TASCAM DR-40 by johnnyv
My daughter offered to buy me a special present for Christmas and my 60th which is around that time of year. So I decided on a portable recorder, something I always wanted to own.
I do a lot of board mixes as well as live stereo recordings of local choirs and folk groups. So my requirements were for 4 track capabilities and proper balanced inputs.
This quickly narrowed the field. It eliminated 90% of the handy recorders on the market in one fell swoop. Most only have an 1/8" mini stereo input. The Tascam was the only one with both balanced inputs and 4 track capabilities for under $200. We bought it through Amazon for around $150 including shipping and taxes.
Just a few other things to watch for while comparing models and brands. Power and battery life, Storage medium, connectivity, do the mikes move? Size and stand mount. The Tascam shines on all accounts here other than size,, it's a one of the bigger models but that's to accommodate the XLR inputs.
Storage: Most recorders seem to go for those mini SD cards. The Tascam uses the full size cards. The device becomes a USB mass storage device when plugged into your computer. Drag and drop the standard WAVE files to your wave editor. You can prefix them using the menu and use a date stamp. It will auto number every recording. You can also edit the folders from your computer which is easier than using the device menus. With a 32 Gig card you could never run out of room even in 4 track mode, Well, ya, if your went for 96Hz I guess you would, but I'm using 44.1. just because..
Power: It uses standard AA batteries that seem to last forever. I'm only on my second set and I have used it a lot on the battery power. I also use a USB type B wall wart for long sessions. I Don't like to take a chance when being paid to record and you need it for using Phantom power. The batteries would be dead in no time running phantom. When I record my solo gigs I use my laptops USB port for power. So 3 easy options for power.
Operation: The side mounted up / down buttons are pretty quick to set the levels. The menu buttons seem logical. Over all the navigation is straight forward and nothing any techno head would find frustrating. Only thing I keep screwing up is I tend to hit the REC button when I'm finished instead of the STOP. Also I have often forgotten I was set for using the external inputs and recorded dead air thinking I was using the mikes. This is just me not looking at the levels. Thankfully this was not anything important. But I find myself sometimes grabbing it in a hurry to record something and it's easier than you think to make this mistake.
This would not be an issue with a basic 2 track model as the mikes will always be on. But this model has the 3 modes, Mikes ( 2 track ) External (2 track) and both (4 track) and once set they stay put.
I used the 4 track mode to record a local choir concert. I placed 2 condenser mikes above the choir and sat in the front row to also capture with the on board mikes set in X mode. I used a tall camera tripod and powered it with the wall wart because I was using the Phantom power.
It was a little tricky to see the levels from my seat. I monitored through a set of headphones and the headphone amp was loud enough to overpower the live sound. Headphones have a 1/4" jack
This was the best live recording of the choir I have done to date. In the past this involved everything from 150' snakes, mixers, Dat recorders, laptops with interfaces that failed, you name it... This time I made a profit. I just took it home and a very little work in Wave Lab, and burned their CD's. Believe it or not I ended up only using the 2 tracks from the built in mikes. The overheads didn't balance out as well with the piano and different sections.
This was a pair of Shure $400 specialty Choir mikes ( sorry, model number wore off)
In case your curious, the 4 tracks recordings show as 2 stereo wave files with file extensions 1/2 and 3/4. It is not a true 4 track. You cannot set one track in record, only the stereo pairs.
I'm am looking into getting the remote control to eliminate the self noise when pushing buttons while using the mikes.
My band mate was so impressed with what he was hearing he bought the 2 track version for $100,
Product: DR-07MKII | TASCAM
If you are looking for a 2 track model without balanced inputs I recommend this model as well. Seems all other features are identical to the DR 40.
For what you pay the mikes are worth the price alone.
I have owned a lot of Tascam gear and it's been a good investment, Seems they are not backsliding as a company who deliver affordable recording gear that sounds better than it should for this price. Now if they would only write better ASIO drivers for their audio interfaces!