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Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

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Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Andy-F » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:38 pm

Im in need of a portable recording device, mainly for recording live dj sets in nightclubs..

It must be capable of recording roughly 8 hours during one night. I realise this depends on the SD card size but im also wondering about battery life?

Standard stereo recording would be fine but if a multi track recorder can be picked up for a good price, that would be better.

Ive heard some models have built in dynamics control to make clipping impossible?

So far ive been looking at Zoom H4n and various Tascam DR models

If anyone reading this owns one of these or knows about them any advice would be great?

Thanks
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Smellthevalve » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:55 am

The zoom h4n has a stamina mode which makes the batteries last longer, however 8 hours is stretching it! You could try using lithium batteries...
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby chris... » Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:19 pm

I assume you'll take a line-out feed from somewhere (DJ mixer) ?
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Andy-F » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:57 pm

Yeah i'll be feeding off a DJ mixers record out or if that DJ mixer is routed to another mixer, then i'll take a feed off that one.

Thinking on the battery life it will be fine swapping batteries after an hour or 2. But if i could get roughly 6-8 hours without having to swap batteries or a memory card then it would make things easier.
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Fran Guidry » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:06 pm

I've used four different Zoom recorders connected to standard mixer line out and all of them have had issues with clipping. The sensitivity of the line in connection on the H2, H2n, R16, and Q3HD is too high, so an external attenuator is needed to avoid clipping. The H4n is similar (according to forum information) or worse because it's "line in" is actually and instrument input. In all these recorders there is a gain stage ahead of the level control, so when that stage clips it's all over. The limiter is in the digital domain, so once again it cannot control clipping that occurs in the preceding analog stages.

At least one poster on the Zoom forum has indicated that he had better success with the Tascam DR07 than he did with the Zoom H2.

I've used a Sony PCM-D50 successfully without external attenuation but it's higher priced and uses proprietary memory sticks instead of standard SD format.

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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby chris... » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:46 pm

I use Sony PCM-M10, which is loads cheaper than D50 (but probably more expensive that zooms).

It works great, and the batteries go on for ages. (Don't ask me how long. Maybe 40 hours from pair of AAs. Either way, it seems like forever!). It uses standard cards, and also has internal memory such that you may not need a card.

That said, the Olympus LS-xx recorders are hard to beat.
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Magic Matt » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:12 am

I see no point in requiring batteries here. You've got a DJ mixer which much be mains powered, and you have a line link to it so it must be close by. Just plug it into the mains and go.

As for batteries - remember that all Lithium based rechargables lose 20% of their charge every year. If you have an 8 hour battery, then by year 2 that's a 6 hour 24 minute battery. This may be a concern if the batteries are expensive.

If you can use AA rechargables, buy yourself Sanyo Eneloops. They are without doubt the best rechargables on the market at the moment, and unlike many others, actually have the capacity they claim.

Check the output level on the mixer. The standard Line Out is often a balanced +4dBu output, which is too high for consumer level Line Inputs. However, if there's a Tape Out or similar, it may well be rated -10dBV, which is consumer level Line Out.

To go from pro level balanced line levels to consumer grade unbalanced line levels, you need -12dB attenuators (I just bought some -15dB attenuators from CPC, but be aware that they are XLR connections, so you will need extra cabling to make that work - Cables4Less were the cheapest I found and have just ordered there, as it was cheaper than making my own).

Of course, if your DJ mixer has digital output (S/PDIF on Toslink or Coax) you're laughing - 100% original quality transfer.

Recorder wise, I'd take my Netbook and a USB sound card personally... cheaper than a stand-alone recorder, straight to HD into Reaper, and I could even encode to MP3 on the fly for putting online if I wanted to. Unconventional maybe, but just throwing another idea in the pot.
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Jorge » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:55 am

Why do you want to record a DJ set? If you want the "room sound" including echos, comb filtering, crowd noise, etc to be part of the recording, I recommend an Olympus LS-11 or Sony PCM-M10 from personal experience recording my singing group. Each has excellent attached mics, can handle pretty high SPLs, and has a clip light to let you know if it is clipping.

If you don't want the "room sound" since there is no backline and everything goes through the mixer, you can get away with recording off the board as others have suggested. Either a rackmount recorder or a handheld with XLR inputs would be best, and both are more reliable than using a 3.5 mm TRS stereo line in that most handhelds offer.
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Re: Advice on portable recorder for nightclub dj? Tascam, Zoom?

Postby Fran Guidry » Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:41 am

Magic Matt wrote:...

Check the output level on the mixer. The standard Line Out is often a balanced +4dBu output, which is too high for consumer level Line Inputs. However, if there's a Tape Out or similar, it may well be rated -10dBV, which is consumer level Line Out.
...

I was using tape outs and still had the problem. Nothing insurmountable, but something worth a heads-up I think. I've seen a lot of unhappy users over at the Zoom forum. But if I hadn't gotten an unbeatable deal on the Sony I'd still be using my Zoom with an attenuator.

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