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• Front panel knobs for level, pan, and record arm controls.
• Quality built-in stereo condenser mics.
• 4-track recording with awesomely classic design.
The Tascam DP-004 ($149, street) is a straightforward digital 4-track machine without a lot of bells and whistles, and that’s its strength. First of all, the input and output level knobs, record “arm” buttons, and the pan knobs are right there on the front housing—no scrolling through tiny LCD menus or using “multi-function” buttons on this baby. (Yes, I said “knobs”—actual physical knobs.) This old-school approach still makes a ton of sense, frankly, as does the inclusion of front-panel transport buttons for RTZ (Return to Zero) and LRP (Last Recording Position). These are all very sensible controls for a songwriter to have in easy reach.
The DP-004 has no reverb or other effects, and no amp models or “jamming buddy” modes, so it’s not pretending to be the ideal guitar-on-the-go partner. But it’s a smart, simple and good-sounding little 4-track machine (for less than 150 bucks!) with an intuitive design, a streamlined workflow, line/guitar inputs, and an excellent built-in stereo condenser mic that’s optimized by a range of input sensitivity presets for recording a band, guitar, or vocals. It records in CD-quality 16-bit, 44.1 kHz audio, and allows you to bounce multiple tracks to a single track, even if that track is part of your bounce group. Tascam has been making 4-track machines since 1979, and it shows. It’s great to see that they still know how to focus on what they do best.