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Tascam TMD8000

Digital Console By Hugh Robjohns
Published May 1998

Tascam TMD8000

Tascam have long been one of the big guns in the mid‑range recording mixer market. Now they enter the digital mixer arena with a desk aimed at music and post‑production work. Hugh Robjohns runs his digits all over it.

Digital consoles are increasingly commonplace in all sectors of the market. Yamaha were the first to pioneer the affordable digital mixer with their innovative DMP7, and they have continued to set the standard at the lower end of the budgetary scale. The top end of the digital desk market is satisfied by manufacturers such as SSL, AMS Neve, and Sony, leaving an enormously wide middle ground where the likes of Amek and Soundtracs (and Yamaha's 02R) have dominated. It is towards this middle ground that Tascam have aimed their new product, the TMD8000 — an in‑line digital console with full automation, integral machine control and a wealth of analogue and digital inputs.

The Tascam TMD8000 is rather different from most of the other digital desks on the market. For a start, it doesn't offer a host of internal effects processing. Four‑band EQ on every channel and tape return, and eight routable dynamics processors are your lot! No reverbs, no pitch shifting, no flangers — just the essential tools for the job. Pre‑converter insert points are provided on the 16 analogue inputs, to allow favourite compressors or EQs to be patched in, and in addition, four assignable analogue insert points can be applied to virtually any signal path in the desk, allowing analogue outboard to be used on digital replay sources.

In terms of the I/O, the desk has 16 analogue mic/line inputs, which can be switched over to two 8‑channel TDIF‑1, four AES/EBU, or two AES/EBU and two S/PDIF digital inputs. There are also three dedicated TDIF‑1 I/Os for 24 tracks of DTRS format MDM recorders — and when combined with the input channels, up to 40 digital inputs are available for mixdown. There are six analogue auxiliary sends and six dedicated stereo effects returns (with a pair of sends and one stereo return also being available in AES/EBU format).

Although featuring a typical in‑line architecture, making it ideally suited to multitrack music recording and production, the desk also supports all the common surround sound formats and responds to standard SMPTE‑EBU timecode, so it is very much at home in audio‑only and audio‑for‑video post‑production environments. The TMD8000 is very ergonomic in its control surface design and after a small learning curve it's a fast and easy desk to use, helped enormously by the optional Mac‑based dynamic automation program.

First Impressions

Tascam TMD8000

The TMD8000 is an imposing desk to sit in front of — it may sound trivial, but paying clients often expect to see a big control surface for their money and the TMD8000 is certainly that! The double bank of (non‑motorised) faders, the large LCD screen, and the uncluttered array of controls all lends a professional appearance to the console. For anyone already familiar with in‑line desk concepts and digital desks, getting to grips with the basic operations of the TMD8000 should pose no problems at all, and for those who are not, the desk is supplied with an excellent user manual and a handy tutorial guide.

Essentially, the in‑line console structure involves a single strip handling everything to do with a single channel input, group send and tape return, and to that end it involves two faders — one for the channel input level, and the other for the tape return (monitor mix) level. The roles of these two faders can be swapped to bring whichever is in immediate use closer to hand.

Taking the desk out of its wardrobe‑sized packing case was more of a struggle than I expected. This is a large and heavy beast — definitely a two‑man lift and requiring a substantial stand or table. The review desk was also supplied with an optional (but highly recommended) Mac computer and monitor to look after dynamic automation. The only other requirement was for a set of DTRS‑format multitracks, plus the usual outboard toys (because the TMD8000 has no internal whizzy effects). Despite the fact that it looks complicated, setting the desk and computer up was child's play, and as the majority of analogue and digital connections are completely standard (XLRs and jacks for analogue, AES‑EBU, S/PDIF or TDIF‑1 for digital), 10 minutes after unpacking all the boxes I had sound passing through the desk and outboard equipment quite happily.

The TMD8000 employs technology Tascam have largely had to develop specifically for this product, although their many years of experience in designing the family of DTRS machines must have contibuted to the digital circuit designs and software employed in this desk. Although this is their first foray into digital consoles, Tascam appear to have mastered the DSP technology well. With other new challengers on the scene, such as Mackie (with their new D8B) and Soundcraft, the affordable digital mixer market is going to become very competitive indeed.


A typical screen from the supplied automation software.A typical screen from the supplied automation software.

As I've said, the desk is pretty big, measuring 1020(W) x 315(H) x 717(D) mm, and weighing 40kg. It also manages to consume 125W of power but doesn't seem to need any special attention to cooling — it barely gets warm after a hard day's work.

The technical specifications supplied for the TMD8000 are mostly quite respectable (see 'What's the Word' box for details on its internal clock spec), although the noise figures are nothing to write home about as far as the analogue inputs are concerned (for example ‑66dBu (DIN) for a microphone routed to the stereo output with 60dB gain). The analogue/digital converter resolution is not mentioned anywhere either, which is surprising considering that most other console manufacturers like to shout about the sonic virtues of their 18‑ or 20‑bit converters. I presume the TMD8000 employs the same kind of 16‑bit converters used in the DTRS machines, which would make sense given the noise figures, the large number of A‑D converters provided in the desk, and the fact that the desk has been engineered to meet a specific price point.


Tascam TMD8000

The rear panel of the desk is fairly well adorned with socketry of all types. Connectors are arranged on three levels across the angled back panels. The top level carries electronically balanced microphone inputs on 3‑pin XLRs for channels 1‑16, plus facilities for a pair of 2‑track returns. One set is balanced at +4dBu and the other unbalanced at ‑10dBV. The mic inputs have individually switched phantom power and pads (from the front panel) and accept signals down to ‑57dBu.

The middle level of connectors is much busier with a row of quarter‑inch jack sockets providing channel 1‑16 balanced line inputs (accepting signals between ‑37 and +11dBu), with a second row of sockets immediately below for their insert loops (immediately prior to the A‑D conversion). Twelve more quarter‑inch sockets provide six stereo effects returns, and these are followed by four sockets for the assignable insert loops. Next, six more sockets provide unbalanced outputs for the six auxiliaries, and two jack sockets labelled 'Scope Outputs' are intended for external metering devices.

The middle connector level is taken up with the main analogue outputs. Two sets of stereo outs are given for 2‑track recorders, and these are conveniently arranged below the 2‑track returns, again with balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (phono) connections. Two pairs of balanced XLRs provide the monitoring signals for the studio and control room and a 9‑pin D‑sub connector rounds off the connector strip with facilities for remote communications (including external slate and studio talkback inputs with the appropriate tally signals).

The lowest of the three connector levels is mainly occupied with the plethora of digital interfaces. Five TDIF‑1 format 25‑pin D‑sub connectors support eight inputs and outputs each. Three are designated for multitrack connections 1‑24, and the other two are allocated to channels 1‑16, bringing the total TDIF capability to 40 channels. Unfortunately there are no facilities for alternative multitrack interfaces, so if you wish to use machines other than Tascam's DTRS format, such as ADATs or analogue recorders, you'll need separate third‑party format‑conversion units.

Associated with the digital I/O connections are three BNCs providing In, Out and Thru facilities for word clock signals. The In connector will also accept a video reference for clocking purposes. Having locked to a video reference, the Out connector will provide a suitably stable word clock at the desk's selected sample rate.

Four (stereo) assignable AES‑EBU inputs on XLRs and two S/PDIF inputs on phonos can be allocated to either channel inputs 9‑16 or multitrack inputs 17‑24, and the S/PDIF connectors are provided as a switchable alternative to the first two AES‑EBU ports. Another pair of XLRs provides a digital output for Auxiliaries 3&4 and a digital stereo input to Effects Return 6. The last of the digital connections is for the main desk stereo output, as both AES/EBU and a pair of S/PDIF connectors.

The remainder of the lower connection panel is taken up with housekeeping facilities, including a SMPTE/EBU timecode input on both balanced XLR and unbalanced phono connectors. Remote machine control facilities are provided in three forms: standard RS422 Sony P2 machine control protocol via 9‑pin D‑sub connector; a 15‑pin D‑sub port for connection to the remote/sync‑in socket on DTRS machines; and MIDI Machine Control through the usual trio of MIDI 5‑pin DIN connectors (which also allow recall snapshot memories). There's also a pair of quarter‑inch jack sockets for GPI (general purpose interface) output triggers, which can be set up from the desk automation to control suitable outboard equipment.

Finally, an 8‑pin mini‑DIN links to the Mac computer, and an IEC mains inlet with associated push‑button rounds off the rear‑panel interfacing. There are no connectors on the front panel at all, apart from a pair of quarter‑inch headphone sockets hidden under the bottom right‑hand corner of the desk.

Control Surface

The control surface can be divided broadly into eight sub‑sections, which all have logically distinct functions. Across the rear upstand of the desk are the input meters and multitrack channel arming, main output metering (with a combined VU/Peak display), a meter selection panel, the timecode display, and various digital clock source and sample rate indicators. The channel bargraph meters can be switched to show a variety of signals and functions, from input levels, multitrack send or return levels and aux sends, to the true positions of the large or small faders (taking into account the effects of dynamic automation and fader grouping — very useful, given the lack of motorised faders). The main stereo meters have switchable headroom markers showing how the digital signal level equates to +4dBu on the analogue outputs. The factory options are ‑16 or ‑20dBFS, although the user manual suggests an internal modification is possible to reset the ‑20 position to the EBU standard of ‑18dBFS.

The desk is, on the whole, a joy to use, and allows the operator to concentrate on the job in hand rather than having to fight with the technology.

The main part of the desk is taken up with 24 pretty conventional looking in‑line channel strips, the only differences between them being in the input signal conditioning sections at the top of the strip. The first 16 strips have facilities for mic/line switching, phantom power, a mic input pad, and a gain control. Six of the remaining eight have only a level trim control, and these service the six stereo effects returns. The last two strips don't have any analogue inputs associated with them at all, but they are needed to cater for 24 tracks of digital multitrack recorder when the faders are 'swapped'.

The upper and lower fader sections of the channel strips are identical, except that the lower one has a 100mm fader travel as opposed to the 60mm of the upper fader — neither fader is motorised. Each section has three buttons for Sel (to allocate the assignable control in the centre section), Solo, and Cut — each with an associated LED. Another pair of LEDs indicates the automation status (write, read and update), as well as showing fader null positions necessary for the VCA‑style automation which the desk employs instead of motorised faders.

Tascam's decision to use VCA‑style automation when moving‑fader techniques are so much more intuitive is surprising, but was apparently based on cost grounds — apparently "to incorporate quality moving faders would have moved the desk outside the intended price point". That may well be the case, but I do wonder about the wisdom of such a decision, given that every one of its competitors (in both the lower and higher prices brackets) have moving‑fader automation. According to Tascam, user feedback suggests that VCA‑style automation is perfectly acceptable and the absence of moving faders is not an issue. That astounds me, because from personal experience I regard moving‑fader automation as much easier, more intuitive, and faster to use than even the very best VCA systems.

While I'm on the subject of automation, the desk provides snapshot automation internally, but a separate (optional) Mac computer provides dynamic automation facilities. The snapshot controls are grouped next to the LCD panel and provide Store, Recall, and +/‑ buttons to navigate the 99 user memories (also controllable via MIDI). With a Mac attached, dynamic automation can be controlled from a panel above the LCD: you can select the automation mode, decide whether faders and/or cuts should be write‑enabled, and view and match fader null points. In an LCD menu page, further options exist, to select other desk parameters for automation, including the EQ, auxes, and so on.

Adjacent to the dynamic automation panel are some of the integrated DTRS machine control facilities, including remote input/monitoring switching, rehearsal edit modes and manual locate controls.

The monitoring panel is entirely intuitive, and its facilities include control room monitor source selection from the six aux sends, four digital inputs, two 2‑track returns, and the main stereo desk output. The last button caused me some initial confusion because it's simply labelled 'Stereo' and is coloured white (as opposed to the grey of the other selector buttons). Why is that confusing? Because opposite the Stereo button is another white button labelled 'Mono'. This monos the control room and headphone monitor signals, as might be expected, but the fact that it's next to (and the same colour as) the Stereo mix buss monitor button is less than clever!

Although the provision of a Mono button is extremely useful, so too would have been individual speaker cuts and output switching for an alternative set of nearfield speakers, but unfortunately these have been left off (presumably on cost grounds, again). The control room monitoring feed has an independent level control and 30dB Dim button, and there's also a volume control for the pair of headphone sockets (which always monitor the same signal as the control room speakers). The studio monitoring feed (with separate level control) usually carries the main desk stereo output, but a button allows the control room monitor selection to be auditioned in the studio for tape playbacks.

PFL and Solo‑In‑Place are both provided as either/or options, the Solo‑In‑Place muting all buss routing in the usual way, although channels can be made safe from Solo‑In‑Place through a setup menu if required. The last element in the monitoring section covers communications, and here a built‑in talkback mic can be routed to Slate (MTR1‑24 plus digital I/Os 1 and 2 and main stereo output), Studio, or Auxes 1 & 2. When activated, the control speakers are dimmed by 30dB to avoid howl‑rounds, and the talkback buttons are intelligent, in that if stabbed they latch, but if held they act as momentary switches. The talkback microphone has its own sensitivity control.

Below the talkback and monitor section are controls for the four cut groups, four fader (VCA) groups, and main stereo output fader. The cut groups are provided with Sel and Cut buttons, while the fader groups replace the Cut buttons with Solos. Both are replete with automation mode/null lights. It should be noted that the fader groups are not audio groups, but control faders which alter the level of any number of channels, even though those channels may be routed to different mix and output busses.

The main transport controls are placed conveniently in front of the operator and consist of a set of five chunky transport buttons with 10 autolocate memory keys above. Position storing and editing functions are provided, plus a repeat mode which cycles transports between the positions stored in memories 9 and 10. The transport section is enhanced by the addition of a jog/shuttle combination wheel (spring‑loaded outer ring and freely rotating inner wheel) which is also used to navigate around the various LCD screen menus and displays.

To the right of the jog/shuttle wheel are four cursor keys for navigating around the menus and control screens, in conjunction with an Enter button below and to the left of the wheel.

The last two control surface sections are the PODs (Tascam's cute but unexplained name referring to a bank of assignable controls) and the master control panel with the backlit LCD. Together these form the operational heart of the console.


The POD section is positioned adjacent to the transport controls and right in front of the operator — which is sensible given that most tweaking is performed with these controls. The panel contains a matrix of 20 rotary encoders, the lower 16 of which have two push‑buttons associated with each of them. Apart from LEDs adjacent to each rotary control, there's nothing to say which control performs what function. That information is presented through the LCD on a mimic display which indicates which POD controls are active, their function, and their current settings.

The Euphonix digitally controlled analogue consoles employ a similar idea, and the translation from screen to hardware controls is not entirely transparent in either example — the necessity to distort the physical dimensions in the on‑screen graphic means that the user has to think about which virtual knob relates to which physical one. To be fair, familiarity reduces the confusion very quickly, but it remains an impediment for newcomers to the desk.

Along the right‑hand side of the PODs are the buss routing switches to multitrack busses 1‑8 plus the stereo mix buss and (for channels 1‑16 only) a direct route to the associated track on the first two TDIF‑1 MTR outputs. This is a useful facility which ensures that only the corresponding desk input is recorded on each track of the multitrack. The buss routing buttons are only active when the routing page is selected on screen, in which case the cursor keys can also be used.

Above the buss assign switching are three lonely buttons which seem incongruous to me. The buttons are labelled Insert/Dynamics, EQ and MTR Send/Return, and when the appropriate page has been recalled to the LCD these buttons can be used to perform certain functions. For example, in the MTR send/return mode, you can select any MTR channel, and use the button to toggle the mode. However, I found it just as easy to do it directly on screen with the cursor keys. The Insert button just activates a given insert point or dynamics processor, but since you have to recall the function to the screen in the first place, it seems rather unnecessary to use these disembodied buttons to perform the task on the screen!

All the remaining functions and controls are gathered to the side of the large backlit LCD panel (with a contrast control on the front panel, rather than tucked away at the back). To the right of this control section is the snapshot memory facility already described, and above that a pair of buttons to recall the user libraries of settings for the EQ and Dynamics processes.

Fourteen of the remaining buttons provide direct access to the various desk facilities, although a fifteenth button (labelled Shift) bestows alternative functions for the lesser used set‑up features. The top row of buttons caters for Module, 2EQ, Pan and Assign functions:

  • Module shows the complete settings for any selected signal path (if you press the Sel button above the appropriate fader). These include complete EQ settings, Aux sends, Pan, metering, buss routing, and the fader and cut group settings.
  • 2EQ shows the EQ parameters for any two selected channels for comparison, and to allow settings to be copied from one to the other.
  • Pan recalls a screen showing pan settings for 16 channels at a time, and repeated presses of the button cycles through the channels and multitrack returns bank by bank.
  • Assign is a screen which simply shows the buss assign switching. This can be altered directly on screen using the cursor keys, or by pressing the Sel button on the desired channel and using the hardware MTR Send/Return key in the POD control section, as mentioned earlier.

The second row of buttons has just two — Master and Fader Position. Master reveals a screen showing the six auxiliary masters and the eight buss master level controls. Fader Positions shows just that — important when the console is under automation control and you don't have the faintest idea where the faders are supposed to be!

The remaining bank of eight buttons provides access to each of the six auxiliary sends, plus the eight dynamics processors. The eighth button is labelled Ext Control, but when I pressed it a message came up telling me not to press it again because there's no software for it yet!

The last and final button is the Shift key I've already mentioned, which provides access to alternative functions, marked in blue under the previous buttons. These are almost all set‑up functions and include the MIDI/MC facilities, digital I/O conditioning, automation set‑up, options such as the tone‑generator frequency, and what the big and small faders do (see 'Not Fade Away' box for more).

The remaining shifted functions include pads and phase reversals for the digital inputs, insert‑point allocation, grouping to the four group faders, stereo linking between channels, and individual channel delays. This last feature is more important than many would initially recognise. Any digital signal processing involves delay, but the conversion between the analogue and digital domains usually invokes far more significant delays (Tascam quote 1.25ms at 48kHz from an analogue input to the main stereo output). A straight delay on everything is not really an issue, but when you start inserting analogue outboard gear in some channels and not others, the insert also adds 1.25ms of delay — enough to cause obvious colouration (like a non‑sweeping phaser). If this becomes a problem, the individual channel delays can be used to introduce compensating delays in channels not routed through external processing.

In Use

Something I discovered the hard way very early on is that although the desk mutes its outputs for five seconds on power‑up, to avoid nasty noises while it gets the DSPs up and running, it doesn't mute them on power‑down and so produces nasty thumps through your monitors — and pretty big ones at that! It's worth turning off your monitoring amplifiers before powering down the desk if you don't want to have to re‑cone your speakers too often.

I also managed to crash the desk once, by leaving a microphone in front of a loudspeaker when I powered it up. The inevitable howlround seemed to upset the DSPs in a big way — I don't blame them; the shock of peak level inputs can not be a nice way to come into the world! However, closing the fader and re‑powering the desk put things right and it has been entirely happy ever since.

The desk is, on the whole, a joy to use, and (motorised faders apart) allows the operator to concentrate on the job in hand rather than having to fight with the technology. My slight reticence is due to some inconsistencies in operating the assignable functions — it's as if a team of people wrote separate parts of the user interface and didn't really coordinate how everything was going to look and feel to the operator. Again, familiarity will obviously overcome most of the quirks, but first impressions are important when it comes to parting with the money.

The TMD8000 supports all the common surround sound formats and responds to standard SMPTE‑EBU timecode, so it's very much at home in audio and post‑production environments.

In terms of sound quality, I couldn't fault it with decent digital sources. Analogue inputs were a tad noisier than I would have liked, particularly the mic inputs on high gain settings, but in a working studio with typical (loud and close miked) sources, I doubt that there will be any practical problems. The dynamics processors work extremely well with normal ratio settings, and the real‑time transfer graphs (showing input and output signals against compression or gating slopes) are a great aid to optimising the setup. The 4‑band EQs areokay, although I found the discrete frequency positions annoying. This didn't cause any real problems — it just sounds odd when trying to tune the centre of a narrow boost or cut. All four bands cover the entire spectrum (31Hz‑19kHz) and the top and bottom bands can be switched between shelf and bell modes.

The stereo effects returns are slightly odd, in that they're not provided with any EQ at all, nor access to the aux sends. Quite how you're supposed to route reverb returns to the headphones of a vocalist remains a mystery! Similarly, it's not possible to route the effects returns to the analogue inserts or through the internal dynamics processors.

The bespoke software for the dynamic automation (bundled with the desk) requires a serious Mac to run on, and that should certainly be taken into account when considering purchasing this desk, as it will (depending on monitor size) add appreciably to the cost of the complete package. Powerbooks and older 68000 machines need not apply — this software needs a PowerPC 7100 running 7.5.1 or higher, with at least 12Mb of free RAM. However, in any situation where complex mixing is undertaken, I would recommend adding the Mac to the desk, as the dynamic automation is certainly worth having, even though I'm not a fan of VCA‑style automation systems. The software has mercifully been kept relatively simple and uses icons to select the various modes and facilities, so it's remarkably easy to use.

Although there's a fair degree of scope for customisation if required, there are pre‑defined screen templates which allow the user to view anything from simple fader and cut status across the entire desk to fully detailed channel strips, including EQ settings, aux send levels and so on. The fully bi‑directional interface between desk and Mac seems to allow display updates and control activity without any significant delays and the system didn't even hint at hanging up on me, despite my best efforts to confuse it. The control buttons on the desk remain operative with the Mac connected, so there isn't any great requirement to hang on to a mouse all day either.

The Bottom Line

The Tascam TMD8000 is an impressive desk to behold, and for a digital in‑line console it's surprisingly easy to use. The interfacing is flexible, with plenty of analogue and digital inputs, but, although it's not altogether surprising, it is a shame that no provision has been made for alternative interfaces. Apart from some inconsistencies and clumsiness in how some of the assignability works, the desk does what it is supposed to do. It doesn't seem to be particularly strong in any one area, but neither does it suffer any major weaknesses. It's easy to nit‑pick faults with a complex product such as this, but in the end it comes down to whether or not the console suits your way of working and is quick and efficient to use. I liked it very much for music recording and production work, where the in‑line approach is ideal. Being able to compare and copy EQ settings is also very handy for post‑production applications, and the surround modes proved eminently usable (although a joystick would have been nice...).

The in‑built signal processing — the 4‑band EQ and dynamics processing — sounds clean and effective, offering a wide range of usable control, from gentle and subtle to well over the top! Assigning the dynamics and analogue insert points to any signal path is effective, although I do doubt whether four analogue insert points and eight dynamics processors would really be enough for a serious music mixdown with 40 channels.

Overall, this is a very capable first effort from Tascam, although one or two of the cost‑cutting decisions will be the source for debate whenever two or more audio engineers gather in one place. The TMD8000 is certainly a desk to be experienced if you're in the market for a sensible music or post‑production console, and one that will give the competition something to think about.

What's The Word?

An initial examination of the published specifications for the TMD8000 made rather worrying reading. Personally, I would class the desk as a professional piece of equipment but apparently Tascam don't! The AES recommendation concerning word clock stability for professional digital equipment is +/‑ 10ppm (parts per million, known as Grade II equipment). However, the quoted stability for the desk's internal sampling frequency is only +/‑ 50ppm — the IEC 958 specification for "high accuracy" consumer equipment!

It seems a shame to have compromised the potential quality of a digital studio based around the TMD8000 by having such a poor internal clock — especially as the majority of potential users would almost certainly assume it safe to use the desk's internal clock as their master sync source. If you were relying purely on the quoted performance of the desk (I was unable to measure the actual sampling frequency or its stability and drift) it would be wise to invest in either a Grade II master word clock generator or acquire a stable video reference (off‑air BBC1 is about as good as it's possible to get). With the desk (and other digital equipment) synchronised to a reputable clock, reference timing instability and jitter noise can be avoided, which is particularly important if working with greater than 16‑bit sample lengths.

Not Fade Away

The TMD8000 provides a global fader‑swap option: normally the big faders control the tape returns for the monitor mix, and the small ones the channel sends (referred to as the 'American style' in the handbook). If you swap the faders, the big ones take over the channel send levels and the little ones the multitrack monitor mix (the 'British Method', although most British engineers I know work in the American way!). I was disapointed that the faders can only be swapped globally — most in‑line consoles allow individual channels to be swapped, which is considerably more flexible, as it allows unused or static MTR channels to be replaced with 'live' sources from sequenced keyboards during mixdown.


Any new console has to be able to provide surround sound facilities, and the TMD8000 is no exception. It offers stereo, quad, Dolby surround, and 5.1 arrangements, with comprehensive pre‑defined options for allocating channels to various output busses. There seems to be an ongoing argument, particularly in the USA, about which tracks on a DTRS machine should carry which channels of a surround mix. Tascam have gone to the trouble of providing three or four options for each surround mode, but as long as the tape box is clearly labelled with which track is where, I would have thought there were more important things to worry about!

In the surround modes, the normal stereo pan control provided in the channel module page is not sufficient for the task, so an additional surround panning page is available with L‑R and F‑S panning, plus L‑R and F‑S divergence controls, giving the full scope of sound movement and dimensioning in the surround environment. Graphical displays provide visual feedback of the divergence and position of sounds.

The TMD8000 doesn't have a joystick for surround panning, although the manual suggests that a suitable JL Cooper controller can be interfaced via the Mac automation computer if so desired.

Since the surround modes use the eight buss outputs for the surround channels, normal buss routing is disabled and the bus 1 switch simply allocates the surround outputs from each channel to the appropriate busses, as determined by the surround mode track options already mentioned. In the 5.1 mode, the bus 2 switch allows the sub‑woofer channel to be activated independently of the five surround channels.


  • Looks to impress anyone.
  • 40 digital inputs for mixdown.
  • Relatively intuitive and quick to use.
  • Integrated surround facilities.
  • Good facilities for digital synchronisation.


  • Some inconsistencies in operating protocols.
  • Only four analogue insert points for 40 digital inputs.
  • Needs a separate Power PC Mac for dynamic automation.
  • VCA‑style fader automation.
  • Poor quoted internal clock stability.


Visually impressive, with large I/O capability and well thought‑out facilities, avoiding the frills in favour of more important basics. The lack of motorised faders and the need for a separate Mac to run the dynamic automation are a bit disappointing, but good ergonomics and a high degree of integration for DTRS recorders are the plus points. The TMD8000 will not appeal to everyone, but it is a capable and reliable console that is well suited to music recording and some post‑production applications.