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So my trusty Tascam HDP2 bit the dust yesterday while recording. Im going to send it off to be repaired, but it really got me looking at replacement options.

I have my issues with the tascam and really am looking at upgrading quality in addition to having a functioning recorder.

For my purposes I usually find myself wanting a third channel while doing sound effects recording. My stereo mic and a shotgun and sometimes a fourth with my barcus berry or something.

I would like a 744 and then get a mix pre or something to have 4 pres but the cost for the setup is a bit more than what will be in my range for awhile.

A new/used 702 is possible. I also am looking at possibly the Fostex PD6. There are a few on consignment and used at various places and fall into the price range I can swing, specifically one at gotham sound for 1500. The pd6 seems like it would satisfy my multi track dilemmas and it would also be a good recorder for the seldom production audio gigs I get.

I want to know is what is everyone's experience with the PD6. Most of the time When traversing the city I only have a shotgun with me cabled up and my stereo mic in the bag, so more than 2 channels while walking around is not needed. I would only be breaking into multi channels on recording sessions that I plan out, not on my daily recording walks. Will the PD6 just be way to large and cumbersome to take with me on my strolls around the city?

Im torn between the two, the portability/size/battery consumption of the 702 verses the multi-track/and eng mix capability of the fostex. Im pretty sure they are both along the same lines of sonic quality but I want to get some additional verification from those who have used them. Ive read many reviews on the both and many people swear by both of them, but im looking for the stuff that doesn't make it to the reviews. Example on the tascam is that the first recording of a file starts it with take _00. It doesn't change quality but makes hell on the editors and assistants at times, and just annoys me.

Mike

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@Michael, I too would love to hear some opinions on this. Starting to budget for a location recorder and would like to figure out what to aim for. –  g.a.harry Mar 29 '11 at 23:07
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5 Answers 5

I would suggest playing it safe and purchasing the Sound Devices, the only bad thing anyone ever has to say about them is the price. But as they are so reliable they are worth it. Purchase a two track version and rent a multi-track when you need it. If you find you need a multi-track all the time just sell the two track, you'll have no problem finding someone who wants one.

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That is what it looks like im doing. If the nomad would record higher that 48k then that would would of been great for my needs. –  Michael Gilbert May 28 '11 at 15:07
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From what I remember, on the Sound Devices you can set it to start at whatever number you want.

I've never used the PD6, but I have used a SD722 a lot and I loved it. It's super portable, very lightweight and really easy to use. If you're announcing your takes at the beginning of recordings the track/take number it displays is the one you previously recorded. The built in Pre-Amps in the Sound Devices are great.

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lol, thanks Jay. That's one of my common typo's. –  Syndicate Synthetique Mar 30 '11 at 22:19
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I know the PD-6 very well. I have recorded 2 feature films on the PD-6 and I will NEVER use it again! It is pretty versatile with the 6 full-featured inputs, the integrated mixer and the ability to record a separate stereo mixdown.

It doesn't sound as good as the Sound Devices recorders. The preamps are ok but not the best.

The big issue with the PD-6 is the optical drive. It is incredibly slow and it breaks down easily, with lots of periodic errors. I have had errors on the optical drive with 3 different PD-6's on the same film, which got me quite angry... I've had an error where I would test the machine in advance and everything looks fine, it records and plays back as expected, but on the set it won't record, which is rather annoying when everybody is waiting for you.

The optical drive isn't produced anymore, so the optical media can be hard to find.

I believe you can just record to the internal 40 GB harddrive, but it is formatted in 27 partitions of 1.3 GB just like the optical drive, giving you a max recording time of 24 minutes in 6 tracks / 48 k / 24 bit. If I have more than 2 mics at the same time, I will always record 6 tracks, because I need to give a stereo mixdown to the editor. You need to plan ahead and format partitions / discs in advance, because it takes a couple of minutes to do the formatting each time.

All in all the PD-6 is a very capable machine, but it is a first generation portable multitrack and rather outdated. If you buy a used one, make sure it has been taken well care of, has low mileage and hasn't been used by many people.

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@Morten. The Formatting could be an issue, I recently just came across a little snippet that I seem to of passed over, is that in 96k the pd6 is limited to 2 channels. I record almost everything 96k when doing sfx, that defeats the purpose of having the multitrack. I may settle on a 702 or 722 and then eventually upgrade again. –  Michael Gilbert Mar 31 '11 at 16:56
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Have you or anyone else looked at the Tascam DR680? It seems to be in the right price range, and does multitrack recording at 96k. I am around the same price range as you are, and am looking to upgrade from a laptop based "portable" system, and would like to hear if anyone has any experience with this device.

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@Mike Yeah I did look at that one. My old recorder was an HDP2. I had my issues with the tascam pres and some functions, but the thing that turned me off of the dr680 is no adjustable pres. It is just a lo or hi gain switch. I used a field mixer some time ago with a similar pre amp gain system and it was terrible. Low was always way too low and hi was always a tad too much. But maybe im missing something on the dr680. Now im looking at the 4 trk Zaxcom Nomad. Wish I knew more information about it. –  Michael Gilbert Apr 14 '11 at 16:16
    
@ Michael You can control the pre-amp gain through the menus with rotary pods as well. Or is that not what you mean? –  Daan Hendriks Apr 14 '11 at 16:29
    
@Daan I did not realize there was pre amp control through the soft menus, if that is the case, what is the point of the lo high switch?. I like having an actual knob for each channel. –  Michael Gilbert Apr 14 '11 at 22:31
    
@ Michael, well - the lo/high switch, I guess it's just there to set an initial value. Tbh I don't get it either. I have it always set to High, as I've read that produces for some reasons the best S/N ratio. And then I use the knob and buttons on the front panel to adjust to the gain I want. I don't like the metering display, but you can surely fine tune your gain, it's not restrained to just a switch :) –  Daan Hendriks Apr 15 '11 at 11:14
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Also, interestingly, the pre-amps have exceptionally low self noise, almost as low as a Sound Devices 7 series. There's some charts for that online (these specs have been independently measured, they're not the manufacturers specs). Of course self-noise is not the only important thing about a pre-amp, but I figured that for this money (about £800), 6 inputs with low self noise, it was a steal. You can read more of my thoughts about the unit elsewhere here, if you want: socialsounddesign.com/questions/4204/… –  Daan Hendriks Apr 15 '11 at 11:17
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You could buy a 702 for your everyday use and when needed rent another Sound Devices and link them with the C.Link cable.

That's what I'm going to do when my recorder (HDP2 here too) die.

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