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Freeman

ADVICE please! Buy a 744t or Zoom f8?

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Hey everyone!

this is my first post so excuse my noob status 

I'm about to upgrade my DR680 as I'm getting more work, but I have a limited budget and I'm after some advice on which recorder I should go for.

I have an opportunity to buy a used 744t at about the same price as a new zoom f8. Even though it's on it's way to being obsolete, would I be wise to grab it and forget about the f8?

I'm pretty suckered by the 8 tracks, promise of good timecode, bluetooth capabilities etc... but I have reservations about it being a zoom and it's reliability, and that nobody has used one yet, and don't wanna get laughed off a film set because i have non-pro gear ... the 744t is a workhorse for sure, but would I be stupid to buy gear that old, especially if I'm gonna be reselling it an upgrading in a year or so anyway?

Either way it's gonna go behind my 442 most of the time anyway so I'm not that fussed about the preamps. 

 

Advice would be appreciated!

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to me it sounds like a rather obvious decision:

if you don't need more then 4 tracks, 1000USD for a used 744T is a great deal, and if you later on need to upgrade, you can sell it at nearly no loss.

if you need more then 4 tracks, well.. as said, it's kinda obvious  ; )

chris

 

 

 

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It's kind of like investing your money, it's your choice about level of risk, the safe tried and tested, or the new, potentially higher reward, but higher risk, largely untested.

Edited by pindrop

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As said above, if you've found a well maintained 744T for close to $1,000, you can't go wrong. Will be able to resell at that price in a heartbeat. It's still a great machine and an improvement on the dr680 in every way except track count.

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744T is tough to mix 4 channels on, but it still might be easier to use than an F8. Best bet is to try them both at a dealer.

I do it all the time.  It takes some creativity and some homebrew peripherals, but it works fine and sounds great.  The F8 looks cool, but it has yet to prove itself in real world use, in pretty much every category.  Do you want to be the early-adopting guinea pig?  Zoom will appreciate your feedback if you do real jobs with this thing, as will we all, since you will for sure find out things about the machine that no one at Zoom has discovered yet--that's just how this kind of thing goes.  There is no recorder that is more battle-tested than the 744.  That said, the F8 has a lot of 21st century features that the 744 does not--how important are they to you?  Are your jobs demanding them?  Do the jobs you want but aren't yet getting demand them?

p

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FWIW, in order to use all four tracks from four microphones or mic level sources, two external preamp channels are needed for the 744. It only has two internal mic preamps.
Otherwise, I concur with the others.

Edited by Rick Reineke

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If you don't get the 744t, can you send info my way?? :)

In all seriousness, I don't consider any of the 7 series obsolete.  They are all fantastic, purpose built recorders and there are still arguments over the preamp quality between the 6 and 7 series.  Many on this forum prefer the sound of the 7 series.  Ambient timecode and Sound Devices service.  At the price, hard to beat if it fits your needs.

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On 8/24/2015 at 1:41 PM, Matthew Sonnenfeld said:

In all seriousness, I don't consider any of the 7 series obsolete.  They are all fantastic, purpose built recorders and there are still arguments over the preamp quality between the 6 and 7 series.  Many on this forum prefer the sound of the 7 series.  Ambient timecode and Sound Devices service.  At the price, hard to beat if it fits your needs.

I agree. I think the only thing that may be obsolete on the 744T is the FW400 port, which was quickly remedied by a FW400 to FW800 cable. Otherwise, I don't think the 6 series is making the 7 series recorders obsolete, as those (633) are mixer/recorders, which I don't prefer to use. 

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I virtually never use the FW port on the 744s anymore, except to have 3 media recording at once.  Otherwise it's easier to pull the card and xfer that.  Re the 2 mic pre thing on 744: how often is anyone on this forum using more than 2 wired mics these days, esp on a job where a 4-track recorder is going to cut it anyhow?  For most of us there might be a wired boom, and the rest of the inputs are line sources from RX (if the boom itself isn't via an RX as well).  I only ever miss having more than 2 mic pres on the 744 on small music jobs, for which adding a mixpre or etc for inputs 3-4 is no big deal.

p

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add me to the list of people happy to buy a 744t for $1k... even though I would need at least a couple channels of pre-amp to use it in my workflow.

Seriously... if anyone out there has one at that price, PM me

Edited by Christopher Mills

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I do it all the time.  It takes some creativity and some homebrew peripherals, but it works fine and sounds great.

p

I think you may have proved my point! Ha. 744 is a great machine, no arguments there. But it was designed purely as a recorder.

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Number of Mic pres and faders seem like a non issue, since OP mentions a 442 will be used in front of either of the two recorders.

FWIW, for $1000, I would pull the trigger on a 744T, even if I don't need one right now. 

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I have other recorders and mixers besides my 744s, but even when I eventually move to something else as a daily driver I'll prob keep at least one of them--they are really handy boxes to have around.   We still use one as the master TC and clock generator on our 32+ track location recording setup, with the added bonus that we can use its 4 tracks as extra channels if we get last minute adds etc.  Way handy to have as a "drop bag" machine, and so on.

p

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I'm pretty entrenched in 6 series right now with a 688 and 633 though I've been telling myself that I'm going to find a 744t or 702t used for the right price to use as a remote recorder for situations like car rigs etc.  It sounds like you have an opportunity to get a great unit at a great price.  Unless you see yourself using the F8 as a full mixer using more than 4 channels without your 442, the 744t is the obvious choice to me.

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Zoom F8. Sometime you will have the need for more than 4 inputs and tracks. See and the new Tascam DR680 MKII. Zoom is fine. Never had a single problem with them. The "bad" reputation for Zoom company, coming from Zoom H4n handheld recorder, which has bad mic preamps. Looking forward to see and hear opinions about time code stability and in extreme weather performance.

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744T = A mature, high quality 4-track recorder from a company with a proven track record producing top quality professional sound equipment -- highly respected in the industry, by sound people and non-sound people alike.

F8 = An immature, unknown quality 8-track mixer/recorder from a company with a track record producing inexpensive semi-pro gear for beginners and emerging musicians -- regarded as such within the industry.

Which will suit your needs better?

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I'd buy an F8 (and probably will just since I'm curious) as at least it has a mixer, albeit a poor one for ENG/EFP.  I think Zoom quality is proven, just proven to be low, as their past products have been aimed at practice sessions for musicians and that type of stuff.  F8 has been designed to achieve a higher standard and based on initial feedback and reviews, feel that they have met that target sufficiently.  The only question is how do you mix on it, since very few jobs would require a pure recorder only.  F8 + 442 sounds like a pretty good combination for the starter package.

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I'm with John up here all the way, I'll totally go with the 744t instead. Just to put it easy I'll rather have quality over quantity. At the end of the day, also the question is. do you really have the need for those 8 channels? 

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I made a review of the F8 (link posted a bit further above), and while I was impressed with the unit overall, including the quality of the pre-amps (pretty good IMO), highly accurate tcxo, all for the very low price, there were a few things that put me off completely from considering the unit as a "main recorder" for field use:

- Lack of tactile mixing interface: the F8 only has physical trim knobs, all mixing is done via virtual faders or by iOS app interface. A big no-no in my book for location work.
- Lack of key metadata features: track naming, false take, and properly functioning scene incremental.
- For poly wave files, track order is ISOs first then mix, as opposed to the common practice of mix tracks THEN ISOs.
- Headphone amp has a lot of coloration, which can be misleading when monitoring on the field.

If you use a mixer in front, such as the 442, then yes, you could "fix" a lot of the issues stated above. But then it defeats the purpose of a single mixer/recorder unit. That said, I'd consider the F8 as pretty good back up unit. Zoom has also been responsive, stating that they are planning on fixing a lot of the metadata issues in a future firmware update.

If I was offered the choices you have, I'd buy the 744T. At the very least, in the future if you decide to upgrade to something else, it can serve you as a back-up unit for car work or board feeds for example. Heck, if you don't take the deal, I'd appreciate it if you forward me the contact info of the seller. I'll buy it immediately.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,
José

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No metadata entry=deal breaker on pro jobs any more.  But maybe they can add that in later firmware.  Did you get hard info on the TC gen having TXCO?  Accuracy figure?

p

Zoom did confirm that they are using a TCXO. Gotham Sound did a decent test, using a Denecke GR-1 as a master to compare the TCXO of the F8 against that of the 788T, both of which have 0.2ppm accuracy spec. The F8 and 788T were placed in a freezer, and left running overnight. IIRC, the results were pretty on par, with both the F8 and the 788T being ahead of the GR-1 by about 2 frames after 12+ hours (which makes sense since the GR-1 has a 1.0ppm accuracy spec).

To clarify, the F8 does allow for metadata entry in the form of scene name, take number and notes; it just doesn't allow for track names and false takes, the former of which I consider imperative, especially since their poly wave file track layout scheme is completely different from what other recorders typically do. Zoom did also confirm that it was something they would fix in a future firmware.

Edited by Jose Frias

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The freezer test is of interest, but that is a very stable temperature environment so it doesn't tell us a lot about how stable the Zoom TC clock is in the real world.  In the course of a day a recorder may be subject to high heat (like in a car on a warm day) to pretty cold (very air-conditioned interior, a clean room etc) and should maintain the nominal accuracy throughout.  That's what a TXCO is for, and that's what professional soundies expect.  I hope someone does a test that is in this fashion soon.

p

 

 

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