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Edirol R-44 or Tascam DR-680 for Film work? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 11th February 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 

Talking Edirol R-44 or Tascam DR-680 for Film work?

hey all,

Just got pulled onto a production where the ProdCo producing it want to replace their existing Tascam P2-HD with something that can do 4 channels.

No go on spending $3000+ on and SD744T...we're looking at a sub $1500 budget if possible...low, I know.

So that leaves the Edirol R-44 and the Tascam DR-680.
My gut says that the Edirol R-44 seems higher end in it's features, but the DR-680 is getting a lot of fuss made about it.

This is going to be used for vocal work for an indie horror film, so clarity, accuracy, location reliability are all important.

Any thoughts/suggestions (other than an SD744t)??

Thanks!
Old 11th February 2011
  #2
Gear maniac
 

I'm using an Edirol R-44 modded by Oade. I can only say that i'm very happy and the results are pretty decent when compared with serious high end stuffs like sonosax or sound devices.
IMHO well worth the price (about 1000$).
Old 11th February 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 

The DR680 will work, but its TC is very incomplete and not jammable etc.. There are some threads here about its sound and operations, I would check those out ASAP. Like any complex portable recorder, you'll want to train yourself up on it before trying it on a fast-moving production, but if you are ok with what it lacks TC wise then it seems like a good choice for the $$. But make sure it will work with the workflow the production you are joining has mapped out for post, and maybe even do some live-fire testing before you start the job.

phil p
Old 11th February 2011
  #4
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

A colleague bought an R-44 before the DR-680 was released and he now uses my DR-680 quite frequently. He doesn't do film so there's no need for timecode. He told me just a few days ago that he would buy a DR-680 if he could do it over. The reason he mentioned first was less noise. He also, of course, likes having 8 channels.
Old 12th February 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
A colleague bought an R-44 before the DR-680 was released and he now uses my DR-680 quite frequently. He doesn't do film so there's no need for timecode. He told me just a few days ago that he would buy a DR-680 if he could do it over. The reason he mentioned first was less noise. He also, of course, likes having 8 channels.
I have two R44's, but no experience with the DR680. I could see the 8-channel thing being a benefit. I don't think the R44 preamps are noisy at all. Properly setting the sensitivity dial is key. Leave the middle gain knob at "noon" and adjust the outer sensitivity knob to set level.

I've been tempted at the idea of having one box instead of linking two for 8 tracks, but I also have the option of using two 4-tracks (having one for a backup).

Then again, I could have two DR680's...
Old 12th February 2011
  #6
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johnsound's Avatar
The R-44 build quality is better than the DR-680, but there's a custom PortaBrace available for the DR-680 which provides adequate protection. Since the last firmware upgrade, the DR-680 has the edge on the R-44 in terms of functionality and versatility and I'd say (having owned both) that the DR-680 also has the edge in terms of noise performance. The DR-680 is more power hungry (six channels of Phantom rather than four, for instance) but can be powered easily by a separate battery without having to fritz around with reverse polarity connectors. I use a Tekkeon, which gives me good mileage, depending on how I'm working.

I've just taken delivery of a Busman Audio modded DR-680 but haven't had a chance to use it anger yet. (Although it did arrive with one of the XLR latches broken, which is a pity.) I'll report at length when I have some time to make comparisons.

And my unmodified DR-680 will soon be for sale.

Regards,

John
Old 13th February 2011
  #7
Gear Head
 

This is all great info everyone! Really helpful!
Seems like the consensus is the Tascam 680, and I think for this production it'll be fine. The shooting schedule is VERY laid back and drawn out, so I'm not worried about getting up to speed (pun intended) on using it.

My second question is: Are any of the upgraded boxes offered by companies like Oades etc, that significant? I know this is a subjective question...

thanks again!
Old 13th February 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MttDvs View Post
This is all great info everyone! Really helpful!
Seems like the consensus is the Tascam 680, and I think for this production it'll be fine. The shooting schedule is VERY laid back and drawn out, so I'm not worried about getting up to speed (pun intended) on using it.

My second question is: Are any of the upgraded boxes offered by companies like Oades etc, that significant? I know this is a subjective question...

thanks again!
A lot of people like them. However, Oade mods are only avail on new equipment bought from Oade. Also, they will not discuss what their mods are, and only describe them in the most general terms. The only comparison files easily available are from them, so unless you know someone who has both a modded and an unmodded unit it is impossible to do any sort of meaningful comparison yourself. I would be interested in hearing about some double-blind testing done re these mods, but haven't heard of any.

phil p
Old 13th February 2011
  #9
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johnsound's Avatar
For me, one of the biggest advantages of the DR-680 over the R-44 is the accurate, repeatable and gang-able input gain setting. I use mine for A & B-Format recording and it's important that the input gains are matched. This involved recording tones on each channel of the R-44 and matching in the DAW: the DR-680 uses digital control of an analogue input gain control and you can match the gains and then gang the four controls together. I also tend to have a M/S set-up plugged in to the remaining two mic inputs and these can also be ganged, separately from the others. Now that there's M/S decoding on the DR-680, which was lacking in early versions of the firmware, it's become a very versatile machine.

Finally, when the DR-680 came out, a number of us got in touch with Tascam to make requests for future firmware upgrades and got a response first of all, and what we'd asked for shortly afterward, which was pretty good service, I think you'll agree.

With regard to the Busman mod, Chris will mod your own unit for $300 for all six mic inputs. He claims that the mod lowers the noise floor in the high-gain setting by 12dB, but as I said, I haven't had a chance to listen properly yet.

My R-44 was an Oade Brothers mod, that I picked up whilst I was in the States and I was very happy with the results, but I already like the DR-680 better in terms of work-flow.

Regards,

John
Old 14th February 2011
  #10
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

I have an R-44 and like it a lot. I use it mainly for recording classical ensembles. However, here are a few niggles:

M/S Decoding - if used during recording, it will cause what's recorded to the card and what's monitored to be the decoded signal. There's no option to monitor MS only, without recording a decoded signal. Currently I use a separate line mixer to monitor my MS recording so I don't record encoded tracks. The Tascam unit is reported to be able to monitor M/S (without affecting the recorded tracks - still not decoded).

Level setting - this is a little wierd, but OK once you get to know how it works. Each gain knob is really two knobs in one (outer and inner). The outer is the only one that matters as the inner adjusts the signal in the digital domain (after converters), but strangely the inner effects the level hitting the meters. The answer is to leave the inner knob alone, and just use the outer so that reading the meters is accurate. If the inner knob acted as an analog stage fine tuning adjustment, it would be immensely more useful.

If the R-44 had MS monitoring and a more logical (useful) gain setting, I would have no complaints at all.

The plusses for the R-44 is that it's extremely easy to use (aside from my niggles above). Mic pres are good and the sound quality is good. I've hit the limiters a few times and they seemed to work reasonably well. I also like the angled display because mine is almost always sitting on something like a chair or table and this makes viewing the screen easier.

-Tom
Old 14th February 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsound View Post
For me, one of the biggest advantages of the DR-680 over the R-44 is the accurate, repeatable and gang-able input gain setting. I use mine for A & B-Format recording and it's important that the input gains are matched.
I did not know this. I use a Tetramic and I would like to have this ability without messing with recording tones first.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #12
Gear interested
 

Tascam dr-680

Hi I love the DR-680 but it has flaws like it can not handle extended time out in the very hot desert and the switches have a tendency to change accidentally during movement when field recording sound effects. Aside from those items the DR-680 is a great value.

I am curious if the Mods are worthwhile.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #13
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by leddy View Post
I did not know this. I use a Tetramic and I would like to have this ability without messing with recording tones first.
If you use a Soundfield or Tetramic. there are just two recorders, as far as I know, that have the A-format/B-format monitoring available so you can monitor the microphone properly.

Those are the AETA 4MinX and the Nagra VI.

With the Nagra it's a free upgrade with the latest firmware. With the AETA it's an optional extra. AETA developed theirs in close co-operation with Soundfield in the UK as I understand it.

With other recorders you have to choose which of the capsules you listen to. I used to just listen to front left and front right (before I upgraded my Nagra to the latest firmware), but one is pointing down and the other is pointing up, so it's a compromise that does not really tell you what is going on.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #14
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

from the SoundDevices 788T user guide:

When recording four-channel B-format audio, the 788T headphone monitor can decode the B-format signal into L/R stereo. The 788T constructs a stereo signal using the W, X, and Y signals of the B-format. The Z-axis signal is not used. Similar to the 788T’s MS stereo monitoring, the stereo width is fixed for headphone monitoring. To record and monitor B-format signals, connect signals as follows:

SoundField > 788T > Resulting File Name (for monophonic fi le type)
W signal > input 1, track L > FILE _ 1.WAV
X signal > input 2, track R > FILE _ 2.WAV
Y signal > input 3, track A > FILE _ 3.WAV
Z signal > input 4, track B > FILE _ 4.WAV

SoundField files generated in other recorders or software applications can be copied to Compact- Flash or the 788T internal drive and can be played back and monitored in stereo. Make certain that channel assignments follow the order above for proper headphone decoding. If multiple monophonic SoundField .WAV files are named using the “_W, _X, _Y, _Z” suffixes, the 788T will recognize that these are multiple monophonic B-format files and will play them back in the proper track order.

The 788T can play back monophonic or polyphonic B-format fi les. There are two B-format monitoring selections, one for inputs and one for tracks. They are listed as INPUT B-FMT STEREO and TRACK B-FMT STEREO. For most recording and playback applications the track monitor selection is appropriate. If the user wants to hear the inputs at all times, the input monitor selection is appropriate.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
.

With other recorders you have to choose which of the capsules you listen to. I used to just listen to front left and front right (before I upgraded my Nagra to the latest firmware), but one is pointing down and the other is pointing up, so it's a compromise that does not really tell you what is going on.
On the R44, I can monitor all 4 tracks together in mono. I'd rather do that than hear each track by itself (which it can also do of course).
Old 3rd October 2012
  #16
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
When recording four-channel B-format audio, the 788T headphone monitor can decode the B-format signal into L/R stereo. The 788T constructs a stereo signal using the W, X, and Y signals of the B-format. The Z-axis signal is not used. Similar to the 788T’s MS stereo monitoring, the stereo width is fixed for headphone monitoring. To record and monitor B-format signals, connect signals as follows:

SoundField > 788T > Resulting File Name (for monophonic fi le type)
W signal > input 1, track L > FILE _ 1.WAV
X signal > input 2, track R > FILE _ 2.WAV
Y signal > input 3, track A > FILE _ 3.WAV
Z signal > input 4, track B > FILE _ 4.WAV

SoundField files generated in other recorders or software applications can be copied to Compact- Flash or the 788T internal drive and can be played back and monitored in stereo. Make certain that channel assignments follow the order above for proper headphone decoding. If multiple monophonic SoundField .WAV files are named using the “_W, _X, _Y, _Z” suffixes, the 788T will recognize that these are multiple monophonic B-format files and will play them back in the proper track order.

The 788T can play back monophonic or polyphonic B-format fi les. There are two B-format monitoring selections, one for inputs and one for tracks. They are listed as INPUT B-FMT STEREO and TRACK B-FMT STEREO. For most recording and playback applications the track monitor selection is appropriate. If the user wants to hear the inputs at all times, the input monitor selection is appropriate.
That's great - but the Tetramic and the SPS200 output A-format - the Nagra VI and AETA 4MinX can cope with this as well.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #17
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by leddy View Post
On the R44, I can monitor all 4 tracks together in mono. I'd rather do that than hear each track by itself (which it can also do of course).
But this gives you no idea of what is happening as it equals a mono omni mic. at that point.

That's why being able to monitor in proper stereo is a good idea.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #18
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
That's great - but the Tetramic and the SPS200 output A-format - the Nagra VI and AETA 4MinX can cope with this as well.
John, you said "there are just two recorders, as far as I know, that have the A-format/B-format monitoring available"

I'm just expanding the list with information about the SD788T so readers will know about another option. There may yet be others neither of us knows about. If accurate information is good, more complete information is better.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #19
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
John, you said "there are just two recorders, as far as I know, that have the A-format/B-format monitoring available"

I'm just expanding the list with information about the SD788T so readers will know about another option. There may yet be others neither of us knows about. If accurate information is good, more complete information is better.
I wasn't doubting you, just pointing out that it was B-format only on the 788T and the others I mentioned did A-format as well.

And I agree that complete information is better.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #20
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I wasn't doubting you, just pointing out that it was B-format only on the 788T and the others I mentioned did A-format as well.

And I agree that complete information is better.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
That's why being able to monitor in proper stereo is a good idea.
Certianly, if your equipment allows.


Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
But this gives you no idea of what is happening as it equals a mono omni mic. at that point.
I guess what I'm saying is that if you can make a mono omni sound good, the stereo should be fine. Especially with the ability to adjust it. Again, not as good as monitoring in stereo, but better than monitoring each capsule by itself.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #22
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johnsound's Avatar
I take it that neither the Nagra or the AETA have the facility to use the individual calibration files that are supplied with each TetraMic? Although it's not essential for basic checking, it won't be the same sound that you get on decode using the software supplied. As the SPS200 doesn't use the same system (although Len will calibrate and supply these for an SPS200 as a paid-for service) I imagine it's not an issue.

Regards,

John
Old 5th October 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by sounddogs.com View Post
Hi I love the DR-680 but it has flaws like it can not handle extended time out in the very hot desert and the switches have a tendency to change accidentally during movement when field recording sound effects. Aside from those items the DR-680 is a great value.

I am curious if the Mods are worthwhile.
Im not sure it would like the cold and damp either
Can you label tracks easily ?
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