June 23, 2016 at 6:36PM

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First portable recorder xlr (Roland R26 vs Zoom H4n/Tascam DR-40)

Hi guys! Want to buy my first recorder to attach a good shotgun mic in the future. I used to work with a H4n wich I like but at teh same time don't (don't like the flatness of his quality and the signal/noise ratio).

The thing is, I have an offer for a used R26 with accesories for 200 euros, and in usedmarket Tascam Dr-40 and Zoom H4n are always very expensive (almost new price) Consider I live in Spain, so that's what I can grab here used.

Do you think the Roland R26 is a steal? Should I just grab a H4n or DR40 for 160 euro? I just want the best preamps>noise/db gain ratio> onboard mics. Tascam DR60 discarded because has no xy mics (unless someone tells something interesting about it)

Greetings and thank you!

11 Comments

I'm not a fan of the Zoom H4n because of the poor noise-floor and that it can't take a full strength LINE level signal, so you have to add a 20 dB inline XLR PAD.

I own a bunch of Tascam recorders, including the DR-40 which is great little recorder for the price. ( cheaper than the Zoom H4n, has a better noise-floor than the Zoom H4n, and it has no problems with a full strength LINE level audio signal )

I've never used the Roland R26 but I've read lots of rave reviews for it, most of them saying that it has a very low noise-floor, good built-in mics, and easy to use controls.

If you can I would try and do test with the Roland and the Tascam recorders and then judge which one you like the best, otherwise I don't think you can go wrong with either of them.

June 23, 2016 at 11:00PM, Edited June 23, 11:00PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32896

Thanks, I can grab the Roland for just 70 euros more, I think I can't go wrong as you said Guy!

June 26, 2016 at 3:51PM

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I have the Roland and it is an excellent recorder. It compares favorably to our Sound Devices stuff.

June 27, 2016 at 3:45PM

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I've used the tascam and own the H4n, I prefer to work with the h4n and I would say that if the premap of the tascam are better, it's not by much. Honestly both are not good enough if you want to use them with regular non amplified mic. So I use a fethead preamp between the recorder and the mic and it's great. The sound is clear, no hiss, it give great results.
From what I read and heard the roland is way better but I cannot say for sure as I have not used it. Also it's way bigger than the zoom and the tascam, so if you want to put it on top of your camera it might not be the easiest.

June 28, 2016 at 12:16PM

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AvdS
1047

>>>if the premap of the tascam are better, it's not by much

I've tested several Zoom H4n recorders over the years: the first ones to appear on the market had a noise-floor of -63 dB RMS, and testing again 3 years later the noise-floor had improved to -66 dB RMS.

I've also tested a couple of Tascam DR-40 recorders, including the one I own, and both of them show a noise-floor of -75 dB RMS, which is significant when you are trying to produce a low-noise recording.

For those that are curious here are some other noise-floor ratings for audio gear I own...

Panasonic GH4 camera : -73 dB RMS

Sony PCM-M10 : -75 dB RMS

Tascam DR-07 Mk2 : -79 dB RMS

Tascam DR-100 Mk2 : -80 dB RMS

Tascam DR-70D Mk2 : -80 dB RMS

These tests were made using the 1 kHz test-tone from a Sound Devices MixPre-D mixer, which has a self-noise rating of greater than -110 dB RMS. ( I wish I could afford to buy a Sound Devices recorder )

June 29, 2016 at 1:25PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32896

Nice! Thanks for the replies guys. I'm think I could go for a DR40 for 100 euros used or something like that. Is there an old model recorder without xlr for very cheap that sounds better than DR05 or H1? Like some Olympus or Sony.

June 29, 2016 at 7:58PM

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>>>Is there an old model recorder without xlr for very cheap that sounds better than DR05 or H1?

Both the Tascam DR-05 or the Zoom H1 can produce a high quality recording, but you've got to feed them a good audio signal. If you're using the built-in mics then you've got to get them close ( say 18-24 inches ) to the person speaking, otherwise you've got to feed them a good audio signal from a mixer. Just make sure you calibrate the signal to the input level of these recorders, as you want the built-in recorder pre-amps doing as little work as possible. Almost any kind of mixer will make a big improvement to the quality of the recorded audio.

June 30, 2016 at 11:13AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32896

H1 / DR05 better than Olympus ls Sony Pcm likes? The idea would be use just the internal mics.

July 1, 2016 at 6:25PM

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>>>H1 / DR05 better than Olympus ls Sony Pcm likes?

They all produce similar audio quality. The only recorder that is going to be significantly better when it comes to using it's own mics is the Sony PCM-D50 which has extremely good built-in mics.

To improve the sound from the Tascam DR-05 you should learn how to use Paragraphic EQ and noise-reduction with your audio editor. Paragraphic EQ can greatly improve the sound from a small recorder.

July 2, 2016 at 12:29AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32896

Thanks! So at the end of my search, I have two offers: Roland R26 200 euros or Tascam DR40 for 120 euros (this is almost mint) What should I do? Super tricky decision I think, don't know if that extra money is that worth.

July 4, 2016 at 9:12AM

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The Roland R-26 is a very good recorder. I compared the Tascam DR-100 MK III to it and found it no better in terms of noise. This was not a scientific test, just a test using the same microphone and pre-amp, and to my ears and according to the read outs, the Roland had less noise, despite all the specs from Tascam touting a good signal-to-noise ratio. The Tascam is also a battery hog and will require external battery power to make it more than an hour, if that, especially if it is running phantom power. I would say the Tascam is a good recorder, but not better than the Roland. I've had the Roland for two years and it is still working fine. I saw a review on Amazon for the Tascam and the reviewer noted the XLR release button on his broke within months and the repair was not covered under warranty. I've also had the Zoom recorder and the R-26, IMHO, is vastly superior to it, not only in terms of usability but in terms of S/N ratio.

January 26, 2017 at 3:42AM

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