The New Tascam DR-100mkII: Markedly Better

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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
A/D Conversion 24-bit
D/A Conversion 24-bit
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.

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Thanks so much for all of the info.  There's not a lot out there about this new recorder!

Can you tell me how the external mic preamps in the DR-100 MKII compare to the Roland R-26, and also to the Marantz PMD-661?  I know they are all different price points, but I'm willing to pay more for the Roland, or even the Marantz if they are significantly better.  If this recorder is just as good, or just ever so slightly noisier, then choosing this one would be a no brainer. Thanks!

Hello -

I think this is a case of  "you get what you pay for".  All three recorders you have selected are excellent machines that are "best in class" devices at their respective price points. As far as their mic preamps are concerned, I would group the Tascam and Roland as similar, with Marantz being the clear winner.  The Roland is a good choice over the Tascam if you desire 6 track capability.  For a more premium price, Marantz is offering the best combination of features, functionality and robust build and design.

Thanks so much!  That's what I suspected, but I just haven't been able to find any comparisons or confirmation.  The better preamps are my priority, as is the rugged design, so I will definitely shell out the extra cash for the Marantz.  Desicion made! Whew! Thanks again!

Is the housing really aluminum?  Somone told me that it was plastic, he owns one and is convinced it is plastic.

Hello -

The case is indeed aluminum.  The lightness of plastic for sure, but the durability of metal.  Please click on Tascam to view their confirming speciication.

Hi  there. I'm considering buying the new DR-100mkII but I would like to know if it's possible to connect analog sources as a Tascam 112mkII Cassette deck to the DR-100 to convert analog sources (tapes) to Mp3 format? if so, I would need RCA out of the cassette deck going to dual XLR? into the Tascam DR-100, right? I know that  tape gives me a line level of -10dbu-and the new Tascam has a switch at the bottom to change the XLR from mic to line but would -10dbu be too low for the line level since I read  that it now takes professional line level +4dbu? or would I be better off using the mini jack line in on the side?

thanks

Erick in Toronto

Hello -

The Line 2 IN jack (mini 3.5mm, 1/8") does offer a nominal input level of -10 dbV  -  but the automatic built-in limiter, which is always active, can raise the signal as high as +6 dbV as well. You should be able to make a good digital copy using the Line 2 input.

Excellent! This recorder has a lot to offer to everyone! Thanks!

Actually, the built-in limiter is NOT necessarily always active, but can be turned off with a switch on the rear of the TASCAM DR-100mkii. [See the manual, pg 32.]

This machine is a terrific, inexpensive, pristine-sounding, pro-quality recording unit when paired with a Sound Devices USBPre2 through the digital input.

You've basically got an SD 702 for about half the price and with much greater versatility.

And the USBPre2 can be powered in the field for a long time with a USB battery pack like the XP4001. No need for a laptop.

There is no way the case is aluminum. It's plastic. Hard plastic. The Tascam spec sheet says it's aluminum, but there is no way that's correct. Total typo on their part.

It's metal, dont be ignorant. Or maybe you're one of those dolts who needs to be right about everything even when SHOWN EVIDENCE YOU ARE INCORRECT.

I see no mention of timecode and how it is handled by the Tascam. Is timecode part of the WAV or MP3 format that is exported with audio?

There is no embedded timecode offered on this recorder. It is a feature found on the higher end pro audio recorders. For example the Tascam HD-P2 . That recorder will have timecode capability.

Very good article.

I have a question regarding the possibility of using the two units along (Tascam DR-100mkII and Sound Devices USBpre): Isn't the Sound Devices powered up by USB only?

 Thank you 

Hello -

Yes  - the Sound Devices USBPre2 is USB powered only.  Using this combination with a laptop would be the best method of maintaining portablity for mobile use.

Mark S from B&H made an earlier comment about the "built-in limiter always being on."  Could you go into a little more detail about that, Mark?  The manual does not say anything about it that I noticed.

In my testing, I turned off the limiter with the toggle switch on the back of the DR-100 MKII, and I expected to have no limiting going on.  However, when I purposedly tried to clip with a hot signal, the recorder seems to automatically limit the level to -6 dB — and it sounds terrible, very overmodulated, even though the level does not hit 0 dB.  And, again, this happens with the limiter turned off with the toggle switch on the back.

So am I understanding correctly, that even if you turn the limiter "off" with this switch, the limiter is still working (and sounding very bad)?  

What if you do not want any limiting in your signal path?  Is that possible?

Or, is it truly impossible to reach a signal level of -5 or -3 or -1 dB?  Does this mean that we need to treat a level of -6 dB as the new 0 dB?  

If that is the case, could Tascam give us a firmware update that would actually disengage the limiter, or make it more subtle?  It seems to work like an ugly brick wall at -6 dB.  (My firmware says "ver. 1.0" on the startup screen.)

Hello -

My remarks were taken from information provided by Tascam in the owner's manual.  Are you able control the cassette deck's output level?  That may provide an easy solution.  If all attempts to remedy are stymied - please e-mail us at audio@bandh.com so we can follow up with you.

This is really useful information here, thank you kindly for this piece.  It is particularly insightful to me, a dude who purchased the original model in late '09, and am about to purchase some much-needed kit beefing-up, all B&H selections of course....

The first thing I noticed when shopping was this new "Mark II" model designation--which led me to reading this article--perhaps the only thing on the web that actually told me really just what was happening in the evolution of this recorder.  Of course the Biggest Draw to the DR-100 has always been the XLR's, and application of using the recorder in some semblence of a traditional film-style of shooting using two-system sound.  It seemed to be nearly a capable replacement for a Nagra 4.1 in my book...! albeit leaving a few things out along the way, but offering--well a whole lot for the loot.

In reading this piece, of course I would like to get a new Mark II (when did it go to Mark II anyway!?!), but I will just have to live with the original model ('cause it's paid for) but someday would like to move to the newer model.  The biggest obvious upgrade at first seemed those xlr locks, it is indeed unnerving to not have them when shooting with xlr inputs, that's for sure.  But the spdif I/O is also great idea (no a-to-d conversion--sure makes sense!!), and of course the line level xlr input setting is like a no-brainer and was identified as a real shortcoming when I first got it way back when.

And the mic pre-amp retooling sure seems a good idea, as the original unit is always wanting more gain, that's for sure.  A good shotgun plugged-in makes you see (ok, hear) that immediately, just so much more to work with.

But otherwise this piece has been pretty much a digital dream, so I'll just have to suffer on for the time being.  Have since picked up a DR-2d as well (and about to get another given recent price plummets), and both recorders work well together, swapping cards like some 70's key party or something.

The accessories I am now targeting include:  1) Strut STR-DR100 Audio Case for Tascam DR-100, a beautiful and protective idea for such a great device, looking better than the Porta-Brace versioin in my mind; 2) Rycote Portable Recorder Audio Kit for Tascam DR-100, what a setup!  Stupidly overpriced but hey it's Rycote, all just so darn good.... 3) Tascam BP-6AA External Battery Pack for Handheld Recorders, another great OEM idea, this thing on phantom sucks the juice like crazy.

So thanks again for the discussion, and yes, better audio just never hurts...

Bob, in Columbia, MO

Hi

I have a question about recording multiple tracks at a time, I want to record with a shotgun mic (with phantom power), a levalier mic, and also stereo ambient sound using internal mics simultaneously, but I want the option of adjusting levels in post so it should be recorded to separate tracks.

I notice the DR100mkii says "2-Channel Linear PCM Recorder" and the DR40 is a 4 track recorder, wats the difference? (tracks vs channels).

I understand I can do what I mentioned with the ZoomH4n, but the tascam looks like a better product overall, will I be able to do this with either the DR110 or DR 40? and also might the Olympus LS100 be a good or better option and why?

Thank you!

Sorry for the confusion in the wording. Both the DR40 and DR100 are 4 track recorders and would allow 2 external mics as well as the internal stereo mic to be recorded on separate tracks. This way you could adjust them individually in post. The Tascam recorders have become very popular. I have used them personally and recommend them highly.

I think that info re the 4 tracks is false. I have this machine. You can record 2 tracks only and they are either internal or external - no mixing of both. Unless there is a firmware upgrade I haven't got yet ... (I have ver 1.00 0025).

One unrelated problem I have had is that the protective metal grille on the left microphone has come loose after only three days use and now rattles, interfering with recordings on any slight move of the machine. I am in discussion with the vendor about having this machine replaced. The so called "rugged carry case" did not come with my machine (not from B & H), just a soft pouch and I am having difficulty locating a picture of this rugged carry case online as I'd like to purchase one. It's a good machine if you can keep it out of harm. Can anyone post a picture of this carry case and any comments about it?

Cheers,

Éamon

i have just urchased a DR100 mk2 unit. The firmware version shown in information is 1.00 0025. Is this the current version, and if not where can I find the latest please?

Hello Tom -

You have the most current version available according to Tascam.  You may contact Tascam directly for any additional information:

If you still need help, and are a US customer, call the TASCAM Operational Support Specialists at 323-726-0303 ext. 617 (M-F, 8am-5pm Pacific)

Any other questions, please contact us at:  AskBH@BandH.com

A couple quick questions

Can one record from a computer through the usb?

I want to confirm that it doesn't solely record from one input at a time (uni, line, etc...). It's possible to simultaneously record from one xlr input, one mini jack, and both on-board mics? And will these be fused onto one track or output as 4 distinct stereo tracks?

Also, could you explain what it means to switch from mic to line input (i feel like i should understand that, but don't - one is balanced??)

thanks a bunch

Hello deepbluefunk -

The Tascam DR-100MKll will record 4 tracks simultaneously from the two on-board condenser mics and a pair of external XLR connected microphones of your own choosing.  Four distinct and separate tracks will be maintained. Microphone signals are generally lower than those of line devices like CD players, tape decks, etc. So, since one connector port may be utilized for either signal type, a switch is used to determine the appropriate impedance required for either a Microphone or Line device.  More questions?  E-mail us at:  AskBH@BandH.com

I have the DR-100mkii and just found that I cannot record in either four tracks or with two different types of mic. As an example I can use the XLR but not the XLR and omni at the same time. You can only use one type of mic at the same time.

This Is incorrect, the tascam dr-100 mkII will only record two tracks at once. Period. The zoom recorder will do 4 tracks, but all the feedback I have read indicates it is a lesser recorder in many other important areas. I am going to go for the tascam.

Sorry, there was confusion here. The DR100 can record 2 channels at a time (the 2 XlR OR the 2 internal)
There are 4 tracks that can be recorded so after recording 2 channels you can then overdub 2 more channels to fill out the 4 tracks.

It will not do all 4 tracks or 4 mics at the same time.

I've been renting a Marantz PMD661, I'd like to own a recorder, this Tascam looks pretty good, and my new D600 gives me some better options for the camera's onboard backup track, monitoring, metering, etc. (I consider the external linear track the main)
Am I giving anything up on the Tascam over the Marantz? And also, if I wanted to just use the on camera tracks, does the Tascam work more or less like an HDSLR balance adapter...I think so, but there may be spec issues with preamp quality I dont know about...

Hello Greg -

The Marantz PMD661 provides an intuitive interface with easy-to-use controls and a bright, clear OLED screen. A 10-segment LED meter makes it easy to monitor audio levels at a glance.  But for less than half the price the DR-100mkII from Tascam  offers high-end recording features aimed at musicians and engineers. Four built-in microphones, two cardioid and two omnidirectional, deliver great sound via the high-gain and low noise microphone preamps. The aluminum case and variable playback speed from -50% to +16% are a few more professional touches that make this recorder a tremendous tool and an unbeatable value.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Thanks for the great information on this recorder. I'm just getting into HDSLR video and am looking for a durable digital recorder. I don't anticipate recording more than two channels at a time. I'm currently using the Rode Videomic Pro as an external mic but anticipate adding more. Great sound, build quality, (relatively) small size and ease of use are the most important features to me, in that order. I'm looking at the DR100Mk.II, the new Nagra Lino and the Roland R26 as possible candidates. Do you have any recommendations as to what might best suit my needs?

Thanks!

Hello MikeD -

The Nagra and Roland products are excellent, but may be pricey for the beginner considering the Tascam DR100MKll offers you excellent mic preamps, awesome aluminum body construction and overall professional recording results that would be indistinguishable from the other products you mention.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I am planning to use Tascam DR100 MKii with SD MixPre-D using the Line out from MixPre to Line in in Tascam. I know that Tascam offers both 4dB and -10dB line ins? I would like to go the pro way? How can I do this? Which cable should I use?

Thanks.

You would use the XLR inputs of the DR100 MKII. This would be the balanced connectors at +4db.

To connect the Sound Devices MixPre D to the Tascam DR100 MK II, you will need two xlr cables. You can find these XLR cables listed by length, at the following link.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com
 

I'm sure I am overlooking something fairly obvious here but..I am trying to record audio from a sound board and using a xlr cable plugged into the left xlr input. It works ok but I am only getting sound from the left side of my headphones or speakers when I put it on the computer. Is this because I need to have 2 xlr cables in both inputs to get audio from the left and right side? I was hoping to use one input for the soundboard audio and one for a wireless lav mic..but if I'm only going to get the audio coming from the right or left sides later..

Also is there a way to fix this in post for the files I already have?
Thanks!

Hi Jeff -

You can drag the mono left channel track to the right channel stereo track in you editor to effectively create a two track L/R mono mix.  Or you can correct this in the recorder before recording by dialing in the Microphone Input Setting from the Menu to "MONO".  When set to mono, the same signal will be sent to both right and left channels. 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi,

I am a transcriptionist working on an audio recorded on this device. From your description, I think there would be fabulous sound. However, it's one of the worst audios I've ever worked with. First of all, there's a terrible hum/static sort of sound that makes it impossible to turn up the volume and obscures the voices. Some of the voices fade in and out. What might cause this? What can be done to prevent this? Is there something the recorder should sit upon that would help? Any advice in terms of getting a high quality recording the next time with this recorder would be appreciated.

Also, for this audio, he is recording a meeting where there are 13-15 participants. Is this recorder capable of getting what everyone says? If so, how can the recorder be situated best to pick up what everyone says? The audio now only picks up the voices of people nearest to it.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. It sounds like he bought a fabulous recorder but...

Lisa

Hi Lisa -

You may have the recorder near a source of high RF (radio frequency) interference, AC line interference, or other EMF (electromagnetic field).  Your subjects may need to be closer to the recorder as well. Consider using external lavalier mics clipped to the subject's clothing or using headworn/headset microphones. Recording a group can be tricky depending on the volume of the speakers' voices, distance from the built-in mics, the ambient noise level, and room acoustics.  If your group is seated at a conference table, then you might consider using a pair of these mics:

The Audio-Technica PRO-44 is a Hemi-Cardioid (Half-Space Cardioid) condenser boundary microphone with an integral power module (for non-permanent installations). This microphone is the ideal solution for your business meetings and depositions, etc. Use in lecture halls, conference room, classroom, deposition halls, Courtrooms, etc.  A 25' (7.6 m) Detachable Cable (TA3F to XLR-M Type) is included.

Low profile for minimum visibility
Wide-range condenser element with low-mass diaphragm for superior performance
Self-contained electronics eliminate need for external power modules
Rugged design and construction

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hello,

I am planning on buying this recorder for our wedding videography business but read a user comment saying that the internal microphones could not record audio if external microphones are being used at the same time. This seemed odd so I wanted to clarify whether this is correct.

Our plan is to use the built-in microphones to record ambient noise and to pair that with a wireless lav plugged into one of the inputs which will record the minister, speakers etc.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Stewart

Hi Stewart -

This recorder will allow stereo recording via the internal microphones or recording via one or two externally connected microphones independently of the internal mics.  The internal and external mics cannot be mixed.  You can record ambient with an external omni-directional microphone and still utilize the external wireless on the minister, speakers, bride and groom.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I presently own the Tascam DR-100. I'm looking to do some recording of LP's and wondering if I can connect my turntable via the Line In jack (located on the side of the unit.

R~

Hi Robert -

Your turntable can be connected into the recorder's 3.5mm Line input port.  You will need an RCA stereo to mini (1/8", 3.5mm) stereo "Y" adapter:

This Hosa Stereo Mini Angled Male to 2 RCA Male Y-Cable can be used to split a Stereo Mini (1/8"/3.5mm) output signal into Left and Right signals.

And if your turntable dose not have a phono pre-amp built-in (there is usually a switch) then you will need to add one which will connect between your turntable and the recorder:

The Rolls VP29 is a phono/turntable preamplifier with provisions for line level output. The VP29 is designed for use with amplifiers, mixers or stereo systems that do not provide turntable inputs.

The preamp features dual RCA phone inputs, ground terminal connection and dual RCA stereo line level outputs. A separate 1/4" stereo line level output is provided for added flexibility. Although the unit is DC powered (AC adapter included), its compact design make it both unobtrusive and portable.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com