Marantz PMD660 In The Wild

I’m anxiously awaiting Todd Cochrane’s opinion of the Marantz PMD660. We’ve been putting it though the wringer at Where 2.0 and I just don’t like it as well as the Edirol R-1 we used at previous conferences. The PMD660 has several features that should make it better than the Edirol, like XLR microphone connections, which did make it easier to do split channel interviews between Chris and the interview victim of the moment. The VU meter is easier to read than the one on the Edirol R-1. Where the Marantz fails is in delivery of a quality recording experience. Using the same Sennheizer e835 microphones we use for all conference floor recordings, the Marantz creates an audio track with far more noise than the Edirol R-1. With the R-1, I could connect the microphone, turn on the on-board limiter and crank the input level for a surprisingly consistent recorded sound that worked very well for the CES tradeshow floor recordings. The Marantz has a 20 dB roll off, which decreases the input volume, instead of limiting the maximum output volume, creating tracks far quieter than what Edirol offers in the R-1 recording experience. With the Marantz, I’m constantly riding the volume knobs to try and get a consistent sound. Throwing the Automatic Level Control into the mix increases noise without making the audio levels more consistent. Edirol makes the R-1 idiot proof to the point where I could offer a three-step instruction process to anyone and get similar results every time. While XLR connections are most definitely the way to go for handheld audio recording, I’m willing to concede that crucial feature in favor of a reliable recording experience that lends itself to guerilla field recording in the crowded confines of the conference and tradeshow experience.