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Author Topic: Recorder for home use  (Read 1164 times)

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Offline Martinez Llorca

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Recorder for home use
« on: July 16, 2020, 08:25:19 AM »
It's been some since I haven't visited this forum. So please excuse some ignorance on later models that might have been released in the last 3 or 4 years.

The application I'm planning is also different, because it will be focused on playing rather than recording.

But I wouldn't be surprised if, with the actual quarantine situation that has stopped most external recordings in all areas, some recordists might not be already thinking or even using their units for home use. It should be fine both for the electronics and for the minds that handle them.

The matter came up because a friend of mine asked of a way to play his music at home with high quality, minimum CD quality.

He's a very demanding person, as he manufactures high quality home speakers, some of the best there is, so he never listens with headphones, which is how most portable recorders have been designed for.

Budget is a very important issue too, because we are not talking about an studio unit, with proper external outputs, like RCA or XLR, instead of 3.5mm mini-plug interface.

The first unit I started with was the Tascam DR-05X, priced at a very affordable $90 at B&H. I did already own a DR-05 in the past, which I unfortunately lost on a cab. And it was great when I had it.

Its weak point is the analog output, which for the price can't be too good. But it now has a digital USB interface, which I think might be used with an external DAC, something like a Topping D50 or something similarly priced. Both units would make a total of around $300, and for that money you can't even find a decent CD player nowadays, not to speak of a good one, like a Marantz.

So I'm coming here to listen to some suggestions on what path to take, particularly from those that are already using some recorder for home music.

Thanks!

Carlos

Offline heathen

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2020, 10:01:41 AM »
I don't know much about this subject (though I do use my Zoom F8 for home recordings), but one thing to look into is a recorder that can also serve as a USB interface.
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Online Gutbucket

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2020, 10:58:02 AM »
You might look for an inexpensive recorder that features some form of digital output.  Not sure which have them these days and its not always obvious by looking at them.  The Original Edirol R-09 which came to market something like 15 year ago and served as a model for most other small handhelds to follow had a optical-toslink output that shared the 3.5mm miniplug analog output.  I used to use that for playback through a quality DAC.  Coaxial SPDIF out tended to be available on slightly larger recorders.  Recently direct digital output (along with digital input) has become less common, while USB interface functionality has become more prevalent.  With any of those options the recorder serves simply as a "file server" streaming out digital data, what folks around here used to call a "bit bucket" on the recording side.  Most (all?) USB interface functionality will need to be to a computer which serves as host.  The recorder is unlikely to be able to function as a USB host allowing connection directly to a DAC.

Might also check the TS yardsale for a larger used recorder that features RCA or balanced XLR analog outs. 
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Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline Martinez Llorca

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2020, 01:14:27 PM »
Does anybody know any brand and model where the digital output can be recognized as USB host by an external DAC? 

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2020, 01:21:20 PM »
Best to look for one with a SPDIF digital output (either optical or coax) on that account as they definitely exist.  A small and inexpensive recorder which can act as USB host is likely a unicorn.
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Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline heathen

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2020, 02:10:03 PM »
Does anybody know any brand and model where the digital output can be recognized as USB host by an external DAC?

I'm guessing (just a guess!) that any of the recorders that also serve as a USB interface might be recognized by a DAC that has USB input.  I can test my F8 with my Schiit DAC this weekend if you'd like (though the F8 may be overkill for your purposes...if nothing else it might serve as "proof of concept" though).  Shoot me a PM this weekend if you'd like me to do that...I've got a lot going on today and tomorrow so I'll need the reminder.
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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2020, 02:58:53 PM »
If it is going be used for playback only, and needs USB host capability to drive a USB DAC directly while being relatively inexpensive, it may be best to look into a cheap phone as media player.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline Martinez Llorca

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2020, 03:05:42 PM »
AFAIK phones are not good or capable to record or play high resolution files, which would be the case here.

And I don't think you can connect a DAC to a phone, can you? What program can you use?

Note: please do not consider any iPhone as an option.

Offline carpa

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2020, 05:12:08 PM »
Does anybody know any brand and model where the digital output can be recognized as USB host by an external DAC?

I'm guessing (just a guess!) that any of the recorders that also serve as a USB interface might be recognized by a DAC that has USB input.  I can test my F8 with my Schiit DAC this weekend if you'd like (though the F8 may be overkill for your purposes...if nothing else it might serve as "proof of concept" though).  Shoot me a PM this weekend if you'd like me to do that...I've got a lot going on today and tomorrow so I'll need the reminder.

Nice point....I don't think a recorder's usb out can serve as a "playback" digital port if not connected to a pc as an audio interface. I suspect that only headphone out and line out ( if present) would serve as outputs. It would be a great feature though, allowing the use of a dac or a better check of the recorded material ( better sound, more powerful headphone amp). I'll also try tomorrow with my Zoom h6, but with very little hope of success.

I second the advice of connecting a usb dac to a cell phone for a portable solution. Things like audioquest dragonfly red or similar would serve well. I own an Apogee Groove which is very good and powerful, but differently from Dragonfly it is meant mainly for desktop use as it drains a bit of energy. It works with some phones and not with others through a usb on the go cheap dongle, depending on - I think - on their battery capacity. Other models work with every cell phone but can only convert and play files up to hi res.  This is the best solution if you don't need recording, or if you use a recorder at the purpose but then move your files to the cell phone.
Other option is a Digital Audio Player ( there are from 30 to 2000 euros) which combines storage, app for playing dac and analog out into a single little pice of gear ( an iPod alternative/evolution ).
Lastly, I've read more than once that some LG phone models have a very good onboard DAC ( let's say "audiophile" grade). Maybe worth giving a look.....
« Last Edit: July 16, 2020, 05:26:41 PM by carpa »

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2020, 05:28:52 PM »
Phone devices are most certainly are capable of both playing and recording high resolution files via external USB interfaces.  I am not suggesting use of the phone's analog input/output jack.

Unlike most recorders, modern phone devices have not just USB client but USB host capability, meaning they can be directly connected to and control a USB client device such as a storage device, DAC or certain USB ADC recording interfaces.  They essentially act like a portable computer in this respect.  Somewhat older phones without USB-C but with OTG support require an OTG adapter cable to act as a host, recent phones with USB-C do not.  Not sure when such support started with iPhones and the specifics of their proprietary USB connections.

I'm not an iOS user but why not iPhone?  One of the highest-end ultra-compact recording setups currently available is the DPA d:vice which currently only works with iOS.  Most tapers using it record directly to iPhone rather and iPad.  Similarly some Zoom recorders such as F8 heathen mentions (which I also use but is priced beyond your loosely implied cost constraint) have remote control apps which are currently iOS only. I wish both of these products were compatible with Android devices but they currently are not.  Some member here have purchased low cost apple devices for $60-$80 solely for dedicated recording use with those products.

Most recorders with a USB port are client devices only.  They can be accessed for storage and sometimes as audio interfaces by a USB host, but do not have host capability themselves.  The ones which do are larger and more expensive, and even then such host capability tends to be limited to things like keyboard input and/or specific mixer surface devices.


« Last Edit: July 16, 2020, 05:35:50 PM by Gutbucket »
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline Martinez Llorca

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2020, 05:46:53 PM »
First let me tell you why iPhone is a no no. 

To start with all things are Mac, both phones and computers are scarce and very expensive in Latin America, where I live. Those prices you mention will never happen here for an iPhone.

Second I don't understand how I will connect both the DAC and a storage driver to the single USB phone input, as I am not sure both things can be connected in parallel.

Only high definition files are useful, that is they have to be equal or superior to a CD. So any type of MP3 is out.

DAPs were the first option I mentioned to my friend, and then I thought of digital recorders. It will probably be one of those choices. I would prefer my friend having a recorder with an external DAC connected to it though, but it seems it's unlikely to happen.

Offline heathen

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2020, 06:08:00 PM »
Does your friend need portability?  Because if not a Raspberry Pi is worth considering.  They're easy to build, and high quality DAC "hats" are available for very reasonable prices.  I have used one to record as an experiment, and it's like recording with any computer.  I have also used one for playback and it's fully capable of bit-perfect high resolution playback.  For someone who is not used to building this sort of thing it might appear intimidating at first, but there are plenty of online guides where you literally just follow the instructions step-by-step.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2020, 06:40:33 PM by heathen »
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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2020, 06:38:59 PM »
Unavailability of Apple products in Latin America at competitive cost is a valid dismissal.  The other concerns you list are not.  A phone acts the same as a DAP or recorder (or computer, which is essentially what it is), providing both storage and playback control of files of any rate up to that supported by the USB DAC and the app used to play the files.  You needn't choose to use one, but there is no quality bottle neck there.

I'll leave it to heathen, who's advice above is spot on.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2020, 06:58:06 PM »
AFAIK phones are not good or capable to record or play high resolution files, which would be the case here.

And I don't think you can connect a DAC to a phone, can you? What program can you use?

Note: please do not consider any iPhone as an option.
Nothing wrong with phones you can get yourself a Chromecast and stream lossless from the phone to a DAC
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Offline Martinez Llorca

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Re: Recorder for home use
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2020, 08:36:35 AM »
I went find about Chromecast. It's a hardware, apparently, isn't it?

 

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