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Author Topic: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)  (Read 56744 times)

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Offline capnhook

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #75 on: November 16, 2012, 05:25:05 PM »

You can't adjust the clickys while recording...


That's something I didn't know and seems like terrible design. +1 for the 680 (again!).

HUH?  Me neither....great thread.  Thanks y'all....

Spoke too soon.

Tried it out.  Walter is correct, the clickys do what they're supposed to do.

Pretty easy to work around and edit, if you have to adjust them.
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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #76 on: November 19, 2012, 07:03:43 PM »
A couple pages back you have all this great info on the gain structure of the inner knob and outer right.  I have a new (to me) R4 Pro with the same knobs, and I managed to learn about this the hard way a couple of nights ago.  I had the outer ring at 12:00, which is kinda hot, but rather than turn it down a click on the ring, I backed it with the inner knobs.  I had the reverse video L / R on the left, but wasn't sure what it was.  When I listened to it, I can hear clipping.
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Offline sbellon

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #77 on: December 26, 2012, 03:32:28 PM »
Hi!

First of all, I'd like to introduce myself as I am new here.  I am an audio recording amateur recording our yearly trombone band concert for the last 10 years or so.  Over the time I have learnt a few lessons and quality of the recordings improved from year to year.  In the beginning, recording was done with the sound card of a notebook (don't laugh!), at present I'm using an Edirol UA-25 audio interface.  In the beginning, we used t.bone EM-9600 mics someone didn't need anymore, until I found a pair of Sennheiser MD 421 in perfect condition forgotten in one of my father's cupboards.  Switching to them again gave a great quality boost.

While this setup now works pretty well for most recordings, there are some recordings where I have strange repeating noise patterns in the recording and I cannot figure out the reason.  I always use the same settings on the UA-25 and on the notebook.  I have the suspicion that something like processor throttling or some other cpu power-saving modes may be the reason for very short timeouts or something like that.

I'd like to do another upgrade and get rid of the notebook in the recording chain in order to minimize potential errors.  Reading a lot through the forums I'm leaning towards the Roland R-44.  I've read through the relevant threads and think I understand its pros and cons.

There is one thing that got me puzzled:  Consensus here is to leave the inner knob of the sens/level controls at noon position (because it controls volume in the digital domain) and just use the outer ring adjusting the input gain in analog domain by 6 dB steps.  On the Oade Brothers' web site (who have a high reputation here as well for their mods) however I read:

Quote
How do I set levels on my recorder?

Edirol R44 and R4Pro: Basically you want to use as little preamp gain (this is how much the preamp amplifies or increases the signal from the microphone) as possible. So you start with the smaller, inner knob, it's the one closest to you, set at about 2:00 to 3:00, then adjust the outer knob, it moves in 6 dB steps and displays on the LCD readout, until your signal level is around -12dB on the meter. You then tweak the level with the inner knob, it's okay to have it set to max and that is better than moving it toward 12:00 and adding 6 dB of gain with the stepped input trim knob. I like to target between -12dB and -6dB for peak levels when I'm recording, that way when I'm surprised, it does not overload and distort. It's a good idea to use the limiter as you learn. The limiter is a circuit that can momentarily reduce your signal level so the sound does not distort as the digital recorder runs out of bits. A digital over sounds bad and should be avoided. The key is you get the lowest noise and distortion when the outer knob ( that works in 6dB steps) is set as low as possible while still providing a good signal level. Both the outer knob that adjust the input gain in 6dB steps and the inner knob that is continuously variable and allows you to fine tune the signal level are digitally controlled analog gain stages. I strongly suggest you not set the inner knob to 12:00 and add gain in post, this compromises the quality of your recordings. This simple rule, using as little preamp gain as possible, will allow you to make the very best recording possible with your gear.

(Quote from http://www.oade.com/Tapers_Section/faq-general.html#C10)

Those instructions seem to be in contradiction to the general consensus here in the forums.  Can somebody please explain why their recommendation is that contrary?

TIA.

Greetings,
Stefan

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #78 on: December 27, 2012, 02:21:45 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  The R-44 is a great machine and would do the job quite nicely, but given your description it may be more of a recorder than you actually need.  If you are recording 2 microphones only, there are other less costly machines that don't have the capability to record 4 channels simultaneously and will do just as well.  If using a pair of Senn 421s (which are dynamic mics that do not require powering) you don't need a recorder which provides +48V phantom power either, but it would be a good option to have if you want to use condensor mics at some point.

The short story is simply this: Don't set the innner knobs to a position to the left of 12:00 or you can clip the input stage without visibly peaking the meter (however, as Joe mentioned, the channel number or letter indicator on the display will invert whenever the analog input stage clips, even if the inner knob is set to a position where the bar meters do not reach 0dBFS).

You can set the inner knob to positions to the right of (clockwise from) 12:00 without adversely affecting your recording, however, contrary to what is printed on the Oade site I'm not convinced it is advantageous to do so for anything other than correcting for minor channel imbalances.


The technical story-
Both sets of gain knobs are 'digital controls' in the sense that their input affect digitally programable gain array chips.  The outer knobs 'digitally adjust' the gain provided by the analog input circuitry before the signal reaches the Analog-to-Digital-Converter chip.  That is the stage where optimizing the gain setting is important for best performance.  The inner knob adjusts the gain after the signal has been digitized.  Adjusting the inner knob is functionally the same as adjusting the signal level of the file with software on the computer at a later point in time. 

The bar meters reflect the level of the already digitized signal- If the inner knob is left at 12:00 the bar meters will more or less accurately reflect the level of the signal being digitized, and tell you how close to cliping the signal is.   If set higher or lower the bar meters it will not be an accurate reflection of analog signal strength reaching the ADC, but the levels in the digitized files being written to the memory card.

Below is the block diagram of the circuitry.  The outer knobs control sensitivity, the inner knob level.  Look at the position of those controls in the circuit with regards to the analog-to-digital conversion stage, which is marked A/D, and this may make more sense.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 12:16:42 AM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Ozpeter

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #79 on: December 27, 2012, 05:58:10 PM »
I've yet to hear a frequently-encountered real-world use case for the inner, smooth, knob.  And it's a grave omission that there is no way to ensure that it's not modifying the recording at any given time - the set value of the outer ring is shown on the display, but the inner ring has no centre detent nor display, so you can only hope that you've got it in exactly in the right place so that it doesn't (albeit very slightly) perform a digital gain or reduce as you record.  They should have provided a push-to-disable function for it.

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #80 on: December 27, 2012, 11:26:42 PM »


While this setup now works pretty well for most recordings, there are some recordings where I have strange repeating noise patterns in the recording and I cannot figure out the reason

Cell phone might be the most likely culprit.

Offline sbellon

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #81 on: December 28, 2012, 04:17:48 AM »
First of all, thanks for your quick replies and your valuable input.

@Gutbucket: Thanks for your nice summary. That's exactly the information that I gathered by reading all the R-44 threads here as well. But it still does not explain why the Oade brothers suggest moving the inner level knob rather to the 2 or 3 o'clock or even max position than to noon. And regarding "more than you actually need": I'm a big believer of having more available than one currently thinks one needs (applies to computers and cars as well), because at some point the need for more arises and having it available then is not a bad thing.

@Ozpeter: Might this be the reason for the Oade brother's suggestion: Because you cannot exactly center the inner level knob at 12 o'clock and because you rather want to be a bit on the right side than on the left, you might as well choose to put it more to the right side. As long as you're not clipping, this is better than to have it a bit on the left side by accident?

@runonce: No, it's not cellphones. It occurs all the way, not just now and then. It sounds more like a disc is spinning irregularly and touches something on each round. But as no spinning elements are involved in the recording chain it must be something different. Perhaps a video recorder mounted nearby the microphones? Either that or the notebook is failing to maintain the data stream. Anyway, that's why I want to get rid of the notebook in the recording chain.

Offline Ozpeter

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #82 on: January 01, 2013, 07:58:32 PM »
That kind of noise usually comes from the notebook power supply, particularly if it's earthed.  Disconnecting the earth lead can help - BUT that has safety implications of course, and it may not be readily achieved anyway.

Offline macdaddy

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #83 on: January 03, 2013, 03:52:55 PM »
Color me confused...

Why is it a problem to turn the inner knobs lower (to the left) of twelve o' clock? here is my situation: I use 3/4 solely to pull a sbd feed. I have had one of the shure attenuators fail on me, so i run the xlrs straight in from the board. the outer knobs on the r44 are turned all the way to the left, but I still was afraid, with the inners at twelve, that I didn't have enough headroom. So I turned the innerspring down, and obviously, the levels went down. I guess I am confused as to why using the injera to attenuate the signal is a bad thing, assuming the signal with the inners at twelve is not clipped... Also why would it be better to be adding the gain by turning the injera past twelve (right) rather than at 0db which is the twelve o'clock setting...

Thx.
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akg c422 > s42 > lunatec v2 > ad2k+ > roland r-44

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #84 on: January 03, 2013, 04:45:50 PM »
Because turning the inner knob down from 12:00 doesn't increase input headroom.  The input circuitry will clip at the same signal level with it set at 9:00, 12:00, or 3:00.  It only affects the signal level after the signal is digitized.

Here's a quick test to help illustrate things:
Start with both inner and outer knobs at 12:00.  Increase input sensitivity (outer knob) until the meters show peaking when you clap loudly.  You should see both the bar-meter peaking and illuminating the 'peak' rectangle on the right of the meter, AND the input channel indicator flipping its illumination from dark background with illuminated lettering to illuminated background with dark lettering indicating 'analog input stage clipping'.  If you keep the input sensitivity (outerknob) in the same position and adjust level (innerknob) while clapping at the same loudness level as before, you will see a resulting change in the position of the bar meter, but the input channel indicator will still invert as each clap peaks in input circuitry.  Turn the inner knob down and the analog stage will clip before the digital stage.  Turn it up and the bar meter (representing the digitized signal) will clip before the analog stage.

I can't imagine any reason to ever turn level (inner knob) below 12.  As for positions above 12:00 and Oade's recommendation, it's speculation on my part, but I suppose the noise of the analog input stage may be greater at higher input sensitivity settings relative to the level of signal which could be apparent when recording very quiet sources which need a lot of gain.  If that is the case, then using 'just enough' analog gain to get the signal high enough above noise floor, then adding digital gain with the inner knob (which is the same thing as amplifying digitally on the computer later), may result in a higher signal-to-noise ratio. It is something that a competent tech with measurement gear like Doug Oade would discover when checking out the recorder’s true specifications. But besides being speculative on my part, that assumes a scenario which isn't common with concert recording and also complicates things by making the meters harder to understand clearly.  IME keeping the inner knobs at 12:00 except for accommodating minor gain imbalances between channels things is both simpler and without negative consequences.

I am using an Oade Concert Modd’ed R-44, which supposedly has lower analog input stage noise than a stock model, so maybe I’d hear a difference if I was using the stock version and less sensitive mics such as dynamics, but I’ve never noticed problems with excessive input stage noise, even with relatively quiet sources and typical condenser taper mics.

Does that help?
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Offline macdaddy

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #85 on: January 03, 2013, 05:06:45 PM »
Ok. So if i understand correctly, turning the inner knob down will lower the levels, but will not prevent clipping.

turning the outer knob all the way to the left last night gave me an absolute peak of ~ -14db. so even though turning the inside knob down past twelve oclock can lower levels doing so does not do anything more to actually prevent clipping. in fact,  if i understand this, the only thing I can do to prevent clipping is to turn the outer knobs all the way left (to the +4 sensitivity setting)...

This has no bearing on the digital 1/2 results, right..?
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akg c422 > s42 > lunatec v2 > ad2k+ > roland r-44

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #86 on: January 03, 2013, 11:09:28 PM »
You've got it.

..and yes, it doesn't affect the S/PDIF input.
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Offline DLpres

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #87 on: January 30, 2013, 03:35:31 PM »
Hi, I got our R44 recently and signed up to Taperssection just to join in on this great thread. Our use for the R44 is (almost) exclusively in filmmaking/video recording. Like many other R44-film users we would've went for a Sound Devices 744T or 664 if it wasn't for their pesky $4,500 price tag. In comparison, the R44 delivers a ton of bang for the buck. Sync drift against our video camera is a respectable <50ms/hour.

My pet peeve is that the device doesn't monitor in "stop" mode. To hear the incoming audio you have to go into record standby. I've never seen this before in the kind of equipment we use. It means extra button presses after every take, accidental rolls, and because standby mode leaves the REC lamp blinking there's the risk of getting confused at 2AM and not rolling on a take. I was astonished that there wasn't a menu setting to change this behavior (I'm on v1.10). Had I seen this in pre-purchase research it would've affected our choice, but no one seems to have mentioned it. Am I the only who finds this troublesome?
As for the level knobs being digital and not analog... at least there's consencus on that :-) I agree it's a pointless design decision and a royal PITA. I favored the R44 over the Tascam because of the 4 dedicated trim/level pots and this kind of negates the benefit.

One constructive point: my power solution was to utilize our 14.4V video camera batteries (Sony PMW-EX1). I found a cheap battery plate made by Ikan Corp., carefully reversed its polarity (10 minutes with a solder iron), and voila - 7.5 hours of continuous recording time on one small BP-U30 battery. Granted those batteries may be too pricey if you don't already own them, but it's a smart solution for certain video camera owners. It's unfortunate that most lower-end video camera batteries are 7.2V and would therefore require an expensive step-up transformer.

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #88 on: January 30, 2013, 03:37:05 PM »
normally i use my R-44 with the record setting on "Stereo x1 or "Stereo x2" depending on whether i'm runing 2 mics or 4.  a few weeks ago for the first time i used the setting that sends each channel to its own file on the SD card.  about 20 minutes into the set i got an error message saying that the SD card is too slow.  the message did not stop the recording and everything looked to be fine.  in between sets i switch back to the "Stereo x2" mode and i never saw the error message again.  when i got home and listened to the recording the 1st set was all chopped up with huge gaps, but the recording was continuous in the sense that there was no silence.  the 2nd set sounds fine.

i was using a class 10 SD card and have never received this error message until using the setting for recording each track to an individual file.  since that episode i have exclusively used either "Stereo x1" or "Stereo x2" and have had no issues.  can anyone shed some light on why that recording mode would create a challenge for a class 10 card?

thanks in advance.   
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 03:39:59 PM by bass_ur_face »

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: edirol/roland r-44 (part five)
« Reply #89 on: January 30, 2013, 04:16:48 PM »
Class 10 in itself is way more than fast enough, even class 4 is sufficient.  Your particular class 10 card is compromised.  Not all makes of them work well.  It appears yours is sufficient for writing stereox2 but not monox4 files.  I'd switch cards even if it works in stereox2 mode.

I've had similar problems with sketchy cards in the past. I changed cards and the problem disappeared.
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