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I have just become the proud owner of a Tascam DR-40x. I haven't used it for anything remotely serious yet but would be interested in hearing other folks' experiences of these things. I understnd that the free software, Audacity, is very useful for processing audio files - again a new world for me.

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I used to have a Taskam recorder but now just hook mics. straight into a laptop or ipad via a small mixing box. I use Audacity for everything in my ‘day job’, GCSE and A Level coursework, class performances and on the students’ individual work stations. Easy to use etc. I tend not to record much at church, best to keep it ‘of the moment’ than have bloops etc. preserved for posterity.
 

A
 

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I agree both that stand-alone recorders such as the Tascam can be very useful, and with AJJ that one can also use laptops etc.  Having used recording of one sort or another both professionally and for my non-day-job hobby interests for over 50 years, I came to the view early on that having more than one recorder or recording system is not only convenient and desirable, but actually necessary.  There are several reasons for this but one of them is 'media rot' - the phenomenon whereby the physical medium you actually record on eventually becomes obsolete, sometimes quite quickly (e.g. over less than 10 years).  The rapid rise and fall of the Minidisc is one such example.  Also some media do actually rot, reel-to-reel and cassette tapes being one example.  They can suffer from 'binder ooze' which renders them unplayable, and of course getting hold of the tape decks in good working order is difficult nowadays.  Then one can encounter USB flash (pen) drives suddenly becoming unreadable for various reasons including over-use, though physical damage is usually a bigger problem in practice - it is fairly common to snap them off while inserted into the USB socket, whereupon the surrounding atmosphere rapidly turns very blue in my case.  Similar issues afflict (micro) SD cards, CDs and DVDs one way or another.

Coming back to the systems mentioned in the posts above, you can record directly into Audacity or other wave editors using a laptop, and then save the edited as well as raw files onto HDD/SSD as well as ALWAYS (!) making a backup copy onto USB flash drive, (micro) SD card, CD/DVD, etc.  Again, more than one type of medium should desirably be used in view of the media rot problem.

But nice things about stand-alone recorders like the Tascam include their small size and built in microphones.  Thus it is much easier to carry them around in a pocket than lugging separate mics, mixing desks and laptops all over the place.  You can then subsequently download the recorded files into Audacity or whatever on a laptop/desktop/DAW for editing and mastering.  However for the highest quality work I nevertheless usually use the less convenient laptop solution, for reasons such as you seldom really know much about the characteristics of the inbuilt mics on recorders such as the Tascam.

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So, I have never used Audacity before, but it comes recommended. I have recorded a couple of 'trials' on my home Viscount to good effect, but I am slightly uncertain of the various Effects that can then be applied in Audacity. Reverb seems clear enough, but I feel I want to ply with the graphic equaliser. Do you recommend this, Colin and AJJ? And if so, what shape should the Equaliser curve adopt? 

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I acquired a Tascam a while ago, and after reading the small paper 'get started' guide and the large download manual, it all seemed very complicated, so I started using it straight out of the box, and the results have always been very good. There are a lot of bells and whistles for those who like that sort of thing, but most of us can happily ignore them.

Audacity is fairly easy, with most options best left alone. When I have wanted to analyse the detailed sounds of some pipes it is far from adequate, but I haven't found any better free software.

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I have a Zoom H4 Pro, and previously a Zoom H2, and used the other mediums that Collin mentioned, except Mini Disk (I used a Sony DAT). As have mentioned on here before, I am a "non player", but knew more about the works of the organ, composers etc, than my late father, who was an organist from the late 40's until he died, last year. I have always asked for permission before recording anyone, from David Briggs etc  to a humble village organist just rehearsing  the hymns. I have over 300 recordings I can lay my hands on at the press of a few keys on the PC. They are an invaluable tool in the right hands, as long as any recordings are not put on You Tube or Face Book, breaking any copyrights

 

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19 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

So, I have never used Audacity before, but it comes recommended. I have recorded a couple of 'trials' on my home Viscount to good effect, but I am slightly uncertain of the various Effects that can then be applied in Audacity. Reverb seems clear enough, but I feel I want to ply with the graphic equaliser. Do you recommend this, Colin and AJJ? And if so, what shape should the Equaliser curve adopt? 

 

19 hours ago, AJJ said:

Go by what sounds best - I used the bass boost quite frequently. Exam board recordings I usually left ‘natural’.

I incline to what AJJ said - just use what sounds best.  But in the recent 'hearing aids' thread there was some discussion of graphic equalisers, which I and some other members have found useful as an alternative to hearing aids for those with not excessive presbyacusis.  In my case I start applying boost at 4 kHz, to reach a maximum (limited to 12 dB with my devices) around 10 kHz.  It provides a tremendous amount of realism which one doesn't know one has lost until suddenly presented with it.  But younger people won't need this, and would probably find it unnatural - I'm told by them that the high pitched stops such as 15ths and mixtures sound unpleasantly exaggerated towards the top of the compass.  So maybe use the 'natural' approach suggested by AJJ at first.

If you are recording from a source with an electrical output such as your digital organ, you could also try doing it with a direct electrical connection instead of acoustically, and decide which you like the best.  There will probably be a stereo headphone output you could use which can be fed into your Tascam (I think), bypassing its mics, or run the signal straight into the laptop or other device you are using to run Audacity.  Doing it this way cuts out the background acoustic noise in the room such as page turns, piston thuds, etc, etc.  (And sundry cusses in my case ... )

 

17 hours ago, davidh said:

I acquired a Tascam a while ago, and after reading the small paper 'get started' guide and the large download manual, it all seemed very complicated, so I started using it straight out of the box, and the results have always been very good. There are a lot of bells and whistles for those who like that sort of thing, but most of us can happily ignore them.

Audacity is fairly easy, with most options best left alone. When I have wanted to analyse the detailed sounds of some pipes it is far from adequate, but I haven't found any better free software.

 

Agree with all this.  Audacity is incredible for free software, but for more specialised use it doesn't go far enough as davidh said.  For that one has to pay loads-a-money - I use Steinberg's WaveLab, though this is emphatically not an advertisement for it as there are many other commercial options.

 

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The Tascam DR40 is a great stand alone no nonsense recorder with all the necessary functions to record straight out of the box. For me, fiddling with computers in a live situation isn't my scene.

Significant improvement can be had by using external mics but capacitor mics needing phantom power are a pain. They drain batteries faster . . . But if that isn't a concern, there are details of upgrading BM800 cheap mics on Youtube, inserting three components to smooth the low level amplifier stage, and a larger capsule can improve these mics at very low cost.

Recently in my tuning work and having to demonstrate its value to the best of advantage, I've upgraded to the Tascam DR70. This has much lower noise for using with low output dynamic mics and the AKG D200, D202 and D224 are a range of dynamic mics from the 1960s to 1980s that have a flat response, just like the capacitor mics that came into fashion subsequently.

 and 

were recorded on DR70 with such mics.

Back in 2011 I was still using mini-disc and 

was recorded in Zurich at the Symposium on the future of the organ possibly on a Sony Xacti voice recorder or minidisc with a plug-in stereo microphone.

With organs the guaranteed good bass response of external microphones is a boon.

Best wishes

David P

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mmm!

I just recently sold my solitary Reslo ribbon mic from the 1960's.

I got £120 for it!!

Bought a Tascam, which is very good.

Better than lugging the old Ferrograph around, and the Revox which replaced it.  Those were the days, when you needed a large van.

MM

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Just my four penn'orth, but I have a Sony Minidisc which I find perfectly good.  I understand from reviews, etc, that it isn't exactly hi-fi, but with my high-frequency hearing loss (discussed elsewhere) I can honestly say that I can't hear the difference (using good headphones) to my hi-fi system with four-way speakers!
It's also far better than my old tape cassette player (now ditched) which medium, I have to say, has always been hopeless what with low quality reproduction, tapes stretching and getting tangled up.

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Can anyone just offer a little advice? So, I record with my Tascam, and then I upload the file into Audacity to add a bit of reverberation which seems to work well and then Ib turn it into an mp3 file for use. Last time I did this, I recorded some organ music, but when upon transferring it to Audacity, lots a little 'clicks' have become apparent. This only happened on the last occasion I used it. I can't hear the clicks in the original wav file, but do you think that, perhaps, I didn't have the 'gain' set correctly at the time of recording? 

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You've obviously come a long way up the learning curve in a short time - congratulations if I may say so!  One reason for clicky recordings is that the PC you upload to isn't fast enough to cope with the data stream from the Tascam.  What sample rate did you use on the Tascam when making the initial recording - 96 kHz perhaps, or even higher?  If this is the case, maybe try making a new recording at 44.1 kHz on the Tascam and see if the click problem has disappeared when uploaded and replayed in Audacity.  If so, then try using Audacity to reduce the sample rate of one of your existing clicky recordings and observe whether the clicks then disappear.  This link might also help -

https://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?t=92782

There's a lot more out there on the subject, but much of it isn't relevant because one of Audacity's features is that it can remove clicks already on the original recording which might have come from a vinyl original for example, which isn't the same thing of course.

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11 hours ago, John Robinson said:

Just my four penn'orth, but I have a Sony Minidisc which I find perfectly good.  I understand from reviews, etc, that it isn't exactly hi-fi, but with my high-frequency hearing loss (discussed elsewhere) I can honestly say that I can't hear the difference (using good headphones) to my hi-fi system with four-way speakers!
It's also far better than my old tape cassette player (now ditched) which medium, I have to say, has always been hopeless what with low quality reproduction, tapes stretching and getting tangled up.

Agree entirely!  It's a pity in my view that the Minidisc came and went so quickly, but the main reason was that there wasn't enough pre-recorded material made available quickly enough to satisfy the largely teenage market, and simultaneously the sub-market consisting of those (like you and me!) who wanted a new, economical and convenient way of making digital recordings just wasn't big enough.  However there are signs of an upturn in interest, though obviously only for the existing equipment still around which seems to be getting quite sought-after now. As an example, I bought a Sharp portable (Walkman-type) player/recorder nearly 20 years ago when they came out at a cost approaching £100.  Lovely little thing, and still working fine and very handy to have.  In 2010 I got a nearly-unused identical model off ebay for less than £10 as a back up.  But now the same items are attracting almost their original prices again.  So there must be a small army of people out there somewhere who share our views!

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12 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

Agree entirely!  It's a pity in my view that the Minidisc came and went so quickly, but the main reason was that there wasn't enough pre-recorded material made available quickly enough to satisfy the largely teenage market, and simultaneously the sub-market consisting of those (like you and me!) who wanted a new, economical and convenient way of making digital recordings just wasn't big enough.  However there are signs of an upturn in interest, though obviously only for the existing equipment still around which seems to be getting quite sought-after now. As an example, I bought a Sharp portable (Walkman-type) player/recorder nearly 20 years ago when they came out at a cost approaching £100.  Lovely little thing, and still working fine and very handy to have.  In 2010 I got a nearly-unused identical model off ebay for less than £10 as a back up.  But now the same items are attracting almost their original prices again.  So there must be a small army of people out there somewhere who share our views!

Yes, I can believe it!

I really hope that they begin making these again (though I doubt it) because if and when my Minidisc turns its toes up I shall desperately want to replace it.  Perhaps, if it does pack up, a repair might be possible.

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Sorry to keep banging on about it, but if one wants or needs to retain recorded information for an indefinitely long time, then the problem of 'media rot' is a major one as I said in a post above.  Hence my interest in keeping backups, not only as backups per se, but backups on different types of physical media.  This is where things like minidiscs come in because, as John Robinson said, they might not be the tops in terms of the latest hi-fi, but they are one more useful weapon in the armoury.  It's better to have something than nothing at all if the worst happens.

A current example today, as it has been for 20 years or so now, is vital data recorded on early 8 inch or 5.25 inch floppy discs.  Where does one get the drives and the old computers from to even see whether the discs are readable any longer?  And are they in good enough condition not to wreck the disc when you try to read it? Etc, etc.  This is one reason why banks keep having IT crashes because the core of some of their systems are ancient 1980s computers like DEC VAX's with data stored on equally ancient media such as these types of floppy, DEC tape, etc.

I'm perhaps going off topic a bit as far as organ recordings are concerned, though even here some recordings might become of great interest and value decades into the future, so one can't entirely ignore the issue.  HOSA (the Historic Organs Sound Archive project) is an example.

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I have a good friend who has original recordings on spool tape, that was recorded on in the 50's. And I have a couple of standard C90 cassettes that were used to make my first organ recordings on, in 1986. A lot of the vintage stuff may still work IF they are kept in the right conditions and looked after (and make copies/backups). the record label "Hyperion" seemed to have an issue with some recorded CD's a while back, so it seems even relatively new media can fail. I now have a backup of a backup of my "non organ" music plus the original CD's

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C90 cassettes! Ha! Those were the days - with my little Bush cassette recorder, and Lord knows how many batteries I put on my father's account at the ironmongers before scarpering back to boarding school - there was no mains option. I graduated from my Bush to a Phillips reel to reel which served very well in my later boyhood. I have forgotten much of the terminology associated with the actual tape, but I remember buying a spool of BASF tape that had triple the playing time, but goodness me it was desperately thin - a bit like C120 cassettes. It's great toi be reminded of all these things.

Not just recorded media that falls apart, of course - some of my printed volumes of much used pieces from my youth - (Novello Bach volumes, for example... Thalben Ball Elegy... etc) are in a shocking state. And in the case of the Bach, did it do any good to coat them in fablon which is now all cracked and horrible on the most used copies. I try to ply Bach from the Barenreiter volumes now, but still refer back to the Novello for fingering etc. But I have had to purchase second copies of a few things. And, Gosh... my copy of Harris's  Flourish for an Occasion cost 28p in 1972. 

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On 19/01/2020 at 08:56, Colin Pykett said:

You've obviously come a long way up the learning curve in a short time - congratulations if I may say so!  One reason for clicky recordings is that the PC you upload to isn't fast enough to cope with the data stream from the Tascam.  What sample rate did you use on the Tascam when making the initial recording - 96 kHz perhaps, or even higher?  If this is the case, maybe try making a new recording at 44.1 kHz on the Tascam and see if the click problem has disappeared when uploaded and replayed in Audacity.  If so, then try using Audacity to reduce the sample rate of one of your existing clicky recordings and observe whether the clicks then disappear.  This link might also help -

https://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?t=92782

There's a lot more out there on the subject, but much of it isn't relevant because one of Audacity's features is that it can remove clicks already on the original recording which might have come from a vinyl original for example, which isn't the same thing of course.

Thank you very much for your response, Colin. I have the sample rate on 44.1kHz. I'm uploading to a very new MacBook Air. And yes, I now what you mean about the different sort of clicks and the relevancy of much of what is on-line. I am absolutely new to this and am not using the Tascam every day, so I have to renew my knowledge and skills each time I come to it. But... I think I read something akin to your suggestion about the upload speed. Could there be a setting in Audacity that I ought to be look at at? If I can find reference to what I think I read, I will come back to you. 

And here I am coming back... So, I read this... If you hear crackling while playing and recording at the same time, try increasing the "Audio to buffer" setting in Recording Preferences. On Mac you may need to reduce the Audio to buffer setting, even if only recording.

Is this what I ought to be looking at, do you think?

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Yes, varying buffer size is the next thing to try.  Audacity, as well as the computer in general, both have to do lots of other things while trying to replay each audio sample at exactly the right time, such as updating the pretty graph display on the monitor.  Even more intensive are things like reverb (which you mentioned).  So you could also try switching off the reverb and see if the clicks go away.  Also try switching off any other audio effects you might be using, such as EQ (tone control), externalisation (enhanced 3D effects), etc.

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15 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

Sorry to keep banging on about it, but if one wants or needs to retain recorded information for an indefinitely long time, then the problem of 'media rot' is a major one as I said in a post above.  Hence my interest in keeping backups, not only as backups per se, but backups on different types of physical media.

Exactly.  I have recorded some of my favourite organ LPs on to minidisc for exactly that reason, but also for the convenience of being able to listen to them in bed (you can't easily play LPs in bed) - listening using headphones, of course, so as not to disturb Marge!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been using Zoom products for about 10 years now and they seem to produce a good result for the money. The live content I have created for YouTube have all mostly used a Zoom H4N or H2 placed somewhere in the room. The following video has sound recorded from a Zoom H2 placed around 100ft away from the chambers. 

 

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The Zoom H1 is also worth considering if you will only be doing occasional recordings, or if you just want to explore what digital recorders can do.  It's the baby of their range and incredible value for money.  I was given one by a kind friend and was astonished when I started to explore its functionality.  However I found it was worth getting the H1 accessory pack (not expensive) which also includes a small telescopic tripod to mount it on.  That's really handy, and as the tripod has a standard camera mounting screw, I sometimes use it for taking close range photos with  a high quality camera as well when a phone isn't good enough.

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Hi

I've also been using a Zoom H1 for a few years.  As Colin says, very good value for money.  I also use a Sony HDR-MV1 which is basically a digital audio recorder with a (very) basic HD video camera included.  Audio quality is OK.  Very convenient for ad hoc location recording.

Every Blessing

Tony

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I don't understand the problem with clicks on the Tascam recording.

Rather than playing back on the Tascam and recording again on the computer, you should simply be plugging the Tascam into the computer through the USB cable, uploading the file and importing that file into whatever you want to edit it with, and save. A slow computer means only that it takes a longer time. Buffer sizes are of no consideration.

Best wishes

David P

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