OT: Tascam DR40 on Amazon $123

Guy S. wrote on 1/26/2013, 2:46 AM
Just wanted to give everyone a heads up in case you've been wanting a digital audio recorder for your DSLR. This one has XLR inputs with phantom power and can record 4 channels of audio simultaneously (ext inputs plus built-in mics). It also has 1/4" line inputs for interfacing to a pro mixer. Very close to the Zoom H4n but obviously much less $$. FYI, Guitar Center sells it for $199.


Grazie wrote on 1/26/2013, 3:37 AM
Thanks Guy.

For those not familiar with "comparisons" of the Tascam DR40 to the Zoom H4n, myself included here, here's a compo review.

farss wrote on 1/26/2013, 6:45 AM
That was cringe worthy.


richard-amirault wrote on 1/26/2013, 8:08 AM
I have a problem with that video review. He says something like "I will be comparing the audio ..." but he never does.

Apparently he was doing the comparison WHILE he was saying that he will be doing the comparison (as in the future, not right now) It would have been better so say "This is from the Tascam, and this is from the Zoom" or something like that.

I didn't really hear much of a difference.
Grazie wrote on 1/26/2013, 8:21 AM
Oh! I assumed that the text indicated that.

rraud wrote on 1/26/2013, 8:32 AM
The preamps on both (and most other budget recorders for that matter) are noisy 'pieces of s__t', so a high output mic would be recommended. Both are 4-track.. (sort of) Other than that, the features are different. The Tascam can handle balanced (pro) +4dB line level (nominal) via the XLR and/or 1/4TRS combo connector, the Zoom' line level is unbalanced -10dB, as well as instrument level, via the 1/4" TS input jack. The Tascam does NOT have 1/8" plug-in powered inputs.. the Zoom does. Both can supply Phantom Power via the XLRs..IMO, the Tascam is a 'better' recorder, with a high quality external preamp, the DR-40 can sound very good.
Opampman wrote on 1/26/2013, 8:32 AM
I've been using the DR-40 for over a year now and it is outstanding. The build quality compared to my Zoom H4 is like day and night. Don't think I've even turned on the Zoom since I got the DR-40. I paid $199 for mine from B&H and thought it was a bargain but at this price may have to pick up a couple of more.

PixelStuff wrote on 1/26/2013, 12:13 PM
You wouldn't happen to have a link would you? The cheapest price I see is $175.
farss wrote on 1/26/2013, 3:12 PM
"I didn't really hear much of a difference. "

Having both of them sitting in the middle of wooden table with the mics less than an inch off the wood might explain that.
I don't know about the Tascam but the Zoom ships with a tapered plastic thingy that screws into the unit. With that installed you can mount the H4n into an ordinary mic clip or sit it on a table so the mics are a reasonable distance off the surface.

Opampman wrote on 1/26/2013, 3:22 PM
The Tascam also "ships with a tapered plastic thingy" and has a 1/4-20 socket to attach it to tripods, mic stands, etc.

PeterDuke wrote on 1/27/2013, 7:25 AM
"so the mics are a reasonable distance off the surface"

If the mics are going to be near a flat surface, they should be as close as practicable to it. If they are say 150 mm (6") above the surface and the source only a few feet away, the mics will pick up both the direct wave and the reflected wave (with longer path) from the surface, giving broad cancellation somewhere in the 1 kHz region. (Memories of tests I made years ago on loudspeaking telephones.)
earthrisers wrote on 1/27/2013, 12:54 PM
In some of the customer-reviews of the product on some website (B&H, I think), someone mentioned that the sound quality of the DR40 was good, but that its audio failed to stay in synch with camera video footage, and that he (the reviewer) had to split the track every several minutes to adjust it by a few frames to get back in synch. That worries me enough that it's a deal-killer, even at this attractive price.
I had that same problem with the original version of the Zoom H2, such that finally I used it only to record supplementary audio for scenes that didn't last more than a few minutes. (The H2N seems to have solved that problem. Also the Zoom H4N has never given me a synch problem, in shows as long as 90 minutes.)
dxdy wrote on 1/27/2013, 4:33 PM
Synch issue: I have a pair of DR05's. One keeps perfect sync, the other drifts, I suspect the crystal or whatever they use to keep time with, is off. I just stretch the audio from the DR05, lining up peaks with the camera's sound using CTRL-Drag.
Former user wrote on 1/27/2013, 4:50 PM
The DR07 I have keeps perfect sync against both my new Canon Vixia and my old Sony D8.

Dave T2
rraud wrote on 1/27/2013, 4:59 PM
Any recorders (and cameras) can drift if not locked to a sync source (Word clock or Gen-lock for instance.) More expensive devices would likely drift less and be consistent from one machine to the next.. but you get what you pay for.
Grazie wrote on 1/28/2013, 1:49 AM
Over this last weekend I've been experimenting with this XLR device to iPhone, iPad... from iRig. Hysterical!

R0cky wrote on 1/28/2013, 2:56 PM
Someone posted here some data on how bad the zoom recorders are - forget who. That motivated me to do it myself and his results were confirmed.

I tested distortion on Tascam DR-100, DR-40, and zoom H4. I can only do this with the external inputs, not the built in mikes.

Bottom line is that the zoom product is awful (and sounds that way using the external mike inputs) and Tascam met their published spec which I think is 0.01%.

Also, the UI is much better on the Tascam products.

(got rid of my H4)
Guy S. wrote on 1/28/2013, 3:16 PM
<<You wouldn't happen to have a link would you? The cheapest price I see is $175.>>

I found it via the Amazon phone app and it was the 1st product listed. I just checked again via my web browser and couldn't find it anywhere near that price.
PeterDuke wrote on 1/29/2013, 12:33 AM
"Bottom line is that the zoom product is awful (and sounds that way using the external mike inputs)"

I seem to recall some discussion on the distortion of the H4. It may have been that the input attenuator follows the first amplifier, as is normal for microphone input. If you hit it with line input levels, the pre-amp overloads. Just guessing now.

I also have the impression that the problem did not apply to all Zoom products (hopefully not for the H2 and the R16 which I have!)
plasmavideo wrote on 1/29/2013, 11:48 AM
Peter, how do you like the R16? I've been looking at that and the R24 for a while, but I've read reports that the clocks drift badly, and although they are advertised for audio field mixers/recorders for video, many reviews say the files are difficult to sync in post - some report major drift.

rraud wrote on 1/29/2013, 2:05 PM
As I recall, the R16/24 does not record at the 'standard' video sample rate of 48kHz. Of course, VP can use mixed sample rates anyway and be up-sampled to 48k on the render. Most budget recorders and cameras will drift anyway over time without a master clock.
AFAIK, the Zoom H4n's 'line level' is just attenuated back down to mic, and run through the preamp anyway, Don't know about the Tascam DR-40 or 100 and I can't find a schematic to confirm it either way. According to my listing 'tests', the 'line-in' on the DR-40 is very close to that of my 744 fed by the same ext. SD preamp.
PeterDuke wrote on 1/29/2013, 5:41 PM
"Peter, how do you like the R16?"

I have only used it once for sound only recording a concert, so can't comment on sync issues. The mic input sensitivity seems a bit low compared to what I used to use, although the two on-board mics are quite sensitive.

Fortunately it runs on rechargeable batteries, because at the last minute the security bods at the venue insisted that all power operated gear have a safety check cerificate, and I wouldn't have had time to organise it.

As a standalone recorder it is limited to 44.1 kHz sample rate only (16 or 24 bit), but other sample rates should be available when used as an audio interface to a computer. This can't be set by hand in the driver control panel, however, only by the recording software. I have only found the supplied Cubase LE and Reaper that permit me to set the sample rate. I haven't found how to do it with other software such as Audition and Sound Forge.

The audio quality sounded good to me, but with my hearing, that is no real test.