fbpx
The Newsshooter forums have just launched. Join the conversation →

Tentacle Sync Track E Pocket 32-bit float Audio Recorder review

Track E lav

Tentacle Sync, the makers of the timecode and sync tool SYNC E, has expanded to recording and syncing audio along with syncing multiple cameras together with timecode.
I first saw the Tentacle Track E Pocket Audio Recorder at IBC 2019. The recorder is designed to be easy for anyone to use; simply download the setup app to your iOS or Android mobile device, and you’re ready to start recording in minutes.

First Look at the Tentacle Track E Pocket Audio Recorder

What’s Included

The TRACK E comes with everything you need to get up and running, including a lavalier microphone that plugs into its locking 3.5mm connector. The connecter is compatible with a wide variety of 3.5mm lavalier mics. A built-in mic is also onboard for reference sound recording.

  • Tentacle Sync TRACK E Pocket Audio Recorder with Timecode Support
  • Mic Clip
  • Foam Windscreen
  • Mini Pouch
  • Belt Clip
  • 16GB MicroSD Card
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-A Cable
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-C Cable
  • 5 x Colored Bands
  • Zippered Carrying Bag
  • Software License for Tentacle Sync Studio (macOS)
  • Limited 2-Year Warranty

Included Lav Mic

Track E lav windscreens
Included windscreen and a mini dead cat. Meow

The lav microphone that is included with the TRACK E is pretty good. Normally they included mics that are not so great, but it is useable if you don’t already have one.

I compared the TRACK E lavalier to my Sanken COS-11D to hear the difference. Both lav mics are attached to the front of my shirt.
The COS-11D is designed to have a bit more brightness. The reason is it’s designed to be hidden under clothes, and that tends to take the higher end out. The Trak E lav is warmer with fuller bass.
You be the judge.

TRACK E lavalier & Sanken COS-11D Comparison.

  • Lavalier Microphone with 3.5mm lockable connector
  • Lav Clip
  • Windscreen
  • Windjammer

Specifications

PERFORMANCE
Frequency Response20 Hz – 20 kHz
Gain Range+6 to +46 dB
Dynamic Range110 dB typ
THD+N≤ -85 dB (0.05%)
CONTROL & SYNCHRONIZATION
Bluetooth®5.0 (Low Energy)
Remote ControlTentacle Setup App (iOS/Android)
SynchronizationVia Bluetooth® or Jam-Sync via Cable 
Timecode InputLTC via Microphone Input
Timecode OutputN/A
Frame RatesSMPTE 12M / 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 29.97DF and 30fps
POWER
Power SourceBuilt-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer Battery
Battery Capacity900 mAh
Battery Operating TimeUp to 10 hours
Battery Charging Timemax. 2 Hours
SIZE & WEIGHT
Dimensions47mm x 68mm x 19mm / 1.85 x 2.67 x 0.74 inches
Weight58g / 2.0 oz
*US Version: Headphone out is deactivated during recording.

32-Bit Float and 24-Bit

TRACK E has a 32-bit floating-point option for high-quality audio recordings that can’t clip; likewise, it can be brought up with minimal noise added if it’s very low. That is great insurance if you can’t get the audio re-recorded. You also have a 24-bit option. It recordings to a included 16GB MicroSDHC card.

tracke website grafik3

32-bit float is a big deal but brings in other issues, namely file size. The 32-bit floating format uses up to 33 percent more storage space than conventional 24-bit files. You get approximately 30hrs (24-bit) and 23hrs (32-bit) on a 16GB micro SDcard. To me, the benefits outweigh the large file size.

Firmware Update

Before getting started, I needed to update the firmware on the Tentacle Sync E I already have to Ver 2.00. The Tentacle Setup app wasn’t connecting with the updated app, so I had to use the OSX version. This will make them work with the iOS app. Before updating, the app would crash or not recognize the Tentacle Sync. The process is straightforward.

Tentacle Sync Firmware Update 4
Tentacle Sync Firmware Update 3
All done!

Download then launch the TentacleSetup software and attach the Tentacle Sync to the computer with the supplied USB-C cable. Turn the Tentacle Sync on and follow the onscreen prompts. In no time, I was updated and ready to use the Tentacle Sync E with the TRACK E.

Tentacle Sync Firmware Update 2
Orignal settings.

Since I was already in the setup mode, I made some basic setting changes to match my camera framerate, Timecode, and output volume. Very simple and straightforward. These settings are also in the app, so you can make the changes when out in the field if needed.

Tentacle Sync Firmware Update
Custom settings I inputted. I choose System Time or time of day for Timecode.

Tentacle Sync Studio

Tentacle Sync Studio Install OSX

To get ready for syncing, you will need to use Tentacle Sync Studio software. It’s free when you purchase a Tentacle Sync product.

Tentacle Sync Studio Features

The icing on the cake is the included Tentacle Sync Studio software. It’s easy to use to sync the captured audio to a video that has a matching timecode. You dont have to use the software since the TC will match. You can simply bring the audio and video into your NLE and sync with the timecode. Easy as pie!

Tentacle Sync Software
With Sync E, video and audio have matching TC.
  • Drag and drop functionality: Throw your media folders in and view your synced dailies instantly.
  • Reads and analyses any timecode recorded on audio tracks, even from competitor’s products
  • Supported import formats: Quicktime, AVCHD, R3D, MP4, BWF, WAVE, MXF, CinemaDNG
  • Supported export formats: Quicktime, XML: FCP7, Premiere, FCPX, AAF
  • Simultaneously syncs and transcodes your material on export to more editing-friendly codecs like ProRes.
  • Multicam support
  • System requirements: min. OSX 10.9
tracke website grafik1

Jam Sync Option

A cool feature is the ability to jam TC to a camera or get TC from it to TRACK E with the SDI I/O TC connection using the mic input jack, and you can even lock multiple TRACK E units to timecode via Bluetooth and the app allowing you to sync up multitrack recordings easily. A lot of flexibility is a good thing!

Track E app with Sycn E
With the app, you can sync several Sync E’s and Track E’s. The app remembers formally added devices.

If using a camera with a Timecode Jamming feature, you can jam the TC to the camera without using a SYNC E. Unfortunately, most consumer cameras and hybrid cameras dont offer TC jamming. One I know does the Panasonic GH5; however, the TC drift is very bad, and the feature is useless, in my opinion. The Blackmagic Design, Sony, Canon, and ARRI cameras all have excellent TC hardware and work very well with jamming. It’s best to have a Synce E to record a timecode track and use Tentacle Sync Studio software for the rest.

tentacle sync tracke professional sound recording card reader
tentacle sync track e quick start guide 0

Audio Monitoring While Recording

Track E headphone out

The Tentacle Sync TRACK E works really well, and having 32-bit float as an option is fantastic; however, some limitations can cause issues. The main issue is there is no way to monitor the audio once you start recording. The US version shuts off the headphone output once recording has started. This is due to a Zaxcom patent that prevents a simultaneous recording with wireless output. While the TRACK E isn’t a wireless recorder, it can be turned into a backup recorder if connected to a wireless transmitter, which would infringe on the patent.

I do wish I could monitor the audio from the app, but that isn’t possible. It would probably have too much latency anyway and be tough to use. Also, if you are using several TRACK E recorders monitoring, more than one wouldn’t be easy. You do have to shoot too ya know. If you have a soundie, then that’s a different story, but again. No monitoring is available once you start recording with the US version.

tentacle sync tracke professional sound recording on set

This poses a few issues, and the main one is microphone rubbing noise. When hiding a lav mic inside clothes, you have a much higher potential of rustle against the fabric. Different types of fabrics are more susceptible to scratchy rustle noise. You are taking some chances if TRACK E is your main audio. For this reason, it might be best not to hide the lav. Instead, use the clip and make sure it’s placed in a position that doesn’t have anything touching the capsule, such as jewelry.

For Multicam situations, TRACK E would work well. If you have several of them and use the SYNC E on each camera, editing will be a breeze. The 32-bit float recording allows you not to worry if one of the recordings is too low or too high and clipping.

Final Thoughts

Track E app 1

I like Track E a lot. It’s simple to use, and the app is very straightforward with good visuals for recording levels. Paired with a SYNC E, and you have a solid audio system that is easy to sync up in post. It’s not the least expensive option but does have built-in TC jamming and full compatibility with Sync E.
The $149.99 32-bit Zoom F2 and the Bluetooth $199.99 F2-BT are less expensive but work a little differently.
To set the timecode on the F2-BT, you need to buy the $149.00 UltraSync BLUE device by Timecode Systems. This adds cost and doesn’t offer the same pairing with cameras as most don’t offer Bluetooth TC jamming, but the F2-BT does have an active headphone/line out while recording; therefore, you could add a wireless transmitter to it for monitoring and recording internally to the camera then use that as a scratch/sync track in post. This would be a little bulky but doable.

Tentacle Sync TRACK E Pocket Audio Recorder with Timecode retails for $349.00 US and is available today.

Like what we do and want to support Newsshooter? Consider becoming a Patreon supporter and help us to continue being the best source of news and reviews for professional tools for the independent filmmaker.

Subscribe to our newsletter