I have just completed an audio recording project that required an unattended recording of a crowd at a football match. I wanted to record to solid state memory but the recording would need to be up to 3hrs long with reasonable quality, (at least 44.1kHz, 16 bit). Many recorders are intended for multiple takes in small files. I required a long recording time in a single file. FAT32 files have a maximum file size of 2Gb which could be a limitation. An NTFS file system would be required to give the security of a bigger 4Gb file size. Also, I did not want the batteries to be exhausted before the recording was completed, especially as I wanted the recorder to provide 48vdc phantom power to our two microphones. The next problem is the dynamic range of an excitable football crowd! How could I set the record levels in advance?

The solution to this was a Fostex FR2-LE recorder which records to Compact Flash card. It can use NTFS to give 4Gb file size although this option has to be selected from the menu. The standard AA alkaline batteries would not guarantee enough recording time but a large capacity Ni-Mh battery pack can be obtained to give longer recording times. Usefully, the machine has an Auto Level Control which could help tame the dynamic range of furious fans. Finally, it can supply 48vdc phantom power to the microphone inputs to power our Sennheiser 416 microphones.

In the end the file size was only 1.5Gb, the battery pack was not pushed anywhere near its limit and the ALC did its job beautifully. The recording was done in some extreme conditions as it snowed continually all afternoon and several shovels of snow got dumped on our equipment cases, but the combination of Fostex recorder with Sennheiser mics and some Rycote wind-shields got the job done perfectly.

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