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Author Topic: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals  (Read 4458 times)

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Offline fiddleathome

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I'd like to get a portable recorder to record my violin lessons, some practice sessions with other players, and once in a while a recital.  I'd also like to use it at home too.  Currently I record with my PC using Reaper and a fast track ultra and a AT-2020 mic (XLR version).  Since I have an XLR mic I thought I should get one with XLR inputs.  That adds cost and weight but it'd give me more flexibility if I get more microphones in the future.  Outside of the house I'd use the internal mics only.

I really like the Sony PCM-M10 but it seems its internal mics aren't really ideal for recording musical instruments.  I haven't found many examples on the net, I did find one violin recorded with the sony and I wasn't fond of the sound.  The other item I'm considering is the Zoom H5.  It seems perfect except for its size, it's quite big and I'm afraid that might be intimidating if I use that to record other people like my violin teacher.  But perhaps not, it's just a little bigger than the H4n.

Except for recitals, almost all the recordings would be temporary for my practicing and then deleted after my next class.  So I'm not ready to spend more than the price of a zoom h5.

I thought overdubbing would be useful but I have read that it's really hard to do on a small recorder and that it's best left for a DAW on the PC.

Any recommendations?

Thanks




Offline yltfan

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Offline dyneq

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I have used the internals on the M10 to record mandolin and voice and I thought it sounded good (I have externals, but wanted to experiment with the internals). I think placement is key; I try to think of it as a microphone instead of a recorder/mic combo and use a tripod to put it in the right spot. There are a lot of great resources on the net for how to place mics for different sources, but ultimately it pays to record, monitor, listen, modify, repeat until you get what you're after.

I don't have a violin or I'd offer to upload a sample.

Since you want XLR inputs, why are you considering the M10?

Offline fiddleathome

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I have used the internals on the M10 to record mandolin and voice and I thought it sounded good (I have externals, but wanted to experiment with the internals). I think placement is key; I try to think of it as a microphone instead of a recorder/mic combo and use a tripod to put it in the right spot. There are a lot of great resources on the net for how to place mics for different sources, but ultimately it pays to record, monitor, listen, modify, repeat until you get what you're after.

I don't have a violin or I'd offer to upload a sample.

Since you want XLR inputs, why are you considering the M10?

My concern with the M10 is not getting a stereo sound, and getting too much background noise.  For example at a recital if I set it up front a 90 degree stereo would help isolate the performer.

For me the M10 is a tradeoff - losing XLR inputs in exchange for something small, light, and inexpensive.  I could live with that if it had the 90 degree stereo recording.  I think that's the dealbreaker for me.


Offline yates7592

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Roland R-26 - it has XLR inputs and also internal mics recording in XY and/or omni patterns. Up to 6 channels. Might be a bit over your budget but seems ideal.

Offline 2manyrocks

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The OP appears to be the same question posed at GS.  That site is more oriented towards paid professionals who use very high end gear.  The posters on this site are a varied group of concert tapers trying to figure out better ways to record with gear bought from their available personal funds.   There is much more experimentation here. 

With that background said,  the Sony M10 can provide plug in power to external microphones and be connected via the 1/8 input.  Plenty of folks here have recorded concerts running Audio Technica AT853s or Countryman B3s or DPA 4060s into Sonys.  If recording loud concerts, they will use a battery box or preamp between the M10 and the mics.  For shows of a reasonable volume, I have run  AT853s modified with a resistor directly into the M10 with no issue. 

This makes for a very portable recording package.  The downside is you won't be able to plug your AT2020 or any other mic requiring phantom power into the M10 without an external preamp that can provide phantom power.   I don't think that matters because you can still use your AT2020 with your computer, and the AT853s might be enough for recording your concerts. 

 Most of the AT853s modified with the resistor that come up for sale are sold in the Yardsale here by Darktrain for about $135.   You can make a PVC mount to hold them in the pattern shown here very inexpensively.  The picture illustrates how to mount them from the ceiling with a security cam mount.  You would only be interested in the black plastic part to mount on a mic stand. 

But before buying anything, keep reading and asking questions to be sure you're getting what you really want.  Good to see your post here. 
« Last Edit: January 16, 2015, 11:07:26 AM by 2manyrocks »

Offline dyneq

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My concern with the M10 is not getting a stereo sound, and getting too much background noise.  For example at a recital if I set it up front a 90 degree stereo would help isolate the performer.

For me the M10 is a tradeoff - losing XLR inputs in exchange for something small, light, and inexpensive.  I could live with that if it had the 90 degree stereo recording.  I think that's the dealbreaker for me.

If you have the flexibility to place the M10 where you want, you can still pull great sound and stereo imaging with it. However, if you're looking for more flexibility in patterns in a single unit, there are some really cool alternatives available (switchable mic patterns, cardioids and omni combinations, etc). Check out the Olympus pro-level units. They're not as popular here because the earlier models (LS-10 and LS-11) had an internal, non-defeatable bass rolloff that isn't suitable for what most people do here. But for recording violin, etc. these would be just fine. I think I read that some of their newer models do not roll off anymore. I had an LS-11 and loved it (great build quality and awesome ergonomics). I switched to the M10 because I didn't want to carry a preamp to avoid the rolloff, and it's a good unit (quiet preamp, great battery life), but I didn't buy it for the internals and I don't like the ergonomics as much as the Olympus (button layout and menu system).

Here are Olympus' current offerings:

http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/audio/pcm-recorders.html

That LS-100 looks really nice. I'd love to play with one. Maybe you could find a place locally where you could bring in your violin and your externals and test some units?

Offline dallman

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Personally, the m-10 does not sound like what you want, and you'd probably not be happy with it. In listening to what you are looking for, the Tascam DR40 does sound like a good choice, and the Tascam DR100MKII might be nice. The internal mics are not terrible and there actually are cardioid and omni mics built in plus XLR jacks. It's a bit bigger, but still a handheld. Battery life is not great, but you can swap between the two battery sources while recording, or just use an external battery.  Another possibility although I don't think anyone here has played with it yet is the Tascam DR44WL, which has XLR jacks plus a wireless opportunity to place the internals far away and still maintain control from a smartphone. Good luck!
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Offline Ozpeter

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Quote
Another possibility although I don't think anyone here has played with it yet is the Tascam DR44WL, which has XLR jacks plus a wireless opportunity to place the internals far away and still maintain control from a smartphone.
Yeah, I mentioned that on the GS thread - in terms of function it would be perfect, as the separation of device and control interface is ideal for the scenarios mentioned in the original post.  But, indeed, reliable reports of its actual quality in use have yet to be seen in the usual forums (eg, here!).  As mentioned in another thread here, I have the smaller DR-22WL, and find that its mics have a bit too much of the higher frequencies rolled off (plus side, they'd never make a string instrument sound shrill) but this can readily be fixed with eq in post production.  Whether the larger model has the same veiled sound we simply don't know.

Offline fiddleathome

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The OP appears to be the same question posed at GS.  That site is more oriented towards paid professionals who use very high end gear.  The posters on this site are a varied group of concert tapers trying to figure out better ways to record with gear bought from their available personal funds.   There is much more experimentation here. 

There it was recommended that I buy something for $29.95.  I didn't find that helpful at all.  ;)

Thanks for your recommendations for using external mics, but that's what I'm trying to avoid.  I wouldn't mind using the mic I already own at home, if the quality is better than the built-in mics (I'm not really sure if it is).  In the recitals at our music school, the room is medium sized and it wouldn't be practical to set up microphones, so the built-in will have to do.


Offline fiddleathome

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2015, 03:31:06 AM »
The Roland R26 is out of my price range unfortunately.  The R05 doesn't seem bad, but doesn't have XLR inputs.

I think I read that some of their newer models do not roll off anymore. I had an LS-11 and loved it (great build quality and awesome ergonomics). I switched to the M10 because I didn't want to carry a preamp to avoid the rolloff, and it's a good unit (quiet preamp, great battery life), but I didn't buy it for the internals and I don't like the ergonomics as much as the Olympus (button layout and menu system).

Here are Olympus' current offerings:

http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/audio/pcm-recorders.html

That LS-100 looks really nice. I'd love to play with one. Maybe you could find a place locally where you could bring in your violin and your externals and test some units?

When I read the first couple of reviews of the LS-14 at amazon, they're not very good.  The first reviewer seems to be more interested in ambient sounds so I don't know if his review is relevant to my intended useage.  But the second is a bit worrisome, he recommended another brand.  So the LS-100 must be better right?  Well the reviews are just as bad.  I read them at amazon & B&H.  I saw a few issues:

- one user reported he couldn't pause a recording and then unpause.  Another reviewer said this does work.  So that would have to be verified.
- no indexes on multitrack
- can't seem to overdub part of a track, it erases the track and re-records it instead of creating a new file.  Is this user error? 
- the biggest issue:  a 0.2 sec delay in the headphone monitor when recording multitrack.  That's completely unacceptable.  And I'm glad I read about it because I'm not sure that's something I'd notice in the 30 day return period.  It seems this was fixed with a firmware update, but how did they even release this with the delay?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/audio/hands-reviews/hands-review-new-olympus-ls-100-portable-recorder

In this video there is a comparison/review of the LS-100 & Zoom H4n.  in the usability area, I can see the olympus is a pain to use.  For example when you hit record  you have to select several menu items (mode, folder) before it records.  The zoom records immediately.  That just isn't useable for me when I want to record something quickly.

http://youtu.be/AZ3zsarY4LM?t=4m

The review also says that the Olympus mic positioning results in an unnaturally wide stereo image.  It seems that the Zoom H5 mic setup (90 degrees) is ideal.  The H4n was adjustable between 90 & 120 but the Zoom H5 is not.

http://youtu.be/AZ3zsarY4LM?t=5m43s (same review, just cued to a different spot)

Same link, just after, is another example of how the 90 degree angle gives the zoom a more focused sound.  I think this is better for recording musicians, definitely if recording a single one or a few, if recording a large group I'm not sure.

Also note that for me (in France) the Olympus LS-100 is 400 euros compared to 250 for the Zoom H5.  That's a huge difference. 

I'm still debating between Tascam and Zoom H5.  A found someone with a Zoom H4n who will bring it over and let me do some tests.  I am thinking the Zoom H5 might be the best bet.  I can accept a bigger size if it means having something really designed for musicians.









Offline fiddleathome

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2015, 04:09:09 PM »
I spent a few hours researching the Tascam DR-44WL and it looks quite good.  I'm really torn between it and the Zoom H5.  The WIFI control seems like a great feature.  Initially there were some bugs but they seem to have been worked out, at least for IOS, I'm not sure about Android.  It's so new there aren't many reviews.  One person said the WIFI range wasn't great so you might as well walk over and adjust it directly.  The sound quality seems to be very similar, with a bit lower noise on the Tascam.  The screen on the tascam is bigger. 

It's a really tough call, I'm going to continue searching and watching videos.


Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2015, 05:31:28 PM »
The search feature here will pinpoint the threads where specific recorders have been discussed. 

Kickdown Central thread here will also lead you to recordings made with particular recorders. 

Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2015, 10:39:31 PM »
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There it was recommended that I buy something for $29.95.  I didn't find that helpful at all.
I understand that unfortunate suggestion was the result of not fully noting your requirements.

Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2015, 01:18:54 PM »
Plush has evidently spent a small fortune on high end Nagra recorders.  No one that owns that level of recorder needs to spend time on recorders that cost a few hundred dollars.  In other posts, Plush has been negative towards handheld recorders generally.  The Nagra Mezzo is the only one that I recall his speaking of favorably.    It's nothing personal.  It just appears he doesn't like handheld recorders except for the Mezzo. 






Offline dyneq

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2015, 01:45:10 PM »
It's a really tough call, I'm going to continue searching and watching videos.

Another thing to consider that most folks on this board don't need to worry about is how quiet the internal preamp is (most here are recording PAs in noisy spaces). For what you want to do, you'll want to pay attention to the recorder's self noise. This page (geared toward nature recordists) has many of the recorder's test numbers (EIN). Since that community also values low self noise, the best recorders are at the top of the list:

http://www.avisoft.com/recordertests.htm

You might also ask in the Team Classical sub forum.

Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2015, 09:25:41 PM »
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Another thing to consider that most folks on this board don't need to worry about is how quiet the internal preamp is (most here are recording PAs in noisy spaces).

They may not need to worry - but I bet they do!   The thing about recording (and sound reproduction) is that there's a terrible urge to buy absolutely the best, regardless of requirement and sometimes regardless of ability to pay...

Offline dyneq

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2015, 09:58:00 PM »
Quote
Another thing to consider that most folks on this board don't need to worry about is how quiet the internal preamp is (most here are recording PAs in noisy spaces).

They may not need to worry - but I bet they do!   The thing about recording (and sound reproduction) is that there's a terrible urge to buy absolutely the best, regardless of requirement and sometimes regardless of ability to pay...

Truth! I have to admit that I often follow that path, but I've gotten better about it over time. But, it's good for the economy, right?

Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2015, 10:57:07 AM »
It might help a particular company's profits, but I doubt all the gear spending by everyone on this board would have any measurable impact on the overall economy. 

One thing that makes it difficult to offer suggestions to the OP is that product pricing in France appears to be substantially different than in the US.  I suggested looking at the DR100mkii vs. the Zoom, and it turns out the DR is something like $100 more in France right now. 

I came across a thread here asking about recorders for classical recording that I started to post, but using the search feature it appears there are several more that might be worth reading.  http://taperssection.com/index.php?action=search2

The  Tascam DR44wl has just been out a few months and therefore wasn't mentioned in the older threads.  If it has better battery life and improved preamps, it might be worth the extra money not to mention the built in mics with shock protection. 

Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Recommendation for a recorder for practice sessions, lessons, and recitals
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2015, 05:28:08 PM »
Quote
The  Tascam DR44wl has just been out a few months and therefore wasn't mentioned in the older threads.  If it has better battery life and improved preamps, it might be worth the extra money not to mention the built in mics with shock protection. 
Also not to mention is the wifi remote feature which seems to be its chief recommendation (pending someone discovering whether the internal mic system is amazing, average, or bad).  So I won't mention it.  (The Android remote now has a built in remote player which I hope to test today on my DR-22WL - as I understand it, the app works with the two track and four track models similarly).

 

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