REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
TascamDR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder
 
4.2

(based on 66 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (32)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (26)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (4)

87%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Excellent sound (47)
  • Easy to use (45)
  • Versatile (35)
  • Low distortion (29)
  • Compact (20)

Cons

  • Poor quality construction (11)
  • Weak (5)

Best Uses

  • Professional recording (40)
  • Amateur recording (28)
  • Outdoor events / games (26)
  • Home studio (21)
  • Performances (21)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Experienced (45), Professional musician (12), Novice (3)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Best Field Recorder Under $1000

In the sub-thousand-dollar range, the DR-680 is without question the best field recorder on the market. While it lacks some features that more expensive units routinely offer, it delivers where it counts. ...Read complete review

In the sub-thousand-dollar range, the DR-680 is without question the best field recorder on the market. While it lacks some features that more expensive units routinely offer, it delivers where it counts. Preamps are quiet, sound quality is excellent, and the OS is easy to navigate.

That said, it does have some quirks and shortcomings, which are mildly disappointing. Most notably, it lacks timecode support, and there's little control over file naming. So, make sure your slate guy knows to write the sound file number on the slate for each and every take. Your editor is going to need that.

The fact that the DR-680 has RCA outputs is somewhat bizarre. Needless to say, when you get yours, a set of RCA to XLR adapters, and/or a set of RCA to 1/4" adapters, will be a must.

Some reviewers have complained about the fact that the DR-680's cassis is plastic. I don't see that as a problem, myself. Quite the opposite, it's actually somewhat of a plus, as the DR-680 happens to be one of the lightest weight field recorders I've ever used. When you're booming 12 hours a day, every ounce counts, and you find yourself greatly appreciating all light-weight materials.

Although the plastic chassis is more scratchable than a metal one might be, it's certainly not flimsy. The DR-680 is a solid unit. I wouldn't go dropping it off any cliffs or anything, but it's plenty rugged enough for serious field use. Just get a good case for it (like you should for ANY field recorder) and it'll be fine. I use mine with the Porta Brace AR-DR680.

I'd also like to take a moment to talk about battery life. I remember it was hard to find good information on this when I bought mine.

I recommend a good external 12V battery pack, of course. However, the DR-680 will take eight AA's internally, if you prefer. If you do go that route, here's what you can expect, assuming you're phantom-powering a boom mic:

- Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA's will last 12-18 hours.
- Alkaline AA's will last 3-5 hours.
- Rechargeable lithium AA's will last 2-3 hours.

As you can see, the Ultimate Lithiums are really the only viable option for AA's to get you through the day. On a shoot, you can safely expect to go through a set of them every 1.5 days. To cover that expense, simply add an extra $10 to your day rate.

Akalines are far less cost effective than Ultimate Lithiums, and you'd have to carry 4-5 sets of them every day, to be safe. So, don't even bother with them.

Rechargeables technically can work, if you have three or four sets of them on hand, and a couple of fast chargers to keep them juiced. But obviously that's a ridiculous amount to have to carry, and you'd burn them out within a year, since they'd all need to be charged multiple ties a day. Not to mention, having to stop every 2-3 hours to change batteries isn't exactly the best way to make directors happy.

Again, the best thing to do is get yourself a good external 12V battery pack or two, and then you'll never have to worry again. There are some nice, relatively inexpensive ones on the market these days.

Quick tip: No matter what batteries you're using, switch phantom power off between takes. You'll increase battery life by up to 50%.

Anyway, back the DR-680 itself, anyone in the market for a very good sounding 6-channel field recorder that won't break the bank should scoop one up.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

I can't recommend

As a professional remote recorder I need to count on my gear. I cannot count on this product. Like many I was taken in by cost, features, specs, and a brand name....Read complete review

As a professional remote recorder I need to count on my gear. I cannot count on this product. Like many I was taken in by cost, features, specs, and a brand name. I used for a year before unit starting acting up. It finally crashed with a typical "Sys Rom Err"
I researched this and found it to be a common failure issue. Tascam wants three tries at fixing before they'll replace. That's 8-10 weeks down time with shipping. That is just poor for a major manufacturer. I can't afford such downtime.
I do not consider this pro gear or up to the rigors of field recording. Simply put Tascam needs to do better. I am not a happy customer. Issues are still unresolved so BUYER BEWARE.

Reviewed by 66 customers

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4.0

Solid / inexpensive

By Nyck

from NYC

About Me Experienced

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Compact
  • Easy To Use
  • Excellent Sound

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Amateur Recording
    • Events
    • Performances

    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

    Simple interface. Sounds decent. Easy menu navigation. A nice affordable 6 track analog on site recorder.

    Share this review

    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    ..

    By Jagadeesh

    from India

    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

    Good

    Share this review

    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Affordable Professional audio recorder

    By Omar Patin

    from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

    About Me Experienced

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Compact
    • Easy To Use
    • Excellent Sound
    • Low Distortion
    • Versatile

    Cons

    • Fast Power Consumption
    • Power Consumption Is High

    Best Uses

    • Amateur Recording
    • Events
    • Professional Recording
    • Small Sound Unit For Film

    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

    Great affordable unit for sound recording on location. It's a nice versatile light weight unit for Low-budget filmmaking as either a main sound unit or second unit for a feature film shooting. Must keep in mind that the power consumption is extremely fast. It uses 8 AA batteries at the time, but in my experience, it only lasts about 90 min (using only 2 channels). I highly recommend other type of power supply like an NP battery with an adaptor, but make sure that provides 12 volts.

    Share this review

     
    4.0

    Almost Flawless

    By SOR

    from Santiago, Chile

    About Me Professional Musician

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Use
    • Excellent Sound
    • Low Distortion
    • Powerful

    Cons

    • Rechargeable Battery Lack

    Best Uses

    • Direct Surround Recording
    • Home Studio
    • Performances

    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

    It would be perfect if include a rechargeable battery pack and the overdub function.

    Share this review

     
    5.0

    Simple & best buy product.

    By Andrew Hui

    from Hong Kong

    About Me Experienced

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Use
    • Excellent Sound
    • Powerful

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Performances
      • Professional Recording

      Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

      excellent for sound recording.

      Share this review

       
      5.0

      Great Audio Recorder

      By Lee the film and audio guy

      from San Antonio, TX

      About Me Experienced

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Compact
      • Easy To Use
      • Excellent Sound
      • Low Distortion
      • Powerful
      • Versatile

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Amateur Recording
        • Events
        • Home Studio
        • Performances
        • Professional Recording

        Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

        I do film, video and audio transfers. I expanded to quadraphonic audio transfers and need a recorder that could do all 4 tracks at one time. This unit far exceeded my expatiation. The quality was great and the unit was easy to use. The file transfer was easy and the editing software on my computer had no problem with the files. At this point I have not found anything that I did not like about the unit. Since I use this unit on AC only I can not say how it performs on battery. The instruction book I found very helpful if you follow it step by step.

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        4.0

        Great field recorder

        By Andy

        from Branson

        About Me Professional Musician

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Compact
        • Easy To Use
        • Versatile

        Cons

        • Mic Preamps Are Limited
        • Noisy

        Best Uses

        • Field recording

        Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

        This is a fantastic low budget field recorder. Sounds good (although a little bit noisy), plenty of inputs and outputs, all the functions you want really.
        Except timecode support, but I don't expect that for the price. I have done field recordings with boom and lavs for national television and it has worked very well.
        I do not like that you don't have a proper gain knob, you can choose between low and hi gain and then trim it.

        Share this review

         
        5.0

        I'm Into It

        By fireboltproject

        from San Diego, CA

        About Me Experienced

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Compact
        • Easy To Use
        • Excellent Sound
        • Low Distortion
        • Versatile

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Amateur Recording
          • Events
          • Home Studio
          • Performances
          • Professional Recording

          Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

          I've worked with Sound Devices and Zoom recorders and I must say that the Tascam DR-680 is pretty impressive. The preamps are quiet compared to many other field recorders and the button/switch layout makes life on set fairly easy.

          With Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries I was able to get in almost three solid days of filming.

          Well worth the price!

          Share this review

           
          4.0

          Great Value - Bang for the Buck!

          By E.F. Productions

          from Tulsa, Oklahoma

          About Me Experienced

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Compact
          • Easy To Use
          • Excellent Sound
          • Low Distortion
          • Versatile

          Cons

          • Poor Battery Life

          Best Uses

          • Events
          • Professional Recording

          Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

          Great all around recorder/mixer combination with nice features. Great for TV, Indie Film, Live event coverage of bands and anything else. requiring more than two or 4 channels of recording. My only with would be for a different portable power supply built in in place of using AA batteries. I am using mine with an external battery plate and a Sony NP-F970 battery to have decent battery life.

          Share this review

           
          5.0

          great

          By quantumrider

          from new york, ny

          About Me Professional Musician

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

            Cons

              Best Uses

                Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                super entry level recorder

                Share this review

                (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                nice quiet, next level recorder

                By Chris

                from San Antonio, Texas

                About Me Novice

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Excellent Sound
                • Versatile

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Amateur Recording
                  • Events
                  • Nature recording
                  • Professional Recording

                  Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                  This recorder is a significant step up from my previous recorders (Olympus LS11 and Tascam DR100mkii). It has the benefit of 4 XLR channels and much quieter preamps. The switches on top give great access to controls although when in a case they can be tough to reach.I wish adjusting the trim didn't take two steps (trim button then dial), but I have quickly learned how to trim without having to search. However, the trade-off for this is tremendous versatility in controlling inputs, so I guess it is a worthwhile sacrifice.The preamps are deathly quiet and the step up in quality from my previous recorders was immediately noticeable.I don't like that it records 3 tracks for a stereo recording (mono L, mono R, and stereo) since that fills up a card faster, but I guess to some people that would be a positive feature. (It may be possible to turn that off?)For the money I paid at B&H (under [$]0), there is simply nothing that compares. You would have to pay more than 3x or 4x this price to get an equivalent recorder. No, it doesn't fit in a pocket but if you are serious about recording, this unit is a best buy. Sure Sound Devices make some better units, but at 4x the price or more.

                  Share this review

                   
                  4.0

                  Will do the Job

                  By ckeehn

                  from Monterey Ca

                  About Me Experienced

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Easy To Use
                  • Low Distortion
                  • Powerful

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Amateur Recording
                    • Home Studio

                    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                    I have not used it that much but overall quite intuitive and responsive. Good mic pre's and found the recordings quite alive and vibrant.

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                    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Great

                    By Eli

                    from Brooklyn

                    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                    This is an excellent choice for sound guys just starting in the filming industry. I have no complaints this Tascam 680 is always reliable.

                    Share this review

                    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Excellent affordable multitrack recorder

                    By Tobi

                    from Vina Del Mar, Chile

                    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                    Nice addition to my normal eng bag allows me to record 6 ISO tracks and a mix while still sending mix to cameras. Straight forward controls and records to SDHC cards. Very solid recorder

                    Share this review

                    (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    4.0

                    Best Field Recorder Under $1000

                    By ABBloch

                    from Buffalo, NY

                    Verified Reviewer

                    Pros

                    • 6 Balanced Inputs
                    • Compact
                    • Easy To Use
                    • Excellent Sound
                    • Light weight
                    • Low Distortion
                    • Powerful
                    • Switchable Phantom Power
                    • Versatile

                    Cons

                    • Lacks Time Code Support
                    • Weak File Naming Options

                    Best Uses

                    • Amateur Recording
                    • Documentaries
                    • ENG
                    • Events
                    • Field Mixing
                    • Field recording
                    • Filmmaking
                    • Home Studio
                    • Performances
                    • Professional Recording

                    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                    In the sub-thousand-dollar range, the DR-680 is without question the best field recorder on the market. While it lacks some features that more expensive units routinely offer, it delivers where it counts. Preamps are quiet, sound quality is excellent, and the OS is easy to navigate.

                    That said, it does have some quirks and shortcomings, which are mildly disappointing. Most notably, it lacks timecode support, and there's little control over file naming. So, make sure your slate guy knows to write the sound file number on the slate for each and every take. Your editor is going to need that.

                    The fact that the DR-680 has RCA outputs is somewhat bizarre. Needless to say, when you get yours, a set of RCA to XLR adapters, and/or a set of RCA to 1/4" adapters, will be a must.

                    Some reviewers have complained about the fact that the DR-680's cassis is plastic. I don't see that as a problem, myself. Quite the opposite, it's actually somewhat of a plus, as the DR-680 happens to be one of the lightest weight field recorders I've ever used. When you're booming 12 hours a day, every ounce counts, and you find yourself greatly appreciating all light-weight materials.

                    Although the plastic chassis is more scratchable than a metal one might be, it's certainly not flimsy. The DR-680 is a solid unit. I wouldn't go dropping it off any cliffs or anything, but it's plenty rugged enough for serious field use. Just get a good case for it (like you should for ANY field recorder) and it'll be fine. I use mine with the Porta Brace AR-DR680.

                    I'd also like to take a moment to talk about battery life. I remember it was hard to find good information on this when I bought mine.

                    I recommend a good external 12V battery pack, of course. However, the DR-680 will take eight AA's internally, if you prefer. If you do go that route, here's what you can expect, assuming you're phantom-powering a boom mic:

                    - Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA's will last 12-18 hours.
                    - Alkaline AA's will last 3-5 hours.
                    - Rechargeable lithium AA's will last 2-3 hours.

                    As you can see, the Ultimate Lithiums are really the only viable option for AA's to get you through the day. On a shoot, you can safely expect to go through a set of them every 1.5 days. To cover that expense, simply add an extra $10 to your day rate.

                    Akalines are far less cost effective than Ultimate Lithiums, and you'd have to carry 4-5 sets of them every day, to be safe. So, don't even bother with them.

                    Rechargeables technically can work, if you have three or four sets of them on hand, and a couple of fast chargers to keep them juiced. But obviously that's a ridiculous amount to have to carry, and you'd burn them out within a year, since they'd all need to be charged multiple ties a day. Not to mention, having to stop every 2-3 hours to change batteries isn't exactly the best way to make directors happy.

                    Again, the best thing to do is get yourself a good external 12V battery pack or two, and then you'll never have to worry again. There are some nice, relatively inexpensive ones on the market these days.

                    Quick tip: No matter what batteries you're using, switch phantom power off between takes. You'll increase battery life by up to 50%.

                    Anyway, back the DR-680 itself, anyone in the market for a very good sounding 6-channel field recorder that won't break the bank should scoop one up.

                    Share this review

                    (7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    1.0

                    Almost a great value until it fails

                    By atmzeal

                    from New York

                    About Me Experienced

                    Pros

                    • Easy To Use

                    Cons

                    • Poor Quality Construction
                    • Weak

                    Best Uses

                    • Amateur Recording
                    • Events
                    • Home Studio

                    Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                    Bought this unit from B&H in store in May because I thought it was a great value to location sound mix for film/tv. It records 4 xlr iso tracks in addition to other inputs, is decently built to do what needs to be done. However, there are a ton of issues with the menu interface. First, it has a basic numbering and naming files, but is not flexible. Customizing individual file takes is limited in how many characters you can input and bulky when doing so quickly. The 3/4" headphone jack gets loose soon after use while the headphone volume knob is unrefined (big jumps in sound when turned in really small degrees). it's made more for music as, firstly, folders can't be customized and always outputs in "music". For a product with a lot of amazing features, it's hindered by a lack of attention to detail that could probably have been easily fixed or improved by a simple firmware update, which they never did. It would have been better to have more turn pots to quickly fade/trim the channels individually but understandably, not everyone uses it for such reasons, resulting in a 2-step process to do so per track (hit the button channel, then turn). Power cable is a bit flimsy (uses a dc plug that will become loose over time, unlike a locking or more secure connection such as a hirose. they knew this as they built a strain relief into the 680 to protect the flimsy plug from accidental pullouts). They also don't have accessories that enable use of the unit with portable power sources like an np-1 battery (a big downside, forcing you to use 8 AA's that drain within two hours). Noisefloor is decent, probably second best to other products in the price range but it can be sent a line feed from a mixer with better preamps (a big plus)

                    I can accept these faults since what it gives, iso tracks and an average menu system, is things that typically only expensive products offer. And the price normally was a bargain until recently. However, the worst part, was the fact that the unit completely stopped working three months after I bought it. One day, an hour after I turned it off, I went to turn it on again and the screen lit up, then shut down. Then, it never turned on again (both battery and power cable). Sending it for repair to tascam i waited one week for a response and received it two weeks after i confirmed payment of labor (total of 23 days in to and fro, 16 days for them to repair and ship, Parts covered in mfg warranty, labor not), I was told a circuit board had to be replaced for the repair. No other explanation. Later received a mailed package, bubble wrapped unit, boxed with nothing else inside at all. Customer service wasn't bad, but it's unacceptable how poorly constructed the 680 is that i can't even rely on it for professional use. And the fact it broke after only about maybe just a week's worth of use total - only a few hours a day and only starting near the 3rd month since i had it.

                    i was hoping for a bargain on digital features which wouldn't have increased internal parts costs, but instead wasted money that could have gone to more reliable companies with reliable units and better designs. With sound, you get what you pay for.

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                      5.0

                      Excellent Digital Recorder

                      By Folk Singer

                      from San Francisco, CA

                      About Me Novice

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Compact
                      • Easy To Use
                      • Excellent Sound
                      • Versatile

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Amateur Recording
                        • Events
                        • Home Studio
                        • Performances
                        • Professional Recording

                        Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                        This unit is easy to use, has excellent sound, & handles a diverse set of live inputs/outputs. For the price, this is an excellent unit. Worked right out of the box, & reading manual helped to explain lots of extra features - I expect to enjoy using this unit for a long time & very often. Buy one. You'll be glad you did.

                        Share this review

                         
                        3.0

                        Good for its price

                        By Wrick

                        from NYC

                        About Me Novice

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Compact
                        • Easy To Use
                        • Excellent Sound

                        Cons

                        • Too Many Batteries

                        Best Uses

                        • Amateur Recording

                        Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                        Best things about the 680 are: the price for 8 tracks to record including 4 xlr, the options of quality of record, labeling of takes, its light, easy to function.
                        Negative things are: 8 aa batteries to run the recorder- not very eco friendly-, there are no direct input level controls, doesn't work well with the bag it was designed with- cannot close the clear cover when headphones are connected.

                        Share this review

                         
                        5.0

                        good device.

                        By emil

                        from trondheim, norway / san francisco

                        About Me Experienced

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Excellent Sound

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Professional Recording

                          Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                          Im very happy with this product. It's no 'sound device' quality, but for the price this is atenfold better in comparison.
                          The cost/utput quality ratio is excellent.

                          I recommend using it with the tascam bag for protection though.

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                          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          4.0

                          affordable professional quality

                          By davidp158

                          from Bellevue, WA

                          About Me Professional Musician

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Compact
                          • Excellent Sound

                          Cons

                          • Awkward Controls Location
                          • Plastic construction

                          Best Uses

                          • Performances
                          • Professional Recording
                          • Remote Sound For Video

                          Comments about Tascam DR-680 8-Track Portable Field Audio Recorder:

                          Although I haven't used this on a project yet, my initial tests verify that the DR-680 is a big improvement over my Tascam DR-40. I needed more inputs for multi-tracking musicians and various forum reviewers gave this recorder very high marks. When B&H was offering this unit for $429, it was a no-brainer bargain for me.The good:• The preamps are very quiet with a good amount of gain. • Compact, light and portable.• Flexible recording and routing options• Produces recordings similar to much higher priced units at a fraction of the price. Very good price to performance value.• Firmware update adds mid/side recording matrix, and the ability to "gang" channels together for trim and pan level adjustments.The not-so-good:• Adjusting input levels per channel requires a few button taps to access the channel you need. Not a big issue for some, but this complicates making fast level adjustments for multiple tracks.• Controls are split between the front and top of the unit, making it awkward to operate, especially in a field recorder bag. While not a deal breaker, I'm surprised that Tascam didn't put all crucial controls on the front panel. Also, the top switches can be accidentally bumped inside a bag.• No 88MHz sample rate• No time code• Channels 7 and 8 are only recordable via digital input (thus, the recorder is essentially a 6 track recorder for the majority of users)• No safety track option, like my DR-40• Lightweight plastic construction doesn't seem very rugged, especially for a recorder that is intended for remote use.• Tascam dosen't offer a remote battery solution, which is essential for recording for long periods when using phantom power.Although my list of good is shorter than not-so-good, I feel the DR-680 is a great unit for the price. I can't afford a Sound Devices unit, so the DR-680 is a great, affordable alternative that will suite the majority of my needs.Due to recent price drops, its possible that Tascam may be replacing the DR-680 with another model. However, at $[$]I haven't found anything that touches the quality and value of the DR-680.

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