Juicedlink Finally Releases Little DARling Portable Audio Recorder

Almost 2 years ago, Juicedlink (maker of high quality low noise audio preamps) announced a prototype at NAB2014 show for a body mount portable audio recorder. The Little DARling (DAR = Distributed Audio Recorder) is an alternative audio capture device that can be used instead of your traditional wireless TX/RX setup.


[Prototype DARling recorder shown at NAB2014]

There are many benefits to working with a portable audio recorder mounted directly on your subject(s). No wireless interference or drop outs, and also no issues with distance. Recording directly into a portable recorder can often sound better than audio being transmitted wirelessly.

While many of us have been using the Zoom H1 recorder for this type of workflow, the Zoom H1 has a weird form factor to place in the pocket. The lav mic is not locking (potential for disconnects), and the the connection for lav mic and headphones come off each side.

dar123 little darling audio recorder juicedlink
Juicedlink DAR123 Portable Audio Recorder

The new Juicedlink Little DARling is designed in a smaller more comfortable form factor, uses locking connections for the LAV mic, and both headphone and lav mic connections come off the top. Better than the Zoom H1, the DARling can also record a second attenuated (lower volume) backup track in case of peaking. The base model DARling (without wireless controls) starts at just $199.


[JuicedLink Little DARling Release Video]

To aid in your post audio sync workflow, the Juicedlink Little DARling has an optional DX124RX01 version that adds a wireless tone slate and wireless stop / start recording. Remember, this is not a wireless audio transmitter and receiver. The idea here with the wireless options on the DARling is to be able to initiate start and stop recording on several DARlings placed on several subjects and to initiate a Tone Slate as a reference point to line up your audio recordings in post.

Little Darling Front Features
Juicedlink DAR124RX01 Portable Audio Recorder with Wireless Control

Example: A while ago I helped shoot a few pro golfers chasing them around a course. Wireless Audio directly into multiple camera angles eases the post production workflow, but as they spread out or drove off in a separate Golf Cart, we certainly ran into several issues with wireless drop outs and interference. I could have certainly benefited from a tool like the Little DARling to ensure we captured clean audio on that project while still having several forms of redundancy and a tone slate to help sync in post.

While a Zoom H1 can be a good portable recorder at half the price, the base model Juicedlink DAR123 for just $199 is enclosed in an aluminum casing, offers up locking TRS Lav mic connections, is designed with a more comfortable body pack form factor (or pocketable), and positions the headphone out and audio input off the top (not the sides), and even offers up an attenuated (lower volume) backup Audio Track recording.

I can see so many huge benefits to having these devices. The new Juicedlink Little DARling body pack portable audio recorders are certainly on the top of my audio tool list for 2016, and after two years i'm excited to see they are finally available for purchase at the Juicedlink website (here).

juicedlink little darling dar audio recorder wirless backup
Learn-More-sm Little DARling Distributed Audio Recorder

 30 Comments





30 thoughts on “Juicedlink Finally Releases Little DARling Portable Audio Recorder

  1. Daniel

    Richard, I'm stoked that you finally released this! I'm one of the many who (largely thanks to learning from Emm) uses the H1 on a regular basis.

    What's up with the DAR-CMD-HHLR-433-MD Transmitter on the site? Is that to control multiple units? Can the standard DAR124RX01 control the start/stop and tone on multiple units or just its own.

  2. I've looked at the Tascam products, I've been very close to getting one, it might be what I finally end up doing πŸ˜›

    I do have the Zoom H1 since previously, that's what I use now and I like the size of it, it does very well except for not having a backup track. When getting something new I both want it to be better and more close to the features I want, which makes it a hunt πŸ˜‰

    The Zoom H5 would work, but as my microphone has a 3.5 stereo jack I would have to use one of the microphones to actually get it into the device, especially if I want to use a single wheel to adjust gain :)

  3. Mitch A

    Sorry I forgot you don't want onboard mic or xlr and you want a safety track. How about the Zoom H5. Safety track and removable mics. It still has XLr but 2 out of three anoint bad.

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Andreas Aronsson - Yeah i'm not sure about an entirely second track that would be in attenuated stereo. Sounds like you would need at least a recorder than has dual stereo tracks. Even though most recorders can record multiple tracks, not every track records in 'stereo'.

    Maybe one of the cheapest options you can try is using two Zoom H1 recorders simultaneously. Take your microphone cable and use a splitter that splits into two stereo cables. Set one Zoom H1 to record at a lower level than the other. Not a clean way of doing it, but would work and you would have two stereo recordings.

  5. Never sad I was laving someone, sorry for the confusion, I've just been looking for a high quality portable stereo recorder with a backup track, that last feature quite important and why I was interested in the Darling.

    I don't need microphones on it as I am using an external one, and most high quality portable recorders seem to have XLR connections and individual gain wheels which is not what I want. The Darling thus fit well for what I was looking for, except probably for the stereo.

    I know I have weird requirements, which is why I look all around in the first place, that's what I do as a hobbyist though, try to find things that do exactly what I want to get the most use for my money πŸ˜› Or something along those lines. I'll keep looking :)

  6. Mitch A

    Theres are a million stereo recorders out there, some very small like the Sony PCM 10. This is designed to be put on a person. Why would you want the juicedlink to record stereo when laving a person. Theres no benefit.

  7. I remember this since it was announced. Nowhere have I seen any mention of it being stereo or mono, but I presume it's mono because otherwise stereo would have been a selling point, right? I've been on the hunt for a compact stereo recorder, it only needs to take 3.5mm input, that has a backup track and I would love to get this one πŸ˜› If it can do stereo that is...

  8. Peter

    I've been waiting for this since its original announcement so happy to see them finally hitting the streets but still think the price is out of my budget, when they hit comparable prices to the H1 I'll pick some up for sure.

  9. Steve M.

    >>As far as using a Roland R-05, a simple controlled shoot would be easy, but I see a huge benefit with the wireless tone slate.<<

    I agree, I do see a benefit to the tone slate, however, if indeed, there is no way of confirming the recorder is actually locked in record, I would still opt to manually start every recording device knowing full well I'm recording.

  10. Mr. Blah

    I'm a little confused about whether there are actually two models of this or whether it's one model with the option for an additional wireless control attachment.
    In other words, if I were to buy the DAR123, would I ever in the future be able to connect it with a DARlink system, or would I have to buy a whole separate unit, the DAR124RX01, and use that in place of the DAR123 if I want to use the DARlink system?

  11. Mitch,

    The safety track is not adjustable, and that's how I wanted it. If I let people adjust it further down (-18dB, -20dB), then you start to get into a dangerous area, and I didn't want people who didn't know what they were doing to mess themselves up. Giving people the option to adjust it up (-12dB, -8dB) merely decreases the dynamic range you get from the safety track, for no benefit. This has a juicedLink low-noise preamp in it, so the SNR is going to be limited by the SNR of the lav in any of these adjustment ranges, so there is no SNR benefit to doing this.

    ************
    Jason,

    I understand. But ... No.
    ************

  12. Thanks Emm for the post and thanks Robert for developing this product. I will probably get a couple lilDarlings this year for the wedding work I do. However, it's a huge drag that I can't pair it with a wireless unit.
    Robert, is there any chance that we will ever have a product with a wireless and recorder option available in the US? And do you foresee people trying to hack your Little Darling so that he can have pass through feature.

  13. Mitch A

    Robert can you answer if its possible for you to offer a more adjustable 2nd safety track other than -16db?

  14. Great Discussion! I'll try to check in once a day, for a little while. I've been having similar discussions on email. Let me share some of my thoughts ...

    I know many will be disappointed that this can't be paired with a wireless transmitter.

    But, honestly, I always saw that as the smaller market for me (otherwise, I would have just killed the project when the issue arose). For the people that the multi-camera multi-DAR production flow works for, I'm going to be selling these in bunches. In fact, I sell them on the website with volume discounting.

    I see these in weddings, events, gopro action, incognito scenes in bars/restaurants with PocketCameras or iPhones (where you can't have a bunch of wireless receivers on you camera, or bring a sound guy).

    I see this opening up a lot of creative opportunities for the one-man-band. Aside from the limitations in wireless audio of range and dropouts, there is a practical limit to the number of wireless units a one-man-band can use at once. Where could you mount 4, 6, 8 receivers, and how would he/she manage the audio streams? So, this opens up creative opportunities to mic up a whole lot of things/people, that you wouldn't have considered micing up before.

    And, when I say micing up "things", I mean just that. My daughters jump horses. I mic up the jumps to hear the grunting of the its breathing and the pounding of its hoofs on its approach to the rails. All at the same time of micing up 4 kids, 2 trainers, and 6 parents.

    In some situations, it doesn't have to be a replacement to wireless audio, but can compliment it. In a wedding, for instance, you may want to be behind your screen and hear the vows in your headphones. Put a wireless lav in the book that the pastor/rabbi/judge/whatever reads from (that's a good place, as he's standing right between the bride/groom). But then, you can sprinkle DARs around (entire wedding party, family, etc) for everything that leads up to the ceremony and the following reception (to get better audio than just from your camera mounted shotgun).

    So, it's not for every situation. But, there are situations where it has its place. And for those situations, users will field a bunch of them ...

    -Robert

  15. Mitch A

    Emm can you ask Robert if its possible in firmware update to offer several safety track levels instead of just -16db which does seem a bit much.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @Mitch A - Right, it certainly not the best body pack solution. As far as I know you can't monitor live audio wirelessly on that Tascam recorder as well. You may only be able to listen to the playback wirelessly. The DARling products will not replace your most basic audio setups in controlled environments. It's designed as a different solution when managing more complicated projects, so not for everyone or for every situation.

  17. Mitch A

    Can the Tascan Dr-22WL start and stop multiple recorders? Can it lock the gain knob? Can you listen to multiple recorders through he app?

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @OldCorpse - I'm not sure what you mean by "intentionally worse product". Besides outputting to a wireless transmitter, I wouldn't say it was a worse product. Wireless start stop and tone slate to me is pretty darn good. FYI, if you need to output from a recorder to a wireless transmitter, you can already do that with a Zoom H1.

    But when I use a Zoom H1, I don't really find a need to send to a TX. I'm speaking more about complicated audio capture setups where you're chasing 4 people around, not so basic. For me the tone slate would be what i'm after. But until I can actually use it, we'll just have to see how well it works.

  19. OldCorpse

    It's really simple. You can easily buy the DR-10C in Europe or Canada and have it shipped here. That gives you a lot more than buying stuff here that is crippled with patent issues - where is the sense in spending a lot of cash for an intentionally worse product? Tascam is not allowed to market it here - and as long as you are importing for personal use and not for distribution or selling or marketing, you're fine as far as I understand.

    The DARling looks OK for what it is, but you I don't think you can control the level of the safety track. Also I'd note that there are things that the Tascam DR-22WL can do that are useful beyond the DARling, but of course the form factor is an issue.

  20. Emm

    Post author

    @Clive McLaughlin - Yes both Tascam and Juicedlink announced similar products two years ago, but as you mentioned the Tascam was yanked off of retail shelves in the US (and possibly other markets). The issue is based around some type of patent. In fact, that might be a reason why we the Juicedlink DAR recorders don't allow a headphone output for more than 60 seconds before automatically muting.

    While I think the Tascam DR-10C could have been a big hit here in the US market, I think the Juicedlink DAR with wireless tone slate is one option the Tascam doesn't have. It's not explained very well in the video on how it can be used, but in the user manual it opens up new ideas on how this can benefit multiple audio recorders on a project along with multiple camera angles. Whether it be a controlled environment or not, if you take advantage of the tone slate, it could really make life a whole lot simpler in post. Of course we're talking about more complicated Audio capture projects, not just a simple sit down interview.

    Typically if we have multiple camera operators who start and stop video at different times (chasing subjects i.e. weddings, reality show, etc), you can't simply jump in frame to slate. The wireless slate of the DAR124 can be controlled by one person, or many. Each operator can control their own tone slate as well. Even if live recording is happening at the moment, you can slate your heart out and it will not interrupt live recording. The tone slate is sent over one mono channel (left or right), and does not interfere with the live recording on the opposite channel. Nobody hears it but the camera that is receiving the tone slate. Again the tone could go to one camera, or all cameras, and can be triggered globally or singularly.

    Anyone who currently uses a Zoom H1 as a pocket recorder, should definitely step up to this unit. It just adds so many more functions that will speed up production and post. I know there are plenty of times when a simple wireless audio solution will send audio directly into the camera, and if the audio is good you don't have to mess with post sync. This definitely won't replace that workflow. But there are many times when wireless is not the right solution, and this should be a serious tool to consider.

    I tried using a wireless setup with my gimbal doing follow shots. Monitoring the audio from a gimbal can be a task for one operator, and I had a few projects where the audio cutout (dropped). After that I started relying more on the Zoom H1 so that I would never have those drop outs. For me the DARling form factor and feature set is better than my Zoom H1, and I can't see any reason not to replace my Zooms.

  21. Emm

    Post author

    @Steve M - I don't think it's a problem with finding the technology, but more what technology you might be able to implement without violating patents.

    As far as using a Roland R-05, a simple controlled shoot would be easy, but I see a huge benefit with the wireless tone slate. Hopefully i'll have a chance to demo this soon.

  22. Steve M.

    I spoke with the owner sometime ago about a few ideas on this, nice guy BTW. I think this is on the right path, being able to start the recording remotely is awesome, so why can't you monitor it remotely using the same technology that a drone uses? Without that, I really see no advantage to this over using a really good digital recorder such as the Roland R-05.

  23. Emm

    Post author

    @Louis - You will need one with a locking TRS. This rules out something like the Rode SmartLav, and you will have to look into the more expensive Rode Lav with Micon connectors. Or use the stock Sennheiser lav mic, or an affordable one is the Sennheiser compatible from AspenMics.com. But without trying them on the DARling, I can't say what the quality will be like. I will test soon, I placed an order this morning.

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