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Portable Recorder and Mics

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Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby dave111 » Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:59 pm

Hi -

I'm trying to figure out the best option for purchasing a portable recorder and mics. I'm mainly looking to record solo piano right now, but I will probably also use it in other situations down the road, such as jazz combo.

I've been looking at the zoom H5 and H6, as well as the zoom F4 and F6 and the Sound Devices MixPre-3 II. For mics, I'm mainly looking at the zoom capsules, the Audio-Technica AT2022 X/Y Stereo Microphone, and 2 Rode NT5 mics with additional omni capsules. I've also considered the Tascam DR-100mkIII.

I'd like to keep the budget as low as possible, but at the max it's around $1,000 for recorder and mics.

I'm wondering how important 32-bit float and getting to 192 sample rate are. If I don't need these, it seems I can be ok with the zoom h 5 or 6 might be better off investing the rest in mics. On the other hand, it might be nice to have the option to use the the zoom f or mix pre as an interface with my laptop when I have it for more serious projects.

I definitely need 2 tracks, but I think I would probably need 3 tracks at the most. I'm trying to balance portability and ease of set up and take down with quality.

Any advice or other options I might consider?

Thanks -
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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jan 01, 2020 8:07 pm

dave111 wrote:I'm wondering how important 32-bit float and getting to 192 sample rate are.

For your applications they aren't important at all.

The recorders offering 32-bit float mean you can get away with not paying any attention to setting the gain structure and headroom. That might potentially be useful if you're dealing with material having unpredictable dynamics, or if you have no technical ability at all..., but it's not really relevant for normal music recording applications.

192k sample rates theoretically allow a recording bandwidth up to 96kHz, which is three octaves higher than the best ears and almost all microphones can capture... And jitter tends to rise with sample rate so timing accuracy is reduced at quad rates.

There are, though, reasonably sensible arguments for recording at 96kHz, and with 24-bits -- which is what I generally do for acoustic music -- and all the devices you mention can handle that without problems.

H
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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:11 pm

What Hugh said...... plus an important consideration for you will be long term flexibility and quality versus portability.

The preamps on the Zoom H series are not as good as those on the F series or MixPres and whilst the H series with their plug-in mic capsules are pretty good and very portable, they do not offer the professional quality of the F series and MixPres.

Dependent on piano (grand?) and room, it’s great to have the option of spaced Omni directional or ORTF/XY miking techniques and you could achieve this with the NT55 mic option.

If it were me I’d go F4 or Mixpre3 with the NT55s with a preference for MixPre having owned both models.

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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby wireman » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:16 pm

dave111 wrote: ... For mics, I'm mainly looking at the zoom capsules, the Audio-Technica AT2022 X/Y Stereo Microphone, and 2 Rode NT5 mics with additional omni capsules.

I have a matched pair of NT5s and later purchased the omni capsules but note that as an alternative you can get a matched pair of NT55s.
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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:04 pm

I own an F8n and I'm pretty impressed with it, both in terms of ease of use and quality of recording. This is more than you need (though if you could push your budget to it you might be pleased with the extra channels in time to come) but it bodes well for the F4 so that would get my vote from your list. It will also handle ambisonic mics quite gracefully which might come in handy in the future.

NT5's with omni capsules are good, I would expect NT55s to be likewise.

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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:12 pm

It has been said before but decide how many channels you'll ever need..... then double it. :thumbup:

Tempering that with a little common sense, if you can afford it, buying 8 channels when you need four just now is cheaper than buying four now and upgrading in the future so it's worth being absolutely certain that you won't need more next year. But equally, don't compromise quality in favour of channel count. It's a tough call to make but buying the best rarely disappoints.
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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby Stijl » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:53 am

Sam Spoons wrote:It has been said before but decide how many channels you'll ever need..... then double it. :thumbup:

Tempering that with a little common sense, if you can afford it, buying 8 channels when you need four just now is cheaper than buying four now and upgrading in the future so it's worth being absolutely certain that you won't need more next year. But equally, don't compromise quality in favour of channel count. It's a tough call to make but buying the best rarely disappoints.

Once you start recording you’ll want to add channels, go for the 8 channel and grow into it.
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Re: Portable Recorder and Mics

Postby John Willett » Thu Jan 02, 2020 2:20 pm

For your use and budget I would get a Sound Devices MixPre-3 II and a pair of Line Audio OM1 microphones. :thumbup:

I think that will come about on budget.

You can add more and better microphones later, but the Sound Devices MixPre II are superb devices at a pretty low price and the Line Audio microphones give a vastly better performance than their price implies.

You should not have to buy again and c IIan only improve the quality by getting better microphones at a later date.

You woul;d have to pay vastly more to get better quality and this is what i would do myself to do what you want to do at that budget. If your budget was 2 or 3 times what you say I would still get the MixPre II (only maybe one with more channels). :thumbup:
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