We've been using PMD670s and PMD660s for a while now for the application
you describe. Overall they've been great for the price, with one word of
warning--as I'm sure you've heard and read, the preamps on both these
units are not the cream of the crop. That said, for interview recording I
still put the PMD660 miles ahead of the other two units in its price
range, the Edirol R1 and M-Audio unit mentioned earlier.
Regarding cards, before buying any CF media call Marantz support and ask
them about brand and card size compatiblity issues. It is my impression
that the only gain one receives from using higher speed cards in this unit
is in upload time, so in my opinion for recording purposes there is no
need to spend more on a 47000X card as the standard CF cards work just
The PMD660 micpres are particularly bad--noisy by "pro" standards sure,
and with very low headroom. A decent condenser mic will blow them out
even at low gain settings--something I learned first-hand when I tried to
record using an AT813a. They only way around it, outside of using a
separate micpre, is to put an inline attenuator into the record
path--this according to Marantz directly.
Oade Brothers will do mods to the PMD660s they sell that from all I've
read improve preamp performance dramatically. The downside is that having
the mods done will invalidate the Marantz warranty.
Regarding storage, another option beside a larger CF card or buying more
cards is to use a "Photo Wallet"/"Photo Vault" that will import the data
off a full CF card directly. I've been playing around with this idea for
a while and have asked a lot of questions of manufacturers, but have yet
to try it myself. I did learn that the Wolverine FlashPac (with 30GB and
60GB capacities) will apparently work for this since each card upload is
stored in a fresh directory, and there is no fear of overwriting old files
as a result. This will provide temporary storage until the interviewer
can return to base. Someone I know just bought one, and in his initial
tests it worked great.
If you have any specific quesitons about using the units for interviews,
I'm happy to fill you in on what we've been doing further off list.
Vermont Folklife Center
akolovos @ vermontfolklifecenter.org