Best affordable standalone recorder?

Hi guys! I got the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle today, but after fumbling to get it to work for many many hours now, I’ve just conceded defeat - I’m going to send it back. It just doesn’t seem to work on my system (I was warned, but wanted to try anyway).

So I’m thinking of getting a standalone device that will do both encoding and recording for me, as mentioned in this excellent LZX video:

What to get though? I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on this, and would love to find something on the “cheaper” side (sub $700 ish). I’ve seen a few Atomos Ninja 2 on Ebay go for decent prices, so that’s definitely an option, but also kind of risky to buy those when they’re out of date and already used (I just don’t know much about longevity of video devices). I’m going to want to capture CVBS as high res as possible, basically (I’m making audio reactive video synth things with Erogenous Tones Structure and a eurorack, and want to put it on Vimeo/Youtube).

Is there any other standalone devices I should be looking out for? I basically want upscaling, encoding, recording and the whole shabang in one easy to use package - if I can use it without a computer, that would be great.

Any suggestions much welcomed! :slight_smile:

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Check this document that Johnny put in the description of that video. Pretty much all of your best options are there. Sounds like the BMD Video Assist + BMD Mini Analog to SDI converter would be within your budget.


Ah, Cheers, hadn’t seen that! So I would actually need the analog to SDI converter as well (and a separate upscaler?)? Damn, it’s getting expensive.

Hmmm, I reckon I can just get a used Mac Mini and an Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt instead, should be quite a lot cheaper, and the thunderbolt Version of IS should be a lot more stable. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the info!

You may find that the cost of decent capture is well within your total videosynth budget, as your system grows in size. Add up the cost of a Vessel and a couple of Orion modules, like MP, for an example. Even if that was your endgame (i.e. you never expand beyond that point), you may still find the cost vs the value of the capture hardware relative to the total cost of your video rig to fully justified and in proportion. Basicly, compromising or even failing at the capture stage may undermine your entire project.

I learned this by starting with very cheap dongle and monitoring. The result was terrible! The dongle only worked for me on a camera’s composite feed and the image quality on the monitor was…noisy. At that time, pro-level gear was relatively expensive compared to what I’d spent on modules, so I was reluctant to use that. So all my early videos with LZX modules were noisy. I regret that now. I couldn’t even record my videosynth before I bought my first pro-level capture hardware. I regret that too.

However, I’ve had no regrets since I began using hardware that just works.

BTW, the same goes for a clean PSU. I still don’t have a Vessel, but I would strongly recommend any case with a clean PSU. It makes a very big difference. Like cheap capture hardware, I’ve found a cheap PSU to be a false economy.


Thanks a lot for your input! :slight_smile: I’ve decided to go for the Mac Mini + Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt for now, see how good of a capture I can get. I’m not 100% sold on the idea of splashing a lot of cash on a video synth system just yet, as I simply can’t afford it without letting go of a lot of audio stuff, which I ain’t ready to do. I tend to make a lot of visuals in other software (various animation software, 3d software, Photoshop, Procreate and what have you), and basically just want the audio reactivity with eurorack, which I’m currently getting with a Structure in my otherwise audio-centric eurorack (I chuck animations and external video in through clips and an external player). I have to say a lot of the LZX modules look really interesting (hello Diver and Memory Palace), and I’d love to try them, obviously, but the prices involved for getting even a simple system up and running is making me shy away from going in head on at this point. We’ll see though, how it goes - maybe I’ll be back here a year from now saying how you were right, hehehehe. :slight_smile:


For other people looking for standalone recorders, the Aja Ki-Pro is a good one that can do Pro Res. It has SDI and Component Input, Genlock, RS-422 deck control, XLR input. The older boxy models can be found for a few hundred dollars and are reasonably portable. The only downside is you’re locked into proprietary Aja firewire/USB3 hard drives but the auctions often include them. I don’t mess with the hard drive to transfer, I just capture from the SDI output.


I use a AJA KiPro Rack for capture. No more convertor boxes, does udc, and can capture for hours. Never crashes. No latency. Browser interface.

If anyone is going to go this road I’m happy to help with the learning curve.

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