There are lots of compact portable digital recorders on the market today that are popular among musicians, journalists and HDSLR filmmakers, but not many of them feature professional XLR inputs. Having the ability to connect XLR microphones and line-level sources to a recorder is appealing because it’s the best sounding, low-noise analog connection available. Before the Tascam DR-40 was announced, the least expensive recorder with XLR inputs cost around $300.
While the main selling points of the DR-40 are its dual locking combo XLR and ¼" inputs (which feature the ability to supply phantom power and be switched to accept true line-level signals), there are some other standout features as well. Chief among them is the DR-40’s ability to record four tracks simultaneously, its extended 15 hours of battery life, the built-in condenser mics that swivel into different positions and its ability to record Broadcast Wave files.
You can record with the DR-40’s external inputs and with its two built-in microphones at the same time. When you’re not using the four-channel mode, you can opt to record a duplicate “safety” version of two tracks internally at a lower input level setting. This way, if you get a spike in volume and your main recording peaks and distorts, the second copy that you’re recording internally will be free of distortion.
If you’re looking for features like separate headphone and line-level outputs, an included rechargeable battery and wireless remote and four built-in microphones, you’re going to have to go with the popular Tascam DR-100. But if you’re on a tight budget and you need a recorder that can connect to professional equipment and create high-resolution recordings, the new DR-40 is a sweet new option.
A free firmware release from Tascam (V1.10) gives the DR-40 independent level control over the left and right inputs.