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Upgrade Recorder: Used PD204 or Fostex FR2 TC?


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22 replies to this topic

#1
tong

tong
  • LocationSingapore
Hi all,
Might have a gig coming up that requires me to Looking into upgrading my recorder frm a Zoom to something better.. While the Nomad would be my ideal choice, I'm still not confident in being able to make back the investments I'll have to make for it. So i'm looking into the Used sections, & saw a Fostex FR2 and PD204. Both are 2 track machines, which are juz what my normal daily 5D job usually requests for..
The PD204 is good becaue it is a mixer/recorder, which means I can jus stash my wireless set and boom into it and ready for work, only problem i'm worried is its workflow... Is DVD-RAM still available in the market? or preferbly, Can the 204 do files copy into USB thumb drives like the 606?
I have no problems with the FR2 workflow (CF Cards) but only problem is i have to bring out my big bags to put my mixer in it as well...

Any advise would be appreciated
"Once the camera starts rolling, my pole starts dancing"

#2
Max Futterman

Max Futterman
I have an fr2 and just switched to the nomad hoping to make that investment back soon. Optical media is very slow for transfers and if you dont transfer, well DVD ram is quite rare these days. Even the cheapest compact flash readers are infinitely faster. I'd say stick with the fr2. Media is cheap, workflow is easy, never had a problem.

#3
Max Futterman

Max Futterman
Also, I front ended it with a Wendt x4. The pd2 is pretty bulky, so whichever setup there will be bulk.

I should also add that every production I've been on expects to have to offload audio via card at the end of the day.

#4
hemmerlinj

hemmerlinj
I d recommend the fr2 as well. It's lighter than the pd204. Pd 204 might be heavier then the combo of the fr2 and mixer combo. Don't forget that Atleast 1 of these devices has been discontinued, maybe both. I would let that be part of your decision. Repairs might get harder, but if you go with the fr2 you may be able to buy multiple units for the cost of 1 pd204.
973-600-2539 jason.hemmerlin@gmail.com

#5
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA
I'm a fan of the FR-2's, and several of the schools I teach at have them for students to check out...
They do not run for very long on AA batteries, so an external battery solution may be needed, and the original non-standard coaxial power connector is not very sturdy, so I have had the schools get them replaced with Hirose connectors for external power. Other than that, they are very capable and durable machines.
SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#6
José

José
  • LocationNew York, NY
I have owned an FR2 timecode recorder for years now. It is a great workhorse.

However, you must always keep fresh AAs in the battery slot as a precaution should the external power connector be disconnected while recording. The FR2 DOES NOT SAVE CURRENT RECORDING FILES during ACCIDENTAL SHUTDOWNS! The unit will switch automatically to internal power should this ever happen.

Working off the internal battery compartment alone will likely render these duration time results (estimates based on my FR2 unit):
  • Fresh AA Alkalines: No more than 30 minutes before depleting.
  • Fresh AA Lithiums: 3 hours before depleting.
  • Rechargeable POWEREX AA batteries: 2.5 hours before depleting.
What other heads up tips? Oh! It has a USB input connector designated for a PC. Do not connect it to a MAC. The MAC will fry your unit. Better yet! Always use a CF card reader to transport your Audio files to a computer instead.

Good luck with the FOSTEX FR2 should you decide to buy one.

#7
nika paniashvili

nika paniashvili
  • Locationgeorgia
How good are the preamps on fr-2? Im thinking of buyin one for ambience recordings. So that I dont have to take my main recorder out of the cart for that.

#8
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA
I would lean towards a FR-2. The biggest gripe I have about the FR-2 is its size (for bag use). Obviously the features are limited compared to the newest recorder options, but I'm sure they are a pretty good deal now. I have had one for 6 years now and never really thought about selling it. I used it a good bit last year to do some field recordings of ambience, and have used it on 5D shoots. I would think it would pay for itself pretty quickly, and help build up some cash towards a Nomad.
The CF card gives it a good lifespan as a recorder. You can put in a card that will record 2 tracks at 48-24 and probably last you a few days. Depending on your setup, an external keyboard will help with naming files (if anyone in post cares). Otherwise the recorder will automatically do a date/time file name, or index it as 001 002 etc.

NOTE: do you need timecode? It would be cheaper to buy one with it now if that's what you will want. The timecode card was originally sold as an upgrade. Offhand, in 2006 the FR-2 was maybe $1,200 or $1,300 USD, and the timecode added something like $600 to that price. I'm sure that gap is significantly less in used ones, but something to keep in mind.

How good are the preamps on fr-2? Im thinking of buyin one for ambience recordings. So that I dont have to take my main recorder out of the cart for that.


They are ok, but you would do a lot better if you added a Mix-Pre or 302 on the front.

johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#9
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA

It has a USB input connector designated for a PC. Do not connect it to a MAC. The MAC will fry your unit.

The for "PC only" label indicates it is for Persona Computer (there is another USB port for a keyboard), and does not denote a brand of PC, or an OS.
My students regularly connect FR-2's to Mac computers, running Mac OSX (many cats!)and the FR-2 / FR-2TC's show up as a drive on the desktop when the FR-2 is placed in USB mode.

The FR-2 Preamps are OK, and adequate for most projects, but really do not deliver audio at 24 bit quality, even when creating 24 bit files.

The TC option is quite good
SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#10
Max Futterman

Max Futterman
Second on the batteries in the compartment. I've had the NP-1 die on one of my first jobs during a 40 minute interview (oh $hyt)... luckily I was also sending a feed to the camera and monitoring the return. Phew! Keep in mind that if you have the TC card, it continues to draw a bit of the battery even when shutdown, so I'd advise rechargeables instead of Alkaline, otherwise your emergency failsafe power will drain quite quickly even if you never use it.

#11
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA
Hi capacity NiMH (2700+) work ok, and with the super-fast rapid chargers, last longer than a recharge takes...
SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#12
Pulsar Sounds

Pulsar Sounds
  • LocationNYC
I've been usin my FR2 for about 4 years now and i bought it used too. The machine is a tank and very reliable, its been in the extreme cold and the jungles of South America in the summer. The only problem I ever had with it was with the hp jack, ch 2 would get distorted, but I had the out puts of the fr2 entering my return to my mixer so i could monitor it from there. But make sure you get one or convert your fr2's ext power connector to a 4 pin herosi. The original DC input jack is really not ideal if you plan on putting it in your bag.

#13
Tom Visser

Tom Visser
  • LocationHonolulu, HI
I'd personally go with the PD204 if cost is reasonable. You can record to internal HDD and then at the end of the day burn a CD-R or DVD-R of the files stored on the HDD. Quoting the PD204 specs...

RECORDING TO 80GB HD AND 12CM DVD
The PD204 records audio to the internal (user replaceable) 1.8-inch 80GB hard disc drive (HDD) and standard-size 12cm DVD-RAM discs. In addition simultaneous recording to both media is available either by mirroring or auto-copy. Further confidence is offered with an intelligent 'background mode' which automatically copies recorded audio from the HDD to DVD when the machine is idling. The DVD drive can also write to DVD-R/RW and CD-R/RW discs for easy data copy / backup.

The unit although heavy, will be a joy to use with great mixing facilities and lots of I/O options. It is self contained, so no bag power sources, cabling, or other timecode or power accessories, other than whatever V-mount battery box you want to use. It will even power accessories like your wireless receivers. This would be the Cadillac of 2 channel recorders / mixers.

#14
BrianW

BrianW
  • LocationArizona
Never used the PD204, but I do have the FR-2TC and have been very happy with the results when used with the SD 302.

Saw this one on the bay:
http://www.ebay.com/...=item1e6c3c0ed9

No idea if it has the TC card or not, but the buy it now price is very low, especially considering the $150 bag they're throwing in. If it doesn't have the TC card that'd be a drawback, though. The cards alone can run as much as the used recorder.

*edit*
Oh, and definitely pay attention to the battery warnings. It really eats AA's ridiculously quickly. The times above are no exaggeration - the longest I've gotten from Duracell Procells was just over 60 minutes and about 2.5 hours with 2450 mAH rechargeables.

#15
tong

tong
  • LocationSingapore

I'd personally go with the PD204 if cost is reasonable. You can record to internal HDD and then at the end of the day burn a CD-R or DVD-R of the files stored on the HDD. Quoting the PD204 specs... RECORDING TO 80GB HD AND 12CM DVD The PD204 records audio to the internal (user replaceable) 1.8-inch 80GB hard disc drive (HDD) and standard-size 12cm DVD-RAM discs. In addition simultaneous recording to both media is available either by mirroring or auto-copy. Further confidence is offered with an intelligent 'background mode' which automatically copies recorded audio from the HDD to DVD when the machine is idling. The DVD drive can also write to DVD-R/RW and CD-R/RW discs for easy data copy / backup.


Sighhhh, i've already ordered for the FR2... I wasn't sure the PD204 could write DVD-R or could we change its hard disk, so didn't want to take chances :(
"Once the camera starts rolling, my pole starts dancing"

#16
Max Futterman

Max Futterman
The FR2 is a great choice. You'll be very happy with it.

#17
tong

tong
  • LocationSingapore

The FR2 is a great choice. You'll be very happy with it.

Max, Thanks for the advice! Yes I'm sure it will make me very happy (:
"Once the camera starts rolling, my pole starts dancing"

#18
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA

Sighhhh, i've already ordered for the FR2... I wasn't sure the PD204 could write DVD-R or could we change its hard disk, so didn't want to take chances :(


I think the FR-2 is going to be easier to use. Off the top of my head, I am not sure I have burned a DVD in the last 2 years. Everyone downloads my audio to their hard drive. Just carry a compact flash reader with you, even if you don't carry a laptop. Sometimes they ask me for my card, sometimes they hand me a portable drive. If it is a 5D shoot, odds are that they are ready to download cards on site (CF cards no less).

As for hooking the FR-2 to a computer, I did it back when I first got it (2006, 2007 etc) and never had an issue, but using an external card reader is going to download the audio SIGNIFICANTLY faster. That's true with the FR-2, my Zaxcom Fusion, a point-n-shoot still camera etc.

The FR-2 is a little big (very big compared to a 702T), but but it weighs almost nothing. I have done 5D jobs with a 302 feeding the FR-2 and it's not so bad. Even using a 442 + FR-2 + 2 Lectros + batteries etc.... That all fits in my PEGZ1 bag.

Enjoy the deal you got and save some of your kit fees for the next upgrade. Even if you have a Nomad, the FR-2 isn't bad to keep as a backup. I just sold my PD-6, but I hung on to my FR-2. The CF cards mean that is going to be usable for a very long time. It is a high quality recorder. As a side note, we got one for the production studio at the college radio station I help out at. We have a lot of bands play live on the air, and just run the FR-2 as backup recorder. There have been plenty of cases where the computer running ProTools has a hiccup and loses part of a song. The FR-2 has not failed us once. We download the CF card, format it, and it's ready for the next band. When I started there we were rolling Tascam reel to reel recorders, then DATs. I can't imagine how much money was spent over the years to make those recordings. Compare that to recording 30 - 45 minutes on a CF card that's offloaded to a huge hard drive and it's amazing.

You're also keeping the joke alive about sound people just pushing the big red button.

johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#19
tong

tong
  • LocationSingapore
Hi John, would u happen to keep a photo of ur 442/FR2 rig? That would give me some ideas how to fit everything into the Pegz1, i was planning of fitting everything into the Pegz2 although i dun like the idea that it will be a very big bag.
"Once the camera starts rolling, my pole starts dancing"

#20
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA
Here you go, this is a PEGZ1. You still have a good bit of storage in the front pouch. I keep NP-1s in the "belly pouch" so the weight is right against me. I use this for 5D jobs, especially when the shoot is one person locked off talking head. Boom in holder, lav as backup. The 442 is overkill for those jobs, but it was already in the bag. The FR-2 has RCA analog outputs (or headphone jack) that can be plugged into the mixer's camera return input so you can monitor the FR-2 from the mixer without unplugging headphones.

Attached Files


johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#21
tong

tong
  • LocationSingapore
Thanks for the tip! So u keep your wireless receivers in the detachable pockets ?
What i planned to do is to keep everything inside the bag, that's y I need the PEGz2 to do it. have bad experiences putting things in the detachable pockets and lose them when the pockets fall off.
"Once the camera starts rolling, my pole starts dancing"

#22
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins
As side note, if you do "move on" to another recorder after the FR2, I think the FR2 would be easier to sell than the Fostex.

phil p

#23
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA
You could put them in that front pouch, but I use that to hold the transmitters, batteries etc. I was hesitant to use the pouches for receivers, but they have been solid. A lot of other people seem to do it without issues. I have not used this setup for crazy run+gun jobs. For those projects I am probably using just a mixer, or my Fusion with more wireless in a PEGZ3.

johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443