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Tascam DR22-WL

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Tascam DR22-WL

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:49 pm

I’m increasingly working ‘in the field’ gathering sound effects of machinery, farm animals, birds, water, aircraft and so on. I’m using these both for my own use and for uploading to a sound-effects library where they seem to be well-received.

Usually I’m using a Zoom F4 recorder with a Rode NT4 stereo mic in a Rode Blimp windjammer – either handheld or boom mounted. This is all well and good and I get excellent results, but the kit is not really the size to take with you on casual days-out. This was highlighted a few weeks ago when unexpectedly I came across one of the many heritage steam railways in the UK and went for a trip. Lots of lovely evocative sounds and me without a recorder!

So I determined to buy a good, relatively inexpensive, truly portable recorder with decent on-board mics and the ability to record in true stereo. Obviously, there’s a vast range available in terms of price, performance and function so what made me settle on the Tascam DR-22WL?

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The first priority was portability: the ability to be slipped into a pocket and not weigh you down. The Tascam meets that one nicely. Secondly, I wanted a recorder that has the ability to record in true stereo – which on machines of this size for me means XY. (In passing; I favour XY for simplicity and because of the ability to collapse the image to mono without any artefacts. I’m aware that there are small portables that offer MS encoding/decoding, but I’m an XY man!)) Many of the small portables looked promising until I examined their mic configuration in more detail. Some have mics arranged in a ‘stereo’ pattern, but with omnidirectional mics. Others have cardioid mics but in a stereo configuration that’s outside any of the conventional stereo mic arrangements. Others offer omnidirectional mics that record in AB/spaced-pair configuration, but with mics only a very few cms apart. Not much stereo there then! Thus, several of what I’d thought were front runners ruled themselves out, whereas the Tascam DR22 met my stereo requirements precisely.

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Obviously, with my requirement to start recording as quickly as possible, ease of use was also high on my requirements list. The Tascam has a menu system that is detailed and lets me use my favoured option of recording 24-bit WAV files at 44.1KHz. There’s the ability to record BWF and MP3 files too, with WAVs and BWFs capable of being recorded at a maximum of 96KHz. But most of the menu options are ‘set and forget’ – i.e. you’ll probably set-up the machine as you want it and then very rarely delve into the menus again – apart from activating the USB transfer mode. The Tascam has a nifty ‘dial a function’ wheel which means that at one click you can instantly access things such as high-pass filters, auto record levels, gain pads etc. All useful if you need to start recording NOW with no time for fiddling about with settings!

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I was also drawn to the manual recording level control. A rotary control – no ‘up/down’ buttons here – which it would be difficult to turn by mistake.

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I like the display screen. In a machine of this type and size it’s inevitably not huge, but all the usual display parameters such as back-light and contrast are adjustable. And a big thumbs-up to Tascam! Not only is the -12dB mark clearly highlighted in the centre of the screen (the ‘normal’ level for getting good digital recordings), but there are also tell-tales just above the screen indicating when you hit -12db and a separate one for when you peak at 0db.

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There’s a built-in speaker, but in reality it’s only useful for confidence monitoring.

But this Tascam recorder comes with a ‘value-added’ function – built in wifi. To be clear, you can’t link this into an existing network, but you can link the recorder to an iPod/iPhone or Android Tablet/Phone using the free downloadable apps. I’ve done no more than briefly try this and I’ve not explored its range limits. They’re claimed to be 30ft (9 metres). Other reviews have indicated that with the wifi activated, battery use is significantly increased and my brief tests bear this out. But the big advantage of using the wifi function is the ability to monitor and control the recorder using a much larger colour screen. Start and stop functions are available, as is the ability to adjust levels – or choose one of the auto-functions – but you can’t monitor audio on the remote device. Tascam suggest that the wifi facility means that you can set-up your recorder in an optimum position – say, in front of an audience – and then control it from within the audience. That’s probably true, but I’m not sure whether you’d get through a whole concert, bearing in mind the increased battery-drain when the wifi is on. There’s the ability to run the unit from mains-power via any standard USB 5-volt charger, but to do that means running cables which may be less than ideal in a ‘front of audience’ situation.

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So far I’ve used the recorder in manual and ‘auto interview’ modes. Both produced good results with the advantages of the stereo XY mic configuration being obvious when listening on headphones. I was pleased to note that there are no obvious signs of the auto-level ‘hunting’ when it’s in use. The usual issues with these small plastic-bodied recorders apply: handling noise is very obvious, as is ‘wind-blast’ across the mics. I’ve ameliorated the former by using a screw-in rubberised hand-grip (dirt-cheap on EBay) and the latter by buying a fluffy windshield. Of course, it’s not as good as the Rode Blimp, but that cost twice as much as the Tascam recorder!

Am I pleased with my choice? Definitely… and I’m planning on going back to the steam-railway very soon!

Tascam website details: http://tascam.com/product/dr-22wl/
Current price: c. £105
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Re: Tascam DR22-WL

Postby Wonks » Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:59 pm

Nice review, Mike.

You could easily tape it to an external battery- powered portable USB charger for longer gigs if you wanted the wi-fi facility. I bought one for around £15 and it's very good.

Have you tried recording any reggae bands with it as I noticed it has a setting called 'Dub'. Built-in delay unit plus increased bass response? ;)
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Re: Tascam DR22-WL

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:08 pm

Wonks wrote:Nice review, Mike.

You could easily tape it to an external battery- powered portable USB charger for longer gigs if you wanted the wi-fi facility. I bought one for around £15 and it's very good.

Have you tried recording any reggae bands with it as I noticed it has a setting called 'Dub'. Built-in delay unit plus increased bass response? ;)

Thanks Wonks!

Good call on the USB 'power-station' approach... as I doubt very much if I'll use the recorder on USB power when out and about I hadn't given that much thought, but your suggestion is a good one.

Dub... :lol:

I've not explored that at all so didn't mention it, but it's something like the 'magic button' that the old fogeys like me will remember being a feature on some tape-recorders in the 50s and 60s. That enabled you to record over something without erasing it... The key difference with this approach is that each overdub generates a new file so it's effectively non-destructive overdubbing... you can always go back...
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Re: Tascam DR22-WL

Postby ttm » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:29 pm

Wonks wrote:Nice review, Mike.

You could easily tape it to an external battery- powered portable USB charger for longer gigs if you wanted the wi-fi facility. I bought one for around £15 and it's very good.

Have you tried recording any reggae bands with it as I noticed it has a setting called 'Dub'. Built-in delay unit plus increased bass response? ;)


The dub setting is not what you said. It is strictly Overdub.
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Re: Tascam DR22-WL

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:08 pm

Welcome to the forums TTM.

Wonks was joking, and Mike realised -- mostly because they've been chatting here for years and share a sense of humour. The smiley emoticons provide the clues! :D
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Re: Tascam DR22-WL

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Mar 18, 2019 7:33 pm

Wikipedia says:

"Dub is a genre of electronic music that grew out of reggae in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae."

I totally misunderstood something that Emil had said in my very first post back in 1897. Easily done... :)
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