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Author Topic: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording  (Read 1716 times)

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Offline Torsken

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Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« on: March 16, 2017, 05:04:21 AM »
So, I wanna be able to do high quality field recordings AND have a unit for recording music - layering tracks "sound on sound"

Wishes:
  • great sounding pres and condenser mics
  • rechargable battery (not a deal breaker but they all should just do this..)
  • Multitracker "Portastudio style"
  • XLR/jack inputs
  • Userfriendly
  • SD card storage


Thanks for your advice  :)
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 05:07:03 AM by Torsken »

Offline Life In Rewind

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 06:34:12 AM »
Some of the ZOOM recorders will act like a USB interface - as well as function as a field recorder.

I think ZOOM H6 does this...
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TASCAM DR-70D/Tricorder

Offline Torsken

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 07:50:56 AM »
Yeah, I should have added... I have no faith in Zoom ;-)
They have the functions, but not the quality in sound. I'd rather spend more and get a great sounding unit.

Thanks though :)
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 08:05:03 AM by Torsken »

Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2017, 08:13:40 AM »
Someone else may have figured out a field recorder that will conveniently do sound on sound, but in my experience the easier method is to use a DAW like Reaper on a PC where you can add tracks, line them up, and see exactly how things are going.  So...how about a fanless PC laptop or tablet with long battery life, Reaper, and a USB interface like a Focusrite 2i2?  Then I'd add some kind of usb power hub and an external cell phone battery for extended run times. 

Offline Torsken

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 08:55:34 AM »
The idea was to get away from all that. At least during the creation of sound and music. I spend so much time already on PCs for work, research and general surfing. I'd prefer to focus on my instruments and music during recording. (Later is another story). 

I wonder why Tascam doesn't take this more serious. The Portastudios are not for really aimed at professionals. I don't see any contenders with a great device that cover sound on sound (not ment for the film industry).


Offline Life In Rewind

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 01:10:45 PM »
The idea was to get away from all that. At least during the creation of sound and music. I spend so much time already on PCs for work, research and general surfing. I'd prefer to focus on my instruments and music during recording. (Later is another story). 

I wonder why Tascam doesn't take this more serious. The Portastudios are not for really aimed at professionals. I don't see any contenders with a great device that cover sound on sound (not ment for the film industry).

The whole porta-approach was created to accommodate tape technology - that's over...learn to use Reaper and USB interface - that's the way...
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Offline Life In Rewind

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 01:13:54 PM »
Yeah, I should have added... I have no faith in Zoom ;-)
They have the functions, but not the quality in sound. I'd rather spend more and get a great sounding unit.

Thanks though :)

Well - that will limit your choices.

The ZOOM H6 gets some good reviews from experienced users here...and the new F8 is quickly taking market share from the companies like Sound Devices.

ZOOM has improved their products considerably since the H2 and H4 came along.
Audix M1280/Avantone CK-1/APEX 435/Altec 626A/TEAC ME-120/Sony ECM-999PR/Sony ECM-MS5
TASCAM DR-70D/Tricorder

Offline beatkilla

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2017, 04:04:42 PM »
Yeah, I should have added... I have no faith in Zoom ;-)
They have the functions, but not the quality in sound. I'd rather spend more and get a great sounding unit.

Thanks though :)

Well - that will limit your choices.

The ZOOM H6 gets some good reviews from experienced users here...and the new F8 is quickly taking market share from the companies like Sound Devices.

ZOOM has improved their products considerably since the H2 and H4 came along.

I HATED my Zoom H4 and did nothing but rip Zoom on this forum for years. Then I read some great reviews of the H6 here and decided to give it a try. I love this recorder especially for the price.
AT853's (all caps)/CM-300 Franken Naks (CP-1,2,3)/JBMod Nak 700's (CP-701,702) > Tascam DR-680
Or Sonic Studios DSM-6 > M10

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2017, 04:35:51 PM »
That Korg looks does a simplified version of what you want.  No individual track preservation, so not really "4 track Portastudio style", only additive sound-on-sound stereo layering.

I'd did this for grins using two Tascam DR2d recorders and a stereo-mini patch cable a few years ago.  That works since the DR2d can be set to record two stereo inputs (or internal mics + external stereo input) and mix the two to a single recorded file.  By patching the output of the recorder doing the playback into the line-input of the one used for recording the bounce + the new material,  I could bounce back and forth between the two machines adding an additional part each time.  That means a D>A>D conversion each bounce, so besides each addition being non-reversible, there is some degredation each generation.  Not dissimilar in that way to additive tape generation degradation each bounce, but not nearly as severe or noisy. 

That's basically the functionality the Korg provides, except the Korg would be a far better choice for doing that kind of thing regularly.  I did it partly because I tried doing the same thing way back in the 80's using two cassette Walkman recorders, which worked but got so horribly hissy after just a couple bounces it was unpractical.


You're probably best off buying a dedicated stereo recorder for field recordings and looking for a separate memory card based mulitchannel recorder intended for song composition.  Not sure what's available in that department these days, but there were numerous versions of that available just a few years ago.  Basically just smaller memory card versions of the old cassette Portastudios. Most of those that I saw typically didn't record at as high a rate as dedicated 2-channel stereo recorders though, typically maxing out at 44.1kHz/16bit.
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Offline down2earthlandscaper

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2017, 06:40:07 PM »
Yeah, I should have added... I have no faith in Zoom ;-)
They have the functions, but not the quality in sound. I'd rather spend more and get a great sounding unit.

Thanks though :)

Well - that will limit your choices.

The ZOOM H6 gets some good reviews from experienced users here...and the new F8 is quickly taking market share from the companies like Sound Devices.

ZOOM has improved their products considerably since the H2 and H4 came along.

I HATED my Zoom H4 and did nothing but rip Zoom on this forum for years. Then I read some great reviews of the H6 here and decided to give it a try. I love this recorder especially for the price.
^^^^ ditto that. I couldn't wait any longer for
Church products to arrive nor for my Tinybox to build and ship. Needed phantom power and xlr inputs. Got the H6 as something to get shows recorded while I was waiting. I'm really happy with the H6. I have higher quality decks (i.e. Sound Devices 722) but I do have to admit that the Zoom still gets used.
Here is a pretty solid result Nak 700's directly into the Zoom H6 
https://archive.org/details/sci2016-07-22.Nak700.flac16/SCI.2016.07.22_s01t01_Greetings.flac
Here is an example of a recording where I had to use the onboard editing functions to fix a level discrepancy between channels. Spit it out into a stereo mix down. Came out sounding better than the original files. https://archive.org/details/Matisyahu2016-09-17.BSC1-K31.flac24/Matisyahu2016-09-17_t01_Love_Born.flac
 
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Nakamichi CM300's (CP-1,2,3,4) Nakamichi CM700's (cards, omnis)
Tascam PE-120's (cards, omnis) Peluso CEMC-6 (cards and subcards)
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Preamps: CA-9100; Naiant Tinybox (12v/48v + PIP 8V); Naiant Littlebox;
DPA MPS6030; Sound Device Mix Pre-D
Decks: Sony PCM M10; Edirol R-4; Zoom H6; Marantz PMD-661; Sound Devices 722

Offline anode

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2017, 03:26:06 AM »
That Korg looks does a simplified version of what you want.  No individual track preservation, so not really "4 track Portastudio style", only additive sound-on-sound stereo layering.

I'd did this for grins using two Tascam DR2d recorders and a stereo-mini patch cable a few years ago.  That works since the DR2d can be set to record two stereo inputs (or internal mics + external stereo input) and mix the two to a single recorded file.  By patching the output of the recorder doing the playback into the line-input of the one used for recording the bounce + the new material,  I could bounce back and forth between the two machines adding an additional part each time.  That means a D>A>D conversion each bounce, so besides each addition being non-reversible, there is some degredation each generation.  Not dissimilar in that way to additive tape generation degradation each bounce, but not nearly as severe or noisy. 

That's basically the functionality the Korg provides, except the Korg would be a far better choice for doing that kind of thing regularly.  I did it partly because I tried doing the same thing way back in the 80's using two cassette Walkman recorders, which worked but got so horribly hissy after just a couple bounces it was unpractical.


You're probably best off buying a dedicated stereo recorder for field recordings and looking for a separate memory card based mulitchannel recorder intended for song composition.  Not sure what's available in that department these days, but there were numerous versions of that available just a few years ago.  Basically just smaller memory card versions of the old cassette Portastudios. Most of those that I saw typically didn't record at as high a rate as dedicated 2-channel stereo recorders though, typically maxing out at 44.1kHz/16bit.

I've spent hours and hours with that Korg sos.

Compared to what i consider a regular multitracker the korg does not give you control of individual tracks once they are recorded. Although, you can set it to preserve tracks as individual files which you can import to a daw and mix later.

I never considered the korg a serious tool for recording. More of a sketchpad for taking down ideas and working them. Playing around with it usually ended up with waaaay too many tracks, sounding like shit. But getting there was fun. Kind of like mixing colors - keep adding and it turns into brown goo.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2017, 08:42:56 AM »
I think that's spot on.   It's intended as a quick composition sketch pad type device.

It's easy to forget how limited things were only a couple decades ago before computer recording and manipulation became mainstream.  Using the old cassette based 4-tracks it took a lot of planning to bounce and layer things in the most appropriate order, because of generation loss, because of the limited track count, and because much of the time there was no going back to what existed pre-bounce.  Those things were major constraints, yet the need for a deliberate approach to work within those constraints imposed a sort of value itself.  Conversely, today it seems a soft constraint is imposed by the lack of much need for that kind of strategic vision regarding the architecture of the sonic construction - the vastly increased degrees of freedom each step threatens to swamp the bigger picture, and the problem has sort of been turned inside out.
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Offline Torsken

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2017, 11:53:17 AM »
That Korg looks does a simplified version of what you want.  No individual track preservation, so not really "4 track Portastudio style", only additive sound-on-sound stereo layering.

I'd did this for grins using two Tascam DR2d recorders and a stereo-mini patch cable a few years ago.  That works since the DR2d can be set to record two stereo inputs (or internal mics + external stereo input) and mix the two to a single recorded file.  By patching the output of the recorder doing the playback into the line-input of the one used for recording the bounce + the new material,  I could bounce back and forth between the two machines adding an additional part each time.  That means a D>A>D conversion each bounce, so besides each addition being non-reversible, there is some degredation each generation.  Not dissimilar in that way to additive tape generation degradation each bounce, but not nearly as severe or noisy. 

That's basically the functionality the Korg provides, except the Korg would be a far better choice for doing that kind of thing regularly.  I did it partly because I tried doing the same thing way back in the 80's using two cassette Walkman recorders, which worked but got so horribly hissy after just a couple bounces it was unpractical.


You're probably best off buying a dedicated stereo recorder for field recordings and looking for a separate memory card based mulitchannel recorder intended for song composition.  Not sure what's available in that department these days, but there were numerous versions of that available just a few years ago.  Basically just smaller memory card versions of the old cassette Portastudios. Most of those that I saw typically didn't record at as high a rate as dedicated 2-channel stereo recorders though, typically maxing out at 44.1kHz/16bit.

I've spent hours and hours with that Korg sos.

Compared to what i consider a regular multitracker the korg does not give you control of individual tracks once they are recorded. Although, you can set it to preserve tracks as individual files which you can import to a daw and mix later.

I never considered the korg a serious tool for recording. More of a sketchpad for taking down ideas and working them. Playing around with it usually ended up with waaaay too many tracks, sounding like shit. But getting there was fun. Kind of like mixing colors - keep adding and it turns into brown goo.

I think that Korg sounds like a bit of fun, but they obviously didn't see the value in it to develop the idea to something more than a sketchpad. Kind of is a shame, cause there can be magic in the immediate spur of the moment, and if the tracks are good enough you'd like to use it in a recording. I believe that the eyes shouldn't be that much involved in the recording process (checking out the waves on the screen...). Hardware sort of force you to use the ears more.  Don't get me wrong, DAWs give fantastic opportuneties, but in the recording process, - not so much IMHO.

I think that that "old way" of recording will be as resilient as Vinyl and cassette. There is a reason why people still love their old Portastudios - immediate focus without faffing around with the PC - drivers -updates - internet...facebook etc..."oh, right! I was about to record something..." If Tascam, Yamaha or Fostex made a new old style cassette multitracker I'd get it in a heartbeat.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2017, 12:28:37 PM »
They do.  Tascam (who introduced the original cassette Portastudio way back when) offers digital Portastudios today- http://tascam.com/products/mtr_digital_portastudio/

Those substitute a digital system recording to a memory card instead of the old analog systems recording to cassette. You essentially get the same user experience, but with far greater quality and flexibility, plus way more tracks and editing features built in.. go nuts.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2017, 12:51:24 PM »
The "Portastudio-like" offerings from Zoom- https://www.zoom-na.com/products/production-recording/multi-track-recorders

Looks like Yamaha has exited this market.
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Offline Torsken

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2017, 05:25:03 PM »
They do.  Tascam (who introduced the original cassette Portastudio way back when) offers digital Portastudios today- http://tascam.com/products/mtr_digital_portastudio/

Those substitute a digital system recording to a memory card instead of the old analog systems recording to cassette. You essentially get the same user experience, but with far greater quality and flexibility, plus way more tracks and editing features built in.. go nuts.

Not really the same..
In spite of the hiss and the limitations vs a digital unit, tape compression sounds nice and musical to me. Some of those old machnes had inputs for ext. effects too. These new ones are adequate for demos I guess, but lack the mojo of tape and also the higher quality sound of a e.g. Sound devices.  I'm not too tempted by 'em, - I wish I where though. Check out this great sounding home cassette recording:  https://youtu.be/yfdPfsYlgck. I really doubt that these new models can produce this.

For something complety different, Kodak have made a new Super 8 film camera. http://www.kodak.com/US/en/Consumer/Products/Super8/Super8-camera/default.htm
Call me crazy, but I really do believe that a lot of people would sacrifice the digital ease of use for a convenient new multitrack tape recorder that sounds great. Music lovers of the world LOVES the sound of tape! It's just that these mega corporations move like huge oil tankers on the ocean, very slow and steady with hardly any turns. It's a bit depressing how underwhelmed they make us with their new products. So little fresh and new stuff. Smaller manufacturers do come up with cool stuff, but they lack the founds so these news gets super expensive to develop.

Sorry if I sound negative, I'm just a bit dissapointed of what is on offer.


Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2017, 01:44:12 PM »
Eh.

The bigger ones have dedicated effects sends and returns, the smaller ones have line-outs which can be used as effects sends along with their inputs.  Just mix down from the digital portastudio to cassette, or patch through an old 3-head cassette tape-deck monitor loop if that's the effect you want. 

Sort of ironic that youtube recording is all early-era digital computer sequences recorded to cassette isn't it?  Not overly hard to capture that kind of thing with the limited fidelity of cassette, and the lo-fi tape 'sweetening' helps smooth the coarse lo-fi computer digital sound.  I don't see that as much of a proof of "goodness" given the material, and more an indication that the content was so limited to begin with that it actually fit pretty well within the limited fidelity of the portastudio/cassette medium.  I'm not bashing the content itself on aesthetic grounds, only drawing attention to it's deficiencies as an example of cassette/portastudio quality.

I'm of the cassette era.  Except for the mix tape, which is cassette's true artistic use, cassette pretty much sucked, and pretty much always did although it became relatively good given it's starting point.  I loved it, but except for mix tapes it's pretty much better off dead. It's inherently crippled low-fi medium. As an effect, well okay, but even that can be done better (and with less cost and effort) digitally these days. If "tape sound" is what I was after I'd probably use a digital 'tape effect' plugin after the recording was made where I have far better control over what and exactly how much.  I made loads of 4-track cassette stuff back in the 80's and 90's using various Yamaha and Tascam machines,  I still have the 4-track cassettes and the 2-channel cassette mixdown masters somewhere, some on fancy metal chrome tape DBX encoded..

And before that I grew up spending all my time making super-8 movies, cutting & splicing film, doing stop-action animation, scratch modifying and colorizing negatives, modifying cameras to change frame rate, and all kinds of home-brewed film effects.  Years later I had a black and white pixel-vision audio cassette based video camera - that was fun because it was so incredibly crappy!  I still have those cassettes somewhere too.

The real key as I see it for small independent producers is less about the inherent aesthetic of these media than what they enabled the creator to do - the way they influence the work and the decision making process.  I fully accept your initial argument along those lines.  But I reject the argument made on aesthetics.  That's only really relevant for big money productions where cost isn't an issue in doing things in expensive archaic ways for some incremental aesthetic gain, 90% of which can be done on the cheap by an independent far more easily in the modern digital era.  Early tech always sucks, and early consumer tape based video was terrible.  But what was way worse than the crappy video esthetic was that for couple decades, video effectively killed (or at least vastly altered) the creative process which had included all those cool things we were doing with film-based super-8.  Early digital audio recording didn't suffer quite as badly, partly because it was still integrated with analog workflows for a long time, yet now we can pretty much do digitally what we use to do analog, for both video and audio.  True, it took a while to get here, but it's becoming harder and harder to make the aesthetic argument even for money backed commercial creators.
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Offline Life In Rewind

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2017, 01:50:41 PM »
For the OP - you might find this little experiment I did a few years ago interesting...

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=156713.msg1977871
Audix M1280/Avantone CK-1/APEX 435/Altec 626A/TEAC ME-120/Sony ECM-999PR/Sony ECM-MS5
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Offline Blakeq

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Re: Field recorder - for Portastudio style recording
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2017, 01:42:12 PM »

http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/ls-100.html



That seems to meet your requirements.



So, I wanna be able to do high quality field recordings AND have a unit for recording music - layering tracks "sound on sound"

Wishes:
  • great sounding pres and condenser mics
  • rechargable battery (not a deal breaker but they all should just do this..)
  • Multitracker "Portastudio style"
  • XLR/jack inputs
  • Userfriendly
  • SD card storage


Thanks for your advice  :)

 

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