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ARSCLIST  February 2006

ARSCLIST February 2006

Subject:

Re: And now for something completely different...

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 24 Feb 2006 08:48:54 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Hi Marie:

If you go for a bigger-sized card, I'd buy from a reputable brand and make sure Marantz has signed 
off on it. If there are compatability issues, there should be some mention on their website. I'd 
call Sandisk and Lexar definite "reputable brands" along with Fuji. I think Kingston is low-end but 
on the other hand I've never had an issue with anything of theirs I've used. Viking is another 
low-end player and I have had problems with some of their PC memory modules (not CF flash memory, 
I've only used their SmartMedia, and with no problems). I would not get a no-name on sale at Costco 
unless I planned to run some pretty comprehensive tests with it before sending it out into the field 
(nothing says it _won't_ work, it's just that the savings might not be worth finding out the hard 
way that it doesn't).

For what it's worth, if it were me doing this, I'd give the operator several 1 gig cards instead of 
2 or 4 gig cards. I know it's a couple more items to lose, but I assume you don't hire irresponsible 
people. The advantage to smaller cards are: 1) long-proven technology, although 2 gig cards have 
been around a while now too. 2) if the card is damaged or corrupted, only 1 gig of data is lost as 
opposed to twice or 4x as much. 3) 1 gig cards can be had for less than 1/2 the cost of 2 gig cards 
and less than 1/4 the cost of 4 gig cards, so they are cost-effective. 4) there MAY (note MAY) be 
issues with how many files can be written to a card, how quickly a large and fragmented card can be 
accessed, etc. Keep the media capacity small and these issues will never crop up. 5) I personally 
think it is easier to keep track of what's on a smaller card because it only fits so much audio. As 
I recall, the Marantz uses non-obvious file names (001.wav, 002.wav or something along those lines), 
so I'd think fewer files per card means easier record-keeping. 6) and finally, if a person is out in 
the field for several days, they can send back full cards for off-load and since 1 gig cards are 
relatively cheap, they can be carrying enough to enable this tactic, which makes for a steady 
workflow at home base.

On the other hand, 1 gig holds approximately 2 hours of 44.1/16bit audio, so if you think you'll 
need longer stretches of recording, then size trumps convenience.

For my camera, I stick to 512meg cards, but if I get a flash recorder, I'll move up to 1 gig cards.

Also, thanks to all for the machine recommendations. The Sony and also the Nagra flash recorders are 
very appealing, but if I were spending that much I'd probably get the Tascam which has a lot of 
excellent features, including a keyboard socket to do sensicle file-naming and project-naming if 
you're in the field for long stretches, plus it has timecode and MIDI sync capabilities, if I recall 
correctly. The hhb (hbb?) unit looks like a ripoff to me, but may be useful for broadcast folks. 
There will be Chinese knockoffs of that concept for a couple hundred dollars very soon, I'm sure. 
It's not very expensive to build and, for what it's supposed to be used for, nothing says a 
Panasonic omni electret capsule or a Chinese small-diaphram capacitor mic won't do just fine. It 
could actually be made smaller and cheaper, in the form factor of a small boundary mic with an 
electret capsule, which would be extremely useful for interview recording. But I'm looking more in 
the Marantz 660 and M-Audio price range right now. I don't do enough high-fidelity-mandated portable 
recording to require one that costs 2x those smaller units. From what I can tell, it looks like the 
Marantz is more pro-grade-tough built but the M-Audio seems to win in sound-quality and 
user-interface reviews and there are complaints about the mic preamps in both units. The M-Audio has 
cheezy connectors but that's not a deal-breaker. As I said, I was highly impressed with a field 
recording that a member of the Ampex list sent me. Of course, he used an excellent Schoepps mic and 
also a nice external mic preamp.

Part of me says, these things are super-cool and it's finally time to stop using a Sony Pressman. 
And part of me says, wait a year and the choices will multiply and the prices divide. There are so 
many cool ways to do this concept. We're at the early, feature-laden phase right now but 
particularly for interview recording, you could strip out a lot of stuff, greatly reduce the form 
factor and get the cost low and still have decent audio quality. Or you could go for excellent audio 
quality and strip out digi-features to keep cost mid-range. I suggest the evolution will be along 
the lines of computer flash-memory "drives" -- first they were external card readers, with expensive 
cards. Then came small-capacity key fob types. Now, 1 gig key fobs go for $20 after rebates 
regularly and 2-gig are usually under $100 after rebates. And fob-makers are now doing things like 
stylish plastic and blinking light cases to make a point of difference. And, now I notice either 
Kingston or Sandisk makes college-themed fobs sold in campus bookstores or via the Internet -- very 
clever way to charge a premium for a commodity product.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Marie Azile O'Connell" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 7:53 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] And now for something completely different...


> Hi Richard and all
>
> This is for field recordings/oral histories using Marantz PMD 660's.  We are
> wanting to purchase bigger cards, 2 or 4 Gig, so the operator doesn't feel
> pressured into getting back to the Center after just one interview.  They will
> record in wav format.  http://www.zzounds.com/item--MARPMD660
>
> Thanks for the replies thus far.
>
> Cheers
> Marie
>
>
> Quoting "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>:
>
>> At 01:02 PM 2/23/2006, Marie O'Connell wrote:
>> >I have been asked by my boss if there is a 'preferred' Flash Memory Card
>> for
>> >digital recordings.  Any tips would be great.  Thanks in advance.
>>
>> Hi, Marie,
>>
>> Well, this is a new field for us in audio land, but it is
>> well-discussed in digital photography arenas.
>>
>> Digital photography is no more immune to rumour and innuendo than
>> audio, and a fair amount of FUD floats around there, too.
>>
>> With that said, I have both Lexar and Sandisk cards which have
>> performed flawlessly. A discussion thread on the Canon digital board
>> seemed to favour Sandisk over Lexar. A discussion on the Nikon
>> digital board also said that Kingston was excellent for less.
>>
>> Before making a huge investment, I think trying out the card in the
>> intended device is a good choice.
>>
>> What devices are you selecting that use the CF cards?
>>
>> Cheers,
>>
>> Richard
>>
>>
>> Tape Restoration Seminar:    MAY 9-12, 2006; details at Web site.
>> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
>> Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
>>
>
>
> Marie O'Connell
> Sound Archivist/Sound Engineer/Sound Consultant
> Center for Oral History & Cultural Heritage
> University of Southern Mississippi
> Phone: 601-266-6514
> Mobile: 601-329-6911 

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