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Gordonmoore1

Announcing the SPDR two channel bag/field recorder

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The SPDR is Lectrosonics’ response to customer demand for a small, lightweight dual channel recorder for use on virtual reality sound captures or as a backup recorder for bag systems in the field. The SPDR allows capture of the full stereo audio of an extreme sport participant, in-car scenes, plant mics, or in situations where a wireless system isn’t practical. When used in conjunction with a small mixer and the SRC receiver, the SPDR makes for a lightweight interview setup that provides full redundancy - all fitting into a small fanny pack. For compatibility with a wider range of memory cards while retaining high reliability, the SPDR features a deep write buffer.

 

The SPDR records to a Micro SDHC memory card in Broadcast Wave Format (.WAV with iXML metadata) and 24 bit depth, at sample rates of either 48 kHz or 96 kHz. The unit can accept inputs from analog line level and AES digital sources, or from lav microphones wired for standard Lectrosonics 5-pin “servo bias” inputs. The SPDR can be jammed with time code via an industry-standard 5-pin Lemo connector, and features a highly accurate, temperature compensated (TCXO) time base crystal. The clock is accurate to less than 1ppm.

 

The SPDR (Spider) runs on either internal AA batteries (over 20 hours on lithiums) or from external power via a built in battery eliminator.   The record button features a small dimple for tactile feedback when starting recordings without removing form the bag.  A unique set of dweedle tones can permit remote control via the audio chain.

 

We are shipping units now and have units available on the shelf.  Several dealers have units in hand. The machined aluminum housing is in the same extrusion as the LMb and slightly longer (0.65") at 3.9" high.   It can take the a wire or clip style belt clip.

 

https://www.lectrosonics.com/US/SPDR-Stereo-Personal-Digital-Recorder/product.html 

 

You asked for it!  You got it!  

 

Gordon

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On 12/4/2018 at 9:59 PM, David Lawrence said:

Does anyone have any likes / dislikes to report for the SPDR?  How easy is it to adjust the gain for analog recording?

 

I’ve been meaning to contact the mothership about this and have been forgetting, but the memory card door is an abomination. Hard to get it back in, and about the second or third time I opened it it just broke off. On top of that, the power connector rubber plug isn’t “captive” and I immediately lost it. 

 

I’ve been having an issue with feeding it AES from my 633 that I haven’t quite got to the bottom of, need more time to research it. In short, I can somehow clip the digital inputs. I don’t know how that’s even possible. It may be an error with the way AES works on the 633, it may be my unit needs need a clean reset or a trip home, or it could be some other strange issue. Unsure yet, been too busy to dig deep.

 

Other than that, it’s wonderful. Great sound quality, incredibly useful as a bag backup recorder. Aside from the above issues, the only thing I’m truly missing is auto roll when it sees a TC signal. Would be great to not just have gigantic clips for a whole shoot day. 

Oh and the battery life is astounding! A vast improvement over the AAA-powered PDR (and I understand why...)

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I was wondering if any of you tried a 32Gb card that works flawless with the recorder ? The approved cards list is still the same as when they released the unit and it's just 16Gb cards in that list... I guess I'll try one of the same listed cards but with a 32Gb version if nobody did it so far...

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30 minutes ago, Boomboom said:

a 32Gb card that works flawless with the recorder

 

I don't get it. At all. At max quality (2channels 96Khz @ 24bits) you need a whopping 600 KB / sec.

Please point me to a 32 gig card that is not capable of doing that.

(The cheapest 32 gig card I've found (12 euros) is 150 times faster than this.)

 

 

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It's been seen that too fast a memory card won't necessarily give good results with some products. Faster is not always better from what I've been reading. That's one of the reasons why manufacturers tend to give an ''approved cards'' list nowadays.

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1 minute ago, Boomboom said:

It's been seen that too fast a memory card won't necessarily give good results with some products.

 

Well, after 30 years I've seen close to any piece of hard/software fail at some point.

But, I very much doubt that in this case any card will fail. (Unless it's broken of course.)

 

2 minutes ago, Boomboom said:

'approved cards'' list


Avid started out with this a very long time ago. Back in the days one needed a very well configured system to make things possible, and the early Avids were not computers with extra cards and a piece of software, no, they were magical 'black boxes' to  edit on.

(Even nowadays the interface does not allow you to open a project with the 'file' menu...)

And, of course you could only use Avid blessed drives, that were exactly the same as stock drives but branded and extremely more expensive.

But, just for ease of mind I also bought Avid Approved hardware, up to some 10 years ago when I decided that it really served no purpose.

(Having had lots of experience with a turn key system that did not work as well...)

 

I don't record field audio only, I have a SD PIX recorder that does video as well, increasing the data by at least a factor 30 compared to a high end multichannel (field) audio recorder.

I recently swapped out the SD drive (I hate cards), and bought the first (branded) drive I could find. No issues at all.

 

I dare to say, if you encounter problems, chances are way bigger you have a rotten card than an 'out of spec' card.

So, I would invest in recorders that record on at least 2 pieces of media simultaneously, rather than invest in this.

 

Having said this all, who cares, me typing / you reading all this is more expensive than the difference between the cheapest and most expensive card :-)

 

 

 

 


 

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😄

I took the habit of asking first since I bought 3 cards for a recorder that wouldn't work after testing (and they were ''above specs'' of course, but later said to be ''too fast''). No big issue since these cards work A1 into my digital cameras, etc... so, well… but now having quite a few cards around, I'd rather ask than buy another bunch that'll end up as gifts for my nephew's phone or my friend's camera. 

Thanks for your input ! 👍

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There's a few discussions here on this website concerning that. SD, Zoom… and I even ran into a wall with my car's memory cards that need to be ''old'' to work and formatted in fat32 only… but that 2012 car is another story...

anyway anyhow, like you said, as I'm looking for a 32Go card it happens to be relatively cheap so worst comes to worst I'll be buying one or two and run a test

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From a recent update to our manual regarding cards

 

Please note that the PDR and SPDR are designed for use with the microSDHC memory cards. There are several types of SD card standards (as of this writing)
based on capacity (storage in GB).

 

SDSC: standard capacity, up to and including 2 GB – DO NOT USE!


SDHC: high capacity, more than 2 GB and up to and including 32 GB – USE THIS TYPE.

 

SDXC: extended capacity, more than 32 GB and up to and including 2 TB – DO NOT USE!


SDUC: extended capacity, more than 2TB and up to and including 128 TB – DO NOT USE!

 

The larger XC and UC cards use a different formatting method and bus structure and are NOT compatible with the SPDR recorder. These are typically used with
later generation video systems and cameras for image applications (video and high resolution, high speed photography).

 

ONLY the microSDHC memory cards should be used. They are available in capacities from 4GB to 32GB.
Look for the Speed Class 10 cards (as indicated by a C wrapped around the number 10), or the UHS Speed Class I cards (as indicated by the numeral 1 inside a U
symbol). Also note the microSDHC Logo.


If you are switching to a new brand or source of card,we always suggest testing first before using the card on a critical application.

 

The quality and reliability for SD cards is a shifting constantly moving target - certifying various cards has proven to be similar to shooting skeet at midnight on a moonless while blindfolded.  The SPDR - which has more code space - has a more forgiving buffer capacity than the PDR so is mch more forgiving of most SDHC cards.  So, it's OK to go to 32GB cards - just don't try to go higher.

 

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Hey Gordon,

 

Could you please elaborate a bit on the subject of cards,  so the next time I don't spill BS anymore?

(Can be offlist if you like.)

 

Thx,

 

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Bouke!   The BS detector did NOT go off on any of your posts.  I liked what you were saying - the problem with SD cards that plagues all manufacturers is that they are NOT as consistent as one might expect for a standard.  Let me gather a few notes together from engineering and write a short white paper on it ( as we see it) and put something up in a bit.   More later!

 

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On 12/28/2018 at 1:55 PM, Paul Katzman said:

I’ve been having an issue with feeding it AES from my 633 that I haven’t quite got to the bottom of, need more time to research it. In short, I can somehow clip the digital inputs. I don’t know how that’s even possible. It may be an error with the way AES works on the 633, it may be my unit needs need a clean reset or a trip home, or it could be some other strange issue. Unsure yet, been too busy to dig deep.

 

 

 

That's a common sign that you're using a standard analogue cable for a digital signal, been there done that.

 A quick search turned up this:

The key difference between twisted pair specifications for digital audio cable and standard analog audio cable is the impedance specification.

 

http://www.beldencables-emea.com/en/products/pro-broadcast-products/audio_cables/audio/audio-digital/index.phtml

 

 

 

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On 12/19/2018 at 6:01 AM, Gordonmoore1 said:

Pretty easy - just go to the gain control menu and use the up down arrows to adjust.   Pretty straightforward.

 

Dweedle tones don't work?

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On 12/27/2018 at 4:55 PM, Paul Katzman said:

I’ve been having an issue with feeding it AES from my 633 that I haven’t quite got to the bottom of, need more time to research it. In short, I can somehow clip the digital inputs. I don’t know how that’s even possible. It may be an error with the way AES works on the 633, it may be my unit needs need a clean reset or a trip home, or it could be some other strange issue. Unsure yet, been too busy to dig deep.

Thats because the SPDR is not a bit-accurate device, it resamples all digital inputs (among other digital processing). It does not write raw data like bit-accurate digital recorders

 

I noticed this behavior when feeding it AES from my benchmark ADC, which has very accurate meters with peak hold. With the benchmark peaking at -1 dBFS the SPDR was clipping past FSD so i knew something was wrong right away,

 

upon further investigation (comparing signal from same ADC captured by a known bit-accurate device with that recorded by SPDR), it is distinctly different.

 

The fact that it resamples all inputs should be obvious though because the SPDR will accept any input from 44.1 to 192 kHz and reclock it all to either 48 K or 96K. When matching sample rates from source device it still reclocks and processes. Its obviously more designed as a catch-all backup if you have an AES signal available, but if youre looking to capture accurate data from a dedicated ADC its the wrong tool for the job. There are prosumer larger handhelds like sony and tascam that can do this (the midgrade ones with XLRS and phnatom that start at $400 and up usually offer this). The extra gain and other digital processing involved in the SPDR adds insult to injury nfortuantely

 

I know lecrosonics prides itself on accurate clocks but its a pretty basic feature on every digital recorder out there to slave lock to a source clock feeding the device. Processing AES or S/PDIF to I2S and buffering it to disk is the simplest task in the world so im wondering why they chose to intentionally process all digital input. Perhaps to make it more universal so it would work reliably under all conditions. But dumbing it down like that is a mentality more commonly seen with consumer gear.

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On 3/29/2019 at 3:04 PM, engaudio said:

 

That's a common sign that you're using a standard analogue cable for a digital signal, been there done that.

 A quick search turned up this:

The key difference between twisted pair specifications for digital audio cable and standard analog audio cable is the impedance specification.

 

http://www.beldencables-emea.com/en/products/pro-broadcast-products/audio_cables/audio/audio-digital/index.phtml

 

 

 

while using wrong impedance cable can cause jitter and dropouts, it wouldnt cause digital gain and signal processing. some hardware is pickier than others but usually if it locks right away an doesnt drop out it will pass the digital data adequately

 

digital cable isnt typically twisted pair its almost always coaxial (or balanced + shield in the case of AES). in my tests above i hacked up a canare 110 ohm AEScable originally equipped with 3-pin XLRs , as i  had to make the requisite 5-pin TA5F termination on the end

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18 hours ago, JFtaper said:

Thats because the SPDR is not a bit-accurate device, it resamples all digital inputs (among other digital processing). It does not write raw data like bit-accurate digital recorders

 

I noticed this behavior when feeding it AES from my benchmark ADC, which has very accurate meters with peak hold. With the benchmark peaking at -1 dBFS the SPDR was clipping past FSD so i knew something was wrong right away,

 

upon further investigation (comparing signal from same ADC captured by a known bit-accurate device with that recorded by SPDR), it is distinctly different.

 

The fact that it resamples all inputs should be obvious though because the SPDR will accept any input from 44.1 to 192 kHz and reclock it all to either 48 K or 96K. When matching sample rates from source device it still reclocks and processes. Its obviously more designed as a catch-all backup if you have an AES signal available, but if youre looking to capture accurate data from a dedicated ADC its the wrong tool for the job. There are prosumer larger handhelds like sony and tascam that can do this (the midgrade ones with XLRS and phnatom that start at $400 and up usually offer this). The extra gain and other digital processing involved in the SPDR adds insult to injury nfortuantely

 

I know lecrosonics prides itself on accurate clocks but its a pretty basic feature on every digital recorder out there to slave lock to a source clock feeding the device. Processing AES or S/PDIF to I2S and buffering it to disk is the simplest task in the world so im wondering why they chose to intentionally process all digital input. Perhaps to make it more universal so it would work reliably under all conditions. But dumbing it down like that is a mentality more commonly seen with consumer gear.

Damn, this sucks. Thanks for your exhaustive testing and research. Maybe @Gordonmoore1 can shed some light on the design decisions and if this can be helped in firmware updates at all. 

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i hope firmware would fix some shortcomings, its a well built unit with good sound on the analog in. Support wasnt very useful in regard to unit function, just first level support

 

i had high hopes but ended up returning the one i purchased. I was hoping for a low-pro unit that could power my Schoeps CMRs (and occasionaly DPA 4061s) without an additional box, as well as capture digital signal from my portable Benchmark ADC. It did power the CMRs but barely. the dedicated 5V rail (CMR is a 3-wire mic) dropped to 4V and below (slight difference between channels) with even the minimal 1mA load of the CMRs applied. They are designed to run from 4-10V input, but powering with lower voltages impact headroom on a setup already limited in headroom relative to CMC6. I was willing to drop from the performance of my normal (not much larger than a 9V) battery box that puts out a solid 9-10V with NIMH, to the claimed 5V of the SPDR, but when i saw under 4V under load i wasnt as convinced that it was a good option.

 

My DPA 4061s (2-wire bias power) were noticeably noiser with the 4V servo bias relative to the 5V device i normally use them with. Would require 4063s and i wasnt up for buying new mics as my 4061s are a year old. Both Lectrosonics and DPA are cautionary about running the 5V 4060/4061/4071 with Lectro gear, with a generic answer of 'it works for some people at reduced performance', upon testing it was about a 6dB hit on noise floor (the little DPAs are already somewhat limited in headroom). As i mentioned, i didnt buy it primarily for the 4061s but it would be nice if that worked. Heck if the dedicated 5V pin was actually 5V it could be done from there with a simple circuit inside the TA5F cable adapter housing, but alas, not an option.

 

The fact that it cant write digital data correctly sealed the deal. too many prosumer handhelds out there at 1/3 of the price that can do that, and as for the mics ill just deal with having the extra tiny battery box.

 

I think the timecode is what makes it so expensive, and its something i would never need. Im not exactly sure (please educate me im not an ENG/broadcast guy),  but isnt 'Time Code Jam' just a reference marker? Multiple devices would still run off their own clocks once disconnected so im not even sure you could say this has 'real' timecode/word clock. even the best clocks out there will drift apart due to crystal variation as well as thermal factors. maybe not a factor with short take ENG stuff, but i want to record several hours of audio at a time, which requires post-processing to sync multiple sources

 

 

a summary of my thoughts

 

pros:
-rugged
-relatively compact
-good battery life
-easy interface
-reasonably foolproof recording
-low noise floor on analog input
-has decent plug-in-power and 3rd wire mic power (decent say relative to say zaxcom)


cons:
-three to six times the cost of other handhelds of similar function. Has some unique features but perhaps not enough to justify cost (YMMV if you need TC)
-resamples digital input
-no way to turn off low cut filter
-no way to turn off limiter
-non-standard inputs require custom cabling
-fair amount of metal for those concerned about that (some would like lighter weight or metal-free for other reasons)
-anemic headphone output

-doesnt show actual recording time, just displays TC since the device was powered on or TCJammed
-difficult to judge what the signal path actually looks like, seems like a lot of unnecessary DSP applied
-like most handhelds, mic power voltage is low. cannot power mics requiring 5V to full spec. dedicated 5V rail drops to 4V and below with even a small load.
 

 

 

 

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