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Microphone Month 2

Tascam DM-24 Review

What a great piece...

So I took the DM24 home to try and get her into my studio. The first thing I did was hook up the ADAT lightpipe from my Echo Mona to the DM24, adjust the I/O setting and brought it in on channels 9-16 so all the channels I planned to use would still be on the first bank. I just used a Reason file that had several elements in a 48bar loop, nothing too complicated but enough substance to work with. Oddly enough, I spent more time configuring the ASIO drivers and rebooting my computer (dude, you’ve got a Dell) than I did sorting out the DM24. I did a quick mix to get a feel for the EQ and dynamics. I was pleasantly surprised. The compressor added some bite to the drums and the EQ put some punch on the kick (I sent all drums out on a stereo channel to the mixer). I don’t know if I would say they are musical, but definitely usable, they really helped get the three bass sounds I was using on this jungle track into the pocket. I liked being able to rearrange the order of inserts on each channel as well.

Next I hooked up my Focusrite Twin Trak to the first analog input just to compare the preamps using my new AT4040 as the mic. Now you can probably guess that the Focusrite was easily the winner, but I will say that the pres in this board are really not too bad, in fact, I liked them better than the VLZ line. There’s an insert point before the converters so I just used the compressor on the Focusrite with the DM24 pre to good effect.

There’s nothing like waking up to a beatiful piece of gear. The next morning I hooked up an outboard effects unit to Aux 1 Send/Return to get an idea how involved external routing is. She’s easy to please, but it is a digital mixer with a few menus that took a little bit of scalp scratching to overcome. To be fair it was 8:45 on a Saturday morning when I was trying to sort that out so maybe it was just me. I had the option of pre or post fader, set it up prefader for some weird effects then decided to dig into the internal effects.

My favorite effect was easily the Tight Plate. I just wish I had some beautiful female vocals to tease with this. The Antares Mic Modeler was also a surprise. The 4040 wasn’t in the source mic list or the 4033 which would have been basically the same thing, so I used another AT mic. There are only two internal effects, so if I were working on a project I would probably send it right to tape, but I could see it being very useful. I found out after some manual scanning that there are downloads for other mics from the Tascam website. There were tons of other effects phasers, flangers, lots of good sounding reverbs, delays and more and TC and Antares did them so you know they sound good.

Moving on I wanted to figure out this whole automation enigma. I spent quite a while looking through menus and changing configurations on Reason. Finally I see MIDI signal on the input of Reason, but nothing really happening. Had I spent that time looking through the manual instead of menus I would have figured out that there was an OS download I had to do. Fine, I went to the Tascam website downloaded the files, read the how to. 45 minutes to do the upgrade over 6 or 8 different sysex dumps. Maybe I don’t care that much about automation for this demo. If I bought this piece I would do that lickety split along with any other downloads I could find.

While I was on the Tascam website I found a new Firewire expansion card that does 24 channels of I/O straight to the computer without the need for any audio interface. How great is that? Now Sweetwater hasn’t gotten any of these expansion cards from Tascam as of 03/24/04, but MSRP is $499. That’s all? 24 channels of I/O? I don’t know what those drivers are going to be like right out of the gates, but I’m sure the GSIF drivers will be sturdy and my guess is that’s what the hold up is since this card has been announced for a while. There are also analog, TDIF, ADAT and AES/EBU expansion cards with 2 expansion slots on the mixer.

What a great piece, built in effects, automation, time code generator (okay so you have to upgrade the OS for free), but in a digital environment using one or more computers with an assortment of analog gear I can’t think of a better solution. Take some of that load off your CPU and do the processing on the DM24, use it as a controller AND an interface. I’ve been locked in the attic for two days, I hope my wife doesn’t think I’m seeing another woman!

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