March 27, 2014

'Little DARling' from juicedLink is a Set-It & Forget-It Mini Audio Recorder for Lav Mics

If you've been looking for a tiny audio recorder with good pre-amps that you just want to give to your talent and walk away from, juicedLink may have just the thing for you. A new product from the audio company, the "Little DARling,' or Distributed Audio Recorder, is going to be introduced at NAB, and it aims to give you simple recording with two different channels (one for main and one in case the main gets blown out). Here is Robert to introduce it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z0WRUu0qpQ

For those who don't like watching videos (or can't), here is a summary from Robert about what he wanted to create:

At NAB, I'm going to share some information on a new product we're developing.  It's a miniature audio recorder called the "Little DARling" - Distributed Audio Recorder.  The Zoom H1 is a great recorder.  But, there are times when I really don't want the internal mic because I'm just going to use a lavaliere, and I just want something really small ... like, belt-pack sized ... but those voice recorders just don't have the quality I'm looking for.

Imagine, making these filmmaker-friendly alterations to the Zoom H1 for use with a lav:

  • Chop the top internal mic off, to make it belt-pack sized (a little smaller than the Sennheiser G3 belt-pack transmitter)
  • Make the connectors locking, so the lav can't pop out
  • Add "Audio Bracketing", so you have a backup recording in post if you blow out the main track
  • Make key buttons recessed, so a user can not accidentally stop the recording or change settings as they are active and moving around ... no "butt dialing"
  • In addition to headphones, provide a "thru" connection, so the Little DARling can be a front end recorder, then drive a wireless transmitter like the Sennheiser G3 system

Some of the applications for the mini audio recorder:

  • Alternative to wireless
  • For POV/Action cams that don't record great audio
  • Good for redundant audio
  • Makes it easier to travel light
  • Discreet productions where you can't draw attention to yourself
  • Can still be used with wireless kits

If the price is low enough, it would be good to own half a dozen of these guys, especially if you've got limited audio inputs and you don't want to just mix everything down to one track. Yes, you don't have too much control when you're just setting something and leaving it, but the "audio bracketing" feature is something that every audio recorder should have at this point, and it makes it nearly foolproof to record solid audio. The biggest thing for me would be to have full-size SD cards. Those little miniature cards are an absolute pain, and can get lost even more easily than regular SD cards. If he was going to change anything, that would be my first suggestion if it can be worked into the design.

What do you think?

Link: New for NAB: Little DARling Distributed Audio Recorder -- juicedLink

Your Comment

36 Comments

Good quality pre-amp with plenty of clean gain is a priority for me. I have the Zoom H1 cranked to 100 for my lavs, and it's too noisy.

March 27, 2014 at 1:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mike_tee_vee

You likely need to change your lav too.

April 1, 2014 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthew

Whether it's plug and pay and the price are going to be the deciding factor.

March 27, 2014 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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moebius22

I hope the fact that they are comparing it to the Zoom H1 means that they will price it similar to the Zoom H1.

March 27, 2014 at 1:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Casey

This is my hope, as well.

March 27, 2014 at 1:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Leviticus Maximus

I'm a big fan of Juicelink products. I have several of his units that I use for different applications, and have never been let down.

Although I've switched to a dedicated field recorder for most of my work, I still use (and just used today) his preamps with my dslrs.

I will be picking this this little recorder whenever it comes out.

March 27, 2014 at 1:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Leviticus Maximus

My big question is the price tag on these. It sounds great, and for our project (shooting firefighters in action) this could be a good solution to some of our audio issues, but again that price point needs to be attractive.

March 27, 2014 at 3:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Great idea. I definitely want at least six of these. Would be great if i could then arm these from say my iPhone. Just simple start and stop via Bluetooth or what ever is cheapest. But having the ability to start and stop them from the distance would be awesome. Cause lets face it, telling the Actors to do it will not work. :)

March 27, 2014 at 3:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thomas

I was hopeful that he was creating something like you mention: wireless monitoring and gain control via Bluetooth. It might still be possible to build this into the unit.

We know that Robert is going to create something with really great sound quality. Here is what I'd love to see: 1. Pricing needs to be really competitive. 2. Full-size SD card. 3. Bluetooth monitoring via iOS or Android.

March 27, 2014 at 5:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I want 5-6 of them too! I'm going to hazard a guess at a $250 price tag. I'd pay that if they have good preamps and all the features mentioned.

March 27, 2014 at 3:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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If the pre-amps of the DAR will be comparable to those in the other JuicedLink products, it will be a very handy tool and probably very popular. Don't know if they can add wireless controlling and/or monitoring, but that would be even more awesome!

March 27, 2014 at 4:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I'll just add mine name to the list of wanting these and that price point is certainly a make or break.

March 27, 2014 at 4:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Perfect for Robert Altman style guerrilla sound mix. Lav/mic to each actor for several hours, turn ON and leave, no need for the Sennheisers. I'll take four please.

March 27, 2014 at 5:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dan

I'd be definitely in for these if the price is low enough and the mic gain is solid. Great idea.

March 27, 2014 at 5:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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How do you go setting the levels on something like this? Or monitoring them?

March 27, 2014 at 7:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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matt

Price?

March 27, 2014 at 8:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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edgar

If he is open to suggestions - give it two inputs. I'd then camera mount it and use it to feed L and R into the single audio input on my dslr. And couldn't care less about the price point.

March 27, 2014 at 8:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

How would it differ from some of his other products then? Like the riggy micro?

March 27, 2014 at 8:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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matt

It would be less than half the size. Perfect. While cameras are shrinking audio gear is remaining monstrous to retain the ridiculous xlr inputs. This would be great on top if a dslr with suitable mics.

March 28, 2014 at 9:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

The only trouble with this product is...I've got a shoot coming up and I need two of these right now!

March 27, 2014 at 9:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ed Wright

It should not be priced too high. i already do this using a sony pcm-m10 with a cos11 lav. The plus of the juiced link is audio bracketing. The sony has a limiter. The sony with 2 AA batteries runs for close to 15 hours at 48khz 24bit so the juiced link has to last long on one AA. Set it and forget it. It has to have plug in power for the lav. It has to have a meter to set levels. Every setting must be able to lock to prevent setting changes. It has to have very low noise preamps. It must be able to record 48khz at 24bit. The sony pcm-m10 has very low noise preamps and you can get it for $200. So this has to be a lot cheaper because it won't have nearly the features the sony has. Price it at $100-$125 and I'll buy a half dozen.

March 27, 2014 at 9:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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MIcp

Doesn't that mic need phantom power? Are you plugging it right into the Sony unit?

April 1, 2014 at 1:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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RGBcolor

Its one of those things that were you say damn that could be handy even though i don't absolutely need it I can get along without it. If it's cheap enough and the preamps are good this will sell a ton.

March 28, 2014 at 2:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ArchiCine

This is Robert from juicedLink.

Thank you for taking the time to watch the video about the little DARling !

Let me start out with a question:

1) BATTERY LIFE VS SIZE: For my purposes, I want to keep it as small as possible, and 7-8hrs (rought estimate, currently) of battery life is fine. But, I get others who want longer battery life, even if it makes it bigger (AA size bigger). How much battery life is sufficient? Is it really terrible to have to change a battery for the occasions when you have a super-long event?

Let me address some Q's:

1) Good quality pre-amp with plenty of clean gain is a priority for me. I have the Zoom H1 cranked to 100 for my lavs, and it’s too noisy.
- Yes. juicedLink low-noise preamps.

2) I was hopeful that he was creating something like you mention: wireless monitoring and gain control via Bluetooth. It might still be possible to build this into the unit.
- I understand where you're coming from. I've got some crazy ideas of things that might be able to accomplish something similar to what you are talking about, sometime down the road. But those features are beyond the scope of the Little DARling ... make sure you are subscribed to the juicedLink Blog.

3) Full-size SD card
- Not enough room.

4) I want 5-6 of them too! I’m going to hazard a guess at a $250 price tag. I’d pay that if they have good preamps and all the features mentioned.
- These havent gone through proper production flow to measure assembly/test time, I haven't gone through the spreadsheet. Filmmaking is not a very big market. Even so, I think it may come in a little below that. Maybe, around the PCM10 territory.

5) If the pre-amps of the DAR will be comparable to those in the other JuicedLink products
- yes.

6) Don’t know if they can add wireless controlling and/or monitoring
- See 2

7) How do you go setting the levels on something like this? Or monitoring them?
- During setup, you will plug your headphones in. There are 2 7-segment LED displays for the UI. You will adjust the gain with the button controls to make the meter on the display happy.

8) If he is open to suggestions – give it two inputs. I’d then camera mount it and use it to feed L and R into the single audio input on my dslr. And couldn’t care less about the price point.
- See 2

9) The only trouble with this product is…I’ve got a shoot coming up and I need two of these right now!
- I'm showing the first protos at NAB. Release summer.

10) The sony with 2 AA batteries runs for close to 15 hours at 48khz 24bit so the juiced link has to last long on one AA.
- See question at top.

11) Set it and forget it. It has to have plug in power for the lav
- yes.

12) It has to have a meter to set levels
- yes

13) Every setting must be able to lock to prevent setting changes.
- yes

14) It has to have very low noise preamps
- yes

15) It must be able to record 48khz at 24bit.
- Not necessary. You can't get 16b of dynamic range from even those excellent COS11 lavs. Regardless, I still may include 24b, just to have the same marketing fluff as everybody else.

Thank you,

-Robert

March 28, 2014 at 11:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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- Battery life - 7-8 hours is more than fine.
- Adding Bluetooth for monitoring would be icing on the cake. And I think you are brilliant enough to make it happen.
- Micro SD is fine. The whole idea is to keep the thing as small as possible while maintaining quality.
- Sell an individual unit for $250, but sell a pack of 5 for $995. Buying a 5 pack would be like getting a fifth one for free and would definitely encourage more sales.

- Yes the video market is small, so all the more reason to invest a little bit into a new web site to encourage more sales and product awareness.
- The About Us page where you are barefoot and holding a beer is not helping people to take you seriously.
- Juiced logo is too cute and cartoony. You need a new one. Something electrical and energetic.
- You say made in USA, but provide no bullet points to the benefits to why that's better..? How about: Award winning products that are uniquely made and patented, better materials and quality, more durable, streamlined quality control, local vendors provide faster turnarounds on modifications, etc.
- I think you are shooting yourself in the barefoot marketing and sales-wise with that web site. Sorry to be so blunt sir. I think you are an audio genius and I do like the products, just not the web site.

March 28, 2014 at 5:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Razor

Tom I like you better for not giving a shit about all of the above

March 31, 2014 at 10:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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matt

Can see a real use for these devices in filming adventure sports such as climbing where the subject doesn't want a bulky transmitter in his pocket.

March 28, 2014 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ray

I have immediate uses. It's juicedLink so it's going to be very good quality at a very low price. An H1 Zoom is $100.00. I'm guessing this will be $100.00 with a little better sound quality.

March 29, 2014 at 1:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Well, with juicedLink quality it may be up to $200.00. And I will pay it to get that quality, and that little size. It can easily be put in a shirt pocket, or inside suit coat pocket---so nice! Seems like that chap from juicedLink tries to keep the price down. Thanks!

March 29, 2014 at 9:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

What does it sound like?

March 29, 2014 at 9:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Could you devise a little clear plastic case to hold it, and the excess lapel mic wire? To doubly insure no accidental pushing of buttons and to make a dapper packaging for the wire.

March 29, 2014 at 9:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Enjoying some G...

Yeses! I'm surprised no one has come out with this before!!!

March 29, 2014 at 5:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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EarnestReply

Also hopefully timing is good and will hold sync for really long takes.

March 29, 2014 at 6:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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EarnestReply

Thanks for making it robert. Good luck and I look forward to buying one. Don't want to be shouted down here but I wouldn't fret about it being too expensive. With radio mics costing $800 to 2k you'd still move these at 400. You've seen a need and can fill it. Re battery life - I would see size as a priority. Would an optional c123 battery version be feasible for those seeking longer life?

March 30, 2014 at 9:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark

The DAR sounds very interesting. I have been looking for a similar device and was about to purchase a Roland R-05 for similar tasks. Depending on pricing and the final specs on this device I may go for it. The DAR seems to be the middle ground between a Zoom H1 or Roland R05 and a Zaxcom ZFR-100. There would definitely be a market for it. The Roland R-05 has inputs at the top too but I think its advantage over the DAR is that it has line and mic inputs and many other features. The DAR's size would definitely win over the R05 though but not by much.
I agree with Razor's comments about the Juicedlink website and logo and would add that Robert should have someone else do his videos. They're can be educational but can also be painful to watch. Maybe Olivia Speranza could do the videos as long as Robert provides her a script, she can pretend like she knows what she's talking about.

March 31, 2014 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthew

The ShaNaNa is a little rough but I do appreciate the content of the videos.

April 1, 2014 at 6:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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RGBcolor