April 19, 2015
NAB 2015

Audio Recorders for Filmmakers: See What's New & Improved from Tascam at NAB

At NAB this past week, David Plummer caught up with Jeff Laity of Tascam to chat about a few of company's audio recording products for filmmakers, including the DR-70D, a recorder which mounts to the bottom of your camera system, the DR-680MKII field recorder, and the DR-44WL handheld recorder. Now that we've got all of those catchy product names out of the way, here's David:

All three Tascam recorders in the video are currently available through B&H for prices of $299 for the DR-70D and DR-44WL, and $599 for the DR680MKII. Here are some specs and photos.

DR-70D

Tascam DR-70D Audio Recorder
  • Records 4 Channels Simultaneously
  • Camera & Follow-Focus Cage Mountable
  • BWAV Format for NLE Compatibility
  • Dual Built-In Omnidirectional Mics
  • Dedicated Camera Output
  • Slate Function
  • Dual Record Function
  • Limited & High-Pass Filter
  • Records to SD, SDHC, SDXC Cards
  • Price: $300

DR-44WL

Tascam DR-44WL

  • Wi-Fi Enabled Control and File Transfers
  • Stereo XY Condenser Microphone
  • 2x Combo XLR Inputs
  • 4-Track Multitrack Mode
  • 24-bit/96kHz Recording
  • Dual-Level Recording
  • Dual-Format Recording
  • Record to SD Cards
  • Windscreen, Mic Grip, Shoe Mount Adapter
  • microSD Adapter, microSD Card, Case
  • Price: $300

DR-680MKII

Tascam DR-680MKII
  • 4x Balanced Mic/Line Inputs
  • 6x Unbalanced Outputs
  • Records to SD/SDHC/SDXC Cards
  • HDDA Microphone Preamplifiers
  • WAV, BWF, and MP3 File Format Support
  • COAXIAL Digital Input and Output
  • Cascade Multiple Recorders Together
  • GANG Multiple Tracks Together
  • Supports Lithium Batteries
  • Includes Shoulder Strap
  • Price: $600

All three recorders are currently available and in-stock at B&H, so head over there and check them out if you're interested.


No Film School's complete coverage of NAB 2015 is brought to you by Color Grading Central, Shutterstock, Blackmagic Design, and Bigstock.

No Film School's coverage of NAB is brought to you by Color Grading Central, Shutterstock, Blackmagic Design, and Bigstock

Your Comment

16 Comments

DR60d works great for $200. Also, you can use that one in a shoulder bag for an audio guy to run off a boom pole. 2.5hrs recording time on double A's though... not too bad. No complaints.

April 19, 2015 at 6:16PM

15
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Lane McCall
Producer/Director
416

I've owned a lot of Tascam gear, and also some of their competitors. I really like Tascam's sound, usually quite neutral. Not harsh, not overly bassy. The 680mkii is a great piece of gear at the price. Nice to see support of lithium batteries finally! The DR-44WL seems like a decent competitor to the Zoom H5 and likely has better audio quality. The DR70L seems like a great addition under camera. Well designed for the solo shooter.

April 20, 2015 at 12:54AM

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Just as a general post... NFS, you can continue to post your NAB interviews well past the event. There is or WAS so much going on, I'm sure you guys put a ton in the can and have to turn it around here. Keep up the good work.

April 20, 2015 at 1:34AM

5
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Gilly
237

Are these recorders cinema quality? What's the lowest cost recorder you can shoot a feature with and it wont sound distractingly cheap?

April 20, 2015 at 2:16AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
779

I don't think any of these sound 'distractingly cheap'.

It looks like the DR-680MKII has the best preamps. I'm sure you can record cinema quality sound with it.

Keep in mind that knowledge, mics, editing and mixing are also of vital importance to achieve what you hear in movies.

April 20, 2015 at 6:00AM

6
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Álex Montoya
Writer/Director
532

Triton Audio makes a nice inline Class A JFet amplifier (FetHead) for boosting your signal to a field recorder. It's clean gain. Might help your dialogue stand out more...

April 20, 2015 at 10:24AM, Edited April 20, 10:24AM

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Joseph Arant
Writer
124

This is a poor question. A better one you should be asking is "What makes something sound cheap", or better yet "What makes something cinema quality?

In regards to a recorder, the first answer is going to be your noise floor. A recorder or mixer (these are one and the same in this instance) should have a very low noise floor. That is, the static sound that appears as hiss underneath a track. This has a lot to do with how it is made, as well as the microphone you use, the quality of cable shielding, and a few other environmental factors.

Also, what kind of file format is it recording to? If it is a broadcast WAV file, as it can be with these recorders, there will be no compression artifacting, which can appear as a tinny or distorted sound.

Another factor is the coloration of the sound, of which most recorders these days will have little that will affect an indie level film.

Beyond these factors, for your purposes there will not be any other points for the recorder that will affect the sound you are looking for. More importantly will be your choice of microphone and wireless system (when applicable) to achieve a "cinematic" sound. This is, of course, not even delving into the mixing process.

It is more important to know WHY, as opposed to just asking IF.

April 20, 2015 at 1:59PM

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Joshua Bowen
Editor
740

I stand by my question. I don't do sound. I asked this question in hopes to have a couple of manufacture names thrown my way, I'd remember these for further investigation when the time came to hire someone with their own equipment with some work behind them.

April 20, 2015 at 11:34PM

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Vincent Gortho
none
779

It's not really what you own, it's what you do with it. An incompetent could use Senhieser, Marantz, et al, and fail.

I'd rather have someone reliable and with skill show up with a cheap lav and a Zoom H1 than the former example.

You'r not going to get good stuff simply because you use a brand name.

April 25, 2015 at 11:40AM, Edited April 25, 11:40AM

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I have the Tascam 70D. I bought it because finally someone released a recorder with XLR inputs AND dual/backup recording (clipping protection, implemented as a simultaneous recording at a lower level). You can even set the level of the backup recording, which I haven't seen before.

Zoom has repeatedly failed on this count; their recorders that offer dual recording inexplicably can't do it on the XLR inputs. You can only have clipping protection on the built-in mics (or an optional capsule that doesn't provide phantom power)!

The problem with the Tascam is embarrassingly tacky build quality. The main door, which you'll use a lot because the memory card and batteries reside behind it, isn't even hinged. It's just loosely lodged onto the front of the unit and tethered with a strip of what looks like licorice. I wanted to return this thing the minute I opened it; it's that insulting.

The built-in mics are not angled out at all, for any kind of stereo separation. Not that you'll be using them much, but come on.

Tascam's menu organization is senseless in some cases. Try finding how to turn phantom power on and off.

I haven't tested the preamp noise level yet, but that's next. The headphone output is noisy as hell, and if the line out is as bad, forget using the unit as a field mixer to deliver final audio to the camera. I guess few people would attempt to do that anyway, but be aware.

April 20, 2015 at 5:11PM

3
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David Gurney
DP
1670

I should mention that I think the Tascam will work fine; it does have a pretty complete feature set. I also have the Sony PCM-D50, which has far higher build quality but is a pain in the ass because it lacks XLR inputs.

April 20, 2015 at 5:15PM

0
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David Gurney
DP
1670

Oh my god, that stupid stupid door. Other than that, I'm really happy with it so far even with the short battery life. I'm also pleased with the preamps.

April 21, 2015 at 11:46PM

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Don Way
Writer/Director of Photography
896

DR-70D
Great stuff.
But I am missing switchable channels in the monitoring line.

April 21, 2015 at 7:25AM

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Stephan Mussil
Director of Photography
81

I have a number of Tascam recorders (DR680, 60D and 40D) and they have served me well. The one feature I wish they offered was a way to name individual tracks. The lack of this makes it very difficult to hand off files to post production unless I provide a written report of what is on each track. This isn't a big problem with a single mono or stereo file, but when recording 6 to 8 tracks on my DR680, I really want a way to name the files as they are being recorded, rather than have to manually do so afterwards.

April 21, 2015 at 4:05PM, Edited April 21, 4:05PM

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David Patterson
videographer/editor
281

I've owned the D70 for about six months now and have loved it. Doing run and gun documentary work with it is awesome and the ability to record 4 channels internally and then send scratch audio to camera make it a great little device. The only negative aspect is the preamp is a tad weak and I haven't been able to power shotguns/cardioids to good levels without noise creeping in. Still a great purchase for the price and a it's easy enough to add a JuicedLink preamp to my audio bag to keep all the signals clean.

April 21, 2015 at 9:21PM

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Micah Hancock
Media Director
74

I found more information on the Triton Fethead, decent test...

http://chromonaut.ch/2013/boost-zoom-h4n-recordings/

April 24, 2015 at 1:53AM

7
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Joseph Arant
Writer
124