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Author Topic: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spdif)?  (Read 563 times)

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Offline taper420

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It's nearly 2021 and it's been quite a few years since I research this topic, so I'm interested to see how we've come along. For years I used the Tascam HD-P2 and enjoyed how robust the unit was with features for video sync (not just timecode, but genlock/wordclock for long takes to avoid drift - important for concert videography). It looks like recorders with these features are far and few between these days, and expensive.

Pretty much the only multitrack Tascam I can find these days with sync and timecode features is the heavy and huge HS-P82 (just barely a field recorder). It looks like the ol' Sound Devices 788t has these features, but not its smaller siblings. It looks like the latest top of the line SD units like the Scorpio have these features, but not their lower tier recorders (some have timecode but not sync). While some of the Zoom units do have timecode, it also looks like none of them have external clock sync features. The Zaxcom devices are very pricey, just like the top SD devices. I haven't really looked at older units like the Roland Pro units because it's 2020 and I was hoping to see what's available with added modern features. Additional features I would love to see (but aren't strictly necessary) are digi in, 32 bit float (I'd really like that), and app control. Really, bare minimum for consideration is 4 tracks with timecode and external clock sync. And the unicorn would be 8 tracks, timecode, digi in, genlock/wordclock in, 32 bit float, and app control.

I came across the Tascam DR-701D. Has timecode input and can sync clock to camera over HDMI. This is not ideal. It would work in some situations, but I would much rather have a wordclock/genlock/digi sync option. Lockit boxes output wordclock, not HDMI. Conversion wouldn't work because converting blackburst or other clock signals to HDMI would introduce an ADC running on its own clock.

So we've got the DR-701D at the bottom of the list and the Scorpio (and Deva) at the top... so what else fits on the spectrum?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 10:08:32 PM by taper420 »
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Offline GLouie

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2020, 02:19:42 AM »
I am not a TC expert, but why won't the Sound Devices Mix Pre10II work?

From the manual:
BNC IN MixPre-10 II only. Set BNC to Timecode or Word Clock.
BNC OUT MixPre-10 II only. Set BNC to Timecode or Word Clock.
SYNC REF MixPre-10 II only. Select from BNC In or Internal. When BNC In is selected, the MixPre-10 II can be set to sync to an external timecode or word clock sync reference connected to BNC In.

For sure, it doesn't have a digital input though.

Offline taper420

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2020, 05:14:44 AM »
I am not a TC expert, but why won't the Sound Devices Mix Pre10II work?

From the manual:
BNC IN MixPre-10 II only. Set BNC to Timecode or Word Clock.
BNC OUT MixPre-10 II only. Set BNC to Timecode or Word Clock.
SYNC REF MixPre-10 II only. Select from BNC In or Internal. When BNC In is selected, the MixPre-10 II can be set to sync to an external timecode or word clock sync reference connected to BNC In.

For sure, it doesn't have a digital input though.

Hmm... I wasn't aware of that. Interesting though, the way it's worded it doesn't seem like you can do both at the same time... you can have word sync or timecode in, but not both. Or am I reading that wrong? Syncing to timecode would technically work, but it's not ideal. I guess syncing to wordclock and then using the unit as the TC master would work as well. Still not as elegant as the 15+ year old HD-P2... with that you have no need to convert the video ref to wordclock, or even use an external sync box... just get it all from the camera. I'm pretty sure the 788t has the video ref as well, and the only other unit I know that has it is the HS-P82. I was surprised to see the Scorpio doesn't actually have a video ref, and neither do the Zaxcoms. So you'd have to get a wordclock from an external device like a Lockit, which is also feeding TC to the camera and recorder.

I have an ancient piece of gear that solves a lot of this, called a MOTU digital timepiece. However I was looking for a solution that is more portable, as that requires AC power.
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Offline EmRR

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2020, 10:30:29 AM »
A bunch of blah blah about things you already know, maybe helps others: 

I ran a bunch of timecode sync tests with a ZoomF8n and documented them here somewhere.  For what we do here, I’ll call it useless. Immediate obvious drift.  Since timecode is really only good for a starting point sync, it works for the hundreds of small bits a film sound recordist would capture for picture.   OTOH, I’m working a 2 hour live music radio show which usually has 32 mics going to multitrack, and one time I used the F8n to capture additional ambience mics.  Those dropped into the multitrack later with no problems at all, no great difficulty aligning them by eye/ear.  Word clock would be great, but the radio show proved it’s not essential for simple work with long files. TC throws a serious wrench into things by introducing a drift factor. The proprietary MOTU method is great, I wish it was a standard, or there was a portable battery box that did the same thing.   
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2020, 02:10:28 PM »
word clock is the most applicable to multitrack. ive found TC basically useless for this purpose. As discussed, it can be manually synched just as easily.

most clocks, while slightly different, are generally pretty consistent in their own timing
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Offline H₂O

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2020, 03:45:12 PM »
All SD7xx series support WC sync
Any SD7xxT (702T, 744T, 788T) support Timecode sync/jamming and video sync


Don’t know about video sync on the non T versions of the 7xx series

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Offline H₂O

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2020, 03:48:58 PM »
SD Mixpre-10T and 10II support wc and tc over BNC
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Offline Teen Wolf Blitzer

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2020, 07:45:37 PM »
I regularly film wiith 7-8 cams.  Only 4 have TC along with my 744.  I've never used it.  I mix in post and use plurrel eyes.  ;o)

Offline GLouie

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2020, 12:32:06 PM »
I see the MixPre 10II also takes TC in via a little HDMI input "for select cameras". I never use TC, so can't speak about the possible configurations. The manual is downloadable, but seems a little sparse.

My guess is that if Deva and SD Scorpio class products don't do video ref, that they figure their clients don't need it.

Offline taper420

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2020, 07:55:46 PM »
The thing with Deva level gear is, you almost certainly have an external clock providing genlock, wordclock, and timecode as needed to the whole set. And if sync isn't needed, it isn't needed. A lot of times on set, TC is all you need, if that. But sometimes you need full clock-lock, so the top level gear at bare minimum all have WC. It's all you really need, a video ref is just for convenience to reduce gear. It's a very nice addition to the SD and Tascam gear I've seen it on. And I was maybe just overlooking it on the Scorpio since it was never a real contender for me.

I do sound production on film/video productions, as well as A/V production for concerts, and hobby taping. Three very different beasts, so I'm obviously not going to find something the fits all perfectly. But I already have a bit of gear, and still don't have all my bases covered. I recently (prior to the 'rona) had to inform a producer that I was going to have to run a cart with AC power or we'd have to factor rental costs into the production, because I didn't have an easily portable timecode solution for more than 2 channels. TC is very much still alive, even though I'll take Plural Eyes any day of the week (tweaking aside). A lot of my solutions (resolve TC from LTC recorded as audio, MOTU DTP, HD-P2) are not ideal for film productions where you need to hand things off quickly at the end of the day, you often don't have AC power available, and you need more than 2 channels a lot of the time.

Now, given my second use-case, if I'm getting a new recorder for film production, it better be able to stay in sync with my cameras (that have genlock and TC) for a full concert. I don't care about TC, I care about drift. As for my third use-case, obviously I'm going to use it for taping, and that has the least requirements (boo-hoo, I'll have to run my V3 analog only if I want to use it).

So... given all that, and what I've learned in this thread and researched further... I just pulled the trigger on a MixPre 10 II... wish me luck! Key is that it can clock sync just to LTC, just like the HD-P2 and old MOTU interfaces. Also, while the manual is pretty scant, it looks like you should be able to input TC through the AUX jack and still sync to WC on the BNC. Now... someone stop me from ordering a spidf > WC extractor for $175.
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Offline GLouie

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2020, 04:15:28 PM »
I hope it works out for you. I got a 10ii before the $75 price jump to $1525 last week. I don't use TC, but otherwise have been studying the ways to configure it and use it as a USB interface - it's very flexible if you can figure out how to route things.

Offline taper420

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2020, 08:12:05 PM »
I hope it works out for you. I got a 10ii before the $75 price jump to $1525 last week. I don't use TC, but otherwise have been studying the ways to configure it and use it as a USB interface - it's very flexible if you can figure out how to route things.

Oh boy, price jump, didn't know about that... aren't things like this suppose to come down in price with time? Luckily I found a factory refurb unit for $1340 with full warranty and one of the few places I could still order out-of-state with no nexus or marketplace tax requirements. I'm looking forward to it sitting on the shelf for the next 6-24 months while its warranty withers away.
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Offline taper420

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2020, 09:36:33 PM »
That SPDIF to workclock extractor, though...
https://youtu.be/RpyEQM8cdRA

I could sync the 10 II to my 680 II and get 16 ISO channels! Add the HD-P2 in the mix and now I've got genlock. I mean, technically I can do the sync with my old MOTU Traveler, too, which is huge but does run on batteries. And of course the DTP, if there is an outlet available.

So... maybe I'd be better served looking to trade my optimod V3 for one with wordclock... that would let me do the same thing (except for genlock). But I've got a lot of sentimental mojo attached to my V3... all the shows, all the streams... that optical output was what easily allowed me to do streams into my MBP. But it might be time to move on, as it's no longer needed, and I could really use that WC out now. Anybody interested? :'(
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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spidf)?
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2020, 10:32:48 PM »
Oh boy, price jump, didn't know about that... aren't things like this suppose to come down in price with time?

im wondering if the bump is due to the AKM factory fire
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Offline GLouie

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Re: Recorders with timecode and external sync (wordclock/genlock/spdif)?
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2020, 01:24:37 AM »
I'm not privy to SD's pricing plan, but a $75 rise seems commendable if SD can't get AKM parts. I seem to recall the 10II initially priced at $1399, then $1450, now $1525 since introduction. Maybe they stocked up on parts, or maybe they just become unavailable at any price.

And I recall the 10T selling for $1800 with no power supply, so the 10II really is a price drop and does a lot more.
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