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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hi-Tech Studio: Doing Sound Right

HD video DSLRs do a lot of things very well, but as a group, audio capability isn’t a strong point. Try using a separate recorder to get professional results


This Article Features Photo Zoom


Marantz PMD661
Marantz PMD661
The Marantz PMD661 is compact, with built-in stereo microphones, two XLR inputs with phantom power and a 1/8-inch jack for using external microphones. It also includes free PMD Mark Editor software, which is nice if you want to start getting a little more advanced with your audio work. The PMD661 records up to 96 kHz sample rates and 16- or 24-bit. A 1 GB SD card is included with the unit, and you can use SDHC cards as well. The bright OLED monitor is easy to see even in bright ambient conditions. With an estimated street price of $599, the PMD661 has a good combination of capabilities for room to grow as you delve deeper into audio recording.


Roland R-05
Roland R-05
Its $249 estimated street price makes the Roland R-05 one of the most attractive field recorders for pros on a tight budget. Its built-in stereo microphones record to SD cards, and it can operate for 16 hours on a fresh set of AA batteries. Audio files are in the convenient MP3 or WAV format, which makes them easy to use once you’ve downloaded to the computer.


Roland R-44
Roland R-44
Extensive built-in effects are among the standout features of the Roland R-44. Coming in at an estimated street price of $995, the R-44 is a more advanced unit that has a built-in limiter, low-cut filter, enhanser, DeEsser and other effects. These powerful built-in filters and effects can be useful when you’re in situations with rapidly changing conditions. Two built-in microphones and four XLR inputs with phantom power give you almost unlimited options, from simple recording to complex four-channel recording. You can plug the R-44 directly into your computer via USB 2.0 or you can record to SD/SDHC cards. The unit records at 16- or 24-bit, and sample rates go from 44.1 to 192 kHz.


Sony PCM-D50
Sony PCM-D50
With a pair of built-in Electret Condenser Microphones, the Sony PCM-D50 is one of the most popular portable recorders on the market. Broadcast journalists rely on it because of its compact size, built-in high-quality microphones, reasonable price ($499 estimated street price) and universally accepted native WAV recording format. The built-in condenser mics can be set to X-Y recording or Wide Stereo. The PCM-D50 has 4 GB of built-in solid-state memory, which you download via USB 2.0, or you can use Memory Stick removable media.


Sound Devices 702
Sound Devices 702
Recording to CompactFlash cards, the Sound Devices 702 is a field recorder that features a tough, ready-or-anything aluminum and stainless-steel chassis. At an estimated street price of $1,875, it’s at the high end of the recorders we’re looking at in this article, but for that price you get a sophisticated recorder that can record uncompressed PCM files at 16- or 24-bit at sample rates of up to 194 kHz. Using Sound Devices’ next-generation microphone preamps, the 702 boasts low distortion and low noise. The unit doesn’t have built-in microphones. Instead, it features XLR inputs with phantom power for connecting high-quality microphones. It can record uncompressed files, as well as convenient MP3/MP2 files.


Tascam DR-100

Zoom H4n
Tascam DR-100
With four internal microphones, a 1/8-inch jack and two XLR inputs with phantom power, the Tascam DR-100 gives you plenty of recording options. There are two internal cardioid and two internal omnidirectional mics, which will cover most situations. If you need it, however, the XLR inputs give you even more options for challenging recording situations. The DR-100 records in WAV or MP3 format, and it takes SD/SDHC cards. The estimated street price is $309.

Zoom H4n
Among independent filmmakers, the Zoom H4n is a favorite. It has some 50 built-in DSP effects, a pair of built-in stereo condenser mics and two XLR inputs with phantom power. For situations when you need to conserve power, the Stamina Mode can give you up to 11 hours of recording time. Using the internal mics and two external mics, you can record in full four-track mode, or just use the internals for “point-and-shoot” simplicity. The H4n doesn’t break the bank, with an estimated street price of $299. It records up to 24-bit/96 kHz on SD/SDHC cards.



 

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