Monday, January 23, 2017

TASCAM DR-40 Input Level

One of the best affordable digital audio recorders is the TASCAM DR-40, capable of producing audio recordings that are far superior to recordings made by most digital cameras and camcorders. Dubbing DR-40 audio into recorded video in post production with software like Adobe Premiere is a great way to produce quality video output.

One of the keys to making good audio recordings is to set the input level properly. Set it too high and clipping can result in distorted audio. Set it too low and the result can be noisy when amplified to normal listening levels.

A feature that sets the DR-40 apart from the competition is Dual Recording Mode, which makes a secondary recording at a lower level (at an adjustable difference of -6db to -12db) as a backup in case the primary recording is accidentally clipped into distortion.

Here's a simple, effective way to set DR-40 input level properly when using Dual Mode:
  1. Set initial input level to 80.
  2. Adjust input level during testing or rehearsal for peak value of -6db (as shown on the display), with an average level of about -12db (triangular hash mark on the display), which will usually provide sufficient headroom (safety margin).
  3. Set Dual Mode at -9db. In the case where input level has accidentally been set too high for the primary recording, that will usually provide proper headroom for the backup recording.
  4. Before dubbing with video in post production, check peak recorded level of the primary recording, and if it did run out of headroom (higher than about -3db), use the backup recording instead.
General recommendations for quality recordings:
  • Record in (lossless) WAV format.
  • Use a sampling rate of at least 48 kHz, preferably 96 kHz for music.
  • Use 24 bit depth.
These settings may be more than you need for finished video, but you may well need extra margin in post production, so you should capture as much quality as possible. Because these settings can result in large files, make sure you have a sufficiently large memory card of high quality (e.g., SanDisk, Lexar Professional).

Sunday, January 1, 2017

VLC for Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV stick 2016 with VLC

Stream wireless audio/video to TV from computer!
Plays virtually any valid file format!
Excellent quality video, audio, sync, even subtitles!

Several good network video streaming solutions are available (see Wireless HDTV Video) with the primary purpose of delivering content from the Internet, but streaming of local content (cell phone video, camera video, and other files) tends to be more difficult, often involving server software (e.g., Plex) on a computer, a problem for less technical users.

What tends to work better for most people is a TV-centric (client-centric) solution rather than a server-centric solution, where the TV is used to select and play content files. That's now possible with the advent of VLC Media Player for Amazon Fire TV and stick. VLC is an excellent free and open source app that can handle virtually any valid file format.

Installing VLC can be a bit tricky since VLC for Fire is not yet listed in the Amazon Appstore on the new 2016 Amazon Fire TV stick, which means you have to sideload VLC for Android (on which Fire TV is based):
  1. Download the latest ARMv7 of VLC for Android here.
    (Look for small APK package link below Play and Fire buttons.)
  2. Follow the instructions in How to Sideload Fire TV Apps.
    (If you have an Android phone, that method is probably the easiest.)
The second part of the process is to enable file sharing on a Windows and/or Mac computer, and share folders in which you will place files for streaming by VLC on your Fire TV.
To play files from your Fire TV:
  1. Start the VLC app.
  2. Select Browsing.
  3. Select Local Network.
  4. Select source network device (computer, network storage).
  5. Navigate to the audio or video file you want to play.
If you need help, try VLC for Android and Chrome OS Forum.

Tip: Fire TV is a great way to "cut the cord" (cable) with the excellent Sony PlayStation Vue service.