Jun 21, 2010

Tascam HD-P2 stand-alone field recorder Review


Good sounding audio in the field is always a must-have for any production.  Thankfully digital technology has given us a wide range of acquisition devices that are far superior to their tape-based counterparts of just a few years ago for far less money.

The Tascam HDP2 is one of those devices that even when you look at it for the first time you know it's a professional piece of equipment right away.

Although it's price point of just under $1000 puts it squarely aimed at the pro audio market I've seen many student and amateur sound engineers with this device, and when asked their response was something along the lines of, "...it just works.".  And that's been the reputation for Tascam pro audio equipment for decades in all genres of professional audio.

The HDP2 does exactly what you'd expect a full-on pro field recorder to do:  It has built-in phantom power for it's 2 XLR mic inputs; a large, easy to read backlit LCD screen side-mounted for optimal viewing when in shoulder-slung bag; WORD CLOCK ins and outs; timestamp and SMPTE timecode; a jog-shuttle dial for quick file review and menu access; tri-level sync for HDTV applications; frame lock and a whole slew of other features.

But as with all things audio what matters is the quality of the sound captured by the device, and the HDP2 doesn't disappoint.  Connect a high-quality shot-gun or large diaphragm mic and what you get is natural, controlled sound matched with AGC options and a linear limiter that doesn't "pump" when activated.  The mic preamps provide predictable and natural sounding signals and lack the coloration found in lesser devices, some costing more than the HDP2 sells for.


The only niggle I found about the device is the case is plastic and has a typical plastic "feel" to it.  By contrast the smaller and much less expensive Sony PCM-D50 has a metal frame surrounding it's housing and feels like it, but neither of those things have anything to do with the unit's ability to capture sound.

For the money it's hard to beat the Tascam HDP2 both in audio quality and feature set, in fact I haven't found any other portable field recorder that sounded better or had more features - that didn't cost twice as much!  If you do a lot of on-location recording or plan to, this should definitely be in your selection of choices to test and preview.

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