M3 Line-in recording questions
I've been searching around for a good HD-based player/recorder for a while. I want a player for my train commute and at work, I want line-in recording for my DJ sets (I usually record straight out of the mixing board). Just ran across the M3 today and it looks like it has most everything I need, but I always seem to want serious technical information that I can't find in the manual or spec sheets. So I have questions before I commit to buying one!
1) No .wav recording. What are the chances that this will actually be added in the near future, via firmware upgrade? If it is added, is the unit going to handle files larger than 512MB (see question 2)? 512MB isn't much recording time in .wav format.
2) Maximum recording time? I found a little info on this in the manual:
3) Record level controls? Is there any manual control here? Is it a constant record level or does it auto-adjust the levels? I'm specifically looking for NO auto record levels, as I can hear the recording "breathing" upwards during quiet passages and downwards during loud passages. I can live with auto levels if I have to, but I always prefer manual level controls or a constant "flat" level.
4) Recording quality. I know this is subjective, but I just wanted some opinions from people who are trying to use the device like I want to.
Line in and mic recording on m3
"relevant pages", I think means page 31 in the manual:
voice quality = 32-128k, line-in = 64-320k
Line and mic levels can be controlled (i.e., amplification control). However (and this is a pretty big one) there's no dynamic VU meter. So you can't tell what the recording levels are while the recording is happening. Pretty big deficiency, but I've been able to live with it so far.
I used to have an archos jukebox recorder. Supposedly up to 180k recording. Quality was ok, but nothingt great. In comparison, the m3 is excellent. I've put it heads up against iriver, neuros, sony minidisc, and a laptop. The minidisc matched the quality, but the convenience is of course limited. The m3 beat the others. The laptop, with line in recording from a tube mic amp won, but that's because i was recording to wav (goldwave)! But on playback, the difference betw. 320k mp3 and wav is only noticeable if you have great speakers and audiophile senses. For my recording needs this worked fine. In fact, under $900 i couldn't find another unit that did anything even close to the m3.
I've recorded the following ways:
1. to internal m3 mic @ 64k & 128k. Both outdoors. Both recordings impressed people enormously! They were both of a group of carollers in washington sq. park in nyc, and the carollers were impressed that the sound was so good when i played it back for them.
2. Line in from sound board: @256k & 320k. I generally can't tell the diff. betw. 256 and 320 unless it's a jazz band. rock/pop/blues don't seem to have the range necessary to tax 256k encoding. Quality was *way* better than any of the other mp3 recorders i tried.
3. Line in via behrenger tube mic amp @320k. Great depth of voice, and the resonance was just wonderful. I'll try to put up some audio samples someplace if you're interested.
I would recommend this unit hands down. Following are the cons:
1. No VU meter - means that you have to keep listening on the headphone to ensure that there's no clipping when doing line-in recording.
2. 512MB limit - fortunately the file (allegedly) rolls over. i have not hit this limit yet. I always cut files off shorter in case something goes wrong during recording. Smaller files = less potential for loss. Takes ~ 3 secs to stop recording and start a different file
3. Navigation screen is external (using a dongle). This means that I usually have to juggle the headphone, mic and the screen when doing a one-on-one conversation (I use the m3 for a documentary i'm working on). I'm shopping for a nice little bag that will allow me to manage all the wires easier!
I'd love to hear your experience with the unit (if/when you get it).
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