Tascam DR680mk2 In the Field

Ok so I did sound yesterday for a Chef from NY , Visiting Tokyo , We had a great time captured a LOT of stuff .

I had on a full Harness rig , Petrol 607 Bag , 2 Wireless Lavs , 1 Boom mic . The Wireless were going into Channels 1&2  of my Sound Devices USB Pre2 running off a USB Lithium Battery , (And It impressed me on its power consumption tremendously But that is for another story )

Digital SPDIF Out to the Tascam on Channels 5-6 , as they will accept Digital Input .

The Boom mic was on Channel 1 .

With it setup like this , I could control all 3 levels by leaving the Rec Trim menu on the Tascam open and Channel 1 selected , The DATA knob works as my fader , And I have the 2 controls on the Sound Devices preamp to control the Wireless units .

This was pretty comfortable throughout the night , and Worked fairly flawlessly until later in the evening where for a short time I powered down , Then later after break when I powered back up interesting things started happening . None that I didnt expect save 1 .

The Tascam FROZE in the middle of a scene …. A Popup comes up saying DIN LOCK ,  and all the buttons and controls on the Tascam Froze , I couldn’t turn it off , couldn’t change menus , couldn’t stop it , change volume , or anything , it just FROZE with the Popup DIN LOCK , showing on the screen .

It was so bad , I had to pull it out of the Bag unplug everything and pull out a battery to Un-power it or power down . Then I restarted it and pugged everything back in . and it worked fine the rest of the night .

But freezing up while your working , and in the middle of a shoot is a very serious issue . The Film crew is depending on everything to work so the job can get done and something good created .
This is a quality control issue maybe ??  I will search the net to see if anyone else has had that issue before I pass judgment , If it is a One off then it would be unfair to Castigate .

Power = I used a NP-L970 type battery on a Battery sled , and too my surprise , 1 Battery lasted me a good 6 -7 hours from a full charge . Very happy with that indeed . As these batteries are NOT THAT BIG , I mean really 7900 ma . Small Fist sized , Fit 2-3 of them in your bag , and just swap out as needed , I was very happy indeed with the power .

Monitoring ,  The Headphone Driver Could be a little better , But that would probably cost more power reducing the pleasing level of power consumption of that setup .  I could drive my headphones ( Sony  MDR -900 ST )  studio cans well enough to hear what I was doing .

I can live with that .

Connections ,—>

Love the fact that you have Locking Connectors , which in fact prove useful last night when someone in a Bar we were filming at tripped up the Boom Mic Cable . I held on ,and so did the Connection . No Signal Lost ….whew !

The SPDIF Digital I/O  adds to the Input scheme , as it is either SPDIF OR AES/EBU , selectable in the Menu . Now , This is a Cool feature ( As long as the Machine doesn’t LOCK UP !!!) because Many Digital Mixers have AES Outputs now . so One Cable across the room , from the Mixer to you . You can have a Stereo Master mix and a bunch of Analogue channels to Play with ( Kind of what I was doing last night )

I think really , With have the Wireless on the Faders of the Sound Devices giving me level control , The 680 became useful indeed .

The Ability to add Markers via the DATA Button and Setup what The Pause button does really makes it work too.
Camera was starting and stopping , But I was requested to just roll , so I did for the most part .  A LOT more audio than there is Video .  But What I did was Put Marker Files about where I saw the camera start or stop , or and even change or lull in the events . So in a DAW those markers should show up ( I will need to test that personally as I just dropped the SD Card with the Camera operator , and it will get mailed back to me . )

The Pause Button =  Two Choices ,  Pause —- Hit Rec again Same Take , but ext number increase ,  or Pause — Rec , New Take , Incremental File number  increases . If you are setup for WORD file names that is a Very helpful feature . Ex:  Scene2-01 , Scene2-02 etc , so by programming the file names Scene2-  , Scene3-   like that with a dash , You can have very clean visible file names to match the Camera , or call sheet .

I didnt have the Backlight ON all the time , had it set to 10 seconds so I could hit the HOME button and see my levels ( Night Shooting)  So that saved power , plus I was only using one channel of Phantom Power ( Boom Mic )  So THAT also save power .

Aside from the Software Freezing up ,  the rest of the evening was predictable , and Workable using the 680mk2  .

The Stereo MIX feature of recording the Mix of all incoming to  Channels 7-8 as a Stereo file separated from the MONO ISO files , is very likeable and I could see easily , the Camera or Editor just snagging that file alone to work with if your careful with your levels and have a good mix .
This is where the Digital Output is also Useful indeed , With a Camera that has AES /EBU input , again 1 Cable or Cable and Adapter , direct to Camera . ( I have the Cable , a little over 3 meters I think )

The Power usage allowed me to trust the 680mk2 a little more after using it yesterday . I know what I can get away with in terms of power . That Is a BIG issue on a long shoot .

The Software freeze , I am pretty quick at rectifying problems so I knew what to do , But what if that had Cost me DATA ????   See that is an Issue for Tascam to Consider . The Software for a recording device like this , Really should be ROCK SOLID , and thoroughly tested in every respect , as this type of device isn’t really a HOBBY machine , It is designed for Working with . The Freeze-up really unnerved me . That is a Concern , and what was really interesting is there was another sound guy , who was watching me , He wasn’t working he was just at the Bar and was watching when the Freeze happened . That was a bit embarrassing to say the least .

There were several LOUD instances thru the night . The Limiters on my Sound Devices proved themselves over and Over , the Tascam , did not . I really had to watch the gain and probably clipped a few areas where it got really loud real fast and I didn’t have time to adjust ( The need for Faders , for each Channel )

 

I give it a solid B+   Still needs work .  But it is quite usable . Aside from the occasional Freeze ( which was based on the Digital connection by the way )   DIN LOCK .
So If I had been all Analogue inputs Last night , Basically the Freeze would not have happened .

My 2 cents worth .  For whatever it is worth to you .

 

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