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Arikhan

Tascam DR70D and Zoom H5

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1. I want to improve sound quality for my video journalistic work, especially when shooting with DSLRs/DSLMs. After some research (it seems @IronFilm is a sound expert), I found out the Tascam DR70D would be a very nice and affordable device to do this. For DSLR work, Mics I use mostly are the Sennheiser MKE 400 and Saramonic UWMIC9. I would use the Tascam with cages / rigs. Your thoughts?

2. For concert or press conference shooting, I need a sound recording device to be attached to the "central" sound capture device of the room, so I could get directly my sound from the central device through XLR. After some research, I think, the Zoom H5 would be a small and practical sound recorder, even capable to do some audio (only) interviews) with it. Your thoughts / ideas?

Thank you!

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Is this for interview work? Pretty much anything in that price range (around $350) is the same.  Zoom H5 and H6 have better battery life I think, if that is important to you.  If you can afford it check out the Sound Devices mixpre 3 or 6.  That's what I'm looking at even though it is overkill for most corporate gigs. IF you aren't getting paid much, even recording directly to the camera using a JL box is fine especially if you are using a backing track in the final.

 

For getting a feed I've used old Zoom H2s in the past and it was fine.  I have switched to Tascam DR-40s for this task as they directly take XLR feeds with adequate quality and a backup track.  Best thing is they only cost $100 used now...

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Thanks @scotchtape and @Orangenz !

To clarify: I need TWO devices. One for mobile DSLR shooting (used to capture quality sound, mainly for bypassing internal (mostly poor) DSLR preamp, but sound will be recorded internally...So, it seems, the DR70D should be a good and affordable choice for this purpose.

The second device should capture a quality sound feed, eg. on press conferences or concerts, as they are mixer devices with XLR output there, so I could capture the best possible sound directly in a H5 / H4N Pro directly and synchronize in post (sound will be captured in camera too, but only for check and sync purposes). As @scotchtape says, it seems, a Tascam DR-40 V2 would be an option too.

So, what about the choice between Tascam DR-40 V2 and a Zoom H5 / H4N Pro? What's the recommendation of sound experts, based on own experience?

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38 minutes ago, Arikhan said:

Thanks @scotchtape and @Orangenz !

To clarify: I need TWO devices. One for mobile DSLR shooting (used to capture quality sound, mainly for bypassing internal (mostly poor) DSLR preamp, but sound will be recorded internally...So, it seems, the DR70D should be a good and affordable choice for this purpose.

The second device should capture a quality sound feed, eg. on press conferences or concerts, as they are mixer devices with XLR output there, so I could capture the best possible sound directly in a H5 / H4N Pro directly and synchronize in post (sound will be captured in camera too, but only for check and sync purposes). As @scotchtape says, it seems, a Tascam DR-40 V2 would be an option too.

So, what about the choice between Tascam DR-40 V2 and a Zoom H5 / H4N Pro? What's the recommendation of sound experts, based on own experience?

What audio are you after with the mobile DSLR shooting? Ambient, interior, exterior, shotgun?

I have the DR70D, the DR40, and the (tascam) TM2X. I'd use the 70D on the front of house desk feed (easier to plug in to a usb battery pack and not come unstuck, and better level controls from the desk signal), the tm2x on top of the camera, and the DR40 in my pocket attached to a shotty (ME66 or 67 in my case) on a handle. The two recorders have dual level record. Lower the recording freq to match the camera spec (48kHz?) to better match them without stretching. If you have plural eyes though you can go highest.

Ironfilm will chime in btw, he's just a bit busy atm. 

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1 hour ago, Orangenz said:

What audio are you after with the mobile DSLR shooting? Ambient, interior, exterior, shotgun?

It's mainly needed, when doing interviews (therefore the Saramonic wireless lav mics) but I want to use it for ambient and exterior (eg. wildlife / nature footage) with a shotgun too...

BTW (as I am not a sound expert): Could a DR-70D be use a recording device for sound feed capturing on concerts/press conferences - attached to the XLR of the central sound mixer of the presenter/music band - too? If so, I would not ncessarly need to buy a second device like a Tascam DR-40 V2 and a Zoom H5 / H4N Pro? 

For DSLR-usage I could attach it under my DSLR/DSLM cage...

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21 minutes ago, Arikhan said:

It's mainly needed, when doing interviews (therefore the Saramonic wireless lav mics) but I want to use it for ambient and exterior (eg. wildlife / nature footage) with a shotgun too...

BTW (as I am not a sound expert): Could a DR-70D be use a recording device for sound feed capturing on concerts/press conferences - attached to the XLR of the central sound mixer of the presenter/music band - too? If so, I would not ncessarly need to buy a second device like a Tascam DR-40 V2 and a Zoom H5 / H4N Pro? 

For DSLR-usage I could attach it under my DSLR/DSLM cage...

Very confused - didn't I just say something about that?

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2 hours ago, Orangenz said:

I'd use the 70D on the front of house desk feed (easier to plug in to a usb battery pack and not come unstuck, and better level controls from the desk signal), the tm2x on top of the camera, and the DR40 in my pocket attached to a shotty (ME66 or 67 in my case) on a handle. The two recorders have dual level record.

It seems, I misunderstand this...Could you please explain why do you act like this (with TWO recorders at same time) ?

To be more precise for my personal use: I want to use the DR-70D MAINLY to bypass the poor internal preamp of the DSLR...So the sound will be recorded IN THE DSLR with the Tascam as preamp (Mic --> Tascam (feed recording - Feed1) --> DSLR (feed recording - Feed2)), AND - at same time - in the Tascam for sound backup....I want to use this workflow, because recording sound on the DSLR (after bypassing the camera preamp with the Tascam), would speed up my workflow for journalistic use AND at same time I get a sound backup by recording sound feed in the Tascam...

Thanks for sharing your experience and explaining!

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Zoom F4 is the best option out of the Zoom range, plenty of power options too. You can do anything with it, you do not need another recorder, not now, not later as a lot of -low budget-  production sound engineers have adopted the F4 and F8 Zoom devices.

If you can afford it, Sound Devices MixPre3 has better analogue sound, which for some is the Alpha and Omega (plus analogue limiters), but for most tasks, the F4 is sufficient, and probably more feature rich.

I am a Tascam user, but recently they have been left a bit behind the curve.

Just for the history, my next purchase is the MixPre6, but I am working in sound, and that seems as a "cheap" addition to my kit, if you compare it with the 4 times more expensive Sound Devices 633 that I was ready to buy (now, I will just invest in more microphones and other sound equipment).

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1 hour ago, Arikhan said:

It seems, I misunderstand this...Could you please explain why do you act like this (with TWO recorders at same time) ?

To be more precise for my personal use: I want to use the DR-70D MAINLY to bypass the poor internal preamp of the DSLR...So the sound will be recorded IN THE DSLR with the Tascam as preamp (Mic --> Tascam (feed recording - Feed1) --> DSLR (feed recording - Feed2)), AND - at same time - in the Tascam for sound backup....I want to use this workflow, because recording sound on the DSLR (after bypassing the camera preamp with the Tascam), would speed up my workflow for journalistic use AND at same time I get a sound backup by recording sound feed in the Tascam...

Thanks for sharing your experience and explaining!

If you are recording a music gig, for example, the sound that will be coming from the mixing console feed is reinforcing the on stage sound - hence why the formal term for live audio systems being Sound Reinforcement. Depending on the band this will invariably not be providing the full representation of the gig as, for example, the overall guitar sound will be lower as it will be missing the sound of the on stage guitar amplifiers, which can be quite significant. If you are doing a Kraftwerk gig then this is less of an issue as there is nothing naturally occurring on stage (sometimes physically in their case ;) ) that isn't present in the mixing console mix. 

However, in all instances, you will be missing the room ambience (including the sound of the audience) and the mix from the console will always sound much drier.

Hence, having a secondary ambient mic source, allows you to mix both.

With regard to the DR-70D, yes this would work in this mode as the mic inputs are switchable to line level to take a signal from the feed box at a press conference. It is actually very useful in this role as with it having four inputs you can attach a receiver from a radio mic to enable you to supplement the provided feed with your own mic. In a press conference situation can be invaluable in the same way as the music gig example as whilst the persons(s) answering the questions always have microphones, it is not always the case that the journalists asking the questions are covered with a mic so you can end up with the audio from the central feed box having barely any level for the questions.

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@BTM_Pix

Does this mean, that when attaching a DR-70D to the XLR of a mixing console (of a band OR within a press room) I could get and mix A. the original sound (of a speaker or band) and B. the ambient sound when recording with a second mic the ambient sound? And if it understood it right, could I record A. Original sound and B. Ambient sound on two different channels, so I could work on it separetely in post and mix it to meet my requirements?

1 hour ago, Kisaha said:

Zoom F4 is the best option out of the Zoom range, plenty of power options too. You can do anything with it, you do not need another recorder, not now, not later as a lot of -low budget-  production sound engineers have adopted the F4 and F8 Zoom devices.

Thanks for input Kisaha. Is that a such big difference between the F4 and a DR-70D concerning sound quality and processing features and possibilities? I just ask because my sound knowledge is rudimental till now, but the price difference between the two mentionned devices is significant....

Thank you guys for help!

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4 minutes ago, Arikhan said:

@BTM_Pix

Does this mean, that when attaching a DR-70D to the XLR of a mixing console (of a band OR within a press room) I could get and mix A. the original sound (of a speaker or band) and B. the ambient sound when recording with a second mic the ambient sound? And if it understood it right, could I record A. Original sound and B. Ambient sound on two different channels, so I could work on it separetely in post and mix it to meet my requirements?

 

Yes, it gives you options to record all four channels separately (which will give you the maximum flexibility), as stereo sets or as a mix.

Screen Shot 2017-09-10 at 13.37.16.jpg

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Great! Thank you!

50 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

In a press conference situation can be invaluable in the same way as the music gig example as whilst the persons(s) answering the questions always have microphones, it is not always the case that the journalists asking the questions are covered with a mic so you can end up with the audio from the central feed box having barely any level for the questions.

This is one of the most important features needed practicing press conferences. Not only sound quality of the person answering questions (because these ones mostly have mics going to the mixing console), but also usable audio for the person/journalist asking questions...You know what you talk about...:grin:

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All multichannel recorders can do that. That is the point of multi track recording. You can connect 2 wireless lavs, 1+1=2 stereo set up, and most of the times another 2 additional sources (just 3-4 are the usual XLR connections though). Another setup is to have a stereo mix from the main console (you ask politely and in advance the soundie there, it is best to have the proper cables and adapters yourself, but usually they are able to help you) and add another stereo mic (another 2 channels) to have the ambience/atmosphere/room tone (if they are usable of course), or whatever.

I seriously suggest the F4.

Investing in sound is a much better investment than, let's say, image (e.g TV sets, screen monitors, camera bodies etc). Most of my microphones are almost designs of half a century, my Hi Fi of the 90's is still top notch in sound quality (and power, for partying once in a while!). Just save a couple more hundreds and buy something better, money spend on sound are wise spend.

There were a lot of issues with 60 and 70 Tascams, so we kept only the DR100mkII for boom, or minimal set ups, and DR680 for more demanding situations (on the cheap). For serious projects we rent out Sound Devices.

F4 is much better in powering options (this is a nightmare for soundies all around the world, not to be underestimated, and batteries for sound are nothing like camera ones, in some projects, I use 30-50 rechargeable AA batteries per day), build quality ( I couldn't decide if the cheaper 60 was better build than the 70, or they were equally bad), probably sound quality as well (even though Tascams are pretty decent for the money as well), usability, funcionality etc etc. So yes, I can not recommend the Tascam 70 with a light heart. 701 is a much better option, but then you are reaching F4 territory, and is a no brainer.

 

 

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The Zoom F4 is the best buy for bang for buck sound recorder right now from the lower priced options.

 

The Zoom F4 is insanely low priced (a steal!) for how much it does.

 

Only if you really need the more inputs or Bluetooth, would I suggest the more expensive F8 instead.

 

And I'd only recommend the MixPre6 (ignore the MixPre3!! Too crippled for its price) if you really REALLY need that HDMI triggering. Otherwise get an F4.

 

If you're on an ultra super tight budget, get a Tascam DR70D. But once you own a DR70D, then there is almost no reason whatsoever to own a H5/H6.

 

 

Anyway, this is all just a repeat of what I said in my latest blog post:

http://ironfilm.co.nz/which-sound-recorder-to-buy-a-guide-to-various-indie-priced-sound-recorders-in-2017/

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Just to clarify I wasn't endorsing the 70d over other options, just responding as to if it could fill the functionality required.

With regard to battery life with it, I'm not sure whether this would be a massive drawback when you power it from USB.

This video tests it running for 11 1/2 hours off a cheap 12,000 mAh block with all channels recording and with phantom switched on all of them.

Again, not an endorsement for the 70d, just an FYI if you go that way.

 

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I'm confused, do you just set up and stay in one position when you are shooting? Are you doing this all by yourself?

 

Do you feel comfortable leaving a $700 recorder near the mixing desk while you move around? This is why I use a $100 option as a omb. You understand when you do this the mixer is the preamp right? So you can send line level signals to the recorder...

 

Also... If you are using saramonic mics do you really need an expensive recorder? I'm not sure those sound very good.

 

Your plan to use the dr70d as a preamp to your dslr is a bit flawed in practice... All of those recorders in that price range have really bad outputs, like terribad, especially the headphone outs on the tascam stuff.  The zooms are not much better. You can try and use the lineouts and then an antennuation cable. That is why if you want to do this you are better off using the mix pre, they actually have decent outputs. I don't even know if the f4 has good outputs for this purpose either but probably way better than the cheaper stuff. Even the juicedlink is better going direct to camera.

 

Also are you running around with all of this on a shoulder mount? How are you even setting up your mics, mounted to your rig? 

 

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36 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

With regard to battery life with it, I'm not sure whether this would be a massive drawback when you power it from USB.

This video tests it running for 11 1/2 hours off a cheap 12,000 mAh block with all channels recording and with phantom switched on all of them.

Yes I agree the battery life with the Tascam DR70D is a non-issue. Just use an external power supply!

It is quite normal with ALL recorders that if you have a full shoot day, then you just use an external power supply.

Even if you've dumped billions of dollars and purchased a new Sound Devices / Zaxcom / Sanosax recorder, then you still use an external power supply.

So I don't see it as a massive negative to criticise the DR70D for that, just that the micro USB connection is not as ideal as Hirose.

 

I have never owned a Tascam DR70D, but I used one when I was starting out, when I was the sound recordist for a feature film.

 And I had an issue with it, also with my Tascam DR60D mk1 that I had at the time, but all was solved with a simple firmware update:

http://ironfilm.co.nz/firmware-update-for-tascam-dr-60d-mk1-fixes-recording-interruptions-when-running-on-external-usb-power-packs/

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@IronFilm

Thanks for advice! Your article was very informative and the base for my beginning research. It seems (@Kisaha confirmed it too), the Zoom F4 is best "bang for the buck" quality wise, but the DR-70D could be an alternative. I am aware of the importance of sound, but at the moment I have to buy the Nikon 300mm and 400mm F2.8 and they are not cheap, so I have to save money...I know, buying cheap is not the best solution, but the Tascam would probably be a "frugal" solution for video journalism and an acceptable point to start with. Please consider, I don't shoot IMAX films for cinema theater and I am not an experienced audio guy and will probably never be a sound expert, I just aim a solid/good sound quality within my shots....

1 hour ago, scotchtape said:

 

Also are you running around with all of this on a shoulder mount? How are you even setting up your mics, mounted to your rig?

Not always with a shoulder mount, but when filming, mostly with a cage. I use the Varavon cage for my NX1, the SmallRig Cage for the A6500 and the Proaim 6" DSLR Video Camera Cage for my Nikons - when needed. When shooting "simplistic", I mount the mic/receiver directly on the hot shoe, but mostly attached to the cage....

BTW: Is some here experienced with the Saramonic SR-AX101 Universal Audio-Adapter (https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00N2G3JUC) as "simple and puristic" preamp solution to bypass the poor internal DSLR preamps and making it possible to get a headphone for the Sony plastic garbage A6500?

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If a person doesn't need:

5th & 6th inputs.

Time code.

Hirose power connection.

XLR outputs.

Metadata entry.

USB interface.

Flexible file naming.

(& much more)

 

Then yes the Tascam DR70D could be a worthy lower priced option.

 

But those other things I mentioned are VERY handy. Some are essential even (such as TC & metadata entry) if working as a sound recordist on bit bigger productions.

But if you just need the basics of a 4 ISO track recorder then the Tascam DR70D will be fine enough for now.

 

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