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deejayen

Line level recorder

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I'm thinking about buying a portable recorder for recording line level signals.  I'm thinking along the lines of:-

 

Sony PCM-D100

Nagra SD

Sound Devices MixPre-3

 

I've read a few reviews, but they dwell on the mics and preamps, and overall functionality as field recorders.  My use will be a bit different, so I'm wondering if anyone has any knowledge of how they'd compare.  The Sony has the DSD mode, but I'm not sure how advantageous that is if I need to then convert the recordings to PCM 16-bit 44.1KHz files to burn to a CD.  The Nagra has optional mics, so I wouldn't be paying for something I wouldn't use, but the specs don't look so good (as far as I can understand them).  However, I've seen mention that it is a good sounding recorder, but that might be down to the quality of its interchangeable microphones.  The Sound Devices again concentrates on the pre-amps, but seems to have quite good specs for the converters etc.

 

Also, are there any other recorders worth considering?  I've got a nice sounding audio interface for when I'm recording to a computer, so I'm looking for something which will give really high quality results when I don't want to use a computer.

 

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I mean...it all depends on what you need.

 

SD MixPre 3 will be the most versatile in terms of inputs, outputs, UI, interfacing with your computer (if you ever need to), and you can use pretty much any mic on the planet that has an XLR. 

 

If you wanted something with integrated mics then the PCM-D100 has always been a favourite but you're stuck with the stock mics.

 

Nagra is good but again, stuck with the Nagra mics.

 

I'd recommend the Sound Devices purely for it's versatility. 

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14 hours ago, deejayen said:

...  My use will be a bit different, so I'm wondering if anyone has any knowledge of how they'd compare...

 

well, what will be your use?

 

if you dont care about the mics or pre-amps but just a bit bucket for line level signals then a lot of recorders will do the job and the choice will depend more on features and handling I guess 

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43 minutes ago, chrismedr said:

 

well, what will be your use?

 

if you dont care about the mics or pre-amps but just a bit bucket for line level signals then a lot of recorders will do the job and the choice will depend more on features and handling I guess 

 

Yep, as Chris says, something as simple as an old microtrack (in my experience), or Tascam or zoom might do well, going line in, if line in at consumer level is an option.

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I'd add to your list to consider the Zoom F4, which with its new price drop to $499 it seems like a no brainer decision.

 

Also have a read over my article:

 

http://ironfilm.co.nz/which-sound-recorder-to-buy-a-guide-to-various-indie-priced-sound-recorders-in-2017/

 

To that list, I'd add the Marantz PDM706 on the very low end (if you're just wanting a biy bucket).

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5 hours ago, IronFilm said:

I'd add to your list to consider the Zoom F4, which with its new price drop to $499 it seems like a no brainer decision.

 

To that list, I'd add the Marantz PDM706 on the very low end (if you're just wanting a biy bucket).

 

The Zoom F4 isn't such a 'no brainer' in the UK, where the OP is based, and is only £90 or so cheaper than the Mixpre-3: as you want a line-level recorder not a digital bit bucket, I'd go for the Mixpre-3's better headroom on line-level input and the lower self-noise. Assuming that the need for line-level recording means there is a very good preamp feeding the recorder, the Marantz PDM706 or other cheaper options (e.g. Tascam DR70D) would seem unwise: if this isn't the case, and there is some other reason for the line-level signal, then these might do the trick for a lot less.

 

Cheers,

 

Roland

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Thanks very much for the suggestions, and for the helpful link.

 

It's always difficult trying to choose audio gear without hearing it!

 

I don't think I'd ever want more than two tracks.  It's for "live" recording my guitar and a drum machine, and I'm mixing the two together before the recorder, so I really only need a stereo recorder.  I've tried a Zoom H4n, but it seems relatively noisy, and sound quality isn't as good as my more expensive audio interface.  I've since read that the H4n doesn't always handle level signals very well, especially +4dB line levels, which will require an attenuator.  I'll need to experiment a bit more with the Zoom, but I'm really looking for something which sounds really nice while allowing me to record away from a computer. 

 

I'm not really aware of current options, other than from web surfing.  Would one of the mid-range recorders listed above (such as the PCM-D100 or Nagra SD) sound great, or do you have to look at something much more expensive, such as a Nagra Seven?

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The Zoom H4n is truly truly dreadfully awful. While the F8/F4 is unlike anything Zoom has ever made before.

 

Even the lowly humble Tascam DR70D you could easily tell the difference over an H4n.

 

And also the MixPre3/MixPre6/F4/F8 is another class above.

 

 By the way, both the MixPre and F series can also be used as a USB audio interface with your computer.

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4 hours ago, deejayen said:

I'm not really aware of current options, other than from web surfing.  Would one of the mid-range recorders listed above (such as the PCM-D100 or Nagra SD) sound great, or do you have to look at something much more expensive, such as a Nagra Seven?

 

well, if you have the funds by all means go for a Nagra seven ; )

bit more seriously, it's hard to give suggestions if the options range from a H4N to a Nagra seven and without knowing how important the last bit of audio quality is to you.

 

Personally I'd go for a MixPre-3 because it's small, versatile, and very good value for the money. If it's really important to you then I'd suggest you do a side by side test with two or three recorders that fit your needs. 

 

But pretty much any current recorder in the 300EUR+ range will be better then the H4N

chris

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 If you do not need TC, the Tascam 680 is one of the few recorders that bypasses the mic preamps, which are actually not bad for the price. The 680mkII allegedly has better battery economy as well as other improvements over the original.. Otherwise you can't go wrong with a SD product.

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I have a Nagra SD and it sounds wonderful, not cheap but I highly recommend it. I used one with my SQNmini mixer (via the unbalanced line out) for a long time and was always very happy with the results. (never used the optional clip on mics so can't comment on them but the line/mic inputs sounds great)

 

Grant.

 

Here's a doco I worked on using the above combo. 

 

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