Why use a 4 track recorder
A couple years ago I started filming clients during their recording session. I loved to try out new lighting and filming techniques with my dslr but I found the audio recorded was horrible. It was during this time I realized I needed to record the audio seperatly to get the best quality possible for my videos.
Even if I get a better microphone to capture audio, I may get inconsitencies in the audio between shots when switching up the angle. Most of the audio recorded on a dslr is compressed or recorded at a lower sample rate. So owning a standalone field recorder can really up your game.
I tried out a few 4 track recorder devices and was really impressed with what is on the market. Its basically standard on all the devices you can record stereo at 96kHz so the quality is great.
So here’s a list of a few 4 track digital recorders I tried that are perfect for video production and all your run and gun needs.
TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder
The Tascam DR-40 4 track recorder was the first 4 track I tried out. Right off the bat I was impressed how portable it was and what you get. It has 2 stereo capsoles that can switch from a X-Y position to a A-B postition. Great if you want to capture a stereo image like conversation or movement of a city scape. It also has two balanced XLR/TRS inputs on the bottom incase you want to plug in a pair of NT-5’s .
It records 24bit and up to 96kHz and the pre’s are fantastic (I’ve always liked the tascam preamps). The device even has an overdub function where you can multitrack on top of other recordings if you want to capture a guitar and vocal.
The Tascam DR-40 has some useful effects you can apply as well, for example it has a really nice limiter built in, incase you have to record at an air port.
Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder
The Zoom H4N Pro 4 track recorder looks and feels like a rugged multi track recorder. This is the recorder you would want to take with you if you are out filming a nature documentry or war movie. It also has the nicest display out of the three recorders.
Like it’s Tascam rival, it too has a limiter, stereo microphones, really transparent pre’s and other effects but it also has a SLP of 140 db. So you can have a bit of comfort in knowing your recordings won’t totally sound messed up when filming a shoot out. I also found the pre’s hold up when recording really quiet moments. You can turn up the gain and keep the hiss to a minimal.
TASCAM DR-60DmkII DSLR Audio Recorder
The Tascam DR-60mkll is a beast of a recorder. After trying all these 4 track recorder devices, this is the one I went with. The main reason why is that it’s designed for the dslr film maker. You can mount the recorder to your tripod for easy controls (everything is front facing).
It has a slate function, it records the slate audio when you export it to final cut or premier. The software can sync automaticlly. To be honest I find the sound quality is the same as the tascam DR 40, which is perfectly fine with me.
Just like the other recorders it records 24/96kHz and has a built in limiter. It also has a record dual mode (this pretty cool, and useful) so it will record one track at the level you set, but also a second track at a lower level. That way if something clips during filming you have a spare back up track.