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Topic: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

I am considering one of these two recorders (TASCAM DR-1 or Zoom H4) and need a little advice. It will be used as a general purpose recorder in the field for typical photojournalism multimedia production and maybe sometimes in the studio. I know the Zoom H4 has been around for awhile but the Tascam intrigues me for all the reviews I have read. Any thoughts? Thanks, Todd

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Hi Todd,

I saw your post and just want to give you some thoughts on the DR-1.  I just bought one here in Tokyo.
I use it mostly for recording my live performances.  My instrument is the Shakuhachi.  The Japanese bamboo flute.
The instrument, in its recording capabilities is superb!  Although I have not owned a Zoom h4, I had a chance to try all of the Digital recorders at a local store that had all of them on display, including the latest from Olympus the LS-10.  For the price and beyond the price, the DR-1 was the best in its ability to replicate the exact sound I play without digitizing the sound!  The others seemed to be a little too digital for my taste.  I am playing a natural acoustic instrument that is very earthy and very raw.  The whole body is involved in playing this instrument.  After testing all of the recorders, I found out that the DR-1 has the warmest sound.  It seems that Tascam, having been around for a long time, kept in mind warmth of the recording.  The other machines had a "too perfect of a sound", in my opinion, including the 24/96 recorders, that just were too perfect.  Their sound was almost unrealistic to what I was used to hearing, from the recordings of the masters of Shakuhachi.  I don't know what your case is, but, if it is acoustic instruments than I would recommend the DR-1. 
There is one slight issue, which I am sure will be resolved, and that is that it is limited to 2 GB of recording with the firmware it ships with.  Tascam has promised that its full capacity will be to handle the 32GB SDHC, but no word on when this firmware will be out.  That is no problem with me because the 1 GB is enough to record more than an hour at the 24/48 setting.  A 2GB will give me double that, for about 20US$ for the card!  not bad, I think.
The other issue, which I think will also be eventually resolved is that I was unable to copy a .wav file from my computer directly to the DR-1.  I had to convert that file to mp3, and then paste it on my card's icon.  That is also not a problem at this time since I am only using it for recording, both in mp3 or wav format, and than transferring to my powerbook for backup.

Hope that helps.  Let me know what you end up getting.

Best regards.
Kokoblico.

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Here's DR-1.. evidently especially targeted at musician home-recordists, and people who wish to use it for simple multi-tracking. I've had good experiences with Musicians Friend.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/ … p;ZYXSEM=0

The 1/4" jack is tempting. If that's a buying feature, I'd first test it with a specific type of instrument (amplified acoustic j, microphone, non-acoustic such as synth/Telecaster). The same might apply to microphones with 1/4" plugs.

Apparent lack (maybe I'm mistaken?) of *MANUAL level control* would be a deal-breaker for me, since *AUTOMATIC level control* is mostly to blame for most background noise (when music or interview stops,  ALC listens falls in love with air conditioner, clinking glasses, and coughing).

DR-1 appears similarly sized to LC-1, different form factor.  If Tascam's in Olympus toughness-league it's a big advantage Vs R-09.

I like the idea of DR-1 mike direction feature (2 positions)...that's the main advantage of the Sony DS-70P  that I use with LC-1.The mini-reviews I've seen for these various tiny recorders rarely address handling noise...it's almost a non-issue with LC-1, vanishes entirely with an external mike, such as that Sony.

LC-1 microphone monaural zoom capability is especially appealing to me (DR-1 doesn't seem to offer)...might make no difference to someone using a shotgun mic, as could be done with DR-1.

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Manual level control is on the side.
It really convenient.
I have mine set at Manual and the lever is easily adjustable from the side.

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

I've been using a Zoom H2 because it's smaller and easier than the H4 for a photographer to carry around and sound quality has been amazing. I still have an iPod Classic with mic for backup and a very small Olympus to catch the quick interview.

6 (edited by sitsat 2008-03-18 16:34:25)

Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Great discussion, guys. thanks. I'm choosing between the usual suspects here to replace by Sony Mini-Disc recorder for mainly journalism in the field and over phone lines, along with live performance recordings and some ambient field work for films/videos. My main issues with the Sony MD, other than they never issued software to down/upload to and from Mac OS, was even with a decent external mike, the sound was boomy and too full. Basically picked up too much of the location and couldn't distinguish voice very well. But it was very tough (until my 2 year-old whacked it off my desk and across the room) and offered hard copy archival. I'm looking seriously at the Tascam DR1, the Edirol R-09 and the Olympus LS-10. My concerns about the Tascam, as Kokoblico noted, is overall storage. Tascam website doesn't give specs for SD card compatibility. Does it ship with a 1GB card or an actual 1 GB hard drive? The Olympus has stereo speakers for instant playback, which is really nice in the field. And the feature set on the Olympus seems great, along with an analog rec. level control wheel on the side. I've heard on other forums that the Edirol is "hissy", although the WAV samples from the Roland site are pretty nice. Maybe they were cleaned up a little:) I really want something that I don't have to pop in an higher quality external mike, like I did with my Sony MD all the time (nearly getting it lost and crushed on many an occasion). So my main concerns are: quality of internal mikes, overall memory amount (would prefer 8GB). Also the Tascam only uses rechargeables, which can be difficult in the field, unless I buy more. What has been your battery life experience with the Tascam recording in uncompressed mode? Ooops - also forget - am using Leopard 10.5.2 Mac OS, so needs to mount as USB device and up/download without any glitches.

Thanks!

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Hi there,
If you can afford the Olympus, than it sure is great to have because of all the functions it has, speakers, remote control capability and the whole nine yards.  I tried it along with the DR-1 and found the DR-1's mic to pick up a warmer sound.  I am a Shakuhachi player, a very raw instrument with lots of subtleties that define a particular piece of music.  I felt that the DR-1 picked them up without over digitizing them.  That's not to say the Olympus was worse, but the sound felt a little too clear with the Olympus, more than what I am accustomed to hearing.  (It is a bit hard to explain without actually hearing it.)  But for that difference, price put aside, the DR-1 was a better choice for me.  By the way, the analog recording level can be controlled from the side of the DR-1, so that was perfect for me. 
I also chose it because I did not want to be hassled with battery changing at all.   I do about 3 hours of recording per week, so I charge my unit about once a week and it still is about 2/3 full.  I think it could go on for about 7 hours at 192kbs mp3 recording mode.  But I have not pushed it to that limit.
There is one glitch, however, with the current firmware, and I have been assured by Teac that they are working on fixing it, and that is the transfer of files directly from the unit to a mac powerbook with a power pc chip.  I have to use a card reader, which is really not a big deal, every time I want to transfer my data.  with my windows pc, it works just fine, direct transfer.  So, I think it is a matter of time before they locate the glitch and upgrade the firmware.

Hope that helps.

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Thanks Kokoblico - that helps very much actually, as of now, I work exclusively on a Mac G4 Powerbook with the motorola chip (before the switch to Intel) so that would be a big issue if I could not download my recordings to my hard drive for archival. Do you know any more about the overall storage capacity of the tascam? does it use an SD or SDHC card or is it an actual hard drive that is limited in size? have you heard anything about what the overall capability of the unit will accept if it is flash memory (SD)? I found the Olympus on-line for $359 (US) and the Tascam at the same on-line store for $239 (US dollars). More than a one hundred dollar difference but just by appearance, the Tascam looks really solid with a nice form fit and build. The olympus looks more like a pocket dictation machine, the kind the company is known for. Do you ever investigate the Edirol R-09 or do any sound comparisons vs the tascam?

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Hi,
If you have a card reader, that should not be a problem.  I did not test the Olypmus to see if it can transfer files to a Mac, but that would actually be worse because it is recording on a built-in 2GB chip that you cannot take out and put into a reader.  The tascam supports SD and SDHC up to 32GB, and no hard drive or memory built in.  (Anyway card readers are not that expensive.  You can get one these days for about 10$-20$.  They are always good to have.)
I also tested the R-09 and it performs very similar to the DR-1, but the overall warmth of sound was only captured in the DR-1, and also the R-09 uses regular batteries, something I wanted to stay away from.  I like built in, rechargeable batteries.  I also have a PSP, and the DR-1 can use the same DC adapter, since it does not ship with one.  You can also charge it via USB.
You are right about the Olympus, it seems that it is a glorified 24/96 dictation machine! But still a pretty good one.
Best of luck.

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

Thanks for that info. Supports up to 32 GB flash cards is fantastic. The Edirol only goes to 8GB and that's after a firmware update. I'm curious why you prefer rechargeable over alkaline? I have always found the life on the rechargeables to be fairly short. For field work, you need multiple battery packs. But didn't you say in an earlier post you got 7 hours on the Tascam in MP3 mode? That's impressive. Do they sell spare rechargeables for the Tascam, i.e. is it a proprietary model by the company or can it use any nicad/lithium rechargeable. I know with computers, i.e. macs, finding 3rd party batteries is really difficult and expensive. Since I do most of my recording in the field, I've always preferred common alkaline, even though it gets pretty expensive. But that's preferable to getting caught short with battery life in the field, and/or having to recharge every night in my hotel room. Any date from the tascam people about when that firmware for macs with powerpc chips is coming out. Does it work with with the newer Macs with intel chips? thanks again. Based on our conversation, I have to say I am really leaning toward the Tascam right now. The only drawback in my mind is rechargeable batteries.

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

One thing about SD cards, over here I can them for about 800yen about 8US$, and they are going to go further down in price.  the 8GB cards, which I have seen, and the 32GB, which I have not seen yet, are going to be very expensive.  The 1 or 2GB will be the way to go for now, I think.
I have not tried recording for 7 hours on it yet, but I don't see why it couldn't do it, knowing that Teac had tested it up to that amount.
I don't know about spare batteries, I have not seen them yet.  I like rechargeable nicad because they can be used many times over, about 1000 recharges, making them the most environmentally friendly batteries for now, and I am very used to recharging. (it has become a habit for me.)
I don't when the firmware will be updated, but it works just fine with a card reader. (I highly recommend one.)
I don't know how it works with the new intel macs.
You will have to decide which is best for you, if you are really set for an alkaline battery unit, than I would say try both the Olympus and the R-09.  If you can afford the Olympus, than that should do it for you, but the R-09 was much closer to the DR-1 in its sound recording fidelity.
Hope that helps.

12 (edited by randygo 2008-03-21 13:04:02)

Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

I'm curious about the overdub feature of this device. I have read the manual but I am still unclear on one thing.

Is it possible to overdub a new track without mixing in any of the track being monitored?
I'd like to be able to sync up a few parts during recording and assemble them on a computer later.

Does the overdub feature always result in a blended track?

I suppose I could phase-invert the original monitored track and sum it with the overdubbed track on the
computer later to isolate the second part, but it seems a lot of work.

I'm not looking for a full-blown multitrack (got plenty of those), just a way to sync up a track with this device
if possible.

Thanks,

Randy

13 (edited by randygo 2008-04-21 00:56:32)

Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

>Does the overdub feature always result in a blended track?

I'm going to answer my own question... YES.

I just got myself one of these units on Friday. I was hoping I could use its overdub function to
create parts for my multitrack projects, i.e., monitor a track on the DR-1 and record a new
isolated part in sync. However, the monitored track is always mixed in to the overdubbed track.

No worries though, as I have created a Windows command-line program that will "unmix" the
originally monitored track out of the overdubbed track.

Tascam lets you create A and A+B. My program will give you B.

Hopefully Tascam will provide a record mode in a future firmware update that does what I describe.

Here is where you can download my program:

    http://www.integrand.com/dr1/undub.exe

Here is the help text when you run the program without arguments:

*************************************************************
* *
* Undub (Version 1.00) *
* *
* Copyright Randy Gordon (randy@integrand.com) *
* *
* *
* Description: *
* *
* This program works with Tascam DR-1 files that are *
* created using the DR-1's 'Overdub' mode. It will *
* extract an overdubbed signal in isolation by removing *
* the monitored signal from it. When creating the *
* overdub, ensure that the monitored track is started *
* at the beginning and the mix balance is set to *
* the maximum. *
* *
* With the Tascam DR-1 you perform the following: *
* *
* 1) Create a track to monitor (Signal A) *
* 2) Create an overdub track (Signal A + B) *
* *
* This program allows you to recover Signal B alone. *
* *
*************************************************************

Usage: undub [options]


where options include:

-o : override default out file name
-s : override automatic offset detection

eg.: undub DR000018.wav DR000023.wav

Cheers,

Randy

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

I understand that the Tascam DR-1 doesn't come with a wind screen and that one is not available. As with all the other handheld recorders, using one is very important when doing outdoor recordings, to cut down on wind distortions. We are making one for this model and for several other handheld recorders. Our windscreens are available on ebay and the item number for the Tascam DR-1 is   260241551363   We are shipping world wide.
                                        lilya39@hotmail.com

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Re: TASCAM DR-1 vs. Zoom H4

We are selling custom made windscreens on ebay that fit the
Tascam DR-1 handheld recorder.
Item number: 260241551363

Also available: Sony PCM-D50 & Sony PCM-D1 handheld recorders
                      Item number: 260243198258

                      Yamaha Pocketrak 2GIG handheld recorder
                      Item number: 260241554650

These windscreens work like a charm. Check out what our customers have to say about them and our service in our feedback. If you would like to get ahold of us please write to:  lilya39@hotmail.com