Shiny Sound Stuff – April 28th 2014

I’ve been lucky of late, getting the chance to test some rather nice gear for Audiomedia magazine. I though I’d share two highlights with you.

First to my door came some speakers from Genelec. I’ve run a set of their 8020s since 2006 (that seems like a very long time ago) and have always rated them. I’ve also had the chance, in more recent years, to test some of their much bigger brothers. The 8240s were so big they needed two people to manhandle them into place.

The 8010s conversely, are tiny. They’re designed for desktop use and to be stuffed in a bag and taken with you on the road. They have the same Genelec overall design, at least in terms of aesthetics, and build quality. But they fit in the palm of your hand.

Genelec 8010s

The full review is, at time of writing this, yet to appear in Audiomedia but I can tell you I was impressed. Really, seriously.

You do not expect speakers of this stature to put out the kind of sound that the 8010s do. They’re maybe not as jaw dropping as those 8240s of a few years back (where I may have cried a little) but they are stunning in a different sort of way.

There are plenty of places where I’ve seen larger Gennies in use and to be honest, in some of them they really would do just as well using a pair of these.

Next up, a portable sound recorder with a twist (also due in Audiomedia soon). The Tascam DR60D is designed to sit underneath a DLSR camera when shooting video. DSLRs are capable are producing fabulous moving pictures but the sound quality is, well, on the bad end of poor. After designing all the still image and video gubbins, it’s almost as if the engineers just stick a sound chip inside the body, using whatever space is left over. The onboard mics are generally of the “whole in the case” variety when some of the hotshoe mounted options do little more than polish a turd. DSLR pre-amps can make more hiss than a bag of snakes and the digital conversion is, well, not up to much.

Tascam DR60 under Nikon D5100 - ignore the weedsEnter stage left: devices like the DR60. They can both record audio “properly” and act as a mixer, feeding sound into the camera on a dedicated connection (the Camera Out socket). The user has the option of either synching up the DR60’s version of the audio in the edit suite or of using the new-improved on-camera sound. The latter has now had the benefit of using a “proper” mic, feeding into the DR60’s XLR inputs and having its level set properly (with headphone monitoring and a nice LCD meter).

Okay, so the DSLR has still done the final conversion, pre-amping and recording but it’s had a hefty leg-up. Even getting the mic off the camera and closer to the subject makes a different.

I did a comparison; making one recording of my daughter Lottie speaking. We used a Rode NTG3 shotgun (my do-it-all sidekick mic) in a Rycote grip. The DR60’s recording was really good; better than some other Tascam hardware I’ve used recently in fact. No pre-amp hiss at all. The camera version was not as good, lacking the detail and higher frequency sharpness (things like the ‘spittle’ in the voice) but… it was way better than any other attempt at DSLR audio I’ve done before, including Rode’s own VideoMic.

So you can use the DR60 as a mixer, if you want to turn round video quickly on a DSLR. But if you have the time to do a synch in post, using the DR60’s recording.

Next time: a pocket recorder with wi-fi and its own app to hook up to a smartphone.