1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Best VO recorder w/out computer

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Eblair, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. Eblair

    Eblair Active Member

    VO actor. Chain: rode nt1 to dbx 386s to tascam dr-40 w input gain at 1. Room: 3x4 closet w acoustic foam. Not using computer to save space, eliminate fan noise. Results are quiet (no hiss or hum) but VOs sound brittle and tinny. Is AD conversion compromised greatly by tascam? Is there a sub $1K recorder that would improve results? Was considering tascam dr-100mkii or tascam ss-r200 but don't know if this will really make enough difference. Am I even right that tascam is the weak link? Any advice appreciated. Thanks!
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    First, you go out of a preamp to another. Make sure you adjusted the inputs of the Tascam to line level. gain at one seem very low. If you are at line level, you maybe pushing the dbx to much.

    Second, I would compare the signal without the dbx. It's not the best pre and the tascam alone may be ok.
    All in all, you need to set yourself for realistic quality for the budget you want to invest.
    Some would put 1k on the mic alone or the preamp alone. You sound being tinny could also come from the mic placement.

    I'm not an expert in portable recorders but what I miss on them is the mixing capability and audio manipulation possibilities a computer can offer.
    The noise of a computer would be barely captured by a mic if you take advantage of the rejection of a cardioid can offer. (put the bac of the mic toward what you don't want to hear)

    Are you only recording voice overs or do you do some signing or instrument recording as well ?

    Check my to first recommendation and come back with the results.. we'll built on those results ;)
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, yeah ... that's pretty much it, right there.

    You may be able to get "useable" audio with what you have, but you won't get the same sonic quality you commonly hear in pro commercials, movie trailers, etc.
    What you are hearing there, is the result of using very nice mics ( Neumann, ADK, Cathedral Pipes, AKG, etc.) through very nice preamps and converters ( Grass Valley, Antelope, RME, Neve, UA, SSL, Millennia...) and in very nice-sounding rooms.

    Also, the DR-40 is a stereo recorder, with the built-in mics set in a coincidental array ( XY)... and if you are recording VO's, you don't really need that. Mono is fine ( and actually preferred most of the time).

    Speaking from personal experience... I wouldn't keep using Tascam; I think they use cheaper converters in their digital gear, other than what the other popular manufacturer's in a similar price range do ( Focusrite, Presonus) and I also think that most of their preamps lack gain and tend to be noisy.

    I've also lost trust in them when it comes to their product's general overall build quality, and have lost faith in expecting any of their gear to last as long as it should. They've had lots of "service issues" in the last ten years or so.

    They never did seem to be able to crack into and hold onto a serious chunk of the digital interface market.
    Their quality started to decline right around the time they were building the DA Series of multi-track digital tape machines, with a self-admitted built-in obsolescence of 600 hours of use on the decks. Their first initial line of USB /preamps, the 1641, ( which later became the 1800) was a very cheaply built - and cheap sounding - preamp. Noisy, lacking gain, brittle and glassy sounding. I know... I had one. ;)

    Just my opinion, of course.

  4. Eblair

    Eblair Active Member

  5. Eblair

    Eblair Active Member

    Thanks for response!

    I am vo only, no singing.

    I began this process with a sterling audio st69 into a focusrite scarlet 2i2 into an hp laptop. Room was cluttered, sound was hissy.

    Moved on to the rode nt1 directly into the tascam. The result was very high sibilance and extra hiss. The dbx has allowed me to de-ess, eliminate hiss, etc.

    If I were to upgrade to another recorder what might it be?

    Put another way: if I ran a neumann u87 into an avalon VT 737, how could I convert the signal and record it without using a computer? Do such recorders exist? Do any of them equal or surpass sound from computer w/ interface options?

    Thanks again!
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You might have tried this but if you turn your NT1 from the source, you'll get less sibilance

    What you should aim for is a recorder that does have line ins that goes direct to the converters instead of going through a preamp circuit.
    I know RME audio interfaces have does strait to converter inputs, but I can see only on that records in stand alone mode, the UFX..
    If we could find something similar, it could be a good option
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

  8. Eblair

    Eblair Active Member

  9. Eblair

    Eblair Active Member

    "What you should aim for is a recorder that does have line ins that goes direct to the converters instead of going through a preamp circuit."

    Wasn't aware that any recorder existed that did not amplify incoming signal to some degree. Don't all mixers/voice processors/recorders have to amplify the incoming signal?
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You juste quoted me ?

    Surprisingly, with a better preamp you could go for a dynamic mic instead.. They tend to get less room spills.
    The EV RE20 is one that we often see, specially in radios.. It has nearly no proximity effect so you could be very close or a bit further, only the volume will change (almost)
    But to me any mic purchase should be preceeded by a test phase. No voice are equal, a mic that sound good to mine might be terribly wrong for someone else.

    If you ask me to record VO, I'd first tests many mics and preamps to compare them. Then, when the recipe is settle, the recording can begin ;)
    A Millennia stt1 would be my dream vocal preamp if I had the budget for it.. ;) http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/STT1
    I find the Avalon a bit steril (since you mentionned it)
    I would also like to test the SPL Frontliner : http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Frontliner

    BTW, I'm no sweetwater rep.. I just find it easy to put a link

    Did you get a chance to check the levels (mic vs line levels) between the DBX and Tascam.
    I had a DBX Silver 576 and sold it.. I found it to be small and nazal sounding and changing the tubes made no difference..
    I replaced it with 2 LA 610.. those are preamps with character .. if that's what you are looking for...

    Ok enough name dropping.. sorry about that.. ;)
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    No some are just direct path to converters and media..
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    The thing is with units with preamp inputs is that they will always color any preamps you plug in them unless they truly bypass the preamp circuit before getting to the converters..
    That's why many of us have dedicated converters.. Some are made for high counts of inputs some aren't. I currently use a Mitek AD96 that gives 2 channels. This unit is very transparent so, I know that when I throw my LA-610 at it, only the sound of the 610 is recorded. If I would put it through another preamp, they wouldn't sound the same...
  14. Eblair

    Eblair Active Member

    So the LA-610 is preamp and processor, the Mitek is the AD converter; what does the actual recording?
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Marco (PCrecord) is tracking to a DAW. And I do understand your dilemma, but I think that maybe you are expecting too much out of what you are using, and at some point, you're going to want to get into a computer based audio recording platform.

    It will make recording, editing and mixing a breeze, along with using EQ and any gain reduction that the VO might need.
    There are basic DAW platforms available for free. Presonus Studio One Artist Series is one that would suite your needs perfectly.

    If you wanted to stay with your dbx preamp, which, according to its spec sheet, has an SPDIF I/O, you could purchase a PCIe based converter card ( with SPDIF) and get your signal into your computer that way, or...

    You could dump the dbx, and get into a decent USB preamp/i-o/converter; companies like RME, SPL and MOTU all make very nice mid-level preamps with built in conversion, and on a lesser scale, both Focusrite and Presonus, make several different models that are very good for their price range, too.

    You mentioned that you were getting "hiss"... this is generally attributed to having a pre that is gain-shy, and when turning the preamp up to get an optimal level to make up for its inherent lack of gain, the noise is increasing at the same time. This is one of the things about cheaper preamps that is common.
    Higher quality pre's offer more gain, so you don't have to gain them up as much, and even if you do, they remain quiet. It's a quality thing.

    It's my suggestion that you approach your workflow in one of these ways - I think you are expecting more out of your current rig than what it is capable of.

    Only IMO.
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    You can call the LA-610 a channel strip : Preamp with EQ and compresor
    I use it with the AD96 : Converter only
    Then the signal goes to my RME interface digital input.

    Donny did a good job talking about computer recording advantages..
    Your deception with the 2i2 might have been comming from the fact that it doesn't have a ton of clean gain. But some other interfaces have all that it takes.
    If you are still alergic to computer.
    There's another option if you have an IPad, you might want to check there
    The iTrack for exemple doesn't have a ton of gain (+55db) but it's better than others

    I'm feeling we are giving you too many options.. You should tell us where you're at now and we'll try to eliminite choices and narrow down to a couple options.. ;)
  17. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    I think Donny was getting to the heart of the matter in his last post. While you can buy better mics and better pres, or switch to a channel strip or audio interface into a DAW, I think you have other issues to conquer first. The Rode NT-1 and the dbx 386 are not the greatest gear out there, but you should be able to get at least acceptable results with them going into your Tascam. The NT-1 does tend to be a little brittle in its sound, but you should not be getting "hiss". How have you got the three components set up? It should look something like this: NT-1 is hooked up via XLR cable to one of the dbx 386 MIC inputs. On the dbx 386, set the "+48V" button to be ON (this provides phantom power that the NT-1 needs). I would not set any of the other buttons on the dbx 386 to be ON. Connect from the LINE OUT of the dbx 386 to the LINE IN of the Tascam. You will have to decide whether you are using a 1/4" cable or an XLR cable for this, but you need to make sure that on the Tascam that phantom power is off. You also need to slide the switch on the side of the Tascam to "LINE" for the "EXT IN". You really should probably leave the input gain level on the Tascam at 0. Use the "ANALOG OUTPUT LEVEL" knob on the dbx 386 until you are getting a good level signal into the Tascam. If you have to go beyond about 3 o'clock on the dial on the dbx 386, you will probably start to hear noise being introduced. At that point if you still need more level, you could think about raising the input gain on the Tascam. Use the "DRIVE" knob on the dbx 386 to add as much of the "tube distortion" or whatever you want to call it to you signal. That's basically it. Even though the NT-1 is kind of bright, you should be able to get an acceptable recording with no hiss using these three pieces of gear.

    Hope this helps!

    Brien Holcombe and DonnyThompson like this.

Share This Page