Tascam DR-100 mkII vs Zoom H4n Review

I’ve been using the Zoom H4n audio recorder since early 2009 and for the most part I’ve been very happy with the results. Anyone that’s been shooting with DSLR’s over the last couple of years will be well aware of the audio limitations of these cameras and the need to record audio on a separate device.

 

The most common use of the H4n for me has been during interviews where a DSLR is capable of producing really nice images but cannot provide either the audio quality or monitoring ability I need. I tend to use the H4n with either my Sony wireless lav mics or my Sennheisser MKH416 shotgun mic. The h4n has also been used a lot when I’m shooting events for Harley-Davidson as I can set it up with an XLR feed from the stage sound desk and record either the live bands or the award presentations separately from the on camera recording.

I wasn’t really in the market for another recorder but when B&H contacted me recently and asked if I’d like to review the Tascam DR-100 mkII I was keen to look at it as Tascam has a long history of making professional audio gear.

So let’s begin…

Design & Features

Both recorders are designed for handheld use and in a lot of ways appear similar. Both recorders offer a similar form factor including a pair of XLR inputs with 48v phantom power on the base, built in omni directional mics on the top plus a backlit mono LCD screen and various controls throughout the body.

Both recorders offer various recording formats including a range of quality options for MP3 files or Wav files at 44.1, 48 or 96 kHz at either 16 or 24 bit.

They both include the standard I/O options you would expect from a recorder such as a headphone port with level control, input level controls and of course a range of buttons for controlling input sources and recording and playback control as well as hold buttons to stop accidental button presses. Both recorders use removable SD cards and have the option of being powered by an AC adapter or batteries. Other features that both include as standard are a tripod mounting thread on the back, built in speakers to review recordings.

Once you delve further into each device the differences become more apparent so lets look at those now. I’m not going to list all the recording and playback features of these devices as both have a big list of clever things you can do including marking and editing clips. For now I’m just going to concentrate on the things that I find interesting or more relevant for use with video.

 

 

Zoom H4n

The H4n’s prevalence in it’s use with DSLR’s must have come as a pleasant surprise for it’s manufacturers as Zoom generally specialise in products for use with musical instruments. As a guitarist I’ve known of Zoom’s products for many years as they make a lot of guitar effects processors and multi effects units.

 

Looking over the H4n you’ll see a lot of guitar oriented features there too including standard instrument inputs in the middle of the XLR inputs. If you delve into the menu system on the Zoom H4n you’ll also find range of guitar effects built in to it as well as a chromatic guitar tuner and a metronome to keep you playing in time should you want to offer your video clients a little musical entertainment!

The Zoom H4n isn’t restricted to recording music though and it’s popularity amongst DSLR video shooters proves that. The recorder offers both stereo and four channel recording allowing you to record using it’s XLR inputs and the built in mics at the same time. It also has a 3.5mm stereo input jack which overrides the built in mics.

 

Many people that use the H4n don’t realise that it can also be used as an audio interface meaning that you can connect it to your computer via USB and record audio directly to your computer from either the built in mics or the xlr inputs. It can even be used as an SD card reader!

In terms of build quality and ruggedness I can say that from my own experience the H4n is a tough little cookie. The main outer body appears to be tough ABS plastic with a nice grippy texture. The area at the top that holds the omni directional mics is metal and adds a lot of weight to the recorder as well as giving it a very sturdy feel. The outer cases for the omni directional mics are plastic though and these are probably the weakest pert of the design in terms of what could get damaged if it were dropped.

The H4n uses push button controls throughout with a jog / select wheel on the side for menu navigation. These are all plastic and feel a little bit cheap as a result but they work well and after nearly three years use mine are still going strong. The LCD glows a nice orangey colour when in use but it’s extremely low in resolution and the animated UI graphics remind me of something that wouldn’t have looked out of place on my ZX Spectrum back in the 80’s.

Recording and headphone levels are both set with rocker type clicky buttons on the sides of the unit which can be quite useful because the LCD displays the levels in terms of numeric value on screen when they are being adjusted. The good thing about this approach is that it’s easy to return to a previous setting, the down side is that the button clicks are easily audible if you’re recording using the built in mics. When in stereo mode recording levels can either be controlled for both channels at the same time or individually to allow mics with different levels to be used at the same time.

The SD card is inserted on the side of the H4n and is covered by one of those annoyingly hard to open plastic covers that required a lengthy fingernail or suitable implement to break into. I’ve found the card reader in my H4n to be  little odd at times. When turning the unit on I’m often confronted with a “No Card” message on the LCD which is corrected by ejecting and re-inserting the card. I’ve never had a problem once the card is detected though.

The H4n can be controlled remotely via a wired control unit that is available as an optional extra. I’ve never felt the need to do this so can’t really comment on how well that works. The H4n comes with a very simple yet highly effective plastic shell case that offers great protection to the device, it’s a small thing but the case allows me to throw the H4n in my bag without any worry of it being bashed by other gear in my bag.

 

Tascam DR-100 mkII

Tascam have a long history in producing professional recording equipment and the DR-100 mkII reflects this in it’s design with a suitably complicated looking layout in a metal casing making it look and feel a bit more pro than the Zoom. The DR-100 offers two channel recording so unlike the H4n it doesn’t have the ability to record from both it’s built in mics and XLR inputs at the same time.  I’ve yet to find myself needing to record in four channel mode on the H4n anyway so for me this isn’t an issue but it’s something to bear in mind if four channel recording is important to you.

Design wise there’s a few things that that DR-100 mkII offers that sets it above the H4n. Things like the proper metal push-locks on the XLR connectors and better quality switches go a long way to making this unit feel more professional.  There’s a nice rotary selector wheel on the front that works like the early iPods which makes using the UI a pleasure. The UI itself again looks a little dated but it works well. The LCD is much higher in resolution than the H4n’s allowing a lot more information about settings and modes to be displayed.

Like the H4n the omni directional mic casings are plastic but they are surrounded by metal bars to keep them safe from the odd knock. The Dr-100 mkII also offers a pair of uni directional mics giving it the ability to record from an area all around it such as if it’s placed in the middle of a table during a meeting. Again this isn’t something that I’ve had a need for as yet but could prove useful for taking notes or similar in the future.

The Dr-100 mkII offers both line and mic levels on it’s xlr inputs which makes it  lot more flexible than the H4n, line levels allow you to hitch the recorder to a desk, mixer or other equipment offering a line level feed.

 

The SD card is inserted at the top of the DR-100 which also utilises a plastic flap type cover although the cover is at least easy to get to on the Tascam.

Level settings on the Dr-100 mkII are controlled in a very different way to the H4n. Rather than using up/down button clicks the Dr-100 includes a pair of level wheels placed one inside the other. Having these control wheels allows you to make faster adjustments without making so much noise. Adjusting levels this way feels a lot more natural although there are a couple of down sides. Firstly there’s no visible feedback of the level setting on the LCD so it’s harder to return to a previous setting if you need to do so. The second and more important potential issue is that locking the device using it’s ‘hold’ feature doesn’t lock the level wheels, you can’t lock the DR-100 and put it in your pocket like you can the H4n.

For changing both levels together I find this design to be preferable. It is however quite tricky trying to change one channel without moving the other, it’s hard to get hold of the inner wheel as it’s recesses are quite small, once you do manage to get your fingertips in there you need to hold the outer while while you turn it or they will both spin. It would have been much easier if the inner wheel could have popped out somehow and then not effected the outer wheel.

The DR-100 comes with a wireless remote as standard. Interestingly the unit also includes a wired caddy so that the wireless controller can be inserted in converting it to a wired remote if you prefer not to use wireless. The Remote input is also a digital S/PDIF input which could be a major factor if you have suitable devices and want to record from them.

Below the audio level control is a door that reveals another of the DR-100’s nicest features, a rechargeable Li-ion battery. What’s great about this additional battery is that the unit can be configured to use either the AA’s first and then the Li-ion or vice-versa, in either case the unit switches to the alternate power source without interrupting the recording. If you need to record for many hours then you could set it to use the AA’s first and then swap them out when it switches to the Li-ion and switch to AA’s again manually when ready. Alternatively it’s also nice using up the Li-ion only on shorter shoots without using AA’s. I’ve run the recorder for four hours on the Li-ion battery without draining it, that’s enough for most of my shoots but knowing the AA’s will take over if required is nice.

The Li-ion battery can be charged via a dedicated PSU input or via USB  by connecting the device to a computer or a USB wall charger.It’s worth noting that no AC adapter is included which is a shame as when charging via USB the device automatically switches to USB storage device mode and cannot be used to record. I did notice that you can start recording and then connect a USB charger which results in chugging during recoding but the moment the recording stops the device will switch to USB storage mode.

 

One of the benefits of all the additional switches on the DR-100 mkII is that you spend less time in the menu’s during recording and setup. The back of the unit contains four switches that control a master gain  L / M / H switch, phantom power, audio limiter and speaker on / off. These are all things that require a visit to the menu system on the H4n and it’s great being able to select them with switches on the DR-100.

Another nice feature of the DR-100 are separate line out and headphone sockets. On the H4n one port handles both jobs so if you’re monitoring with headphones you can’t use the line out. With the DR-100 it would be possible to feed a line in to the DSLR using a special ‘padded’ cable allowing you to monitor via headphones and feed the signal for reference / backup recording on the DSLR.

The DR-100 mkII comes with a padded case which offers some protection for the unit although probably not as much as the H4n’s plastic case. There’s also a foam wind protector and some essential cables thrown in as well.

Audio & Recording Quality

I’ve done a few tests with both devices recording the same source using the same mics and to my ear it’s very difficult to judge any difference in the quality of the recordings. To be fair I’m not really set up to monitor and evaluate audio on a professional level but certainly with either my headphones or monitor speakers I would not be able to tell which recording is from which device. The hiss / noise levels on the recordings I made sounded very similar as well so I would struggle to make a decision on recording quality alone.

Update 11-03-2012
I’ve made three recordings of a click track produced by my iPhone using a phantom powered (+48v) Sennheiser MKH-416 mic running into each recorder. This was done under extreme scientific conditions (under a duvet) so there was very little actual background noise. The DR-100 is capable of a lot more gain than the Zoom H4n so I’ve provided one file of the Tascam at it’s maximum gain level and another at the same level that the H4n is capable of at it’s maximum gain level. The tascam does have a very slight advantage in terms of pre-amp noise but it’s barely noticeable.

Zoom H4n max gain: Download (3.70MB)
Tascam DR-100 matched to H4n Level: Download (4.15MB)
Tascam DR-100 max gain: Download (2.91MB) 

To test the Omni directional mics I performed two tests. Firstly I recorded my band rehearsing at high volumes with both devices side by side and I preferred the recording on the H4n which seemed to capture a bit more of the bass frequencies making the final result a bit fuller sounding.  The second test was at lower volumes recording some vocals and in that test I thought the DR-100 sounded better and more accurate.

I did find that my recordings with the DR-100 were much more accurate in terms of getting the levels correct, I set both units so that there was very minimal peaking being reported and the resulting levels on the DR-100 were higher then the H4n and still free from any peaking distortion. I’m not sure if the H4n just reports peaks at lower levels but there was certainly a difference.

Just a couple of issues

Firstly I noticed that my recordings from the DR-100 mkII drifted out of sync with recordings on my cameras slightly on very long shots. With both recorders running side by side with my Sony EX1 for an hour the audio from the H4n would sync up correctly whereas the audio from the Dr-100 was 4 frames too long towards the end. Both recorders were set to 24/48 wav files but for some reason the DR-100’s recording was very slightly longer. I tested this a few times and the recordings from the Tascam would always go out of sync with the Zoom after around ten minutes. This is something I need to look into further and I’ll post back if I can find out more.

Another thing worth noting is that the the 3.5mm line input on the side of the DR-100 mkII is just that, a line level input and as such it’s designed for devices that output a line level signal. If you’re using something like a Rode videomic or a wireless system that outputs a mic level signal via a 3.5mm jack you’re going to struggle to get decent levels.  The Zoom H4n has a 3.5mm mic input on the back that does work well with mic levels so that’s one area where the Zoom may be better suited to your other gear. If like me your wireless mics have XLR connectivity too then that’s the way to go.

One final point I wanted to make was that I’m a little disappointed that the DR-100 mkII doesn’t include a dual recording mode like the cheaper Tascam DR-40. Dual recording mode on the DR-40 creates a second pair of tracks at a lower level which provides a useful backup should your main recording suffer any unwanted attenuation or peaking.  Obviously the DR-100 only has two channels where the cheaper DR-40 has four (?) but it would still be useful to be able to run one as a backup when recording a single input.

Prices & Summary

Without being able to discern any noticeable difference in the audio quality recorded on each device using the same external mics the decision about which is best really comes down to feature sets, usability and prices. At the time of writing this review B&H sell both recorders for $299 so price isn’t going to be a factor either.

The H4n is a great little recorder with the ability to record four channels. Mine has served me well for three years but after using the DR-100 the H4n seems slow and clunky in use. Most noticeable is the startup time. With 16 Gb cards installed the Zoom took 27 seconds to start where the Tascam took less than 12 seconds.

 

If I were buying today I’d go for the Tascam DR-100 mkII for the following reasons:

• Dual battery: one rechargeable
• Metal construction
• Line / mic level input switchable
• Better level control
• Better quality switches and UI control
• Better LCD
• USB Charging
• Digital S/PDIF input
• Separate Line out & headphone ports
• Omni & Uni directional built in mics
• Much faster user interface across the board including power on and rec stop / start

The only caveat for now is that I’d like know if this issue with the audio being out of sync is unique to my unit or is down to a wrong setting. It would be a pain to have the audio going out of sync with longer recordings. Let me know if you have the Tascam and see a similar issue.

If you found this review useful and you plan on purchasing from B&H then please consider using the links below, It doesn’t cost you more but I receive a small commission which helps me to keep running these reviews.

Tascam DR-100 mkII – view on B&H

Zoom H4n Handy Recorder – view on B&H 

 

 


Be Sociable, Share!
  1. Tell us about the 1/4 20 mounts on the bottom of the units, please. Any plastic threads?

    I have a DR-100 mki. I wore out the plastic threads in a few months. Working around that was stupidly expensive. Customer service was early 70s hi-fi shoppe.

    One weird thing about the DR-100: you charge it via USB, but the unit has to be switched off to actually charge the battery. Perhaps this has changed, or been documented in mkii.

    If I were buying today, I’d buy the Zoom for it’s steel mounting thread ;-)

    • Both units have metal thread inserts. When connected via USB the recorder is always charging, however it switches to USB mode anyway so cannot be used as a recorder anyway. One workaround is to start recording before connecting the USB, that way it will record and charge at the same time however when you stop the recording it will refers to USB storage mode.

      • Even when you connect a normal 5V USB adapter (i.e. no computer attached), the device thinks that it is connected to a PC. In other words: this is NOT a workaround for situations when the batteries are drained. I think you definitely need a real AC-Adapter as backup, especially when recording inside where AC-Power is not an issue.

        • confirmed, I just tried it and you’re correct. You can start recording and then connect it up to either a PC or a USB PSU and it will continue to record and charge but the moment you press stop it will instantly revert to USB connection mode.

          I’ve updated the review to reflect these discoveries and your feedback. Many thanks.

      • Now that I have the DR-100 in front of me: the issue for the Mark1 is when it’s in USB “Connected” mode – power On, USB connected – the charge light will be incorrectly lit. It indicates it’s charging, but it’s not.

      • Chris Ryan
      • April 8th, 2012 3:34pm

      Nice review Paul thanks, think I’l go for the Tascam now, I think the audio drift problem will be fixed in firmware, I heard the H4n had that problem in the very early days.
      The DR40 does have some cool features I hope come to the DR100mkii with firmware too.
      I was surprised you recorded your band with the Omnis and not the stereo top mics.
      hey great site and thanks for taking the time, helps me out deciding between the too.
      All the best.

      • Thanks Chris. I recorded the the band with the omnis one week and the uni mics another. The uni’s were fuller sounding but the omnis did a pretty good job too.

  2. We are new users to the Tascam DR-100 MK2, and I wanted to share our experience with the device from a professional video shooting (with two Canon 1D mark IVs) this week. Maybe this adds to your very good review?

    1. The bag that comes with the device is next to useless for professional use. It might protect the device during the transport, yes, but it would have been nicer to have a bag that could be used to work with the device, i.e. cut-outs for cables, level adjustment and display. Maybe a belt holder or carrying strip. (Our sound assistant quickly found a work-around: use a camera neck strap to connect to the steel microphone protectors on the top of the device.)

    2. The battery that comes with the device is quite powerful and supported us 3/4 of the shooting. Then began the problems. The eight rechargable batteries that we brought (full to the max, and usually powering camera flashes, i.e.: working well) were quickly drained. So we had to get new, fresh AA batteries. Ouch! We had to use the 48V phantom power, which might be part of the problem.

    3. I will NEVER understand how Tascam can sell such an expensive item without providing a AC-adapter. The USB-charging method has one big, big drawback: You can not continue to work (as the device thinks it needs to connect to the computer). I hope this will not be the case with the AC-adapter (which I am now going to order).

    4. We had purchased two brand new Sandisk SD cards (2 GB), but the device would none of them format. Some error about “Invalid card”, despite this exact card type being on the offical list of compatible cards. WTF? (The built-in no-name card worked, though.)

    5. We have recorded in mono (one microphone angled into the scene), with XLR jack. It would be great to have a “mono” setting, i.e. the device records just a mono WAV. Or, to have a -10 db copy written to a 2nd file (or right channel). Tascam must have thought about having just one channel. *big sigh*

    Despite all this – the use was quite easy, and the sound quality was very good, resulting in very professional sound (in combination with the Beyerdynamic mic).

    For use with Canon DSLRs I strongly suggest to use 48000 Hz sampling rate in order to be exactly the same as the camera. This avoids the need for resampling in the editing system.

    • Thanks for supplying such an in depth report of your experience with the recorder mark.

      • Dominic
      • March 12th, 2012 11:53pm

      I totally agree with you.

      Certainly one problem with the mark I is the ‘File Error’ that seems to be a far too common problem.

      Hope this is fixed now. Tascam didn’t really want to know when I spoke them about it.

    • Some thoughts about it that might be useful:

      1) For this price I’ve never seen a bag that will do that. You have to get 3rd party bags from Portabrace or Kata, but they’re build to use with external mixer like an SQN. Have’nt seen such bags especially for Tascams or Zooms.

      3) I use my DR-40 with an AC-adapter from my blackberry phone and it works perfect.

      5) Maybe there’ll be an update soon because the DR-40 can already do that?

      • Chris Ryan
      • April 8th, 2012 3:38pm

      I think professionals are bound to have a bag or 15 already so not required nor is the mains adapter you can your iPhone/ipad charger or one of at least 10 others most households have lying around, no need for more landfill, I think it’s responsible and probably why they kept costs down, 299 not a bad deal in all.

    • Carl
    • March 11th, 2012 3:09pm

    Thanks for a nice review.
    One of my biggest concerns with H4n is noisy preamps when using xlr shotgun for hdslr filmmaking (espesically when needing to raise gain). One of the improvements on the DR100 mkII vs the DR100 is supposedly better pre-amps, so I’m a little suprised that you didn’t find the preamps on the DR100 mkII better than H4n when you tested with your Sennheiser MKH-416 mic. Did you compare them at higher gain levels?

    • Hi Carl. Yes I did test that and there’s very little difference, the Tascam is probably a tiny bit better but not by a lot. The Tascam does offer a lot more gain though. I’ve just added some recordings of a click track using my shotgun mic above, have a listen and tell me what you think.

  3. A very good review and comparison betweeen the both recorders. I totally agree with you that the Zoom feels like coming from the 90’s regarding the menue and starting time. Even changing the record mode takes way too long. And in 4-channel mode you cannot record at highest quality (correct me if I’m wrong and there’s been an update to fix this)! What I really like about the h4n are the tons of features (although I don’t need 80% of it for my work) and the accessories coming with it.
    In fact I had to decide between the h4n, the DR-100 and the DR-40 and finally decided for the DR-40. Most important for me was that I can record 4 channels with maximum quality, the easier, faster and more comfortable handling, fast startup time and the possibility to adjust the external levels independently. But I have the same issue with the audio being out of sync after 8 minutes or so that is really annoying. Would be interesting if that’s known to Tascam and if there would be an future update to fix this…

    • Thanks for the feedback, I’m trying to get hold of a DR-40 as that recorder looks to offer a perfect feature set for use as video dual audio. It’s interesting to hear that you experience the sync issue as well.

      Paul.

  4. Further points about the DR-100: I have the Mk1, and apart from stripping the plastic threads (fixed with a spare lockring and some epoxy – it’s not pretty but it works) I have a couple of other issues.

    Firstly, the microphone casings and protective bars, on the Mk1, aren’t metal at all. They’re chromed plastic. I found this out when I dropped the thing taking it out of the box the first time, and cracked bits off. Yes, I was annoyed too. Are you *sure* the Mk2 is metal?

    The second issue I have is with the headphone output being very noisy. There’s a lot of hiss and it’s rather low-level when driving my habitual Sennheiser HD25. Just about good enough, but only barely, and you don’t really get a feel for the quality of your microphone placement.

    Ironically, I went with the Tascam rather than the Zoom because the latter felt worryingly plasticky. Wrong choice, I think.

    More positively: the DR40 looks like it addresses one key problem I have with both of these. Namely, that they’re huge.

    • The threads are metal now so that’s been sorted. The bars around the mics look like chrome so I assumed they were, I just did a test with a small magnet and it wouldn’t attach so they could be plastic which as you say would be annoying.

      I’ve not noticed the headphone out problem you mention, I’ll make sure to double check next time I’m using them.

    • noah funk
    • March 22nd, 2012 4:56am

    came across this writeup while researching external audio for my 7D

    very useful and thorough – thank you for your time

    • JC
    • March 23rd, 2012 2:31am

    Hi Paul,

    I’m deciding between the H4N and the DR100 MK II. After reading your review, I still have a couple of questions.

    1) Do you have any more information regarding the out-of-sync problem with the DR100? Would it be a problem when recording straight onto the DSLR through the line-out jack? Can it be solved?

    2) Regarding the four-channel recording. Is it not possible to receive input from more than two channels at a time with the DR100? And regarding 4 channel mode with the H4N, does it not record at 48k Hz when using the 4 inputs?

    Many thanks for your help.

    • The sync issue caused it to start slipping by 1 frame every ten minutes so for most shorter clips it won’t be a huge problem. It wouldn’t effect direct recording into a DSLR in any way, the audio in camera will be in sync with the video perfectly but may not line up with the audio recorded on the DR100 still.

      I need to do some more testing with this, your suggestion of outputting to the DSLR might be a good test as it will show any sync issues in the recording device well.

      The DR100 mkII only records 2 channels at a time. I’m not sure if there’s a limit to recording quality when using 4ch mode on the H4n, I’ll look in to it.

    • Roger
    • April 18th, 2012 2:46pm

    Sync issues may be 29.97 fps vs the audio 30 fps. Just adjust your audio track in your NLE software 99.9%.

    • Audio doesn’t actually have a framerate Roger so that’s not it. I was shooting at 25fps too. Thanks for the suggestion though.

  5. I thought this had the feature that attenuated the signal -12 lower as a back up right on the unit. But then I read here that it doesn’t… that was a big selling point to me on the DR-40, but I want the better preamps… so,

    my question:

    If I were to get the attenuator cable and feed that into my camera, couldn’t I lower the input volume on the camera (which I can easily do) to achieve capturing the audio file on the camera at a lower volume as a safety?

    Isn’t that the same thing? Or am I missing something?

    • Hi Shaun.

      It’s a shame it doesn’t have that feature. As to your idea, if the main mic becomes distorted then an attenuated output would just send an attenuated version of the distorted signal so that wouldn’t work I’m afraid.

  6. damn… that that might be too good to be true.. might have to get the dr-40 just for that function.. i can always clean up the audio in post a bit when needed… but i really like the upgrades on the mkii… damn

  7. Does the older DR-100 (Mark i) also have similar audio sync problem? Just wondering.

    • Tom
    • May 15th, 2012 10:24pm

    Hey,

    Can you use the tascam dr 100 mkii also as:

    Audio Interface
    Metronome inside ?

    Thanks for the review,

    All Best

    Tom Dj Dunya

  8. Hey, just wanted to say, great review… still not quite sure which one to get but your review and the comments below (thanks to Mark Zanzig and others) just gave me the proper basis information i needed! CONTINUE! :)

    • Hak-joon
    • July 13th, 2012 8:05am

    Hi. Very thorough review.
    Can dr-100mk2 be used as usb mic when connected to pc or mac?
    I read H4N can do, but have not seen anything about dr-100 mk2.
    Thanks for this great review.

    • LittleVision
    • August 13th, 2012 2:44pm

    I recently bought the DR 100 mk2 and can report that there is no issue on my machine with the sync. I recorded a 110-min stage play on Sony EX3 and with different external LR mics into the DR 100 , synced them with Pluraleyes and they stay perfectly in sync from start to finish. However, re the ruggedness of the machine, watch out.

    Somebody mentioned the protective grilles around the uni mics not being metal. I have only used my DR 100 mk2 for 3 days (59 recordings) and the circular black mesh at the top of the left mic has come loose (after NOT being treated roughly at all, I should stress) and rattles at the slightest move of the machine, clearly audible in recordings. So far I have gotten around this issue by converting files to mono throwing out the left track – okay for interviews on a radio doc, thankfully – but I have asked the vendor to send me a replacement ASAP. We shall wait and see.

    Those who complained about the lack of a decent working carry case are spot on. What do you do in the rain, for example? Note also that the metal case of the machine means that as a hand-held device it is prone to handling noise. I’ve had to screw a gooseneck mini-tripod into it with a rubber washer and use that as a sort of mic handle. Gets crampy ion the hand over long interviews in the field.

    One last thing, note that B&H advertise this machine falsely as a 4-track recorder.

    Thanks for the review.

    • Seppo
    • August 17th, 2012 2:46pm

    Hi, I didn´t notice if something was said about the sound quality achieved by the built-in mikes. For me, that would be essential.
    I have the impression, that the mikes in olympus LS 100 would be superior, especially handling vey loud sound,but wonder whether this really is the case.
    Has there been some controlled comparison, or does someone have experience of both?

    • Daniel
    • September 10th, 2012 12:09am

    Wondering why the price of the Zoom felt to $242.99 and the Tascam raised to $329.99. (regarding your links to BH Photo)

    Given this new big difference in prices, would you still go for the tascam instead of the Zoom?

    • Hard to say why Daniel. My comments still stand but if budget is important then the Zoom becomes more attractive as it’s perfectly capable of getting the job done.

        • Daniel
        • September 11th, 2012 9:38am

        Thanks for your reply, actually I bought the H4n one week ago. I am live in The Netherlands and this weekend I went to the IBC (www.ibc.org) and had the chance to talk to Philip Bloom there. He told me about the Tascam (I had never heard about it before), and as I had my H4n bought less than a week ago, he recommended me to return it and get the Tascam instead. Well, Philip said that they are almost the same price, but researching, I realized that here the Tascam is €150 more expensive than the H4n.
        After thinking a lot and reading good reviews like yours, I have decided to keep the H4n, as I think the price difference is bigger than the features difference.

        Thanks a lot for your review!

    • LittleVision
    • September 24th, 2012 12:05am

    Hi again,

    I posted on August 13th and mentioned that I was awaiting a replacement for my Tascam Dr 100 mkII. Well, it arrived and – guess what – the sync problem mentioned by others that I did NOT have with my first machine, I DO have with the replacement. This week I recorded a stage show and used two Sony EX 3 cameras and two sound recorders, the Tascam with XLR line in from an SQN field mixer receiving from two omni lapel mics on stage and my Sound Devices 702T receiving direct from a stereo pair of Neumann 184 mics. After trying to sync all up with Pluraleyes, I realised to my horror that the Tascam recording drifts out of sync so that by the end of 90 mins the recording was quite a few frames out. What is the story there? I had done the same thing with my first Tascam DR 100 mkII and it had stayed in sync over an even longer period. So this problem happens to some machines and not others? Crazy. Should I try reinstall the firmware?

    Any suggestions welcome. I do plenty of theatre gigs so this matters to me. Also I make documentaries and I had hoped as an option when shooting alone to use the Tascam to pick up sound separately perhaps to sync with the EX 3 later but now I see potential disaster ahead on that front.

    Éamon

    • I have a Tascam DR-40 and I have exactly the same problem. I record talks and lectures of about an hour’s length and use the Tascam with an XLR Lavalier mic powered by batteries to allow the speaker to move around freely. I get the same degree of ‘unsynch’ – about one frame every 10 seconds. At the end of the hour the sound is obviously out of synch with the speaker’s lip movement. I too am looking for an answer. Given that I thought I had a solution to recording sound that did not involve radio mics I am very disappointed with the Tascam for having this problem. I’ve used other digital sound recorders and never had this synchronisation problem before. If I known this before, I would not have bought the Tascam.
      Graham

  9. Hello Paul,
    How can I connect a shotgun microphone to the dslr wireless and have the same time xlr quality?

    • Douglas Walker
    • November 20th, 2012 11:49am

    Thanks for a very useful review Paul. Answered all the questions I had about the two devices and confirmed my decision to opt for the Tascam.

    • Steve Purpuri
    • March 28th, 2013 6:25pm

    Great review! Very helpful indeed.
    I just wanted to point out that you’ve got omni and unidirectional switched when discussing the Tascam.
    Omni picks up sound from all directions, and are located beneath the tiny holes on the top of the unit.
    Unidirectional means “one direction.” They reject sound from behind them (for a cardioid pattern, and can also reject the sides in supercardioid, hypercardioid and shotgun mics)
    On these recorders, the unis are the two mics you can see and point at things you want to capture.

    I’ll also add that I too have experienced handling noise using the on-board mics while handholding the Tascam. This is less of an issue if it’s placed on a table (perhaps on top of its padded case to reduce loud thuds from kicks or hands on the table) and not at all an issue when using external mics plugged into the XLR.

    • opik tajur
    • April 27th, 2013 10:09am

    Hello I’m from indonesia. I created a movie using a camera, the canon 5D Mark III, Mic MKH 416, Mixer Azden FMX-42a. so according to you which is better I use …. zoom h4n or tascam DR 100 mkII. Sometimes a recording is to get on television or in the movies. Thank you very much

    • They produce very similar quality, I prefer the Tascam though, better controls and battery options.

    • Dash
    • July 15th, 2013 12:19am

    In Canada the zoom is $275, and the Tascam is $500. Prices are so weird here. Some things are exactly the same as the US, but others are all over the map. Try buying a Think Tank Airport camera bag. It’s multiple hundreds more here than an hour south in North Dakota.

    • Gustavo
    • July 24th, 2013 10:31pm

    Hey Paul,
    Thank you for the awesome review. I’m considering buying the DR100 for recording music. (One-shots samples, on-the-go interface, ambient sounds) Whats your opinion on that? Are the built in condensor mics good quality, or do both H4N and DR100 need external mics to reach any proffessional sound. What would you recommend?

    • Hard one to answer, if you want best quality then separate mics are always going to produce batter results. Only you can decide how good is good enough for your needs.

    • Ferenc Szabo
    • August 9th, 2013 11:48pm

    1 frame every 10 minutes isn’t even the difference between pull-up or pull-down 0.1% slowdown or speedup (that’d be about 180 frames in 10 minutes). It’s likely that the Tascam’s sample rate is slightly off from 48KHz or 44.1KHz (or whatever you’re using), so when you go to play it back in a DAW or NLE that is indeed set to one of those sample rates, it plays too fast or slow. I therefore doubt that there’s some kind of setting that’ll change this – it’s just that they’re probably not using an accurate clock.

    If you do “old school” pitch shifting (which also changes the time), by a microscopic factor (you’ll have to do the math based on the exact time differential), then it’ll work. The reason I say pitch+time shift and not just time shift is that it’ll be higher quality (no loss at all). The perceived pitch won’t change at all (but even if it did, it would shift to what it’s supposed to be anyway).

    • Fed
    • September 12th, 2013 4:32am

    Hi Paul, really great review. I actually found your review as I was researching a sync issue that I had with my H4N, not the Tascam…I own both the Zoom H4N and the Tascam DR-100 but rarely shoot for a long time continuously so it’s something new to me. Had a couple of long shoots (about 30 min) with my Tascam recorder and had no problem. But with the zoom h4n, it went slightly out of sync. Initially, as I am not a pro audio person, I thought it had to do with the frame rate, which as you pointed out, is not the case as there is no frame rate with audio. I asked a friend of mine who is a pro and he told me it has to do with the recorder’s “internal clock”…so it’s basically something that cannot be fixed as every recording device will always have a slight difference in recording speed. So, I was still curious about it, if you have any updates on that, how you solved the issue and if you agree with that. Thanks!

    • Yes I think it comes down to the internal clocks varying. I rarely use an external recorder these days as I’m no longer using DSLR’s for video so it’s not something I have any updates on I’m afraid.

    • It is disappointing to hear that it may not be something that can be fixed. I have the same problem on my Tascam DR-40 to about the same degree (one frame of 25fps every 10 mins). Had I have known this I would not have bought the Tascam. It means I have to cut a frame from my audio track every 10 mins to keep the sound in synch. Pitch+time shift may be a solution, but I’ll have to work out if I can do it with my NLE, FCP7.

      • Yes, I can. I used the change speed dialog and used the box to change the absolute length of the clip (rather than the percentage change box (since this allows only two decimal places, not enough accuracy). Careful checking and synching with sound from the camera, meant that I found the inaccuracy in the Tascam clock was 1 frame in 7:02:16 at 25 fps. Diminishing the absolute length of a 56 minute clip by 8 frames did the trick. Now I have to check to see whether the inaccuracy is constant or varies with different takes.

    • Paul Dolan
    • October 29th, 2013 10:25pm

    Paul
    can the tascam power a phantom mic in one xlr port and a synn wireless non phantom in the other at the same time ????

    thanks

    P

    • The phantom power switch enables it on both XLR inputs Paul so both devices would be receiving the voltage. Its always best to check with the manufacturer first but in my experience wireless receivers and the like are usually okay with the +48v if connected with a balanced XLR lead. As I say, if in doubt check the manual or ask the manufacturer.

    • scott monahan
    • December 4th, 2013 4:05pm

    I’m really happy with the DR-100mk2 BUT…absolutely have a sync problem. Running it with a canon vixia and and a d550 the drift is substantial. Didn’t notice it when I was doing short scenes for video production but the long multi take songs exposed this problem…I’m wondering what the fix is if there is one?!

    • The fix for sync drift is normally to change the speed of the audio slightly, something like 99% speed or 101% speed etc. As I said in my review I also saw this on longer recordings on the Dr-100 mk2 but it was never an issue for normal interviews etc. I have not used an external recorder for the last few years though so I’m afraid I can no longer offer advice from recent experience.

    • stuart
    • December 29th, 2013 9:27pm

    Cheers, great review and exactly what I needed.

    • Matias
    • May 24th, 2014 12:33am

    Hi Paul. I read your review about the loose mesh of the Tascam. I bought one and even after using it I noticed the same problem. Did you finally solve it? What did you do? Thanks on advance. Matias from Argentina.

    • franco rosini
    • September 6th, 2014 2:50pm

    LINE IN – Mono-Stereo Clarifications

    I want record both my voice and instrumental track at same time into Tascam device.
    My instrumental track is on my mp3 player(Creative ZEN) or on Smartphone.

    How cables/adapters can I connect onto Tascam DR-100?
    How cables/adapters can I connect onto Tascam D-40?

    Tascam DR-100 MKII have a 3,5mm line in but is a stereo or mono line in?
    Tascam DR-40 have 2 XLR/TRS where TRS is a 2 x 6,3mm jack socket? But Tascam DR-40 TRS is Mono or Stereo Line In?
    How Can i record my mp3 player inside Tascam DR-40 if sound output of my mp3player / smartphone is stereo?
    I must use an adapter like this?

    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062462

    or this?

    http://www.gear4music.it/it/G4M/Minijack-stereo-Cavo-Jack-Mono-2-1m/108R?origin=product-ads&gclid=Cj0KEQjw4aqgBRCvwLDi_8Tc54YBEiQAs6DLvObv9F7zYbjcNQMdTGvgTlP6heWN1zXbRZV064TwpPsaAj3R8P8HAQ

    or this?

    http://static.nexus-lab.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/jack-3-5-mm.jpg

    If i record stereo sound from my mp3 player Can I use a XLR mic on second socket of Tascam DR-40?

    Please help me!! I must record a singer but he have to record also instrumental track

    • Sorry that’s beyond my experience with the unit, hopefully somebody else might be able to help.

  1. No trackbacks yet.