Audio recorders: interesting items...

FuTz wrote on 3/12/2007, 9:06 AM
Just to pass the info: I ran into a very interesting piece of pro gear : the Zaxcom ZFR100.

What you get:

-flash card based recorder : 12 hours mono
-time code
-VERY lightweight
-under $1000
-compressed or uncompressed formats using the included software (PC and Mac)
-it's a unbal. mic input recorder so you can use it as a "discrete" recorder right on talent or from a mixer with mic output


-stereo adaptor, giving you the possibility to record 2 tracks/bal. line level (and I don't think this is very expensive). 6 hours recording w/ this config'...
-look at the "optional accessories" link on their site for other devices to tailor the unit to your needs...

Lots more info at

There's also this Zoom H4 unit that will record ambiances with its built-in mics, has XLR and 1/4" inputs, can record 4 tracks digital and is also a sound card with its USB out, so may be a clever choice for those of us on the road with laptops (though I'm not sure about USB, compared to F.Wire...)
You can have a peak at it at :

In fact, this unit looks like a copy of the lot more expensive Sony PCM-D1 unit:

Ok, coffee's over... ciao todos


seanfl wrote on 3/13/2007, 11:43 AM
thanks for the link. For what it's worth, I needed to record a few hours of high quality audio in the field (a laptop wouldn't work) and went with a product by maudio called the microtrack.

Great quality recording onto compact flash cards. .wav or high quality mp3's. Has line & mic plus s/pdif inputs. Somewhere near $350.

broadcast voiceovers
FuTz wrote on 3/13/2007, 12:03 PM
Of course ! good choice I guess (been discussed on this board).
I simply wanted to "update" the topic for database purposes since these items are kind of recent additions to our arsenal of solutions... ; )
John_Cline wrote on 3/13/2007, 12:25 PM
After investigating all the flash-based recorders under $1,000, I bought the Zoom H4. It sounds great. The only downsides I've found so far are that the USB connection is v1.1 and the display is a bit small. My favorite features have turned out to be the "auto level set" and the fact that it supplies a full 48 volts of phantom power. I give it a four out of five stars.

rs170a wrote on 3/13/2007, 12:30 PM
FYI, the Zaxcom Deva recorders are almost an industry standard for high-end audio use. And since they range from $3,500.00 to to $14,000.00, I can see why most of us don't have one or two in our kit :-)

totally lost wrote on 3/13/2007, 12:59 PM
A few weeks ago I got the B&H Pro Audio catalog and there is 6 pages of portable digital recorders! Worth getting if your in the market.

I got a Sound Devices 702 a while back and absolutely love it! The mic pres are exceptional and the A/D converters are top notch.

I think the one downside to all portable units is the phantom supply for microphones. I've done a lot of "music only" field work and all portables fall flat on thier face when having to power up mics. Basically, it seems to me they can't get the current high enough to properly power the mic. The result is a thin, less defined and dynamic presentation. The first gig (I do a lot of music) I used the 702 I powered up some U87's with the on board supply. The second set I powered up the mics using portable neumann supplies. The difference was amazing! With the Neumann supplies the audio had so much more bottom end and overall bloom. The top end was more refined and extended out further. Mids had more body/grunt and the overall image was much more stable and defined. Not a subtle difference. Obviously, different mics will act differently. But a huge lesson re-learned for me. So if you are really into getting the audio right get seperate power supplies for your mics.

As a footnote. If you are in the market for some nice mics check out the Shure KSM44. Tom Jung of DMP turned me on to these and all I can say is that they are amazing for the price. (About $1200 a pair)
They are more of a studio mic than a video mic. But the price performance is astounding.

FuTz wrote on 3/13/2007, 1:31 PM
COncerning the SD 702, I wonder if the power affects as much shotgun (condenser) mics as it did with your U87.
I may have it wrong but the 702 might have been developped to be used more on ENG/small crews than for studio purposes (?) ...
And I'd say Shoeps cond. mics too have some issues with phantom power supplies, at least I've heard they're more prone to that than, say, Sennheiser's MKHs or Neumann's KMRs shotguns... might be the same with the U87 you're using ?
Gives me the impression that the more sophisticated the mic, the more careful you have to be with the phantom power unit you're using...

And this item from Zaxcom I talked about, with the stereo adaptor, would cost you around $1200 for a VERY portable unit. A small, clever cousin from the Deva family... :)
FuTz wrote on 3/13/2007, 1:33 PM
PLUS, since you get time code jammin' capability, double all this to get a 4 track at $2400 if you feel you want more without adding too much weight... or 6 tracks... or 7 or 8... as you wish ! hee hee (but with a matching mixer of course)
mdopp wrote on 3/13/2007, 1:53 PM
I have both the Zoom H4 and the Edirol R-4. Both are quite good and I really like them.
However the mic preamps of any SoundDevices 7-series modell are reportedly much better than these units (which comes as no suprise given the price point...).
Just one quick note on the Zoom H4: The level control operates on the digital side of the signal chain. In other words: reducing below 100 (which is neutral) will not increase headroom and increasing beyond 100 will not improve signal-to-noise ratio. Since I learned that I stopped using the auto-levels feature. Only the gain switches (H-M-L) work on the analog side.
totally lost wrote on 3/13/2007, 2:26 PM

Your probably right about the intended use for the internal supplies being for mics that use less current. I think the only way to really find out is to experiment and use your ears. The Shure KSM44's acted the same way as the 87. I think it's just one of those things that often get taken for granted. I am sure if you went to an audio forum there would be all sorts of debates on which mic power supply is best. I personally have used many different power supplies for old tube mics and the differences are mind boggling. I know, power supplies? Interestingly enough my favorite tube mic supply was a home brew project box that used batteries. 4 x 30volt batteries = 120v for the plate and 3 D cells = 4v+ for the heater. Ah yes very smooth and very quiet. All the AC supplies had grunge and effected the tone of the mics.

As we all know so well you can tweak till you face turns blue. But often there are little tweaks that make a huge difference right away.

I listen for a living and i can't stress enough that the 702 has the killer mic pres and A/D converters. Two items often overlooked or taken for granted. if your just doing dialog, it probably won't matter much, but with music it makes a huge difference.

Forgot to mention in the March issue of EQ there is a section about potable recorders.
John_Cline wrote on 3/13/2007, 2:35 PM
Yes, the Sound Devices 702 proves that you DO get what you pay for. All of their stuff is completely top-notch.

ibliss wrote on 3/13/2007, 3:09 PM
Don't forget the soon to be release Zoom H2. Not much info at the moment but check these links:
bevross wrote on 3/13/2007, 4:55 PM
totally lost:

Aren't you being inconsistent by saying the 702's mic pre's are " exceptional" then saying using the Neumann power supply made an "amazing difference"? That's says to me that the pre's on the 702 weren't really that hot. I suppose purists would say to not only get external pre's but also external converters (especially for music, I suppose).
FuTz wrote on 3/13/2007, 8:56 PM
My idea is that the pres are top notch but if you use the wrong p/s you get, well... "sh*t in => sh*t out" .
I kind of consider the p/s to be part of the mic, not the mixer so no surprise if you get better results using the same brands together.

I use a 302 along with Neumann and Sanken shotguns (for a living too) and yes, these preamps rock for the price. Might be a tradition at Sound Devices...
kdm wrote on 3/13/2007, 10:29 PM
Another nice looking recorder:

DSD mobile recorder - also supports PCM etc. (comes with DSD to PCM conversion software as well).

Around $1200, street.
totally lost wrote on 3/14/2007, 12:57 PM
Mic pres and power supplies are two totally different things. Power supplies power the mic, mic pres amplify and pass signal. If you were to use tube mics you would be using the mic pre but not the on board power supply.

No doubt, you can go "purist" and have seperate mic pres, seperate A/D, seperate D/A, seperate headphone amp, custom cables and then ALL the batteries for all the different units; weighing in at about 15 lbs!

I guess my point here is for a "all in one job" it's a pretty amazing piece.

I mispoke earlier. It's a current issue. Basically the Neumann supplies deliver and store more current for instantaneous bursts, such as bass notes, thus the overall better performance. No doubt some mics require more current . The battery that powers the 702 is also powering the mics. Basically the 48v phantom supply was not designed to power mic that require high current.

The Korg DSD recorder looks kinda neat, but I think you are stuck with their mic pres and A/D. I doubt they are any good, but who knows.
Jeff9329 wrote on 3/15/2007, 10:58 AM
I know you get what you pay for, but I need to find a lower budget solution unless it is so much of a compromise, I shouldn't do it.

I thought the M-Audio Microtrak specs. looked pretty good for a low cost recorder. It is 24 bit, but I don't know how good the pre-amps are, which is key.

Is it worth even starting out with a low budget recorder like this?

Also, I see the post about a good mike reccomendation for $1,200 a pair.

Is is even possible to get a good single mike in the $300 range? I do know there are many varieties, so this is a tough question.

Any pointers are appreciated.
john-beale wrote on 3/15/2007, 1:25 PM
You can get one of the world's lowest-noise mics for about $230: the Rode NT1a, a large-diaphragm condenser. For people who do nature recording where self-noise is often a limiting factor, this mic is amazing. It's intended to be a studio mic though, it's big and you certainly wouldn't mount it on a camera.