Tascam DP-03 Portastudio Review

Tascam DP-03 Portastudio Review

I love the term Portastudio. To me, it says lightweight, sturdy, and tailor-made for my spontaneous musical inspirations. The Tascam DP-03 Portastudio aims to meet the needs of the modern musician by offering simple, affordable, mobile recording technology.

Tascam DP-03 Portastudio With Power AdapterThe Tascam DP-03 Portastudio is an 8-track multitrack digital recorder that goes back to the days of faders and knobs for that old school studio feel. A step up from the DP-02, which recorded audio on its 40GB hard drive, the DP-03 records CD-quality music to the SD cards included with the recorder. It features a pair of built-in front panel condenser microphones, effects, mastering, and CD burning for the musician who can do it all himself and produce a finished product on the spot. Also included are ¼-inch line inputs, two phantom-powered XLR microphone preamps, and an instrument-level switch for recording guitar or bass without a direct box.

Tascam DP-03 Portastudio BackI like the setup of the Tascam DP-03 Portastudio mostly because of the accessibility and simplicity of the layout.  I much prefer knobs and faders to scrolling menus. Another thing I like about the DP-03 is the front panel microphones. For quick recordings, I usually carry a tiny mp3 player to capture ideas. I appreciate being able to turn this unit on and have it pick up my random musings, band rehearsals, live gigs, or whatever without having to load my computer or wait for my laptop to boot up.

The Portastudio’s Features Keep Coming!

Tascam DP-03 Portastudio SideI like the practicality of the Tascam DP-03 Portastudio. The tuner and metronome are easily accessible as the layout of the DP-03 are pretty good, much better than its predecessor, the DP-02, which was much less intuitive and required you to read the manual 100 times.  The multitrack DP-03 allows you to record two tracks at a time, quickly routing FX inputs to the tracks. Editing tracks is simple using commands like copy & paste, clone, silence, and undo.  Each track has its send to a stereo reverb processor.

You have the option to import audio into your DP-03 using a USB or CD (unlike the Zoom R16 with no Cd drive), and once you’re done recording, you can bounce all the tracks down to one or two tracks just in case you have more music to record but no more tracks to use.  Very cool. Once your mix is ready for mastering, you can record the entire song to a dedicated stereo master track.  Save your work on the SD card, burn it to a CD, and voila!  You’ve got a brand new song ready for the copyright office.

Extreme Bang-For-Buck

Tascam DP-03 Portastudio TopWhile I haven’t yet taken the opportunity to use the Tascam DP-03 Portastudio in live situations outside of the band’s rehearsal space, I like the ease of use for the multi-track recorder and it captures rehearsals pretty nicely with a balanced sound (because I realize it’s not Tascam’s fault my drummer plays too damn loud). It’s sturdy, which I like, and rugged.  Not the lightest piece of equipment  I own, but still very portable.

All in all, Tascam’s DP-03 is a far more convenient recording tool than anything else I own, based on its portability alone.  It’s well-made, practical, has excellent features and at under $500, it makes for an excellent investment. – John James

Tascam DP-03 Portastudio Resources:

Checkout the Portastudio In Action

Tascam DP-03 Storage and Backup

Editing Tracks With The Portastudio

Tascam Tracking Checklist For Overdubbing

Tascam DP-03 Features