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Tascam Portastudio DP-02 vs DP-03, Which is Right for you?

Updated on September 13, 2014

Deciding Between the Tascam Portastudio DP-02 and DP-03 Can be a tough choice.

Tascam has a well deserved reputation for manufacturing high quality, feature packed digital recorders, and the Portastudio DP-02 and DP-03 are no exception. The Tascam Portastudio DP-03 is billed as the successor to the Tascam Portastudio DP-02. However, as you will soon see, the functional differences between the two units are minor, but can make a big difference depending on how you intend to do your recording.

Both units are 8-track recorders capable of recording two tracks simultaneously. Other common features include on board CD burning, effects processing, two XLR inputs with phantom power and a stereo line out. Both units can also transfer data to and from a computer using the built in USB 2.0 interface.

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Both are excellent, and come with Tascam's universally recognized quality. Read below to discover the differences and pick the unit that's right for you.

Tascam DP-02
Tascam DP-02

Tascam Portastudio DP-02 Review

High Capacity, more manual controls

The key difference between the Tascam Portastudio DP-02 and the Tascam Portastudio DP-03 is the weight, size and form factor. The DP-02 has a larger form factor, accommodating a lot more knobs for much easier manual adjustment of common parameters. Knobs are provided for panning, effect send and two bands of EQ, along with larger switches and sliders. In general, more parameters are accessible from the DP-02's panel than the DP-03. This is a huge advantage to recording enthusiasts who are put off by complex menu navigation.

Despite being an older model, the DP-02 sports several features not found on the new DP-03. In particular, the effects send loop, and the ability to apply the internal multiband effects during the recording cycle rather than only at mixdown. Additionally, the DP-02 provides a far more robust set of inputs and outputs than its newer counterpart. These include MIDI out, S/PDIF digital out and effects send/return loops.

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The storage option (an internal 40GB hard drive) is a less flexible option than the DP-03 with it's ability to use SD cards, and import tracks from a CD. You have to connect it via USB 2.0 to a computer in order to transfer files (an SD/CF card is not an option on this unit) to and from the unit. On the other hand, the sheer amount of storage capacity available means you'll likely be able to store all you need at one time, without having to worry about swapping out low capacity SD cards.

For anyone who is intimidated by computer based menus and requires more manual control at recording and mixdown time, the DP-02 is the ideal choice. The DP-02 also, on average, costs $150.00 less than the newer DP-03!

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Tascam DP-03
Tascam DP-03

Tascam Portastudio DP-03 Review

Powerful Compact Digital Recorder

For most, the clear advantage the DP-03 holds over the DP-02 is the smaller, more portable form factor. The DP-03 does away with a fair number of the manual analog controls in favor of a more robust menu driven system. On the main control panel, the number of knobs has been reduced to pan and reverb control, with the main EQ and effects send controls being moved to the software driven menus (although overall EQ adjustments are available using a single set of knobs). The DP-03 also records to a single SD card (2.0 GB card included) instead of an internal hard drive. This feature alone allows much more flexability in terms of moving files to and from a computer as needed and contributes to the smaller form factor. The DP-03 also has a jack for thw new RC-3F footswitch, which has more functionality than previous footswitches which merely supported punch in/out.

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A couple of new features are added, including the ability to import tracks directly from a CD. This is nifty feature which can save a bit of time when connecting to a computer is difficult. The DP-03 also adds a built in stereo condenser microphone for full room recording. Multiband effects are available on the DP-03 as well, but only during mixdown, not during recording. Unlike the DP-02, the DP-03 lacks S/PDIF digital outputs and MIDI output connectivity. It also does not have an effects send/return loop.

In all the DP-03 is a great choice if you are looking for a smaller form factor, and more flexible data transfer options than the DP-02.

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The Verdict?

For me, the choice was simple - the Tascam DP-02. I am a big fan of analog controls, and I thought enough features were removed (like the effects loop) from the DP-03 to not warrant its purchase. Plus, since the DP-02 is now a lot cheaper - it was a no brainer!

Which One Did You Choose?

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Tascam RC-3F 3-way Footswitch - Hands free control for your DP-03

The RC-3F provides hands free control for punch in, looping, and other functionality for your DP-03. (please note that this footswitch is not compatible with the DP-02)

Don't Forget the Recording Accessories!

You can't ever have enough cables. From unexpected jam sessions to that extra cable in the gig bag, make sure your prepared when inspiration comes!

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