Re: Portable Sound Recording Devices

From: Jason Cortlund (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Oct 14 2007 - 13:25:07 PDT


Iım not a real ³pro-audio² guy, but I hereıs what Iıve learned from
recording for my own projects.

I still like the quality of magnetic tape run through a Nagra. But thatıs
probably not the most portable, popular, or convenient option these days for
field recording. I know some folks who claim to be happy using portable
4-tracks (recording onto good old cassette tapes) for cheap field recording
with a certain lo-fi charm. Havenıt done it myself, though (not for film,
anyway). I imagine that capture and synching could be a nightmare.

For portable recording on a more modern tape-based medium, Iıve had decent
results with the Tascam DA-P1 DAT recorder. Itıs a very basic workhorse
thatıs been around for years: no timecode, 2-channels, dual XLR inputs.
Output via RCA (no Firewire or USB, if I remember correctly). Both 44.1kHz
and 48kHz sample rates. Phantom Power. Rechargeable battery or AC. Itıs
smaller/lighter than a Nagra, but bigger than Compact Flash or mini CD
recorders. Depending where youıre located, theyıre an affordable rental. Or
you can buy them used for between $500 and $800 (maybe around $1000 new).
This was my old standby for down-and-dirty field work without much of a
budget. There are plenty of other brands/models of DAT recorders too
(Marantz and Fostex supposedly have some good models; Sony makes a few
models too, but Iıve preferred the Tascam to the two different Sony units
Iıve used).

I have friends who swear by mini-CD recording for really portable, cheap,
and synch-able recording, but I donıt like the sound quality or the idea of
ever patching a mic in through a mini port.

I just bought a Marantz PMD 660 that records onto Compact Flash cartridges
(just like the ones used in digital still cameras) new for around $500. I
havenıt used it for a project yet, but Iım pretty satisfied with my initial
tests. Some folks have reported noise under certain circumstances, but I
havenıt had a problem (itıll probably happen when Iım in the remote Yukon
recording Caribou calls, though I donıt know why Iıd be doing that). Itııs
light and can fit in one hand. 2 XLR inputs, USB output, Phantom power,
etc. Runs on AA batteries or AC. Records uncompressed WAV files in 44.1 or
48 or MP3 files in stereo or mono. A 1 GB CF card can hold over 1 hour of
uncompressed stereo; records twice as long in mono (cards come as large as 4
GB). As far as I can tell, the mediaıs pretty safe on the CF card until you
dump it on your PC/hard drive. There are some reviews on Amazon covering
pros and cons that I found helpful before I plunked down the dough at B&H.

Maybe look for a rental house in your area and see if theyıll let you come
test out some different options at their space for free. Iıve also found
that music equipment rental places sometimes also rent portable recording
equipment (like DATs) for much cheaper than film and video rental houses. I
used to get one of the Tascam DATs in Austin for $50 a month (the same model
went for something like $75 a week at the film rental joint in town).
For what itıs worth...good luck.

Jason Cortlund
Brooklyn, NY

On 10/14/07 1:59 PM, "Ryan Marino" <email suppressed> wrote:

> I am looking for some suggestions on good portable recording devises,
> something that would be somewhat light weight and easy to transport with out
> much of a hassle.
> I would prefer something tape based and I know that there are portable hard
> disc recorders that are most likely smaller and less of a hassle but the
> thought of them makes me nervous.
> Any suggestions would be a great help.
> Thanks
> -Ryan Marino
> Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha!
> Play Monopoly Here and Now
> <*
> =monopolyherenow> (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.
> __________________________________________________________________ For info on
> FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.