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Find me! Call DAP at 214.350.7678 or email rene@dallasaudiopost.com. Also check out echocollectivefx.com for custom sfx, and tonebenders.net for my podcast.

Monday, March 14

quickie shootout-744t vs PCM D50 with phantom power

Last week I sold my Tascam DR-100. While its a good recorder, it wasn't meeting my needs with regards to ergonomics and battery power.

This left my portable rig a little short handed since my PCM D50 is now my only capture device and it doesn't have XLR inputs or phantom power.

After some reflection I decided to forgo grabbing another handheld recorder and instead to just roll with the D50 plus a phantom power unit for now. The question became, which one?

The market is pretty broad. Phantom power units run from ARTs $70 Phantom II on up to Sony's $450 XLR1 with just about no change in feature set.

My initial thought was "hey, it's phantom power. what's it going to do to the sound? probably nothing." Then I found this website. Whoops. Eyes opened. ART, Juicedlink and Beachtek entirely out of the question now. Only a video guy could love those things.

The rolls was serviceable, but I'm not really looking for a serviceable rig. I want the D50 to give me all its got, and I don't want anything in the way. I decided to grit my teeth and get the XLR1, so I started price shopping. Along that route I found this page, which showed the lengths an XLR1 owner had to go to in order to get the thing ergonomically workable with his D50. He extended the factory mounting plate and still wasn't exactly in love.


Then I remembered a little box that we have in the office. The Denecke PS-2. $135, stereo, smaller than the XLR1, solid brand name, made of metal but still incredibly light, and I'd have to mod a mounting plate anyway. Seems pretty straighforward, but how does it sound?

Time to test it out.

I ran this test similarly to how I did my handheld shootout test, though more low key and less extensively.

To set up I ran an AT 4050 through a whirlwind splitter. One side went to the Denecke and into the D50. The other went into a sound devices 744t.

I rolled pink noise through the studio speakers and calibrated 75dbspl to equal -12 dbfs on both devices. Then I did a little speaking into the mic and struck a noah bell. The results speak for themselves.

sample 1 by Rcoronado

sample 2 by Rcoronado

So this kind of turned into a D50 vs 744t shootout as well, and I think its pretty interesting. There's a little diff in the midrange, which is at least interesting. Its visible in izotope and and most pronounced in the pink noise test.

Outside of that its pretty darn close. The D50s pre's are as clean as the 744t, and seem to handle transients and the human voice similarly.

The final verdict for me is that the Denecke has the same feature set and sonic quality as the sony XLR1 but $300 cheaper. Both units would take some modification to any mounting plates, so I call that a clear win for the Denecke.

Secondarily, the Sony performed very well sonically vs the much more expensive 744t. The ergonomics of a Sony D50/Denecke rig are not close to what you'll get with the 744t, but once the recordings are done you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

In the end I'll be very proud to roll on anything with that little rig when it's all put together and buttoned up.