Today, we’ll be reviewing the Tascam DR-05X stereo handheld recorder. This is a fairly popular option for beginner field recording artists, but is it worth it? Let’s get started and find out.
Our verdict on the DR-05X
The Tascam DR-05X is a perfectly worthwhile candidate for anybody interested in trying out field recording. It’s super affordable, so you don’t have to feel so guilty if it just so happens that field recording isn’t quite your thing.
Ultimately, it’s a stepping off point and can be quite flexible. You can upgrade to better microphones if you so desire, allowing you to get better sounding audio without having to throw money into getting a whole new recorder.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
The DR-05X has a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz (+0/-1 dB) at 44.1 kHz sampling rate, and 20 Hz – 40 kHz (+0/-1.5dB) at 96 kHz sampling. It has a bit depth of 16 to 24 bits, and sampling rates of 44.1k, 48k, and 96k.
This is an omnidirectional handheld recorder, simply meaning that it captures audio from all directions.
Self-noise is rather good for a recorder of this price, although we found it becomes more apparent when ambient sound levels are below 45 dB.
For reference, the average level of conversational human speech falls around the 50 dB threshold, meaning that you may be disappointed with the amount of noise if you are attempting to record anything quieter. Still, it’s an incredibly workable device.
I/O and controls
The DR-05X is a 2-input, 2-output interface. Recording operations are standard, simply press the “Record” button once to go into standby, and press it once more to begin recording.
There is a red LED light that will flash when the Tascam is on standby, which will stay on when actively recording.
Gain (0 to 90 dB) can be adjusted using the rewind and fast forward buttons while in pre-recording or recording mode. Headphone volume works the same way, except with the “+” and “-” buttons.
You can press and hold to quickly increase or decrease your volume, or simply click once for smaller adjustments.
Lastly, we’ll mention the low cut filters. You’ll find five options on the DR-05X, those being: off, 40 Hz, 80 Hz, 120 Hz, and 220 Hz. To utilize these, press the “Quick” button while in pre-recording mode and the options will pop up on the screen.
For our tastes, we found that the 120 Hz and 220 Hz felt the most natural, as handheld recorders tend to be more sensitive to lower frequencies.
As far as memory is concerned, the DR-05X has no internal memory and will require a microSD card. Tascam does not provide anything along with the recorder, so you will have to buy them yourself. We recommend buying more than you think you need.
The all-plastic body of the DR-05X doesn’t make it feel particularly durable. It might survive a drop on the bed or a pile of leaves, but harder surfaces probably won’t be as forgiving.
The buttons are labeled well and easy to navigate in poorly lit environments. The user interface is also incredibly user-friendly.
You will need two AA batteries to operate the DR-05X.
Uses in music production
There is a myriad of ways you can use the DR-05X to enhance your music production. Many popular artists, such as Panda Bear and Bjork, have used field recordings to add additional ambience and atmosphere to their music.
You can get even more intentional with your process and use your field recordings to splice and make samples out of, which you can then continue to layer and arrange however you feel.
There really isn’t much of a limit into how you can use a handheld recorder. If anything, we encourage you to experiment and follow whatever you find intriguing about the process.
Compared to other options
Here are a few alternatives to the DR-05X. You can also check out our picks of the best budget microphones for for various music production needs.
Tascam DR-05X vs. DR-07X
The DR-07X is the slightly more competent sibling of the DR-05X. They operate similarly, but the DR-07X delivers better sound quality. If you have a little bit more leeway in your budget, we suggest opting for the DR-07X.
Tascam DR-05X vs. Zoom H1n
The Zoom seems to have a slightly better signal to noise ratio and picks up less handling noise. However, this is a fairly divisive comparison and you’ll find people split between the two camps when it comes to arguing which one is better. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong with either of them.
Who is the Tascam DR-05X best suited for?
The DR-05x is best suited for anybody interested in getting involved with field recording. It’s performance, user-friendly design, and affordability make it a great candidate for beginners.
- User friendly.
- Solid performance.
- Not super durable.
- Self noise under 45 dB.