Field Report: Tascam DR-05

December 1, 2012


Because of high demand, the market for portable recorders has grown immensely in the past few years. Recently, we purchased the Tascam DR-05 linear PCM recorder. We were looking for a true all-in-one recorder with a design for broadcasters. The DR-05 recorder is lightweight and the size is desirable for handheld operation. These are two factors you want in a portable recorder packed with a list of features that separates it from the rest.

Tascam DR-05

It is very easy to operate and takes little to no time for understanding its functionality. It comes with two AA batteries (17.5 hours of continuous record time) and a 2GB (3 hours of recording with default setting) microSD card, which allows it to be used right out of the box. Make sure you have spare AA batteries since this recorder does not come with an ac adapter. The Tascam PS-P515U, which is sold separately, powers the recorder via the USB jack. The design of this recorder allows recording, editing and playback all from the palm of your hand. Broadcasters are always looking toward future applications when purchasing equipment and the DR-05 gives many possibilities.

Under the microscope

As broadcasters we always want to have the best quality audio. With 16-bit linear PCM audio, the recorder provides the quality broadcasters need. It can be set up to record 16- or 24-bit WAV files at 44.1, 48 or 96kHz. It can also record MP3 files at 44.1 or 48kHz sampling rates at 32, 64, 96, 128, 192, 256 or 320kb/s bit rates.

Performance at a glance
■ Built-in stereo mics
■ 16 or 24-bit WAV and MP3 recording
■ Pre-record function
■ MicroSD storage
■ USB file transfer and external power

A low-cut filter (off by default) can be set to 40Hz, 80Hz or 120Hz. The pre-record feature captures the two seconds prior to the record button being pushed. This can be turned on under the record settings. For musicians, the DR-05 has a built-in tuner. This comes in handy when performers visit the stations and we need to tune various instruments.

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Recording

This is a portable recorder after all, so let's discuss the recording process. The DR-05 has built-in stereo condenser, omnidirectional microphones with sensitivity up to 125dB SPL. When using the built-in microphones, it is recommended to place the unit in a stable position. I take advantage of the built in tripod screw socket when recording live performances and keep the recorder on the tripod. The DR-05 also comes with a 3.5mm stereo mic/line input jack for an external source. The DR-05 also supplies plug-in power for those microphones that need it. This recorder comes with a level align feature, which corrects uneven volume during playback.

While trying to find a record level, the recorder gives two options: automatic or manual. The recorder can be set to the level control function (automatic function), which is off as a default. When you use the level control function it allows you to use a peak reduction, auto level and a limiter. The peak reduction reduces the input to achieve correct levels when the input becomes too hot. The auto level element disables the user from raising and lowering the record volume. It manages the input levels automatically while increasing and decreasing the input volume depending on its levels. Lastly, there's the limiter to catch any excessive audio peaks.

While recording, you can add markers to a file to point out keywords or highlights and come back to it later. The lucky number 99 is the maximum number of marks you can make in a given file. When files are too long or you want to make that interview two parts for playback while out in the field, the DR-05 delivers yet again. Files can be split into two at a specific position in the original file. The recorder automatically creates a new file name for both new tracks. MP3s cannot be split, so it is necessary to record a WAV file if you're thinking you might want to split a future recording.

Besides recording, this handheld unit comes fully loaded with playback elements. The DR-05 has a playlist option to create and set files to be ready for playback when at any time. Creating a playlist is easy with just a few buttons, as well as selecting desired files to that list. Each playlist can be edited to delete a file, delete all files or move a file to or from another playlist. The playback control function allows you to play a playlist the way you want: continuous files (default), single file, one repeat and all repeat. In addition, it can boost output audio while playing files back. The playback equalizer (EQ) is set to off as a default, but you have the choice to set the treble, middle and bass that creates a fuller sound coming out of the recorder. Further, the DR-05 allows a factor known as VSA (Variable Speed Audition). This allows the playback speed to increase 50-150 percent without changing its pitch. The integrated built-in speaker (0.3W mono) is on the backside of the recorder. Another way to listen or playback a track is through the 3.5mm headphone/line out jack.

Tascam
323-726-0303
tascam.com
tascamlit@tascam.com

Overall, I am very pleased with the navigation, functionality and performance of the DR-05 linear PCM recorder. Its simplistic approach to making field recording is a hit with me. I really like the fact that the recorder is ready for field use directly out of the box. It gives our radio stations the sound both production and programming departments want from a field recorder. It has been widely used tuning instruments for artists, recording studio performances, interviews and during remote broadcasts. After recording, the recorder can be plugged into a computer (Mac or Windows) with a USB 2.0 recommended port to retrieve the files. I'm positive any end user will enjoy the many features of this recorder for future use inside or outside broadcast studios.


Ornellas is a station engineer at Greater Media New Jersey, Cedar Knolls, NJ



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