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Tascam DR-07 Portable Digital Recorder Review

Updated on October 21, 2010

In circumstances like band rehearsals and on-location podcasting, all-in-one recording solutions are indispensible. Simpler is better. Technical issues can take your mind off the task at hand, whether it is interviewing for a podcast or playing a new song you wrote.

The quality of portable recordings can`t compare to capturing each individual sound source; Then again it isn`t always necessary or practical to be so thorough. Think of the Tascam DR-07 as an audio sketchpad that is ready to go without setup. The key is to never lose another good idea again.

Since its release in August 2007, the Zoom H2 recorder has been a top seller because of its bargain basement price. Poor construction quality and unintuitive software marred the H2’s performance. Still, no competitor could touch it for the price in light of its rich feature set. Finally, Tascam has trumped the H2 with the DR-07. While it can’t stack up to the twice as costly Edirol R-09HR, the DR-07 offers some serious bang for the buck.

At the top of the unit is a pair of built-in stereo electret condenser mics. By adjusting input levels the mics can pick up a clear recording of light acoustic jazz or deafening thrash metal. The overall sound quality is impressive with crisp highs and decent low frequencies. The low cost starts to be heard with the noise floor. The plastic housing makes the unit prone to handling noise. Built-in mics introduce some hiss to recordings on top of that. Using an external microphone via the ‘mic in’ ¼ inch jack cuts down on the noise and may improve your recordings too, granted that you have a decent condenser mic on hand.

You can either record uncompressed WAV files or MP3s. The DR-07 writes 16 or 24-bit WAV files at either 44.1 or 48kHz. To conserve space on your memory card you can record directly as a MP3. Quality can be set from 32kbps to 320 kbps.

Tascam is very good at making easy to use recorders and the DR-07 is no exception. Simply press the record button once to arm the unit. From here you can do a quick sound check and set the input levels. Press record again to begin the session.

The control scheme should come as second nature to anyone used to an iPod. Playback controls are pretty well self-explanatory. Press the center button to toggle between play and pause. Access any section of the track by moving the jog wheel. The stop button is small and out of the way to prevent accidents.

Inside the box Tascam has included the recorder, 2GB SD card, 2 alkaline AA batteries, manuals, a foam windshield and a USB cable. Disappointingly no AC adapter came with it, probably to keep costs down. An optional adapter is available from Tascam or alternatively you can use a cheap generic one from an electronics shop. The foam windshield has a good quality feel to it and prevents wind from ruining outdoor recordings just fine.

The DR-07 can be mounted on a tripod via the threaded hole at the back of the unit. It would have been nice to have an adapter that also allows for mounting on a mic stand.

The Verdict

The Tascam DR-07 can replace pricey, inconvenient, or sonically inferior gear that musicians and podcasters have had to deal with over the years. It’s awesome to be able to get creative without worrying about setup. There is something magical about having everything you need to record self-contained in a 4.4 ounce package.

The DR-07 has beaten the Zoom H2 as reigning champ in the bargain portable recorder segment. Although it can get a little noisy at times, the dynamic frequency range is a good trade off indeed.

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