Friday, July 20, 2012

Tascam DP24 - bit of a learning curve...

This is a big upgrade from 8 track multitrack, which is all I've ever operated on my own. It always pays to have an engineer on staff, but it's not always possible! I find that with anything, if I just take it slow and follow directions I can usually figure different machines out. This one has more to figure out than most because it's laid out completely differently and has certain limitations, which I'll get into eventually.

This thing is intuitively laid out, but, as I mentioned already, has a few limiting factors that require workarounds to accomplish basic necesssities in multitrack recording. For one, you can't put more than one effect on any one track, and you're limited to two effects per song. That's pretty unusual! I can use outboard effects, so that solves that problem. Outboard effects can be tailored more to your exact needs, so that's not a big problem, just a slightly inconvenient workaround. I would have left off built-in effects myself if it was going to be this limiting. Part of including them is to make their use more convenient but the workaround on this one isn't convenient in any way! Other makes have more dedicated internal effects sections, especially Yamaha and Roland/Boss. They cost considerably more too! ($800 MSRP for the DP24, my price $600, yip yip yahoo...)

If it were actually 24 momo in I would feel as if I were truly working in 24 track, but in reality it's 12 monos and 6 stereo ins. You can only use the stereos with one source for each of the six, so it's in effect 18 output channels that can be controlled with sliders that have dedicated metering per channel. Again, a workaround but not a gamechanger. There are knobs but there are still a few menus to navegate, and the manual is less than completely explanatory. I found a 14-page thread on the item on Home Recording forums. I joined so I can enter the fray! I'm soon going to be a major voice on that thread!

For sure, the recording quality is excellent, and the system is dependant upon SD cards to store the song files, as opposed to HDD's. Hard drives have a tendency to break down after transporting these machines over time, so that's actually a plus among the gripes I've detailed. Like any thing involving electronics (computers especially) it takes a lot of detailed info to be fully up to speed on any given system of operation at any given time. These are no exception, and every model brings new features and changes of ways to access the functions that keep even the best engineers on their toes, studying manuals and going to seminars and following tutorial information.

All in all I give the Tascam DP24 a rating of 4 stars out of a total of 5 for its portability, slick looks and ergometric design features. One point is taken off for its fiddly layout and the attendant learning curve I'll be dreading! Its robust build quality is definitely a plus, more metal than plastic...

Tomorrow I'll probably be lost in trying to smooth out more of what makes this thing tick, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you next time!

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