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So I have this recorder that likes to eat AA batteries for breakfast. I need to buy something way more efficient, but it may come at a cost. But must it?

The setup I'm looking at right now is a IDX Lithium-ion battery coupled to the recorder via a cap that leads to the DC power in. Pretty standard setup; these batteries are used to power all sorts of pro gear, such as video cameras and audio mixers. Cost is an issue, though, as these batteries can cost up to $200 each, and the chargers are nearly $400.

So who's figured out a cheaper way of doing this?

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4 Answers 4

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IDX batts are the way to go. They're moderately expensive to get into (well, expensive is a very relative term once you start talking location sound), but sooooo worth it. I'd be dead in the water without them... We have 12 of em with a charger.

When you consider how much you spend on AA's over the course of a year, you'll find it pretty much evens out over time. Good stuff.

The only other way you might consider is grabbing a ton of AA Lithium rechargeables. You'll still be going through them, just not as fast as alkalines, plus you don't have to throw them away. It's going to be cheaper than the IDX stuff, but not quite as convenient and hot-swappable.

I'm guessing your recorder has an auto-switching power supply. (If it does...) If you have an IDX batt with the Frezzi adapter, you can pull the IDX when it's dead (and if you have AAs on standby in the recorder), you can swap batteries even in the middle of recording. I do this all the time. It's saved me a few times...

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@Colin, yes, recorder has auto-switching capabiity. I can see how this would be very handy! Just wish the IDX stuff wasn't so darn expensive...ever heard of anyone doing a homebrew system with, say, drill batteries? –  Jay Jennings Aug 28 '10 at 6:24
    
@Jay - oh yeah, we do that stuff all the time. You can just grab any 12V rechargeable and hook it up. We often run entire rigs off of marine batteries terminated with 4pin. You could probably get a few smaller ones for really cheap (Batteries Plus, or electronics surplus), and grab a marine or auto charger and be done with it. Just need some wire and the right connector. –  Colin Hart Aug 28 '10 at 15:46
    
@Jay - well, I shouldn't say any. As long as you do the calculations on amperage / amp hours, you should be good –  Colin Hart Aug 28 '10 at 15:51
    
@Colin, that's very intriguing, and certainly sounds much cheaper than IDX. What about the downsides? Aside from making sure my amperage is correct, is there a problem with using homebrew methods? Is it a bulk issue, ie. IDX is smaller and the others are not? Or a longevity issue, ie. IDX is easier to recharge and the others are a pain? Would love to get more of your feedback on this. PS. My primary use is sound effects gathering, not production sound, in case that affects my choice of power. Thanks - –  Jay Jennings Aug 29 '10 at 5:16
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@Jay - biggest problems, IMO, are size, weight, and connection. If you get an IDX system, you have a light battery that will last hours that just fits into a cap, plugs in, and you're good to go. Homebrew solutions usually weigh a lot more (which is fine if you're doing production on a cart), you have to MacGyver a solution for connectivity, and it can still leave you with bare leads in your bag. They also tend to be more squarish and bulkier than the slim IDX batts. In my experience, the homebrew ones often have a longer life, but the IDX will still last many hours for what you're doing. –  Colin Hart Aug 29 '10 at 19:29
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There is a specific forum at taperssection.com covering batteries etc. for field recorders. http://taperssection.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=824fbfd3bf61e5af8f3883cf23ad8736&board=4.0

Saw a thread months ago, where someone talked about using portable DVD player batteries, and Wally World ones, that lasted for a day.

Best wishes,

Mikkel

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I am currently using a combination of AA and 9 Volts. Very expensive! I just wanted to add that you should NEVER keep 9 volts in your pockets. I had replaced some 9 volts and put the old ones in my pockets. several hours later I felt heat coming from that pocket and immediately reached in and pulled out a piping hot 9 volt battery. A quick google search informed me that I most likely created a short circuit in the battery by having the terminals touch something metallic like my keys or some change. Apparently, they can also explode. Fortunately that did not happen!

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Has anyone used both IDX and Anton Bauer? We have Anton Bauer gear at work, so I don't think I'll ever get anyone to switch over, but I'd be interested in any brief comparison reviews anyone could provide.

The Anton Bauers work great by the way, and the warranty and customer service have been amazing over the years as well. I believe they are more expensive than IDX though.

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