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Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

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Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby hcdjp » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:42 pm

Hey all, I wish I could get some help from you with my field recording gear. I've been working with sound effects but now it's time to get serious recording some stuff outside. I'm not going to record for films or docs at the moment, just high-quality ambiances and nature sounds.

What I have:
Sound Devices Mix Pre D
Tascam DR 60 MK2
Sony PCM D50

Mics:
Rode NTG3
Rode NT4
Shure SM57

--

My initial plan was to connect SD Mix Pre with Tascam DR 60 through XLR angled cables because it saves a lot of space in my bag, but living in Brazil I'm having a really, really hard time finding a good connector.

So now I'm considering selling the Tascam and connect the SD Mix Pre with the Sony PCM D50 using 3.5mm cables. Will I lose sound quality even if I get a good 20 cm 3.5mm cable? I'm not gonna use the Sony PCM pre-amps as I have the SD, so maybe this is a good idea?
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:04 pm

Not my field but I would be more concerned about the reliability of 3.5mm jack cables/connectors. Quality, at best, should be equivalent but 3.5mm cables are unbalanced which may allow in some EMI that balanced XLR cables would reject.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby hcdjp » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:34 pm

Hey Sam,

Thanks for the reply. Can you explain me more about EMI - I suppose you are talking about electric interference?

From what I know this interference has a lot to do with the cable's length, or am I wrong?
The cable that I intend to buy will be 20cm.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:38 pm

True, I doubt it would be a problem but, as I said, XLRs are much more reliable connectors which would be my main concern with 3.5mm plugs.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:58 pm

hcdjp wrote:My initial plan was to connect SD Mix Pre with Tascam DR 60 through XLR angled cables because it saves a lot of space in my bag, but living in Brazil I'm having a really, really hard time finding a good connector.

I'm astonished that you can't find right-angled XLR connectors! Surely someone imports Neutrik or Switchcraft connectors in Brazil, and even if ready-made cables with right-angled connectors arent available, someone can solder up some short bespoke ones for you.

Edit: the Neutrik importers in Brazil are listed here: https://www.neutrik.com/en/contact/world-wide-agents

So now I'm considering selling the Tascam and connect the SD Mix Pre with the Sony PCM D50 using 3.5mm cables. Will I lose sound quality even if I get a good 20 cm 3.5mm cable? I'm not gonna use the Sony PCM pre-amps as I have the SD, so maybe this is a good idea?

Nope, it's a really bad idea. Not only will you be working with unbalanced connections which will be more prone to interference (even with short cables), the reliability of the 3.5mm connector is massively inferior. There is a reason why the critical main outputs of the mixpreD are on xlr connectors... The 3.5mm output is there as a convenience for non-critical applications, like connecting a dictaphone for interview transcriptions.

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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:15 pm

Just to endorse what Hugh's said, I've had several experiences of failures and partial failures with 3.5mm sockets and connectors over the past 12 months. I only used them because no other means of connecting was available. And that was in static indoor conditions.... I generally find that gear is subject to more stresses and strains in the field anyway. So XLRs all the way for me.

I don't know what import duties are like for you, but I'm sure one of the big European or US companies would export to you if you don't think you want to go down the 'get some made' route.

Good luck with the field recording. I presume you've got a decent 'blimp' system; if not I'd urge you to get one - or a Rycote Cyclone. They really do make wind-blast issues a thing of the past.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby John Willett » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:10 pm

My understanding is that the OP wanted to use the digital out of the MixPre-D and use the Sony as a bit-bucket - which is an excellent idea.

I would not use the analogue out into the recorder as you will compromise quality.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:26 pm

As far as I can see after a quick scan of the two devices the SD MixPre has a digital AES output on XLR but the Sony only has consumer SP/DIF on an optical connector. Obviously these are not compatible so I suspect the OP's intention is to use analogue connections on 3.5mm which both have. However it is possible I'm missing something :?
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Wonks » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:34 pm

John Willett wrote:My understanding is that the OP wanted to use the digital out of the MixPre-D and use the Sony as a bit-bucket - which is an excellent idea.

I would not use the analogue out into the recorder as you will compromise quality.


But that simply wont work (unfortunately). The MIXPre D has AES digital output on XLR, whilst the PCM-D50 has an optical Toslink connection.

(Sam got there first).
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:09 pm

John Willett wrote:My understanding is that the OP wanted to use the digital out of the MixPre-D and use the Sony as a bit-bucket - which is an excellent idea.

Not sure where you got that impression -- it's not the way I read the OP's post -- but regardless, although it would be a great idea I don't believe the Tascam DR60 has an AES3 or S/PDIF digital input, and while the Sony does have optical 3.5mm S/PDIF I/O it's obviously not directly compatible with the MixPreD's AES3 output -- hence the interest in an unbalanced analogue 3.5mm connection for that machine.

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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby John Willett » Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:01 pm

Wonks wrote:
John Willett wrote:My understanding is that the OP wanted to use the digital out of the MixPre-D and use the Sony as a bit-bucket - which is an excellent idea.

I would not use the analogue out into the recorder as you will compromise quality.


But that simply wont work (unfortunately). The MIXPre D has AES digital output on XLR, whilst the PCM-D50 has an optical Toslink connection.

I was thginking the Sony had a wired digital input instead of optical.

But you can get an S/PDIF to optical converter at a reasonably low price and I would still recommend that digital is the best way to go.

It's what I would do in the same situation
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Wonks » Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:34 pm

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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:11 pm

This is getting silly. The OP just wanted a couple of right-angled XLR cables to save space in his bag, not extra boxes and cables for unnecessary digital converters and associated battery packs!

Hell, why not go the whole hog and recommend buying a Nagra VI or SD744 instead. I'm sure one of those would be an even better solution. :?

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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby hcdjp » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:23 pm

Hey!

I appreciate all messages and suggestions. My initial intention, in order to avoid the XLR cables, was to connect the SD Mix Pre D with the Sony PCM50 through a 3.5mm analog cable.

I ended up giving up the idea of connecting the Mix Pre D and the Sony PCM D50 and instead, I traded my Tascam DR 60 for a Tascam DR 40, just because the DR 60 has a shape that is not very practical to fit into my bag.

I'm now going to look and use the angled XLR cables, no matter how incredibly expensive they are here in Brazil, mainly for its durability in a field situation.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:57 pm

Thanks for the update!

Good luck with your recordings.
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Re: Audio quality of cable on field recording setup

Postby John Willett » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:10 pm

hcdjp wrote:Hey!

I appreciate all messages and suggestions. My initial intention, in order to avoid the XLR cables, was to connect the SD Mix Pre D with the Sony PCM50 through a 3.5mm analog cable.

I ended up giving up the idea of connecting the Mix Pre D and the Sony PCM D50 and instead, I traded my Tascam DR 60 for a Tascam DR 40, just because the DR 60 has a shape that is not very practical to fit into my bag.

I'm now going to look and use the angled XLR cables, no matter how incredibly expensive they are here in Brazil, mainly for its durability in a field situation.

To be honest, personally, I would consider selling the MixPre-D and getting a new MixPre-3 (or MixPre-3M) which includes the recorder internally - so you will only have to carry a single box without any of the linking cables. :thumbup:

You could then even get rid of the Sony as well.
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