I've been using portable audio recording equipment for many years in the field and while none of the field recorders are perfect solutions for every recording task some recorders are more capable than others. The Portacapture X8 Is a viable solution for many audio recording enthusiasts and like other audio recorders, it too has its own set of shortcomings and benefits.
The 3000-meter view: TASCAM does an excellent job of designing a very eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing hand-held recorder with competitive recording capabilities.
Things TASCAM got right: visually and on paper the TASCAM Portacapture X8 turns heads with its bright easy to navigate menu system called "launcher" with built-in presets to suit several recording tasks such as ASMR, Live Events, Field, Instruments, and Pod Casting to name a few + you can even set up a few custom presets is you wish.
The responsive touchscreen is the second biggest selling point for this portable field recorder and I can see why it is - big, bright, and easy to navigate, with no complaints on the touch screen. The 32-bit recording option is the biggest draw and why many recordists like the TASCAM Portacapture X8. 32-bit float recording mode allows for the largest dynamic range to avoid clipping unexpected loud sounds but requires post-processing to adjust the levels using a supported 32-bit audio editor.
The other big selling point is the eight recording inputs with six being readily available from the menu. Four XLR/TRS, two A/B X/Y plug-in microphones on the top of the recorder, and two more line or mic inputs via 3.5mm inputs. As far as the audio inputs and the flexibility of the recorder go TASCAM has you covered.
When tethered to a PC with a USB Cable (not supplied) The recorder can be used as a microphone via the inputs or used to transfer audio files from the recorder when the USB is set to PC mode. I applaud Tascam for the ease of firmware updates without the need to remove the micro SD card. Also to note TASCAM has released firmware updates to address some of the issues of the earlier software bugs and startup times.
If you're a smartphone user you'll be pleased that this recorder can connect via its app to control almost all features when using the optional Bluetooth module.
In the Field Summary: Overall I am very pleased with this portable recorder and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future for its ease of use, portability, and ability to produce high-quality audio recordings.
What's not to like:
- The build quality - It is composed of all plastic and if dropped will most likely render the unit inoperable, especially the two X/Y microphones.
- The two included microphones seem flimsy and not well-matched to the recording capabilities of this recorder. Changing the mic configuration requires unscrewing the mics from the unit and turning them around which is kind of finicky rather than having articulating microphones that could be manipulated without unscrewing.
- No cage protection whatsoever for the microphones.
- No built-in battery charging capabilities.
- Poorly implemented Bluetooth module and is not included with the purchase price - When the Bluetooth module is installed it extends past the body and is not locked in place.
- The jog wheel control is not fully implemented for all menu features.
- When using the supplied microphones handling noise is very bad with this unit and requires handling isolation in the field.