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Power consumption recorders


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Dear colleagues,

 

for a documentary project next summer in a very remote location, I have to chose a recorder that is not too power hungry.
We will have to be autonomous for periods of 3 days without possibilities of charging batteries.

I generally use two Smart batteries per day with my 833, this is then certainly not the right choice in this situation.

 

I never used the Mix Pre 10 and wonder if it could be a alternative choice.

As it is a simpler recorder, I assume it needs less current. 

The ads for the Nova announce very low consumption and the SxR4 is known to be very power efficient too.


Any real world experience with one of these regarding the battery life would be very valuable and appreciated.

Many thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts. 
 

Henri

 

 

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I ran my MixPre6 with Sony NP-F style batteries on a seperate Sled outside the actual recorder.

With an older NP-F970 - 7,2V - 6600mAh I was able to run through a day whilst still having 30% left.

But I only used 2x wired lavs or 1 lav + 1 MKH8060.

 

You can also use USB Powerbanks with 20.000mAH that should last 1-2 days.

These are dirt cheap sothat you can carry lots of them and use them afterwards for other stuff.

 

The Zoom F6/F8 are no slouch either when it comes to power consumptions.

The MixPres are okay, but not great in power consumption. If you don't need Bluetooth for the Wingman app, that will save some extra juice.

Reduce the brightness of LCD/LED and it needs even less.

The amount of energy via phantom power will determine how much power you'll need.

 

How many mics will you run? 

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The Sound Devices 552 has really great power efficiency! You could run it for days on an 68Wh NP1. And if you didn't have spares you could run easily on internal AA's. A bit limited track recording perhaps as it's just two channels, so if you need many channels it may not be the best choice. What are your channel needs on this documentary?

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In the distant past I made up what were then called "expedition" battery backs for DAT-based rigs on shoots like what the OP describes.  These were external battery boxes that used throwaway "D" cells in a config to come up with the right voltage.  When being used they lived in a small daypack on our backs with a cable running around to the rig on a harness.  We had the external pack as well as clip on batteries made for the recorders.  For an 8xx machine you could have a set of Lithium AAs inside (and have backups with you), a brace of L-mounts, and the external pack.  For this gig you might consider "dividing and conquering"--maybe run the 888 on its own AA liths with L mount back up (as well as an external battery) and run the radios on a 2nd battery rig.  With no possibility of charging or getting more batteries I'd advise have A+B+C plans for powering everything.

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3 hours ago, kavenzmann said:

The Zoom F6/F8 are no slouch either when it comes to power consumptions.

I found the Zoom F4 used a lot less power than the F8n. Thus if going for a Zoom F Series, definitely hunt down a Zoom F4 as the lightest weight of them all when it comes to power consumption. My Zaxcom Maxx also always seemed to be fairly minimal in its power demands, not sure if less than an F4 though, perhaps not. 

 

1 hour ago, henrimic said:

I’ll have to record 6 radios and an MS pair, all ISO’s, so the 552 is not an option, but thank you for reminding me this one. 

Ouch, perhaps not the Zoom F4 then! As it can do four channels, or six in a pinch. 
Perhaps the Zaxcom Maxx then.

 

1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

For an 8xx machine you could have a set of Lithium AAs inside (and have backups with you), a brace of L-mounts, and the external pack. 

None of the 8 Series have AAs internally.

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Thank you all for your inputs.

Nova seems a very good option, but there is no distributors here in Switzerland, I’ll have to go the France to borrow one and try after the lockdown.

The Maxx s a good option as I already have Wisycom systems and there are plenty of second hand recorders available.

Any MixPre 10 users here ? I’ll be interested to know your thoughts.

Another question regarding the batteries, do you guys, know a way to charge Smart batteries via solar pannels ? I’ve seen plenty of solutions for small batteries, but again, first hand experience is precious.

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8 hours ago, henrimic said:

Any MixPre 10 users here ? I’ll be interested to know your thoughts.

It is not as power efficient as a F8, but better than 688. Dont know how much that helps. Last times I have not been running it in the typical application with a boom and a few radios, so don't know how it would do in practice.

 

Some roundabout numbers:

Was running 1 boom and occasionally 1 wire on an 8 hour day on a 49wh battery with plenty of juice left.

I am often running 7 DPA 4060s with phantom adapters and a NTG3 for a few hours as a plant recorder, the battery indicator on a 98wh battery usually goes to 3/4, but sometimes remains 4/4.

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I've just been on a three day job with a Zaxcom Nova, one MRX414 powered up (of two), Zaxnet on, 2 x P48, plus AES42 powered, Sennheiser G3 TX for camera hop,
On continuously for nine hours, I was using 1.14x AudioRoot Neo 96Wh. One battery with 41% remaining and the other with 54% remaining at the end of the day.

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I’d also recommend the Nova and the SX-R4+. The Sonosax is the most efficient and lightest. The Nova is the smallest (w/built in RX) and extremely efficient. Both allow you to turn certain circuits on and off to customize your setup. The SX-R4+ has more options when it comes to turning specific circuits on and off.

That being said, you’d have to add a fader pack or linear faders to really mix since the Sonosax only has 4 encoders. 

If you go with the Zaxom eco system it will be very stream lined. Even if you can and want to stay with your current wireless, the fader banking feature is pretty sweet. Never as nice as having all the faders you need/want but certainly better than having to carry around more gear and bulky energy consuming devices.

If you can swing the purchase/rental, go with Zaxcom. Sonosax right behind it in my opinion.

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Nova seem the way to go. I'll definitively borrow one and test it.

Some time ago, I planned to replace my 633 by the SX-R4+, but the 8 series was presented and I finally decided to go for the 833 because of the features (Dungan, EQ, ...).

The Sonosax is brilliant, especially the preamps, but I was a bit disapointed by the lack of limiters on inputs and the LC filters at 60 and 120 only.

Unfortunately, it's a hardware setting that can't be changed by firmware.

 

And if this is of interest for someone, I've found these solar chargers that seem perfect for the kind of situation we'll be in.

https://www.goalzero.com/shop/kits/sherpa-100ac-nomad-office-kit/

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, henrimic said:

And if this is of interest for someone, I've found these solar chargers that seem perfect for the kind of situation we'll be in.

 

in my experience, at that size you need a full day of sunny weather with optimal placement to charge a 20000mAh powerbank (ie about 70Wh)

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The Nova will draw about 5 watts without the MRX414 enabled. Each MRX414 4 channel receiver draws 3.6 watts. With 4 working receivers  you should get over 11 continuous hours of operation on a 98Wh battery. This is with Zaxnet remote running for transmitter control and time code distribution. Our distributors in France, Belgium or Germany can set you up.

 

Best Wishes

 

Glenn

 

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Isn’t it cheaper to just buy 8 or 10 smart batteries than buying a whole new recorder and possibly new wireless if you use s nova with their receivers. If you have a proven system I’d go with that and just pickup some more batteries and maybe an additional charger. You could even add in solar charging to the system for still less than investing in a new recording system. 

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Can the OP afford to buy a new rig (esp recorder) for this gig?  If this gig is the impetus to do a change he's been thinking about then rock on, but for a 3 day (right?) gig it seems like you could trick up a way to make your current stuff  work.   A tough gig away from power (and communications?) might not be the best way to start with all new unfamiliar gear?

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6 hours ago, glenn said:

The Nova will draw about 5 watts without the MRX414 enabled. Each MRX414 4 channel receiver draws 3.6 watts. With 4 working receivers  you should get over 11 continuous hours of operation on a 98Wh battery. This is with Zaxnet remote running for transmitter control and time code distribution. Our distributors in France, Belgium or Germany can set you up.

 

Best Wishes

 

Glenn

 

 

Sorry Glenn,

While Nova OneUnit is extremely power efficient your Math is wrong. 

It is impossible for a nova to go 11 hours with 4 receivers.

 

However the nova OneUnit has 2 Hirose connectors for hot swap. You can run it forever.

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Its' a 4 week shooting in the wild, the periods of three days are between the acces to the base camp and a generator.

Indeed, I plan to bring a lot of batteries, but we will have to carry a lot of stuff during long hiking days, so if I can be more power efficient, my back will be grateful.

As this is a long and demanding shooting, the choice of equipment should not be limited to what I already own, and if necessary, I'll rent the recorder that is best suited for the job. And as you mentionned, I would never go with a brand new equipment that I don't know or not deeply tested before departure. Fortunately, I have six months to prepare this shooting.


Thank you all for your valuable suggestions and advices.

 

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I would be worried taking the MixPre10 as the main recorder as it only records to one card. At the very least you should then split off your main mic into say a Tentacle Track-E as a backup. 
Same with the Maxx as I understand it only records to one medium as well? Battery life has never been much if a concern to me, so I can’t really bring anything new to this particular discussion. I could always get through a day with a 788, two Lectro SRBs and an MS boom on two NP1s. Even if I knew I could get through a day on one battery and even if weight were a concern I would still take two batteries. Just because it feels safer. 
 

During the first shutdown in March I used my free time to build a very small one-panel solar charging station. I intended to charge my Remote Audio Lifeboxes with it. I only ever got around to set up one 100W panel, but that was enough to charge one of those lifeboxes on a good day. The installation isn’t very mobile, though. 
the system you linked to didn’t mention how big it is, but as you probably know with solar panels a lot of it comes down to size...

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6 hours ago, henrimic said:

Its' a 4 week shooting in the wild, the periods of three days are between the acces to the base camp and a generator.

Indeed, I plan to bring a lot of batteries, but we will have to carry a lot of stuff during long hiking days, so if I can be more power efficient, my back will be grateful.

As this is a long and demanding shooting, the choice of equipment should not be limited to what I already own, and if necessary, I'll rent the recorder that is best suited for the job. And as you mentionned, I would never go with a brand new equipment that I don't know or not deeply tested before departure. Fortunately, I have six months to prepare this shooting.


Thank you all for your valuable suggestions and advices.

 

 My rule has always been that if I think I'll get to do more (or I'd LIKE to do more) of this sort of gig then getting well-rigged to do it is a good idea, and has worked out well for me.   "Shakedowns" and rehearsals are a good thing.

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