Tascam are changing the way we record lavalier microphones with their new DR-10L belt recorder

Oct 4, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Tascam are changing the way we record lavalier microphones with their new DR-10L belt recorder

Oct 4, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Wireless lavalier microphones have been a standard in the film & tv industries for years. They’re great for picking up sound while staying hidden from the shot. They’re also very useful for moving subjects where following them with a boomed microphone may be impossible. As more and more wireless devices enter our daily lives, however, issues can start to appear.

Interference, signal drop outs, and other problems can happen in densely populated areas. There’s also the problem of knowing whether the radio frequencies of the microphones you’re about to use are even legal in the location at which you’re using them. Tascam has presented us with a very elegant solution to these problems with the new Tascam DR-10L belt mounted lavalier recorder.

The issues of wireless aren’t going to affect many who are shooting in low population areas with little interference. I have a pair of wireless lav mics that I use for recording videos, which happens mostly outdoors and away from towns and cities.  The Tascam RD-10L does offer other advantages, though.

tascam_dr10l_product

When I record myself using a lav mic, I have the mic clipped or taped to my chest going to a belt pack transmitter. The matching receiver resides in my bag connected to a Tascam DR-100 recorder.

Whenever I want to record, I have to turn on the transmitter, turn on the receiver, turn on the Tascam DR-100 field recorder, make sure it’s picking up sound, then hit record and go to where I need to be to start shooting.

When I’m done I have to go back to my bag, stop recording, turn off the DR-100, turn off the receiver and turn off the transmitter.

This isn’t exactly the speediest of workflows. Removing the receiver and field recorder from the equation means that you’re wasting a lot less time when shooting by yourself. I can just start and stop the sound from the little DR-10L box on my belt.

The obvious consequential advantage to this is that I have two less devices that I need to power. Two less devices that I need to carry extra sets of backup batteries for. That means less batteries to charge, and less weight to carry. Speaking of batteries, not having to deal with things like phantom power, and superfluous hardware you’re not using, the DR-10L gets ridiculous battery life

Up to 15.5 hours on a single Lithium AAA battery, 10hrs on an Alkaline or 8 hours on Ni-MH rechargeables. My Tascam DR-100 gets nowhere near this.

tascam_dr10l_battery

For me, shooting mostly at remote locations that are a good walk from where we’re able to park, every gram of weight saved is invaluable. So, having to carry fewer devices, that require fewer batteries, and them lasting so long, is fantastic.

Tech Specs

  • Records 44.1/48Khz 16/24Bit WAV
  • Accepts up to 32GB microSD or microSDHC card
  • 3.5mm (1/8″) screwlock TRS headphone socket
  • Up to 15.5 hours of use on a single Lithium AAA battery (10hrs Alkaline, 8hrs Ni-MH)
  • Weighs only 63g (2.2oz) including battery, 51g (1.79oz) without
  • Records dual-level sound simultaneously to protect clipped audio
  • Lavalier microphone with clip & windshield included (1.6m cable length)
  • Low/Mid Low/Mid/High/High Plus input gain settings
  • USB2.0 high speed Micro-B socket (no need for separate card reader)

As you can’t really monitor the audio while recording, as you would when having a dedicated sound guy with a separate recorder, the DR-10L records its audio at two different levels. Along with the regular track, it records another at a lower volume.

This helps to ensure you don’t have issues with clipped audio. While the DR-10L does feature a built in limiter, they’re not always perfect, especially with very loud short bursts of sound. So, if you do run into clipping issues with the main track, you have a handy backup from which you can pull sound.

Recording your audio separately isn’t for everyone. If you’re a vlogger, for example, and you don’t want to have to sync separate video and audio in post, then something like the Rode VideoMic Pro might be just what you need. But, if you want to get the reliability and consistency that a lav can offer with minimal gear, this looks to be an ideal option. You will need to sync up in post, though.

Switching from wired lav mics and boomed shotgun mics to wireless lavs has made my life much easier. Wireless lav mics with a receiver going into the DR-100 is still the way I’ll go for some projects. I’ll also stick with boomed shotgun mics for some projects, too. But, for short personal videos and behind the scenes at photo shoots, I could easily see the DR-10L becoming my go to device for capturing my own voice.

One thing that would be nice feature for a future version, though, is if it had a pass through microphone output. That way, if you did ever need wireless, but still wanted to use the DR-10L as a backup recorder on the subject, you could go from the DR-10L to a regular belt pack transmitter.

Such a feature could become very handy when speaking at an event, for example, and you want to record your own voice, but still need to transmit to a main desk to mix with other audio or play over speakers. For now, I guess you’d just have to have two lavs mounted to your chest.

The Tascam DR-10L is available for preorder now at $169.99 and is expected to start shipping on November 1st.

What types of microphone do you use for video? What sorts of videos are you making with them? Is the DR-10L a suitable replacement for your existing wireless lav setups? Is the benefit of a quality sound recording worth the inconvenience of having go sync it up with you footage in post for what you shoot? Let us know what you think in the comments.

[via No Film School]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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10 responses to “Tascam are changing the way we record lavalier microphones with their new DR-10L belt recorder”

  1. Ignasi Jacob Avatar
    Ignasi Jacob

    Great idea.

  2. Renato Murakami Avatar
    Renato Murakami

    Dunno if I understood this correctly, but isn’t this twisting a whole lot of words to say this isn’t a lavalier digital wireless transmitter, but actually a simple field recorder?
    I mean, what’s the difference between this and Zoom H1 and others? At least as far as I’ve seen, Zoom H1 and others like Tascam’s own DR recorder series have been used to record lavalier audio separatedly.

    At least for me, the whole point of having wireless lavalier audio transmitters and receivers is exactly not having to sync in post… if syncing in post is not a problem, there’s a bunch of cheap field recorders that will do the job just fine.

    So, Tascam is changing nothing here. Just offering a field recorder without internal microphones designed specifically for lavaliers, yes? Or am I missing something?

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      The point of wireless lavs is not “no syncing”. If you’re going straight into the camera from your receiver (with any microphone), you’re still dealing with crappy in-camera pre-amps. You’re never going to get the best sound working like that.

      If you don’t understand a benefit for the way you work, then that’s fine. Not every piece of hardware that every company releases is going to benefit everybody. :)

      1. Renato Murakami Avatar
        Renato Murakami

        Ok, I understand that camera pre-amps can be crappy… you’ll throw the wireless receiver into an external recorder or a sound mixer with a cleaner pre-amp and whatever, use the internal mic as scratch or something.

        But I still don’t get how this product is changing the way we record lavalier microphones in a way it hasn’t been done before with other field recorders. What is it offering that is done differently? Why get something like this rather than a field recorder that offers a bit more flexibility with it’s own mics included? Form factor?

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          Ok, perhaps it’s not changing the way YOU are doing anything, but if you look beyond the headline, and read the rest of the article, I gave a number of advantages of this over current systems. :)

    2. David Peterson Avatar
      David Peterson

      Yes it is rather similar to the Zoom H1, but the Tascam has two key differences which are VERY important:
      a) safety track recording (super handy when the recorder is not easily accessible! Such as when it is on the talent instead…)
      b) the DR-10L is *designed* for this purpose! (such as locking 3.5mm jack and belt clip)

  3. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    JuicedLink already did this better – http://www.juicedlink.com/products/dar124-little-darling-distributed-audio-recorder-with-darlink

    Frankly, not being able to monitor sound and having to sync in post are two big strikes against this workflow. I’m not even a little bit interested. If this were a recorder AND a transmitter sure.

    1. Eric Bouwman Avatar
      Eric Bouwman

      Completely agree. I heard Zaxcom patented that and that is why this is what the can make… really sad that pattents are in the way of innovation. For me as a vlogger this device could really step it up for me. Having great audio where some of my camera’s like the G7Xmark2 doesn’t have an audio-input but really nice video. Syncing audio is so easy these days, that it doesn’t take up that much time..

  4. Eric Bouwman Avatar
    Eric Bouwman

    I would like to know what the big difference is between the DR-10CS and the DR-10L. And also heard that the DR-10CS doesn’t support audio bias higher then 2V. My DPA-lavelier called the discreet slim needs 5V to work..
    How is this with the DR-10L and should I be worried or looking for the juicedlink little darling instead? Can someone give me a little help there?

    1. David Peterson Avatar
      David Peterson

      The massive MASSIVE difference is the DR-10CS can’t be sold in the USA (due to legal issues), but the DR-10L can be.

      Personally I’d leap for the DR-10CS / 10L over the Juicedlink.