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I've been recording mostly stereo in the field with my trusty Sound Devices 722 for some time now.

Recently, I took out a 744T (which belongs to my work) in the field and did some recording with a Double MS rig. While I didn't always bother mastering the recordings in surround, it was nice to have that option; especially for ambiences.

Needless to say, I'm considering making the move to a multi-channel recorder for field recording. I'm wondering how many of you are regularly recording in surround in the field. What do you use?

I found carrying a 744T with a mixer to be quite bulky (especially since I was hiking). Instead of upgrading to a 744T, I'm considering picking up another 722 and linking two recorders together (which would practically be the same size as a 744 plus two preamps). Anybody doing this?

I wish Sound Devices made a recorder with 4 preamps that was a little more affordable than the 788T. Not sure I want to downgrade the quality of my preamps either with something like a Zoom. Any other suggestions other than buying a Deva or Nagra? Should I just lug around a laptop instead? Thanks.

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Tascam makes an 8 track recorder with 6 preamps: http://tascam.com/product/dr-680/

I use a 744T with a Sound Devices MP2 preamp (they don't make it anymore, but the Mixpre is nearly the same thing) for channels 3 and 4. I don't find it bulky, it all fits nice in a portabrace case with room to spare. Much less bulky and much lighter then lugging around 2 722's. To me, lugging around a laptop would be even worse.

  • Thanks Chuck. I was carrying a larger field mixer than the MP2. Just wish the 744 had two extra pres inside, as I find the extra cabling to be a bummer. I'll look at the Tascam, although I've never been much of a fan and haven't owned anything of theirs since my Portable DAT player back in the day. – Justin P Oct 2 '10 at 0:25
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Dual channel stereo is a good way to work. check out the Chris Watson video streaming on his downloads page.

Its from Swedish tv and starts with an short Swedish intro, she just says that he's known for his work with David Attenborough and that he has specialised in recording the sounds of animals, their habitats and other environments all over the world:

http://www.chriswatson.net/downloads.html

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Have you checked out the Edirol R44 Super MOD by the Oade Brothers? (http://www.oade.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=OBA&Product_Code=EDR44SMGND&Category_Code=EDIR44-Super)

I know its not Sound Devices, but many people say the mic pres are excellent. Much better then the zoom. I've been thinking of picking up one of these myself. It might be worth considering. Its only 3lbs too! I'm curious if anyone else here has experience with this field recorder too. Best of Luck!

-Kevin

  • Thanks Kevin. I'm not opposed to looking at other gear, just love the sound and build of my Sound Devices stuff. I'll give it a look, can't be all that bad if it's mod-ed by the concert taping masters. – Justin P Oct 2 '10 at 0:39
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I bought the Tascam DR-680 earlier this year and, overall, think it's a really versatile recorder for the money. As Chuck noted, it has 6 discrete preamps which are generally quiet enough for my purposes (fx gathering). The 1st four inputs are standard XLR inputs but 5 & 6 are TRS, which is inconvenient but understandable given the limited amount of space on the side. Charles Maynes has noted that the limiters are post A-to-D which requires you to watch your headroom and stay away from clipping, and switching the limiters on on my unit actually increases the noise floor, so I don't know what to say about that, other than you can only expect so much for a sub-$1000 8-channel recorder. But for folks like me who don't have the budget for a 744, it certainly fills a niche.

  • Thanks Jay. My only concern with the Tascam is the noise-floor, as I think I'd be using the extra channels mostly for quieter ambiences. Would think twice about picking one up if I was only grabbing louder spot fx. Have you tried it on more delicate winds, nature stuff? – Justin P Oct 2 '10 at 0:41
  • @Justin, most of the material I recorded this summer was nature bgs, and for the most part I am pretty happy with the results. Forest, meadow, seashore, etc. Again, for the money it's a pretty amazing unit. You should try one out and see how it works for you. – Jay Jennings Oct 2 '10 at 1:10
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    @Justin, I wouldn't worry in the slightest about the DR680 noise floor. The preamps are (independently) measured at -127dBU when set to High. That basically means you can use the most quiet microphones you can find. Noise is not an issue with this device. I bought one myself a couple of weeks ago and it's truly a fantastic device. Links to recorder input charts: pantherfile.uwm.edu/type/www/audio-reports/RecorderList/…, and: avisoft.com/recordertests.htm – Daan Hendriks Oct 2 '10 at 9:23

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