Location Recorders | When Two Channels Won't Cut It

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



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Tascam HS-P82 8-track with timecode

Tascam HS-P82 8-track with timecode

Tascam’s HS-P82 ($6,999) 8-track field recorder with timecode has eight XLR mic/line inputs—with limiter, HP filtering and individual phantom power—storing up to 96kHz/24-bit audio (or four channels at 192kHz) Broadcast WAV files to dual Compact Flash media for backup, mirroring and seamless A/B recording. A USB port offers high-speed data transfer to PC or Mac systems. The HS-82P can also record a stereo mix for 10-channel capture. Analog outs are balanced XLR. A DB-25 port handles eight AES/EBU I/Os, with a stereo AES feed on a BNC. The unit features metering and status on a TFT color touch screen; up to five seconds of pre-record buffering; video or word clock sync; a PS/2 keyboard input for track naming; onboard slate mic; timecode I/O; and a variety of power possibilities, such as 10 AA batteries, NP-type, AC adapter, external DC port and an optional V-mount adapter for Endura batteries. Weight is 8 pounds, less batteries.

The new Tascam DR-680 ($1,399) can simultaneously record six analog tracks—four XLR and two TRS mic/line with phantom power—plus two digital (S/PDIF) inputs. Alternatively, the unit’s onboard mixer can route a stereo mix to two channels while storing the six discrete mic inputs. The DR-680 writes WAV files onto SD/SDHC media at up to 96 kHz or can create 2-channel 192kHz/24-bit recordings. It can also create multichannel MP3 audio. A cascade cable can connect two DR-680s for up to 16-track recording. The DR-680 also provides a pre-recording feature, six unbalanced RCA analog outputs, S/PDIF I/O, USB port for connection to PC or Mac, and it includes basic field edit functions such as divide and delete. A 128x64 backlit LCD handles metering, time/location and status displays. Power is via eight AA batteries, external 12VDC port or an included AC adapter. Weight is 2.65 pounds.

Zaxcom’s flagship Deva 16 ($14,995) offers 16-track recording at up to 24-bit/192kHz to internal HD, internal DVD-RAM drive, CF card and external FireWire devices. Standard are 12 analog inputs (eight mic/line and four balanced line with phantom power), eight digital inputs, eight digital direct outs, a built-in 16-channel/24-bus mixer with eight hardware faders and EQ, notch filter, compressor and delay on each channel. A color touchscreen shows time, location, metering and status, and allows for metadata entry or a PS2-compatible keyboard to be connected. A Pre-Record mode stores up to 10 seconds of audio before the Record button is pressed. Files are created as broadcast WAV, mono or poly or in ZAX format, with Avid and Pro Tools compatibility; timecode is handled in sub-frame accuracy. Headphone monitoring is flexible, offering an onboard M/S matrix, with user and factory presets (including a Soundfield decoder). Power is via an internal NP-1 battery or external 12 to 18VDC source. Weight is 7.4 pounds without battery.

The Deva 5.8 ($12,995) offers a feature set similar to that of the Deva 16, but is a 10-track package with eight faders (expandable with the optional Deva Mix-12 control surface) and offers up to 192kHz recording simultaneously to HD, CF and DVD-RAM. Standard are eight analog mic/line inputs, eight digital I/Os and 16-channel mixing. Weight is also 7.4 pounds.

Zaxcom's flagship Deva 16

Zaxcom's flagship Deva 16

Zaxcom’s Fusion 12 ($8,500) is a combo 16-channel mixer/12-track recorder with a color touchscreen interface providing instant control to 300 mixer crosspoints and some 200 user parameters. Inputs are eight mic/line-switchable preamps with limiters and four AES digital input pairs with SRC. The 16 mix inputs can route to eight output buses, recording 12 tracks at up to 192 kHz to dual Compact Flash slots and external FireWire devices using Mobile Audio Recording Format (MARF), BWF and FAT32 formats. All timecode rate/formats are supported. A Camera/Stereo RF Link function via the Hirose 10-pin port on many cameras offers a 2-channel camera feed with audio return to Fusion and (with Zaxcom’s TRX900AA transmitter) also sends timecode. Weight is five pounds, less the NP-1 battery. 

The Fusion 10 ($7,995) system puts the same quality of the 12 in a more affordable package, and pairs the 16-channel mixer with a 10-track recorder, with similar I/O (eight analog mic/line preamps, eight digital channels) storing to CF slots. Weight is also five pounds. Now included with both Fusion 12 and 10 systems, the Zaxcom Effects Package uses Fusion’s 32-bit DSP to provide 3-band (peak/shelving) EQ, notch filters, soft-knee compressor, expander and delay on every channel.

Zoom R16 recorder/interface/controller

Zoom R16 recorder/interface/controller

Available to all Zaxcom systems is Zax-Net, a 2.4GHz RF network for distribution of remote-control signals, timecode, IFB audio and metadata for production sound.

The R16 ($699) recorder/interface/controller from Zoom has 16-track playback and 8-track simultaneous recording using SDHC memory (up to 32 GB). Converters offer 24-bit/48kHz WAV recording via built-in stereo condenser mics or eight XLR mic inputs. Also standard is a hi-Z input, Mackie Control emulation and 100 built-in effects. The R16 runs on battery or USB power, comes with Steinberg Cubase LE, and when doubling as a DAW controller/front end, supports Windows XP/Vista and Mac operating systems. 

George Petersen used to record location tracks on a beat-up Uher deck and was amazed when crystal sync became the norm in the mid-’70s.

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