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Which recorder with good external mic preamps?
Old 31st October 2013
  #1
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Which recorder with good external mic preamps?

I am evaluating a portable recorder, budget 400€-500€

My main focus is on external mics (I am using the sennheiser ME series), so I am looking for a very low EIN preamps for the external mics. The internal mics should be at least decent, I won't do "serious" recordings with them, but they still a great thing to have for everyday use.
I want to be able to get good recordings of ambient, nature sounds but also every kind of sounds I will find; I am very interested in having good recording of low sounds too.

Here a resume of the recorders that I am evaluating:
Roland R-26: apparently very good preamps for ext mics, but poor internal mics (I am very leaned to this one)
Marantz PMD 661 MK II: good preamps, weird interface
Olympus LS-100: also good preamps, also weird interface and other issues
Tascam DR-60D / Tascam DR-40/100: decent preamps, maybe a bit noiser the others. Is maybe the DR-60D better?

At the moment I own a DR-40, I like the interface but I also see the limitations.

What would you suggest me?

Best
Old 31st October 2013
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
I am evaluating a portable recorder, budget 400€-500€

My main focus is on external mics (I am using the sennheiser ME series), so I am looking for a very low EIN preamps for the external mics. The internal mics should be at least decent, I won't do "serious" recordings with them, but they still a great thing to have for everyday use.
I want to be able to get good recordings of ambient, nature sounds but also every kind of sounds I will find; I am very interested in having good recording of low sounds too.

Here a resume of the recorders that I am evaluating:
Roland R-26: apparently very good preamps for ext mics, but poor internal mics (I am very leaned to this one)
Marantz PMD 661 MK II: good preamps, weird interface
Olympus LS-100: also good preamps, also weird interface and other issues
Tascam DR-60D / Tascam DR-40/100: decent preamps, maybe a bit noiser the others. Is maybe the DR-60D better?

At the moment I own a DR-40, I like the interface but I also see the limitations.

What would you suggest me?

Best
You might want to add the Zoom H6 to your list.
Old 31st October 2013
  #3
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Yes, H6 would be an option, even though I have read not great things about the preamps...

Another option would be to combine a good mic preamps with the Dr-40: I actually like the DR-40, i just want less noise in my recordings

Any suggestion about a preamp/mixer at around 400€? (I am in Europe)
Old 31st October 2013
  #4
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Fostex FR2LE?
Old 31st October 2013 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
Yes, H6 would be an option, even though I have read not great things about the preamps...

Another option would be to combine a good mic preamps with the Dr-40: I actually like the DR-40, i just want less noise in my recordings

Any suggestion about a preamp/mixer at around 400€? (I am in Europe)
Is this good enough for you?
Old 2nd November 2013
  #6
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well, h6 is good, but i was looking for better stepup from the DR-40
My main concern is about preamps noise.
Old 2nd November 2013 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
well, h6 is good, but i was looking for better stepup from the DR-40
My main concern is about preamps noise.
Since you already have a DR-40, just tag on a SD MixPre-D. A bit out of your budget but you pay for what you get.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #8
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wallyburger's Avatar
 

Out of all the sub Β£500 handy recorders, the best ones in my opinion are from Roland, they seem to have reasonably decent built in mic's, as for using external mic's, a secondhand Roland R4 might be a good bet.
I've been quite lucky, in that I've had a chance to use a Sound Devices 788 and a Roland R44 alongside each other, the difference was immediately noticeable in that the SD had a far superior top end, the high frequencies were so much more natural than on the Roland. But I would get the Roland R26, if I were on a budget, it sounds the best to me, but you may think differently, try as many as possible. The mic amps on all these cheap machines are nothing special, just don't expect too much. When you start using Sound devices, and Zaxcom etc, you do realise that the quality of the converters is also of paramount importance, often overlooked in the cheaper recorders.

WB.
Old 2nd November 2013
  #9
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JohnRick's Avatar
I have a few portable recorders and I must say that I love my Roland R-26. The only disadvantage is that it might be a little bit bulky, but disregarding that fact compared to what you get I couldn't be happier. Excellent preamps, touchscreen, battery life. Using it for on-the-go recording of one of my live-band, and it does a great job.
Old 2nd November 2013 | Show parent
  #10
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JohnRick's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by polytope View Post
Since you already have a DR-40, just tag on a SD MixPre-D. A bit out of your budget but you pay for what you get.
And more importantly - you get what you pay for.
Old 2nd November 2013 | Show parent
  #11
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wallyburger's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRick View Post
I have a few portable recorders and I must say that I love my Roland R-26. The only disadvantage is that it might be a little bit bulky, but disregarding that fact compared to what you get I couldn't be happier. Excellent preamps, touchscreen, battery life. Using it for on-the-go recording of one of my live-band, and it does a great job.
Absolutely.

WB.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #12
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Thank you for your nice comments.

Could you please mention some preamps that are hi quality like the sound device MixPre?
I will look for them on Ebay.

This week i got the roland r-26 to test.
The preamps are better than the dr-40 (no wonder about that) but I don't like the interface. Moreover the dr-40 has the dual recording feature that I love.

So yes, the solution that fits for me is to get a portable preamp, suggestions are very welcome.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #13
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
Thank you for your nice comments.

Could you please mention some preamps that are hi quality like the sound device MixPre?
I will look for them on Ebay.

This week i got the roland r-26 to test.
The preamps are better than the dr-40 (no wonder about that) but I don't like the interface. Moreover the dr-40 has the dual recording feature that I love.

So yes, the solution that fits for me is to get a portable preamp, suggestions are very welcome.
AETA MIXY and Nagra EMP are both excellent mic. pres.
Old 3rd November 2013 | Show parent
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
AETA MIXY and Nagra EMP are both excellent mic. pres.
Both are also out of OP's budget like the MixPre-D.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #15
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Regarding mic pre EIN, this may be informative:
Avisoft Bioacoustics - Microphone Input Noise Comparison
Old 3rd November 2013 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
Yes, H6 would be an option, even though I have read not great things about the preamps...

Another option would be to combine a good mic preamps with the Dr-40: I actually like the DR-40, i just want less noise in my recordings

Any suggestion about a preamp/mixer at around 400€? (I am in Europe)
Try searching for some used Wendt X mixer. Plenty of them on ebay. I use one with a DR-40 and the improvement over the recorder alone is pretty huge.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #17
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thanks for the suggestion but I cannot find much: I am in europe and I think the market is a bit different...

other suggestions are welcome
Old 3rd November 2013
  #18
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Pohaku's Avatar
 

The number of decent portable preamps in that price bracket is pretty limited:

Naiant tinybox or littlebox (a tinybox just sold at taperssection for 220 pounds in the UK) Login

SD MicPre (older model, not the MixPreD) Login The newer SD MixPreD and USBPre2 are better boxes, but likely out of your price range.

Church Audio 9100 and 9200 Church Audio - Home

Aerco MP-2 Login

Sound Professionals MS-Amp-1 USB Microphone, Stereo Microphone, ATH-M50 Headphone, Wireless Microphone, Preamplifier, Digital Recorder, Custom Cables and more at Rock Bottom Prices from The Sound Professionals - Great deals on Microphone, Preamplifier, Digital Recorder, Cable an

Shure FP24 (same as older SD MixPre) Login

If you order new from Naiant or Church, there will be about a one month build time.

If you aren't registered at taperssection, you will need to register to see the Yard Sale page. There are European members as well, so an ISO post may help you.
Old 3rd November 2013
  #19
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I never had noise problems with my FR2LE.
But with portable recorder you have also to consider the output level of your mics. For sure you need a lot more gain with CM3 for example than with MC930 or MKHnn and more gain is often more noise in this class of preamps
Old 4th November 2013
  #20
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thank you for your answer.

what do you think about the RME Quadmic II:
RME: QuadMic Preamp
Old 4th November 2013
  #21
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wallyburger's Avatar
 

Sennie MKH are very high output, reccomended for this type of work, but, are expensive.

WB.
Old 4th November 2013 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
thank you for your answer.

what do you think about the RME Quadmic II:
RME: QuadMic Preamp
This thing is new. But if the preamps are as good as the UCX, then it is very good for the price.
Old 4th November 2013
  #23
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I am using the sennheiser me/k6 series, hi output but not so great quality.
Still I don't have the budget at the moment for the mkh mics.
Old 4th November 2013
  #24
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Pohaku's Avatar
 

RME makes good gear. Not that many 4 channel portable preamps out there. For the price in the US, though, you could buy a Tascam DR-680 with more channels and recording, and have money left over. Pricing may be different in Europe. Also, if it matters, the Quadmic is not a very small box. If it is the same size as the original quadmic, it is 12 x 7 x 4 inches and weighs 3 pounds. Small compared to rack gear, but not that small for lugging in a bag.
Old 4th November 2013
  #25
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about prices: in europe is the other way around, the quadmic is about 530€ and the tascam 680 is almost 1000€...

moreover: apparently is possible to run the rme fireface ucx with a power supply, that would open up the possibility to get that soundcard and use it also as a portable preamp
Old 4th November 2013 | Show parent
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
about prices: in europe is the other way around, the quadmic is about 530€ and the tascam 680 is almost 1000€...

moreover: apparently is possible to run the rme fireface ucx with a power supply, that would open up the possibility to get that soundcard and use it also as a portable preamp
But the UCX is a lot more money than the QuadMic II. Are you sure you want to go that route?
Old 4th November 2013 | Show parent
  #27
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Pohaku's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
about prices: in europe is the other way around, the quadmic is about 530€ and the tascam 680 is almost 1000€...

moreover: apparently is possible to run the rme fireface ucx with a power supply, that would open up the possibility to get that soundcard and use it also as a portable preamp
Ouch. I expected it to be higher in Europe, but not that much higher. Currently a DR-680 goes for @ $599.00 here, all in (mail ordered including shipping). It has been below $500, from time to time.
Old 4th November 2013 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polytope View Post
But the UCX is a lot more money than the QuadMic II. Are you sure you want to go that route?
yes, it's more money but if I sell my current audio card (motu ultralite) then it's not a huge difference and I'm done with preamps, both studio and for field recording
Old 4th November 2013 | Show parent
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pohaku View Post
Ouch. I expected it to be higher in Europe, but not that much higher. Currently a DR-680 goes for @ $599.00 here, all in (mail ordered including shipping). It has been below $500, from time to time.
yes, i don't know why but the dr-680 has really a crazy price in europe, while other tascam device are more or less the same...
Old 4th November 2013 | Show parent
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by buscon View Post
thanks for the suggestion but I cannot find much: I am in europe and I think the market is a bit different...

other suggestions are welcome
I'm in europe too...why can't you buy overseas? There's a lot of gear that is way overpriced here in Europe, sometimes buying in th U.S. is cheaper even with duty fees.
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