Customer Reviews

555
4.3 out of 5 stars
TASCAM DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder
Style Name: Handheld RecorderChange
Price:$94.88 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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301 of 311 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2011
I purchased this to record my daughter's piano recitals. I researched the options and found this to give me the best feature set for the money. What was important to me was easy transfer of files to my PC, good battery life, cheap and expandable media, ease of use, choice of manual and auto record levels, and the ability to change recording levels once recording has started. And of course it should make good sounding recordings!

This device met all of these criteria both on paper an in actual use. To play around with it, I have been recording my daughter's practice sessions. I was shocked at the sound quality even from the built in microphones. The resulting recording had no hiss, had good punch in the low end, didn't audibly distort even when the peak light would light, and had great stereo imaging. Wow! Transferring files to my PC is literally drag-n-drop since the device appears as an external drive when connected to the PC. I've recorded about 5 hours along with about 3 hours of playback and the battery charge indicator still hasn't dropped. This is using the provided alkaline batteries.

I upgraded to a 16GB memory card that cost me <$30. That's what I call a cheap storage upgrade from the 2GB card provided!

To really put it through it's paces, I brought it along to record my daughter's school play. The resulting recroding sounded awesome and was very faithful to how it sounded live. I was afraid that the audience clapping would really overload the microphones since I set the levels manually for the performers. Though there is clipping during the applause sections, it is not bad at all. I didn't even feel the need to round out the clipping during post processing. My daughter was very excited to hear the recording afterwards and agreed that it sounded great. As a point of reference, I've been making all of my recordings as stereo 16 bit 44kHz WAV files (aka CD quality/spec).

There is a little bit of handling noise, but that is to be expected with a device with built in microphones. But if you are careful, you can minimize this. I tweaked the levels at the start and you can barely tell I was pushing buttons on it. During the entire performance, I just laid the DR-05 on the empty chair next to me.

The only downside I can find with this device is that the input is really hot for line-in. If you do not have control of the output you connect to the line-in, you may have a problem. This is stated in the manual. From my reading, the more expensive models have a true line-in where this isn't a problem. If you plan to use this device to record from the outputs of a soundboard or other device, you may want to move up to a model that supports a true line-in. I don't plan on using this device this way, so it isn't an issue for me.

Coming from using a Sony HiMD Minidisc recorder for similar tasks in the past, I can't tell you how much of a pleasure the DR-05 is to use. It is so easy to use and produces great results straight out of the box. I highly recommend this device.
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302 of 323 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2011
I own a few portable digital audio recorders and the Tascam DR-05 functions very well. It's bigger than I think it should be, but the button layout is super simple to use and I was able to control most of the features without reading the manual.

I wish the onboard mics had an X/Y pattern instead of being spread out, but the Tascam DR-07 Mark II, that is coming out soon will have that feature, so I might be getting that, too.

I haven't delved into the feature that slows down the audio playback yet or some of the other special tricks this device can do, but all in all, it's a great recorder so far.
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148 of 157 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2011
Verified Purchase
The other reviews are accurate so I won't go into the details deeply except for:

1. The AC adapter Amazon is "recommending" for this unit (PS-P520) is not correct. You need a power adapter that works with the small female USB input. The model number for the correct one is PS-P515U based on the info in the owners manual. Good luck finding one. I would plan on using batteries.

2. The external mic input is a balanced mini which is looking for "mic level" input. If you are doing something like I am, which is bringing in a signal from a device operating at line level output, you will be coming into the recorder too hot resulting in horrible distortion. I purchased a Sescom SEL2MTDR100 LN2MIC-TASDR100 cable from B&H Photo which should alleviate the problem. Basically it is mini cable with a built-in attenuator that pads down the signal -35DB. I paid $27 plus shipping for that. You can adjust the input levels on the unit but it won't solve this problem.

3. Definitely get a mini tripod, they are cheap. The unit probably works best in the upright position. It stands up on its own but if you are like me and you have a guitar in your lap and you want to just reach over and press "Record" and "Play" with one hand the unit is going to fall over.

Other than that the sound quality is decent and it is pretty easy to use.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2012
Verified Purchase
I would best describe the DR-05 as a high-quality, consumer-grade recorder. I have read several reviews here that seemed to have unrealistic expectations of this device. You have to keep in mind that this is Tascam's "base model" portable recorder. In this price range, it is hard to really ask for more out of it. I bought this device to make real-world samples that accompany the music I make in my home studio. For this, it serves it's purpose very well.

Sound Quality:

The built-in mics are on par with my Sony stereo electret condenser mic. In other words, they are very good and create accurate samples. However, don't expect them to be as good as a pair of studio-grade condensers in X/Y pattern running through a premium, all-tube pre-amp and into the rack-mounted A/D converter. If you are a professional audio engineer, you might find the onboard mic's to sound a little frail. For 99.9% of the rest of the world, they will sound excellent. Keep in mind that these mic's are omni-directional, so don't expect a tightly focused polar pattern. If you need to limit background noise, you may want to invest in an external mic.

The mic input works great with the aforementioned Sony electret mic, as this mic has its own on-board power supply. Just don't plug in your 48v studio mic with some makeshift XLR - 1/8" adapter and expect it to run (some guy actually did this). Overall, if you intend to do a lot of external mic work, I would opt for the DR-40 instead. Otherwise, the onboard mics are more than adequate for most work.

If you run a line in from your mixer, you may find that the signal is too hot. I found that if I run the line from the headphone output on my mixer with the headphone volume turned all the way down, it provides a perfect recording level for direct line recording from the board. This issue is covered on the bottom of page 47 of the owners manual under "CAUTION".

Features:

The DR-05 has enough features to make most of us very happy. I mainly like the broad input meters and the automated level adjustment aides. Also, the SD & USB combo makes for very easy interfacing and expansion.

Build Quality:

The device is well built, and functions as advertised. I doubt it would survive a swift 4-foot drop onto a hard surface, but again, it is not designed for that purpose. I expect it to last for long enough to easily justify the humble price tag.

Improvements:

The mic's are VERY sensitive to wind. They really ought to ship this with a basic wind screen, because without one it is confined to indoor work only.

Overall:

If you are a consumer/prosumer, this device will serve you very well. If you are a professional audio specialist that makes music/film for a living, you are likely not even looking at these "base models" in the first place.

For my needs, it is just about perfect.
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119 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2012
Depending on your needs, and the price you paid, this is not a bad recorder, but it falls short if you are expecting a serious recorder.

The Good Stuff
The Tascam menu system is very straight forward and easy to navigate. Setting this up is easy. I did not get the AC power adapter, but relied on external power delivered via a USB cable: flawless and no line noise. Used as a memo recorder, this is a real nice unit, especially if you can pick it up at reduced street prices. Sound quality through the built-in mics is good, but a little brittle sounding. I would not expect a speaker as small as the one built in to this recorder to deliver any type of audio quality, so I relied on headphones to evaluate anything I recorded. Recordings lacked volume, but were distortion free.

The Bad News
If you are going to plug a microphone in and use this to record direct to the flash memory, you will be very disappointed. I had available a recognized studio recording mic and the levels were barely audible, even with the record level set at the maximum. I ran the input through a very high end mic preamplifier and the results were not much better. This recorder is a total failure for use with microphones other than the built-in mics. The main disadvantage to these built-in mics is you cannot adjust the angles of the mics so the user is limited to wide spread stereo or mono recording modes only.

Bottom Line
At the street price this is presently available at, it is a great memo recorder or casual recorder for ambient recording. If you are a student wanting to record your professor's lectures, this is a good choice. If this will be used as a primary recording device for location sound work, it is not such a good choice. It will do a very nice job for a two person interview, but the disappointing performance with external microphones limits the recorder's versatility, hence the mediocre rating from me.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2011
Verified Purchase
I am a professional videographer who needed a sound recorder for a recent gig because a bride let me know she'd prefer to use the strings she'd hired as her soundtrack instead of external music. I did my research and figured I'd get the TASCAM DR-05 based on the reviews... expecting it to be "OK", but not stellar considering the cost. Boy, was I astounded! I was recording a cello & violin in a church without the best acoustics, and when I just sat down to listen to the recording - it was as if I'd done it in a studio! To top it off, 2 AA batteries & the simple 2GB mini card were enough for me to capture the whole wedding PLUS an hour of the reception! Buy it, Buy it, Buy it! Did I mention - Buy it!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
Verified Purchase
Perfect digital voice recorder for video podcasting. The price is really cheap for this professional recorder. Just try to see some video tutorials in youtube for how to use Tascam DR-05, the following steps are important for perfect noise cancellation with DR-05:
1. press the recording button once.
2. reduce the recording volume level untill you see no background noise is appearing on the screen (L+R bars) {try level 40 to 50}.
3. press "quick" button to choose the noise cancellation method (use either "peak reduction" or "limiter").
4. press recording button again and start recording.
5. enjoy clear recording :)
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2012
Verified Purchase
Over the years I've purchased several pocket recorders and was disapointed in every single one of them. I started with the mini cassette recorders and when the digital ones came out, I went ahead and got one of those. If all that I had needed was a device to allow me to capture some sounds worth retaining for the future, all these various devices certainly did that. They just didn't do it very well, and for some of the units I remember as a child creating a telephone out of two tin cans and some string that actually sounded better then some of these units.

Although I was reluctant to do so, primarily because of my fear of wasting money on yet another piece of crap, I recently decided to try it once again. I had at least a slight sence of hope that these devices had evolved from toy/junk status into something that could produce at least an acceptable recording. I was pretty much forced into it because I needed to attend a conference that my wife could not attend, and record the various talks and discussions for her at that conference.

I originally had selected a different device from another manufacturer, but just before pressing the "BUY" button I decided to try to find a few more reviews on that item. They were enough to push me away from it, and that's when I found this unit. The reviews were mostly very complimentary, and those that were not seemed to be written by someone who simply should have been looking for something else. For example one person said that the sound was fine through headphones but when he played it through his laptop the sound was quite weak. Everything audible from my laptop sounds weak. DVD's. CD's. Mp3's, Everything. That's why God created external speakers. I don't think that's a good reason to complain about this device.

For what I use it for, this device is just great. I use it when I am video taping a scene that has my wife or someone else in, and that I want to capture their narration or simply thier impressions of where and what we are filming. I could use a remote mike, but this is simply much more convenient. She just carrys the recorder with her and records her thoughts, and I insert that audio file into my video while editing it. Works perfectly.

I also use it to record meetings and conventions as I've mentioned before. I have audio cleaning and enhancement software that I will use if necessary, but so far I haven't found the need to use it yet. I do put a wind screen device over the microphones when recording outside. I am able to clearly record unamplified voices speaking with a normal speaking voice easily from over 60 feet away.

Working and playing with different folders inside the device is possible, but I haven't really found a good reason to do that yet. I just plug the memory card into my desktop and copy them into folders on my hard drive. To do the basics of recording and playing back that recording seemed quite intuitive to me, and I was able to do that without opening up the manual. However, I do read manuals because there is almost always something cool in them that I would take a long time to find out on my own, and the manual that comes with this device is quite comprehensive. Ok, I didn't really find anything super cool in this manual, but I'm still glad I read it. Believe it or not, you will be happy to find out that it seems to have been written by someone who speaks English as their native language. I was impressed. Doesn't happen all the time now-a-days. I downloaded a digital version of it so I could do searching on it and learned about all I needed to know in about an hour. I'm very pleased with this unit.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2012
Verified Purchase
I bought this item because I wanted something inexpensive, but better quality than the usual handheld voice recorder. I found the built-in microphones to have very good sound quality. I am not enough of a professional audio engineer to rate the sound quality on an extremely technical basis, but I do have a fairly good pair of ears, and according to them, I am very happy with the sound quality of the DR-05. I set it down on the coffee table, about 2 feet away from me, and tried recording my classical guitar. My first attempt gave me an extremely low level recording, and the way to raise the recording level was not very obvious, so I decided to check the manual and see how to set the input level. I found the answer, raised the level to about 60% and tried again. MUCH better.

I had no problems at all downloading my recordings into my Mac; when I plug it in using the USB cable and turn it on, there was a menu with two choices: BUS POWER or STORAGE. I selected STORAGE, and in a few seconds an icon called DR-05 appeared on my screen. My recordings were in a folder called MUSIC, and I simply copied the files to my computer.

Several reviewers have expressed frustration with the DR-05, being difficult to use, or find settings. All I can recommend is READ THE MANUAL. It's all there.

Several other reviewers and commenters seem to be under the impression that rechargeable batteries cannot be used with the DR-05. There is a menu item for just this purpose: ALKALINE/NiMH; again, consult the manual. Just as with a digital camera, there is no way I would use disposable AA batteries with this device.

I really like devices that just work with their default settings right out of the box, but I also understand that not all devices work this way. That's why there are menu settings and setup routines, and that's why there are manuals.

I purchased the DR-05 here on Amazon from a third party seller. The price was extremely reasonable, and his shipping/service was excellent. However, I think the DR-05 is an excellent device, and I would have been very happy with it even at Amazon's "new" selling price.

I would recommend rechargeable AA batteries very strongly (my preference is Sanyo Eneloops), and also plan to get one of those cute, furry windscreens for outdoor recording.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2011
Verified Purchase
I use this for recording film sound, fed by a mixer via a pad cable. I like that the meters have lots of segments making them easy to read. Unfortunately the LCD can be hard to read, especially after the backlight goes out after 30 seconds, so I prefer the LED meter in my mixer even though it has less segments.

I also like that it displays the name of the file being recorded, making it easy to take notes about which recording contains what.

The audio quality seems quite good. I wonder about the merits of 24 bit recording when the dynamic range of this recorder (92 db s/n according to tascam) can fit in 16 bits 96db range, but that's an issue that most recorders in this genre share. Use 24 bits for compatibility or to look professional, not because you're getting recordings with better dynamic range.

The limiting function seems digitally implemented, and therefore seems to only work with low level signals that have digital gain already applied (high input level).

The date gets lost if I leave the batteries out overnight... why can't they just put $0.25 lithium batteries in any device with a clock?

For some reason I had some crashes trying to format a 16gb micro sd card. Eventually it worked fine; perhaps just a fluke. One thing to know is just do a quick format... full format takes like an hour or more.

Make sure to press the record button twice to get from arm into record mode(flashing not solid LED).

As another review mentions, the input jack doesn't take true line level signals, so make sure you have a way to control the level of any signal you feed into the jack.

UPDATE after a few months of use: I really like this recorder. The display has lots more info than other recorders, so I don't have to press buttons to get at metadata (timestamp, recording rate/depth, length, filename are all displayed simultaneously).

The one thing that worries me is that every few times I use it, I get "file error" displayed and recording stops/fails. I have to reboot the recorder before it works again. I suspect this is associated with large cards and deleting files, but still not sure just what causes it. So far I haven't lost anything important, but it feels like a matter of time.
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