Next to the card slot is the USB connector, via which the DR‑07X can act as an audio interface and capture the sound from the onboard mics directly to your DAW. The USB audio interfacing is one of this recorder's most attractive functions in my view, and makes it a significant improvement on the earlier DR‑07MkII model. (But again, you'll need to provide your own USB cable!). On the opposite edge is a 3.5-mm mini-jack socket for headphone monitoring, and this can monitor playback from the recorder or from your DAW via USB.
Underneath the recorder, a threaded socket allows for mounting on a stand/tripod, and there's also a battery compartment that takes two AA cells, plus a single speaker that can be used for playback monitoring of recordings when headphones are not in use.
The only hardware features left unmentioned so far are the two unidirectional microphones. These can be rotated to face outwards at a 90-degree mutual angle (ie. each 45 degrees away from centre), or folded in so that they cross over in an X‑Y configuration, in which case the left/right channels are obviously swapped. Helpfully, as soon as a mic is moved, the display offers the option of swapping the channels, making it impossible to get things mixed up accidentally.
Solo musicians recording themselves playing instruments such as acoustic guitar will obviously be viewing the screen from the wrong side when the mics are pointing at them, so Tascam have made it possible to rotate the display's orientation 180 degrees when using the tuner. I think this is a great idea. (I looked hard, but couldn't find a way to rotate the metering/monitoring page, which would have been better still!)
The USB audio interfacing is one of this recorder's most attractive functions, and makes it a significant improvement on the earlier DR‑07MkII model.
To test the DR‑07X's audio-recording abilities, I ran it alongside the DR‑05X and my Olympus LS-5 (which I've used as a reference for previous portable stereo recorder reviews). First, I set the DR‑07X's mics into an A-B configuration to match that of the other two, and I found that there was little to choose between them in terms of noise levels, tonal balance and overall quality. When in the X‑Y position, though, the DR‑07X sounded noticeably tighter, more focussed and intimate than the other two, and I definitely preferred this on the acoustic guitar I was using. I then checked the X‑Y position alongside my Yamaha H6 fitted with its (XYH6) X‑Y capsule, and matched the levels and setups as closely as possible. I recalled that the H6 has tended to feel a little more 'solid' in the low end than Tascam's recorders (possibly because it's a bit flatter around 1kHz) and, indeed, the DR‑07X did seem just a touch brighter — but even after lots of switching from one recording to the other, I couldn't say that there was really much in it.
Using the recorder as an interface over USB was fairly straightforward. A couple of aging DAWs I still insist on using couldn't detect it, but I had no problem when I tested it with a range of current software. Making a connection is simply a matter of selecting 'Audio I/F' and then telling the device to connect to either iOS or PC/Mac. After that, you decide whether you wish to use the recorder in Direct mode — in which the input signal is monitored over headphones — or in PC/Mac mode, in which the recorder monitors the playback from the DAW.
The interface sample-rate options are 44.1 and 48 kHz, yet when recording to the internal card it's also possible to select 96kHz if you feel the need. There are a range of MP3 options up to 320kbps, plus uncompressed 16- and 24-bit WAV formats.
On the face of it, Tascam's range of portable recorders haven't changed massively over the last decade. But that's no bad thing — it's mainly down to the fact that the original hardware and OS were extremely well designed in the first place. There's certainly no logic in changing things just for the sake of it, so when Tascam have made tweaks it has typically been to accommodate new technologies, such as higher-capacity memory cards, better mic preamps and sharper LCD screens. Along the way, though, Tascam have made the occasional refinement to their recorders' menus and buttons to improve usability, sometimes adding controls and features, but at other times removing ones that weren't really needed and merely added to the overall clutter.
Consequently, the DR‑07X really does feel like the culmination of years of refinement. Its USB interfacing is a particularly attractive new feature and will be of interest to podcasters and musicians wanting to record direct to portable laptop-based setups. There's no doubt that Tascam's DR-40X, DR-44WL and DR-100MkIII are more 'professional' tools, chiefly because of their XLR inputs and phantom-power provision, but they're also more costly and bulkier, making them less convenient in some respects. For many users — those who are happy to make the most of the onboard mics — the DR‑07X is all that's required. In short, it's neat, flexible, affordable, it sounds good and is easy to use. What more could you want?
There are a few small, fixed mic-position recorders on the market at the moment, such as the Zoom H1N and Olympus LS-P4, but I can't think of any similarly priced recorders that offer both dual mic positions and USB interfacing.
The only difference between the lower-priced DR‑05X model and the DR‑07X is the design of the onboard electret condenser microphones. The DR‑07X sports a pair of movable directional mics, whereas those on the DR‑05X are omnidirectional and positioned in a fixed array, facing away from one another at a 120-degree mutual angle. This arrangement is suitable for recording in situations where the wanted sound sources are spread around the room.
Because there's no need for a hinge to swivel the mics, the DR‑05X is also narrower and shorter than its stablemate — making it a nicer object to carry in the pocket. The sound of the 05X is of a similar quality to the 07X when the latter is in its A-B configuration. However, I suspect most recording musicians would find the X‑Y option of the 07X more attractive.
- Capable of A-B and X‑Y microphone configurations.
- Simple, streamlined interface and controls.
- Works as a stereo audio interface via USB.
- Rotating the LCD screen in tuner mode is a great idea.
- While you can't expect every accessory at this price, an SD card or onboard storage would have been nice.
The DR‑07X is a simple-to-use stereo recorder with the ability to act as a computer interface with PC, Mac and iOS devices. It should appeal to people who want to record audio in a variety of situations, as well as solo instrumentalists hoping to capture a focussed recording of their performance.
DR‑07X £125. DR‑05X £99. Prices include VAT.
TEAC UK +44 (0)1923 797 205
DR‑07X $119.99. DR‑05X $89.99.