Ungodly amount of internal noise from TASCAM DR-40!

I'm having trouble with this device. Using internal and external audio (Rode NTG-2) I get a terrible amount of noise and I'm afraid I might have a defective unit. I'll upload some examples below to show you what kind of problems I've been having, but please - if anyone knows a way to fix this let me know ASAP! I dropped a bunch of $$$ on this stuff thinking it was good, looking up reviews etc. and it doesn't work as promised!

Please use headphones while listening to these files. (Yes, I am aware that all the audio from the NTG is panned right.)
https://clyp.it/za4onebi
https://clyp.it/nmaehoqq

EDIT:
Here is some audio without a mic plugged in but set to external.
https://clyp.it/oxd0vdup

I also tried running the mic on phantom power but with no changes.
 
Last edited:

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
There are some qualified audio people on the forum. Hang in there you'll get an answer in a day or two.

It's probably not a defective unit.
I haven't had any problems with my setup but I also invested in a preamp so I don't have any gain set on the recorder.
 
1.Using internal and external audio (Rode NTG-2) I get a terrible amount of noise and I'm afraid I might have a defective unit.

2. I dropped a bunch of $$$ on this stuff thinking it was good, looking up reviews etc. and it doesn't work as promised!
1. Without doing some testing, there's no way to tell if you have a defective unit. The amount of noise you're getting is consistent with a unit which is NOT defective, depending on a number of variables. If you were close to the mic when recording, the mic-preamp gain setting on your DR40 is low and the background noise of your recording environment is also low, then you may have a defective unit. If any one (or more) of these conditions is not met, then that amount of noise is within the expected range and your recorder might be operating as designed.

2. Mmm. Assuming there isn't a fault, then it probably is working as "promised"! It might seem like you dropped a bunch of $$$ on this "stuff" but actual professional quality "stuff" would have cost several (up to 10) times more. It's a common advertising ploy to market consumer quality "stuff" as professional quality, although companies are usually very astute at exactly what they do "promise" (as opposed to only imply), to avoid law suits. Also note that the quality of recording (inc. the amount of noise) is not just about the quality of the equipment but the circumstances of use and the skill with which the equipment is used. I've heard just as much noise on recordings made by top pros using top quality pro equipment, when, for example filming in a very noisy environment and/or if the filming requirements don't allow for the appropriate mic positioning.

G
 
1. Without doing some testing, there's no way to tell if you have a defective unit. The amount of noise you're getting is consistent with a unit which is NOT defective, depending on a number of variables. If you were close to the mic when recording, the mic-preamp gain setting on your DR40 is low and the background noise of your recording environment is also low, then you may have a defective unit. If any one (or more) of these conditions is not met, then that amount of noise is within the expected range and your recorder might be operating as designed.

2. Mmm. Assuming there isn't a fault, then it probably is working as "promised"! It might seem like you dropped a bunch of $$$ on this "stuff" but actual professional quality "stuff" would have cost several (up to 10) times more. It's a common advertising ploy to market consumer quality "stuff" as professional quality, although companies are usually very astute at exactly what they do "promise" (as opposed to only imply), to avoid law suits. Also note that the quality of recording (inc. the amount of noise) is not just about the quality of the equipment but the circumstances of use and the skill with which the equipment is used. I've heard just as much noise on recordings made by top pros using top quality pro equipment, when, for example filming in a very noisy environment and/or if the filming requirements don't allow for the appropriate mic positioning.

G
While I appreciate the help and info, I didn't much appreciate the condescending tone of your second paragraph. It's not as though I thought I was getting the highest quality equipment, but on minimum wage a couple hundred dollars a piece is pretty expensive.

Anyway, if you have any other tips on how to reduce noise I'd love to hear them. I've tried using effects in post but have failed to produce any useful results (sounds often change in timbre, or feel like they've been through a filter). Is that something I'll just have to play around with until it's right, or is there some trick to it? Or are noise removal programs just not that great?
 
I didn't much appreciate the condescending tone of your second paragraph.
It was not condescending intentionally, just a statement of facts.

It's not as though I thought I was getting the highest quality equipment,
You stated that you thought it was "good". Hand held recorders are general purpose audio recorders and not specifically designed as a filmmaking field recorder. A low budget hand held recorder is even less likely to be "good" when used as a field recorder.

These are the harsh facts (without condescension): 1. Regardless of what budget you had available, you have purchased a cheap, poor quality field recorder. 2. The amount of noise you've got is "ungodly" compared to pro quality audio (personnel and equipment) but not compared to extremely low budget filmmaking. However, I would expect a moderately experienced amateur filmmaker to generally achieve somewhat less noise with that same equipment, compared to what you recorded. That could be an actual fault with the recorder but is more likely to be your inexperience; choice of recording environment, gain or other settings, mic positioning relative to the sound source, etc.

Is that something I'll just have to play around with until it's right, or is there some trick to it? Or are noise removal programs just not that great?
There's really no such thing as noise removal tools, only noise reduction tools. It's worth baring this difference in mind because it will give you a more realistic expectation of what can be achieved. Noise reduction tools follow the same basic principles as other audio tools. The best one out there is about $4,500 (Cedar DNS One) but even this requires skill/knowledge to get the best out of it and even then is still not perfect. Cheaper NR tools are obviously not as good but even the free ones bundled with some NLE programs can sometimes give half decent results, depending on the type and amount of noise and how much you're trying to reduce it.

G
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
What you think is noise could be your air conditioning or a fridge running in the background.

Make sure you test in more than one environment.
 
It was not condescending intentionally, just a statement of facts.



You stated that you thought it was "good". Hand held recorders are general purpose audio recorders and not specifically designed as a filmmaking field recorder. A low budget hand held recorder is even less likely to be "good" when used as a field recorder.

These are the harsh facts (without condescension): 1. Regardless of what budget you had available, you have purchased a cheap, poor quality field recorder. 2. The amount of noise you've got is "ungodly" compared to pro quality audio (personnel and equipment) but not compared to extremely low budget filmmaking. However, I would expect a moderately experienced amateur filmmaker to generally achieve somewhat less noise with that same equipment, compared to what you recorded. That could be an actual fault with the recorder but is more likely to be your inexperience; choice of recording environment, gain or other settings, mic positioning relative to the sound source, etc.



There's really no such thing as noise removal tools, only noise reduction tools. It's worth baring this difference in mind because it will give you a more realistic expectation of what can be achieved. Noise reduction tools follow the same basic principles as other audio tools. The best one out there is about $4,500 (Cedar DNS One) but even this requires skill/knowledge to get the best out of it and even then is still not perfect. Cheaper NR tools are obviously not as good but even the free ones bundled with some NLE programs can sometimes give half decent results, depending on the type and amount of noise and how much you're trying to reduce it.

G
The condesending thing mostly comes from you using my words in quotation marks rather than using your own. I tried to keep my post in a rather casual tone which you seemed to react to somewhat. If you honestly weren't trying to be condesending I apologize, but it just came off that way.

If you watch the video I linked on Vimeo, you can hear the level of noise coming from that guys DR-40 and it sounds like a lot less (even when he uses an NTG-1). I was hoping for something around that level of quality, so I guess I'll just have to play with the settings until I get it right, as that's the only thing I can see being different. Thanks again.
 
What you think is noise could be your air conditioning or a fridge running in the background.

Make sure you test in more than one environment.
I actually have a bunch of audio I recorded on this for a friends film, in a bunch of environments (inside, outside, different rooms). Still have that level of noise though.
 
I have same problem with Dr-60 and Rode ntg-2. The sound is good if you are near the source and then you don't have to use gain and volume on max lvl, but when I try to record with boom from 1m the sound is very low and when I ad some volume in post or on the device there is coming so much noise.

I realize that it is not perfect for recording sound, but there should some way to make the signal stronger. Maybe some mixer or other thing between recorder and mic. does it matter what type of battery is inside the mic? or using phantom?
 
Low budget prosumer audio products are going to be noisy. That's why they're low budget.

A few nuggets for you….

1. The NTG-2 is notorious for low output levels, which is why you need to crank the gain so much, which adds noise from already (relatively) noisy pre-amps.

2. What people on film forums often forget is that the Tascam DR-series, Zoom H-series and similar products were initially aimed at the low budget music market, which generally works at much higher volume levels, so the noisy pre-amps are not really a significant problem in that market. The more recent DR (i.e. -60 and -70) and Zoom (F8) units have (marginally) better preamps and better indie film functionality. Hey, at least you don't have to deal with tape hiss, or a moving medium of any kind like reel-to-reel, DAT, Mini-Disk, etc.

3. Proper aiming is also important. The mic should be above the actor, aimed at the notch at the base of the throat. This is a VERY difficult skill to master.

Uncle Bobs advice - trade in the NTG-2 for an NTG-1 or an AT875 and get a few battery packs for the DR-40. Think about getting a decent mixer/pre.
 
I know that it not going to be pro :D, but it would be nice to make even tolerable, because the sound is good if you have the mic near so I know it is possible get good audio :D What type of mixers people use or Preamp? I have planned to buy wireless sets to get the mic more near, but in my country need some radio permissions to use those. So it sucks when I don't do money with it. Its always nice to hear what type of set ups people have done.
 
I know that it not going to be pro :D, but it would be nice to make even tolerable, because the sound is good if you have the mic near so I know it is possible get good audio :D What type of mixers people use or Preamp? I have planned to buy wireless sets to get the mic more near, but in my country need some radio permissions to use those. So it sucks when I don't do money with it. Its always nice to hear what type of set ups people have done.
Yes, the gear is important, but not as important as proper booming technique and knowledge (gain-staging, etc.). A pro with a consumer kit will get much better sound than a neophyte with a million dollar pro kit.

Start here:

http://www.ricviers.com/#!location-sound-bible/c1zb6



Then spend a lot of time here:

http://jwsoundgroup.net
 
Thx for links I going to check it out those. I just don't record my self so often so its hard to think. I just bought those that I just have some audio equipment's if the sound guy don't have own. So now it is every sound guys nightmare :D
 
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