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Is there a way to record with timecode onto a cheaper recorder?

Matt Pacini

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I just can't afford multi-thousands of dollars for what I SHOULD be buying.

I have a Zoom h4n, and I'm wondering... is there some way to get this to record SMPTE timecode?

Perhaps an external SMPTE generator (if there is a battery powered version) that would record timecode on an extra track?


Any suggestions?

Otherwise, what is the lowest price typical unit someone would use that has timecode capability?



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You can record timecode onto one of the tracks and use the other for audio, although you should investigate crosstalk before doing this as the timecode signal is a raucous noise that's often recorded at a pretty high level.


I wrote a piece of (very very rough) software that'll read a wave file, decode the LTC in one of the tracks, and output the result to a timecoded broadcast wave, so it can be done.


If you must have multiple tracks, get a USB or firewire-attached audio interface (they come with anything from two to a dozen inputs) and again use one of its inputs for TC, although that will require a tabletop setup with a laptop. At the high end this may end up being about as expensive as a low end TC-equipped recorder such as a Fostex FR-2, if you can find one with the LTC option.



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  • 3 months later...

As Phil said, you can record the TC from an external generator on to one of your two available audio tracks on the H4N but there will be negative consequences for that. Denecke and Ambient make stable, reliable timecode generators.


You can pick up a used Sound Devices 702t for pretty cheap these days. It has a built in Ambient timecode reader/generator and you have the added benefit of a professional recorder with two channel recording capabilities and TC is written in to the metadata.


Timecode is not cheap, especially accurate and stable timecode.

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