New gadgets: A handheld recorder and a microphone filter2007-11-27
I’ve been coveting the Marantz PMD-620 digital recorder ever since I saw an early model on the trade show floor at Podcast Expo. I have the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96, but I’ve been having some issues with it that led me to explore alternatives. I’m already a loyal user of the PMD-660, about the size of a thick paperback book. The PMD-620 packs most of the 660’s functionality into a package about the size of a deck of cards.
It arrived the other day and I’ve been playing with it. While the real test will come with a real recording session, so far I’m thrilled with this device. The recorder comes with stereo condenser microphones built in—no more snapping an external mic into the 24/96 jack. The sound from the internal microphones is terrific, but it’s even better when I jack in my Giant Squid Audio lapel microphone. I’ve also tried it with a full-sized dynamic microphone, which also sounds great. The 620 automatically detects a microphone’s presence and adjsuts its settings accordingly.
The unit also features a “line-in” jack, which will make it a breeze to record FIR when I’m on the road.
The display is crystal clear with a wide range of settings, and the settings are fairly intuitive to use. The PMD-620 comes with a power adapter but also runs on two double-A batteries, which resolves one of my bigger issues with the 24/96, which uses a non-replacable lithium-ion battery that needs to be recharged when it runs out of juice. So far, the power display on the 620 is showing “full” despite the several hours I’ve spent experimenting with it.
The 620 uses an SD card with no limit on storage. I have a 4GB card in the unit, which will handle about 6-1/2 hours of recording to the uncompressed WAV format. I got mine from Sweetwater, where I order most of my audio gear, for $399.97, comparable to the prices of similar devices.
My other acquisition is an sE Electronics Reflexion Filter. This won’t excite anybody, but considering the volume of the fannoise on my Sony VAIO, I was looking for some solution that would reduce the hiss in my recording. (The computer needs to be on since I’m recording over Skype.) This filter is designed to improve the sound of the acoustic space surrounding the microphone, for people who don’t have acoustically-padded rooms (which I don’t). Sound input into the microphone passes through seven layers, diffusing the acoustic waves around the mic and keeping the sound from bouncing back. But it also does a nice job of filtering out ambient noises, reducing the fan noise considerably. Noise reduction in my audio editing software deals with the rest.
The filter was $299; I got mine at Guitar Center.
Yep, it’s been a good week for gadgets.