TASCAM DM BB-1000CD – typical price £499.00
(Reviewed by John Verity)
The BB-1000CD is built to record virtually anything anywhere with CD-quality and is able to play music or speech with many options. Thus, it is the ideal tool for any musician, music teacher, composer, choirmaster, school, or conference room. Portable recorders seem to get smaller these days, with pages of menu to go through and very few physical controls to get your hands on – until now, that is! A welcome return to a familiar format for the classroom / rehearsal room, the BB-1000CD from Tascam brings things up-to-date with a welcome addition to its portable recording units.
What’s in the box?
The BB-1000CD is basically a portable recording system which uses either blank CD or an SD card to record via built in microphones – 2 at the front of the unit and 2 at the rear. Recordings can be made using just the front microphones, or with all four – both pairs are configured in stereo. Playback is via the on-board sound system – 10 watts through 2 small, but relatively powerful speakers, and the unit is designed to easily transfer recordings from the SD card to CD making it simple to send learners away with a copy of their practice / rehearsal piece as a work-in-progress. The unit is mains or battery powered, making it truly portable, and has a number of connection options including line in and out on phono sockets, a headphone socket, and XLR microphone inputs (phantom powered) should you wish to use external microphones. All the main controls are found along the top edge of the unit and include a metronome, and speed and pitch controls designed to make practice / phrase-training so much easier. An infra-red remote control is supplied as standard.
I tested the BB-1000CD first of all in a band rehearsal where it proved invaluable to quickly review sections in order to decide on the effectiveness of arrangements. Placed in the centre of the room, the front and back microphones recorded efficiently, creating recordings where every part was easily distinguishable on playback. In a smaller rehearsal room I found it better to reduce the level of the rear microphones to lose some of the room ambience from the recording, placing the unit close to the performers to create a more intimate sound. The built in sound limiter helps to control dynamics in all situations, and proved useful yet not intrusive to the ear - sound quality in use was excellent... In both of these situations it was very useful to be able to give learners some feedback, then send them away with a CD of their work with a view to preparing for their next session. As a playback unit, the BB-100CD worked very well when used in class for a listening exercise – I was even able to slow down a piece without affecting pitch in order to illustrate a point with regard to a complicated passage.
I can envisage a number of situations where the BB-1000CD may prove to be an invaluable tool in the classroom, rehearsal space or even live performance in creating / delivering resources or collecting assessment evidence. The unit is truly portable and should prove durable enough for most situations – the integral slot used to carry the unit feels secure, and leaves the top surface free to house the important controls needed during day-to-day operation. Suited to a number of units at both Level 2 and Level 3 units – the most obvious being rehearsal and performance units though the unit should prove to be a go-to tool in many daily activities in class too. Highly recommended.