Tascam DR-60D

DR60D-Strap-790_TOP

Intro from Jay Allison: At Transom our primary focus is sound and story serving the mission of public media, and our equipment reviews reflect that focus. Our Tools Editor, Jeff Towne, recently tested the Tascam DR-60D which is designed primarily as a digital audio recorder for video shoots; Jeff explains: "But wait – Transom.org isn't really a video production website, why do we care about this stuff? We’re reviewing DR-60D for three major reasons: audio producers are frequently adding visual components to their productions, and anything that makes that easier is a plus; the DR-60D is a pretty great stand-alone audio recorder, with a few very desirable features--even if one ignores the video-centric aspects of its design; and perhaps most important, the audio quality is great." The DR-60D is not-too-expensive and worth a look whether you're planning to do radio or video or both. It's a contender.

Audio for DSLR video

DR60D-FrontThe technological evolution of DSLR cameras, long used for pro and semi-pro still photography, into capable video cameras has created a demand for audio products that complement this compact and (relatively) affordable mode of shooting video. Despite excellent image quality, most DSLR cameras have poor, or at least limited, audio capabilities. Professional-level video cameras tend to have XLR microphone inputs with manual level control and at least rudimentary metering capabilities, but DSLRs at best have only a minijack for a mic input, and clunky, menu-based level adjustments.

As a result, it’s become common for DSLR-based videographers to record their audio separately, on a flash-memory audio recorder that offers better connectivity, sound quality, metering and monitoring. The Zoom H4n has been a popular choice, because of its XLR mic inputs, decent sound quality, relatively small size, and affordable price. It’s quite common to see these recorders either mounted on top of a DSLR via a hot shoe adapter, or simply carried along with the camera, capturing audio from attached lavalier or shotgun microphones, or occasionally, the Zoom’s own built-in mics.

DR60D-CameraFor many years, recording sound on a separate device required cumbersome (and expensive) linking of the camera and the audio recorder via time code. Without time code, it was difficult to keep the audio and image in synch. With advances in digital video editing technology this problem is less of a concern. Audio recorded “wild,” without any synchronization to the images, can be brought into the video project, and in most cases, realigned with good results. Best method: record some basic “scratch” audio onto the video file, which can then be used as a reference to align the better-quality audio recorded separately. Software plug-ins for most professional video editing systems can do this. It can even be done by hand, by meticulously nudging the audio file into place. Audio and video recorded separately without synchronization can drift apart over time, but you can compensate for that by time-stretching or squeezing, or by making cuts in the audio and re-synching as needed.

Enter the Tascam DR-60D

A wide variety of recorders accommodate the method of recording audio on a device separate from the camera, depending on the requirements of the production. The Tascam DR-60D audio recorder has been designed specially for use with a DSLR, or a semi-pro video camera with less-than-ideal audio inputs. It has several structural advantages over other field recorders when used in this fashion, and some well-thought-out ways of connecting the two devices. Most obvious is the overall design of the box: like most portable audio recorders, there’s a tripod socket on the bottom, allowing it to be mounted securely on a standard photo tripod. But the DR-60D includes hardware on its top that allows a camera to be mounted directly onto it, making for a very efficient and compact set-up on a single tripod. The recorder also provides audio outputs that supply a variable-level audio signal to the camera, and it can even generate slate tones to help synch the audio and video when editing.

But wait – Transom.org isn’t really a video production website, why do we care about this stuff? We’re reviewing DR-60D for three major reasons:

  • Audio producers are frequently adding visual components to their productions, and anything that makes that easier is a plus.
  • The DR-60D is a pretty great stand-alone audio recorder, with a few very desirable features — even if one ignores the video-centric aspects of its design.
  • Perhaps most important, the audio quality is great.

Also, although the audio outputs are clearly designed to interface with a camera, that “camera-out” feed (or the line-out) could alternatively be used to send a signal to a back-up audio recorder. When making a critical recording, it’s often desirable to concurrently make a back-up recording. Why? In case something were to go wrong with the primary recording, or the memory card were to fail or get lost.

The Camera Mount

DR60D-BackupMounting a small audio recorder on top of the DR-60D in place of the camera, and feeding audio to it from the camera-out, would be a streamlined way to make a back-up recording in those circumstances when extra caution is required. The top-mounted tripod screw even makes it easy to attach that second recorder, or a wireless mic receiver, or a shotgun mic.

The camera mount on top of the recorder adds a little extra size and weight. If you’re confident that you’ll never use it, that structure can be removed, making the box a little more streamlined. The tripod mount on the bottom is pretty universal among small recorders. If you don’t need to move around, it can be very handy; mounting on a tripod can keep the recorder in a good position for watching meters, and free-up one of your hands.

Shoulder Strap for Hands-Free Operation

One of the most appealing aspects of the DR-60D is that it has side rails that allow it to be hung from a strap. Having to hold a recorder in your hand is a major downside of the otherwise appealing streamlining and miniaturization of new recorders. Cumbersome old recorders at least could be hung over a shoulder, or stashed in a bag, while still allowing access to important controls. Tascam, oddly, does not include a strap, nor sell one as an accessory, but a standard camera strap can work.

DR60D-StrapI can’t help thinking that there’s a more ideal strap out there, one that takes advantage of the wide rails, but a regular camera strap is sufficient. There are also protective bags made for this recorder that take advantage of the DR-60D’s design; the meters and most important controls on one side of the device face up when it’s hung from a strap (or nestled in a bag). This design makes it one of the most practical small recorders around, one of the few that frees you from holding the recorder in your hand. The only significant downside is that the headphone volume control is located on the side, not on the top with the rest of the knobs and buttons. That said, I often set the headphone level once and forget it, so in practical use, this need not be a major headache.

Audio Inputs and Record Modes

DR60D-InputsThe inputs are all on the left side, and include two XLR/quarter-inch “combo” jacks that can accept line or mic-level signals. There’s also a stereo mini input, designed for microphones that use mini connectors. With the input gain turned down (and the gain setting set to “low” in the input menu) a line-level signal can be fed through this jack. There are separate input gain controls for XLR inputs 1 and 2, and one for the mini input, designated as 3-4. The XLR jacks can provide phantom power. Each input is controlled by a hardware switch on the front of the recorder, allowing phantom to be sent on one or both, or neither, of the XLR connections. The mini input jack can provide “Plug-In Power” to electret microphones that require it.

Menu settings allow recording in mono mode from any one of the inputs alone, or in Stereo Mode from inputs 1 and 2, or from the stereo mini-jack: inputs 3-4.

DR60D-RecModeThere’s also a 4-Channel mode that records from inputs 1 and 2 and the stereo 3-4 inputs at the same time. When recording from all of the inputs simultaneously, they can be mixed to a stereo sound file (with level and pan controls available in a menu setting). An alternative is to create two sound files: a stereo file with inputs 1-2, and a separate stereo file with inputs 3-4. Those two sound files can easily be synched up in an audio editor, because they will have identical start times. There’s a good-sounding limiter, which can be set to operate on each channel independently, or in a linked-stereo mode which will adjust both channels symmetrically.

Dual-Mono and Dual-Stereo modes make two copies of your recording, with one copy at a lower level, to guard against unexpected loud peaks. There are helpful LED indicator lights on the main face of the DR60D that clearly show when you’re in Dual or 4-Channel mode.

DR60D-RecMode2Inputs 1 and 2, or 3 and 4, can be set to M-S (Mid-Side) stereo mode, if one is using using mics in that configuration. Stereo recordings can be made with one front-facing directional mic and one side-facing figure-8 mic: the mixture of those two signals allows for a flexible stereo image.) There are three options:

  • M-S Off, when not using a mid-side microphone array.
  • REC, which will decode the M-S array to standard Left-Right stereo and record that stereo file.
  • MONITOR, which will record the mid and side microphones to their own channels, for use later, but decodes the M-S matrix in the headphones only, allowing for a more accurate monitoring of levels and mic placement.

This is a very flexible recording scenario:

  • You could connect a lavalier mic and a shotgun mic to the XLR inputs, and add a stereo mic that uses a mini jack for room ambiance.
  • You could connect the output of a wireless receiver to the mini input, while using the XLR jacks for wired mics.
  •  You could connect the line inputs from a mixer to the XLR or quarter-inch inputs, and a stereo mic could be connected to the mini jack, to record both direct and room sound.
  • You could use a Mid-Side stereo mic array on one set of inputs, while a more conventional X-Y stereo mic array could be recorded to the other set of inputs.

DR60D-InputControlsThere are hardware switches for setting the input sensitivity for each of the XLR inputs between line and microphone level, and those same switches control phantom power for each channel. There’s a further input sensitivity setting: low, medium or high that is controlled in a menu setting. This model is more reliant on menu controls than the DR-100mkII (Transom review). However, the menus are very logically organized, and easy to navigate with the help of the large selection knob: twist it to scroll, push it in to select an option. Pressing down on that knob can also add a mark to a sound file while recording.

Flexible Headphone Monitoring

DR60D-OutputsA dedicated button allows a range of headphone monitoring options. When in mono or stereo mode, one can listen to a mix of the main inputs, or to the “camera-in,” an auxiliary stereo mini input on the left side of the recorder that can be connected to the audio out from a video camera or DSLR. Listening to the camera-in allows you to monitor the feed you are sending to the camera, without needing to unplug and move your headphones to the headphone jack of the camera. The signal from “camera-in” does not get recorded, it only routes to the headphones, making it simpler to confirm that a good signal is being fed to the camera. When recording in Dual-Mono or 4-Channel mode, the Monitor select allows monitoring of each individual input or of a mix of all of them. This is really handy for verifying that each input is working, or for concentrating on one input. For instance, if one is operating a boom mic and wants to focus on that input while ignoring a lavalier mic plugged into the other XLR jack, or a stereo ambience mic plugged into line 3-4.

There’s also an easy to-use internal mixer, that allows setting level and stereo pan values for each of the inputs.

Caution: No Internal Mics!

One important note: unlike most small field recorders, the DR-60D does NOT have any built-in microphones. This may be of no consequence if you always use an external mic, or mics. But if you do find yourself using the built-ins on your current recorder for ambience recording, or quick run-and-gun set-ups, their absence may be a deal-breaker. I suppose that Tascam decided the main purpose of this device is to allow the use of professional-level microphones with cameras that have inferior recording capabilities — built-in mics would be of little value. I think that may have been a mistake: a pair of mics mounted on the back corners of the recorder, might have been very handy for recording musical performances, or other events with a lot of ambience.

For audio-only recording, one of the main appeals is that one can attach a strap and sling this recorder over your shoulder, or around your neck, and in those positions, built-in mics are of no use.

Choosing External Mics

The good news is that this recorder sounds pretty great with almost any external mic. Many small affordable recorders do not have good enough microphone preamps to cleanly boost the signal from low-output microphones. Popular reporter mics, such as the EV RE-50, or the Beyer M-58 are especially troublesome. Dynamic microphones like those need a lot of gain from the mic preamps. If they’re noisy, you’ll hear it when using those kinds of mics. Fortunately the DR-60D preamps are relatively clean, and can be used successfully with dynamic mics like the RE-50.

However, Tascam seems to have had higher-output mics in mind when designing this recorder: although the sound quality is good, you’ll have to crank the input gains up all the way, even at the high-gain menu setting, and you may still find your recordings a little on the quiet side when using a dynamic mic. Even many condenser mics seem to work best at the High Gain setting when used for a typical conversation-level interview. That’s generally not a big problem: the preamps are clean enough that raising the level of the recorder as you edit or mix does not result in much extra noise, but you may hear the noise floor of the recorder if your subject was very quiet. So, dynamic mics are useable, but the DR-60D is still a little better match with higher-output condenser mics.

Rumble Control

Low-frequency rumble can be a problem in many recording circumstances: vibration noise from boom poles, handling noise, or even just the sound of distant traffic can interfere with making clean recordings.

Those problems can be treated by engaging a low-cut filter on the microphone (if the mic has one) or by turning one on in the recorder, or by applying EQ when mixing. Each approach has its advantages:

  • Structural vibrations, such as those transmitted by a boom pole, are often strong enough that one needs to use the microphone’s low-cut filter to avoid distortion that cannot be removed with EQ.
  • Less-severe rumble can be controlled by using a low-cut filter on the recorder, which prevents too-much bass from overwhelming the mic preamps, and possibly engaging the limiter, causing jittery level variations.
  • Using EQ when mixing gives the most control, and might help avoid thinning the sound out by using overly aggressive filters on the mic or recorder.

The DR60D has a very flexible low-cut filter that applies low-frequency reduction at user-selectable frequencies. For each input channel, you can choose for the low-cut to be off, or to roll-off frequencies below 40hz, 80hz, or 120hz. The 80hz setting strikes a good balance, eliminating problematic rumble without thinning-out voices too severely.

Sample Recordings

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Listen to “DR-60D Dynamic Omni – RE50”
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Listen to “DR-60D Condenser Cardioid – AKG-C900”
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Listen to “DR-60D Sennheiser ME66”
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Listen to “DR-60D RodeNTG2”
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Listen to “DR-60D RodeNTG2-B”
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Listen to “DR-60D Dynamic Omni – RE50 Mini Input”
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Listen to “DR-60D Shotgun Mini Input”

The sound quality is comparable with Tascam’s DR-100mkII, which is to say, very good, and better than most other small recorders in this price range. It’s significantly better than the DR-40 (Transom review), while including a few of the DR-40’s recording tricks such as Dual-Mono or Dual-Stereo modes.

Input Gain

DR60D-InputSettingThe input gain meter is a little misleading: getting the levels peaking around where the little triangle hashmark is, presumably an ideal level, results in fairly low recordings. Consider hitting that meter a little harder than you might think looks right (but make sure you’re not clipping!). There is a numerical readout for your peak levels: keep an eye on that too.

In some cases, such as with a dynamic omni mic, even at the high gain setting in the menu, and the input gain knob all the way up, the resulting levels will be frustratingly low, with peaks at -12 dBfs or even lower. Thankfully, the noise floor is low enough that the recordings are useable even after boosting them up when mixing. But it certainly would be preferable if Tascam provided preamps with a bit more gain. After all, it’s not unusual to want to record with a dynamic omni. It can even be difficult to get good levels from a mic such as the Rode NTG2 when placed far enough away from the subject to stay out of frame on a video shoot — ostensibly the exact use that this recorder was designed to handle. Very high-output mics, such as the Sennheiser K6/ME66, and other condenser mics with similar sensitivity, work fine, but many other microphones will require turning the input gain up to maximum.

It’s great to have individual control over the input gain of each input, on well-positioned, and smooth-feeling knobs, but there has been criticism of the input gain circuitry design. The knobs control “digital pots,” which is to say that although they feel like smooth, continuous-controller knobs, they’re digital encoders that apply discrete input amplification values to the inputs. This can theoretically result in a jumpy “stairstep” effect when turning the input gain up or down, rather than the smooth, gradual changes possible with an analog input gain pot.

In practice, this effect is very subtle when recording most real-world sounds, and you’re unlikely to hear the audio levels jump up or down when adjusting the input gain knobs. That said, the effect might be heard when recording certain continuous tones or very subtle ambiences (it’s quite obvious when recording steady, continuous sounds, as demonstrated below.) In those circumstances, try to avoid making input gain adjustments at critical times. Gradual fade-up or fade-down moves are probably better left for the mixing process anyway.

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Listen to “DR-60D – Voice Volume Sweep”
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Listen to “DR-60D – Noise Volume Sweep”
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Listen to “DR-60D – Tone Volume Sweep”

Battery Life

The largest shortcoming of this machine is the relatively limited battery life – only 3-4 hours on 4 standard AA batteries. The battery compartment is accessible when mounted on a tripod, and changing batteries is quick and easy, even with a camera mounted on top. If you’re out recording in the field all day, you’ll likely have to change batteries at least once. It’s certainly worth investing in at least 8 high-quality rechargeable AA batteries, for quick changes. The DR60D can be powered via the mini USB jack, so it can be run off of standard AC current by using a transformer and cable like one might use to charge a mobile phone.

DR60D-BatteriesSimilarly, there are external battery packs with mini USB cables that can be used to power this recorder. Tascam makes one, called the BP-6AA, and there are others, designed for recharging phones, that could work. It’s unfortunate that one might need to resort to these external powering solutions, but at least there are some options for extended recording in the field. It’s odd that Tascam did not choose to include an internal rechargeable battery, like it does on the DR-100mkII. You can switch from battery to USB power, or back to battery from the USB power while a recording is in progress, so it’s possible to hot-swap batteries while recording if you have a source of USB power.

A Few Final Notes

There’s no built-in speaker, so for quick auditioning of recordings, you’ll need to use headphones, or an external speaker.

DR60D-DisplayNoLight

The display screen is readable in most light conditions, and can be read in full light without the backlight on. There’s no specific button to turn on the backlight, but you can turn it on by pressing any button, or twisting the menu dial, although that can feel a little scary during critical recordings…

Tascam has been releasing a wide variety of portable audio field recorders, from tiny, inexpensive molds such as the DR-05, to the more professionally-oriented DR-100mkII.

We were impressed by the versatility of the budget-friendly DR-40, but the sound quality was disappointing in some circumstances.

DR60D-Face2The DR-100mkII offers impressive audio performance, but does not provide a 4-channel recording mode, or the dual-recording modes that automatically make a safety sound file at a lower input gain. And most small recorders require you to hold them in your hand, which is not always convenient.

The DR-60D provides extensive, flexible input options, and interfaces elegantly with video cameras. Perhaps most important, it can be hung on a strap, with convenient placement of meters and knobs. If one can get past the limitations of short battery life and lack of built-in microphones, the DR-60 has a lot to offer: a convenient design, and very good sound quality.

Jeff Towne

About
Jeff Towne

Jeff Towne has been producing radio programs since he was a teenager, back then with a portable Marantz cassette deck and a Teac four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, and now with digital recorders and computer workstations. After honing his broadcasting skills at high school and college radio stations, Jeff has spent over two decades as the producer of the nationally-syndicated radio program Echoes. At Echoes, he has done extensive recording of interviews and musical performances, produced documentary features, and prepared daily programs for satellite and internet distribution. As Transom.org's Tools Editor, Jeff has reviewed dozens of audio recorders, editing software, and microphones, and written guides for recording, editing and mixing audio for radio and the web. Jeff has also taught classes and presented talks on various aspects of audio production. When not tweaking audio files, Jeff can probably be found eating (and compulsively taking pictures) at that little restaurant with the unpronounceable name that you always wondered about.

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  • Laurie

    12.03.13

    Reply

    how much? did i miss the price somewhere?

    • Jeff Towne

      12.03.13

      Reply

      I’m always reluctant to include prices, simply because they change so often on gear like this. But for what it’s worth, at this moment, December 2013, I see it for sale as low as $320, although it’s much more commonly about $350.

      • FWM

        12.04.13

        I bought one yesterday from B&H Photo for $269. The listed price was more but there was a $50 price reduction when I added it to the shopping cart. I wasn’t aware of or expecting the $50 reduction but was pleasantly surprised when I got it.

  • Barrett Golding

    12.03.13

    Reply

    Jeff, how does the D60’s sound compare to the Sony PCM-D50?

    • Jeff Towne

      12.03.13

      Reply

      Surprisingly, the Sony D-50 has a bit more gain, so it’s a little quieter with low-output mics, such as an RE-50 (although not by much.) So on an absolute level, I’d admit that the Sony’s sound quality is a little better. For hotter mics, the sound quality is pretty similar, I think you’d have a hard time telling them apart, and the DR60D has the advantages of XLR inputs with phantom power, separate input gain controls (although that’s not always an advantage with stereo mics), dual-level recording (where you can make a safety recording a few dB down from the main recording), 4-channel recording from the 2 XLR inputs and the stereo mini input, and the ability to hang it around your neck and still see the meters. Oh, and you can actually buy a DR60D – the Sony D50 has been discontinued, so you can’t really even get them anymore, if you don’t already own one.

  • David

    12.03.13

    Reply

    Great and detailed review as always, Jeff. As far as I’m concerned, its poor battery life is a major shortcoming. I’m looking forward to your Zoom H6 review which was released a few months ago. Also, I’m itching to see your review of the upcoming Sony PCM-D100.

  • Flawn Williams

    12.04.13

    Reply

    A lot of good thought went into the ergonomics of this unit. I wish they had gone to a powering arrangement like what my LED video lighting arrays have: a bay that can take AAs but also has a recessed holder that can take a snap-on longer life rechargeable video battery, similar to what Sound Devices’ recorders do. If such a gizmo can be on a $20 LED light, chances are it could have been included here. But at least the USB jack gives the option of many 5-volt powering options, glomming on to the smartphone ecosphere.

  • Ronan Kelly

    12.05.13

    Reply

    The new Zoom H6 is worth checking out for radio people.

  • dennis costello

    12.06.13

    Reply

    as far as coupled with a pretty decent shotgun mic, how does the DR-60D compare to the HD-P2 or a 661 II? I pretty much never use internal mics or listen to playback on anything but headphones, but I’m super sensitive about hiss and noise floor in quiet situations

  • I Lobet

    12.23.13

    Reply

    Jeff thank you so much for this great review. I have been interested in this device for its flexibility between media. But something new has come up. I’m walking onto facilities where gear must be “Intrinsically Safe.” Are you aware if any of the audio recording devices the pros prefer these days meet that criteria?

    • Jeff Towne

      12.23.13

      Reply

      Hi Ingrid – that’s a new concept for me (after looking it up I see that it’s a standard for electronic equipment that will be used in areas where there’s a risk of the gear igniting explosive materials. ) I’m NOT aware of any high-quality audio recorders that are rated as “Intrinsically Safe.” I find some basic voice memo recorders with that rating, but I’m not finding any reference to that restriction for most of the recorders we normally recommend.

      I would imagine that most flash-memory recorders would be relatively low-risk, just because they don’t have moving parts, and don’t tend to get hot, but that’s only a guess, and I’d imagine that certain locations would require a specific qualification, not just a layperson’s vague sense that it’s probably not too likely to create a spark…

      So I wish I knew more, and I’ll keep looking, but I don’t have any good advice for you at this time. If anyone knows anything about this topic, please chime in!

      • I Lobet

        12.28.13

        Thank you Jeff. I think there is a letter rating that designates intrinsically safe. The people I was with were looking for those letters on the bottom of my old 660. Thanks again for answering. Much appreciated.

  • Someone

    1.12.14

    Reply

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_equipment_in_hazardous_areas

  • Jobber Lange

    2.20.14

    Reply

    Samples are useless. You need to leave silence, i.e. shutup a little.

  • Sam

    2.27.14

    Reply

    $199 now at B & H with Pluraleyes 3 FREE (normally $179) = no brainer.

  • juuggernaut

    3.28.14

    Reply

    These days one can get rechargeable AA batteries with 2850mAh capacity. All your other devices – like the cameras this is designed to work with – need their batteries replaced long before the Tascam. The complaints are moot.

  • Alex

    4.04.14

    Reply

    Its an excellent little recorder with brilliant preamps for the price – nothing else at $199 is close.

  • Robinson Stowell

    5.29.14

    Reply

    Thanks for the great review. I’m both impressed and disappointed in my DR60. Impressed- the audio on my unit is very good. Very clean floor. Coupled with decent mics (I’ve tested an NTG, SM63 and Senn lapel mic) the sound was clean and detailed, and noise floor very good. And hey, it was under US$200 at B&H. that’s kind’ve incredible, especially since they threw in another 4 AA batteries and a fast Sony 32GB card. Also, recording at 24 bit gives some headroom to play with, the limiter is ok, and the dual recording mode will be terrific.
    The low gain is my main concern. Had to crank the SM63 up to full, in high setting, to get a decent level. Worse, the two mics I’ve tried in the 3.5 3/4 input, I haven’t been able to get a decent signal from. (I’ve tried an old Senn Mk300 and an ATR3350 lav) With the input gain set to high, and the knob turned right up, it’s still not peaking anywhere close to -12db. (In fact seems to be around -27db.
    This is frustrating … might even force me buy some better/hotter mics 🙂

  • Ruth Goldman

    6.04.14

    Reply

    I have a question for those of you using the DR60. We were thinking about buying a couple for our (Media Production) department but I was concerned because reviews I read elsewhere noted the cheap plastic construction. How well do you think it would hold up to heavy use? Thanks!!!!!!

    • alexbarajasz

      7.10.14

      Reply

      Hello Ruth. I can’t say I have all the answers but I have been working with the 60D on a online program in the oustide. We went to the beach, to mountains and deserts and it works just like new.
      The only problemk I had was that I had to cranck the gain up till 3’o clock sometimes but it has nice low noise wich is fine. Drop it once from my wais height (about 1.4 meter) and it survived. Has a minor scratch but everythimg else is good as new.

  • John Carter

    6.21.14

    Reply

    I would like to know how this goes with timecode drift? As I have the Dr 40 and it suffers from timecode drift!

    • Jeff Towne

      6.22.14

      Reply

      Neither the DR-60D nor the DR-40 employ timecode. In fact there are very few commonly-used recorders that have that capability these days, and those tend to be pretty expensive (The Sound Devices 702T, the Tascam HDP2, etc) If you’re referring to a drift between the recorder’s time read-out and that of the video camera, they all suffer from that, to one degree or another, and that variation tends to be fairly random, I don’t think you can count on one brand or model being more reliable than another. Without an actual timecode link, you’re going to get drift, and you’ll have to do some occasional re-synching and/or stretching and compressing. There’s software that helps with that – something like PluralEyes can get you back in synch pretty easily if you just make a few audio and/or video cuts. You can’t count on any un-linked recorders staying in synch, and whether the drift is a little or a lot, you’ll need to adjust. I’m not sure it’s better to be a little out of synch, if you’re out, you’re out. I suspect that you’ll be disappointed with ANY recorder that doesn’t have an actual timecode link to the camera, if you’re hoping that it will stay in synch with your camera. If you find a recorder that seems to stay in synch with your camera, it probably won’t act the same with another camera… So either spring for a recorder (and camera) with actual timecode, or just get ready to fix it in the edit.

      • John Carter

        6.22.14

        Thanks for this information Jeff!
        I already use PluralEyes, it’s getting it close but I will have to try cutting the audio into smaller chunks and see if I can get better results!
        I only found out this morning from a Review of the DR 40 on (http://www.studiodaily.com/2013/11/review-tascam-dr-40-audio-recorder-2/) that after about 30 mintues it will start to drift the DR60D was recommened for staying in Synch for longer periods!

  • M.

    9.12.14

    Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    I’m curious if this will work for me: I’m shooting a short that will take place inside a moving car with three principals. The plan is to use this unit coupled with wired lavs for each actor. Will this work for this particular scenario?

    • Jeff Towne

      9.12.14

      Reply

      The DR-60 would very likely be a great machine for this, with one catch – there are only two XLR mic inputs, and one stereo mini mic input. So it could work well, as long as one of your lavs can be connected via the mini jack. If so, you will have a separate input gain knob for each mic, and you can record each mic to its own channel for mixing later. The only really challenging part would be where to put yourself! If you can stay low in the back seat, it might work just fine!

      • M

        9.12.14

        Thanks for your prompt reply, Jeff! Duly noted. Would I be able to hook up wireless lavs instead of wired ones? Forgive me for my ignorance, sound is probably one of my weakest areas of expertise. I feel like I wouldn’t need to worry about where to hide if I was able to hook up wireless lavs.

      • Jeff Towne

        9.12.14

        Sure – many wireless mic receivers have a couple of output options. Check yours to see what kind of output connectors it has, and at what level (mic or line level.) The D60D should be able to handle most kinds of signals – the XLR inputs can be switched to line-level in, and the mini input, while nominally a mic input, can handle some line-level signals with the gain turned down fairly low. Just make sure you have the right kinds of cables, and are matching the levels (check the wireless receivers to see if they’re outputting line or mic, or if it’s switchable, and set the DR60D inputs to match) and of course, try it out before the gig! Wireless mics let you get further away, but they do introduce more complications, so wired mics are actually simpler if the subjects aren’t actually moving around.

  • Flawn Williams

    10.09.14

    Reply

    I see that Tascam now has a “mk ll” version of the DR-60D. Street price is still just below $200 without an AC adapter. There is a vague reference in their literature about additional gain in the mk ll. Jeff, have you tested the newer model?

  • Flawn Williams

    10.09.14

    Reply

    I did a little more Web surfing and turned up a couple of points. First, the mk ll version claims 64 dB of mic preamp gain, whereas the older model claimed 52 dB max. So, Jeff, that may address your issues with low record gain using dynamic mikes. Also of interest: there are reports that at least some units of the original model induced noise into certain video cameras when connected to them. Evaluations mentioned on the Trew Audio site seem to indicate this may have been a problem with early production runs of the DR-60, and were corrected by fall of 2013. Don’t know if the mk ll would suffer from similar issues, but the earlier problems may have gotten the designers’ attention! Not a problem if you’re not going to be connecting the recorder to a DSLR or other gear. But exercise caution before buying an earlier model on the used market.

    • Bihr

      10.15.14

      Reply

      Hello, Tascam has introduced a new recorder for dslr with 4 XLR inputs His name is DR 70 D with a flattering presentation

  • Jan Widmer

    11.19.14

    Reply

    Hi Jeff,

    I am quite a noobie when it comes to audio recording. For producing Videos for a recurring social Event I bought the Tascam DR-60D in Combination with a Rode NTG-1. I made about 10 Short films since I bought it and ever since I started, I am trying to figure out, why my recorded audio files have such a low Level.. Your Post is the first Hint, that maybe the Level of the recorded audio IS really just so low in combination with the Rode NTG-1 and I am not doing somthing wrong.. Said Thing is, that before I bought the mic, I chatted with an Audio Guy from B+H and asked him, what Mic I should by and he did not mention the fact of the low input with any word.. And afterwards I chatted with them again and explained them my setup, but the only statement from them was: “..then your device is probably broken..”

    Luckily I found the Normalize function of Adobe Audition, which does a quite good job.. Considering this fact, I might buy one of those two mic, that you mentioned in your Post.

    Thanks for making me feel a little less stupid.. 😉

    BR from Switzerland
    Jan

  • Douche

    3.04.15

    Reply

    Eh? I never had a problem with the input gain?? You make it sound like it is different to most preamps but I found the preamps on this recorder to be on par with a lot of mixing desks I have used. Isn’t it 60db input gain? Thats loads. I used a shotgun mic with no issues, preamps had lots of power and gave a very impressive sound quality.

  • Mariel Carr

    11.13.15

    Reply

    When I plug a Beyerdynamic m58 or a shotgun mic with an xlr cable into either channel 1 or channel 2 I’m only able to hear anything at all if I set the gain to high and turn the levels all the way up. The result is very static-y sound where I can hardly hear anything. Meanwhile, a rode mic plugged in through the mini jack 3/4 input is very clear (and very loud) so I set the gain to low and turn the levels all the way down. What am I doing wrong? I don’t want to use the rode mic and mini jack! I want to use a mic and an xlr cable, and perhaps some lavs with xlr connections. I’ve tried 3 different new xlr cables with the same results.

    • Vince Hancock

      1.03.16

      Reply

      Hi Mariel,

      There are a few earlier posts touching on the gain/mic issues, but they don’t really ease one’s frustration.

      I also have the mkII model, purchased primarily so I could drag-n-drop files via computer. My standbys have been two Sony minidisc recorders and an AudioTechnica stereo mic. Great results over the past 15 years, but transferring files in real time became cumbersome as my recordings became longer.

      I did a fair amount of research and found a good deal on the mkII. But my first recordings were very disappointing. In my case, I simply couldn’t get enough clean gain for my AT mic – in this case, on channels 3 & 4 (XLR-to-mini adapter). Any effort to boost the gain introduced, quite audibly, the acclaimed low-noise floor . Often, I’m recording quiet outdoor sounds, so these results just weren’t good enough. I will admit that the prospect of returning/reselling, with unanswered questions about mic/recorder pairing, bummed me out for a solid 3 days.

      Then I remembered something from a very detailed website about recorders (with reviews from 2009-2015): minidisc recorders, with *very* clean mic inputs, probably spoiled many of us, as cheaper parts became the norm (and manufacturers chased consumers, instead, with more gizmos).

      My solution was to make peace with the idea that out-of-the-box perfection is harder to come by, with so many variables at play these days, and to employ one of my minidisc recorders as a first-stage preamp. My mic plugs into the MD, producing the good and strong signal level I’ve come to love, and a mini-to-mini cord runs from the MD’s headphone jack into the mkII’s 3/4 input (I put the MD into rec-pause mode–less power drain–unless I really want a backup copy). Very, very good results, and my tranquilizer use has decreased.

      I recognize that you’re having trouble with the XLR jacks and your mic, but could the same principle work for you, i.e. a preamp to boost your quiet mics? I suspect my AT is also on the quiet side, but I don’t have the cash to go with something else.

      Happy to compare notes if that’s helpful to you.

      Vince Hancock
      Bear Lake, MI
      vhhancock@gmail.com

  • Rachel

    2.08.16

    Reply

    Good Afternoon Jeff! Thank you so much for the informative review and instructional article. I am working from a non profit and we have a DSLR and use it conjunction with a TASCAM 60D and one Sennheiser Lavaliere Mic. we have a conference coming up and we will need the ability to mic two separate speakers for the workshops they will be hosting. I have exhausted myself in search of what I need to buy in order to record two Lav. Mics simultaneously with the TASCAM 60D. I have beginner/mediocre experience with recording so maybe its just my lack of understanding. Please advise at your convenience!

  • R.V.

    2.27.16

    Reply

    Laurie, the new model 60D MKII is out for $199 some places with a kit bundle of batteries, sd card and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm short cable adaptor to connect to camera…
    Question: I noticed on my 60D MKII that the amount of gain on channels 1 and 2 with the same gain settings on the knob and in the menu are different, Channel 1 having a lot more gain: is that normal or I got a broken unit?

  • Adam Orth

    6.27.16

    Reply

    Jeff, thank you so much for all the valuable information contained here and in your other reviews. I am in the market for a good field recorder that I can also use to record audio for video and for podcasts. It sounds like you see the DR-60D as a superior alternative to your DR-100MKII. (As long as you are willing to overlook the absence of a built in microphone, which seems not much of a loss given how poorly they seem to perform) Am I correct?

  • Adam Orth

    6.27.16

    Reply

    I guess what I am asking is this: if you didn’t already have the DR-100mkII, would you intead pack the DR-60D?

  • John

    11.15.16

    Reply

    I bought the tascam dr-60d and it works really well with my xlr mics with phantom power, but I can’t get it to work with cabled lav mic. It just does not pic up any signal. I tried it on 3/4 channel High Gain, I tried an xlr/mini jack converter on channel 1 and 2. No signal. The lav is a rode and works very well connected directly to the camera. Can anyone point me to the settings for this kind of setup?

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