Tascam DR-10 Line

Entry level cameras also might not offer both a mic input and a headphone output, often combining the two into one port. On top of that, the mics built into these cameras are small and the mic preamps are typically poor.

One of the solutions to this problem is to get an external audio recorder. Most will find them to be a huge improvement over camera-controlled inputs, offering far better sound. If you are a one person crew, or don’t have free hands to operate an external recorder, a place to mount it, or the ability to multitask, you could find yourself very frustrated and burdened with a lot of tasks. In enters the DR-10 series from Tascam.

 If you are a one person crew, or don’t have free hands to operate an external recorder, a place to mount it, or the ability to multitask, you could find yourself very frustrated and burdened with a lot of tasks. In enters the DR-10 series from Tascam.

Each member of the DR-10 line is a stand alone recorder. The DR-10X is an XLR input into a mono recorder. The DR-10SG is a Shotgun mic with a built-in recorder and lastly, the DR-10L is a lavalier mic and recorder that eliminates the need for a transmitter and receiver for a wireless solution.

Our Experience

When we first heard about the products in the DR-10 line, we were really excited to use them. Their applications seem endless and could offer a simple solution to a sometimes complicated problem.

When doing our reviews, tutorials and other videos, we capture audio in a couple different ways. The first is by connecting the mic directly into the camera we’re using. This is a simple option; however, the mic preamps on DSLRs are typically weak. The second option is to record our input into an external recording device. Depending on the rig you’re using, this can expand the audio to not only being recorded with better preamps, but also controlled by a separate user other than the one operating the camera. The problem with using an external recorder is that it adds more cost to your set-up, could require more operators and needs to be synced to your video in post.

We tested all three DR-10 options at the same time. Here is how we set them up: We used a Rode NTG2 into the DR-10X, attached it to a C-stand arm and a C-stand and positioned it as one typically would with a shotgun mic. The DR-10SG was mounted to a camera as if we were using it for an interview. Lastly, we mounted the DR-10L on my shirt, like we would with any other lav mic.

Knowing we would need to sync the audio in post, we clapped to slate each shot at the beginning of each clip, making sync faster and easier to achieve. This is when our minds began to think about how difficult these products might to use be depending on your setup. If the video camera is always rolling, and each device started and was slated after the video started recording, then it wouldn’t be much of an issue. But a situation where we thought it could be a nightmare is if you had to slate before every clip and just left the audio rolling. Filming a wedding comes to mind. Although this process isn’t hard in any way, it is reliant on being vigilant when starting any clip to slate each one. Sync is easier than it has ever been, so this could be simple or hard depending on how much sync you need to do, and how easily it’s done for you within your editing program.

The one other issue that became apparent quickly is that monitoring will sometimes be difficult or impossible with these recorders. Having a set of headphones connected to the recorders is just not practical depending on how and where they are placed. However, within our tests, we set up the gain for the input lower than normal to bypass problems with overmodulation. Because none of the DR-10 models had errors when recording, everything went great in our test, but it is a bit of a liability just trusting that everything will go well. Not everything can be re-done if there is an error.

Overall however, each recording sounded great. The lav worked especially well for our production workflow, and the mic was of good quality. The DR10-SG sounded as good as any shotgun mounted on a camera and the DR-10X sounded great as well. We didn’t have wires everywhere and because we slated everything, sync was simple.

Value in the Marketplace

All of recorders in the DR-10 line offer something unique; that’s one reason we decided to review them. They are interesting and simple solutions. You can buy a camera mounted shotgun mic like the Videomic Pro from Rode for $230, so the DR10-SG is cheaper and will record directly to an SD card. However, since you are that close to your camera, the ability to record might be not as necessary.

The DR-10X finds itself with much more competition as it’s the only DR-10 model that is just a one track audio recorder that records to an SD card. A Zoom H4n Pro has two XLR inputs, comes with a stereo XY mic array and is only $200. Although the H4n Pro is $20 more, it has more than double the functionality.

Lastly, the DR-10L is $200, landing itself as a very valuable wireless mic. However since you can’t monitor it from a distance, it’s not a practical solution in every use case. Our go-to wireless mic at Videomaker is the Sennheiser G3 wireless mic system. That kit retails at $630.

Recommendation

We like the whole DR-10 line. They all could be simple solutions, but they solve very specific needs. The best value of the group is the DR-10SG. They all sounded great, were easy to use and we loved not having a bunch of wires everywhere. We recommend the DR10-SG; it has a larger usergroup than the others. The DR-10X, although functional and easy to use, is priced too high in the market for us to recommend it. Lastly, the DR-10L is a great value, but monitoring will be difficult. Even so, we recommend it.

Tascam
www.tascam.com

PRICE:

DR-10X – $180
DR-10SG – $200
DR-10L – $200

STRENGTHS:

  • Simple
  • Wirefree

WEAKNESSES:

  • Monitoring is cumbersome
  • Sync could be difficult
  • Preset mic gain

SUMMARY:

Tascam’s DR-10 line is innovative and offers a unique solution to many audio recording situations. We like all three products, but found the DR-10X was priced higher than it should be.

RECOMMENDED USERS:

Everyone

TECH SPECS:

DR-10L
Recording media: microSD card(64MB to 2GB), microSDHC card(4GB to 32GB)
Recording format: WAV(BWF)
Sampling frequency: 44.1kHz, 48kHz
Quantization bitrate: 16/24bit
MIC input gain: LOW / MID LOW / MID / HIGH / HIGH+
Maximum input sound pressure: 115dB SPL
Maximum input level: -15dBu (Gain L)
Minimum input level: -55dBu (Gain H+)
Mic input gain: +14dB to +38dB
Input impedance: 33kohm (mic bias off) / 2kohm (mic bias on)
Phones Connector: 3.5mm(1/8″) stereo mini jack
USB Connector: Micro-B type 4pin
Power: 1 AAA battery
Dimensions: 2.0(W) × 2.2(H) × 1.0(D) inch
Weight: 2.2oz (63g) including battery / 1.79oz (51g) without battery
Frequency response: 20Hz to 22kHz +1/-2dB (IN to PHONES)
S/N Ratio: 88dB or higher (phones volume max, mic gain L selected)
Microphone Sensitivity: -42dBV/Pa
Pickup pattern: Omni
Maximum input sound pressure: 115dB SPL
Cable Length : 63 in (160 cm)

DR-10SG
Recording media: microSD card(64MB to 2GB), microSDHC card(4GB to 32GB)
Recording format: 44.1k/48k Hz, 16/24-bit
Polarity: Super Cardioid
Mic gain: 0 to +50dB (1dB step)
CAMERA OUT/ PHONES Connector: 3.5mm(1/8″)stereo mini jack
USB Connector: Micro-B
Power: 1 AAA battery(alkaline, rechargeable NiMH or disposable lithium)
Dimensions: 53(W)×168.1(H)×70.3(D)mm
Weight: 110g (including batteries) / 98g (without batteries)
Frequency response: 50Hz to 20kHz
S/N ratio: 78dB

DR-10X
Sampling frequency: 48kHz
Quantization bit rate: 24bit
Number of channels: 1-channel (Mono)
Analog audio Inputs: XLR-3-31
Input Impedance: 10k ohm or more
MIC input gain: LOW / MID / HIGH
PHONES Connector: 3.5mm(1/8″) stereo mini jack (DUAL MONO)
USB Connector: Micro-B type 4pin
Power: 1 AAA batteries (Alkaline or NiMH),
Dimensions: 52(W) × 94.4(H) × 28(D) mm
Weight: 68.3g (including batteries) / 56.3g (without batteries)

Chris Monlux loves producing and recording music. However, he would rather record your music than his own. He is also Videomaker’s multimedia edito

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