Saturday, April 14, 2007

Video killed the audio store

Five floors of crack for the gadget junkie: Sim Lim

The nice thing about the Sim Lim electronics supermall in Singapore is that the salespeople don't hassle me. The annoying thing is that the salespeople don't hassle me because I'm a woman; they assume I'm just killing time while my boyfriend/husband shops for a Playstation or whatever. They only try to sell me stuff like foot massagers and pretty little bags for my cellphone.

Grrr. Sexism annoys me even when it benefits me. (I don't know if this is an American thing, but I hate being "helped" the second I walk in; I want to poke around and figure things out on my own.)

I was hoping to buy a new broadcast-quality digital audio recorder, but they didn't have any. I wasn't surprised. With internet shopping, and the boom in all kinds of digital stuff, it's harder and harder to find actual stores that sell serious audio recording gear. Even the stores labeled "audio" were hawking ... video.

No big deal. I ordered one online. But it's always a little scary buying a deck without touching it first. It's going to be your closest non-human collaborator. You want to heft it in your hand and ask, How heavy are you going to feel after two hours of interviewing rice farmers under the blazing sun? Are your buttons and jogwheels friendly or confusing? Will you smash into a million pieces if I drop you at a press conference?

In the end you can't really predict these things. The questions linger in my mind, though, and maybe that's why I've managed to drop every deck I've ever owned at one time or another: I just need to know!


Laura said...

So what kind did you end up buying? What are it's benefits etc.

I'm thinking of buying one to start some audio recordings of my own.

May be going to Africa and would need something with the same features you list. Not heavy, reliable etc.

kopisusu2 said...

I ordered a Samson Zoom H-4, which records onto SD cards. It had certain things I really wanted: it's small, and it has a good-quality internal mic (which you might find really handy) and nice solid XLR inputs instead of those annoying little mini-jacks that like to crackle. It's also cheap -- $269 via internet.

I have my doubts about its toughness; it's supposed to be pretty lightweight and plasticky. Also, the menus and buttons are renowned for their complexity. I'd rather have a simpler machine, so I would've bought an Edirol R-09, but I read some convincing complaints about hissiness.

Chad has a Marantz PMD-660 which is okay but a little bigger than I'd like, and pricier, and the internal mics are supposedly not too good (I haven't tried them). Plus we are not getting good battery life from it.

If toughness is your top concern, I'd go with the Marantz. Ease of use, probably the Edirol. Hopefully what I'm about to get from the Zoom is a combo of good sound and good price. We'll see!

triesti said...

why dont you go to Broadcast Asia in S'pore in June to check the newest product? I ve never been there.. but if it's anything like international broadcasting convention.. lots of gadget.

alw said...

well, did you buy a pretty little bag for your cell phone or not?

kopisusu2 said...

but of course!