Did Tascam just drop a bomb on the Zoom H4n? The more affordable Tascam DR-40 is a great little recorder, but fell short when people realized you didn't have the same independent audio track levels like a Zoom H4n. The new firmware released today (found here), now adds that functionality to the Tascam DR-40. It still may not be as full featured as the Zoom H4n, but it has enough features for the average shooter, and this little recorder is $100 dollars cheaper than the Zoom H4n.
Tascam has released a new DR-05 portable audio recorder that's firing back at the Zoom H1. Set up at the same pricing and target audience looking for a tiny portable recording device, this one might be the real game changer. Specs for the new Tascam DR-05 recording bitrate is similar to the Zoom H1, also includes stereo microphones, powered Mic 3.5 line input, headphones out, built in speaker, accepts MicroSD Card media, powered by (2) AA batteries or optional AC adapter.
There's no doubt that Zoom had cornered the market for $99 dollar portable recorders, but there was comments about the Zoom H1 plastic body and battery drain issues. Previously Tascam failed in providing a cost effective portable recorder to follow, as even the DR-03 was pricier than the Zoom H1. The DR-03 was thinner, but lacked mounting options and could only support a limited sized MicroSD card. With the release of this DR-05, this one could take the $99 dollar portable recorder crown. Oh and yes, this new Tascam DR-05 also has a threaded 1/4 x 20 mount (finally).
The Zoom H1 was a sell out for many weeks on it's first release, and from everything i'm seeing, this new Tascam is clearly a
Charlie Sheen Winner. Once it arrives, i'll make the decision to move to all Tascam's and sell all Zoom H1's. Check out all the specs through the link below.
First let's get into the right mindset about why i'm testing these two Ultra Portable recorders. If you're looking for the best audio recorder for your DSLR, then nothing beats bang for the buck than the Zoom H4n. That's not what this is about. The Zoom H4n is a great device that can support 90% of your audio needs, but there's going to be times when you can't go tethered and things have to be discreet. You'll have to go with a wireless setup and a LAV microphone. When it comes down to 'quality effective' wireless gear, you're looking at $600 dollars a pair. This is what 'this is' about.
These new Ultra portable recorders can act as a nice option instead of using a Wireless setup. For under $150 dollars you can have a truly effective source of audio that is not tethered to the camera operator, very discreet, and less prone to issues that can arise with wireless gear. I'm lovin' these things. Of course, these two products look like they are competitors in the same space and naturally everyone will wonder which way to go. Right now let's just talk strictly 'Form Factor' and size for use as a 'Body Pack'. I'm going to skip to the results and say in my book, Tascam is the clear winner.
They both record the same audio quality, so when used with a LAV microphone and thrown in a pocket, they are equally as effective. The Zoom is the winner for being cheaper, and having a tripod mount, possibly better microphone configuration, and a form factor designed to be used as a handheld microphone. If you're wondering about how you can mount a Tascam on your DSLR rig, a simple Cheap Shotgun Microphone Shock Mount would probably work well, and would be functional to dampen handling noise.
The Tascam DR-08 Portable Digital Audio Recorder is the winner for having a smaller profile which is more comfortable to be used as a 'body pack'. It will fit nicely in a pocket, or throw it into a cell phone case with a belt clip option. The Zoom H1, although can be used in the pocket, loses to the Tascam for this one feature. This is the one feature I'm looking for between these two items. So if your only plan is to use it as a 'body pack w/ LAV mic' go for the Tascam. Again, for the idea to replace a wireless body pack the audio is sufficient. Yes I know it doesn't compare to the Zoom H4n, but try sticking that in your pocket. For you Audiophiles, more audio tests and comparisons will be done soon.
[Update] Here's a video talking about the test, and the RAW files can be found in the links below. If you're wondering why one would be larger than the other, it's mainly because I started one recorder after the other, causing one file to run longer in time. You'll hear a bit of fumbling around as I get things setup, and clap several times for me to sync audio to the video. I did not want to cut, alter, convert, compress any of these files so as to keep things as original as possible for you to listen.
Update: Cheapest price BHPHOTOVIDEO.com: Tascam DR-08 Portable Digital Audio Recorder
Like I had mentioned, the Tascam DR-08 was due in today's mail bag. Here it is in all it's plastic glory. Not that plastic is totally bad, even the Zoom H1 has it's share of plastic for the build. I haven't placed them side by side yet, but the Tascam appears to be in similar size and function. Will do a nice little test later tonight for audio quality and then run through the pros and cons of each item that I can think of.