Tascam labels their new Portacapture X8 as a handheld recorder, although it might be helpful to consider it more as a content creation workstation. Tascam have included different recording modes (or apps, as Tascam calls them) so it can be used from field recording to podcasting with all these modes incredibly user friendly and easy to operate. This makes the X8 great for beginners to well-versed recordists.
The large touchscreen is the standout feature of the X8 – making operation a breeze. It’s not common to find large screens let alone touchscreens on portable recorders and typically they’re quite small requiring lots of menu diving.
Before we move on to the different modes on the X8 you’ll need to understand the two configurations the included microphones can be set to X-Y or A-B. Both are stereo patterns, although A-B produces a wider stereo field compared to the tighter X-Y configuration. The configuration you choose will be dependent on the type of recording you are making.
This mode is for recording Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR as it is commonly referred to. If you’ve seen videos of people whispering close to a microphone or eating close to a microphone, that is ASMR. It’s a very popular format of video as for some people it can be very relaxing and give them chills. The number of ASMR videos on YouTube reached 15+ million as of 2021.
The ASMR mode has a simple interface that allows healthy amounts of gain to be set easily and recording to be ready with the touch of a few buttons. Using the stereo microphones in the A-B configuration will produce a more immersive ASMR recording.
Music mode is for recording instruments, either solo or as a part of an ensemble of instruments. It has presets for dynamic control over different types of instruments such as piano, acoustic guitar, vocal, wind, stringed and band. This allows musicians to get a better recording with the X8 right away. Music mode also gives easy access to the X8’s reverb with different presets, such as a large hall, room, studio and two different plate reverbs.
Both A-B and X-Y configurations would be good for this, depending on what and where you are recording. For example, when recording an ensemble that is spread out in front of the recorder we recommend the A-B configuration as it will capture a wider perspective in front of the recorder. For a single instrument, we recommend the X-Y, as it will capture the instrument in a tighter stereo field.
If other microphones are on hand you can also use those in lieu of the built-in mics and use them as you wish. To do this, simply access the input settings via the menu button and change the inputs as you need.
This mode is great for voice memos, vlogs and vocalists who want to quickly record song ideas without a computer or complex recording set-up. It has a quick and easy set-up, similar to the ASMR mode however it records in mono. The X-Y would be the best configuration for this mode as it will capture a tighter recording.
Field mode is designed for field recordings. Like music mode, it has dynamic control presets for different environments, such as city, nature, vehicle and birds, as well as a low-cut filter and two different gain settings for loud and quiet environments. Either X-Y or A-B can work for this application. A-B for capturing whole environments and ambience, X-Y for recording individual things within a soundscape.
The optional accessory kit is ideal for field recording as it comes with a windsock for the stereo microphones. The windsock will help reduce wind noise and produce cleaner recordings.
This mode is geared towards recording podcasts of up to 4 people. There are 2 sound pads that have preloaded sounds as well as the ability to use custom samples. There are also different play modes for the sound pads (latch, replay, repeat and more) for added expression. Two microphones can be connected alongside the built-in microphones for when you have extra guests to record at the same time.
If there is only one person in front of the built-in microphones the X-Y configuration would be best. If there are 2 people, A-B will produce a more consistent recording of the two voices.
Manual mode is for experienced sound recordists who want to be able to have total control over all the X8’s inputs and processing with easy access via three sections.
Tascam have really evolved the portable recorder with the Portacapture X8. They have significantly redesigned the user interface and the 32-bit recording capability extends the dynamic range making the X8 a foolproof hi-res portable recorder. The recording modes make it easy for those who are new to portable recorders, whilst the manual mode provides experienced users access to customise all the processing power the X8 has to offer. Throw in a large touch screen and the ability to work as a multitrack interface and you’ve got a high-spec portable content creation station and a new benchmark for portable recorders.
Features and Specs
– Up to 192 kHz/32-bit floating-point
– Optional Bluetooth dongle for phone app connectivity
– 8 in/2 out interface
– Metronome and tuner function
– input jacks can be routed to different inputs (if you want to record in the music app with your own mics for example)
– AA battery, PSU or Bus powered
– Line output can be attenuated by 30 dB to reduce the chance of clipping when recording to camera|
– 4 band EQ (2 bands fully parametric)
– Limiter, gate, compressor and phase invert
– Dual record mode
– Punch I/O
– Automatic marking for peaks, SD card write error for example
– Mid/side decoding
The Tascam Portacapture X8 is distributed by CMI Music & Audio in Australia: