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Aaton Cantar X3 user feedback?

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I have to echo Axel's accolades for the X3. I received my X3 some 6 weeks ago (#52). I made my deposit payment in Dec. 2014. Delivery was delayed a couple of times so I worked the entire year (2015) with my X2. When the X3 arrived I was 6 weeks into a series and the producer was reluctant to have me change recorders fearing a hiccup in the post flow. Next year for the first three months I will be on the road with musicians recording music into Pro Tools. The X3 will be the backup recorder. Currently my only cavil with the X3 is that the highest sampling rate it can do is 96096 kHz. The initial specs I read were that it would be able to record at 192.0 kHz. I have been assured by Aaton that this is a future update. 

I have ordered an X3 bag from Aaton and will make a decision on it when it arrives. I'm intrigued by Axel's good words about the Kortwich bag that perhaps a quick trip to Berlin is merited when my music gig is finished. Lord knows my KT bag designed by Stuart Wilson that I've used for years with my X2 is in tatters. It was also interesting to read about Axel carrying a 4 input Kortwich preamp so he can quickly adjust the gain on the line level inputs. For years working with the X2 and my Schoeps Super CMIT I carried a Lake People digital gain and 10 volt phantom power supply in the bag. It was bulky and I hated it but it worked. I'm glad that with the X3 this won't be necessary.

For the time being I'm going to hang on to my X2 as a backup recorder. Despite the robust build of the X2, over the years I did have it go down twice. Both times it was the scrolling wheel. I believe that any machine, no matter how good, that is used professionally will eventually break down. That said the Cantar X2 was the best built, best sounding recorder I have ever used and I expect that the X3 will be even better.

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Constantin, I am not affiliated with Aaton for any other than the above reasons

sorry, if you speak of the mixer panel for the X3, it is called Cantarem2 and provides 12 additional faders, so it makes for 22 faders in total. 

Hey Axel, sorry, I didn't mean to imply at all that you were actually writing an ad or were on the payroll of Aaton. I did think that you were simply a happy owner. It's just when I read your post(s), I really liked it and began to actually want a Cantar, even though I had just stated earlier that I didn't. So it had the effect of an ad without being one, but coming from an actual user, it is of course worth so much more.

With regards to the panel: yes, I know about the Cantarem2, but I read on another thread here, a post by someone named TJW (I think), about a larger panel planned for sometime in 2016. I was just wondering if someone here would know more about it. For me, the Cantarem would probably not fullfill what I'm dreaming about...

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19 hours ago, Margus Jukkum said:

I have to echo Axel's accolades for the X3. I received my X3 some 6 weeks ago (#52). I made my deposit payment in Dec. 2014. Delivery was delayed a couple of times so I worked the entire year (2015) with my X2. When the X3 arrived I was 6 weeks into a series and the producer was reluctant to have me change recorders fearing a hiccup in the post flow. Next year for the first three months I will be on the road with musicians recording music into Pro Tools. The X3 will be the backup recorder. Currently my only cavil with the X3 is that the highest sampling rate it can do is 96096 kHz. The initial specs I read were that it would be able to record at 192.0 kHz. I have been assured by Aaton that this is a future update. 

I have ordered an X3 bag from Aaton and will make a decision on it when it arrives. I'm intrigued by Axel's good words about the Kortwich bag that perhaps a quick trip to Berlin is merited when my music gig is finished. Lord knows my KT bag designed by Stuart Wilson that I've used for years with my X2 is in tatters. It was also interesting to read about Axel carrying a 4 input Kortwich preamp so he can quickly adjust the gain on the line level inputs. For years working with the X2 and my Schoeps Super CMIT I carried a Lake People digital gain and 10 volt phantom power supply in the bag. It was bulky and I hated it but it worked. I'm glad that with the X3 this won't be necessary.

For the time being I'm going to hang on to my X2 as a backup recorder. Despite the robust build of the X2, over the years I did have it go down twice. Both times it was the scrolling wheel. I believe that any machine, no matter how good, that is used professionally will eventually break down. That said the Cantar X2 was the best built, best sounding recorder I have ever used and I expect that the X3 will be even better.

Odd timing, but I'm dealing with the scroll wheel myself.  I think it's understandable that something mechanical will need occasional service.  When I contacted Aaton right before Christmas about the issue, they express air / international mailed me an Allen key (totally above and beyond) and instructions on how to field service the part.  I admire the customer service and solidifies my allegiance to this company that makes a recorder crucial to my professional career.

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On 12/28/2015 at 5:08 PM, Tom Visser said:

Odd timing, but I'm dealing with the scroll wheel myself.  I think it's understandable that something mechanical will need occasional service.  When I contacted Aaton right before Christmas about the issue, they express air / international mailed me an Allen key (totally above and beyond) and instructions on how to field service the part.  I admire the customer service and solidifies my allegiance to this company that makes a recorder crucial to my professional career.

Fortunately for myself we have a trained technician at Audio Services in Toronto, Canada who is able to do a lot of the service on the Cantars. I had him clean up my X2 as one of my last shoots with it was in the desert in Arizona and I was in some severe winds kicking up a fair bit of dust. The X2 functioned flawlessly but the scrolling wheels had that telltale crunching noise.

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margus and I get our cantars serviced at the same spot.  after every long gig,  or extreme gig,  javed goes through everything to make sure things continue to function normally. my cantar x1 went back to the mothership once,  in its  10 years of service.

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I was wondering how to summarize the x3 and then axel posted such a detailed reply.   I will use his comments to piggyback some thoughts of my own:

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

I will keep my X1 as a backup or as a primary recorder for documentaries and simpler projects. It is good to know that my 11 year old X1 fits in the same bag and sports the same connectors on the input side. 

I was relieved to see the same connectors on the x3 as on the x1,  on the analog side of things.  I will keep my x1 as well for those gruelling discovery channel type shows,  so I won't expose that large x3 screen to any harm and also get better battery life for those shoots in isolated places

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

Software development is ongoing, and I must say Paul Thilloy has been very responsive to my requests. Good communication.  Simplified metadata handling now already comes quite close to "quick, easy and elegant", X3 got a powerful and visually comprehensive EQ, delay per channel...  + many small, well thought, user friendly features.

the designers have made full use of the x3 colour screen to come up with interface options they could not implement in monochrome.  it is easy to see what metadata window you are in - instantly.  blue, for past takes. violet, for the next take.  the file browser window benefits from the increased screen real estate, by being able to see comments.  helpful when the script supervisor comes to ask which take was a false start.

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

- screen: The screen is real big and ultra bright. With a setting of  "25"  the display is already sunlight readable. Brightness values range from 15 (min) to 256 (max). No further interface (iPad, phone, netbook or whatever) is needed. Add a wireless keyboard for 20 $ and type metadata directly into your files, the display always lets you keep the overview of what you are doing. There is lots of comprehensive information layed out. All track meters + relevant info are displayed on the standard screen. Each meter features the track level, name, phase + limiter settings + fader values for the actual mixdown situation. If you are mixing with the onboard faders, your hands will hide parts of the display, but if needed you can actually view all parameters without taking your fingers from the faders. The glossy display is quite receptive to fingerprints and all kinds of stains, so keep the microfibre cloth at hand somewhere on your cart.

I used an htc athena pda to make metadata notes via bluetooth.  was concerned if I could adapt to the x3 keyboard paradigm.  I have found the editing of metadata information on the x3 using a full sized keyboard to be analogous to using the pda with the x1.  I opted to use an apple a1242 compact wired keyboard (no numerical keypad) that I already had around the house.  I found an L3 systems wristpc compact keyboard on ebay as an emergency back-up.  the function keys of the apple keyboard work in the same way as the led buttons on the x3 and many of them act as help for remembering which ones to use - i.e. "f1" on the apple keyboard achieves the same action as the "f1"     labeled button on the cantar x3.  the bottom row of the x3 screen also has hints on which keys to employ for commonly used actions.  

 

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

Input to track routing follows a new matrix based principle, is easy to overview. Numerous presets can be made and switched through in an instant.  The track layout can be freely chosen (mix on 1+2 is standard for me). Switch through your presets also for any output on the fly, even while recording, a charm. 

the scrolling wheel paradigm still works on the x3,  but when you are on the cart, using an external keyboard, it is faster to use the arrow keys to navigate the routing matrix. 

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

- File naming/numbering is as quickly done as with Cantar X1/X2. There are the same T-P-W-A-N take designators, now including  R for rehearsal and G for guide track. If you missed the correct slate number, it takes about 3 seconds to rename the last take. You can add comments very easy, but also type in some comments in advance. You got two lines for that, one for "sticky" notes that will show up in all future takes until the entry is changed or deleted, and another for comments regarding the next take only. Very clever feature.

you can also use the "single use" comment field for the usual "plane, train, automobile" comment, after the take.  the "constant use" field is for "2 shot" or "sophie's single" and such

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

- Playback engine: The biggest PRO of Cantar X3 (imho). The screen features a waveform view in playback mode. The waveform adapts to the selection of the tracks you are listening to, including the option to use the track solo buttons on the fly during playback (!). With the big hardware scroll wheel you can move the playhead. Look and feel of the playback engine gets closer to an NLE workstation than to a classic HDD recorder.

I haven't had much need to playback,  but I appreciate how easy it is to navigate and fine tune the section you are looking for - the scroll wheel is handy for that

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

- media: a 256 GB SSD (with an interface modification, don't think of buying your own), and 2 SD slots behave reliable. I am using sandisk extreme pro cards and have not had one issue.There is also a USB2 port which I have never used.  It is mandatory to record mono WAVs to at least one media, you can chose freely for the rest. I work with mono WAVs on the SDD, poly WAVS on SD 1 to hand in and mono WAVS to SD 2 which I use for backing up to my computer. There are also options to record MP3s for transcription, and some more format choices. All file writing happens in real time during record, although the latest software also features an "idle copy" choice for very slow media.

in case it taxes the x3 to be running 3 media at the same time, I have taken to running my second SD card in idle mode.  it is a much faster process on the x3, due to the increase in horsepower

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

- Sound report: Choice of ALE, PDF or both. You can chose which info goes to the PDF reports and customize the layout to a certain degree (the layout choices could still be improved imho) Reports are generated any time with one button press from the file browser view, one for each media. PDF and ALE generation takes like under 30 seconds for a whole shooting day with 3 media. Press the button and you are done, can hand in the media. On the last project the assistant editor loved the ALE reports that provided easy direct metadata ingestion into the AVID

the pdf sound report is not as attractive on the x3 as the one generated by the x1,  but that is my opinion.  it's reliable and usable

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

The Mic input pots are sealed, they sport a special ball beared magnetic transmission from the outside to the inside of the housing and they act ultra precise. But they feature lilac plastic covers. There might exist some people, who like the color. What really should be improved in a future hardware generation is that the pots now can be turned too easily, without showing a proper resistence. I found myself several times having changed some input gain unwillingly like with the sleeve of my coat.

having more resistance on the input pots would be a great benefit.  the colour of the pots is growing on me.  I bought the coloured fader pack,  but since I have not used the integrated faders  yet,  I have left the originals in place

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

This bag was custom made by Kortwich in Berlin. It is great craftsmanship, and got some extra gimmicks I did not even ask for, but they did not adopt my suggstion for the folding principle and so the handling became more complicated than necessary.

But they now do have a working model for a Cantar X3 bag and took all the measures of my machine. And yes, you can freely access ALL knobs and faders even if the bag is modelled for over the shoulder work only. Feel free to call them ;-) their quality is outstanding.

I have the stuart wilson version of the kts bag,  which will work, I think,  for the time being.  I would like to see the kortwich one.  perhaps a trip to europe in the spring?

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

It is also much more power hungry than previous Cantar models. In a typical 13h day it consumes like 300+ Whs of 14V DC current, almost three times more than my old Cantar X1. This is well within limits compared to other recorders, 788T would take almost the same and also get very hot, but compared to the old Cantars there you can feel the effects of the enhanced CPU and DSP power of the machine. 

there is a price to pay for additional horsepower and a large display.  this is in stark contrast to the x1/x2 but seems part of the new generation of equipment paradigm

On December 26, 2015 at 5:00 AM, axel said:

The internal batteries are "smart", which means they provide some useful information and can calculate the remaining runtime on the basis of the actual current demand. They are lightweight (+) but difficult to exchange inside a bag. You cannot decide which of the two batteries is used, X3 always will drain the left battery until it is empty and then switch over to the right, which I find is not a very intelligent asset. Aaton says this is a hardware requirement and can not be changed. The recorder runs about 4+ hours using both onboard batteries in a typical, not too power hungry setup (like 8-12 tracks, all digital power turned off, no phantom needed).  In real life I power my X3 from LiIon NP1, which fit inside the bag and are quick and easy to exchange. I use the internal batts for backup only.

I have only used the x3 on the cart, so far.  I use the psc powerstar to power the x3, the onboard batts for backup only. I would like to get some of the inspired energy 98wh batteries to power the cantar in the bag. I got Audio Services to make the same bracket for my sound cart for the x3 as I have for my x1,  so if I have to press my x1 into service,  same cables, same bracket. I am only three weeks into a series,  which continues on jan4.  I will update further thoughts,  if I feel they are significant.  In the absence of the cantarem2,  I continue to use my audio developments ad149.  would like to downsize my cart,  once the cantarem2 is freely available. 

I would also like to thank those x3 users that I asked questions of,  in the early days, and their prompt, helpful answers.  you know who you are....

 

 

 

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What's the minimum external voltage the X3 runs on? Somewhere I read 13V. I'm running my cart on lead acid batteries and am very happy that way. It would really suck if this won't work anymore...

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there is a low voltage warning that can be set - meaning the voltage. i have mine set at 11.5V. I am using Lifepo4 and the powerstar life. 

i always have two batteries in the X3 anyways. 

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3 hours ago, astro said:

What's the minimum external voltage the X3 runs on? Somewhere I read 13V. I'm running my cart on lead acid batteries and am very happy that way. It would really suck if this won't work anymore...

are you running your power through a power star or meon distribution/back-up system?  that sometimes adds a few tenths of a volt. vin seems to be running his x3 on 12v without any adverse effects, but the manual does specify 13v in the appendix. my psc powerstar supplies my cart with 12.5v on batts and 13.5v on ac. if you ever ran into problems with your power, using a remoteaudio juicer would be a solution. I used to run a juicer with my analog mixer, which was happiest at 15v. 

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5 hours ago, astro said:

What's the minimum external voltage the X3 runs on?

X3 software 1.116 from 2 weeks ago lets you set the treshold for external battery alarm down to 10.5 V. Did not try it out, but I guess you can power it safely with anything steadily above those 10.5

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50 minutes ago, nysounds said:

Anybody know what the weight of the X3 is?  Can't seem to find that info listed anywhere. 

hey brian,  according to the location sound corp website,  the weight with batts is 8.8lbs(4.01kg).  without batts - 7.8lbs(3.55kg).  I don't have an accurate scale to double check for you,  but LSC is a dealer and would know.   curiously,  at a quick glance,  I did not see the weight in the most recent manual:

http://www.aaton.com/sites/default/files/pdf/DocCantarX3_V1.113.pdf

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My worries concern the power consumption of the X3. The amount of weight you have to carry on somewhere in the desert for a twelve hours shoot, I believe more than additional 3 kilos for batteries would bother me.

Thinking of this I decided to buy the tiny Sonosax R4+,which demands for 12 hours only one tiny build in battery (same kind like the X3 ones),  I do add an Sonosax SX42 for shoulder work, you can feed the mixer from the recorder and you also have a lot of tracks and best limiting. and... less than 3 kilos on your shoulder.

With the promised software update with delay for all inputs I´ll might be the lucky one and store my X2 in the truck!

 

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X3 it is a top, stand alone, cart recorder. If you need the full funcionality of 18 (or even 30) hardware faders, 24 tracks, a super informative display and the most convenient metadata handling, you should maybe not carry your recording device around your neck, at least not all day long. I mean, an X3  c a n  be put into a bag maintaining its full functionality; but at the price of weight, energy consumption and maybe somewhat difficult bag-handling, when it comes to the usual outboard gear you would carry with this 24 track capable machine.

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On 1/2/2017 at 10:02 AM, ao said:

hey brian,  according to the location sound corp website,  the weight with batts is 8.8lbs(4.01kg).  without batts - 7.8lbs(3.55kg).  I don't have an accurate scale to double check for you,  but LSC is a dealer and would know.   curiously,  at a quick glance,  I did not see the weight in the most recent manual:

http://www.aaton.com/sites/default/files/pdf/DocCantarX3_V1.113.pdf

Thanks for this. I have a Cantar on order and just needed to get a sense of the overall weight of the unit

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On 02/01/2017 at 11:05 PM, axel said:

X3 it is a top, stand alone, cart recorder. If you need the full funcionality of 18 (or even 30) hardware faders, 24 tracks, a super informative display and the most convenient metadata handling, you should maybe not carry your recording device around your neck, at least not all day long. I mean, an X3  c a n  be put into a bag maintaining its full functionality; but at the price of weight, energy consumption and maybe somewhat difficult bag-handling, when it comes to the usual outboard gear you would carry with this 24 track capable machine.

I echo Axel. It is a top recorder and a 24 track recorder with the outboard kit you would use with it, will not be the lightest. That said, although much of the time my X3 is cart based, I do use it in the bag and it works really well and for a few hours at a time it is really not a problem. I also use it in the bag on a folding lightweight cart on some fly away jobs and often add the small fader panel, the Cantarem. It just works. 

IMG_2231.JPG

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Just put a deposit on mine.  I can't wait.  I've been an X1 user for a while now and switched to a 788t-CL-9 combo.  7888 was more for Track count purposes.  I have taken advantage of the trade in offer, so the x1 will leave me.  I plan on selling both 788t's (I have 2 of them) and plan on getting a smaller lightweight solution for the bag.  Not sure what yet.

 

Thanks for all the information above and I feel great to be a part of the X-3 crew.  Looking forward to sharing my experiences with the new Recorder.

 

B

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2 hours ago, Brian said:

Just put a deposit on mine.  I can't wait.  I've been an X1 user for a while now and switched to a 788t-CL-9 combo.  7888 was more for Track count purposes.  I have taken advantage of the trade in offer, so the x1 will leave me.  I plan on selling both 788t's (I have 2 of them) and plan on getting a smaller lightweight solution for the bag.  Not sure what yet.

 

Thanks for all the information above and I feel great to be a part of the X-3 crew.  Looking forward to sharing my experiences with the new Recorder.

 

B

Let me know when you want to sell your CL9. I may be in the market. 

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Just put a deposit on mine.  I can't wait.  I've been an X1 user for a while now and switched to a 788t-CL-9 combo.  7888 was more for Track count purposes.  I have taken advantage of the trade in offer, so the x1 will leave me.  I plan on selling both 788t's (I have 2 of them) and plan on getting a smaller lightweight solution for the bag.  Not sure what yet.
 
Thanks for all the information above and I feel great to be a part of the X-3 crew.  Looking forward to sharing my experiences with the new Recorder.
 
B


Brian I use the X3 in a bag designed to fit quickly into my cart. I can easily use it in a bag for a couples of hours, even booming for a second boom when required. Started doing this last week and it was great. Would not wear it all day since it is a little heavy but yet, after about 8 hours, my back is doing fine. As a backup/second kit for docu work, I have a SD 633 kit at the ready. Here is a pics of me wearing the bag. Not so heavy by the way.

Ps, I power my Octopack with a single Remote Audio Hi-Q 98wh for a full day. I also use the same 98wh for the Cantar ( external power ) and usually need two 98wh and one or two 49wh ( internal ) to do a full 12 hours day.

37eaa69f87a85b342bfdde3c3645455c.jpg


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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where is the like button ... I like your setup. But maybe some day your back will tell you, that it was not wise to carry it for -even short- days.

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I intend to use the rigid spine k-tek harness with my X3/PSC six pack bag (not ready yet). Compared to what I had earlier (788/cl8) the X3-combo-bag weight about 1kg more. 

Bit since that harness is a amazing back saver I know that I could easily do full days/weeks with this setup as well. 

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Indeed it is heavy but I carry it for very short period of time, 15-20minutes and then it's off. I end up doing one shot pass for every 5 scenes or something. No more. So maybe 1 hour total a day. I am looking at making a stand for it.


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