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mic preamp / Roland R-26 with condenser mics, [TOS #6: moved from General Audio]
Japanofile
post Apr 5 2013, 04:45
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I have a Roland R-26 portable recorder and various mics, such as an Audio Technica AT8035 shotgun condenser mic and a Shure MX-184 Lavalier condenser mic. I typically plug either of those mics, with an XLR cable, directly into the Roland R-26's XLR input. I record mostly human voice, as well as nature sounds, and I get a lot of noise (hiss) with this combination, which makes me think that the signal level isn't sufficient. (NOTE: For comparison, I get far less noise when I run either of those mics through either my mini Behringer mixer or my little Yamaha mixer, using phantom power, and then into the R-26. Problem is, those mixers require wall outlet power and aren't portable, so I can't carry them with me outside.)
The Roland R-26 recorder has phantom power, which I use. Also, I've tried recording with the R-26 phantom power off and a battery inside the AT8035 mic. (The Shure MX-184 can't take a battery.) Anyway, I have the exact same noise/hiss issue with a battery in the AT8035. I suspect that the Roland R-26 mic preamp just isn't up to the job of cleanly recording voice and nature sounds. I read somewhere that recorders such as the R-26 are intended primarily for use recording live music, which would provide a much louder signal. Makes sense.
Have others had this same issue with the R-26?
Anyway, I want to make this mic/recorder combination work without it costing me a lot of money. Does anyone know of a good single-channel mic preamp for under $400? Everything that looks good costs more than the R-26 recorder.
Also, I'm curious. If my cheapie Behringer mini mixer, which I bought for only about $75, can have a good, very low noise mic preamp, why can't someone make a portable, battery operated mic preamp that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? Why does a portable, single-channel mic preamp have to be so darn expensive?
Finally, if not a dedicated mic preamp, does anyone know of a small, portable, battery-powered ultra low-noise mini mixer that has phantom power and that might do the trick?
I'd appreciate any helpful suggestions and advice. Thanks!
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DVDdoug
post Apr 5 2013, 07:07
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QUOTE
If my cheapie Behringer mini mixer, which I bought for only about $75, can have a good, very low noise mic preamp, why can't someone make a portable, battery operated mic preamp that doesn't cost an arm and a leg?
I'm sure someone could, but I'm not sure they could sell enough of them to stay in business.

It looks like the Behringer runs off a 9V "wall wart". You should be able to rig-up a battery. I have no idea if normal 9V battery would supply enough power/current, but 6 AA batteries most-likely could power it. The battery is an additional item to carry, but it might be the best compromise.

Mic preamps tend to be specialty items, and at the low-end a small mixer is often cheaper. The parts to build a good preamp aren't expensive. But a nice case can be expensive, manufacturing and distribution in small quantities is expensive, and many people are highly-attracted very-expensive audio equipment, so a high price can often increase demand! wink.gif
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Japanofile
post Apr 5 2013, 08:41
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QUOTE
It looks like the Behringer runs off a 9V "wall wart". You should be able to rig-up a battery. I have no idea if normal 9V battery would supply enough power/current, but 6 AA batteries most-likely could power it. The battery is an additional item to carry, but it might be the best compromise.


Thanks. I'm looking at the wall wart now, and it says "Output 2*17VAC/250mA" (just like that with an asterisk).
I don't know what that means, but I'm going to try to find out. It doesn't specifically say "9V" anywhere.
The power cable to the mixer has a round plug with 3 metal pins and a fourth plastic rectangular peg.
I found this image online, and it shows what I'm talking about:
Behringer Power Plug
Is this a standard size power cable plug that I can purchase? If so, what is this power plug size called so I order the right thing?

I'm willing to give this approach a shot, if necessary, but if anyone can also recommend a not-too-expensive, portable preamp that will do the job, I'd appreciate hearing about it. I think I'd rather try that angle first.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 5 2013, 13:20
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QUOTE (Japanofile @ Apr 4 2013, 23:45) *
I have a Roland R-26 portable recorder and various mics, such as an Audio Technica AT8035 shotgun condenser mic and a Shure MX-184 Lavalier condenser mic. I typically plug either of those mics, with an XLR cable, directly into the Roland R-26's XLR input. I record mostly human voice, as well as nature sounds, and I get a lot of noise (hiss) with this combination, which makes me think that the signal level isn't sufficient. (NOTE: For comparison, I get far less noise when I run either of those mics through either my mini Behringer mixer or my little Yamaha mixer, using phantom power, and then into the R-26. Problem is, those mixers require wall outlet power and aren't portable, so I can't carry them with me outside.)
The Roland R-26 recorder has phantom power, which I use. Also, I've tried recording with the R-26 phantom power off and a battery inside the AT8035 mic. (The Shure MX-184 can't take a battery.) Anyway, I have the exact same noise/hiss issue with a battery in the AT8035. I suspect that the Roland R-26 mic preamp just isn't up to the job of cleanly recording voice and nature sounds. I read somewhere that recorders such as the R-26 are intended primarily for use recording live music, which would provide a much louder signal. Makes sense.
Have others had this same issue with the R-26?
Anyway, I want to make this mic/recorder combination work without it costing me a lot of money. Does anyone know of a good single-channel mic preamp for under $400? Everything that looks good costs more than the R-26 recorder.
Also, I'm curious. If my cheapie Behringer mini mixer, which I bought for only about $75, can have a good, very low noise mic preamp, why can't someone make a portable, battery operated mic preamp that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? Why does a portable, single-channel mic preamp have to be so darn expensive?
Finally, if not a dedicated mic preamp, does anyone know of a small, portable, battery-powered ultra low-noise mini mixer that has phantom power and that might do the trick?
I'd appreciate any helpful suggestions and advice. Thanks!



Behrnger has long provided a < $100 mixer that runs off of 3 each standard 9 volt batteries. I have one and it works.

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/1002B.aspx

Caveat - it provides phantom power, but at far less than the standard 43 volts DC. The world is full of condenser mics that run well with as little as 12 volts phantom power, but you have to be careful to use them with this device.

If memory serves, battery life is somewhere between 10 and 20 hours with good fresh alkaline 9 volt batteries.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 5 2013, 17:47
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Apr 5 2013, 08:20) *
Behrnger has long provided a < $100 mixer that runs off of 3 each standard 9 volt batteries. I have one and it works.

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/1002B.aspx

Caveat - it provides phantom power, but at far less than the standard 43 volts DC. The world is full of condenser mics that run well with as little as 12 volts phantom power, but you have to be careful to use them with this device.

If memory serves, battery life is somewhere between 10 and 20 hours with good fresh alkaline 9 volt batteries.


The OP has Audio Technica AT8035 and Shure MX-184 mics. They require a minimum of only 12 volts of phantom power.
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punkrockdude
post Apr 6 2013, 00:50
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Check out FetHead Phantom. I don't know about what volts and milli amps your Roland preamp can deliver but read some about the FetHead Phantom and its preamp possibility. Regards.
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Japanofile
post Apr 6 2013, 12:02
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Still trying to make sense of all the helpful replies....

I looked at the Behringer battery-powered mixer and realized that a friend of mine has this same mixer, so I'll see if I can borrow it and give it a try.
It has way more channels than I need, but if it works with just a few 9v cells, and has phantom power, as well, great! Thanks!!

punkrockdude says:
QUOTE
Check out FetHead Phantom.


I looked at the Triton Audio webpage for the FetHead Phantom, and it says: "FetHead is a high quality, phantom powered in-line preamplifier providing improved sound for ribbon and dynamic microphones." (emphasis added). Nothing about condensers.
Triton FetHead Phantom

However, I also looked at a dealer website, which had this contradictory information: "We tested FetHead filter on a broad range of condenser microphones and are very happy with the results..... Operation: Attach FetHead on to a balanced microphone cable and plug it in a dynamic microphone." (emphasis added)
Zen Pro Audio Comments

Dynamic? Condenser?? Anyway, the price looks reasonable, and there seems to be a dealer (ONZU) here in Japan. If it'll work with condensers and will boost the signal, then I'll probably get one and give it a try. (I also have a Shure SM57 and SM58, so I might even give it a try with those dynamic mics.)

punkrockdude, have you actually used one with good results? If so, with what type(s) of mic?

Still wishing that someone could steer me to a good, low-noise, single-channel, portable (battery-powered) mic preamp for under say $400. That's all I really need.

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