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Tascam HD-P2 Recorder


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This recorder has been on the market for about 10 weeks. I'm love to hear user comments, which are to this point hard to come by.

I'm interested in this recorder because I need a 2-track machine that will record time code. The only competitor, the Fostex FR-2 is quite a bit more expensive, and I don't need its capacity to generate code.

Alas, the Sound Devices 722 is not time code capable, although I'd like to think that they are considering it. A 722 that supports Aaton Code is my ideal, if not yet realized, product.

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I've been using the P2 on jobs since early January--so far so good.  The main diffs between it and the FR2 are:

--P2 has firewire i/o (400) at a speed dictated by the CF card in use (generally faster than 744T) (FR2 is USB 1 only)

--P2 has "triggered record" or (in 744 parlance)"auto record", which means it can be set to start recording in a new file whenever it senses ascending TC @ its TC jack.  (Vital for double system shoots with record-run TC video)

--P2 has an easier to navigate (I think) menu structure than FR2 or 744

--P2 has enough pad available on the mic level inputs such that one can have 2 sets of line ins connected to the machine, and switch back and forth, per input.

--P2  has an external sync input, incl Tri-Level sync for HD shoots

--P2 can run all day on an NP1 battery, or about 5 hrs on its internal AA cells

--P2 smaller and somewhat lighter than the FR2

--P2 has no TC output (FR2 does)

--P2 can take an OS2 keyboard input, but what you can do with the keyboard is limited compared w/ the FR2, at least so far (v 1.04)

--FR2 has two types of card slots, P2 just has CF

--P2 uses such low power that it can run off FireWire bus power.

--The TC generator on the P2 cannot be set onboard to a specific start time--it is really designed to either take external TC (as from video) or to jam sync.  FR2 TC can be set like most TC generators.  (But has no

external sync input.)

--FR2 TC connectors are RCA jacks, P2's TC input is XLR.

The P2 has worked very well for me, and I'm now selling my TCDATs, finally.  I've used it for sync sound w/ various sorts of video shoots (all rec-run TC), and converted its files to QT in Sebsky Tools for use in Final Cut edit systems.  I've also done some 24 bit SFX recording in stereo.  For me the TC features and the fast firewire connection made the difference, as well as the fact that I've had quite a lot of Tascam recorders over the years and they always worked very well for me.  An engineer from Tascam has been great about sending me updates after I sent some complaining emails--they are really trying to make the machine work for motion picture and video use.

Philip Perkins

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How are you handling time code in your set up Philip ? Wireless feed ?

More often wireless--just one less wire to the camera.  The P2 can take a fairly low-level TC feed and still work, so many sorts of wireless systems will work.  When in wireless I set the "freewheel" mode to 20 fr,

and it has worked very well for me so far. 

Philip Perkins

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An additional caveat w/ the P2--the mic pres do not have a whole lot of gain, and are not as quiet as those found in

higher-end portable mixers.  For most FX and dialog they've been fine, about like the pres built into most portable recorders I've had.  For quiet ambiences or even detailed music in a quiet room you  should probably use the P2 with a mixer or an outboard mic pre.

Philip Perkins

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I'm also using a P2 now, and love it.  It so far has been a workhorse.  Some comments on Philip's posts --

I haven't noticed any problems with the pre's on it, but I'm almost always working from a mixer and going line-in.  (I have not verified this yet, but I have been told that the XLR connectors on the P2 cannot be set for line-in, just mic in.  You have to go to the RCA connector for line-in (which is what I do anyway, so it hasn't been a problem for me)).

As for timecode, I jam from my Denecke slate and have been using free-run.  One thing I did do when I first got it was a TC test, and after about 6 hours, there was a 2-3 frame drift (not sure if it came from the slate or the P2), but jamming is so easy (essentially plug the slate back in for about 2 seconds and I was back in synch immediately and stayed that way again for about 6 hours.

A couple of other things to watch out for...the button to pop out the CF card sticks way out when the card is in.  I put a piece of gaffer tape over the card just to be safe.  It's easy to pop the card without using the button, so I may just remove the button all together to eliminate this worry.

Also, I discovered this weekend that the Porta-Brace bag I had for my PMD670 can be used with the P2.  Doesn't quite fit, but close enough for most work.

Let's see...what else.  The display is large, readable and has good information on it.  The firewire connection is awesome, very fast.  Another thing the P2 does is buffers the recordings, and then closes and re-opens the file as it is recording (every 5-10 seconds) so even if you run into a problem (the chip popping out, etc.) your file will still be solid and intact up to the point of the problem.

Another thing I've seen on mine (Philip, have you seen this?) is that the headphones out seems to be a bit soft compared to what is actually recording (again, at least compared to my PMD670).  Worried me a bit at first, but after bringing the audio over to my computer (into Protools) everything sounded fine. 

Almost all of the controls are on the top of the P2, so if you're going to carry it in a bag, you need to be aware of this.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.  I'm doing some sound checks to tomorrow for a new project so I may have more feedback after that.

Phil

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I'm also using a P2 now, and love it.  It so far has been a workhorse.  Some comments on Philip's posts --

I haven't noticed any problems with the pre's on it, but I'm almost always working from a mixer and going line-in.  (I have not verified this yet, but I have been told that the XLR connectors on the P2 cannot be set for line-in, just mic in.  You have to go to the RCA connector for line-in (which is what I do anyway, so it hasn't been a problem for me)).

As for timecode, I jam from my Denecke slate and have been using free-run.  One thing I did do when I first got it was a TC test, and after about 6 hours, there was a 2-3 frame drift (not sure if it came from the slate or the P2), but jamming is so easy (essentially plug the slate back in for about 2 seconds and I was back in synch immediately and stayed that way again for about 6 hours.

A couple of other things to watch out for...the button to pop out the CF card sticks way out when the card is in.  I put a piece of gaffer tape over the card just to be safe.  It's easy to pop the card without using the button, so I may just remove the button all together to eliminate this worry.

Also, I discovered this weekend that the Porta-Brace bag I had for my PMD670 can be used with the P2.  Doesn't quite fit, but close enough for most work.

Let's see...what else.  The display is large, readable and has good information on it.  The firewire connection is awesome, very fast.  Another thing the P2 does is buffers the recordings, and then closes and re-opens the file as it is recording (every 5-10 seconds) so even if you run into a problem (the chip popping out, etc.) your file will still be solid and intact up to the point of the problem.

Another thing I've seen on mine (Philip, have you seen this?) is that the headphones out seems to be a bit soft compared to what is actually recording (again, at least compared to my PMD670).  Worried me a bit at first, but after bringing the audio over to my computer (into Protools) everything sounded fine. 

Almost all of the controls are on the top of the P2, so if you're going to carry it in a bag, you need to be aware of this.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.  I'm doing some sound checks to tomorrow for a new project so I may have more feedback after that.

Phil

Re the XLR ins--I found that with the front volume control turned all the way down and the 20 DB pad plugged in that I can use the XLRs as a 2nd line in @ +4.  This has been cool since I can now have 2 sets of line ins hooked up (backup to mix and split tracks) and just change by switching from mic to line w/o repatching.

On my P2 the CF button folds back sideways after you have either inserted or removed the card.  Are you leaving yours

sticking out?  Or are you finding that even the folded back release button is getting bumped?

The headphone amp has been fine for me--I just turn it up.  I'm using Sony V6 type headphones.

What media are you delivering your files on, and are you delivering to telecine or to video edit systems?

thanks

Philip Perkins

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Philip,

Thank you for the reply -- I never noticed that the eject button folds down.  (Actually, it had never been a problem, but I'm paranoid about stuff like that, but now that it folds down, no worries).  As far as the headphone amp goes, I do the same, but it does seem a bit softer than my old recorder (I wonder if the lawsuit against Apple and the iPod influenced this...)

As far as media delivery, I send a CD right now, upgrading to a DVD system shortly.  I make three copies...first to an external project HD connected to my notebook, then two CD's (one for permanent backup, one for hand-off).  Most of my projects have been video, and the few projects I've done on film they didn't synch sound in telecine, so the hand-off was still to a video editing system (mostly FCP, once to Avid, a couple of times to Vegas 6).

Are you based in S.F?  I'm down on the Penninsula (Sunnyvale, specifically).

Thank you again!

Phil Talsky

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I had a P2 for a few days before trading up to a 744.  I was not a fan of the plastic build quality.  Also the button layout is not very bag friendly (most of my work at the moment). On the plus side I do have to say that the menu system was for the P2 was much easier to use than the 744.

Brian

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I had a P2 for a few days before trading up to a 744.  I was not a fan of the plastic build quality.  Also the button layout is not very bag friendly (most of my work at the moment). On the plus side I do have to say that the menu system was for the P2 was much easier to use than the 744.

Brian

The bag thing has been ok for me with the P2--most of what I need to do can be done on the front.  In a heavy combat style shoot the small size and metal body of the 744 would be a plus.  That said, I took the previous Tascam/Casio machines (DATs) all around the world in horrible conditions, and even drowned them a couple of times, and they kept working even after all the paint had been worn off them.  With no moving parts I think the Tascam will prove to be very rugged and relatively non-temp and moisture sensitive.  I will agree, the P2 is not a pretty machine.  But so far it has sounded good and worked very well and has been VERY cost-effective.  If enough people buy them maybe SD will finally make a TC-enabled

722.

Philip Perkins

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