I've used the 5100 on a number of recording expeditions through Nepal and I=
ndia, in conjunction with an HHB Portadrive. I mostly use it for music, but=
it also gets used to capture ambience in jungles, villages, cities and so =
on from time to time.
I have no serious complaints, I think it works wonderfully well *within its=
limitations* - the main one of those being a high self noise. Those tiny 5=
.4mm diaphragms are a necessity for achieving the off-axis responses requir=
ed for capturing a convincingly natural sound from 360=B0, but small diaphr=
agms go hand-in-hand with higher self noise =96 that's an unavoidable law o=
f microphone physics, unfortunately. I'm happy to trade excellent imaging w=
ith higher self-noise - within reason, of course!
Prior to the 5100 I used the Holophone H2Pro, which also used the DPA 4060 =
capsules and had similar self-noise.
The 5100 and Holophone are really just convenient point-and-shoot solutions=
for 5.1, rather like a handheld 'happy snap' camera. To make quieter recor=
dings you need to go to larger diaphragm mics, and then you've got new prob=
lems to contend with regarding weight, convenience of set-up, and achieving=
the off-axis response required for a decent sense of imaging and immersion=
. It's an unfortunate trade-off...
Having said that, your noise complaints suggest that either a) you're much =
fussier about noise than I am, b) your recordings are in much quieter locat=
ions than I use, or c) there is something else wrong. Just to make sure you=
have eliminated all possibilities, I suggest checking that the 788 is actu=
ally producing +48V on its phantom power outputs. I am assuming it does, bu=
t some portable recorders' DC-DC inverters don't make it to +48V by design,=
and some mics (including DPAs) don't like it when the voltage is lower - r=
esulting in noisier outputs with less headroom. DPA even make a simple LED =
based tester, built into a male XLR shell, to test if the phantom power vol=
tage output is high enough for their mics. I would assume Sound Devices got=
this right, but it might be worth checking what the 788's phantom power vo=
ltage is when fully loaded (i.e. with all six outputs of the 5100 plugged i=
- Greg Simmons