Tascam Porta 07
Is there still room for a little old style analogue technology? Tascam offer evidence for the defence
Nicholas Rowland checks out the successor to the Porta 05, and gets the max from a mini
Despite what you may think, it's not so easy parting with good money for a budget multitracker these days. At least not quickly. Comparing the spec sheets of the half dozen or so machines which can be had for 400 notes or less is not something to be tried without the help of a couple of painkillers or a good stiff drink. At this price no single multitracker gives you everything: they all involve compromises. But they all compromise in different areas, making it hard to compare the various machines like for like.
However, the release of Tascam's new Porta 07 Ministudio might just help make your decision a bit easier. Here you have a 'studio in a box' which, without doubt, offers the best all-round package in its price bracket.
The 07 is the successor to the venerable Porta 05 - a machine which was deservedly popular due to its flexibility and ease of use. The Porta 07 has a broadly similar spec, with two important extras: double tape speed now comes as standard, while each mixer channel gets 2-band EQ (the Porta 05 only had EQ on the stereo buss). The 07 also looks a damn sight more stylish.
The bigger front panel is neater and the controls more logically grouped. It's just a shame that Tascam have stuck with those 'boiled sweet' knobs. While they may feel better than they look, I think they bring an unnecessary touch of Toytown to what is otherwise a smart, professional-looking unit.
Though the tape section offers you four tracks on playback, as with many budget multitrackers, you can only record on two tracks at a time. And while it's possible to use all four mixer inputs at once, only two of them will take both mic and line level signals. Otherwise all mixer channels are identically equipped with high/low EQ, Pan, Effects Send and Input Select controls.
There's only one auxiliary send, although there are two returns so you can make the most of those glorious stereo reverb algorithms or ping-pong delay patches. The two return phonos can also be pressed into service as extra inputs if necessary, with the added advantage of control over input volume via the Effects Return master. A stereo sub input provides another route into the mixer if you've got vast stacks of MIDI instruments to accommodate. Note though that whatever you plug into it will need its own level control.
For monitoring you can stick cans into the socket on the front panel and/or take an output from the stereo phonos on the back. Monitoring options include Remix (for bouncing down and mastering), Effect (for checking FX return levels) and Cue. This last one gives you a combination of what's coming in through the mixer and what's already on tape with four tape cue controls to set up a mix of the tracks on tape.
Visual monitoring is courtesy of four bar-graph meters which may look the business, but because they cover such a small range it is quite difficult to set up levels accurately.
Otherwise, the 07 package works very well. Recording quality is good thanks to the double tape speed, while the tried and trusted dbx noise reduction keeps the hiss at bay. This can be disabled for all four tracks or just for track 4 if you're using it to lay down a sync code. Track 4 possesses a dedicated socket for outputting code to sequencers etc; otherwise there are just stereo outs for the final mix.
Punching in and out, using either the front panel controls or the remote switch is virtually silent - not something that can be said for all budget (and even not so budget) models. Also unlike many rival machines, EQ can be applied at both recording and mixdown - a definite plus.
Overall, the Porta 07 is a well-conceived machine which has plenty of the classic features of the one-stop recording shop. It's easy to use (a fact that should endear it to first-timers), yet it's also versatile enough to grow along with the rest of the home studio. Not only that but its rugged good looks should impress your friends (...don't let them eat the knobs though).
By their very nature, multitrackers tend to have to work hard for their living, putting up with many unreasonable demands on their modest capabilities. The Porta 07 should have no trouble earning its keep.
|Ease of use||Beginners sign up here|
|Originality||Only the knobs|
|Value for money||Best in class|
|Star Quality||First among equals|
|Price||£349 inc VAT|
|More from||TEAC UK, (Contact Details)|
Review by Nicholas Rowland
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