|Interviews and user reviews|
Mizuo Miura, Kotaro Kosaka and Takuya Kato(MIXER'S LAB)
A conversation with three engineers at MIXERS LAB about the sound of the DA-3000 and the potentials of DSD
Cooperation : MIXER'S LAB
Mixer's Lab is a recording studio complex located at Azabu, Tokyo, established in 1979.
We had a discussion with three MIXERS LAB engineers in their Studio A, where a DA-3000 is being used for mixing. Mizuo Miura, Kotaro Kosaka and Takuya Kato gave us their impressions and opinions about the sound quality and usability of the DA-3000.
TEAC : To start, Mr. Miura, please tell us about your first impressions of the DA-3000.
Miura : When I am mixing, I often use a Prism Sound ADA-8XR AD-DA converter to output the sound once and then return that again to ProTools audio tracks. So, I compared the sound of the DA-3000. First of all, speaking frankly, my sense was that the sound was extremely natural. The impression I had was really close to the sound that I heard right after the master fader. There is probably the format difference because of DSD. When recording in WAV format, I can always hear that "bright" edge that digital has. With the DA-3000's DSD 5.6MHz high-sampling-rate stereo recording, however, I thought that the smooth sounds of voices and live instruments, in particular, were being reproduced naturally. I also felt that the range was really wide. Furthermore, not only are the high and low ends of the range extended, the mids are solid. For this reason, I thought that the vocals seemed to stand forward a step, and it sounded really nice.
TEAC : What did you think, Mr. Kosaka?
Kosaka : I used the DA-3000 as a mix master recorder as well as for two-channel piano recording. When I used it as a master recorder, I tried both recording PCM without conversion in ProTools and recording DSD with the DA-3000. The moment I did a listening comparison, I sensed that I could hear a great difference. The meters were moving the same way, of course, but I thought that the amount of data was making that difference. The sound gained a much wider sense of range without taking on any odd character or coloration. I was really surprised by its high quality. I felt this particularly when recording acoustic instruments. I have had opportunities to use TASCAM products in the past. As with these others, I thought that the unaffected natural sound of this unit could be relied on.
TEAC : When creating a recorder, the faithfulness to the original sound is the thing that we focus on the most. As a mastering engineer, what were your impressions, Mr. Kato?
Kato : I used a DAW that is capable of DSD authoring and the DA-3000 to do a listening comparison by playing back DSD files simultaneously. The DAW created a "sharp" impression, but the DA-3000 had a really analog sound. At any rate, it created a natural impression. Even during listening comparisons of PCM files, it did not seem to add any noticeable coloration, so it gave a good impression in the sense of being a DA converter. When using something for mastering, it is a problem if the sound changes into something that I did not intend when the time comes to record the sound at the final stage! (Laughs.) Well, of course, one way might be to prepare for such a change in advance, but I am happy when I can control the sound without having to deal with this kind of hassle.
Moreover, if one were to record the final mix using a DA-3000, and that file was played back and mastered on the DA-3000, I think the sound of the final mix could be re-created even better than when using a DAW on a computer.
TEAC : How was the usability when you actually tried operating it?
Kosaka : The operation was truly easy to understand. There was no need for the manual. Well, I barely looked at the manual and I was still able to use it without trouble. I thought, "If I press and hold this button, it will probably do this," and when I did that, it responded the way that I expected! (Laughs.) I like that I can operate it intuitively. Every TASCAM product gives me this impression.
Kato : I tried connecting a USB wireless keyboard and operating it that way. This was really great! I could use the cursor keys to operate the menus, and inputting titles was simple. Moreover, since playback and other operations could be conducted like in a DAW, it was really comfortable.
TEAC : The assignments are the same as used by Pro Tools, so I believe that people ought to be able to use it intuitively.
Kato : With devices that are operated entirely by jog dials, in situations where they are used to their fullest, as is the case with us engineers, there is the danger that changes over the years degrade effectiveness. When operation is inefficient, it can become quite stressful. I liked the wired remote control for past TASCAM products, but your making it possible to operate this product using a keyboard is really convenient.
TEAC : A major feature of the DA-3000 is that it can record in DSD. What do you think about the potential of DSD in the future?
Kato : At MIXERS LAB, we also manage audio sources. When we archive analog recordings from the past, we want "something that could be a substitute for the original." It needs to provide compatibility with every kind of format, so I think making archival copies using DSD could be very effective. In fact, when doing mastering and remastering work, various studios seem to already be preparing archival data with CD masters and DSD. The process will probably be to then convert this data to PCM or other new formats that are likely to appear in the future. Of course, the goals are also to "record good sound" and "create masters for SACDs," but I strongly feel that it has great potential as an archival format to save audio sources for future generations.
TEAC : By the way, how about the PCM?
Kosaka : Since the DSD was good, I still have not used it as a PCM DA converter. I would like to give it a try in the future.
Miura : I am the same way. I thought that using it for DSD was the only way to go! (Laughs.) Later, we should really do some listening comparisons. I do not find Pro Tools to be very attractive but I really like the quality of Prism Sound. The difference is noticeable with acoustic instruments and vocals in particular. I also use it during mixing.
TEAC : Did you end up with your current system after using a variety of DA converters?
Miura : Yes, that is the case. I also originally used to work on a large mixing console. Thanks to the total recall feature, though, I began using DAWs as well. However, one dilemma was the sound after the master fader and the sound after recording were different. I thought, "Why does it sound so different even though it is digital?" I thought that it was fundamentally supposed to be true to the original sound, but this difference is not on the level of something that can fixed using EQ or compression. Under these circumstances, I switched to Prism Sound for the DA converter. Even then, after trial and error sending the signal after the master fader to the pre-track by digital and by analog, I thought that sending it in analog was more musical in the end.
TEAC : So, you have gotten comfortable doing DA conversion and then AD conversion again to record.
Miura : Yes, that is right. I believe that I have kept the change down to the level that I can personally accept.
TEAC : Do you think that putting a DA-3000 into that system and trying recording in DSD was a good idea?
Miura : Yes, I do. Even when I tried listening to the sound directly through the unit before recording it to the SD card, it hardly changed at all. As I said before, singing, for example, seemed to stand out and this was good. I also tried listening to the sound after recording, and my impression changed a little bit. I think there is a change that is unavoidable when the sound is put on media, but it was acceptable.
TEAC : We have heard from other engineers that used the DA-3000, that there is even a sound difference between CF cards and SD cards. We would like to investigate this in the future. Do you have any "I want you to do more like this" request to us for the future?
Miura : Well, let us see. I want TASCAM to retain its good "flat sound creation", which is fundamentally solid. At the same time, though, I still have a feeling of wanting to hear sound with an original color. This way of thinking is probably different for mastering engineers. Recording engineers used to work with analog tape recorders, individually adjusting them to their liking with the intention of changing the sound in a good sense. Personally, I loved the combination of a half-inch Studer tape recorder with 3M 996 tape. I really liked it. I wonder if it might be more fun if there was a preset that could simulate the "change" of that sound. If you happen to be interested in this idea, I would be glad to help with the development! (Laughs.) I would be delighted if you considered this idea.
TEAC : That really is an interesting idea! I think it would be great if we could try something like that while carefully maintaining the fundamentals. I think it would actually come down to the selection of parts and how circuits are made, but it might be interesting if you could change various things with a single switch.
Thank you very much for your time today.
After this, as Mr. Miura had proposed, we conducted a listening comparison of sound sources used in actual production. Then, MIXERS LAB engineers and TEAC staff shared their opinions on many topics, allowing us to receive very valuable information about the needs of a real production facility that will help us in future product development. We hope everyone will have high expectation for future TASCAM products!
Nakamura(Mixer's Lab), Koizumi(TEAC), Miyamoto(TEAC), endov(TEAC), narita(TEAC), sato(TEAC),
Kosaka(Mixer's Lab) ,Miura(Mixer's Lab), Kato(Mixer's Lab)
Mizuo Miura is a senior recording engineer and the CEO at Mixer's Lab. He has recorded dozens of artists from both Japan and the world. He has received the Professional Music Recording Award of Japan several times.
Kotaro Kosaka is a chief recording engineer at LABrecorders (the recording studio conducted by Mixer's Lab). After graduating college, he started his career at Maruni Studio and WESTSIDE STUDIO in Tokyo, and he is now recording many artists at LABrecorders.
Takuya Kato is a mastering engineer at Mixer's Lab. He has been mastering various works recorded in Mixer's Lab since 2004.
"After much use, it is our opinion, that no product deserves an Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award more than the DA-3000. It is that good. I plan to buy two. One for the audiophile rack and one for the recording rig." Read the Review
|Books and magazines|
The DA-3000 was published on the SOUND DESIGNER which is a famous recording magazine in Japan. This article was written by interview to Mr. Masato Tobisawa who is a famous recording engineer in Japan.
This article was translated by TEAC, under license from Sound designer, inc.
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