Tascam DM3200 / 4800
Sound Quality: 10
This board has a completely transparent sound. I have never, after 20+ years of tracking and making music, heard such a truly transparent / invisible signal path.
This may not seem to qualify for a rating of 10, but my outboard: vintage neves, BAE 1028's, 1084's, API's, Retro and API EQ blah blah blah... is a crucial part of my sound and I have consistently found that what I put in is exactly what I get out.
Not only is the board clear and transparent but so is the firewire card that goes in it! And it's 32 channels.
The EQ and dynamics on this board are very clear as well. If you want tube EQ, buy one. You wanna high pass something to clean it up this will do it as well as any EQ (as far as digital filters go).
A short story:
To start, my budget for a mixer was $35k. The Tascam was only going to be a temporary solution till I found the perfect board.
When I got my first DM mixer, a 3200, the firewire cards were in between makes. I ultimately had to wait a full year to get the card. Instead of wait I got an apogee 16 ad and da set up -cost more than the board!! After working, full time, with these converters about 8 months I decided to switch to Lynx aurora. I did like the Lynx better. It was a little smother sounding. Mind you my music is very deep and thick sonically with the brighter elements typically being a few choice instruments; very complex and dense arrangements.
Anyway, finally.. the firewire card arrives. (The dealer was giving it to me for free cause of the terrible wait and all the ball dropping on their part.) As an afterthought I put it in, only because the Lynx was getting so hot I was concern about fire safety.. lol, but true.
Big difference. I noticed immediately and so did everyone involved with the current project. Further tracking proved this out even more. The bass was clearer and there was absolutely zero phase shifting in the sound. In fact I could hear phase and tone in a much deeper and clearer way with the Tascam card. Is this a popular opinion? I know very well it isn't, but I truly don't care I know what I heard.
Ease of Use: 8
The board is not as intuitive as it could be at first. Yet note this: It can absolutely do anything. It will route / bus / accept /send anything anywhere. The flexibility is mind bending. Literally. When a staff mix engineer came in he told me (he is much sharper than I and should in fact be doing this review himself) that I could have set up my 32 channel outboard routing matrix about 4 or 5 different ways!! My eyes glazed over as he explained it, but he was right. The board is crazy flexible.
With this board, the Firewire card a computer and a few mics you could make a very clean sounding track. Listing the features would take 2 hours. Lets put it this way:
I patch my entire 32 track outboard into 2 adda cards as well as the 12 aux sends. Flawless and lightning fast.
Bang for Buck: 10
These simply should have been sold for twice what they go for.
-A meter bridge specifically for the 4800.
-Non metal armrest.
-Better talkback or a mount for a gooseneck talkback mic.