The New Tascam DR-100mkII: Markedly Better
The original Tascam DR-100 stood out from the pack for being an extremely well equipped, compact portable digital recorder laden with useful features, like its dual XLR inputs and thumb-friendly level-adjustment dials. Even though it was a popular and well-regarded model, Tascam decided to push things further and make it even better. In a direct response to customer feedback, the DR-100mkII was recently introduced, and it’s loaded with a number of upgrades and additions. The end result is a powerful tool with more inputs that’s capable of recording cleaner and richer-sounding audio.
Outstanding among the improvements are its four built-in microphones and preamps. Both the forward-facing dual cardioid condensers and the pair of front-panel omnidirectional microphones were retooled to capture better-sounding recordings. The microphone preamps on the original DR-100 were often favored over competing products. However, Tascam made additional improvements to the preamps in the DR-100mkII, giving them more gain and a lower noise floor.
A digital S/PDIF input was added to the DR-100mkII, which makes it possible to connect external digital signals. This gives you the option of using a higher-quality piece of equipment as the front end of your recording chain. For example, you can connect the optical S/PDIF output on the Sound Devices USBPre 2 to the new S/PDIF input on the DR-100mkII. The analog and digital circuitry on the Sound Devices USBPre 2 (preamps, limiters, converters, etc.) is of the highest caliber. Recording that signal directly into the DR-100mkII gives you all of the quality without any degradation.
The all-important XLR input section of the DR-100mkII received two big updates, also. Locking mechanisms were added, which will prevent the cables from accidentally losing contact with the recorder. In addition, a switch was added to the bottom of the DR-100mkII, which enables you to change the XLR input sensitivity from mic level to professional line level. The XLR inputs are balanced, which will help you achieve premium, low-noise recordings.
All of the attributes that made the original DR-100 an attractive portable digital recorder are still intact. The new DR-100mkII can record high resolution 96 kHz 24-bit stereo WAV files, as well as record compressed MP3 files, from 32 to 320kb/s. There are two battery compartments on the DR-100mkII, one for the included Tascam rechargeable Li-ion battery (that can be charged through the built-in high speed USB 2.0 port) and another for AA batteries. The XLR inputs can provide condenser microphones with +48V of phantom power. A speaker is built in for monitoring and there’s an integrated tripod thread on the base for mounting. The housing is still made with rugged aluminum.
Both the DR-100 and the DR-100mkII share a feature that you don’t see on many compact portable recorders: They both have multiple 3.5mm outputs—a dedicated headphone output and a separate line-level output. They’re particularly useful for recording sound on an HDSLR video shoot. The dual outputs make it possible to connect headphones directly to the recorder for monitoring, and to connect the line-level output separately to the camera’s 3.5mm mic input (using an attenuated DSLR line to mic cable). This way you can actively adjust the headphone volume to your liking, while feeding the camera a constant audio level to record.
B&H created a DR-100mkII kit for anyone who wants to exercise this method of recording sound for HDSLR shoots. The Tascam DR-100mkII On-Camera DSLR Audio Kit supplies you with all of the accessories required to mount the recorder to a camera shoe, and to connect its dedicated line-level output to the mic input on a camera. One of the benefits of this method is that you’re recording two copies of the audio: a high-resolution copy in the recorder and a second copy in the camera (albeit at the camera’s lower audio resolution). Another benefit is that it effectively gives your camera two XLR inputs, with headphone monitoring. The kit also includes a fluffy windscreen for outdoor recording, headphones and a 4GB SD card.
The improved inputs, preamps and microphones on the new DR-100mkII will benefit any kind of user, whether you need to record music, sound bites and interviews for journalism, podcasts or sound effects. No matter what your discipline, improved sound quality is always a welcome thing.
|Type||Handheld stereo digital audio recorder|
|Number of Channels||2|
|Recording Bit Rate||WAV: 16- and 24-bit - MP3: 32 to 320 kbps, VBR|
|Sampling Frequency||WAV: 44.1 to 96 kHz - MP3: 44.1 and 48 kHz|
|Connecters||1 x External Power Input, 1 x 3.5mm Line Input, 1 x 3.5mm Line Output, 2 x XLR Microphone/Line Inputs, 1 x 3.5mm Headphone, 1 x 3.5mm Remote Jack, 1 x Mini USB|
|Recording/Reading Methods||SD or SDHC cards (64MB to 32GB)|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz to 20 kHz|
|Maximum Input Level||+24dBu|
|Power||Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (TASCAM BP-L2, included) - 2 x AA batteries (Alkaline or Ni-MH batteries) - AC adapter (TASCAM PS-P520, sold separately) - External battery pack (TASCAM BP-6AA, sold separately)|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||3.2 x 6. x 1.4" (80 x 153 x 35mm)|
|Weight||10.2 oz (290 g), without batteries|
Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article. If you have any questions relating to the Tascam DR-100mkII or field recording in general, we encourage you to submit your queries to the Comments section below.