Upgrading the DR-07 using ASC’s MD Report
March 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Last year, I switched to recording most of my podcast interviews on the Tascam DR-07 solid state recorder. It is a good device, and the built-in mic works well for short interviews, as does an XLR mic with an adapter. But adapter cables that fit the mini-jack input are fiddly and risk damaging the connection over time. And a second input, for longer interviews, would be very useful.
The obvious answer would be to upgrade to a recorder with dual XLR inputs, but that means spending quite a lot more, and losing the compactness of the DR-07. Plus I already have a four-channel machine for recording round tables and multi-guest podcasts.
The solution: a retrofit case for the DR-07 with XLR inputs, in the form of the MD Report. Canford, the audio suppliers, are selling off the remaining stock of these units, originally designed to convert consumer Minidisc recorders to something radio reporters could rely on in the field.
Connecting up the DR-07 to the MD report is very simple: attach the red cable to the line ln, the blue to the line out, and a mic to one of the XLRs. The DR-07’s long and thin shape makes it a tight fit, but fit it does.
Brief tests suggested that the line-level input on the DR-07 works best; the mic input tends to peak too much (there are no levels controls on the MD Report, you have to use the recorder’s own).
Also, as the mic in is on the top of the DR-07, and the line on the side, this arrangement makes for a better fit and a tidier cable arrangement. The only compromise is that to have the levels controls facing the user, the ‘head’ of the DR-07 is facing away from the XLRs. But as the MD Report is designed for over the shoulder use, this doesn’t really matter too much.
The audio results from the MD Report are very good indeed, even from low level mics such as my Sure VP64 (the advantage of such mics is good rejection of unwanted noise). Overall, recordings seem significantly better with the MD report than either using a directly connected XLR mic with the DR-07, or its own mics. Another plus is the full-sized headphone jack on the MD Report, and the small speaker for instant playback.
So far, the only modification I have made to the MD Report is to attach a cable tie to the input and output connectors, for neatness. The next stage, though, is to replace the power tip (although the MD Report puts out 6V power, and the Tascam wants 5V) and maybe to replace the mono XLR out, which is probably of limited use on a digital recorder, with a data interface. A Neutric USB connector should fit in place of the XLR out on the MD Report, allowing file transfer to a computer without unmounting the DR-07.
Having access to the MD Report’s large battery pack would be useful, but the system is beneficial even without the ability to power the recorder, as the unit and carry case provide good protection for the portable recorder. It also makes it rather easier to use for interviews on the move.
Almost any small solid state recorder (or even an iPod Touch, with a suitable adapter) will work in the MD Report. Allowing for cables, the ‘dock’ in the MD Report is 145mm x 95mm, although some recorders will suit better than others, because of their button arrangements.
Apparently Canford are not ordering any more MD Reports once current stocks have been sold, which seems a shame given how useful they are. It is certainly adding extra versatility to my already handy DR-07.
Full details of the MD Report are on Canford’s website here.
See my original review of the DR-07 here.