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SeaCastle

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Recorders
« on: July 08, 2008, 12:23:19 AM »

Hey friends,

Does anyone know any good recorders for the iPod? The recorder I bought from RadioShack was quite crappy, and there was no way I could get the amount I wanted to record using something like that, so I figured to use my 80GB iPod. Is there a decent recorder that records at a high bit rate/quality, and supports line-in for either telephone pickup/binaural recorder?

Thanks in advance.
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 10:28:23 AM »

For the iPod? or recorders in general?

I wasn't happy with the recordings on my iPod at all.  What I did was went with Podzilla, which is basdically LInux for the iPod.  They enabled the built in abililty of my generation iPod 4G, it was OK, however at the time, they didn't have any support ofr power management and batterylife was just horrible.

I have also thought about rockbox, with is a new firmware for many MP3 players, and has some support for the iPod as well.

I'm not sure if this is something you are considering.  I got my iPod for free, so if I bicked it, I wasn't going to be too upset.  I wouldn't expect much out of the iPod though, it wasn't built for recording, it was built for playing.

For my recording needs, I use a Sony RH-1 Minidsic recorder.  It's probably the ultimate Minidisc recorder in terms of quality and such.  I wouldn't say THE BEST Recorder, but it's up there.  There's also the Edirol recorders which are just as fantastic and a few others.  I haven't been keeping up though, there may be something new out there.  Sony has pretty much killed the Minidisc format, so I can't suggest going with them, but I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another, I just can't suggest someone else buy them not knowing how long blanks, etc will be available.  You can probably get them cheap though...
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Horizons

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 11:30:24 AM »

If you really want to make a good recording, you need something that lets you adjust the levels as you are recording.
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 12:08:13 PM »

OH yeah, I reread your message...

You're looking for a mic input if you want to use an induction pickup.  Line-in is unpowered and won't work with an induction pickup.  A mic input alone will also probably not provide the range necessary for many recordings...

Even though you didn't ask...

On portable recorders, the mic jack will probably only provide about 3v of power to your microphone.  This is adequate for most day to day use, however park recordings are another story.  Chances are, at any given recording level, there will be a sound that's too quiet or too loud to be accurately caught by a mic powered by a built in power source.  And I'm talking in like super laymans terms here.  You will be much better served by also purchasing or making a power supply for your microphone as well.  I have a 9V power supply between my recorder and my microphones that gives me the ability to record a much broader range of audio at any given recording level set on my recorder.

For example, EEA, I can set my recorder on 15/20 which means level 15 out of a maximum of 20 as far as recording levels go.  I plug my battery supply into my LINE-IN jack and them my microphones into the battery pack.  During EEA, I can capture the entire show without adjusting the levels on my recorder AND I capture everything from the faint forest sounds to the "Big Bang" without massive distortion.

Without the mic power supply, I would either choose a much lower setting so that I don't get massive distortion during the big bang, or during the show I would have to CONSTANTLY monitor the recording levels on my recorder and try to adjust it up when the audio is very faint and then down quickly enough if there is a loud noise, etc.  Many devices have what's called AGC (auto gain control), which tries to do this for you automagically.

Personally, I don't prefer this method as:
1.  I'm lazy, so I'd rather set it and forget it.
2.  Many times, background noise is also ampliified when setting/resetting levels which can make noise removal a chore.
3.  More room for errors.

A power supply as mentioned above would require that you have a line-in jack, IT DOES NOT WORK ON MIC IN.  The flip side is, a power supply DOES NOT work with an induction pickup, so, really you need both.

Mic-in normally has an amp tied to it, depending on the device it may or may not be a good one.  The amp can introduce some noise of it's own.  Line in DOES NOT use a amp, so using a power supply as mentioned above can take a noisey amp out of the mix as well.

It really all depends on the quality of recording that you want.  I used to use a camcorder for my initial recordings.  And I was very happy with the results, until I got my minidisc recorder.  Now I wouldn't think of it, camcorder recordings have AGC, all sorts of motor noise, and a general crappyness that doesn't sound good, at least compared to what I know is possible.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2008, 05:47:58 PM by kirky »
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SeaCastle

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008, 05:46:53 PM »

So after reading and re-reading the posts, I'm still slightly confused. When you mean between, does that mean that you have to buy a battery pack for the pickup, plug in the pick-up into the battery pack, and connect the battery recorder?

Also, are there any decent (yet inexpensive) recorders that support this? I don't plan on using this recorder a lot, as I can only make it out to the parks once every year and a half or so. By inexpensive, I mean preferably under $100, but still records somewhat well.
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 06:06:03 PM »

RECORDER --- BATTERY BOX --- MICROPHONE

Yes, it sits between the recorder and the microphones.  It powers the microphone, not the recorder itself.  Sometimes it confusing and what you're actually powering, but yes, you are feeding the microphones 9-10V of power, normally from a 9V battery, but you could go stealth and use smaller watch type batteries.  They can be made cheap, but you can buy a battery box if you wanted, usually in the range of $50-70.  Parts cost about $4 plus shipping, but you need to be able to solder.

Recorders are the tough part.  New, the Edirol and the RH-1 I think were in the $300-$400 range.  There were many minidisc recorders that were capable of recording, but Sony has a way of confusing things and also making things hard to do, so some recorder buy you couldn't get the audio off the discs unless you played them back through a soundcard.  Kindof a pain...  The Sony NH700 Minidisc recorder is something to look for, but still going for about $150 on eBay.  You might be able to get a used one.

The ZOOM H2 gets pretty good reviews, but again that's in the $150+ range.

I think Olympus makes something, but not sure on it's capabilities and price, C33 I think uses something like that.

iPods are tough, since some of the features are disabled either in firmware, or hardware, meaning you just can't do it.  The older iPods were actually more capable, if I recall correctly, plus support for some of the "hacks" takes time to come out and nobody wants to make a brick out of their shiney new iPod.
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SeaCastle

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2008, 06:22:40 PM »

I remember seeing some Olympus recorders at the local Staples. I'll see how good they are.

I'll try to make my own, but how would I attach a 9V battery to a telephone pick-up?
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eyore

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2008, 06:28:39 PM »

Now, not my strong point this but, would a mic with a battery already in it work?
I have a couple of old mics (from a stereo cassette recorder I used to have) which required a battery (only 1 1/2 volts) to work (can't remember the technical name for them) but I'd have to look for them in the roof space (attic/loft).
I'm hoping to try out some recording next month at DLRP (hopefully remember to take the earphones for minidisc recorder this year as I forgot them last time and the volume bar isn't very reliable :-[ ).
Don't want to pack too much stuff (family holiday, after all and only for 4 days - wife already commenting on leaning into bushes while everyone sits round getting fed up waiting for me and getting suspicious of the number of discs/tapes mics etc getting put to one side for packing).
 :-\
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2008, 05:31:10 AM »

Maybe I went too close to laymans terms.

No you don't hook the battery directly up to the microphones.  There are a couple of capacitors and resistors to make sure you don't backfeed the power into the recorder (again in laymans terms).  The scematics are pretty easy to follow, and like I said, you're looking at about $4 in parts.

A 1.2V powered mic will not provide the same range that a 10V powered mic will generally speaking.  All my stereo recordings were made with the following equipment:

1.  (1) El Cheapo Radioshack In-Ear 'Phones Part# 33-1106 - Sale price $3.99
2.  (2) Panasonic WM-61A Microphone Cartidge 6MM Omni - price $1.65 each at digikey.com

Unsolder the "speakers" and solder on the microphone capsules.  Do a little handywork to make it look pretty, and you now have a binaural stereo microphone setup.

The battery box consists of (from Mouser Electronics):

1.  (2) Nichicon Radial Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitors -  50V 2.2uF 5x11 - price: $0.13 each
2.  (2) 1/4 watt Metal Film Resistors -  10Kohms 1% 50PPM  - price $0.12 each
3.  (1) Kycon Audio Connector - 3.5mm PCB Stereo Black - price $0.75 each
4.  (1) Kobiconn Audio Cord - 3.5mm Stereo PL to 3.5mm Stereo PL - price $2.07 each
5.  (1) PCB board - Only need a piece about 1/2 inch by 3/4 inch
6.  (1) 9V battery connector - available at radio shack, sorry no part number

Directions are fairly easy, I'll try to work on it... 

I have used a 1/2v powered mic for things like PotC and such and YES, it does work.  I don't think it gets you the same effect as the above mic, and definitely not stereo. 

I would say that the above will rival most of the binaural mics out there in the $100 or so range at places like Sound Professionals (hint, they use the same microphone capsules, check the stats!)  Yes, I'm sure they custom match the mic capsules, etc.  But, for less than $6 I'm more than happy with my results.

All my stuff will easily fit in a cargo shorts pocket.  The microphones are no bigger than normal over the ear neadphones.  My recorder is about the size of a pack of cards, and my battery box is about 1,5 times the size of a 9V battery (with the battery).  My shotgun mic is about a foot long, doesn't travel well (i.e. stealthy).

Add a simple induction pickup to the above and you're golden for a full day of recording.



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eyore

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2008, 04:26:28 PM »

Replacing the earphones with mics sounds a great idea.
To be honest, I have been using a small stereo lapel mic (really cheap and surprisingly effective) for live recordings (clip it on to the ride vehicle if you can get a front or back seat or that stuff like putty for sticking paper to walls - it's called Blu-Tak here - is handy) to prevent unwanted finger-rubbing noises and stray coughs - thin strips of rubber on the clip to prevent vibration noise). but, of course, it doesn't have the same separation as the earphones. I may try them.
All I need now is an extra few pairs of hands (one for the camcorder, one for the audio recorder and, of course, one pair to hang on the the safety bar) - ever noticed how camcorder users can wedge themselves into the seats for a "hands free" experience?
 ;D
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2008, 06:31:06 PM »

What I do is run the cord down under my shirt and into a pocket that's holding my recorder.  Again, my recorder is about the size of a deck of cards, if you're recording into a camcorder or something like that, then you've got some size issues to contend with.
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SeaCastle

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2008, 12:39:45 AM »

Wow, I have a lot more respect for you guys out there doing recordings for us. (Not that I didn't in the first place  ;D)

I'm still a little confused on where you plug the pickup into.
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2008, 03:53:27 AM »

What pickup?

The induction pickup?  The induction pickup goes into the MIC IN plug on my recorder.

I have TWO 1/8" (3.5mm) inputs on my recorder.  One is MIC IN the other is LINE IN.  One accepts a powered source, the other not basically.  LINE IN DOES NOT provide power to whatever device is connected to it, power must be provided seperately as needed.  MIC IN I bleieve provides about 3V of power to the device.

I don't know much about the differences, only that there IS a difference. 

My home made mics record great when plugged into the MIC IN jack, but are easy to overload.  If I plug them inot the LINE IN jack, I'll get NOTHING.  I need to plug my battery box into the LINE IN jack and then my microphones into the battery box.  Then BINGO!  IT records liek a champ and is relatively hard to overload.

THe induction pickup requires the relatively low power provided by the MIC IN jack.  The battery box seems to overpower the pickup and it doesn't detect the necessary field disturbances.

BTW - I can only record from one source at a time, so LINE IN or MIC IN.
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SeaCastle

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2008, 04:04:34 AM »

So the power pack goes into Line-In, and the induction pickup goes into MIC-iN, and in theory the power pack from LINE-IN should supply the induction pick-up's power?
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kirky

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Re: Recorders
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2008, 11:16:40 AM »

As I mentioned above, you CAN'T use a battery box with an induction pickup.  It will not work.  The induction pickup ALWAYS gets plugged into the MIC IN jack on your recorder.

Also, I would refrain from calling it a power supply so as to not confuse it with an external power supply that could be used to power the recorder.  A battery box would power the microphones only.  A battery box has a 1/8" FEMALE connector and a 1/8" MALE connector.  The microphones get plugged into the FEMALE connector on the batter box and the male connector of the battery box get plugged into the LINE-IN jack on the recorder.  It sits between the mics and the recorder.  I think this is what's confusing the issue.

So, to use my ASCII art skills again:

Correct:

MICROPHONE -----> MIC-IN ON RECORDER
MICROPHONE -----> BATTERY BOX ------> LINE-IN ON RECORDER
INDUCTION PICKUP -----> MIC-IN ON RECORDER

Incorrect:

MICROPHONE -----> LINE-IN ON RECORDER
INDUCTION PICKUP -----> BATTERY BOX ------> LINE-IN ON RECORDER
INDUCTION PICKUP -----> LINE-IN ON RECORDER
BATTERY BOX -----> LINE-IN ON RECORDER  AND MICROPHONE -----> MIC-IN ON RECORDER
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