It’s one of the most renowned brands in the recording world – but how does the Tascam DR-05 fare?
Tascam have done more for home recording than just about anyone. Back in the ‘70s, if you wanted to record your work, you went into a studio with a sizable wad of cash. Then, in 1979, Tascam released the Portastudio.
This compact, 4-track offered four tracks of recording to standard cassette tapes, with a built-in mixer and EQ, at an affordable price.
Since then, Tascam has been producing high-quality recording equipment for professional and home applications.
It was among the first to provide portable, memory-based digital recorders. The DR-05 is currently the most affordable in the range. In a packed marketplace, it has some stiff competition. How does it stack up?
We find out in our Tascam DR-05 review…
Solid, compact construction
The Tascam DR-05 is, like the vast majority of devices of its kind, a pocket sized unit, with a backlit screen, and stereo condenser mic built into the to of it.
Unlike many of its peers at this price, these microphones are pretty solid, and do not protrude precariously, vastly reducing the chances of them being broken off (something I’ve seen happen several times). This is a big plus, as these devices are meant to be carried around- the more robust they are, the better.
The quality construction extends to the rest of the unit. Though still very light, it doesn’t have the disturbingly lightweight feel of many other units.
The front panel is neat and uncluttered, and buttons feel well seated, with reassuring ‘click’ when pressed. A line in/ mic input adds further to the DR-05’s functionality to the top of the unit- it’s placement likely to please journalists who tend to keep the unit in their pocket, with a handheld microphone.
A headphone/ line out socket features on the left of the unit, along with a hold switch, whilst the right has a USB socket and small flap that reveals the SD card slot.
Unlike many devices of this kind, the DR-05 also has a built in speaker (albeit small). This is a very nice touch.
The Tascam DR-05 is billed as a device that is simple to use. This, coming from a company that cut its teeth developing the Portastudio, means a lot. It doesn’t disappoint.
Recording can be as simple as hitting record to arm, setting record level and then pressing play to begin recording. An auto level control makes this even more straightforward, whilst a limiter can stop any nasty clipping.
The ‘quick menu’ makes navigation easy, and all settings and functions are within a few key presses.
Subjectively, the sound is very good. It has a revealing detail in the upper-mids and high frequencies, and has the advantage, according to the specs, of sensitivity of up to 125dB SPL, making it ideal for recording gigs and rehearsals.
Perhaps as a result of this, the noise floor is a little bit higher, subjectively, than some. However, it is still a very quiet unit, and unless you’re going to use it to record falling leaves, or other such ambient noise, it’s likely to make very little odds.
The Tascam DR-05 packs a surprising number of features given its price. A chromatic tuner, playback EQ, variable speed playback without affecting pitch (ideal as a guitar trainer) along with self timer recording are included, not to mention the fact that it will record at 96kHz 24-bit.
There are few, if any, recorders that pack this kind of ‘bang for the buck’ at this price.
Tascam’s experience shines through in the DR-05’s design. Simple to use, well-built, packed with great features, and with great results, you’d be pushed to find a better portable recorder under £100.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.