An overview of Tascam's Portastudio DP-008, a portable 8-track digital recorder capable of producing superb, professional sound at an extremely reasonable price.
Home-based musicians have three options for recording songs: 1) Record with a computer, 2) Record with a digital recorder, or 3) or pay out big money for expensive studio time.
Each option breaks down by price and quality, with several inexpensive low-end choices and a few very expensive high-end choices. But the middle-ground, where the average home-based musician spends most of his time looking for equipment, provides precious few viable choices.
Tascam PortaStudio DP-008 bridges the gap
Designed to level the playing field of professional sound for those on a budget, the Tascam PortaStudio DP-008 is a serious audio recorder designed for premium sound. It's an audio mixing table, an audio editing station, and a pair of sweet condenser mics in an ultra-compact, portable package.
And, because music rarely happens all in one place, this multi-track audio recorder gets power from four AA batteries that deliver over 6 hours of recording time. There's an optional AC adapter available for limitless use if there's a plug nearby.
Sound gets loaded via analog inputs or phantom-powered XLR ports, and input terminals by phone-jack connect to microphones, electric-acoustic guitars or a line-level device like a synthesizer.
Having multiple port options are nice feature, but the real stars of sound input are the two built-in omni-directional condenser microphones that let you get your sound on in a big way. We all know good microphones make for good sound, but these microphones are so good they're borderline evil.
My cheap acoustic guitar sounds so lush and expensive that people expect that I'm an exotic talent for using such a nice instrument. They don't realize what they hear is just a mediocre player behind a cheap guitar recorded by a pair of rocking microphones that deliver exceptionally superb sound.
Strain for flaws and you might hear the mics are not exactly a sterling example of perfect studio-quality sound, But all things considered, a pricey pair of independent mics won't sound any better. And you won't miss the tangled web of cables and assorted adapters that always come with them.
Editing audio tracks on the Tascam DP-008
8 mono tracks are always only a button-press away from ready to record, giving you all the space you need to lay down an entire song, complete with layered vocals, bass and rhythm. Each track sports its own volume, pan and reverb knobs – yes, real knobs, so mixing is easy and intuitive. If you need more space, you can merge several tracks into one.
Basic audio edit capabilities are available, but editing audio on the recorder is tedious for those accustomed to working with audio editing software. You'll want to export recorded audio to your favorite audio editing software for any fine-tuning or effects, and exporting audio out of the recorder is as simple as connecting it to your computer using the included USB cable.
Does the Tascam DP-008 audio recorder have any flaws?
The answer is a definite maybe. I might concede that a two-track recording limit is inconvenient. It's either a guitar and vocals or a guitar and bass – not all three. Sure, you can use an external mixer to combine two instrument into one track, but you lose some editing control.
However, two-track recording limits and tedious audio editing are issues that pale in light of how well this recorder performs at its intended purpose. They are more like character traits than flaws.
An exceptional tool among multi-track audio recorders
The Tascam DP-008 is an excellent tool, capable of laying down multiple audio tracks faster and easier than almost anything else, with the added value of portability to capture memorable jam sessions that always happen somewhere other than your usual recording space.
You're only three button-presses away from roping the muse when inspiration strikes. Nothing to fumble in the gig bag for, nothing to plug-in or try to untangle - just press 'power', activate a track, and record. That's it.
The Tascam DP-008 multi-track audio recorder does not make any claims for being a studio in a box, but in reality, it's almost there.
Scarlet Bowman is an audio editor and writer at videocaddy. Her favorite blogs subjects are audio recorders and Storyboard. She loves sharing her knowledge with others.