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My ideal Smithsonian field recording rig -- RME Babyface vs USBPre2 or Lyra 1
Old 29th November 2012
  #1
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My ideal Smithsonian field recording rig -- RME Babyface vs USBPre2 or Lyra 1

I don't really have a dilemma or an urgent purchase since I already own the USBPre2 so I have the capability to make a decent-sounding recording by plugging a USB cable into my laptop.

I'm not in a rush to dump the USBPre2 since it seems to be robust. There are no breakaway cables to break away. And I don't see myself going for the ultimate portable devices, the Nagras, or the Sound Devices field recorders.

That's because 99 percent of my recording is done at home, also I'm not really into sound on sound, or building tracks, I just like the sound of live performances, even if it's me, and even if there are mistakes.

So...

For some strange reason I'm looking at the Lyra 1 as perhaps the top of the heap -- without getting into too many separate components. I realize I'd have to get one or two channels of mic pre with this option. But in the end I wonder how much better the sound quality will be?

Also as a comment -- it's odd that the Lyra 1 only has one mic amp. Are they planning to satisfy that small market segment of rap singers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JFXHs_Efe8
Old 29th November 2012
  #2
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I have a USB pre2 for remote things and an Orpheus for the house.

The Orpheus is crap

The usbpre2 is ridiculously good for price. Unless you need more channels, just stick with the sound devices. The prism is better, but the SD is much much much better than the price would suggest or anything else near the price bracket.
Old 29th November 2012
  #3
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Thanks nnajar. I think the Lyra 1 purchase can be postponed indefinitely, even if it seems to be perfect, or pretty close. But it's tempting...
Old 29th November 2012
  #4
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No laptop is 'an ideal field recorder'.
Old 30th November 2012
  #5
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In theory I could justify a two-track Sound Devices recorder, and how sweet it would be to just roll tape -- but I don't remember crashing my Mac with the USBPre 2. It doesn't require any specialized software. Garage Band, a seven year of copy of CuBase Le, or obviously Reaper -- and you're off to the races.

Seriously an SD recorder or better would be good, but I'm look first at better ADDA conversion and mic amps.
Old 30th November 2012
  #6
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Field recording must be robust.
Old 30th November 2012
  #7
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I understand. I think I'm labelling what trying to do with the term -- field recording -- which puts it in with the folkloric song gatherers, and film crews. The idea behind my 'incorrect' use of the term is to say I don't want to do sound on sound, or multitrack beyond 2 channels.

If you're taking your gear out of the house, outdoors, or piled into milk crates, it is probably better to use armoured equipment (perhaps carried in padded and weather-resistant bags). Got it.
Old 30th November 2012
  #8
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The Lyra will sound amazing (of course its Prism). Babyface now works with Ipad, could that be a "field recorder" option for you?
Old 30th November 2012
  #9
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Hey Captain. I think you would need a battery pack or something. The Babyface needs some juice from an extra DC input. Is that a common accessory? I think this is also the case with the USBPre2. There is an extra unit, but is it battery powered or connected to a wall outlet?
Old 3rd December 2012
  #10
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I'm not sure about a battery pack. I use mine plugged into the mains when i record with Ipad
Old 3rd December 2012 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain***go View Post
I'm not sure about a battery pack. I use mine plugged into the mains when i record with Ipad
So it's portable in the sense you could use DC/AC inverter in your car, or use it with a laptop. That's still pretty good. If one wants walking around portability then you begin looking at standalone recorders.
Old 3rd December 2012
  #12
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I think I see the value in sticking to what I have -- my USBPres is so new there's not even a scratch on it. Also the rig is used nonprofessionally, and the next updates to sound cards like Duet, or Babyface, will most likely enable a connection to Thunderbolt, higher speed I/O standards. I guess I should enjoy my new mics with what I already have before spending an equal amount of cash on new mic amps and interfaces.
Old 3rd December 2012
  #13
I'm planning to get SD USBpre2 soon, and use it as mic pre/ADC feed to Tascam DR100MkII. There is a SPDIF out from the USBpre2, and SPDIF in to the Tascam. Power to the USBpre 2 will be from Energizer power pack 8000. Phantom power for the mics is Denecke PS-1A. I've used Denecke/Tascam combination, but little frustrate with the quality of preamps in Tascam.

Do you think this is going to work, I mean, SPDIF in/out using USBpre as standalone unit?
Old 3rd December 2012
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
I'm planning to get SD USBpre2 soon, and use it as mic pre/ADC feed to Tascam DR100MkII. There is a SPDIF out from the USBpre2, and SPDIF in to the Tascam. Power to the USBpre 2 will be from Energizer power pack 8000. Phantom power for the mics is Denecke PS-1A. I've used Denecke/Tascam combination, but little frustrate with the quality of preamps in Tascam.

Do you think this is going to work, I mean, SPDIF in/out using USBpre as standalone unit?
It works wonderfully
Old 4th December 2012
  #15
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So the Energizer power pack 8000 takes one end of a USB cable? The other end goes into the USBPre2?

It certainly is nice to lose the laptop.
Old 4th December 2012 | Show parent
  #16
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Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
So the Energizer power pack 8000 takes one end of a USB cable? The other end goes into the USBPre2?

It certainly is nice to lose the laptop.
XP8000 has a USB A port (5V output), and the other end of the USBPre2 is USB B port (the square one), so it should work technically, but I need to test how long it can go, if I use the phantom power of the USBpre2, etc.

So just two good quality condensor mics, two battery (9V) powered phantom power supplies, USBPre2, SPDIF cable, Tascam DR100MkII, a monitoring headphone, probably a couple of XP8000 pack (one for USBpre2, another for Tascam) are the mobile gear I'm thinking to carry for location recordings, if it is just for stereo.
Old 4th December 2012 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
XP8000 has a USB A port (5V output), and the other end of the USBPre2 is USB B port (the square one), so it should work technically, but I need to test how long it can go, if I use the phantom power of the USBpre2, etc.

So just two good quality condensor mics, two battery (9V) powered phantom power supplies, USBPre2, SPDIF cable, Tascam DR100MkII, a monitoring headphone, probably a couple of XP8000 pack (one for USBpre2, another for Tascam) are the mobile gear I'm thinking to carry for location recordings, if it is just for stereo.
Am I missing something? Is it because of your particular mics that you need batteries for the phantom power. In 'my world' I would get the phantom power from the mic cable connected to the USBPre2 (you need to throw a dip switch that says yes phantom power) and then I would supply power to the USBPre2 from the USB socket. The battery pack would be my power source for the USB port.

Of course I haven't tested this yet but it sounds correct to me.

In conclusion - the USBPre2 is able to supply phantom power to your microphones (at 48 volts). Nothing wrong with that. Do you need 130 volts?
Old 4th December 2012 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
I'm planning to get SD USBpre2 soon, and use it as mic pre/ADC feed to Tascam DR100MkII. There is a SPDIF out from the USBpre2, and SPDIF in to the Tascam. Power to the USBpre 2 will be from Energizer power pack 8000. Phantom power for the mics is Denecke PS-1A. I've used Denecke/Tascam combination, but little frustrate with the quality of preamps in Tascam.

Do you think this is going to work, I mean, SPDIF in/out using USBpre as standalone unit?
Let me say it again. Sorry - the USBPre2 is able to supply phantom power to your microphones (at 48 volts). Nothing wrong with that. Do you need 130 volts?
Old 4th December 2012 | Show parent
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
Am I missing something? Is it because of your particular mics that you need batteries for the phantom power.
No, it's just because of the current draw. I've used phantom power of Tascam DR100MkII for Sennheiser 8020s, but found the battery of the Tascam lasted only an hour and half with fully charged Li-ion plus 2 AA batteries. So, I had to connect XP8000 to the Tascam for long concerts. When I got the battery powered (9V) phantom, battery of the Tascam lasted 7 or 8 hours, obviously reducing the draw for the phantom. I just don't want to be worried about the battery level during the 2-3 hour recording. So, when I get USBpre2, I will test how long I can use the phantom of the USBpre anyway (I've got XP8000 as well as XP18000), but I'm a little paranoia about battery life, since I had too many occasions I was monitoring battery gauge, not the sound or multiple camcorders (they are also battery-only).
Old 4th December 2012
  #20
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Monitoring. What's that? In my scenario I'm just setting the level beforehand and then 'roll tape'. There's a limit to how far you can go when you're performing and recording at the same time. Otherwise I'd need to hire a remote sound engineer.
Old 2nd April 2013
  #21
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I left this thread inactive for a couple of months while I looked for a suitable mic amp -- Although there is a reasonable mic amp built into the Sound Devices USBPre2 interface, and I already had my Swedish Line Audio 2MP.

I was within days of ordering a DAV BG1 but instead I stumbled upon four channels of Raindirk RM3 at a guitar shop in Montreal (Steve's Music) that also sells several rack-mounted versions of DAV's mic amps and other stuff.

Part of my brain must be looking for opportunities to colour-coordinate with the rest of my gear. Case in point, my hifi preamp -- the English-made Quad 33 Control Unit that I purchased in 1976 after working in the Rockies at Jasper Park Lodge. Other Quad bits and pieces including the tuner and the power amp were bought as rewards for finishing my commerce degree. The case that houses the Raindirk mic amps perfectly matches or blends with the light green-grey of the Quads.

I've never heard a DAV mic amp with my own ears except on all these shootout tapes. I hope it is in the same league. Now I'm done with all this mic amp comparison -- and worry. I think my recording is pretty good as it is -- even without the top of the line ADDA.

Last edited by jacktadoussac; 3rd April 2013 at 05:23 AM.. Reason: add a sound file
Old 3rd April 2013 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
No laptop is 'an ideal field recorder'.
SD recorders are tiny laptops. They have a disk operating system on board and write to HDD's.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #23
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someone needs to come up with a little raspberry pi-esque battery powered bitbucket recorder with a tiny screen.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #24
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well, it *has* USB... should be fairly straightforward.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #25
I used to be rather anti-laptop in the field, but my tune has changed a bit on that. Perhaps not ideal for, say, and actual "recording in a field", but as a means of recording concerts, rehearsals, and sessions, the laptop for me has actually done an absolutely stellar job.

As long as I make sure I have enough memory free on the HD, I am problem free.

And having the laptop allows me editing functionality on-the-spot. For example, a few months back I was recording a great funky jazz band in the guitarists house (one of my favorite aesthetics, the house record!) and they liked half of one take and half of another. So instead of taking it home and seeing if I could make it work, I cut the edit right there in front of everyone, got it sounding pristine, and then we moved on. No uncertainty remaining :-).

I know stability has been a concern for laptop users in the past, but as long as one keeps their machine running clean and fast, this shouldn't really be an issue anymore.

IIRC, and I may not be, but I believe Dahong Seetoo uses 2 laptops as his mobile rig for the studio-style stuff. Not 100% sure about his live concert tracking though....

Anyways, food for thought.
Old 3rd April 2013 | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
SD recorders are tiny laptops. They have a disk operating system on board and write to HDD's.

With a proper battery they can last a day and will survive brutal treatment
only military laptops might do that!
Military laptops do not have ace pre amps as yet.
Old 3rd April 2013
  #27
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I'm well-sold on laptops even though I see the value of being able to record with a mic on a stick and a proper Sound Devices or similar rig in a padded bag. But when the time comes to consider a dedicated recorder even a $2000 budget would pay for one or two high-end laptops, maybe three or four, or a laptop and a tablet.

I wonder how easy it is to expand these two-channel interfaces like the USBPre2 or Babyface. Can I connect, using one of the digital connections, a Babyface into a USBPre2 to reap the benefits of four synchronized tracks on one laptop? Is this easy peasey or is it an unstable pain in the neck?
Old 3rd April 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
I'm well-sold on laptops even though I see the value of being able to record with a mic on a stick and a proper Sound Devices or similar rig in a padded bag. But when the time comes to consider a dedicated recorder even a $2000 budget would pay for one or two high-end laptops, maybe three or four, or a laptop and a tablet.

I wonder how easy it is to expand these two-channel interfaces like the USBPre2 or Babyface. Can I connect, using one of the digital connections, a Babyface into a USBPre2 to reap the benefits of four synchronized tracks on one laptop? Is this easy peasey or is it an unstable pain in the neck?
No but you can connect 4channels. The SD people told me they have tried up to 10 channels and that was not very successful....
Old 3rd April 2013 | Show parent
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
With a proper battery they can last a day and will survive brutal treatment
only military laptops might do that!
Military laptops do not have ace pre amps as yet.
Neither "military laptops" (whatever they are) or SD recorders will run Pyramix either.

Horses for courses. But the modern laptop or fanless embedded PC's (closest to SD or Nagra) are phenomenally reliable bits of gear. We put them on mining machines in 55 deg C sunlight and a few G's of vibration running 24x7 and they keep going. MS Windows as well.
Old 3rd April 2013 | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nnajar View Post
No but you can connect two USB pres to a hub and get 4 channels. The SD people told me they have tried up to 10 channels and that was successful....
That's a good thing to remember. Thanks for that. I'm probably going to take some time before I do anything. Basically if I get another device I probably would go for at least four channels -- but if I don't I'm happy to keep using my SD USBPre2. I think it has good DNA, but I wouldn't be surprised if a Babyface or Lyra 1 provided better ADDA conversion...but there is loads of flexibility to my SD device. Just today I realized I could flip a couple of dip switches and send line level signals to my video camera -- and if necessary, I could send a mic level signal (with an appropriate cable) to a mini stereo jack on a DSLR (like the Nikon D600 or D800) or one of those Henri-Cartier Breton style (digital) Fujifilm EX-1. I think the SD USBPre2 gear wins out on connectivity...but I'm hesitant to buy a second one.
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