Review: Tascam DR-10L Portable Recorder
Sometimes the tiniest gear has the biggest weight on its shoulders. Like capturing a bride’s speech, or the sound of a car blowing up for a movie. Tascam knows it, and has built the tiny DR-10L beltpack recorder to happily record high-quality audio all day as an unflappable failsafe.
Constructed out of durable plastic, the DR-10L weighs just 63g. Its single-line screen is tiny yet sufficiently visible in bright light. Here, you can access all menu functions using four buttons. Most of its 19 menu items are one ‘layer’ deep to avoid clicking endlessly through a labyrinth of options. Easily access functions like a low cut filter, five-step mic gain (auto level option too), limiter, file type, power saver, etc. When not in a menu the Up and Down buttons cycle through your list of recordings and Enter becomes the Play/Pause button. The DR-10L is the type of device that a four-year-old could figure out.
The screw-down 3.5mm input socket suits Sennheiser’s lavalier mic line-up but the included clip-on lapel model is very respectable, sound-wise. A stereo 3.5mm output lets you monitor the source signal using headphones; with volume controlled by +/- buttons on the side. The side-mounted sliding switch goes one direction to power on/off and the other to initiate or stop recording. Audio is recorded at resolutions up to 24-bit/48k in WAV format and the USB B port makes for easy file transferring.
The DR-10L finds its niche as an audio insurance device. Clip it to an actor or presenter during a shoot as the ultimate backup to your wireless audio system or main mics. The same goes for wedding cinematographers who could easily hide the small recorder in the groom’s jacket pocket and leave it recording all day. 10 hours battery life on a single AAA battery isn’t shabby and the microSD slot leaves you free to insert one as large as you like, ensuring worry-free extended recording.
Tascam has thrown in handy features to bolster the DR-10L’s reliability. One such feature saves files before the battery runs out. A level limiter gives you a little peace of mind against an unexpected surge of audio. The dual recording feature retains a lower gain version of your recording as a safety net for sudden blasts of SPL. The Tascam DR-10L is a perfect companion for mobile journalists and filmmakers, if not as your main mic, certainly as a backup.