Location Recorders | When Two Channels Won't Cut It

Mar 31, 2010 1:21 PM, By George Petersen



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The PD606 ($9,995) from Fostex offers eight tracks of recording with two virtual tracks storing to full-sized DVD-RAM discs, plus dual-drive recording, support for 6+2 poly files, and a digital mixer and router with a stereo bus. Up to 8-track/24-bit recording is supported through its AES/EBU inputs, or six tracks (plus a stereo mix track) at 96 kHz through the six analog inputs. Full 176.4/192kHz is supported for 2-track recording. Tracks are stored to BWF, and an Avid-compatible EDL file (ALE) can be created and edited. The PD606 records to the internal (user-replaceable) 1.8-inch 80GB hard disk and DVD-RAM discs. Simultaneous recording to both media is available either by mirroring or auto-copy. A Background mode automatically copies recorded audio from the hard disk to DVD when the machine is idling. The DVD drive can also write to DVD-R/RW and CD-R/RW discs for data copy/backup. The PD606 mounts directly to a host PC via USB, and a standard QWERTY keyboard can connect for file name editing.

Sync functions include a 9-pin ES-Bus remote port to lock a second PD606 for simultaneous recording, along with video/tri-level/word sync and SMPTE generator. Also standard is 0.1-percent Fs pull-up/down for video lock. Powering is via two IDX Endura batteries or external 12 VDC. Weight is 12.5 pounds.

Nagra’s VI ($8,200) is a 6-channel (four mic/two line) recorder that stores audio with 24-bit/96kHz resolution to an internal 120GB HD or Compact Flash media. The onboard mixer can take the four mic inputs to a stereo mix on channels 5/6, or five analog inputs to a mono mix on channel 6. The mic inputs have phantom power and limiters, along with a built-in matrix and two M/S mic decoders. Analog inputs 5/6 can switch to accept AES-3 digital signals. Audio is stored as Broadcast WAV. USB connectors provide access for external devices and the Nagra VI appears as a drive on a PC or Mac. A 5-pin Lemo port handles timecode in/out at standard SMPTE/EBU formats, as well as the 23.976 fps for HD production, and any frame rate or sample rate (44.1/48/88.2/96 kHz) can pull up/down 0.1 percent for the NTSC markets. The sunlight-readable, 320x200-pixel, 3.5-inch TFT display shows operating status, bar graph modulometers, take numbers, timecode and more. Power is via a lithium-ion battery or the 4-pin XLR DC connector. Two 12 VDC sockets power external devices such as wireless receivers. Weight is 8.3 pounds.

Sound Devices' 744T 4-track model

Sound Devices' 744T 4-track model

Sound Devices’ top-end 788T deck—the “T” suffix stands for timecode—records 12 tracks (eight mic/line inputs and four additional tracks for stereo mixes or aux feeds) to an internal 160GB drive, Compact Flash media or an external FireWire HD or DVD-RAM (with bus powering). A 788T-SSD version exchanges the conventional HD for a 256GB solid-state hard drive. Any or all of these can be used simultaneously, and audio is stored at up to 24-bit/96kHz as Broadcast WAV, mono or poly files, or uncompressed PCM. The eight analog inputs offer peak limiters for mic inputs, as well as adjustable highpass filters. Support for AES-42 digital mics is also available, with eight channels of AES-3 digital input and six channels of balanced AES-3 output. The 788T can be clocked from external word clock or from video sync, and a timecode reader/generator is standard. Auto-record features allow chasing external rec-run video sources. To simplify metadata entry (or for keyboard shortcut control), the 788T accepts USB keyboards. Powering is via lithium-ion batteries or a 10 to 18VDC jack. Weight is 2.6 pounds without battery.

The 788T retails at $5,995. Options include the CL-8 mixing control surface with eight rotary faders and pushbuttons for setting highpass filter, limiter, polarity, mutes and routing. New for 2010 is the CL-9 Linear Fader Controller ($2,250), a dedicated mix surface featuring eight ultralow-latency linear faders and rotary input trim controls, while adding pan controls and single-band parametric EQs for each input.

The 744T ($4,395), the 4-track cousin of the 788T, shares many—though not all—of its features, including onboard timecode sync. It features two mic preamps (with phantom, limiters and highpass filters); channels 3 and 4 are line-level inputs on TA3 connectors; and four AES-3 digital I/Os are standard. Uncompressed PCM audio tracks (MP3 is also supported) at up to 24-bit/192kHz store to an 160GB internal drive, CF card or external FireWire, with simple connection to Mac or PC for transfer or data backup. Weight is 2.6 pounds.

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