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TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
|Price:||$299.99 & FREE Shipping|
- Locking XLR inputs accept balanced mic or line inputs
- Two sets of microphones for cardioid or omnidirectional pickup
- Dual battery systems for hours of recording
- Stereo S/PDIF digital input
- Rugged aluminum constructionincluded accessories: 2GB SD card, Exclusive Li-ion battery (BP-L2), USB connection cable, Exclusive soft case, Exclusive windsock, Wireless remote control (RC-10), Coin cell battery for confirming remote control operat
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
The rugged TASCAM DR-100mkII offers high-end recording features to musicians and engineers who demand more from their portable recorder. It features four built-in microphones, two cardioid and two omnidirectional, for great sounding recordings. A pair of XLR microphone inputs with phantom power welcomes pro-grade condenser microphones, and line in and out connectors are also provided. The markII version adds balanced line ins, S/PDIF digital inputs, locking connectors and more.
Top Customer Reviews
BUILD: The charcoal gray anodized aluminum body is solid, attractive and has excellent fit and finish. I wish the cardioid mics were black instead of glitzy chrome. The orange monochrome LCD is 1990s tech but easy to read. The only weak points are the plastic battery door and SD cover, so treat them gently. I broke off the SD door in the first few months of use. A rubber SD boot/cover would be far more durable than plastic.
I have Arca quick release plates on all my gear for fast setup/tear down. The tripod socket is a stainless steel insert but is a little shallow: most plate mount screws bottom out in the tripod socket, allowing the plate to spin. The obvious workaround is to file down the screw. However, I found a slightly shorter Sunwayfoto replacement screw and all is well.
CONTROLS: One of the hallmarks of this model is an abundance of clearly labeled physical controls, resulting in less menu surfing. Lessor models force you to struggle with nested menus to switch input sources or set the limiter, a buzz kill during performances. The MKII designers thoughtfully provided switches for those and most options! Need to change preamp sensitivity? There's a switch on the back. Want to engage or disable the limiter? Flip a switch. And those switches and buttons feel reasonably sturdy and responsive. The gain wheel is smooth but stiff enough so inadvertent level changes should be rare. If you've used a recorder before, you'll find the controls and menus intuitive. I barely cracked the manual. Only seldom used options like SD card format or selection of battery type are in the menus. Very little menu diving compared to my DR-40.
RFI RESISTANCE: I live in the inner city and am surrounded by cellphone and radio station transmitters. RFI is a major problem in my condo and every piece of gear needs shielding or it becomes a classic rock station. I am happy to report the DR-100 MKII greeted me with complete radio silence and is well shielded.
CONNECTIONS: The versatile input options of XLR, coaxial and unbalanced analog allow you to record any source needed from phantom powered condenser mics to digital mixers to turntable preamps. The DR-100 MKII has a switchable pad to toggle the XLRs from mic to line level input. Unfortunately, since this is a palm sized unit, phono and RCA jacks are MIA. You'll have to make due with adapters to plug RCA or phone jacks into the XLR or mini stereo jacks.
One of the hidden jewels of the DR-100MKII design is the coaxial digital-in port, allowing direct recording from a digital mixer, mic preamp, or DAT. Wish it was a RCA jack instead of a 3.5mm but still a welcome feature, especially since few portables have digital in. And it ships with a mini to RCA adapter so you're ready to go out of the box! The digital-in works great with my MOTU Ultralite, reaping the benefits of the better preamps and DAC while sparing me from dragging around my MacBook Pro.
Output options are few: headphone port and analog stereo out, both mini stereo jacks. Tascam could have easily squeezed in a pair of RCA jacks. So adapters will be needed to interface with studio and home stereo systems. I rarely use output jacks since the SD card goes straight in my Mac for storage and editing, so no biggie. It has mini-USB for charging and uploading to your computer, but not for playback or recording. A card reader is faster for uploads but it's good to have a USB port just in case.
BATTERIES: I love the dual battery setup with rechargeable Li-Ion and AA backup. No problem lasting through a long rehearsal and concert. Although the DR-100MKII doesn't ship with a charger, you can charge it with any USB charger, including iPhone chargers, or plug into a computer USB port.
BUILT-IN MICS cardioid mics are great for quick recordings of rehearsals or student performances. They're less noisy than the mics in the prior model (DR-100). However, the character is essentially the same: requires lots of gain and a little bright and thin sounding. Add a touch of EQ in post production and they sound surprisingly full. The omnidirectional mics--the little holes above the LCD--sound horrid. I pretend they don't exist.
RECORDING: I'm a college music educator and use the MKII to record classical guitar (acoustic) ensembles. I attach the DR-100MKII to a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with the mics pointed at the ensemble. An Arca quick release plate lives on the MKII for fast setup/tear down. The tracks are synced to DSLR video in post production. I'm directing and playing, but also operating the DR-100 MKII, so having a wired remote to start/stop record is a Godsend. IR remote doesn't work from the rear, hence the wired remote.
Classical and acoustic guitars are challenging to record due to low sound levels and subsequent high preamp gain and spare mix. With gain cranked noise from preamps and/or mics are more apparent than recording louder ensembles like rock bands or orchestras. And this is where the MKII really shines: preamps are transparent and clean, a marked improvement over the older DR-100. I'm stoked I don't need Bias SoundSoap on every track!
For critical recordings, I use a matched pair of Neumann KM184 condenser mics and the tracks really sparkle. With mic sensitivity set to high and gain at 50 to 60% the noise floor is virtually nil with these mics. The preamps also work well with my Audio-Technica AT8022 Stereo condenser mic. It yields a rich stereo image but requires considerably more gain than the Neumann.
I have a long history with Tascam equipment, going back to cassette Portastudios and DAT. And they always seem to masterfully balance great sound quality, musical needs, portability and cost. And, indeed, I'm pleased with the DR-100MKII: great features, thoughtful ergonomics, good fit and finish, sturdy metal build and wonderful sound at a nice price.
Things I like:
1.The look of the device is very professional
2 The control layouts are very intuitive although that differs by individual
3. Buttons and switches for the basics. I hate to have to delve into menu hell for a simple task
4. The home screen is fantastic. Easy to read and all the info right there
5. XLR inputs with locking connectors (pro)
6. Line in and out
7. Big buttons on the front. I've only had it for 7 hours and it feels intuitive
8. The battery charges in no time with the optional charger/ac adapter as well as with usb.
What I expected after reading some other reviews:
1.That it would produce decent sound but the levels wouldn't be high enough. LIKE HELL, I'm getting as much and more level then I need
Mind you I have only tested The XLR's with a Sennheiser ew 100g2 lav. Levels were great .Sound was awesome.
I also tested with the legendary RE-50 and again levels were great and the sound was awesome.
I did a test on the front mics and they were great too
2 That handling noise would be an issue. IT SURE IS. it picks up every touch, every brush. That said I will not be using it handheld, probably ever,
but that's something to consider if you do. Why aren't these things built in rubberized shells? Although they all have that issue
What I believe
I believe this is the best device in its' category hands down. If you know what you're doing, you will get great sound and extremely low noise.
Based on my limited experience with this and other devices, I would not even consider a Zoom or other competitors.
PS. Does Amazon let you post audio only samples?
I just wanted to add to this review that I did a battery test to see just how long I could record on the included lithium rechargeable battery.
I tested the front mics so there was no phantom power or anything. That will be another test
So out of the front mics I got exactly 6 1/2 hours. At that point it gave me a low battery notice. I really wanted to know how much time I had left after the warning but I didn't want it to shut down. So I waited 2 minutes. It didn't shut down. So I opened the back cover and slipped in 2 eneloop AA's. And in 1 minute it switched to the AA's. So in my case I would say you have about 3 minutes tops after you get the low battery warning. Hope that helps. If I get time I will do a AA test as well. But i have to say i was pretty impressed with the battery life.
One thing that I find troubling is the optional Sescom audio line out cable. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004YUAGFG/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00 It works but it's too short. This cable should be at least 12 to 15 inches. It's only 9" and it limits your placement choices.
I ended up buying this one, but the decision wasn't black and white. To help you make your decision without all of the hassle of returning one, here are the pro's for each model:
- Sturdier (made of metal, built-in mics aren't as exposed)
- Volume adjustment wheel, which gives much smoother control, and doesn't make really loud clicking noises every time you adjust the volume (the DR-40 only has buttons)
- Comes with a rechargeable battery, and also takes AA's, which means you can live swap batteries while the device is still on and recording!
- And, at least for me, I preferred that more of the controls were physical buttons instead of being nested inside of menus. Makes it easier to operate while focusing on other things, like recording.
- $100 cheaper!
- a bit smaller
- can record four channels at once (aka you can record from the built-in mics, and the XLR mics at the same time). The DR-100 MKII cannot do this, which was rather disappointing
- you can adjust the angle of the built-in mics, letting you capture narrower or wider soundscapes
Overall, their sound quality was so similar that it really didn't factor into the decision.
Hope that helps!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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