Sometimes simpler is better. Simpler products, if they are well designed, just let you concentrate on your work without interrupting your flow. Simpler can be hip too, just look at the success of the iPod. It seems that Tascam has been paying attention to this trend, as the DP-01FX is by far the easiest to use eight track digital multitrack that I’ve ever used.
Though it is simple in operation, it includes many of the same features that other digital multitrackers offer, such as onboard effects processors, non-destructive wave editing features, as well as the ability to export (and import) files via it’s USB 2.0 port. One thing that the DP-01FX is missing, however, is the multilevel menus that are normal for a digital multitracker. Instead, the DP-01FX has a knob or button for almost every function.
The Tascam DP-01FX has a very nicely rounded feature set which includes a 40 GB internal hard drive, dual inputs with both ¼” and xlr connectors (and amazingly enough for a product of this price, phantom power!). two track simultaneous recording, guitar/bass level input, footswitch input (for punch-ins), two band semi parametric equalizers for each channel, reverb processor, multieffects insert processor, dedicated two track mixdown track, rca and s/pdif outputs, USB 2.0 port, midi-timecode, and wave editing features.
After I unpacked the substantial feeling unit and plugged it in (using the line lump transformer) I wanted to see whether or not I could create an entire song without opening the manual. Within 15 minutes or so, I was using the DP-01FX and accessing both the reverb and insert effects processors, assigning tracks, and using the eq’s. I had no problems whatsoever understanding the interface, and I’m sure that those of you who have used all-in-one digital multitrackers know how unusual that state of affairs is!
The microphone preamps were very respectable sounding, especially for a product of this price, and the inclusion of phantom power is very cool indeed, opening up a whole other range of microphone options usually closed to users at this price point. I found the internal effects processors to be on the whole very acceptable, nicely enhancing the dry tracks I had recorded. There’s even a guitar tuner hiding in the DP-01FX, though for that you will have to use the manual to figure out how to access it (just hold down the multi and reverb keys and make sure you are plugged into input A).
One feature that I did miss was an onboard metronome. Although the Tascam unit does provide a midi output metronome, an outboard sound generator is needed to actually output a metronome sound. I had no problem mapping the midi output to a Yamaha RM1x sequencer, and the Yamaha had no problem syncing to the DP-01FX as its midi clock source.
The ability to export (and import) tracks via the included USB 2.0 port is an unexpectedly nice ability. Since the Tascam unit operates at a standard 16 bit 44.1kHz sampling rate using WAV files, it’s easy enough to import tracks from a workstation right into the DP-01FX and then work at home (or in the field) with them. Conversely you can export tracks right into your DAW and continue working on them while preserving that sometimes elusive “demo feel.”
The Tascam DP-01FX is a superb solution for singer songwriters and others that need a good sounding and easy to use recorder. Even if one has access to a more full featured recording setup (analog or digital) the DP-01FX is great for working on song ideas with a minimum of setup hassles and workflow interruptions. The inclusion of a USB 2.0 port makes transferring those (late night) ideas to your workstation fast and easy. At its very reasonable $499 (street price) you simply can’t go wrong!
Richard Alan Salz is a producer/engineer living in Southern Vermont. You can contact him at his company’s website, located at www.vtaudio.com
Project Studio, location recording
8 track digital multitracker, two track simultaneous recording, phantom power, effects processors, non-destructive, digital editing, 40 gig hard drive, and USB 2.0 port
Paul Reed Smith CE-24 guitar, Turner Renaissance bass, Yamaha RM1x sequencer, Shure SM-57, CAD E200, Audio Technica 4060 microphones, Audio Technica M-40 headphones, Urei 809 and Fostex NF-1 monitors, Yamaha P-2201 and Bryston 4B amplifiers