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Digital recording

Discussion in 'audio' started by a.palfreyman, Jul 27, 2021.

  1. a.palfreyman

    a.palfreyman pfm Member

    What's the best solution for making some digital recordings, not computer based? This will just be ambient outside sounds in stereo. Is DAT any good, although it seems DAT machines are about £200 or thereabouts on ebay.
  2. s1h1

    s1h1 performing within expectations

  3. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    What you want is a portable field recorder which are battery operated devices which typically write to an SD card that you install. The cheaper ones have mics built in, the more expensive ones either have optional mic inputs, or no mics and expect you to provide these yourself.

    There are a number of options, but if it's just for a few informal things in non-challenging conditions, the choices are really quite large, and the key is really how small you want the device to be. Have a look here:

    The cheaper Zoom models are a great place to start
  4. RJohan

    RJohan pfm Member

    I second Cesare's post. I have a, by now, old Roland/Edirol thing. Best little thingie I ever bought! Currently used as an AD for LP and radio in my other wise digitally sourced system.
  5. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    I should add, challenging conditions really means problems with handling noise, or with wind. Wind can be tackled by putting a serious shield around the mic, and some companies make accessories including shields for their mics (the ones you often see on location recordings are colloquially referred to as 'dead cats') and these help enormously.

    Handling noise is best dealt with by a sprung suspension, so before you know it, you're looking at a blimp and a microphone boom, or a small stand like a tripod for the recorder so the portability drops off if you head in that direction. You'll find that the recorders have a low cut which is pretty good at removing handling noise, but it comes down to technique at some level.

    But, if conditions are simple, you can record hand held and get surprisingly good results...
  6. zippy

    zippy pfm Member

    Tascam DR05 - we use these for professional sound & voice recordings
  7. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    @Cesare is right.

    Run away from a second hand DAT machine. Unless you have a stash of existing DATs you need to play there's nothing it can do that a solid-state machine can't do with less fuss.

    Some recorders suffer from handling noise (Tascam seems to be particularly bad for this) when used handheld. IME Zoom far less so.

    The mid-range Zoom recorders allow different mic modules to be switched in so you can experiment with mid/side recording if you wish to in the future.

    As already stated above, they're also great for recording LPs and cassettes etc.
  8. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    Slight aside - has anyone tinkered with the ambisonic Zoom H3? Looks like brilliant value (though I don't have surround playback!)
  9. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    No, but i'm intrigued. My only exposure to Ambisonics was with an expensive Soundfield mic, giving b-format out. It was an old ex-BBC mic that a friend of mine had for making choral recordings.

    My thought was given how cheap suitable doner cardioid condenser mics have got, it might be worth 3d printing a suitable mounting stem for 4 cardioids to give an a-format output. I've been thinking of doing this for a while, so chances are i'll just buy an off the shelf one at some point.
    paulfromcamden likes this.
  10. gustav_errata

    gustav_errata pfm Member

    Oh that Zoom H3 looks like good fun.

    I have a Tascam DR-40, which has two extra mic jacks on the bottom, which I have used for a small contact mic for recording really quiet sounds. The device is indeed susceptible to wind or hand noises unless a tripod and windscreen are used.
  11. eddie pugh

    eddie pugh pfm Member

    I use a Sony PCM D100 portable card recorder Although it has on board microphones for ease of use you can do much better with serious external mics

    I've record live concerts ( my wife's choir etc) from a seat in the audience using a pair of DPA mics taped to my reading glasses powered by a Core Sound battery box. The DPA mics were expensive (from memory maybe more than the recorder) but were well worth it for their quality
    The results are really amazing and almost commercial CD quality.

    Previous to the Sony PCM D100 I used a Sony M1 DAT recorder with the same mics and that was also very very good. The main problems being too many moving parts to go wrong in the ageing recorder and the hassle of getting the DAT file into the computer for editing etc You can do this with a Sony DAT computer backup device if you flash an SDT9000 with the right firmware and have the right software eg DAT2WAV but its just a pain

    Sony do a range of card recorders and I suggest you look at the PCM A10
  12. a.palfreyman

    a.palfreyman pfm Member

    Thanks. Some great food for thought there and much reading to do! TBH I would want the capability to use external mics as I want to play about with some electret capsules which are dirt cheap at circa a fiver each. In fact I was given a Teac MC30 mike capsule and have built a little pre-amp with dc out and modified the mike to receive dc to power it. This was built so I can do some speaker phase measurements, which I'm going to attempt soon. However, I also want to have a play at building a stereo pair / preamp with dc out to power the capsules and then be able to plug this into a recording device that will also do playback. Much to think about.
  13. chris geary

    chris geary pfm Member

    Don't buy a DAT recorder. DAT tapes are awful and the machines die. Everything is SD cards now. No moving parts.
    tuga likes this.
  14. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    If you want to use external mics as you mention, just get one of the models supporting with XLRs and phantom power. My son uses a Tascam DR40 with external mics (some Micro Usis which are great omnis) to do field recording around people as you can stick the mics on the straps of a rucksack and get enough separation to give great results.

    As I said, the Zoom models also cover this, and are probably the best value options - look at the H4n.
  15. Cesare

    Cesare pfm Member

    As i've mentioned the micro usis, i'd just say, you can't go far wrong with the stuff that LOM have been making. We've also got a Geophon which produces some very odd results, perfect for ambient sound design stuff which is what it gets used for. Their stuff is well made, and different enough to differentiate itself from the cheap (but still rather good quality) condensers and electret mics that seem to have flooded the market in recent years. Definitely look them up if you want something stealthy or just different.
    paulfromcamden likes this.
  16. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Absolutely, I’ve used the little Zoom recorders for years, both via their built in mics and as a record device for an external source. They’re superb for the money.
  17. uncl_nigel

    uncl_nigel pfm Member

    Would they do a decent job of recording digital copies (in real time of course) of my vinyl?
  18. RJohan

    RJohan pfm Member

    I use my Roland mentioned above to do just that, after 15 years or so I still hasn't managed to hear anything bad coming out of the process. If you do it at low volume settings through the speakers you will get rid of any feedback and it might even sound better than the original. Any decent modern one will do the job and they aren't exactly expensive.
  19. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Yep, absolutely no problem.
  20. paulfromcamden

    paulfromcamden Baffled

    I'd forgotten about LOM stuff - that Geophon looks interesting.

    I have a Jez Riley French hydrophone which is a steal for a handmade bit of kit. I've had a lot of fun lobbing it into rivers and ponds and seeing what I can hear. It's often very tiny sounds so I think I'd benefit from a pro recorder with quieter preamps but even into my Zoom H6 I've been able to record the sounds of invertebrates scuttling around.

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