October 3, 2016

Tascam Wants to Change the Way We Record Lavalier Audio

Tascam DR-10L
Tascam's newest lavalier device uses local recording, instead of wireless broadcast, to ensure you get the sound you need.

Wireless lavalier sound has long been a staple of filmmaking, even showing up as a TV trope when actors forget to turn their packs off. However, with an increasingly full wireless broadcast spectrum leading to more and more radio interference, wireless microphones are simply less useful than they used to be, especially in densely populated areas. The possibility of dropouts, combined with the high price—the popular Sennheiser package you see most often on set starts around $600—has left many filmmakers to rely on cable audio wherever possible.

With the Tascam, you get 10 hours of broadcast quality record time available off a single triple-A battery.

But there are times where cable audio just isn't the most convenient choice. Tascam has a rather elegant solution to the problem: its new DR-10L recorder device.

Tascam DR-10L Credit: Tascam

Using the familiar layout of a cable with an integrated lavalier microphone and clip that plugs directly into a small belt-mounted pack, the Tascam changes things up so that the pack functions as a recorder instead of a broadcaster. With 10 hours of broadcast quality record time available off a single triple-A battery, you can set it in the morning, change a battery at lunch, and make it through an entire shoot day recording all of the audio you need locally—without worrying about radio interference or dropouts.

The unit is set up for dual-record mode, simultaneously recording the audio at two levels.

The screen is easily readable in daylight and the controls are easy for your actors to learn (when they want to shut off recording for privacy reasons, for example). The unit is also set up for dual-record mode, simultaneously recording the audio at two levels (one high, one low) so that a backup lower volume track is available if your main track gets too loud and you lose resolution to clipping the audio file. This feature is a great backup since you won't be live-mixing the audio on the recorder as you might with a broadcast unit.

Tascam Record Unit DR10LCredit: Tascam

There is an auto limiter that can turn down the record level if it detects a volume change, but those don't always catch short, loud sounds, so having a second record channel set lower to catch a sudden shout, punch, or gunshot is a great backup to capture even loud noises in a clean manner.

Of course, since the audio is recorded separately, post-synching of your audio is required. But considering the power of automatic synching tools in Premiere, Resolve, and using plugins like Pluraleyes, that extra step in your post workflow seems well worth it to ensure that you have the safety of knowing that your audio is being recorded directly, and that radio interference won't ruin your perfect take. 

The product is shipping by late October and is available now from B&H.

Tech specs

  • 44.1kHz/48kHz, 16/24-bit linear PCM mono/poly BWAV File Format
  • Up to 32GB on microSD or microSDHC Card
  • 1/8" Stereo Headphone Output
  • Single AAA Battery Records 10 Hours
  • Built-In Limiter Function
  • Low-Cut Filter Reduces Wind and Rumble
  • Dual Recording Mode and Automatic Level Function
  • 63G weight including battery
  • Lavalier microphone with microphone clip and windscreen included (cable length: 160cm)
  • Sliding record switch and hold function to prevent misoperation during recording
  •  Automatic file closing function to prevent the loss of already recorded data
  • Low/Mid Low/Mid/High/High plus recording level settings
  • Built-in clock function, supports BWF files with included time information - convenient for editing and searching
  • Time track incrementing function can create new files at regular intervals (about every 15 minutes) during recording
  • Playback function allows recorded data to be checked immediately
  • Easy-to-read organic EL display
  • micro USB B port enables easy data exchange with computers
  • Unit settings can be created as a computer text file
  • Firmware can be updated using a microSD card
  • Case, Windscreen, Mic Clip & USB Cable, Belt clip and Custom case for storing the unit and accessories included
  • RoHS-compliant product

Your Comment

54 Comments

It's like the Zoom H1, but with some extra features!
I not that much of fan of that 600u$d price point!

October 3, 2016 at 3:56PM

14
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Randall Flagg
DP and techie
86

You Pay: $169.99 - $600 was the Sennheiser price.

October 3, 2016 at 5:04PM

21
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Does it record to SD cards, or to an internal hard drive on the device itself?

I'm very weary recording audio on something you cannot actively monitor while filming. Imagine you shoot a long take, thinking everything is fine and dandy, only to check your audio after and realize the battery died during a monologue. I also don't see a headphone jack, so I'm assuming the only way to playback audio is to transfer it to a computer and check it then, which can get very cumbersome.

If you're concerned about spectrum, there's always the RodeLink. I haven't used it myself but just based on the product description.

October 3, 2016 at 4:16PM, Edited October 3, 4:16PM

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Eduardo Morales
Director, Editor
68

There is a headphone jack, and it records to microSDs. I just checked them out and listened at AES and they are pretty awesome. I think wireless monitoring could be achieve with wireless headphone jack transmitters.

October 3, 2016 at 5:08PM

23
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Matt Day
Director
98

...but then that's two packs instead of one.

October 3, 2016 at 5:30PM

38
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Pat Heine
Producer.
124

True, just providing a way to head wireless monitoring, and still at a 1/4 the price of a G3 set-up.

October 4, 2016 at 2:23AM

0
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Matt Day
Director
98

A better design would have been to combine this recorder with a Sennheiser transmitter. You can monitor wireless, but have a local recording in addition to the camera channel so if there were signal issues you have a pristine version.

Would have to be one integrated devices, not a splitter, so you monitor what is getting recorded.

October 6, 2016 at 3:01PM, Edited October 6, 3:02PM

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I have two of these units which are the Tascam DR10C. Which I ordered from an overseas uk website. They are great! I've used them with a Sanken COS 11d and Countyman B6 lav mics. They work great and used them many times. Now that they are able to sell them in the U.S. I recommend you guys looking into them. I'm currently comparing them to my JuicedLink little darling. I think so far JuicedLink wins in sound but sucks in design and ease of use.

October 3, 2016 at 4:28PM

18
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$25 Sony Cs3 and $79 Zoom H1.. Done.

October 3, 2016 at 4:31PM

0
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Mustafa Johnson
Director/Videographer/Editor
182

These are a quarter of the size and clip to your belt.

October 3, 2016 at 5:08PM

0
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Matt Day
Director
98

True, and they also record a backup track at lower gain.. Still, not having any control or even visual feedback on what's happening, I wouldn't feel safe.

October 6, 2016 at 6:52PM

0
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zetty
Filmmaker
705

I don't think I've ever shot with a lav where the talent didn't bump it at some point, get their hair rubbing on the mic, rub the cable with their arm etc. How do you know about that stuff if you're not monitoring? I thought at the very least it would send a wireless signal to a pair of bluetooth headphones or something with the optimism of the article title.

October 3, 2016 at 4:33PM

5
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Clayton Arnall
Camera Pointer
90

This is really cool, but disappointed that they didn't have the courage to use a lightning port instead of this dumb old AUX input.

October 3, 2016 at 5:09PM

0
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Hahaha. I see what you did there.
Courage. hahahah.

October 4, 2016 at 10:11AM

0
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Without a way to remotely monitor and trigger stop/start, this is kind of useless.

October 3, 2016 at 5:30PM

1
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Batutta
21

It's a great concept, I just can't think of a single situation where I'd be comfortable recording without actively monitoring. Level control is one thing, but with lav mics there are SO often issues like clothes rubbing, wind noise, hands touching around the mic etc. that are impossible to catch without actively monitoring, and not finding out about those issues until the edit can be enormously problematic.

October 3, 2016 at 6:07PM

3
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Brynn Sankey
Cinematographer
323

I just find it amazing that Tascam didn't anticipate this.

October 3, 2016 at 10:29PM

3
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Oskar Arnarson
Director
8

Of course, they did. It's for the people who won't care, or who work on stuff where it doesn't really matter.

October 6, 2016 at 6:54PM

0
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zetty
Filmmaker
705

Would have expected a comparison with the Little DARling to stop this coming across as advertorial. Just sayin.

October 3, 2016 at 6:26PM, Edited October 3, 6:26PM

3
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Stu Mannion
writer/dir/dp
287

was just about to say

October 4, 2016 at 2:38AM

0
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Jeff Waweru
Photographer / Filmmaker / Designer
1

Game changer? Maybe for people who haven't been paying attention. Tascam has been trying to steal Zaxcom's models and market share for years. I don't want Limiters or AGC's getting in the way of my dynamic range. Only Zaxcom holds the technology and quality to rival wireless workflow and monitoring techniques. Leave this crap (and its low-level electronics) to the prosumers and wedding one-man-bands who want to put their clients' recordings at risk from a lack of remote monitoring.

October 3, 2016 at 6:44PM, Edited October 3, 6:44PM

4
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Thomas Cassetta
Production Sound Mixer / Re-recording Mixer
9

i shoot weddings, and you can't stop a ceremony even if you hear audio problems. the best solution for me is redundancy, and this thing is perfect to complement a wireless unit.

tried the little darling. it had some build quality issues and was a pain to start and stop. will be trying this when it comes out.

October 4, 2016 at 5:09PM

0
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Limiters and AGC can be turned on or off on the Tascams.

October 5, 2016 at 8:20PM

0
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Limiters and AGC can be turned on and off on the Tascam.

October 5, 2016 at 8:21PM

1
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Without a way to listen to the audio it's recording, I'm not interested. And to listen back to each actor's takes after their takes would take a ridiculous amount of time. I'll pass on this one and keep my sound mixer.

October 3, 2016 at 6:51PM, Edited October 3, 6:51PM

0
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Steve Yager
Director/Actor
217

If you really have to do it on the cheap, get a liv and just record to your phone(s) .... i have Sennheiser gear and it is solid. You usually get what you pay for...just my 2 cents.

October 3, 2016 at 7:01PM

0
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it's getting closer. they need wireless control, tc, and monitoring and they could do away with rf audio transmission.

October 3, 2016 at 8:40PM

0
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guest
100

I think some folks are missing the point. No, it doesn't make sense to use this as a primary recording device. But it makes a ton of sense (especially for $169) to use this as a back-up mic. You could be screwed if you were to get any interference or drop outs, especially in situations where the talent is a longer distance from the transmitter. So you put two mics on the talent. Big deal. Good sound is essential and this (or the Little darling) makes perfect sense.

October 3, 2016 at 9:31PM, Edited October 3, 9:31PM

0
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Whatever it's recording will be useless if the sound has been interfered with in some fashion along the way. Look, I can buy Bluetooth headphones for $20. There's NO reason why they couldn't have put a Bluetooth transceiver in the damned thing so you could monitor what it's recording. It's useless without monitoring.

October 3, 2016 at 9:44PM, Edited October 3, 9:44PM

2
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Vidrazor
345

I second that, my thoughts exactly. And they could have still kept it cheap.

October 3, 2016 at 10:25PM

0
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Oskar Arnarson
Director
8

Sorry, I made a mistake. My comment goes at the main column.

October 4, 2016 at 10:56AM, Edited October 4, 10:59AM

0
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I love how all these naysayers don't see the value. I agree, not being able to monitor the sound can be nerve wracking but if you have clear view of the mic, why not use this tool? I have the H1 Zoom and in most cases it has not failed me. The dual record option is pretty nice and I do agree with some people here, a Bluetooth option to monitor that it's recording or maybe even listen in via an app would be nice. Aside that that, not a bad tool to have in the bag. I have come to NEVER depend on a wireless system cause even the most legit operators can run into snags and when that sound drops, I'm ready to punch some faces!

October 3, 2016 at 9:48PM

0
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Gusto Lopez
DP
117

FYI Tascam and Juicedlink can't enable the headphone jack during recording due to patent issues with zaxcom, that's the reason why neither feature wireless monitoring.

Ps: I love my Juicedlink little darling, it's built like a tank and I especially like the remote for wireless start, stop and slate.

October 3, 2016 at 11:46PM

0
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Is this specifically for Lav Packs? Or are you talking all recorders by Tascam, because I have been able to live monitor my DR-40.

October 4, 2016 at 11:57AM

0
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Taylor Mefford
Video Editor / Sound Designer / Music Composer
100

I followed a link to this article from an industry forum and felt compelled to sign up.

As a production sound mixer with almost 20 years experience I have to point out that the best results on set will always be captured by at least an audio team (mixer, 1AS & 2AS) using boom operators. There is a time for wireless (mine cost $3,000-5,000 per channel) but professionals generally use them as a backup.

I owned these Tascams for about a year (been available in the U.K. Before the US due to patent problems) and used them on occasion but only as a backup of a wireless mic of range has been an issue.

My final point is they cannot be relied upon 100% as they cannot be directly monitored so you don't know what you have recorded until the edit!

Is it really worth the risk or the time delay of reviewing every take on set?

October 4, 2016 at 1:07AM, Edited October 4, 1:07AM

0
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Matt Bacon
Sound Mixer
19

It is really a wonderful news.
Just looking forward to know the price.

October 4, 2016 at 5:09AM

0
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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
246

I can't research every single audio system on the market, and I've been thrilled with my G3s, but why hasn't any company figured out that you should be able to record locally and monitor wirelessly? That way, any interference that occurs won't actually be in the recording and you'll be able to listen for anything that goes wrong. You could even record the receiver output as an "oh shit" track. This just seems so incredibly obvious to me.

October 4, 2016 at 9:17AM

0
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Corey Crago
Producer
19

Body pack recorders have been around for years--how's this different? If you watch any sound guy work with one of these it's typically for nat sound on a moving subject. For example we threw one on a mountain biker to get some audio we wouldn't be able to get otherwise. No time code is going to be the killer.

October 4, 2016 at 9:18AM

0
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Tommy Penick
DP/Cinematographer
33

As you all say, it is much cheaper to use zoom H1 and a mic. I use it with a rode smartLav+ and the results are very good.

October 4, 2016 at 10:57AM

0
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Wow. So much negativity. I can see many uses for these. Plus, it's not hard to set-up your own wireless monitoring system.

Might consider grabbing a couple for back-up

October 4, 2016 at 11:59AM

0
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Taylor Mefford
Video Editor / Sound Designer / Music Composer
100

I also agree, that without monitoring this device makes no sense for film use cases.

But maybe it is interessting for people who do wedding movies, where you have only "one-chance-takes" like ceremonies in churches. Then even wireless and monitoring won't help you (e.g. if pastor rubs cloths over mic). You cannot jump up and yell: "CUUUUUUUT!! We have to repeat this take. Back to your positions, please." When it is f***** up, then it is f***** up. :-)

October 4, 2016 at 12:40PM, Edited October 4, 12:42PM

0
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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator
775

exactly. different tools for different purposes.

October 5, 2016 at 1:43PM

0
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This is interesting but how would you monitor the audio?

October 4, 2016 at 1:16PM

0
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O'Raine Thomas
Cinematographer/DP/Editor
43

Using your current wireless set-up.

October 4, 2016 at 5:15PM

0
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Matt Bacon
Sound Mixer
19

I’m looking at acquiring a few of these for documentary work. Right now I have a couple of G3s and a Tascam recorder, but it’s cumbersome. For a solo shooter following multiple subjects, the size, recording time, and dual level recording, is what I’m looking for. Yes, not being able to monitor will take a bit of getting used to, and I will continue to use the G3s for interviews. But the Tascams do have their uses.

October 4, 2016 at 1:51PM

1
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Craig Cerhit
Photographer / Filmmaker
23

Let me clear this up for some people because the negativity on this is amazing.
1) Tascam came out with a similar version over year ago with the designation DR-10CS. It can only be sold overseas and not in the US because of a lawsuit brought by Zaxcom. The 10CS has headphone monitoring and a pass through jack for a wireless transmitter. The new 10L does not have this pass through jack and can be sold in the US because it does not infringe on the Zaxcom patent. I do not know if the the 10L will have headphone monitoring while recording because its possible to connect a wireless transmitter through the headphone jack and then would infringe Zaxcoms patent. But I don't know for sure. Zaxom has a similar device but its extremely expensive. Why they got all upset about this makes zaxcom look stupid.
2) It was designed for backup of wireless transmitters like the sennheiser G3 so you would have a backup in case you have frequency issues. It can also be used without the wireless transmitter. Yes you can't monitor it in this way but it has a dual recording mode where there is a second track recorded at -6db lower to protect for a sudden loud sound.
3) It is much smaller than a zoom H1 if you want to hide it on somebody.
4) B&H has it a price of $169.
5) Juicedlinked makes a similar device called the little DAR but its got a more convoluted way to get it to record. The dr10's are very simple to use and have a locking 3.5mm connecter just like the little dar. The little dar also has dual record mode but the second track is -16db lower not -6db like the tascam
6) there is a headphone jack on the the Dr10cs and the Dr10L
7) The dr10L has more gain options than the 10CS. 5 instead of 3. A future firmware update may come for the CS but i don't really know.
8) You can have an unlimited amount of these running at the same time, say you're shooting a party scene with 8 people and you won't break the bank. You put one of these on each of the talent hit record and it will record until the battery dies, like 10 hours depending on the micro SD card you are using (up to 32GB) so monitoring 8 recorders by bluetooth is impossible. Thats why it doesn't have it.. It you want to monitor by bluetooth for one or two recorders ,cheap bluetooth transmitters can be attached to the headphone jack to monitor them. (not sure about the 10L but the CS has headphone monitoring while recording.) and get a bluetooth headphone that can monitor two devices but I'm not sure you can monitor simutaneosely by bluetooth. But you can boom the scene like usual and monitor and have the recorders as a backup in case the boom misses something.
9) someone needs to do a test between the Juicedlink and the tascam.
10) The film Escape from Tomorrow which shot secretly at Disneyland used small Olympus recorders hidden on actors so as not to be noticed without monitoring sound and it worked just fine. The tascams are much smaller to put on talent and can run for a long time on a single AA battery. Yes you will have to sync in post but this has gotten easier with those of certain programs that will do it automatically.

October 4, 2016 at 3:58PM

0
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thanks for all the info. really helpful in making my decision

October 5, 2016 at 1:46PM

0
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Thanks. Also it uses a AAA battery not a AA

October 5, 2016 at 3:38PM

0
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Good info, thanks.

It's a little bit of a bummer that the secondary recording is hard-coded at -6 dB. Other Tascams let you set the secondary level, which is great. I'd prefer at least a 10 dB difference.

October 9, 2016 at 2:12AM, Edited October 9, 2:12AM

0
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David Gurney
DP
1439

Let me educate you fools that are downing this product. It's obviously because you lack real world experience and working on project where a product such as this can be useful. I do a lot of tv shows it's my main line of work. Yes this in no way replaces a normal audio setup nor should it, but there are situations where this is a game changer, well not really because Lectros kinda already offer a product with this capability, but those are usually way out of small budgets. But this for example is great for situations where frequency drop out is more then likely. For example car to car or riding a motorcycle where the audio mixer can not be in the vechicle and the person film will drop out of range. This has been a problem in a lot of filming of this type, now you can get that audio clean. Really for that matter this product works for any sistuation when the camera crew will be distanced from their filming subject, extreme sports, zip lining mountain climbing, skiing, running, aircraft, dangerous situations, moving vechicles

October 4, 2016 at 6:43PM

1
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Zaxcom ZFR has been out for many years now. It's the gold standard for a bodypack recorder. I've owned them in the past... they are a great tool for very specific purposes. This new unit is the el-cheapo version of the Zax unit, but it will get a job done in a pinch. I'd use it for a budget scenario, sure.

October 5, 2016 at 2:07AM

0
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scott stoneback
DP, cameraman
1

Sounds interesting, but not really perfect for me. Any models to compare which have the capapility to monitor the recording with headphones? I´ve read that this does not work with Tascam.
Maybe a model with 2 inputs for Mics? (not really needed but would be nice)
Some models which work with my Sennheiser MK2 gold Lav
Thanks

October 5, 2016 at 8:00AM

0
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Pedro Hofmann
my own boss
97

Been doing this with a Røde lav plugged into an old iPhone and the Voice Record Pro app. Great sound, more versatile. Recording goes straight to Dropbox.

October 6, 2016 at 2:44PM

0
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Rob Reiter
Commander Of The Realm
93

Juiced Link has already done this. Why no mention?
http://www.juicedlink.com/products/dar124-little-darling-distributed-aud...

October 6, 2016 at 8:12PM, Edited October 6, 8:12PM

0
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Nice-looking design and the dual-recording feature is great.

But Tascam's reliability sucks. The DR-70D has proven to be a major embarrassment and a professional liability more than once.

Hopefully they've gotten it together with this thing, but beware. This review is bombastic but totally supported by my experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Crx0ojp0IKk

October 8, 2016 at 6:52PM

0
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David Gurney
DP
1439

The guy's rant about the DR70 reveals user error on his part. Totally bogus review IMHO. Sure, the DR70 is not bombproof like my Sound Devices 522, but that user clearly didn't understand how to use the device, got a second unit and kept having issues with it. No where in the video does he indicate if anyone was actually monitoring the recording process, or testing his set up. If something doesn't work the first time, you debug the situation before moving forward! His demeanor suggests he's the kind of guy who spends more time ranting than reading manuals.

October 22, 2016 at 2:38PM, Edited October 22, 2:38PM

1
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Dave Patterson
Preditor (producer/editor)
349