This is March 24 as I start to write this , but over a Month ago from Jan31 to Feb 5 , of 2015 , I was in the Ishinomaki – Sanriku area of Japan in quite COLD temperatures , and was running Sound for an NHK Documentary . I needed to be Light on my Feet for this , and very Agile as that the Sound was to go direct to Camera , that means “Tethered “. Most of the Time we were in a tight enough formation that Tethering was no problem . Like This shot above. Notice the PortaBrace bag(MX-302 Mini) on my Side …We will get to that in a moment . Indoors you don’t really worry about your sound gear ( unless there happens to be a Major Bar Fight going on around you ) But when you get out in the extreme COLD then you worry , you worry about Power Loss , Drop Outs , Equipment Failure all kinds of issues . I was Using the Tascam DR70 D , Housed in the Portabrace bag you see there in the picture above . Like this It Just happens to Fit Perfectly in the Porta Brace MX-302 Mini Mixer bag , In the Front Pocket , I had the Wireless Receiver for the Lapel mic . and a PQI USB Lithium Battery Pack that was 13,400 ma’s . A Short USB cable going to the DR70D thru the side slots in the Mic Channels , And the Receiver going to Channel 3 input . Many Times we were in VERY COLD environments , Like out on the Wakame boat at 6 am , in Open Ocean water .( This is Wintertime in Northern Japan we are talking about here) I Had a Waist Pouch I modified to hold a Stereo DI Box , to Take the Unbalance output of the DR70D , and Convert it to Balanced outs to match the Camera inputs . Notice the Stereo Mic on the Camera with Furry , That was Also going thru the DR70D into Channels 1/2 Panned Hard Left / Right . The Cable from the DI Box was made up of 2 Cables TO the Camera inputs , 2 Cables FROM the Stereo Mic to the DR70D so 4 Cables taped together into a 2.5 meter long bundle . I did NOT have a Lot of room to move . Me and the Camera had to move as One unit . You see me Pulling off my Glove there to make an Adjustment in the sound . I did a LOT of that throughout the day .It was a pretty efficient system. But when we finally got to take it all off and take a break ……….spaghetti ! So to the Meat of the Discussion . Yes the TASCAM DR70D , How did it fair or Hold up thru the Rigours of an ENTIRE WEEK in the Field ALL day Every Day . Well Short Version is, that the Documentary was a success in no uncertain terms , Some Very nice things have been said by the NHK staff about this Program .
The TASCM DR70D gave me Fairly Clean sound the whole time . as I was ALSO recording everything as a Backup while live Mixing levels to the Camera . I only Really had ONE thing I was wishing for Over and Over the whole time , The Internal Gain settings for each Channel are LOW and HIGH and HIGH PLUS ( Don’t go there ) I needed a MID gain setting . Needed it Badly as the RODE NTG3 has a Hot enough output that at High Gain I had to Back Way away from the Target with my Mic and have the control knob almost all the way down and was still pegging the meters . But the NTG3 gain was still LOW enough that at LOW gain setting I had to Get the mic Right ON the target to get a decent level with the control knob turned ALL THE WAY UP …. All The Way . Do you see the Dilemma ?
I needed better control over my Boom mic with the DR70D in a Really Dynamic environment , a Controlled area not so bad , but any Really lively areas where there are Changes , I had no room to adjust my mic in real time . That made My Job Difficult , Quite to say the least . I still delivered a Good sound But I wanted more control.
Now,. that rant is out of the Way and on to the Good stuff . It Did its job Faithfully .
With proper SD Cards in it , I had no Dropouts , and I got pretty good levels even pushing the Limiter on more than a few occasions . And the Limiter although not STUDIO grade actually did a pretty good job keeping the Audio in Check as long as you Balanced your levels against the threshold of the limiting so as not to Crunch your Peaks . The Mic preamps were clean , Quite clean actually , and Especially with my Stereo mic on the Camera and the Boom ( NTG3)
The Wireless though I did notice a slight bit of white noise creeping in but that may just be and Impedance issue between the Receiver and the Inputs on the DR70D . I can honestly say , that in ANY Nominal environment where there aren’t Temperature Extremes , I would Use it without hesitation . And If I magically GET that MID gain level I want I would be Slap Happy with it as that….
#1 The DR70D weight practically NOTHING ( Field Mixers of more than 4 Channels and the accompanying Battery packs can get HEAVY and carrying that weight around all day Isn’t as fun as you may think it is )
#2 It PERFECTLY fits the 302 Bag with the Mic inputs in the RIGHT places to route the cables thru the Bag ends !!!!! ( I REALLY DO mean Perfect ) Porta Brace has since made a Bag for the DR70D the ADR70D but I prefer the 302
#3 It Sounds Good , I mean the Lapel mic could have been Fatter ? Yes it could have but no Insert EQ effects to make that Happen , That Would be Cool , to EQ an Input for a Troublesome Mic to make it sound more like the other mics in use .
#4 It is Small enough to not get in the Way and you can be much more manoeuvrable with the camera man .
#5 The Display points UP at you when it is Bagged . I can see my Meters . ( Would like a Big Meter View like the Roland R44 has when you cycle thru the display button)
#6 The Line Output although on an 1/8″ Unbalanced formed enough drive to push my DI box and the Camera levels well enough
#7 ,..Did I Mention that I LOVE the fact that it is Bag-able , And the Rec Button is in the right place . The POWER button is NOT in the right place , but there is one thing for sure when Bagged in the 302 Bag you will NOT turn it off or ON by accident , that Is guaranteed .
I could want for a Little WARMER sound out of it . For live direct to camera it would really help . In POST you can always add some EQ or Compression to Fatten something up . But Live to the Camera you get what is there and that is it . as the Video Editors aren’t going to spend any time on the Audio . Not their job .
The Headphone Driver is a little weak for my taste, Could use some more punch to hear the mix better when out in the field .
For a 2 man Crew , the Tascam DR70D can be a Formidable addition to the final result when working on a Budget ….. No it isn’t the Sound Devices 302 mixer , or the Kamesan 4 Channel Mixer ( SO FAT ) But it also doesn’t cost 3 or 4 thousand dollars like the Kamesan mixer does either ! For the price , the Tascam DR70D is pretty powerful if you know what your doing . The Output Monitoring section is buried in the menu , But you can set the output Mix to be Panned and Levelled as you wish to whatever Camera your using . That takes a little time to setup , but it works and is pretty cool . Plus you get to Record MONO tracks while doing that . and Your Track Audio stays separated so you can fix any problems later if you have to . It Did a Pretty good job of Helping me Do MY Job . I am The SOundguy ….Yeah I know what all the Knobs Do .