Discussion:
cheap digital recorder w/ preamp + usb2.0 - does it exist?
(too old to reply)
xz
2005-03-20 01:53:59 UTC
Permalink
I have a friend thats an amateur singer, and she doesn't have a
computer, and its tough for me to schedule studio time w/ her.
I want to buy her a unit that has a pre-amp in it & obviously mic
inputs.
And importantly, it should record in .WAV format & I should be able to
get it OFF the machine onto my PC, via some usb or firewire connection.

I've seen units that have some of the above, but not all of the above.
Does something like this exist for < $300? Oh yea, and it has to be
simple to use :) Thanks !!!
Jason Shohet
David Satz
2005-03-20 05:38:00 UTC
Permalink
The iRiver iHP-120 meets all those specifications except that for me at
least, it is not easy to use. It has OK menus on its tiny screen but
only a single physical control--a kind of four-sided pushbutton. Some
people apparently find that approach very easy to use, however, and
your friend might be one such person.
Len Moskowitz
2005-03-23 19:14:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by xz
I have a friend thats an amateur singer, and she doesn't have a
computer, and its tough for me to schedule studio time w/ her.
I want to buy her a unit that has a pre-amp in it & obviously mic
inputs.
And importantly, it should record in .WAV format & I should be able to
get it OFF the machine onto my PC, via some usb or firewire connection.
I've seen units that have some of the above, but not all of the above.
Does something like this exist for < $300? Oh yea, and it has to be
simple to use :) Thanks !!!
iRiver iHP-120 (aka H-120).
--
Len Moskowitz PDAudio, Binaural Mics, Cables, DPA, M-Audio
Core Sound http://www.stealthmicrophones.com
Teaneck, New Jersey USA http://www.core-sound.com
***@core-sound.com Tel: 201-801-0812, FAX: 201-801-0912
xz
2005-03-31 03:52:06 UTC
Permalink
Thanks guys. I looked into the iRiver, the competing iAudio, some Sony
minidisk thing, and the Muvo Micro. The problem:

If my friend is singing, I need a basic metronome to play... and none
of these flash drive recorders or HD recorders seem to have that. I'm
thinking about just getting the flash based recorder and then a
separate metronome? ie, the muvo micro 1 gb?
Post by Len Moskowitz
iRiver iHP-120 (aka H-120).
--
Len Moskowitz PDAudio, Binaural Mics, Cables, DPA,
M-Audio
Post by Len Moskowitz
Core Sound http://www.stealthmicrophones.com
Teaneck, New Jersey USA http://www.core-sound.com
Mike Rivers
2005-03-31 14:23:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by xz
If my friend is singing, I need a basic metronome to play... and none
of these flash drive recorders or HD recorders seem to have that. I'm
thinking about just getting the flash based recorder and then a
separate metronome? ie, the muvo micro 1 gb?
Why not look into one of the studio-in-a-box units such as the little
Fostex, which has a built in basic drum machine. They have a very
simple and inexpensive. The TASCAM Pocketstudio 5 comes to mind, and
there are similar products from Boss and Zoom.

You won't find a metronome function on any portable "music" recorder.



--
I'm really Mike Rivers (***@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
Donna and Ian
2005-03-31 15:45:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by xz
Thanks guys. I looked into the iRiver, the competing iAudio, some Sony
If my friend is singing, I need a basic metronome to play... and none
of these flash drive recorders or HD recorders seem to have that. I'm
thinking about just getting the flash based recorder and then a
separate metronome? ie, the muvo micro 1 gb?
Are you sure you can't stretch to around $420 or so?
http://www.edirol.com/products/info/r1.html
It has a metronome built in.

Ian
--
Ian Stirling, G4ICV, AB2GR, Long Valley, New Jersey, USA.
Email address is not valid: contact details are on that
domain's web site.
SSJVCmag
2005-03-31 15:57:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Donna and Ian
Post by xz
Thanks guys. I looked into the iRiver, the competing iAudio, some Sony
If my friend is singing, I need a basic metronome to play... and none
of these flash drive recorders or HD recorders seem to have that. I'm
thinking about just getting the flash based recorder and then a
separate metronome? ie, the muvo micro 1 gb?
Are you sure you can't stretch to around $420 or so?
http://www.edirol.com/products/info/r1.html
It has a metronome built in.
Considering the Marantz PMD-660 at $500us is a LOT more solid in
construction and takes real mic inputs via XLR (when was the last time
ANYBODY here saw an actual XLR plug...) instead of mini-jacks... I'd lean
towards that and buy a little ol pocket metronome...
Donna and Ian
2005-03-31 17:00:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by SSJVCmag
Considering the Marantz PMD-660 at $500us is a LOT more solid in
construction and takes real mic inputs via XLR (when was the last time
ANYBODY here saw an actual XLR plug...) instead of mini-jacks... I'd lean
towards that and buy a little ol pocket metronome...
I was considering both the Edirol R-1 and PMD660.
But I'm wary of reported internal mic whine and
uncontrollable clipping with external mics.
There's a thorough discussion here ..
http://talk.transom.org/WebX?***@114.FNXCaRXdoFg.0@.eeb41d8
I'm tempted to get the PMD670.

Ian
--
Ian Stirling, G4ICV, AB2GR, Long Valley, New Jersey, USA.
Email address is not valid: contact details are on that
domain's web site.
SSJVCmag
2005-03-31 17:10:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Donna and Ian
Post by SSJVCmag
Considering the Marantz PMD-660 at $500us is a LOT more solid in
construction and takes real mic inputs via XLR (when was the last time
ANYBODY here saw an actual XLR plug...) instead of mini-jacks... I'd lean
towards that and buy a little ol pocket metronome...
I was considering both the Edirol R-1 and PMD660.
But I'm wary of reported internal mic whine and
uncontrollable clipping with external mics.
There's a thorough discussion here ..
I admittedly

A- haven;t read the previous details of what you;re actually trying to do
in detail

B- only skimmed all of this review on Transom

but listening to the internal mic sample (and considering it pretty darned
good for an in-the-box mic), and that I don;t know what this
'uncontrollable' ext mic issue is (maybe I need to really study that
review) and my past experience with the PMD series stuff for decades says
they're seriously not junk, it looks like what -I- have been wanting (a
modern update of the classic Sony Walkman Pro which was a pretty darned good
Dobly-C nobrainer live event stereo recorder cassette box)
Post by Donna and Ian
I'm tempted to get the PMD670.
For another $200 or so that may be good...
I'd get my hands on the 660 for a trial though.
There has to be a vendor out there that'll let you trade up if it doesn;t
work for you.
xz
2005-03-31 17:38:20 UTC
Permalink
I am leaning to the iRiver, iAudio or muvo micro models. I'd love to
have something that can do it all -- mp3 player to jog with, copy files
from work onto it, and record good vocals which I can then import into
my PC for editing / sequencing etc.
Problems I see:
1. my mic has the big plug (not xlr, but i forgot the name). These
have the small plug. If I put an adapter on to reduce it down, am I
sacrificing a lot of quality on vocals?

2. I'm sure I'll need a pre-amp. But I'm wondering if there is a
dynamic mic out there that is kind of made for these kinds of portable
machines already :)

3. I'll be recording vocals as mp3's. I can convert them back to
.wav and edit them in CEP etc.

If anyone has tried any of this let me know ;)
SSJVCmag
2005-03-31 18:55:37 UTC
Permalink
On 3/31/05 12:38 PM, in article
Post by xz
I am leaning to the iRiver, iAudio or muvo micro models. I'd love to
have something that can do it all -- mp3 player to jog with, copy files
from work onto it, and record good vocals which I can then import into
my PC for editing / sequencing etc.
1. my mic has the big plug (not xlr, but i forgot the name). These
have the small plug. If I put an adapter on to reduce it down, am I
sacrificing a lot of quality on vocals?
It's NOT an issue of 'quality' but of RELIABILITY. Anytime you use a
weak/small jack or have to use some sort of adapter, it's going to break,
either the adapter or (usually and worse ) the weak-mount jack ON the
PLAYER itself. Cellphone charger plugs are notorious for this. Same thing.
Post by xz
2. I'm sure I'll need a pre-amp. But I'm wondering if there is a
dynamic mic out there that is kind of made for these kinds of portable
machines already :)
Sounds like you;re confusing mic-power with preamp.

There's no reason you shouldn;t get a recorder with built-in mic preamps.
Evem these little things with 1/8" TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) stereo mic input
jacks can have basic workable preamps built in.
However if you;re INTENDING to use really nice mics and use an outboard
preamp, save yourself the time and trouble and portability handicap and just
get something like the PMD660/70 with in-the-box
preamp/real-connectors/phantom mic power.

Easy is Better right?
Post by xz
3. I'll be recording vocals as mp3's. I can convert them back to
.wav and edit them in CEP etc.
WHAT? That's like shooting photos on a lo-res phone-cam and then blowing
them up to big prints later. Why record as reduced-quality mp3 is you're
going to go just convert those to wav files? If quality is the issue, you
want to record as 44/16 wav files (at least) and maybe later reduce those
finished files to mp3 for convenient listening right?
If rough reference recordings are the intent here, then fair-quality mp3's
might be ok with conversion to wav just to make a lietening CD.
xz
2005-03-31 20:03:14 UTC
Permalink
well the reason to record to mp3 is that is what some of these flash
mp3 player / recorders do, I assume to limit the size of the files.
If its an mp3, for vocals, and I convert it back to wav, I think I
wouldn't be losing that much (?)

Now lets say I use the 1/8 stereo mic, and I attach this big Senheiser
mic up to it with an adapter. Do these little devices really have a
pre-amp in it that can support these mic's? If so I'm sold.
I don't want to spend all this $$ on a PMD660/70, which is too big to
use as a jogging / mp3 player. I guess what I'm looking for is an mp3
player that ALSO has the ability to record VERY GOOD singing, albeit
as mp3's that I'll have to convert to .wav's later. I don't want to
hear the singing later in CEP and have it extremely low, and when I
normalize I hear all this background static etc. ;) If I can do this
all with a 1/8" stereo mic (or take my senheiser & put a 1/8" jack on
it) , I wonder if it will do an adequate job ;)
SSJVCmag
2005-03-31 21:49:15 UTC
Permalink
On 3/31/05 3:03 PM, in article
Post by xz
well the reason to record to mp3 is that is what some of these flash
mp3 player / recorders do, I assume to limit the size of the files.
Exactly, more time on the flash card.
Post by xz
If its an mp3, for vocals, and I convert it back to wav, I think I
wouldn't be losing that much (?)
Depends on the mp3 compression rate. "losing that much" is only definable by
your ears, but you ALWAYS will lose something making any mp3 since its whole
purpose is to use LESS bitspace, and to do that it MUSt by definition throw
SOMETHING out in the process. If you throw that Something out in the initial
RECORD process, nothing can put it back.

Think of a book. You want to carry it around but there are too many pages so
you start eliminating text-elements that you hope won;t make it hard to
read...
Maybe quotation marks first,
if that doesn;t save enough space, maybe commas next,
then all the X's, Y's Z's and Q's,
so far it probably still is pretty readable but remember, once you do this,
you can photocopy it again and print it out in all the fine detail you want
but you;re not getting those text things BACK...
My analogy to a phone-cam also works.

If you can live with the reduced-quality mp3, then you;re ok, only your ears
will tell you.
Post by xz
Now lets say I use the 1/8 stereo mic, and I attach this big Senheiser
mic up to it with an adapter. Do these little devices really have a
pre-amp in it that can support these mic's?
Some do
Some don;t
How good are they?
Look at the price.
A fair outboard preamp costs as much as one of these entire recorders. Is it
'good enough' for what you want? Only you can tell.
Post by xz
If so I'm sold.
I don't want to spend all this $$ on a PMD660/70, which is too big to
use as a jogging / mp3 player.
Well, you have to decide if you want a Mazda Miata or a Jeep Cherokee...
One's a small zip-around-town vehicle, the other can do that AND do some
work as well.
Post by xz
I guess what I'm looking for is an mp3
player that ALSO has the ability to record VERY GOOD singing, albeit
as mp3's that I'll have to convert to .wav's later.
Define 'very good'.
From what I've seen, the $500 660 is the least expensive thing that has ALL
of the following:

Fairly robust input/output connections
Built-in stereo mics
Built-in preamps (fair/OK ones)
Built-in phantom power for mics that need that
Ability to record 16-bit PCM (wav files) at 44.1khz or 48khz,
or fairly low bandwidth MP3, (128 kbps stereo or 64 kbps mono.)

An alternative is you already have a decent PDA might be this:

http://www.proaudioreview.com/par/august04/coresound.shtml
Post by xz
I don't want to
hear the singing later in CEP and have it extremely low, and when I
normalize I hear all this background static etc. ;)
Then set your record levels correctly when you record
(why wouldn't you do this?)
Post by xz
If I can do this
all with a 1/8" stereo mic (or take my senheiser & put a 1/8" jack on
it) , I wonder if it will do an adequate job ;)
What does the jack-size have to do with the recording specs?

If you really intend to RELY on this in the field, when that 1/8" jack
starts getting flakey and the mic is buzzing and futzing and you quickly
learn the needed-but-hated technique of
'wiggle-hold-curse-wiggle-hold-tape-curse-repeat' in order to keep a good
connection, you'll wonder about the money you didn;t spend.

Again, you;re the only one who can weigh these variables and come up with an
answer that makes sense for YOU.
Hope this all helps somewhat.
Mike Rivers
2005-03-31 23:27:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by xz
well the reason to record to mp3 is that is what some of these flash
mp3 player / recorders do, I assume to limit the size of the files.
'zackly.
Post by xz
If its an mp3, for vocals, and I convert it back to wav, I think I
wouldn't be losing that much (?)
Well, you wouldn't be losing anything beyond what the MP3 recording
sounds like, but the loss is in the initial data compression. There
are certainly enough MP3 files floating around (I'll bet you even have
some on your computer) and programs that convert MP3 to WAV are
plentiful and free. Why not try it yourself?

After proving that you can convert an MP3 file to a WAV file, try
recording something on your computer. Record a WAV file, then convert
it to MP3 and compare the two. Then convert the MP3 back to the WAV
and compare it to the first-generation WAV. If you can't hear the
difference, then go for it. If you can, then decide if you want to
live with that or do better.
Post by xz
Now lets say I use the 1/8 stereo mic, and I attach this big Senheiser
mic up to it with an adapter. Do these little devices really have a
pre-amp in it that can support these mic's?
Depends on the "big Senheiser." [sic] If it's an MD-421 (that's a
pretty big Sennheiser), then yes, because it's a dynamic mic and
doesn't require phantom power. If it's an MKH-40, then no, because
(although it's a smaller Sennheiser) it requires phantom power, which
you can't get through a 1/8" jack.
Post by xz
I don't want to spend all this $$ on a PMD660/70, which is too big to
use as a jogging / mp3 player. I guess what I'm looking for is an mp3
player that ALSO has the ability to record VERY GOOD singing, albeit
as mp3's that I'll have to convert to .wav's later.
Such a waste of VERY GOOD singing, but if it's what you want to do
with your singer, have at it. I just think that as long as you're
making an investment, you should give yourself the option of doing it
right, or at least as right as possible within the portability and
price constraints you've set.
Post by xz
I don't want to
hear the singing later in CEP and have it extremely low, and when I
normalize I hear all this background static etc. ;)
This has nothing to do with MP3 data reduction, but it has a lot to do
with the "uncontrollable mic distortion" or whatever it was that you
referenced. None of these portable recorders, even my faithful Nomad
Jukebox 3, have meters worth a nickel. And without knowing what level
you're recording, it's easy to record at too high a level, causing
distortion, or too low a level, resulting in too much noise when you
bring it up to nominal level in production or playback. It doesn't
matter if the recording format is WAV or MP3, the problems you can
have by not accurately knowing the recording level are the same. The
larger recorders such as the Marantz or Sound Devices, have meters
which, while still fairly small, have enough resoultion and fast
enough response time so that you can find a decent record level
without guessing.


--
I'm really Mike Rivers (***@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
xz
2005-04-02 00:17:34 UTC
Permalink
hi guys,

I decided to try the Muvo N200, instead of the Marantz etc. The vocals
are AWFUL !!! I don't know why... I'm using a dynamic mic, Senheiser,
that works great in a regular studio setup. I have to reduce it down
to a minijack, 3/32", which is 25 mm i think. THat took 2 connectors.
Still shouldn't be a problem, right?
Then the N200 records it as a .wav file, great! So no compression
right? Well the sound is like an AM radio. I'm not sure where the
bottleneck is.
Apparently there is a small amt of pre-amp on the unit itself (if thats
possible), because I'm using the dynamic mic with no preamp, and I can
hear it back a bit faint but not very faint. Volume 1/2 way up and I
can hear the singing fine... I hear background noise of the machine,
which is unfortunate, but worse is that it sounds like an AM radio.
And I am 100% sure the mic is not the problem, its like the unit cuts
out some of the frequencies? I looked to see if there were any mic
settings on the N200 that need to be set, but I don't see any.

Maybe I should take it back and take a look at the Marantz after all...
Its so expensive though, and its not small enough to jog with.... ;)
xz
2005-04-02 01:10:17 UTC
Permalink
PS: i think i see now in the specs why the vocals are so awful on the
n200. Here's the spec:

Voice (via built-in microphone): IMA ADPCM (8 kHz, 4-bit, Mono),

I'm looking at the Edirol R-1 now for singing, but i've heard its
pre-amp is bad (?) Once again I'm not looking for a scratch pad, I
want vocals that are passable if I import them into CEP and make a song
around them...
T Maki
2005-04-02 06:50:23 UTC
Permalink
Why is it that folks read the specs AFTER they make the
decision to ignore them in the first place?
'Splain that one to me...

How about reading the specs on the Edirol, instead of
relying on what you've "heard" about it.



TM
Post by xz
PS: i think i see now in the specs why the vocals are so awful on the
Voice (via built-in microphone): IMA ADPCM (8 kHz, 4-bit, Mono),
I'm looking at the Edirol R-1 now for singing, but i've heard its
pre-amp is bad (?) Once again I'm not looking for a scratch pad, I
want vocals that are passable if I import them into CEP and make a song
around them...
xz
2005-04-02 07:33:03 UTC
Permalink
i don't know enough about pro-audio to determine if the R1 has
problems... however I do know enough to understand that the N200
would have issues.

Firstly I don't know that much about bitrate #'s, 16 vs 32,, 48 / 96
etc, not sure how these come in to play for vocals only. Secondly I'm
not that educated w/ preamps vs phantom power etc.

Right now i have a dynamic mic. From what i know, it requires preamp,
but no phantom power. That means relying on the R1 for the preamp.
Which I have 'read' has problems, people report different noises being
heard / popping or something like that...
If that turns out to be a problem, I could invest in a NT4 microphone,
which is a Condenser mic with its own power (no phantom power req'd)
and I *believe* works fine in that setup with the R1. My ears aren't
good enough (at least I don't think) to notice the diff. between vocals
on a condenser vs dynamic mic, as long as the recordings are good, no
distortion due to peaking (staying far enough away from the mic on loud
parts of the song etc). But the NT4 also records in stereo vs my
dynamic mic now, which I'm using in a mono-mode anyway, so it might be
a good investment if I could find one cheap enough...

Thanks to all of u
Mike Rivers
2005-04-02 14:28:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by xz
i don't know enough about pro-audio to determine if the R1 has
problems... however I do know enough to understand that the N200
would have issues.
Firstly I don't know that much about bitrate #'s, 16 vs 32,, 48 / 96
etc, not sure how these come in to play for vocals only. Secondly I'm
not that educated w/ preamps vs phantom power etc.
There's nothing special about vocals. If vocals sound bad, everything
should sound bad. What your problem might be is the way you're
recording vocals.
Post by xz
Right now i have a dynamic mic. From what i know, it requires preamp,
but no phantom power. That means relying on the R1 for the preamp.
Which I have 'read' has problems, people report different noises being
heard / popping or something like that...
Anyone whose comments you may have read clearly don't have a reason to
conclude that this is a problem with the preamp. There may be a
problem with the recording chain when using the microphone, or those
comments may come from people with as much experience as you who don't
have a clue as to why they're having a problem and would rather
"report" it in hopes that the manfuacturer will see what they've
written and will fix it. They won't - at least not via that route.

Have you read a review in a legitimate publication?
Post by xz
If that turns out to be a problem, I could invest in a NT4 microphone,
which is a Condenser mic with its own power (no phantom power req'd)
and I *believe* works fine in that setup with the R1.
Maybe so. Depends on what the problem really is, if indeed there
really is a problem.


--
I'm really Mike Rivers (***@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
T Maki
2005-04-02 06:47:03 UTC
Permalink
Well, the bright side is that you've just invested in the
cost of your own education.

It's not always pleasant, but in the long run it is
satisfying.



TM
Post by xz
I decided to try the Muvo N200, instead of the Marantz etc. The vocals
are AWFUL !!! I don't know why...
Maybe I should take it back and take a look at the Marantz after all...
Mike Rivers
2005-04-02 12:50:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by xz
I decided to try the Muvo N200, instead of the Marantz etc. The vocals
are AWFUL !!! I don't know why... I'm using a dynamic mic, Senheiser,
that works great in a regular studio setup. I have to reduce it down
to a minijack, 3/32", which is 25 mm i think. THat took 2 connectors.
Still shouldn't be a problem, right?
Get some local help. It's so easy when someone who knows what he's
doing is right there, and so hard to describe when you don't have a
clue.


--
I'm really Mike Rivers (***@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
Len Moskowitz
2005-04-06 12:51:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Donna and Ian
I was considering both the Edirol R-1 and PMD660.
But I'm wary of reported internal mic whine and
uncontrollable clipping with external mics.
There's a thorough discussion here ..
I'm tempted to get the PMD670.
If you can stretch to around $650 and can live with 16/44.1 for now, you
can get a PDAudio system that can later be expanded to do 24/96 or
better. And you'll have a rugged and reliable recorder, and
professional quality mic pres.

Here's a comparison of the PDAudio, Edirol R-1, Fostex FR-2 and Marantz
PMD670:

http://www.core-sound.com/comparison-pdaudio-pmd-670-fr-2.html

You can learn more about PDAudio here:

http://www.core-sound.com/HighResRecorderNews.html
--
Len Moskowitz PDAudio, Binaural Mics, Cables, DPA, M-Audio
Core Sound http://www.stealthmicrophones.com
Teaneck, New Jersey USA http://www.core-sound.com
***@core-sound.com Tel: 201-801-0812, FAX: 201-801-0912
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