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Tascam DR-40 and Lav mics not working even with power source
  • Hi guys, how are you all doing? I was really wondering if someone could help me out here as I am tearing my (long) hair apart!

    I have scout the whole internets and for the life of me cannot find a solution! I have followed what many would have done.

    I own a Tascam DR-40 and some lav mics (that I made myself ;) ) that I of course want to capture audio from and we all know has to be powered by 'plug-in power (PiP)' which the Dr-40 lacks! I originally owned a DR-07mkII and it worked like a treat with the lav mics since it was able to provide this power but I wanted the upgrade for XLR inputs and I only became aware of this fact of PiP and my lav mics no longer worked.

    I went ahead and purchased this from micronic on eBay, which I'm sure you all know and was constantly suggested to other people who seek answers too:

    It is not rocket science, I connected everything, lav mic into the power supply/inline adapter, the output of it is 3.5mm and thus I fitted it with a 1/4" adapter so I can slot it in the left XLR input, set the recorder to 'Line', and of course placed a new battery inside and turned it on (it was like a volume switch) and went through all the options of the Tascam and NOTHING was getting picked up! I even tried the mics directly plugged into the camera (Panasonic GH2 of course) to see if they were at fault but they're absolutely levels picked up my speech pattern, functional. I fiddled with the connection and I could hear a bit of interference only when it's on but no sound whatsoever.

    I find this very strange, I do not understand why this is happening. I am at my end wits and I really don't want to give up on my DR-40, the inline adapter should've worked as there cannot be anything complicated about this or what I'm doing wrong, I really needed this to work for some interviews that I'll be doing in like 10 hours but I've been spending so long trying to figure this out that I finally had to resort to asking you wonderful guys.

    Might anyone have any idea what could be the problem? Would be MUCH appreciated!

  • 29 Replies sorted by
  • Recorder should be set to MIC not LINE, correct? Make sure phantom power is off.

  • I have set it toMIC and still not pick up anything!

    Could it be the fact that im using a stereo 1/4" adapter on a mono 1/8" output?

    Would an XLR to 3.5mm female make any difference?? :(

  • Are you using rechargeable or alkaline batteries? There is a setting in the menu to select either 1.2 or 1.5 volts... not sure if this will provide a fix but it is one more thing you can try and eliminate as a potential cause.

    I also think I read somewhere that unless the 1/4" input is balanced the DR40 will ignore it (was never able to get mine to work either). Here is a more descriptive thread on DR40's balanced requirement -!

    You could also try this Rode XLR adapter and bypass the 1/4" input

    They're readily available at music stores... bring that DR40 into the store and test it out.

    The definitive solution would be to buy an XLR lav mic.

  • I have used both Alkaline, Ni-hm and even uSB bus power to power the recorder, and the only options to change are for the Phantom Power 24V or 48V, both of which does not relate to this matter.

    However that is a good shout in regards what the Dr-40 will accept, I was only using a metal steroe 1/4" to 1/8" adapter from the mono output of the power supply/inline adapter:

    Do you reckon if I got a wired Male XLR to female 3.5mm jack would suffice like the Rode adapter that you suggested???

  • @GH2_fan Apparently the Rode VXLR adapter is not adequate to provide a balanced connection from an unbalanced microphone, however I just discovered in this B&H thread/review that the Pyle PDC21 adapter will do the job and it is fairly cheap to obtain - "Adriano Ficarelli - As explained at TASCAM website FAQ this noise happens when a unbalanced signal is connected to DR40 balanced input. A ease solutions, that I use to record my guitar, is to use a unbalanced to balanced adapter like the cheap Pyle PDC21. It not only solve the problem but also gives you a clear signal, filters hum and so. You can find more more expensive adapters but this one around $8 - $13 works perfect."

  • That's very interesting, however my main concern is to get the lav mics to work to begin with, so from what I'm gathering, having an XLR to 3.5mm adapter would solve this???

    I'm eyeing this up currently, would this work with a female to female 3.5mm jack adapter plugged on the male plug?:

  • Anyone else at all may I ask???

    Also, could it be the fact that I was using a Stereo 1/4" to 1/8" adapter on the power supply/inline adapter that could be causing the problem? Or be stopping any sort of power/signals reaching to the recorder itself??

  • To connect an unbalanced output to a balanced input, you need very specific wiring: connect the signal to pin 2 of the XLR, and the ground to pins 1 and 3 of the XLR. Or if you are going into the 1/4" TRS connector, it's signal to tip, and ground to ring and sleeve. That's exactly the result you'll get if you use a mono 1/8" to 1/4" adapter on your battery box's mono 1/8" output. And actually it's the same result if you use a stereo 1/8" to 1/4" adapter on a 1/8" mono plug. (if it's actually a mono plug on the output of your battery box. If it's a stereo plug, you need a different adapter) Your battery box's output has the signal on the tip and ground on the sleeve. Make sure the recorder has phantom power disabled, and set the input to mic (instead of line).

    Google "unbalanced to balanced" and you'll find lots more info.

    Last resort, go to Best Buy and get a Zoom H1. It's not the best recorder, but it is available locally. The mic input has plug-in power, and it actually has better noise performance than the Tascam DR-40.

  • I see, so I'm guessing from what I'm seeing that the XLR to jack cable or adapter needs to be "balanced" inorder for this to work???

    Please correct me if I'm wrong!

    I thought I would mention since it might be worth noting, the Lav mics have TRS jacks (they are my owns adapters that I created for making TRRS to TRS, the mics themselves are actually cheap iPhone/Android headsets with the earphones cut off) and the power supply/inline adapter is presumably Mono since it has a TS jack on the output.

  • No, you don't need to make a balanced connection. You can make an unbalanced connection between an unbalanced output and a balanced input if you wire it as I said. I don't know how your mics are wired, but you need signal going to the tip of your battery box's input, and ground to the sleeve. That assumes you have the mono version of that battery box.

  • I am sooo sorry, my bad!

    Maybe because it's 1:30am here and still stressing over this matter, but what I REALLY was meant to say "from what I'm seeing that the XLR to jack cable or adapter needs to be "UNBALANCED" inorder for this to work???"

    My mics are wired very simple, Lav mics (headsets) -> TRRS to TRS adapter cable -> Power supply/inline adapter -> Stereo 1/4" to 1/8" adapter -> Tascam DR-40.

    Does this make sense now? :D

  • That doesn't tell me anything about the wiring. The wiring is how the wires are run inside each component, not just which thing is plugged into which. Anyway, if it works with the battery box plugged into the GH2, then I don't think you have a problem with the wiring between the microphone and the battery box. It must be a problem with the wiring between the battery box and the Tascam.

    But the Tascam has lousy noise performance. Just plug the mics into the camera directly with no battery box, and be done with it. I don't think the result will be any worse than with the Tascam. Getting the lavs up high close to the speakers' mouths is the best thing you can do now to get good audio. A mono-to-stereo 3.5 mm Y-adapter will let you plug two mics into the camera's one input.

  • Okay then, the Lav mics (headsets) are TRRS iPhone wiring, so that means the Tip & Ring-1 is as normal, but Ring-2 & S has been flipped! (specs of Apple headsets, incredibly stupid just so you can only use their own products!), thus the mic signal is on S and Ground is on Ring-2!

    The TRRS to TRS adapter cable that I created attempts to correct this by bringing the mic signal (on Shield) to the Left & Right channels (Tip and Ring-1). That is its sole purpose.

    This TRRS to TRS adapter cable is plugged into the power supply/inline adapter, now I dont know the specs of it but as far as I know it is a Mono module, and almost certainly unbalanced.

    The 1/4" to 1/8" adapter is just a metal connector that I have linked earlier, I dont believe there is any wiring involved with this. This itself goes into the Tascam DR-40.

    In regards to plugging the lav mics directly into the camera, it does work indeed and without the power supply/inline adapter, however...because it is the GH2 there is absolutely NO WAY to monitor the audio, it sucks big time! Sure I can always look at the audio levels but this still doesn't tell me anything, I have been through enough sessions were the audio is filled with cracking and inference and dropouts, something the visuals cannot answer to you, hence the need to have it hooked up to a solid state recorder such as the Tascam DR-40 so one can monitor the audio perfectly :)

    Does this make sense now interms of the wiring??? :)

  • Why don't you start by buying an actual lav mic? The microphones on those earphone sets are horrible and have a very narrow frequency range. You'll find a few threads on this forum about inexpensive but decent lavaliers if you need some suggestions. Secondly, just get a used recorder that's built with a PIP input lke balazer suggested above. You're trying to solicit help to record a crap microphone on a recorder whose preamps have a barely passable SNR - I know because I own a DR-40. Do you not care at all about the quality of the audio you'll be capturing?

  • The mics I created myself is only for temp use and in situations where I really need them (which has been the case a lot recently and had to disregard them because of this situation), however you'll be surprised how well they come out and either way they still do the job nevertheless!

    However, even if I had commercial lav mics (like they do in someplaces I've attended the problem still remains, I will not be able to use them! One time I was at an event I didn't bring my lavs but another of the crew had one (a proper one of course but don't know the brand) and we both gave it a go but the outcome was still the same, they need to be powered and nothing was coming through.

    If you have read my original post, I mentioned that I originally owned a DR-07mkII and it worked like a treat with the lav mics since it was able to provide this power but I wanted the upgrade for XLR inputs and I only became aware of this fact of PiP. I'm sure a lot of you will always choose XLR over jacks and I really don't want to go back, I am pretty sure this is still solvable.

    All of this is to also future prove myself and those who may come across this problem as well.

    Back on topic, from my previous post, does the wiring of all the components make sense this time round? And also, from wat I'm gather it is an unbalanced cable that I need to use inorder for sound signals to pass through?? I hope I'm getting this correct! :(

  • accidental post

  • Anyone at all may I ask???

    It's just a really big shame that the GH2 does not have any sort of live audio output otherwise I wouldn't have to be in this situation :(

    From what @balazer is telling me I need to keep everything/wiring unbalanced, including the connection from the power supply/inline adapter to the recorder so that everything is passing throguh. Am i getting correct on this matter perhaps??

  • Given that the source is unbalanced, an unbalanced connection is your only option. Break out your continuity tester and make sure the connection between the battery box and the Tascam is wired as I described. Beyond that I don't have much to offer. It should work. But again, the Tascam is noisy. Unless those lavs are particularly sensitive or are placed very close to the speakers' mouths, you can expect noisy recordings. The Tascam DR-40 just isn't well suited to your application. Some other inexpensive recorders will do a better job and save you the trouble of using a battery box.

    And I really question the quality of those mics. They might be fine, but you don't have to spend much money at all for lavs that are really fine. Inexpensive omnis can be very good, in my experience.

  • I see, thanks for that @balazer! Given the wiring description in my previous post, has it gave you a much better idea on how this is operating?

    So from the look of things, it is my stereo 1/4" to 1/8" metal adapter that's causing off of these problems then??

    Also, I could be wrong, when you say "continuity tester"...possibly the same as a "multimeter tester" perhaps??? :D

    Thus the wiring you described is of unbalanced connection right? And this is what the XLR to 3.5mm jack cable needs to be (with the jack end needing to be female or have a female->female adapter attached?)? :)

    Just really trying to understand this all, but you don't understand how much I appreciate all of this!

  • XLRs are not better than jacks in that they do not make the sound better. They are simply an established standard for connecting audio equipment carrying balanced signals. Lavs are NOT balanced simply because the 6 (or so) feet of wire they are attached to do not benefit from a balanced circuit. This is why most LAV connections are exactly like the one you had on your DR-07, unless you are using high-end wireless gear, in which case the connections are more robust, to withstand constant use, and have a locking mechanism to prevent accidental disconnection.

    Another thing to consider apart from the quality of the mic you are using, is that once you manage to solve your balanced/unbalanced wiring issues you will have to use the DR-40's internal preamps to amplify the signal. Your recordings will now be polluted with the undesirable noise they produce. Which means you have to spend extra time in post production reducing this noise, further compromising the quality of your less-than-optimal recording.

    To summarize; the DR-40 is NOT meant to record LAV mics; LAV mics do NOT sound better connected to an XLR input rather than a 3.5mm jack; the DR-40's preamps suck making the previous point irrelevant.

    You will save yourself time and aggravation buying yourself a used recorder. Good luck.

  • I have never said that XLR that make sound better! I am completely aware that they are used more professionally because of its physical attributes and for carrying balanced audio (in which if the wiring was suited for this the sound could be considered to become better).

    However the only reason why I go into XLRs a lot here is simply because the DR-40 is mainly an XLR recorder. Everything else inregards to the perception of quality and noise the device generates is something I will deal with at a slightly later date, inwhich I do have the intention of making everything balanced at the end of the day, but this would be useless if I can't even get the mics powered and capture audio from them to begin with. The Post-production process would not be much of a problem for me and if done properly there would be very little drop in quality itself.

  • Hi guys, how are you all doing?

    I thought I would update you all on the situation, I have went you of my way to purchase the necessary accessories and built myself an unbalanced female 3.5mm to male XLR cable.

    I may have been a bit rusty (or just plain sh*t) but it took me ages to do the soldering (keep making mistakes) but finally got there at the end, and just tried it out and still unfortunately nothing was coming out of the receiving end! :(

    I really don't know what I cold be doing wrong, the only thing I can think of is that I used a TRS (Stereo) female jack/socket but wired only to the Tip and Sleeve, could this still be a cause??

    Could there be anything else that I'm probably missing or doing wrong perhaps??? :(

  • Anyone at all may I ask??? :(

  • Another update on the matter...

    As previously suggested, I have tried the power supply/inline adapter plugged in to my GH2 with the lav mic connected and there was definitely something coming through! So it is almost certain that the power adapter works as well as the mics themselves!

    I have tried once again with my newly built XLR to socket on the DR-40 with everything intact and still I can't get anything. I do not understand, I have followed everything here and by creating an unbalanced cable which should've solidify everything but no result! :(

  • Hi guys, I'm so sorry for bringing this up again, I can see probably you guys are probably tired from this all, however I am still having trouble in making this work! :(

    I am coming back here again because ?I recently discovered something I was a bit concerned whether I got this right or not. One of the female jacks I purchased which was labelled 'Mono' became a bit suspicious after looking closely at it.

    Please look at the attached image, A mono or TS socket would only have 'Tip' and 'Sleeve' pins but seeing this, it still retains three pins as you would get for TRS jacks or sockets. The only difference between a TS and TRS on the pinouts is that the Left and Right pins look identical whereas TRS pins one could distinguish a 'Tip' and 'Ring' pin.

    But I wasn't so sure about this, so I thought I would let you guys have a look. What do you make out of it by any chance???

    Mono socket pinout.jpg
    3693 x 2462 - 2M