Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by taro, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. taro

    taro Guest

    Hi !

    First of all, happy new year to all !!...

    This is my first post here and, i don't know if i have to introduce myself, i'd just say i'm an amateur who wants to make decent quality recordings ;-)...

    So, i need a 2 tracks recorder to record acoustic music (jazz, folk, classic etc. any genre !)... I read many posts about what i'm looking for... and i learn so many things here ! (thank you)...

    The Nagra V would be the perfect recorder for me... But the Nagra BB+ is smaller and cheaper... The BB+ is a Nagra, so it probably sounds very good. But how "very good" compared to Nagra V ?... If its sound quality is "close enough" to the Nagra V's, i'd probably better buy the BB+, then i can also get better high-end microphones, for the same budget !!...

    Here's my question, for those who knows both recorders : only considering the preamp and the ADC, is the BB+ "very good" enough for "quality recording" ? (even if for example it is "only" 20 bits ADC)... Or the pre and the ADC of the Nagra V are definitively better?...

    Thank you in advance !!

  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Hi taro.

    Personally I have not used the Nagra BB+ so I cannot really give you any feedback on that unit. Unless you have already seen it, I might point you to one alternative which should be in about the same price bracket.

    After quite a bit of search I ended up buying a Sound Devices 722 to use for 2 channel recordings and as backup with my larger rig. Must say I am very pleased. It does two channels, has good preamps with phantom and records to internal hard disk or Flash card. I have not much real-world experiece of it yet as the machine has only gone on one recording sessions to talk about (a choir using DPA 4007-s with good results). My impression so far is that sound quality is excellent.

  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    We borrowed a BB+ for a decent listen last year. It has very good sound quality. Its a tiny little thing and the small buttons were sometimes hard to deal with in dim light. But the ergonomics of its OS are far superior to the Marantz CF machine we have.

    Its total appeal is not even close to our Nagra V. Try to save for the Nagra V, its really worth it. But if you need something now, the BB+ is very nice.

    Be aware, also, that it doesn't have digital in, which makes it less useful as a backup machine. Its mainly aimed at news gathering with all those MP3 compression options.

    I am thinking about getting the ARES-M for really compact music less critical music recording, you could tape one of them to the top of a manfrotto, hoist it up with a pair of DPA 4060's and press the go button. :)
  4. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

    it only supplies 3v powering right??dont the DPAs require 5??
  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Yes, you are correct. I would use a battery supply and preamp for the 4060 and go into line input on the ARES-M.
  6. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

    Thanks sir.

    Im not really interested in buying one as I have a SD 722, but it looks like a neat little gadget.
  7. taro

    taro Guest

    Hej Gunnar, Hi David,

    I spent several hours reading posts on the net... :D

    David, so, the BB+ has very good sound quality !... :) I'm sorry to ask again but i just want to have a clear idea of the difference. How very good compared to Nagra V ? (only on the sound quality side)... I think if i had the money or if it was my job, i'd buy the Nagra V with no questions. But as an amateur on the path of the art of recording, i must find the best for my budget... I mean, for example, the BG1 i own perfectly matches my needs : great sounding, reliable, not expensive gear !... ;) (and it would be the perfect pre for the other stereo input of the NV ! :))

    Anyway, i still don't know what to buy...

    Gunnar, i knew about the Soud Devices recorders and it is the 744 i found the most interesting but for some reasons i forgot, i prefered the nagras... But since your post, i went back to these recorders and and made many searches... The 722 and 744 are really impressive on specs... i even read that the converters are better than the converters of the V3. I listened to a few recordings (birds recordings... tapers recordings) that i found very impressive too... And 4 tracks would be great for B-format recording (with a Soundfield mic of my dreams !!)...

    Anyway, i still don't know what to buy...


    Thanks for your replies !


    ps : i forgot the 4060 was so small !... i think i need one ! :) (the Ares M is interesting for its size but it only records in mp3... too bad !)
  8. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

    "converters are better than the v3"

    I think that is a matter of preference, and doesnt have any real backing..

    The SD722 ADC definitely sounds different than the v3. I use outboard pres and ADCs because I am going for a specific sound...but the 722 is great as an all in has been solid since day one.
  9. taro

    taro Guest

    hi BigRay,

    I was just referring to a note titled "Analog-to-Digital Conversion and Word Clock" in the support knowledge base of the Sounddevices web site :


    This is very interesting. Would you mind tell me more when you say you go for a specific sound ? what pre & adc do you use and why ? and how 722 adc and v3 adc sound different ?...

    thanks in advance

  10. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

    722. more rounded bass, not as "tight" compared to the v3. V3 to my ears sounds a little more detailed, and gives a "touch" better soundstaging.
    Now, the Mytek to me sounds MUCH better than the v3, really rich., fast,
    and tons of transient detail...

    I was aiming for a clean sound with good detail and nice imaging, which is why I bought the mytek...seems like the 722 was a little more colored , especially in the lows. For the preamp, I use a DAV BG-1. I do all classical or acoustic or jazz music and need the cleanest , "fastest" gear I can get.
  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I don't know how to answer this really. Its almost as good, given the limitations of the 20bit converter, and its lower spec A/D. Most people could probably not distinguish a difference. It leaves the 16bit recorders we've had in the past, in the dust. But its not a Nagra V. I think for the money, you can buy better converters and sound, like the TASCAM DVD recorder, but you will not get the ergonomics and small size and low power consumption, ie location convenience.

    Hell, there are better recorder solutions around than the Nagra V, but none that can be hauled into churches and up fly towers etc that sound as good. I bought the Nagra, because my back is more important than a infinitesimal improvement in sound quality.

    From my reading of the specs, it records linear PCM up to 48kHz. Its a nice little machine, great for recording covert meetings. ;)
  12. taro

    taro Guest


    thanks. now i see better...

    what is this dvd recorder ?...

    that's the point ! :D... i only do location recordings and i no longer want to do it with my sound card + PC tour + heavy noise insulation case + monitor + keyboard etc... + windows xp that freezes or crashes exactly during a great performance !! :(

    you're definitively right ! :D
  13. BigRay

    BigRay Guest

  14. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member


    For location work, I think notebooks are a good solution. Although some people seem to think they are less road-worthy (somehow) than desktops, this makes no sense to me. They are designed for travel and abuse. (If you really want to, get a Panasonic Toughbook.) No more monitors, keyboard, etc. to carry, and built-in UPS.

    I have two dedicated notebooks for recording, and neither has ever missed a beat. Of course, I only use them for recording --- no internet, etc.

  15. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Well... I'm one of those people who (traditionally) wouldn't use a notebook for this application. However, I think it's important to recognise that the latest operating systems (Mac OS-X and Windows XP) are very refined and stable in comparison to earlier versions from which myself (and probably many others) developed our mistrust of laptops on location. Also, even an easily affordable notebook is more than powerful and fast enough for direct-to-stereo recording at 24/96.

    I wouldn't use one myself because I've got a Nagra V and it has fully converted me to the benefits of a dedicated stand-alone system for location recording (one box, specifically designed and optimized for the job), but the entry price for those benefits is kind of high. Also, I have to say that my IBM ThinkPad is the most reliable personal computer I've ever owned and I wouldn't be too worried about using it for recording - I'd be more worried about the other bits and pieces; the audio interface and its software.

    It also depends on your definition of 'location recording'. If it means sitting in a concert hall or old church, no problem. But I can't imagine hanging over the side of an elephant and recording the sound of it wading through deep water ('elephant rafting') with a laptop unless I was able to build some kind of over-the-shoulder holster that kept all the bits and pieces together and allowed me to see what I needed to see. The Nagra V, and the ARES BB for that matter, simply sling over the shoulder, no problem. So get on with the right tools for the job! Horses for courses, relevance for elephants. (Whatever that means. Don't ask me, I just write the stuff...)
  16. mdemeyer

    mdemeyer Active Member

    No elephants for me... although I have all-too-vivid memories of a recording where (for some reason) a buddy and I just had to go capture the sound of 17-year locusts when they were out in full force. Nagra (analog) in a field of swarming locusts. They really crunched when you walked, and it was fun keeping them out of the tape reels. :?

    That recording was quite 'unusual' and found its way into the sound environments of two performance art pieces...

    Now I stick to churches, concert halls, and other more controlled environments. :D
  17. taro

    taro Guest

    Hi Michael,

    Well, actually, when i began to buy some recording gears, i wanted a laptop based solution !... but because of my budget, i prefered to go for a hand build pc tour (cheaper and, as i already had monitor etc...) and yes, also, there was no interesting sound cards for laptop pc at that time, as i wanted at least 8 inputs !!... so here's the digital recording gear i use since then (aardvark q10 + PC). And as i know better what kind of things i want now, i just want to make things more practical! (location recordings, few mics)... So i don't think i'd invest today in a laptop based solution... i mean, a decent laptop + a decent sound card on ieee1394 or usb, with a good clock and good converters (considering i already have a good pre)... can become pricey, and heavy to carry, long to set... maybe as pricey as (but definitively heavier than, longer to set than) an ares BB+ or a sd722... :)

    But i like laptops ! i know i'll buy one soon... but it will be for my dayjob ! :)

  18. taro

    taro Guest

    i read somewhere one use a modified ares BB to record the elephant's 'voice' than can go as low as 5Hz ! :shock:


    ok, just a few off topic lines to tell how much i find what you do so exciting and inspiring (read article on schoeps or nagra website, read your chronicles/posts here)... the sound adventurer among the highest peaks (FS !) of the world !! as would do a mythical photographer with just a leica and a 35mm lens, travelling the world to fetch treasures of colors, beauties and realities... but with sounds !!... that's *great* !!... you are the audio hero !! 8)
  19. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Bugger! I can't top that... :-(
  20. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Great link, thanks! I have had an interest in elephant voices ever since seeing the BBC (?) documentary series titled 'Super Sense' many years ago. They had footage of a group of elephants moving around, and were talking about how their diaphragms are so large that they produce sounds below human LF threshold, so to us it sounds like they are being silent. But then they pitch-shifted the audio up and you could clearly correlate their sounds with their movements - "hey, careful where you're going, that's my toe you just trod on" "sorry, dude" and so on.

    A few weeks ago I visited an elephant camp in Chitwan National Park. I had this idea that I could record some human-perceived silence in the camp, load it into Wavelab and shift the pitch up to, er, see what I could hear. I only had about 10 minutes there, and I was trying to explain that I wanted to record the sounds of the elephants and "could everyone please be quiet". But the Nepali elephant handlers didn't quite understand what I meant by "the sound we can't hear", and in their geniune efforts to be helpful they started chasing a young elephant around the camp until both it and its mother starting roaring call/response to each other and things got a bit scary. I had the Nagra V's sensitivity quite high and so the actual trumpet/roar of the baby went over, but I got some of it acceptably. Nonetheless, I gave up trying to record "what can't be heard" at that point because the interpretation meant "he can't hear anything, so we need to make some noise".

    I had a similarly harrowing experience trying to record chickens in a village in Nepal - my porter didn't understand that I just wanted everyone to be quiet so I could record the sounds of the chickens and their chicks clucking and scratching in the dirt and so on, so he grabbed a rooster by the legs and started poking it around in the face of another rooster. Both cocks are squawking and crowing and so on, it was hilarious, but not for the roosters - or the alarmed Buddhist villagers (Tamang culture) who were watching! I was trying to give him hand signals to suggest he could just let it go free, so I sort of waved my free arm up and down like I was flying, thinking he would get the idea and let it go. But instead, he started vigorously poking it back and forth at the other rooster until both were flapping their wings like crazy. After lots of failed attempts at different hand signals (I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to ruin what was an otherwise amusing recording), I was about to resort to the famous 'cut' sign by drawing my finger across my throat. It's probably a good thing that I had second thoughts about that one...

    Thanks taro, much appreciated! Let me know if/when it becomes boring.

Share This Page