Review: Tascam Portacapture X8 | TV Tech

In my opinion, most scholar movies focus an excessive amount of on the visible, and never sufficient on the audio. With 4K, 6K, and 8K, the photographs look stellar; however the often-ignored sound is simply as necessary. With the discharge of Tascam’s Portacapture X8, you now have a six enter/eight observe multitrack recorder. The massive touchscreen, very like that on a cell phone, dominates the unit however nonetheless makes it consumer pleasant to nearly everybody.FeaturesThe Tascam Portacapture X8 could also be powered by 4 AA batteries or the non-compulsory PS-P520U AC Adapter. Its 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen permits entry to 10 icons that management many of the recorder’s capabilities. Before choosing any of those icons, you need to first select the “General Settings” icon on the decrease proper. That opens: Record Settings, I/O Settings, Camera Settings, Other Settings, System, and Power Display.The Record Settings permits you to set the parameters of your selecting like “File Format” (WAV/MP3), “Sample” (44.1kHz – 192kHz), “Bit Depth/Bit Rate” (16, 24, 32bit float); “Rec Pause”, “Auto Rec”, “Dual Rec”, “Pre Rec”, and “Time File Increment.” I/O Settings affords “Phantom Power”, “Mic Trim”, “Speaker”, “MS Decode”, and “Reverb”. Camera Settings has “Output”, “Level”, and “Auto Tone.” Other Settings accommodates “Peak Mark”, “Auto Mark”, “SD Card Reader”, and “Blue Tooth.” System accesses “Information”, “XRI”, “Date/Time”, “File Name”, “Initialize” and “Media Format.” Last, you’ll discover Power Display with its “Auto Power Save”, “Battery Type”, and “Power Save Mode.”Selecting Launcher opens the primary menu with: Browse which exhibits the contents of the microSD card; ASMR for stereo recordings; Voice, because the identify implies, is for mono recordings of interviews and blogs; Music affords reverb results in numerous environments; Manual is used for multi-track recordings; Field for double system or for sound design/results recording, foley recording, atmosphere recording, and so forth.; Podcast data up 4 folks and sound results; Tuner offers you the choice of tuning devices; Metronome prompts the metronome; and SD Card Reader, if you wish to plug the Portacapture straight into a pc.The entrance of the Tascam is dominated by a 3.5-inch coloration LCD touchscreen which accesses all of the unit’s capabilities. Directly under are Stop, Record, Play/Pause, and Mark with a rotary knob to regulate ranges. The backside has a Peak and Record LEDs, and the highest has two removable 14.6mm Condenser Microphones which may be configured within the X/Y or A-B positions. The left aspect has XLR/Quarter Inch inputs 3 and 4, two-eighth inch mini jacks – Ext In and Line Out, the headphone output, and the headset quantity adjustment. The proper aspect has XLR/Quarter Inch inputs 5 and 6, energy swap, microSD card slot, and a USB – C output. The again holds the 4 AA batteries and has a chilly shoe mount and a 1/4-inch threaded feminine connector.In UseI all the time advocate my college students play with the tools to know it higher earlier than they exit on a shoot. Not following my very own recommendation, I went on location with a shotgun microphone to document some sound results. The very first thing I seen was that there was an excessive amount of dealing with noise being picked up by the 2 onboard microphones. I used to be unable to pick inputs 3 by way of 6 as a result of they have been greyed out. Going to Input Select on the Main Menu, you’ll be able to select which microphone inputs you need Inputs 1 and a pair of to be. In all of the modes however Manual, solely Inputs 1 and a pair of are lively. Therefore, you have to choose Input 3 and 4 or 5 and 6 to go to Inputs 1 and a pair of in order for you the opposite options (Music, Outdoor, and so forth.) to be lively. To make it slightly extra difficult, if you happen to select Inputs 1 and a pair of to be Inputs 3 and 4 in Music, you have to do the identical factor in Field—it doesn’t bear in mind your settings from a earlier menu or while you energy off the system. I suppose that does make sense, however I can’t see the place you’d ever need Inputs 1 and a pair of to be the onboard microphones except the Portacapture have been mounted on a tripod (in all probability not handheld) and also you weren’t recording outside due to the dearth of a windscreen.There have been so many various makes use of I had envisioned for the Portacapture X8, I made a decision to restrict it to 6 totally different “exams.” In the primary take a look at, I used six microphones to document a small combo consisting of an acoustic guitar with an omnidirectional lavalier clipped to the guitar’s physique and a cardioid on a stand pointed on the guitarist (XLR inputs 3 and 4). Another cardioid was positioned close to the bass guitar’s amp (XLR enter 5). The vocalist had his personal Fathead ribbon microphone (XLR enter 6) and the onboard cardioid microphones (inputs 1 and a pair of) captured the ambient sound of the TV studio at a decrease stage. Tom chosen Manual on the touchscreen and obtained ranges for every enter. The six audio channels the place blended to a WAV stereo observe which was displayed on the highest of the LCD display. Wanting the highest quality, he recorded in 32-bit float. Tom rigorously handholds the Portacapture when utilizing its six inputs to document a small group. The music was recorded in Manual. (Image credit score: Chuck Gloman)Our college has dozens of Tascam 2 enter recorders. Not accessing 32-bit float on these recorders, I needed to see what this new setting needed to supply. I do know the recordsdata could be a lot bigger. They have been, however audio recordsdata are a lot smaller than video recordsdata and nonetheless load rapidly. Could I hear the distinction between 32-bit float and people recorded at 16 or 24 bit? Yes, I may, and I additionally consider it justifies the bigger file measurement. I couldn’t actually inform the distinction between 16 and 24, however 32 is “clearer” sounding that 16 in my view.Tom is among the few individuals who can stay completely immobile when handholding the Portacapture.The singer, Dillon, makes use of a Fathead Ribbon microphone as Tom screens the degrees. (Image credit score: Chuck Gloman) Wanting so as to add some reverb to the feminine vocalist on the following music, Tom switched to the Music icon and dialed it in. Reverb was added when Malaina was singing utilizing the ribbon microphone. (Image credit score: Chuck Gloman)Another thrilling characteristic that was new to me concerned the method of downloading recordsdata from the Micro-SD card onto a pc. Instead of simply having one stereo file to obtain, the Micro-SD card contained particular person recordsdata for: 1-2 Wav, 3-4 Wav, Wav 5, Wav 6, and MIX Wav. This approach, I can enter every observe onto an NLE Timeline and remix them or just use the Mix observe equipped—thanks, Tascam! You now have management of every file.In my second take a look at, I used the Portacapture to document a Portuguese audio observe whereas the narrator watched the display. Setting up the growth stand with a Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone, Ellie chosen Manual once more, disabled microphones 1 and a pair of, and related the XLR into enter 3. She discovered it simpler to make use of the touchscreen to regulate the extent as a result of the rotary knob was extra of a finetuning adjustment.Ellie data a voiceover utilizing a Sennheiser 416 on a studio growth. (Image credit score: Chuck Gloman)In the third take a look at, we recorded a Steinway Grand Piano and a really proficient freshman musician. Choosing the “Music” icon, I used the onboard microphones on Inputs 1 and a pair of as a result of we have been indoors and the 2 microphones have been separated sufficient for stereo configuration. I selected the “Large Hall” preset with a reverb stage of 54 though we have been recording in a TV Studio. This added little bit of reverb accentuated the sound of the piano. While in faculty, I used to be all the time taught to document on the quickest pace to acquire the perfect constancy. Back in my day that meant utilizing the Nagra 4.2 at 15 inches-per-second (IPS) reasonably than 7.5 IPS. In the digital world, tape doesn’t “transfer” however the bit depth is actually “growing the recording pace” while you enhance the bit depth. For me, 24 bit was a cheerful medium.The fourth take a look at concerned recording audio for a brief movie—in a number of environments. Choosing the “Field” icon brings up a Dynamics Preset permitting you to decide on City, Nature, Vehicle, Bird, or No Preset as your atmosphere background. This was particularly useful after I selected Vehicle after I wasn’t taking pictures in a car. It lowered the background atmosphere, so it wasn’t as robust—very like when taking pictures in a car with the home windows as much as dampen the skin noise. “Background ranges” are very totally different on every atmosphere choice and it does make your sound extra pristine. However, when recording exterior, the touchscreen is tough to see when in vivid solar, particularly when the operator is sporting polarized sun shades. In the fifth take a look at, we used the Portacapture with a classic Sennheiser MDS 1 Stereo Dynamic microphone. Bringing Sixties microphone know-how over 50 years sooner or later with the Portacapture was an attention-grabbing mixture. Wanting to see if the microphones functioned, I plugged the left 1/4-inch plug (purple) into Input 4 and the suitable (yellow) into Input 6. A classic Sennheiser finds new life related to the Portacapture X8. (Image credit score: Chuck Gloman)Not needing an XLR to Quarter Inch adapter, I plugged every cable into the middle of the XLR port. The sound high quality was improbable and mounted on a stand—might be used to document two singers.The ultimate utility was one thing I had missed within the earlier variations of the Tascam and that was to document a line enter. Our Tascam recorders are set to document microphone inputs reasonably than line inputs. I did a highschool radio present again within the Seventies and had a reel-to-reel recording of our final present. Wanting to switch the analog recording to digital, I’d have needed to buy two attenuators to transform the stereo line outputs of the reel to reel to a microphone enter. With RCA outputs from my Teac X300 Reel to Reel Deck, I obtained an 1/8-inch male mini adapter with two feminine RCAs and plugged that into the External In on the Portacapture. It’s superb how I may use a 40-year-old Teac and hook it right into a twenty first Century Teac/Tascam recorder! The constancy on the 1/4-inch tape was a bit “boring” after I monitored it with headphones related to the Portacapture. Using the brand new digital file from the Portacapture, I introduced it into Adobe Premiere Pro, used the Tube Modeled Compressor, and had a file that sounded identical to I remembered.There are so many different options on the Portacapture 8 that I needed to attempt: instrument tuning, Blog recording, metronome, and others. With the six totally different recording environments I selected, the unit carried out flawless and was the right recorder.Lastly, I’d advocate investing within the non-compulsory AC energy provide because the 4 AA batteries don’t final very lengthy due to the contact display’s vitality consumption.Breaking NewsI simply realized that the Portacapture X8 and Atomos now affords wi-fi Bluetooth connectivity with a number of gadgets. By buying the non-compulsory Tascam AK-BT1 dongle, you’ll be able to wi-fi join together with your digital camera—video, mirrorless, or DSLRs. (Image credit score: Tascam)Ditching the wire is simply step one. If you’re taking pictures double system—recording the visuals and sound on two separate gadgets, sync-ing the image and sound is time consuming. From as far-off as 30 meters, timecode might be generated by the Atomos Ultrasync Blue and any digital camera and the Portacapture X8 will likely be wirelessly synchronized. This will revolutionize the best way we shoot location video on the college. With Bluetooth in every single place, big quantities of time could also be saved with this wi-fi connectivity. There’s a lot extra the Atomos can do and I’m wanting ahead to attempting the AK-BT1 on my subsequent location manufacturing.ApplicationI can foresee the Tascam Portacapture X8 being utilized in any state of affairs that requires a digital audio recording. All of its options make it extra versatile—blogs, area shoots, instrumental recordings, and so forth. Do you want the whole lot it affords? No, however it doesn’t matter what atmosphere you encounter, this system can deal with it. It could also be intimidating on its first use, however as soon as you understand its capabilities it rapidly turns into routine.Key FeaturesMultitasking unit with quick touchscreen entry. Multiple inputs remove the necessity for an exterior mixer with a number of recording choices.Price Tascam Portacapture X8 – $499 (Street worth)ContactTeac America10410 Pioneer Blvd Unit #1Santa Fe Springs, CA

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