The pioneers of home studio and mobile recording add to the existing PocketStudio range. Liam O’Mullane gets tracking
Price DP-006 £200. DP-008EX £300
Contact Tascam 0845 130 2511
When it comes to mobile recording, there are two ways to tackle the task. The first is to use a mobile setup that mirrors the core of your studio – ie, laptop, mic and audio interface. This solution is a good one in terms of features and recording options, but it’s cumbersome and not ideal should you need to get up and go at a moment’s notice. The other option is to go for a simplified, all-in-one portable recording device. This is where both the Tascam 006 and 008EX come into play, offering multitrack recording in either a large pocket- or gig bag-sized form respectively.
These types of device offer only basic functionality but have the benefit of immediate capture when you feel creative – irrespective of where you are. So we unplugged from the mains and tested them with vocals, acoustic guitar and an electric to see how they fared…
On the Take
Both units are powered by four AA batteries, so unless you use the 008EX’s phantom power for external mics you’ll be powered for many hours (Tascam quotes roughly between 5–7 hours for the 008EX depending on the type of batteries you use and whether you’re recording or playing back).
The 006 is around the size of a larger hand-held recorder and enables you to record one or two inputs at once. Six simultaneous tracks are available for multitracking, although in reality it’s two mono and two stereo tracks.
The 008EX is about the same size as a VHS cassette (if anyone still remembers those). It has the same capture count as the 006 but there are more options in terms of connectivity. The 006 also includes a camera-size tripod stand connection – handy for mounting at standing height in your writing space or rehearsal room.
By comparison to the 008EX the 006 is quite simple, both in terms of connectivity and onboard features, and this is reflected by the price as well as the unit’s physical size. Both have two jack inputs for line-level/mic connectivity. One socket can be switched to instrument level, which we used for our electric guitar. Two omnidirectional mics are built-in to the front fascia of the unit, and these are perfectly adequate for recording ideas or a demo performance. We used these for both acoustic guitar and vocals.
The 008EX additionally has two XLR mic inputs that enable you to make a much better quality recording using external mics – useful for a more serious demo sound – so we used another mic for a second vocal pass.
For outputs, the 006 has a basic, shared 3.5mm connector for both line out and headphone out. The 008EX is a bit more flexible, having stereo RCA connections that make it a bit more functional in a home studio setup to drive a pair of monitors. Both units have a USB port for transferring data to and from the device, but this doesn’t power the unit or enable you to use it as an interface with a computer – something of an oversight we feel considering that its most direct competitor does offer these. With a 5v DC adaptor, though (not included), you can at least power the unit without batteries.
On the Record
We did a lot of recording with both units and managed to complete most tasks without consulting the manual, which says a lot for their simple workflow.
The 008EX has audio processing including a de-esser, exciter and dynamics to insert on your inputs. EQ and reverb are also available and the latter is surprisingly good, helping to polish your mix and tracking. The 008EX also includes mastering features, so you can EQ and compress your finished track. Plenty of presets are included for the less technically aware.
Throughout our tests both units performed well through all connection types and the onboard mics. Sadly, we found a real bug-bear in the fact that you have to manually export your multitrack files as WAVs if you want to move your work to a computer (rather than simply bouncing it to a stereo mix). This exporting process is incredibly slow considering it’s only creating 44.1kHz/16-bit files. Eight tracks took around 15 minutes to export!
Gripe aside, both units perform well and are very flexible mobile solutions for a variety of recording situations.
+ Very easy to use
+ Great sound quality
+ Efficient battery consumption
+ Useful effects section (008EX)
– Very slow export function
– Dynamics and de-esser on inputs only, not for mixing
Two units that offer both good functionality and ease of use. Perfect for the singer/songwriter wanting to leave the shackles of mains power but a little slow when you want to work on your project at your computer.