Cantar-X brings five firsts in the
digital-audio recording domain:
- a portable field recorder conceived as a real extension of the hand, for
both over the shoulder and cart use, in a striking industrial design.
- a rugged recorder which offers both rotary faders on its nine analog
inputs AND six waterproof linear faders and pan pots for track levelling and
- a 24bit, 96KHz HDD recorder - with 18 simultaneous inputs - which
nevertheless runs for 10 to 15 hours from it's on-board battery set.
- a sophisticated recorder with a touch screen where it has to be, in the
hands. A Bluetooth connected PDA controls the '18 inputs to 8 track' routing,
recalls the user's routings and settings, and allows the script supervisor to
enter scene and take IDs from up to fifteen meters (45 feet).
- a peace of mind recorder: built-in CDR driver burns the mixdown of the day
in less than 6 minutes. The external CDR burner is powered trough FireWire, no
delay at wrap-up.
Through its work on the synchronization of sound and image with its
in-camera time-recording system, Aaton has always been attuned to the needs of
With the spread of RF mikes, recordists were telling us they needed a machine
with six to eight tracks, light and comfortable on the shoulder, sturdy, high
autonomy, cozy on the cart, you-name-it.
As well, post-production people told us that they would embrace this new
technology only if the dailies process was smooth and efficient.
Aaton, with its long experience in designing and manufacturing 16 and 35mm
cameras plus its deep expertise in digital audio-post with its Indaw
workstation, was in a good position to offer the sound professionals what they
were dreaming of.
A work of art for the hands and eyes
Every detail of Cantar has been honed to perfection to make the task of a
location-recordist as easy as possible, while providing the utmost flexibility.
The five mics, four lines analog rotary faders as well as the six linear track
faders are positioned on the upper surface of the machine in such a way that
operator's hand rests on them in a perfectly natural position, allowing
convenient control of the knobs, whether the recorder is on the shoulder strap
or on the cart. With its twelve-degree slanted upper surface, Cantar is as easy
to use as a studio mixing console.
Another practical consideration: the faders as well as the limiter and filter
actuators still are at operator's fingertips when Cantar is inside a carrying
pouch holding four RF mike receivers.
Cantar's three circular read-outs and alphanumeric panel constitute the largest
control surface of any known portable recorder; all fundamental operational
parameters are plainly visible at a glance. The display panel can be swiveled to
provide the optimal viewing angle for the operator.
Audio quality second to none
The electronic circuitry of Cantar's mic inputs received particular attention:
first of all, for hum and interference protection and higher signal-to-noise
ratio, all five mic inputs are equipped with the high quality isolation
transformers used in the best standalone mixers. Since these transformers handle
up to +10dBu signals, they can also be used as balanced line inputs. The second
priority was to insure high dynamic range without pre-conditionners: to this end
Aaton developed a special three stage proprietary amplifier. Third essential
point: the limiters and high-pass filters (-6 or -12dB slope, from 30 to 180 Hz)
are merged into the analog stages and can be ganged in the same way as the
analog faders. Point four: a generous Phantom 48V power supply guarantees an 8mA
feed to each of the five mics.
Another important point is the high sensitivity (-25 +8dB) of the four line
inputs, it allows direct RF mic connection and makes Cantar a nine mic input
machine! Any input pair (AES, mic or line) can be declared as an MS couple; MS
to A-B decoding is automatic during record and playback. This declaration can be
used later on the mixing consoles, since it is stored in the file name of each
The adult hand - even with gloves on! - was the starting point for the design of
Cantar's mechanical controls. A large rotating knob (Nagra III style) is used
for play-stop-test-record, and two concentric ones placed on the left side, scan
the headphone routing to check input solos, director's and script's audio feeds,
M/S decoding - automatically applied to up to four designated track couples -,
mix-down output, etc.
The five mic rotary faders, well separated from each other can be activated by
the thumb rolling over rubber 'o' rings. For longer life and reliability the
knobs incorporate their own friction pad and blocking stops to protect the
potentio-meter inners from rough treatments. Another unique feature of Cantar is
its built-in six track linear fader panel, real-look-and-feel mechanical faders
- dustproof - clearly showing both the mix-down composition and the dynamic gain
applied to each track. The gain values are stored in XML files and can later be
fine-tuned on Cantar during playback; embedded with the audio files, they
will serve as a guide for the post-prod mixer.
Protective niche for cables and plugs
Cantar is not just another box with cables protruding every which way: its in
and out cables fall neatly to the rear, keeping the connectors out of harm's
way. The radio mic receiver cables make a U-turn without even getting out of the
carrying bag. Since the cables and connectors are all oriented downwards when
Cantar is used on the shoulder strap, they are by definition protected from the
weather. In addition, all the knobs and faders being dustproof, waterproof and
snowproof, Cantar is at ease whatever the location on earth.
Highly informative readouts
The circular modulometer readouts - two tracks each - are particularly easy to
comprehend: the eye responds better to changing angles (ten o'clock, five
o'clock, etc...) than to varying lengths of straight lines.
The peak value is accurate to the sample and the ballistics perfectly emulate
The central part of the modulometers permanently displays the activity of the
three discs, the number of activated tracks, the configuration in use, MS
devoted tracks, confidence mode, etc. Remaining disk space (minutes and Gb) is
visible at all times.
A unique feature of Cantar is its ability to mix any number of its 18 inputs
(they are ALL simultaneously active), and to route the result to any track of
The modulometer tracking dots and icons are so abundant that they can provide
on-demand display of the most complex input-to-track routing as well as the pan
pot attenuation values.
Long carefree hours