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Author Topic: Field recorder for live stream?  (Read 979 times)

Mark Scrivener

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Field recorder for live stream?
« on: August 02, 2020, 05:32:24 pm »

Curious what folks prefer when going supper light for live streaming (or recording)? In the past I've always used my Ui24r as an audio interface, but if I only need a few channels, the Ui+Laptop is kinda overkill. I've been looking at the various units from Zoom, Tascam and Sound Devices, but can't find much on sound quality comparisons....so does that mean they all sound great?

Other than great sound quality, I'm looking for:

-at least 4 XLR inputs with Phantom power
-minimal cost (used is fine)
-flexible power options
-video sync would be nice
-[EDIT] unbalanced stereo output (for feeding to video stream)

and that's about it. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 08:32:12 pm by Mark Scrivener »
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Riley Casey

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2020, 07:46:39 pm »

I've had three of the Zoom H4Ns for years. Rock solid and reasonably transparent but they were used most of the time for non-music recording.  I'd certainly look at the four input Zooms if I needed anything more capable than the H4N but didn't need the capacity of the Behringer XR18s I've used as my stock answer for multiple inputs.

Corey Scogin

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2020, 08:50:30 pm »

I've had three of the Zoom H4Ns for years.

One caveat with the H4N is that it won't take a line level signal on the combo jack inputs.

I have an H6 now and like it though it hasn't seen much use. I typically use an X32 Rack with XLive card.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2020, 09:19:04 pm »

You'll still have two pieces of equipment but a small Allen Heath ZED mixer and a lap top would work.

Keith Broughton

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2020, 07:00:59 am »

One caveat with the H4N is that it won't take a line level signal on the combo jack inputs.


From Zoom web page...
Quote
XLR or " balanced or unbalanced phone cables. They can handle both mic- and line-level signals as well as instrument-level signals from electric guitars or basses.
I have used the Zoom H6, and seen quite a few used by videographers and they work well.
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John Halliburton

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2020, 09:13:00 am »

The already mentioned A&H Zed mixer is handy, we use one in our little live stream rig at the Irish cultural center. Feed into a laptop and the OBS software, combined with video inputs from a smartphone or camera, and it works great.

I've owned a QSC Touchmix 16 for a few months now, and it records to stick or external drive, and the Touchmix 8 is pretty small, although the 16 is not much larger and I would always recommend it if you can afford it. QSC have a DAW utility app for sending files directly to a laptop.

A very versatile small digital mixer.

Best regards,

John
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Michael Lawrence

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2020, 10:10:28 am »

I own the Zoom H4n Pro (which is currently on sale at Woot.com for $175, btw) and the XLR inputs clip at -6 dBu. The TS inputs clip at +2. I either run a pair of inline -20 dB attenuator barrels or just turn down my record matrix, or a combination of both. Neat little units.
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Dan Richardson

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2020, 10:23:41 am »

various units from Zoom, Tascam and Sound Devices, but can't find much on sound quality comparisons....so does that mean they all sound great?

At this point in circuit design, there's no excuse for anything to not sound great. Sound Devices are head and shoulder above the others in build quality, but also in cost.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2020, 12:04:59 pm »

From Zoom web page...
Quote

    XLR or " balanced or unbalanced phone cables. They can handle both mic- and line-level signals as well as instrument-level signals from electric guitars or basses.

Try it with the H4N and tell us how it works out, Keith.  It won't.  +4dBu will overload the XLR inputs no matter how much you turn down the record level on the H4N.  The H6 appears to have different input circuits.
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Rick Earl

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2020, 12:15:59 pm »

Curious what folks prefer when going supper light for live streaming (or recording)? In the past I've always used my Ui24r as an audio interface, but if I only need a few channels, the Ui+Laptop is kinda overkill. I've been looking at the various units from Zoom, Tascam and Sound Devices, but can't find much on sound quality comparisons....so does that mean they all sound great?

Other than great sound quality, I'm looking for:

-at least 4 XLR inputs with Phantom power
-minimal cost (used is fine)
-flexible power options
-video sync would be nice
-[EDIT] unbalanced stereo output (for feeding to video stream)

and that's about it. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!

I have been using the Zoom F8 for a few years now.  It will sync with video - internal clock is pretty rock solid.  8 combo inputs, balanced and unbalanced outs (rout-able) I have recorded directly to it and used it as an interface.  On-board batteries, external battery option and wall wart.  I have tracked drums with it before for a remote recording one time, also voice, pipe-organ and Revolutionary War reenactor's cannon and musket fire.  Good, clean and solid.  The F6 has some really nice new features and also priced right.
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Brian Bolly

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2020, 12:28:54 pm »

I am not an expert in field recording, but have had a lot of talks over the last few weeks with a friend who is, and have learned a couple key points:
  • On video shoots, the audio folks hold the responsibility of verifying frame rate and ensuring sync across all devices, including cameras
  • If you are using more than 1 camera, you need to make sure everything is syncd
  • If you are doing anything that is being recorded for later archival or editing, you need to make sure everything is syncd
  • If you are simply doing live to the web it is less important to have sync.  But often, someone will want it recorded (see above)
  • The cost of sync devices has come down significantly with devices like the Tentacle Sync, Denecke boxes, or NanoLockit.  If you are doing field recording, it's a small investment for some highly useful tools
  • The ROI on renting sync boxes to the client, even for their own cameras, is good (his words, not mine)
  • The audio guy needs to learn camera menus to set the proper frame rate (see point #1)
  • It is recommended that the audio guy carry the adapter cables to connect the sync boxes to the cameras - there are different pinouts and connectors, and don't expect the video guys to have them, ever (see Craig's recent thread on video)

So in short, a minor investment in a field recorder that can generate TC, and some remote sync boxes to hang on cameras, is small in the grand scheme of things to turn a bit of ROI back around and ensure proper sync everywhere.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 08:31:08 am by Brian Bolly »
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Dan Richardson

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2020, 08:28:34 am »

I am not an expert in field recording, but have had a lot of talks over the last few weeks with a friend who is, and have learned a couple key points:
  • On video shoots, the audio folks hold the responsibility of verifying frame rate and ensuring sync across all devices, including cameras
  • If you are using more than 1 camera, you need to make sure everything is syncd
  • If you are doing anything that is being recorded for later archival or editing, you need to make sure everything is syncd
  • If you are simply doing live to the web it is less important to have sync.  But often, someone will want it recorded (see above)
  • The cost of sync devices has come down significantly with devices like the Tentacle Sync, Denecke boxes, or NanoLockit.  If you are doing field recording, it's a small investment for some highly useful tools
  • The ROI on renting sync boxes to the client, even for their own cameras, is good (his words, not mine)
  • Web streaming is "24 fps" but not really - it's 23.976 in almost all instances.
  • The audio guy needs to learn camera menus to set the proper frame rate (see point #1)
  • It is recommended that the audio guy carry the adapter cables to connect the sync boxes to the cameras - there are different pinouts and connectors, and don't expect the video guys to have them, ever (see Craig's recent thread on video)

So in short, a minor investment in a field recorder that can generate TC, and some remote sync boxes to hang on cameras, is small in the grand scheme of things to turn a bit of ROI back around and ensure proper sync everywhere.

Field recording and streaming are very different animals.

YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Vimeo, all recommend 30 or 60 fps. Never seen a recommendation for 24 fps, that's movie speed.

The vast majority of streams are run from cameras that don't even have sync capabilities. Webcams, iPhones, camcorders, PTZs, DSLRs.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 08:08:40 am by Dan Richardson »
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brian maddox

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2020, 11:48:39 pm »

At this point in circuit design, there's no excuse for anything to not sound great. Sound Devices are head and shoulder above the others in build quality, but also in cost.

Sound Devices is BOCO all the way. But that's why you see little else on A list film/video shoots....
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Geert Friedhof

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2020, 12:29:17 am »

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Debbie Dunkley

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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2020, 12:45:37 am »

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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2020, 01:06:27 am »

Sound Devices is BOCO all the way. But that's why you see little else on A list film/video shoots....

I'm sure the quality is great, but no plans for any real film/video shoots, and most of the sound devices units cost as much or more than the smaller digital mixers many of us use these days - Ui24r, X32 rack, etc. If I was doing location sound for a Netflix series, then no problem...but my use will be small, occasional location recording of solo artists or small ensembles. I'm even starting to wonder if I should just deal with a laptop and one of the old audio interfaces I have collecting dust. A high quality "run-n-gun" rig would be cool....just not sure I really need it.

Patrick Tracy

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2020, 04:22:29 am »

One caveat with the H4N is that it won't take a line level signal on the combo jack inputs.

My experience with the H4n is that the TRS is padded down relative to the XLR. On my H5 I can select a 20dB pad and it affects the XLR.

Scott Slater

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2020, 06:16:43 am »

The Tascam DA-3000 ( https://tascam.com/us/product/da-3000/top ) is also a great choice IMO.  I've used it for years.  It has loads of I/O options and can record on multiple formats at multiple sampling rates.  It even supports DSD recording.
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Brian Bolly

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2020, 08:30:50 am »

Field recording and streaming are very different animals.

YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Vimeo, all recommend 30 or 60 fps. Never seen a recommendation for 24 fps, that's movie speed.

The vast majority of streams are run from cameras that don't even have sync capabilities. Webcams, iPhones, camcorders, PTZs, DSLRs.

Mea culpa - my cinema notes were next to my streaming notes and you're correct.  I will strike that from my original post.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2020, 11:57:10 pm »

...but my use will be small, occasional location recording of solo artists or small ensembles. [...]

This gets to the heart of it: what are you trying to achieve? Location recording and streaming have different requirements (largely due to the "real-time" nature of the latter). If you're looking for a simple location recording tool there have been many good suggestions, but few of them will be of much use for streaming (or, at any rate, not any more use than a simple USB audio interface that is simpler and will cost less).

Even if all you're looking to do is location recording, since you already own an audio interface (or several), how much weight and trouble are you actually saving by going all-in-one? Is that weight and trouble worth the cost of a dedicated solution? If it is, would your money be better spent on something else (e.g. a more portable laptop)?

For me, I can't remember the last time I showed up to a gig without a laptop (or a USB interface, for that matter). The only reason I'd ever consider buying a stand-alone recorder is if I was only planning to use it with its built-in microphone. For everything else, if I've already gone to the trouble of lugging some mics, stands, and cables around, I might as well bring a laptop, too.

-Russ
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Re: Field recorder for live stream?
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2020, 11:57:10 pm »


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