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    TASCAM DR-680: Work as a mixer during recording?
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    I've been looking for an external recorder that can occasionally double as a mixer for three or four mics to a stereo output. One device I'm thinking about is the TASCAM DR-680. I'm hoping that someone who's used it can answer a question about it.

    I've downloaded the user manual and it says "During recording, the sound recorded to each track is output from these [6] jacks." I can't find any more information in the manual about how to mix three or four mics to two stereo outputs in a live recording for live output to another source. Can someone who has used one, please tell me if this is possible and, if so, how I do this?

    Thank you in advance.


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    Senior Member Chadfish's Avatar
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    The tracks 1 - 6 are mixed internally to channels 7-8 if you choose. It makes a stereo fole. It MAY also send that signal out the S/PDIF, though I'm not sure. But it does have RCA outs for each track. It's not a mixer though. There is a 4 channel JuicedLink mixer that's reasonably priced. Or with the DR-680 you could just line up the audio in post as long as you do a slate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyvideo View Post
    I've been looking for an external recorder that can occasionally double as a mixer for three or four mics to a stereo output. One device I'm thinking about is the TASCAM DR-680. I'm hoping that someone who's used it can answer a question about it.

    I've downloaded the user manual and it says "During recording, the sound recorded to each track is output from these [6] jacks." I can't find any more information in the manual about how to mix three or four mics to two stereo outputs in a live recording for live output to another source. Can someone who has used one, please tell me if this is possible and, if so, how I do this?

    Thank you in advance.
    How about the Sound Devices 552? It's a true mixer with 5 inputs and an on-board stereo recorder.


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    Thanks for the information.

    I was (incorrectly) thinking that portable audio devices like this, the Edirol, and even the Sound Designs that Steve suggested would have pan capabilities.

    In my research of the these boxes - and upon consideration of the market for these devices - I understand that they don't and why they don't.

    I figure that portable mixers with pan controls are marketed more to live sound amplification. That makes sense because (a) truly fine and subtle sound is less important in A/V settings (like for conferences and band amplification) and (b) it is preferable for video and film sound to mix after recording in the peace and quiet of a NLE mixing bay.

    I think I was hoping to buy an all-in-one device that doesn't exist: one that is relatively inexpensive with high quality pre-amps, high-quality A/D and D/A converters, pan pots, limiters, battery operated, etc. This kind of thing doesn't exist; every device is a compromise.

    Anyway, thank you both for the good information as well as your helpfulness in so many of the posts I read.


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    I believe the DR-680 has level and pan controls for each input, but I haven't tested it.
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    The SD 552 absolutely does have pan pots on each input channel, continuously variable from full left to full right.


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    The old cost matrix...
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    I didn't know that about the SD 552. It appears that it would be the perfect tool for my immediate needs.

    Unfortunately, the budget won't allow it.

    In general I'm of the philosophy that you purchase high-quality, durable gear and it will last and last. In fact, I have a power drill my father bought 50 years ago. Though of course it's not wireless, it still works perfectly.

    In this case, though, $3K for the SD 552 is way out of the range of possible. When I next need a mixer, the SD 302 will be on my list.

    I remember when developing projects years ago we had this square matrix that had costs, features, time, and quality at its four corners. Those four items were ones we would negotiate over. Example: You could get more features, but it would cost more or take more time or the quality might suffer (or several of the above).

    Purchasing equipment is a similar trade-off matrix. How do you get the high quality and all the features with a limited budget now?

    Once again, thank you.


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    Senior Member Chadfish's Avatar
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    Still, the DR-680 is an awesome piece of gear, especially for the price. I got mine as a new/modified unit from Busman Audio for 1,100.00. But you can get them for 800.00, and yes you can pan each track wherever you want in the stereo field and adjust the mix level without effecting the recording level.

    What situation do you want to use this for?
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    For this requirement late this month, I'm trying to support an online conference where there will be a "host" with a mic and one or two additional hand-held mics that will get passed among a dozen people or so who will be seated at two conference tables. The group consists of colleagues and for fifteen or twenty minutes, a few will ask occasional questions of the other group. The other side of the 50-minute conference will be overseas.

    Prior to my involvement, the plan was to use one of those desktop speaker/mics for audio input. From my experience those things provide pretty poor sound.

    I expect that the Tascam will be able to function with three XLR inputs (one will probably be from a Sennheiser G3 receiver and the other two will be cabled). I just ordered the Tascam and was hoping that it could serve as a mixer/input for the three mics to go to an 1/8" phono plug in a computer.

    As a secondary task, and not one required of this conference, I may also take some video of the participants. However, the main purpose is to feed the three mics to the computer input.

    I have no stake in this at all other than trying to help. If this does help to make the conference more of a success, I expect that they will allocate funds to purchase some wired and wireless equipment for future, similar endeavors.

    For myself I'd been looking at both the Edirol R-44 and the Tascam DR-680 for several months as an external audio recorder for my video needs. I finally decided on the Tascam. I'm hoping that it can function acceptably for this conference. (If it doesn't, that's OK too.)

    Thanks for your interest.


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    Senior Member Chadfish's Avatar
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    Look into the function of the S/Pdif output. Though I do not know myself, someone on Tapressection.com may know if it can put out the stereo mix in real time as the unit records. If that's the case, you would only need to get the S'Pdif signal into the computer. Anyway there is an active Tascam DR-680 thread near the top of the listin the "Recording Gear" forum.

    As a side note, I too was looking at both the R-44 and DR-680, and went with the 680 for the extra tracks, but alsso because the pres are noted to be better in the 680. The only bummer, though it's small, is that there isn't a knob to adjust every track. Though getting to a track for adjustment is a simple, dedicated button or two away. I'm sure you'll be happy with your purchase!
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