Tascam DR-05 Portable Handheld Recorder


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The Tascam DR-05 portable handheld recorder is an affordable way to make quality recordings on the go. The DR-05 offers twin, omnidirectional condenser microphones in a fixed XY configuration that are capable of recording up to 125db SPLs for use in everything from live shows to university lectures. The approximately $100 USD price point has the DR-05 squaring off against the competing Zoom H1, yet the DR-05 boasts a superior build and longer record time.

 Selected Features and Specifications

  • 24-bit, 96kHz stereo recording in uncompressed WAV audio format
  • WAV 16 & 24 bit recording at 44.1, 48, or 96kHz sampling rates
  • MP3 recording at 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling rates with selectable bit rates between 32 and 320 kbps.
  • >92 dB signal-to-noise ratio
  • <.05% distortion
  • 20Hz to 40kHz +1dB/-3dB frequency response, limited by Nyquist frequency
  • Built-in stereo condenser microphones
  • Plug-in power available for external microphones
  • Records to MicroSD & MicroSDHC cards, up to 64gb capacity
  • 17.5 hour record time on 2 AA batteries
  • 1/4 lb weight
  • 2.4″ wide, 5.5″ tall, 1″ deep

Front

The front of the DR-05 is where the main action happens. A long press on the stop button powers on the DR-05 and it takes a few seconds for it to boot. From there, the menu can be accessed to configure the recorder – everything from setting plug-in power to pre-recording and record formats is available. Recording is quirky – you may expect that pressing the record button will cause the DR-05 to start recording, but what it actually does is prompt the user to set the levels while the DR-05 doesn’t actually record a thing. A second press of the record button is needed to actually start recording. This quirk has bitten me before and caused me to miss recording of one-time only events. After you’re aware of it and get used to the DR-05’s interface, it’s not too bad. The device also features a record light which is great, except it is washed out and unreadable in sunlight. Next to the record light is the “peak” indicator that lights when the recording is being clipped. Overall, it’s fairly user friendly once you learn the quirks and the build quality is robust; as you can probably tell, my DR-05 has been well used and seen the inside of my gig bag, pants pocket, and more.

Left Side

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On the left is the left condenser microphone, the headphone jack, and the hold switch. Most of this is obvious and I won’t bore you with the details. The headphone jack works well for both monitoring during live recording and for recording playback. The hold switch is extremely useful and locks out the front buttons when enabled. This allows the DR-05 to be pocketed and used with a lav mic for discrete recording.

Right Side

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The right hosts a standard micro-USB jack to download recordings over, the microSD slot, and the right  condenser microphone. Again, this is pretty standard stuff. The USB port does not have a cover, so it’s easy to get dust/dirt/pocket lint in and the microSD cover feels flimsy and out-of-character for an otherwise well built device. Furthermore, the microSD card is so small that it can be difficult to eject and easy to lose. The DR-05 accepts both microSD and microSDHC cards with capacities up to 64 gb.

Bottom

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Underneath the DR-05, we see the battery compartment on the left, followed by a standard tripod mount, followed by the internal speaker, followed by the onboard microphones. The DR-05 accepts two standard AA batteries and boasts a recording time of 17.5 hours before depleting Alkaline batteries; rechargeable NiMH batteries are supported with a quoted recording time of 15.5 hours available on Sanyo (now Panasonic) Eneloops (as an aside, Eneloops are FANTASTIC batteries). The tripod mount allows the DR-05 to be mounted for accurate imaging while the built-in speaker allows recordings to be reviewed. I have found the internal speaker to be extremely quiet and effectively unusable in practice.

Top

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Finally, an external microphone input is available at the top. This 1/8″ or 3.5mm stereo mini-jack supports plug-in “phantom” power for either mono or stereo recording. The onboard microphones are disabled when an external microphone or microphones are present.

Conclusion

Despite a few quirks, I highly recommend Tascam’s DR-05 portable handheld recorder. Recording quality is top notch, and the build is superior to the competing Zoom H1 as is battery life.