Digital Audio Recorder

(Video transcript) Hi. Paul Donovan here from Thanks for watching my channel. This is the channel where we're giving tips and tricks to AV technicians and those who would like to be an AV Technician.

Today I want to talk about the new generation of digital recorders that are on the market. News reporters for years used to hump around a little box that was a full cassette deck for doing their recording when doing interviews. But the world of digital technology has reduced this down to really small things. Some reporters even just use their smartphone and the built-in audio recording capabilities that go with the smartphones. But the professionals, or even the independent movie makers, these days are moving forward into two brand names of digital recorders. Two of the models of the two brand names The two brand names I'm going to talk about today are the ZOOM and the TASCAM brands There used to be a Mirantz brand but that has sort of gone away, not as popular in the low cost indie film business The TASCAM recorder or the ZOOM recorder, especially the ZOOM H4N and the Tascam DR-40. Those two are competitors head-to-head in the world AV digital recorders, and the movie industry. Quite often when you are looking for them you will find that their prices are very close together. Sometimes they're $10 apart $15 apart.

Really, there's not a whole lot of difference between the two brands. In terms of technical features, abilities and things that you want to do with them. Both units come with XLR jacks on the bottom which allows you to hook up a standard microphone. Both units come, in fact the XLR jacks on the bottom are actually the universal kind, where you can shove in a 1/4" jack as well. So you're not stuck with XLR cables, you can also use 1/4" cabling. The jack are multi capable, they are line level or mic level. There is also phantom power so you can use microphones that need phantom power. The recorder will provide that power.

They both have headphone jacks so you can hear what you're recording. Both of those models come with little stereo microphones seem to do this type of thing They sort of point at each other but don't exactly cross. These are stereo microphone to help enhance in recordung in stereo mode when you don't want to plug in an actual microphone. They are actually quite good.

I own the Tascam DR-40. I'm very impressed with the built-in stereo microphones when you want to do a news reporter in the face of somebody and you don't want to stick a microphone, you can stick your digital recorder right up in their face. Those two microphones will grab the sound and do quite well.

They both, of them, use a standard SD card. This is really great cuz you pop the card out and shove it into your computer and grab the files, and so on like that. They both use pretty standard file formats: WAV and MP3 Most of the ones people use are WAV and MP3. Personally I prefer record in WAV so I can keep the highest quality recording then when I take it out I use my software in my computer to edit it down. A lot of times I'll end up with an MP3 for an audio file to be used, depending on what's being used for. Or I'll keep in WAV if I need to keep the quality level.

These are not recorders that are stupendous for doing music recording, or having said that I've seen people use these recorders to do a pretty good blended down mix off of a mixer board and get a good digital recording. That can then be burned into a CD This is only a two-channel recorder device so you're not exactly a whole lot of post production on the individual tracks off the instrument and musicians and so on.

One of the things I have discovered, at least with my Tascam, and I'm reasonably sure also happens with the ZOOM H4N, is that you have the choice of powering them up with batteries, in my case, with my Tascam it used 3 AA batteries. It's odd ot use 3 batteries. You always buy batteries in 4's You have to buy batteries in bigger packs to use batteries. I found out that if I want to plug my the USB mini-jack in and plug it into an adapter than I can can get power that power can come off a USB jack off a laptop or it could be an adapter, one of these little things you get with your phone. Anything you get that has the power in and then converts it down the 5volts. What happens is that I found that this saves a ton of money on batteries. My Tascam, unfortunately, does go through batteries quite quickly. It can be an expensive part of it.

An interesting thing I once did, in the Philippines I was trying to project a movie using a speaker system they had and I found when I hooked my laptop straight into their amplifier I was getting an awful lot of noise. Interestingly enough when I fed the feed from my laptop into my Tascam and then the Tascam output (headphone jack) to the amplifier, all the noise disappeared. It ended up that my Tascam digital recorder is also two track mixer and because it runs off of battery power or in this case off a USB jack off the laptop I was able to get rid of a lot of the background noise and hiss, and it made using the laptop and showing the movie a lot more pleasant.

Just a brief talk about two models of digital recorders. The Tascam DR-40 and the ZOOM H4N. Not a lot of difference between the two take a look at them. They are priced at a decent price for a person that wants a decent digital recorder. There you have it. 

This is Paul Donovan from Please check out our website at Subscribe to this channel to keep up with what's happening in the world of AV technicians. Thank you for watching.

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