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Field Recorder Comparison Sony PCM-D100 vs Olympus LS-11 (vs Motu M4)

artburda

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I recently treated myself with a Sony PCM-D100. The price was just too good.

photo1_iOS.jpg


Here is a quick ADC Line In comparison with my Olympus LS-11. The measurements were done in REW V5.20 RC8b with a Motu M4 using the unbalanced monitor output (Output 1 RCA) which was connected to the Topping L30 so that I didn't have to digitally lower the signal with the Motu and possibly degrade the SNR of the signal. The 1kHz test signals were recorded in 24bit 44.1kHz to the SD cards and the WAV files were later analyzed in REW. For reference also the best case scenario I achieved with the M4 and L30 when looping back the unbalanced RCA output.

Olympus LS-11:
Noise: -88.1 dBFS
Distortion: -82.3 dB
THD+N: -81.3
LS-11 44.1kHz.PNG


Sony PCM-D100:
Noise: -96 dBFS
Distortion: -97.7 dB
THD+N: -93 dB
D100 44.1kHz.PNG


Motu M4 + Topping L30 Loopback:
Noise: -108.5 dBFS
Distortion: -107.7 dB
THD+N: 103 dB
Motu M4 + L30 Unbal.PNG
 

ooloo

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I also have an LS-11 but i was wondering if the internal mics on the Sony are significantly better for field recording because ive found an affordable unit I could buy.
Can you please tell me how the Olympus mics compare to the Sony’s?
 
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artburda

artburda

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I did some level matched comparison recordings with a reference tone, so you can compare the noise floors in a real live scenario. Will post it later on today.
 

restorer-john

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So what are the respective line in levels in mV you sent to each recorder and what were the indicated levels with respect to 0dB on each machine?

Since the DAT days, Sony's 0dB and 'over' light has been around 5-6dB less than actual 0dBFS.
 
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artburda

artburda

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I also have an LS-11 but i was wondering if the internal mics on the Sony are significantly better for field recording because ive found an affordable unit I could buy.
Can you please tell me how the Olympus mics compare to the Sony’s?
Here are the test recordings: https://1drv.ms/u/s!Anr7nNrCvyNJmwSee4GqGSpR2Pe_?e=iFza3J

First you will hear some noise I used to adjust the volume in post, however I tried to get them as close as possible to the same dBFS level before I started recording by playing the same test noise, so the levels were already within 1dB. The test noise is followed by me talking something about the tests I want to do in Swiss German and at the end of the tracks you have 4-5 seconds of silence I recorded, you will however hear some room noises. I did both recordings at the same time, with the same distance to the test noise played by my iPhone and I am also talking into both mics from the same distance. I cut and pasted the test noise to the beginning of the recording, so you don't get some nasty surprise when comparing the noise by ear. The recordings are in mono, I used the left channels, since the left channel mics were pointing at me during recording.

As the reference recording level I used the LS-11 in low gain and put the recording volume to the max level 10. I adjusted the D100 to match that level.

Unfortunately, I sold the LS-11, so I can't do more recordings with it. In retrospect, I should have done better test recordings, but at that time the rough comparison was enough for me. In some other tests I noticed before that low gain (from volume level 5 and higher) and high gain have exactly the same noise floor, so the LS-11 does apply a lot of digital gain. So basically you could record everything in low gain and boost it in post, because it has the identical noise floor.
 
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artburda

artburda

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So what are the respective line in levels in mV you sent to each recorder and what were the indicated levels with respect to 0dB on each machine?

Since the DAT days, Sony's 0dB and 'over' light has been around 5-6dB less than actual 0dBFS.

I used the L30 to adjust the input levels. For the D100 I set the 1kHz test tone to 1.97 V and adjusted the recording level pot until the display went from OVER to -1dB. The red over lamp starts lighting up at -1dB (no light when at -2dB on the display) and from there, when you go up 1dB with the input, the display also says OVER.

For the LS-11 I can't recall 100 per cent. If I remeber correctly I had to adjust it to 0.5V, since the attenuation happens digitally and you can't use the pot to lower a hotter signal, like it is possible with the sony. It was also set to -1dB, but I don't remeber if the lamp already lit up at -2dB or -1dB.

EDIT: The Sony has a maximum input level of 2V after the analog attenuation and the Olympus only 0.5V.

EDIT 2: Since it says in the LS-11 graph -0.11dBFS, I probably set it as close as possible to 0dB, otherwise I wouldn't have achieved the -0.11dBFS.
 
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DHT 845

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Which recorder would be the best for recordings of organ concerts in church? I mean not clipping and best hi-res sound quality (not necessary dsd) ?
 
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artburda

artburda

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Which recorder would be the best for recordings of organ concerts in church? I mean not clipping and best hi-res sound quality (not necessary dsd) ?
Handheld recorder with integrated microphones?
 

ooloo

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Here are the test recordings: https://1drv.ms/u/s!Anr7nNrCvyNJmwSee4GqGSpR2Pe_?e=iFza3J

First you will hear some noise I used to adjust the volume in post, however I tried to get them as close as possible to the same dBFS level before I started recording by playing the same test noise, so the levels were already within 1dB. The test noise is followed by me talking something about the tests I want to do in Swiss German and at the end of the tracks you have 4-5 seconds of silence I recorded, you will however hear some room noises. I did both recordings at the same time, with the same distance to the test noise played by my iPhone and I am also talking into both mics from the same distance. I cut and pasted the test noise to the beginning of the recording, so you don't get some nasty surprise when comparing the noise by ear. The recordings are in mono, I used the left channels, since the left channel mics were pointing at me during recording.

As the reference recording level I used the LS-11 in low gain and put the recording volume to the max level 10. I adjusted the D100 to match that level.

Unfortunately, I sold the LS-11, so I can't do more recordings with it. In retrospect, I should have done better test recordings, but at that time the rough comparison was enough for me. In some other tests I noticed before that low gain (from volume level 5 and higher) and high gain have exactly the same noise floor, so the LS-11 does apply a lot of digital gain. So basically you could record everything in low gain and boost it in post, because it has the identical noise floor.

Thanx for this and the other comparison files!
What would you say, from your own experience with both of recorders, is the Sony a worthwhile upgrade for field recording?
 
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artburda

artburda

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Thanx for this and the other comparison files!
What would you say, from your own experience with both of recorders, is the Sony a worthwhile upgrade for field recording?
Depends on the price and what you want to record with it. I got the D100 new for CHF 500.- ( around USD 530.-). If you‘re not going to use the line in and only record speech, I wouldn‘t buy the D100 and stick with the LS-11. However, if you want to record music and it has a lot of bass, the D100 starts to make more sense, since it‘s frequency response is more linear down to 20hz, whereas the LS-11 mic pre amps start to roll off at around 60hz. You can hear it in the german test files. Depends on the deal you get on the D100 I would say.

And I should mention: Sony‘s pro service is terrible in europe. The headphone out potentiometer on my D100 has a channel imbalance of 0.6-0.8dB in the usable range. It took them over a month to send me a replacement. But I had to return the replacement, because it‘s input potentiometer had a really bad channel imbalance. When I adjusted it for level 5, because you can adjust the channels independently, and then when I would lower it or increase it the imbalance would become very quickly over 1dB. No such problems with the digital attenuation in the LS-11.
 
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artburda

artburda

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Regarding the sony pro service. There is only a call center somewhere in Turkey. That‘s it. No other contact. I talked to some sony equipment sellers in Switzerland and they confirmed that even they had to go through this service center abroad. I have never seen something like that with other manufacturers of pro equipment.
 

ooloo

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Depends on the price and what you want to record with it. I got the D100 new for CHF 500.- ( around USD 530.-). If you‘re not going to use the line in and only record speech, I wouldn‘t buy the D100 and stick with the LS-11. However, if you want to record music and it has a lot of bass, the D100 starts to make more sense, since it‘s frequency response is more linear down to 20hz, whereas the LS-11 mic pre amps start to roll off at around 60hz. You can hear it in the german test files. Depends on the deal you get on the D100 I would say.

And I should mention: Sony‘s pro service is terrible in europe. The headphone out potentiometer on my D100 has a channel imbalance of 0.6-0.8dB in the usable range. It took them over a month to send me a replacement. But I had to return the replacement, because it‘s input potentiometer had a really bad channel imbalance. When I adjusted it for level 5, because you can adjust the channels independently, and then when I would lower it or increase it the imbalance would become very quickly over 1dB. No such problems with the digital attenuation in the LS-11.

I’m planning to use it in field recording, to use found sounds in sound design and music production. Recording in 192k comes handy for those applications! The LS-11 was relatively good so far but I’m guessing the D-100 might be even better.
 
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DHT 845

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For the purpose I described above, which will be better: zoom H6 or Tascam DR-100 mkIII ?
 
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artburda

artburda

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For the purpose I described above, which will be better: zoom H6 or Tascam DR-100 mkIII ?
If you are going to use an external mic, the tascam has the lower preamp noise (equivalent input noise -126dB) and the zoom H5/H6 have an equivalent input noise of -121dB. Look here: http://www.avisoft.com/recorder-tests/

But I don‘t know which one has the better internal mics.
 

DHT 845

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If you are going to use an external mic, the tascam has the lower preamp noise (equivalent input noise -126dB) and the zoom H5/H6 have an equivalent input noise of -121dB. Look here: http://www.avisoft.com/recorder-tests/

But I don‘t know which one has the better internal mics.
Thanks, I will be using internal mics only, as fa as I know tascam has internal mics that accept up to 125dB and I heared very good opinions about record quality so I incline towards tascam...
 

Saidera

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Regarding the list at http://www.avisoft.com/recorder-tests/, how do we decide which recorder is best? Are the ones at the top the best? And how do we find out which have better internal mics?
 

garbulky

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I just learned about the D-100 thanks to this thread. Thank you. I use a Tascam DR-70D with external stereo microphones to record live video in stereo to an iphone via an ADC USB adapter. It sounds quite nice but the external stereo microphones are an extra piece of gear I would rather do without. I listened to some D-100 samples and they appear to sound quite good so it may be an acceptable substitute? Too bad about the super high price though.
 
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artburda

artburda

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Regarding the list at http://www.avisoft.com/recorder-tests/, how do we decide which recorder is best? Are the ones at the top the best? And how do we find out which have better internal mics?
On that avisoft website they didn’t compare THD of the preamps, input impedance, frequency response and so on. It‘s just a rough guide regarding the noise floor.

Best internal microphones: I‘m not aware of a extensive comparison out there. Most manufacturers of handheld recorders don‘t publish frequency response or self noise data of the internal microphones. The D100‘s internal microphones have a self noise of 19 dBSPL(A).
 
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Saidera

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On that avisoft website they didn’t compare THD of the preamps, input impedance, frequency response and so on. It‘s just a rough guide regarding the noise floor.

Best internal microphones: I‘m not aware of a extensive comparison out there. Most manufacturers of handheld recorders don‘t publish frequency response or self noise data of the internal microphones. The D100‘s internal microphones have a self noise of 19 dBSPL(A).
Thanks! I now understand that we really just have to find what suits our needs and then listen to the finished recording to figure out which recorders are better.
 
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