Reviews

Strother Bullins on Tascam Dr-100MKIII Linear PCM Recorder

12/29/2016 9:09 AM Eastern

TASCAM’s latest incarnation of their DR-100 Linear PCM Recorder—the mkIII handheld—is a rugged and uniquely-equipped location recorder that is notably featured in its versatility, I/O options and intuitiveness, not to mention its fail-proof power supply redundancy scheme. In all, it’s a whole lot of bang for the buck, making it arguably the best overall handheld digital stereo recorder on the market today, available for $399 street.

Capable of recording up to the 192 kHz/24-bit highest-common resolution standard, key features of the DR-100mkIII include a 109 dB signal-to-noise ratio, dual-mono AKM “Velvet Sound” converters, dual battery structure (using a built-in Li-ion type, rechargeable via Type A Micro B USB port, and 2 standard AA types), and an impressive offering of I/O. The DR-100mkIII can record up to 128 GB of audio to a SDXC card (not included).

Whether using its built-in dual stereo mics, configurable in either AB and omnidirectional patterns or recording dual inputs via its two Amphenol XLR/combo jacks with switchable phantom power, the DR-100mkIII provides what most pro-level field recordists would need in a stereo digital recorder. And yes, the built-in microphones sounds superb, rivaling great standalone small-diaphragm condensers; the dual inputs open up endless possibilities for audio capture since basically any two sound sources, mic or line, can be input to the DR-100mkIII.

Operationally, the unit benefits by an Enter/Mark and Jog Wheel located centrally atop the unit for easy navigation of its comprehensive menu options via large LCD screen with easy-to-read graphics. In use, the DR-100mkIII’s dedicated, easily adjustable input level knob was a boon, allowing me to actively “ride” the levels during some dynamic live performances I captured during my time with the unit.

A most important requirement of field recording is making sure that nary a note is missed in capture. Usefully, the DR-100mkIII features TASCAM’s exclusive Dual Recording Mode, which simultaneously captures a lower level safety track, just in case you are often like me, recording sources as the hottest levels I can muster; as such, the feature protects the material from unexpected source level spikes. Also helpful is its built-in mono speaker for quick in-the-field “I’ve got it!” references.

I’ve reviewed many handheld digital recorders over the years. And while the DR-100mkIII will surely lose any “smallest recorder” award, it is perfectly sized to be comfortably held in an adult’s hand, and feels most sturdy and rigid in its construction; not only do its buttons, knobs and various moving parts feel solid, it is all enclosed within a rugged black aluminum chassis that should be built to last. I wholeheartedly recommend this unit to anyone looking for a well-designed, great-sounding digital handheld recorder made of premium materials at an easily justifiable price.

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group. sbullins@nbmedia.com

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!
Past Issues
October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017