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Tascam DR-680 topic
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  • That's a great price on the DR-680. I have one and am very happy with it. Highly usable for production work. There's even a Portabrace case that fits it perfectly.

  • I intend to purchase the Tascam DR680. I wanted to know if anybody has any experience with the Busman Audio modification. If so please elaborate on your experience with the mod and if you feel that it is worth the expense or not.

    @DrDave I would really be interested in your input so please chime in.

  • I think if you use it on location, I would leave it stock. There is always a chance that a mod, no matter how well done, will have unintended consequences, like you might pick up some RF. Or just post on the Gearslutz page and see if anyone has had any issues on location just to get a little perspective. Could be all the modders are happy campers no matter what, but worth asking.

    If you are looking to use it as an audiophile recorder, with high end mics, chances are you have already a high end preamp like the Grace, which you can slave the Tascam to and get the steady clock and high end main pair on tracks one and two. If you are using lower grade mics, there is no point in mods: whatever is in your mics will be way worse than the modded parts in the recorder.

    However, Busman is highly regarded in the modding community. Mine is stock. Busman claims 8dB noise reduction. My Tascam is quiet enough for location work.

    I don't really have a bone to pick with the stock pres. They are clean and clear, with a hint of sparkle and no mud. However, if I did have a quibble, it is that the very slight color they impart, is on the clean and clear side, as opposed to the ever so slightly warm and yet still transparent side. And high speed op amps in a mod might do just that. The stock sound does not sound op ampy, however. Just a bit clearish.

    Cheap preamps: Onyx * channel, $300 on eBay * channels of Onyx pres. Oink. "Class A" (I love class A) RME Octamic II Digital Preamps (great for everything) RME Octamic XTC (a pun on the Ecstasy line of pres) NB The new RME has remote control. Handy. High end: Grace Audio 2 or 8 channel

    If you live in the Bay Area you can borrow one of my super duper high end preamps and waste a whole week seeing if you can hear the difference. I have done it many times and I can hear a small difference, and yet I leave the preamps at home because the weigh too much. So a mod has the advantage of not changing the weight of the gear bag.

    So for $300 on the busman mod, that is pretty cheap on the scale of things. Life is an adventure; just have fun.

  • @DrDave

    Thank you for your input sir :) I will take your advice and leave it stock. It seems to me that you have a lot of experience in the audio field, so to me if you are happy with the stock pre amps I am quite sure that I will be happy with them as well.

    Best Regards

  • I see they are going for about $575-- I paid much more for mine when it first came out. That's a very good deal.

  • @DrDave

    They are even going for $399, I mean Amazon "used in very good condition", Things that are called such are usually new open box items. At least this is my expirience.

    Also at ebay sellers frequently use terms "open box" and "refurbished" to overcome minimum advertising prices (usually if they are official dealers).

  • @DrDave

    Thank you for your suggestion on the DR-680. The Busman Audio Mod does make a difference in the audio quality. I can definitely tell the difference and it does sound better. This a lot better then the H4n in regard to the preamps. I will still keep the H4n because it is small and compact. I will use the Tascam for quieter types of environments (indoors) and use the H4n for outdoor shoots.

    I think for outdoor types of shots the H4n will be suffice because the ambient noise will probably drown out most of the preamp noise. I will test it this weekend to see if I notice the difference outdoors between the DR-680 and the H4N. If you would like to hear the difference with the Busman Audio Mod, I can record my voice and upload it via drop box. Let me know... Anyway thanks for all your advice.

    Best Regards

  • Post two sound clips unlabelled and see if we can tell the mod from the unmod :) record something through stereo speakers so the sound source will be exactly the same.

  • @DrDave

    Sure thing... Do you have any suggestions in terms of what I should play through thru the speakers to help with the blind A/B test? I have Mozart, Beethoven, Luciano Pavarotti and many other genres available. In regard to the microphones I have a Blue Spark, Sennheiser ME66, or CAD-E70 available at the moment for this recording. Which microphone would you prefer?

    I have another question for you. The Tascam DR-680 records WAV files and also BWF files, from what I read the only difference is the amount of metadata that can be attached to the file. Is that correct?

    Best Regards

  • Of that list I guess I would use the ME66 because there are certainly ppl who use that mic. Also, it has a decent noise floor. BWF: yes, it is just :PCM with benefits. Music: I always use solo harpsichord music for this test, because of the overtone patterns, but pick something anything you like!

  • Great thread guys. Thanks. I just missed grabbing one of these on Amazon for $399. Kind of bummed.

  • @vicharris @DrDave

    Yeah I saw that too... It seems like as soon as Vitaliy posted the link to Amazon then all of a sudden the used price shot up :( I will have some time on Sunday to perform these tests. I will include a 2-3 genres of music and maybe some dialogue to add into the mix. I do not have a controlled environment (sound proof room) to test this with so please take this into consideration when listening to the files.

    I was thinking about recording the H4N and throwing that into the mix, but I think that it would be too obvious so in essence a waste of time to perform the test. @vicharris If you have another suggestion in regard to testing, I am more then willing to perform the test for you just let me know...

    Best Regards

  • I'm kind of surprised that these are selling so cheap. Did a new recorder came out that's pushing down the price? To me, the DR-680 is still the best bang for the buck around. I'd only bother moving up to a Sound Devices recorder.

  • I'm kind of surprised that these are selling so cheap. Did a new recorder came out that's pushing down the price?

    I have simple theory on this. DR-680 just falls in specific niche. New wannabe filmmakers do not buy it, as it is larger and cost still more than H4n or DR100. More advanced guys look at sound pros and sound pros constantly tell you about SD as your only option ( I am removing high end options here).

  • Yes, you're probably right. On my bigger paying gigs I typically hire someone with a SD and full kit. (Just like we're often shooting an Alexa or similar camera.) But for the projects where I have spent my own limited funds to put together a best-bang-for-my-buck system, the DR-680 and GH2 with FD lenses gives me a look and sound far beyond what I really paid for. Not quite perfect but a ridiculously good value.

  • At the lower price, it it a total steal.

  • @DrDave

    Well, in regard to the Busman Audio Mod it turns out that one of my CAD-E70's was defective :( I never noticed it before until this test because the Zoom H4N that I was using actually has noisy preamps. One of the microphones was super clean and the other microphone was a lot noisier. I can still tell the difference between the Busman XLR jacks and the non Busman jacks but it is not as noticeable as I thought. Nevertheless I will conduct the test tomorrow and post the results.

    Luckily I have the Tascam DR680 because with the Zoom H4n I would have never noticed that one of the microphones was defective due to the noisy preamps. So I am actually happy about that :) Hopefully my replacement CAD-E70 is just as clean as the one that I kept.

    I forgot to mention but I had one CAD-E70 plugged into input #1 and the other CAD-E70 plugged into input #3. The first 2 inputs have the Busman Audio Mod, the rest of the inputs are normal.

    Best Regards :)

  • @DrDave

    Here are some of the files from the blind test. To be honest I don't notice any difference :( I am pretty sure at this point that the defective microphone caused me to believe that the Busman Audio mod was well worth it. Please take this test as is... My house has tile floors so this is not really a good test but since I said that I would post it here it is.

    Please also keep in mind that I live in a house that is within close proximity to the freeway so the microphone is picking up a lot of noise. If I go into a carpeted portion of my house it is a lot quieter, unfortunately I don't have any speakers in those rooms so it is what it is. Just to set the record straight. The Tascam DR680 has really clean preamps and sounds a lot better then these recordings so please don't listen to these recordings and think wow that recorder sucks.

    A little more details... Gain was set at 80 for Mozart, microphone was 1 1/2 feet away from the left speaker. For my voice the microphone was 1 foot away, gain was set at 40.

  • Thanks! I will have a listen, thanks for all your work.

  • Hey guys, great thread! Just as far as prices, all the euro amazons sell it for almost double the price unfortunately...£827.00!

  • @luxis

    Just get one on ebay or amazon then :-) If you are a pro you could even return VAT from customs, or just ask seller for low declaration.

  • @luxis

    Check out ebay you might have better luck there :)

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev @Azo Thanks will check the evilbay ;) Oh and I use Pro Tools so I guess I will be cool for the customs! ;) Azo thanks for your testing, will give it a listen tomorrow with morning fresh ears.

    On a side note considering the 6 tracks, how would this compare to the zoom h6(plus the extra 2xlr) or are we in a different "class" regarding the noise floor.What do you think? The h6 is definitely smaller though.