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Author Topic: What kind of recorder should I buy? (DAT, MD, Hi-MD, JB3)  (Read 5204 times)

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Offline Brian Skalinder

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What kind of recorder should I buy? (DAT, MD, Hi-MD, JB3)
« on: October 28, 2004, 04:50:29 PM »
What kind of recorder should I buy?  How do I decide?  What are my options?  What are the pros and cons of the different recorder options  -  DAT (Digital Audio Tape), MD (Mini-Disc), Hi-MD (new Sony MD recorder), JB3 (Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox 3), laptop, other hard drive or compact flash device?

DAT

    Pros

    • Proven reliable
    • Archivable media
    • Easily powered via internal batteries
    • Reliable coax S/PDIF digital-in capability
    • Good/decent analog line-in and ADC (D100/M1/DA-P1)
    • Easy to patch with the proper digital cable
    • Supports upgrade path from analog-in to digital-in using an outboard ADC
    • Long, uninterrupted recording times (commonly used tapes are 2 and 3 hrs in length)
    • Good level meters allow easy setting of levels

    Cons

    • More expensive than other options
    • Media costs ($1.50-$5 per 2 hr tape)
    • Real-time transfer from DAT to portable / playbable format (i.e. CD) (assuming you don't use your portable deck for playback or buy a secondary deck for playback)
    • Computer soundcard or digital-in standlone CD recorder required for transfers (more gear, more $)
    • Damn proprietary 7-pin cables are expensive
    • Difficult to determine usage hours on portable units resulting in risky used purchases from unknown entities
    • Somewhat expensive to repair
    • Crappy analog line-in and ADC (D7/D8)
    • Slow tape swaps required if media changes necessary (e.g. due to running out of tape)
[/color]

MD

    Pros

    • Inexpensive relative to DAT
    • Small
    • Easily powered by AA batteries
    • Re-usable / archivable media
    • Reasonably reliable for field use
    • Some models support on-the-fly level changes (most Sharp units, newer Sony units)

    Cons

    • Compression (ATRAC)
    • Crappy analog line-in and ADC (relative to DAT)
    • Short record times (~74min) before disc-swap required
    • No digital output = no digital feeds to patchers
    • Home deck required for digital transfers to CD via computer
    • Some older and/or Sony units do not allow on-the-fly level changes
    • Crappy level meter
    • Disc skips possible if moved while recording
    • No easy upgrade path from analog-in to digital-in
[/color]

Hi-MD

    Pros

    • More expensive than regular MD and JB3, but not as expensive as DAT
    • Small
    • Easily powered by AA batteries
    • Re-usable / archivable media
    • Reasonably reliable for field use
    • Decent recording time of 90min uncompressed WAV (16-bit / 44.1kHz)

    Cons

    • Expensive media
    • Poor analog line-in and ADC (relative to DAT)
    • Though supports digital optical input, digital-in recordings still require analog transfers
    • No digital output = no digital feeds to patchers
    • Sketchy level meters
    • Disc skips possible if moved while recording
    • While a potential upgrade path exists from analog-in to digital-in, the path cannot be realized due to the inability to transfer digitally recordings made via digital-in
    • Anecdotal feedback suggests SonicStage software may occasionally irreperably damage audio files
[/color]

Creative Nomad Jukebox 3 (Hard Drive recorder)*

    Pros

    • Inexpensive relative to DAT and Hi-MD
    • Decent analog line-in and ADC
    • Easy and fast transfer from HD to computer / CD via USB / Firewire
    • Proving reliable (though not as long a field history as DAT)
    • Easily powered via internal or external batteries
    • Reliable optical digital-in capability
    • Easy to patch with digital format converter (DFC, e.g. Hosa ODL-276)
    • Supports upgrade path from analog-in to digital-in using an outboard ADC
    • Long, uninterrupted recording times (3 hrs in a single file)
    • Easy and fast transition to a new file if recording time runs out
    • Long run-time from internal batteries (two batts @ ~3 hrs each = ~6 hrs)
    • Creative's software connects with all JB3s, doesn't require device registration like Notmad Explorer
    • No media to buy

    Cons

    • Proprietary internal batteries (more $)
    • Possibly discontinued / limited availability
    • No real third-party service options if repairs necessary
    • No digital-out = no digital feeds to patchers if running analog-in on the JB3
    • Patching from digital sources requires splitter and usually DFC (most digital feeds are coax, JB3 is optical)
    • Crap level meters makes setting levels aggressively challenging when running analog-in
    • Some feel it's too large for stealthing (bah, I say)
    • Some people don't like the software used for transfers (easily remedied with $20 Notmad Explorer)
    • Notmad Explorer requires device registration - to use more than one device, user must buy Universal Edition that allows multiple devices
    • Some don't feel the analog line-in and ADC stages are high enough quality (listen and decide for yourself)
*See Nomad JB3 Tapers FAQ and Operating FAQ in the Archival Info forum for more information.[/list][/color]

Miscellaneous

Laptop

There are plenty of people using laptops as their recording device.  Some folks they're a hassle:  finicky to configure, PITA to power, not terribly robust, etc.  But, others love 'em.  For more information on laptop recording, check out the Yahoo Laptop Tapers Group.

Other hard drive / compact flash recorders

    Neuros HDxx (xx = the hard drive size, e.g. 20, 40, 60, etc)

    • The Neuros HDxx is probably the most popular of the non-JB3 hard drive recorders, but apparently suffers from audible artifacts (clicks) while recording via analog inputs and does not support digital inputs.
    Edirol R1

    • Brand new device, not a whole lot known at this point.  Records at a fixed 24-bit word length and 44.1 kHz sample rate.  No digital input, but accepts both mic- and line-in analog inputs.  Unproven, but could be promising for those who want to run analog-in straight to their recorder.  There's a bit of info over on the Oade Bros board.
    Sound Devices 722 and 744

    • Not many available as yet and still suffering from lengthy production / release delays.  A few sample recordings exist here or there and prove promising for those who wish to input their mics and use the recorders as their all-in-one preamp / ADC / recorder.
    Marantz PMD-660 / PMD-670

    • There are a couple people around running one of these, but not a lot of field-use information abounds.  Try a Search of TS for a handful of threads discussing these devices.
    Fostex FR-2

    • Again, not gobs of info available yet.  Check out the Oade Bros board for some info on mods available by them that make the FR-2 more taper-friendly.  Also, try a Search of TS for a handful of threads discussing the FR-2.
    Core-Sound PDAudio-CF

    • This option turns one of a few compatible PDA devices into portable recording devices supporting digital inputs.  Some folks have had trouble with reliability issues, others not so much.  Jury's still out on this option.  More info available on Core-Sound's site if you can decipher it.
    « Last Edit: February 18, 2005, 12:18:41 PM by Brian Skalinder »
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    Offline sygdwm

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    Re: What kind of recorder should I buy? (DAT, MD, Hi-MD, JB3)
    « Reply #1 on: November 06, 2004, 04:15:45 AM »
    re: laptops

    pros:

    -easy transfers
    -24bit/??? possibilities (depending on front-end)
    -can check email, surf and whatnot when not taping
    -looks cool
    -costs vary

    cons:

    -software/OS crashes
    -battery solutions
    -firewire/usb debacle
    -costs vary
    mics: (4)akg c460b(a60,mk46,ck1x,ck1,ck2,ck3,ck61,ck63)
    pres: oade m148/edirol wmod ua5
    recorders: marantz stock671/oade acm671/fostex busman vintage fr2le

    And GODDAMN did I use ALOT of smilies in that post ;D 8) :smoking: :spin:
    (P.S.: On a threaded discussion board like this one, there's no need to repeat someone's post when you reply to them; everyone can see all the messages in the thread.)

    Offline Brian Skalinder

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    Re: What kind of recorder should I buy? (DAT, MD, Hi-MD, JB3)
    « Reply #2 on: November 06, 2004, 05:33:14 AM »
    pros:

    -easy transfers
    -24bit/??? possibilities (depending on front-end)
    -can check email, surf and whatnot when not taping
    -looks cool
    -costs vary

    • Easy / no transfers
      • good.
    • Potential for 24-bit
      • good.
    • Email
      • neither pro nor con, IMO, as it doesn't relate to taping.
    • Looks cool
      • neither pro nor con, this isn't a fashion contest.
    • Costs vary
      • what range relative to the other devices listed?

    Gotta be more pros than this...anyone else wanna chime in?

    cons:

    -software/OS crashes
    -battery solutions
    -firewire/usb debacle
    -costs vary

    • Software/OS crashes
      • good.
    • Battery solutions
      • All of these devices require battery solutions, what about laptop battery solutions make 'em a con?
    • FW/USB debacle
      • what about Firewire and USB is a debacle/con?
    • Costs vary
      • again, what are we talking about here relative to the other devices?
      • Do cheap laptops suffer more problems than expensive ones for the purposes of taping?

    Some additional questions:

    • What about size / form factor?
    • Patching from others?
    • Feeding patchers?
    • Any pros/cons around the additional gear required to feed a digital signal to the laptop?
    • Can one feed an analog signal straight into a laptop?
    • Run-time relative to the other devices?

    Certainly some of the media (or lack thereof) pros/cons from the JB3 make sense here as well, I'll add 'em in.

    Sorry for all the questions, I've never taped laptop before so I don't really know the ins and outs.  Thanks for the starter list.


    Thanks to surf1div1 for the following on 24 bit PDA Recording:

    OK, I'm probably in a minority here, but this is beggining to finally make inroads as far as dependability. That has been the primary issue when trying for 24 bit recording. If 24 bit isn't an issue, then some of the other recording options like the nomad are probably superior for cost, etc. But, from my field tests, and I have no alligence or financial gain, this set up does have some advantages- the stealth aspect using a PDA is one. While the ADC that core uses does have to be stealthed, it's no larger then the PDA with the expansion pack that I currently use. With media costs dropping, and the speed of the media(SD cards) the ability to use it will further increase my options as I work towards a 24/96 recording option. Check out the yahoo group for more discussion from others using it:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PenComputingAudio/

    BTW, stay away from Core sounds recommendation for the Pocco software- it sucks. Also, the live 2496 software developer is very hands on- to the point of having your own personal software designer. He support is excellent. I'm using the CORE sound HEB with the ipaq 5555 and the HP dual expansion slot's to hold the PD-Audio card in one slot and the Toshiba 5 gig portabel hard drive for storage.

    « Last Edit: February 17, 2005, 05:11:10 PM by dmonterisi »
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