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TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder
- XLR / TRS balanced MIC/LINE inputs with phantom power and +4dbu line level input.
- Switchable microphone position from X-Y to A-B
- 4-track recording - record the built-in microphones and mic inputs at the same time
- Dual recording captures a safety track to prevent distorted takes
- Up to 96Hz/24-bit resolution
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This item TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder
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|Item Dimensions||3.5 x 5.5 x 8 in||1.44 x 0.55 x 4.02 in||2.07 x 5.46 x 0.93 in||1.9 x 3.6 x 5.4 in|
The DR-40’s four-track recording mode gives you several options to record, indicated by LEDs on the front of the unit. The 4-channel recording modes include:
- DUAL – Record a stereo signal with a copy of that stereo signal at a lower level. This gives you a safety track you can use in case the main recording is distorted. (See next section for more info)
- 4CH – Record the built-in microphones along with a pair of external mics, like close-up and ambient microphones. Or record the built-in mics along with a balanced line input, such as the feed from a mixer along with the sound in the room.
- OVERDUB – Play along with a recording you’ve already made to build up a full production or song demo
You can record up to four channels of 96kHz/24-bit audio. Mono and stereo recording is also available. Recording formats include MP3 (from 32 to 320kbps), WAV and Broadcast WAV formats.
Dual Recording Mode
Dual Recording records a second copy of your performance up to -12dB lower as a safety track. This mean if your recording gets accidentally distorted, you'll have a backup copy that isn't distorted. Dual Recording works in addition to the peak limiting and low cut filter features which also prevent distortion.
The Dual Recording mode is perfect for recording your band live. Just set the unit to record and hit the stage without worrying about the recording getting blown out.
Locking XLR Inputs
The DR-40 has a set of Neutrik® locking combination XLR & 1/4" inputs. These external inputs can accept balanced microphone or line inputs. The microphone preamp includes phantom power and plenty of gain for detailed recordings with condenser microphones.
The DR-40 is one of the only handheld recorders with a balanced line input, for recording the output of a console or other pro audio source. In 4-channel recording mode, you can record the output of a live console while capturing the sound of the room with the built-in microphones.
Adjustable Condenser Microphones
Attached to the DR-40 are a pair of cardioid condenser microphones. The stereo microphones can be arranged in an XY recording pattern for tight stereo imaging or in an AB pattern for a more ambient recording.
When flipping the microphone orientation, the left and right channels automatically flip for correct stereo placement.
Useful Playback Features
Like most TASCAM handheld recorders, the DR-40 includes playback modes to loop a section of playback or slow it down without changing the pitch, perfect for learning new music. A built-in speaker is included for checking recording without headphones. The Level Align feature smooths out level jumps during playback to help you monitor your raw, unmastered recordings.
A stereo reverb effect is available during playback or recording. Another handy additions include a chromatic tuner and tripod mount.
Full Feature List
- Handheld 4-track Portable Recorder
- Built-in condenser microphones, adjustable to XY or AB position
- XLR / 1/4” mic/line input with phantom power
- Record the built-in microphones with the XLR mic or line input for a four-track recording
- Dual recording mode captures a safety track at a lower level to avoid distortion
- Overdub mode allows recording along with a previous take
- Peak reduction automatically sets the ideal recording level
- 15-hour battery life from three AA batteries
- Up to 96kHz/24-bit WAV/BWF or MP3 recording resolution
- 2-second pre-recording buffer
- Variable speed playback from 50-150% speed without changing the pitch
- Adjustable limiter and low cut filter (40/80/120 Hz)
- Built-in speaker and chromatic tuner
- 1/8” headphone/line output
- Playback EQ and level align
- Stereo Reverb effect
- Tripod mounting hole
- SD/SDHC card slot supports up to 32GB media (2GB card included)
- Locking Neutrik Combi jacks
- USB 2.0 jack and cable for transferring recordings to computer
- Powered by three AA batteries, AC adapter (optional PS-P515U), external battery pack (optional BP-6AA), or USB bus power
What is in the Box:
2GB SD Card
Mini USB Cable
Three AA batteries (alkaline batteries or NiMH batteries)
1 year limited warranty
Top Customer Reviews
APPEARANCE & BUILD: The body shell is dark gray plastic with good fit and finish. It feels sturdy but is a far cry from the beefy metal body of the DR-100. It's smaller than the DR-100 and comfortable in my hand, although I don't recommend handheld recording with the built-in mics due to handling noise. Use a grip or tripod.
The stainless steel tripod socket allows easy mounting on tripods, grips or light stands. I use an Arca quick release plate on the DR-40, allowing quick mount/dismount from tripods. However, the tripod socket is too shallow: most arca plate 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 shorter screw and fit is fine.
The monochrome LCD is tiny, funky orange and 1990s tech but easy to read. It's the same LCD used in the DR-100 MKII.
CONTROLS: In contrast to the DR-100, the DR-40 has only basic physical controls: record, stop, play, solo, mode, levels, line, mic, forward, reverse and hold. That's it. Everything else is done in the menus making setup more tricky than the button rich DR-100 MKII. Level control is awkward and uses stepped button presses rather than a calibrated knob or slider. Plus, level adjustments are strictly global, i.e., individual channels can't be adjusted. While controls are labeled, they're difficult to read even in good light, so you'll need to memorize functions before using at a gig.
CONNECTIONS: The input options of balanced XLR and TRS analog allow you to record from mics or line level sources such as mixers or mic preamps. The DR-40 has a switch to toggle inputs from mic, phantom power and line level. Unlike the DR-100, there are no digital or unbalanced inputs.
Output consists of headphone and analog stereo line out from a single mini stereo jack. That's it. So adapters will be needed to interface with studio and home stereo systems. My SD card goes straight in my Mac for storage, editing and playback, so no biggie. The DR-40 has mini-USB for power or uploading to a 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.
The headphone preamp is noisy and only good for basic field monitoring. During the first session I checked a track and heard eggs frying galore! Later, when editing at home with studio monitors, the tracks were clean. So decent mic preamps but terrible headphone preamp!
BATTERIES: It's a bit of an odd bird with three AA batteries in its belly. I use Sanyo Eneloop rechargeables and can last through a long rehearsal. No true AC adapter but you can power it from a USB port or most USB chargers.
MICS & SOUND QUALITY: I wish the cardioid mics were black instead of glitzy chrome. However the ability to switch between X/Y stereo and A/B wide stereo is cool and one-ups the DR-100's fixed mics. Most of my recordings are casual recordings of student performances so the built-in cardioid mics are perfect. Preamps are slightly noisier than the DR-100 MKII but decent. However the build-in mics sound a little better than the DR-100 MKII: fuller and more balanced (DR-100 is a bit bright). I mainly record classical guitars and have to crank gain to 80% or higher. I assume gain range is optimized for clubs and garage band volume, rather than acoustic guitars.
I record Wav files at 44.1kHz or 96kHz if I go all out with external mics. The files sound excellent and process easily in Bias Peak Pro or Apple Logic. Once I have a polished track I compress/export to MP3 and post on ReverbNation or email to my students. I would never record directly in MP3 format as you lose too much resolution and severely limit post processing possibilities.
RFI: I live in the inner city and am surrounded by cellphone and radio station transmitters. RFI is a problem in my condo and every piece of gear needs shielding or it becomes a classic rock station. The DR-40 has considerably less RFI shielding than the DR-100 MKII. Normally RFI is not a problem for stage use but location recording near microwave towers results in enough static to ruin the track. Also, a cellphone within 10 or 12 feet causes high pitched Morse code like interference. I figured this out while recording a classical guitar track with an iPhone 5S on my belt. Simple fix, put the iPhone on airplane mode but sheesh...
LAST BLURB: The multitrack recording ability of the DR-40 is a wonderful complement to the DR-100 MKII. While I mainly record stereo Wav files, being able to add additional tracks (overdub separate) and mix them in Logic at home is a big plus. This little device is as portable as it gets: easily slips into a camera bag or coat pocket and feels comfortable in hand. And, indeed, tracks from the DR-40 sound great when played on studio monitors or headphone. I'm pleased with the DR-40: 95% of the audio quality of the DR-100 MKII but at one third the cost and minus a few features. Just keep your smartphone in the next room while tracking!
I ended up returning 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:
- $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
- 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.
Overall, their sound quality was so similar that it really didn't factor into the decision.
Hope that helps!
The results are very good - especially in this price range. Listen to the very end of the video when a Mackie mixer is added. The Tascam DR-40 offers true line level input for ultra clean recordings. The mics used in the examples are the RODE NT2-A large diaphragm condenser, RODE NTG-1 shotgun, the MXL 355 omni lav, and the Sennheiser E835s dynamic handheld. The mixer is the Mackie 1402-VLZ.
The feature we love the most is the dual recording - having a safety track at a lower dB is great peace of mind. Battery life is also extended over other popular recorders by using three AA batteries for up to 15 hours of operation! Of course this will vary depending on if +48v Phantom power is enabled. Note that there is also an expanded battery pack BP-6AA for longer recordings and an optional remote control called the RC-3F footswitch. Handy for starting and stopping recordings if you're playing an instrument.
Overall a solid value at the $199 price point. The Zoom H4n now has some serious competition. Also note that the Tascam DR-100 is still worth looking at - especially if you're a DSLR shooter and need the separate Line Level out to use with the DVcreator Line to Mic padded cable for input into a camera's Mic level input. The DR-100 also has nice big knobs with separate level controls for Left and Right channels. Note that the DR-40 input level controls both L&R.