The latest addition to the electronic newsgathering world is one of TASCAM�s smallest professional field recorders yet: The DR-10X.
As a radio journalist, I was intrigued by the design, which features a single XLR input suitable for dynamic microphones, mult-boxes and lavalier mics (with external power). The whole unit fits in the palm of your hand.
I�m a fan of recorders with bigger buttons and screens. But, after three months of use in the field, I have adjusted to the smaller screen and buttons. Only one line of text fits on the tiny screen. I would prefer a stronger screen illumination in bright sunlight. The power/record button is on the side, as well as the volume button, and menu buttons are on the front. It�s all pretty user-friendly. There is a mini-output jack for headphones. I even used the headphone output jack to feed audio via live truck back to the station.
The DR-10X was ready for use within a couple minutes after I removed it from the box. I�m using an 8G microSDHC card, which is plenty of space, considering it records only in PCM. One of the more unique features is the optional dual track record function. This clean �safety track� records at �6 dB below the main channel and can be retrieved if you need it. It uses one AAA battery.
I do experience pre-amp hiss. This wasn�t a surprise because it�s only $179. I usually do a quick filter pass though my editing software, and it sounds fine. The mic pregain has three settings, low, mid and high. I find myself using the mid setting for most fieldwork.
I use the DR-10X with my Sennheiser MD-46 for one-on-one interviews and recently used a Sony ECM-44B lavalier mic for a police ride-along. I was pleased that I could have the same capabilities of a wireless transmitter without the hassle of frequencies or dropouts. I wired the officer, and he put the DR-10X in his pocket. With the button lock and 8�10 hour battery life, it was a great way to grab sound.
Recently, I experimented using the DR-10X with a Sennheiser MKE-600 Shotgun Mic attached to a mic boom pole. I used the low mic gain setting and the results weren�t bad at all.
I�ve also used the DR-10X with mult-boxes and the results were just fine. Double check the box�s line/mic settings and adjust accordingly. The recorder also has auto limiter and auto gain. If you rely on time cues/tracks during recording, you can use a smartphone�s stopwatch function � just sync the start of recording with the phone.
The recorder comes with a microB USB cable, which you can use to download files. You can also remove the microSD card and use it with a desktop or laptop computer via an SD card adapter. Both methods worked fine, although I found the cable more efficient since I also use the DR-10X to record my voice track in the field.
I�ve dropped the DR-10X twice on pavement, and it still works fine. It would be nice to have some sort of belt clip or connector to attach to a gear bag or shoulder strap.
The small size makes it ideal for travel, especially for carryon luggage. It�s a lot more convenient to have mic and recorder at the ready without the hassle of cables, connectors, adapters or loose mini-plug jacks.
I plan to get a second DR-10X to use for sit down interviews and other field ENG.
With such an affordable price, the DR-10X should a great addition to anyone�s ENG kit, especially if you�re a radio journalist.
Gregory is a reporter at KFI(AM) in Los Angeles. Steve can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.