When it comes to digital recorders, while they are easy to use, they can often be a little disappointing in terms of their overall performance and audio quality.
This is why many people tend to ignore them completely, despite the fact that there are so many high-end models on the market that can make recording audio incredibly easy.
This is the primary aim of the Tascam DR-05 – to provide a light, portable and easy-to-use recorder that doesn’t require years of editing experience.
Tascam has always been well known for its impressively quiet built-in microphones that can perform well in most environments.
Since its release, the DR-05 has been receiving rave reviews for continuing this tradition. But how does it stack up to its predecessors?
What Is The Tascam DR-05?
The Tascam DR-05 is one of many digital recorders which have begun flooding the market, however, it is very unique both in its extra features and its design.
It is incredibly small and portable, designed to be used in a few different environments rather than just one room. If you know that you’re going to be traveling a little while recording, these kinds of digital recorders are a perfect choice.
Many people have referred to this Tascam recorder as ‘entry level’ simply because of how easy it is to use. This is also because it doesn’t contain some of the more high-end built-in features and components as some of its competitors.
However, this is not to discredit this recorder in any way as it is incredibly precise and accurate, especially for its more generous price point.
How Good Is The Tascam DR-05?
While many would consider the DR-05 to be more suited to beginners and those just getting to grips with audio recording, especially out in the field, when looking deeper into its functionalities and quality, it really doesn’t lag behind its competition by that much.
Recording Sound Quality
The audio recording quality by the DR-05 is clear, precise, and very high quality for its small stature.
Part of the reason it can pick up the audio so easily is thanks to the huge amount of adjustable options at the users’ disposal.
When set to its Peak Reduction mode, the audio levels are automatically controlled by the device which works perfectly when you’re in an environment where there might be loud and spontaneous background noises such as cars or people walking past.
While this does provide a largely hands-free experience, you also do have the ability to adjust the audio levels manually when you wish to.
The Limiter option allows the device to prevent any distortion from any sudden high signals that appear in the background when you start recording. However, again you can adjust this manually.
Finally, there is the Auto-Level where the recorder will boost any low signal inputs, allowing for a fair and equal audio quality.
You also have the option of three different sample rates being 44,100HZ, 48,000HZ, and 96,000HZ granting a great number of options to adjust the overall crispness of the audio.
It’s finally important to say that the overall recording quality and how it comes out when you get down to editing is going to majorly depend on what external equipment you’re using. For these, an external mic or lavalier microphones often work the best.
The DR-05 microphone does have a built-in microphone that still works incredibly well. The only issue is that it can be very inconsistent, especially if you’re moving around and holding the mic in different positions.
All in all, the quality is definitely still very impressive for the size of the DR-05. The extra audio features definitely make the device incredibly easy to use, limiting background noise by a tremendous amount.
It is definitely advised to buy an external microphone so that you can be sure the audio remains as consistent as possible.
Design And Build
The Tascam DR-05 is incredibly light, being no heavier than the average smartphone, which makes it easy to hold or clip onto a shirt. However, it’s also very minimalistic and easy to get to grips with as soon as you take it out of the box.
While the plastic outer casing can feel a little hollow, the build of the recorder is very sturdy with an incredibly easy-to-understand interface. It runs on two AA batteries, so you can use it on the go without having to worry about charging or plugging it in.
In terms of its recording settings, there is a home button to the left and a record button to the right, along with a multi-purpose directional pad. This allows you to navigate through the wide digital display screen, this is definitely one of the simplest designs you can find on a digital recorder.
Just above the display screen are also two handy LED lights that will signify when your recording source is too loud, making it far easier to actually monitor the audio.
You also get access to a MicroSD card slot with a 4GB memory card included, a micro USB port, a small hole near the bottom for attaching to a lanyard, and a headphone jack.
It unfortunately does not come with an XLR/TRS jack unlike many of its competitors, so your options for external microphones can be a little more limited with you only being able to use mics with a 3.5mm plug.
Ease Of Use
One of the greatest assets of the Tascam DR-05 and what makes it an excellent choice for beginners, advanced podcasters, and audio enthusiasts is how easy it is to actually use, specifically because everything you need is front and center on the device itself.
The dialogue control panel gives you an easy way to stop, start, and even playback sound recording without needing to navigate through multiple menus and settings, unlike many other high-end recorders.
There is also an incredibly useful Hold button which makes it so you can’t stop or start a recording while it is pressed down. This mitigates the risk of accidentally pressing the wrong option which can disrupt and ruin an entire episode.
The USB connection port also allows you to quickly transfer files without needing to do much at all while providing an easy way to charge up the device itself.
There is even an extremely handy speaker on the back of the recorder, allowing you to listen back to recordings without even needing to use headphones.
The DR-05 is therefore incredibly easy to use and manages to have just enough options to make the recorder accessible and straightforward to get to grips with without cluttering the appearance of the device.
Currently, the Tascam DR-05 will set you back $120 which is just a little cheaper than its successor the DR-07X.
However, this is actually a very reasonable price for the number of features you get and how effective the DR-05 is while still being lightweight and portable.
For comparison, the Zoom H1, which many would argue is the DR-05’s main competitor, is the same price.
However, while it is very similar to Tascam’s portable recorder, it doesn’t have some of the incredible features of DR-05 that make it so easy to use. It also has a much more cluttered interface which can be a lot harder to navigate than the DR-05.
Additionally, each purchase also ships with a 4GB memory card along with a USB cable making it easy to transfer audio and any sound files.
While the price is admittedly a little high for what would be considered a ‘beginner level’ audio recorder, its reliability, durability, and versatility definitely warrant the price over its main competitors.
When deciding whether to pick up the Tascam DR-05, it primarily comes down to how much you care about the overall audio quality and ease of use.
While the device can be inconsistent with its audio quality and definitely isn’t the highest quality on the market, it’s still accurate and crisp enough to provide an excellent listening experience, especially when you use an external microphone.
The people who really should be the ones considering picking this recorder up, however, are ideally beginners who want a simple device that’s packed with features and a powered stereo mic to make their tasks easier when recording audio and editing.
If you’re recording outside the studio and need a small but feature-packed audio recorder that satisfies each listener, Tascam DR-05 is a perfect pick. Although it doesn’t have much storage or quality as its competitors, and the design feels a little cheaper, it’s still a trusty and reliable recorder that won’t break the bank.