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MGR/Golem 04/22/2010

Tascam DR-07 : MGR/Golem's user review

« Tascam DR07 Digital Stereo Handheld »
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Playing in small ensembles, the DR07 looked like a useful practice and self-assessment device. This proved to be true ... and it doesn't cost much. Also, 'small ensemble' doesn't mean really 'loud blues-rock trio', so our stuff is not too challenging to record.

These were on sale for $130 at Daddy's Junky so I bought two, one for my music and one for a friend.

<a href="http://www.daddys.com">http://www.daddys.com</a>

It's cheap, small, reasonably convenient and does a decent job. I especially like that the screen is visible in dark clubs, etc cuz that was not the case with my MiniDisc recorder.

Also, basic recording does NOT require navigating 2 or 3 levels of menues via pushbuttons [another gripe with the minidisc].

It runs on a pair of AA batteries, which I very much prefer to any form of built-in rechargeables. Battery life is good enuf for my purposes.

The 'Data Wheel' is bogus. I had to exchange one DR07 for sketchy functioning of the wheel. I could tell by the faulty functioning that it's not a real data wheel but simply a plastic wheel with bumps on it that tap at a pair of microswiches. Even when functioning as designed, such a design is slower to use and subject to more wear and tear than a real printed circuit multi-contact data wheel.

Possibly due to the nature of the data wheel, fast playback searching *within* any track is not-so-fast. You can also 'fast search' inside a track via the FF and REW buttons, but the max speed avaiable is 10X of the regular playback. This means it takes a full minute of FF or RW to run past 10 minutes of music. That's always such a looooonnnng minute ! ! !

I get the impression that the recording circuits, and mics, are of a better quality than the playback circuits. When I burn the files to a CD, the sound is excellent when the CD is played. But if I play back the direct output of the DR07 to the same amp and speakers that plays my CD player, the sound is audibly inferior to what I get when playing the CD. 'Inferior' means a lack of bottom, and a generally thinner, 'canned'-sounding playback.

I have never tried playing the SD card [with the dr07's wav files on it] in the card slot of another [more deluxe] recorder. That would clarify my opinion here. OTOH, the files sound better when copied to my PC, which is an ordinary office PC that does NOT have any multimedia asspirations ... meaning it has no fancy sound card.

So again, the DR07 itself seems to be the worst device for listening to playback of its own recordings.

It's a typical 'small black plastic digital device'.

Compared to other small digital recorders I would say that 3 points of the DR07 where competitors [or better tascams] might be offering superior design are:

1. the data wheel, as mentioned above.

2. possibly better built-in playback, as also mentioned above.

3. 1/4' jacks and/or XLR jacks instead of the 1/8 jacks on the DR07. In fairness, bigger jacks would make the unit much larger.

My main gripes are the slow 'fast search' and the questionable data wheel design.

The inferior playback is less important, cuz there are other ways to play back the recordings outside the unit. And these other ways also have better fast search.

However, it's small, affordable, convenient for the task of basic recording.

I'm rating it a '3', but that's as a $130 recorder competing in what we might call the $400-and-under catagory. For a $130 it's an excellent bargain and serves my simple needs. With an outboard mic, I'm sure it could make fine recordings for those with more advanced needs. But those with more advanced needs would prolly be happier with a $300 or $400 unit, and not regret the extra expense.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com