100 mkIII which are not quite the same "family" of recorders from a marketing standpoint.

I suppose all of this means that Tascam is over-saturating the market here with too many similar units, and they have to play these firmware limitation games to give each of the units sales viability. In sharp contrast, it seems Zoom has been hitting all of the right notes lately with the F series recorders with timely firmware updates which directly address user requests.
Old 9th January 2017
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltronic View Post
In sharp contrast, it seems Zoom has been hitting all of the right notes lately with the F series recorders with timely firmware updates which directly address user requests.
Can't imagine why they didn't implement overdub capability in the F4 and F8 recorders...
Old 9th January 2017
  #44
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I have the Zoom F4, and it is definitely upscale from the cheaper recorders mentioned here. The jury is still out on whether the F4 (and the F8) are durable enough for professional film use. The audio quality is very very close to the more expensive recorders.

The F4 is my first "real" digital recorder because I could not afford something "good enough" prior to it. Whether the $650 is within your budget range is really the only question. It will certainly do the job.
Old 10th January 2017
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
I have the Zoom F4, and it is definitely upscale from the cheaper recorders mentioned here. The jury is still out on whether the F4 (and the F8) are durable enough for professional film use. The audio quality is very very close to the more expensive recorders.

The F4 is my first "real" digital recorder because I could not afford something "good enough" prior to it. Whether the $650 is within your budget range is really the only question. It will certainly do the job.

I would be very curious to know how the Zoom F4 would compete soundwise to the Tascam dr-100 mk3 if both would be used (in my case) with Line Audio cm3's. Specifically for recording classical music (string quartet) live in concert.

Does anyone had a chance to compare the preamps on both devices?
Old 10th January 2017
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by as1734 View Post
I would be very curious to know how the Zoom F4 would compete soundwise to the Tascam dr-100 mk3 if both would be used (in my case) with Line Audio cm3's. Specifically for recording classical music (string quartet) live in concert.

Does anyone had a chance to compare the preamps on both devices?
Same here. String quartet is my primary use case. I've been using a pair of CM3 with a MOTU unit connected to my laptop. I've run into a few hiccups on the laptop, which is unfortunately used as my primary computer for everything in my life. I've been looking at the F4/F8 for a while.
Old 11th January 2017
  #47
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In the film world, the way to figure out which to get seems to be to rent them and try them out on your type of project.

It might be hard to find someone who has both recorders that have only been out a couple of months. And then you want them to have the same mic's you do. Finally you then have to take their word for how they compare. Better to rent them, before dropping your money.

Now I can tell you the F4 is better for film use than the DR100, but that is what it was designed for. I kind of suspect that for music, it may be 6 of one and a half-dozen of the other; but I do not know that from experience.
Old 11th January 2017
  #48
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Both recorders are new enough and priced high enough compared to other less expensive options that it would be difficult to find someone who has compared them using cm3s.
Old 11th January 2017
  #49
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I would like to tell you all that I have decided to place an order on the Tascam dr-100 mk3 I have ordered it at gear4music and it should arrive this week in switzerland. Since I have this month some quartet concerts coming up I will try the recorder with the cm3's in the field and post the link here if somebody wants to hear the result.

Thank you all for helping me to make a decision.

A
Old 11th January 2017
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by as1734 View Post
I would like to tell you all that I have decided to place an order on the Tascam dr-100 mk3 I have ordered it at gear4music and it should arrive this week in switzerland. Since I have this month some quartet concerts coming up I will try the recorder with the cm3's in the field and post the link here if somebody wants to hear the result.

Thank you all for helping me to make a decision.

A
Good luck, I hope you love it! Please do share samples once you've got them. I would like to hear the CM3/DR100 combo, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Old 11th January 2017
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by as1734 View Post
... I will try the recorder with the cm3's in the field and post the link here if somebody wants to hear the result.
Yes please!
Old 12th January 2017
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
If you need/want this and overdub capability you should get a Zoom H6.
Not that the OP indicated a need for overdubbing, but have you used the overdubbing feature of the H6? It is not terribly flexible since a new input must be used for each dub.

Fran
Old 12th January 2017
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
Not that the OP indicated a need for overdubbing, but have you used the overdubbing feature of the H6? It is not terribly flexible since a new input must be used for each dub.
Yes, it's clumsy, but better than not having it, no other machine offer this feature as far as I know which I find ridiculous.
Old 13th January 2017
  #54
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Overdubbing?

You guys don't use a DAW?

Why would you want to risk damaging your take?
Old 13th January 2017
  #55
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As a quality i´d say that i rather would stay with the laptop the duet and the cm3 Swedish mics. Very nice setup and not such a big thing..a new battery for computer will last around 3 hours surely
Old 13th January 2017
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
Overdubbing?

You guys don't use a DAW?

Why would you want to risk damaging your take?
What do you mean?
Old 13th January 2017
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
What do you mean?
Overdubbing means recording over the track without erasing it. It is an analog technique used with audio tape recorders. It was destructive, if you got a bad dub you destroyed the original recording.

You can do the same thing in a DAW without damaging anything. Just mix the two tracks.

I kind of get the idea that most people saying they want to overdub do not know what they are talking about. I think they are wanting to mix tracks in the digital recorder, I can not think of why they would want to do that. Maybe they do not own a computer?
Old 13th January 2017
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
Overdubbing means recording over the track without erasing it. It is an analog technique used with audio tape recorders. It was destructive, if you got a bad dub you destroyed the original recording.

You can do the same thing in a DAW without damaging anything. Just mix the two tracks.

I kind of get the idea that most people saying they want to overdub do not know what they are talking about. I think they are wanting to mix tracks in the digital recorder, I can not think of why they would want to do that. Maybe they do not own a computer?
Regardless of historical accuracy I think most people these days use the term overdubbing to refer to the process of multitrack recording one track (or group of tracks) at a time. So maybe you record the drums one day on a pair of tracks, then another time, in another place, you record bass and guitar on two more separate tracks. There's no mixing or combining happening. It's similar to the DAW workflow, except that you can't capture many (if any) alternate takes, depending on available track count.

It's a small niche. Classical guys don't do any such artificial layering. Most studio guys would use a full DAW and/or never go on location. For me, I've found this technique useful for capturing different acoustic spaces for different instruments. If you don't have a world class studio, there's a good chance that a nearby church or even a nightclub is a better recording space for certain instruments.

I have a vague memory that there was a Tori Amos album (maybe Boys for Pele?) done this way. They'd record a few tracks on location, take those back to the studio, and do a rough mix. Then they'd put that rough mix on to two tracks of a small portable multi track recorder and add a few more parts, then sub mix that, etc. until they had all the tracks from all the different spaces they wanted. My memory might be way off. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please clarify.
Old 13th January 2017
  #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graywolf View Post
Overdubbing means recording over the track without erasing it. It is an analog technique used with audio tape recorders. It was destructive, if you got a bad dub you destroyed the original recording.

You can do the same thing in a DAW without damaging anything. Just mix the two tracks.

I kind of get the idea that most people saying they want to overdub do not know what they are talking about. I think they are wanting to mix tracks in the digital recorder, I can not think of why they would want to do that. Maybe they do not own a computer?
This is not what overdubbing means...if you record over a track you will erase it, especially when recording to analog tape.

Overdubbing is the process of recording a new performance (on a different track(s)) while listening to prerecorded material. Lets say you already have a rough stereo mix of drums, bass, rhythm guitar and organ on channels 1 & 2, you can then record other instruments or vocals on other tracks...lead vox on channel 3 and harmonica on channel 4 for example without erasing the original rough mix of instruments that you already have recorded.

This is not a technique that's used for classical recordings, but overdubbing has been used in popular music production for decades.

The technique is very convenient for different reasons.....if you're on the road and need to record a musician or singer in a hotel room or backstage a festival for example. It's not always easy to arrange recordings in a studio and you're not always walking around with a Protools rig in your pocket. It is also an easy no fuss way for you to record song ideas when on the road, record the rhythm section one day during sound check and then overdub other instruments as the ideas and opportunity present themselves.

Many records were made using this technique, and a small (multitrack) digital recorder would offer an easy, no-fuss and convenient way of overdubbing parts on the road. Don't understand why manufacturers wouldn't add this feature to their machines.
Old 13th January 2017
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
This is not what overdubbing means...if you record over a track you will erase it, especially when recording to analog tape.
Since your very first statement is incorrect...

Professional tape recorders allow the erase head to be shut off, so you could record additional stuff over what was already there. And, that is what overdubbing means.

If you misuse the word, don't expect people to know what you mean.
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