June 1, 2006
HD-P2 Review
by Micah Bloomberg

Tascamís new flash card recorder, the HD-P2, is a lightweight, inexpensive option for mixers looking to add a recorder to their kit. Its design structure is similar to Fostexís FR-2: a digital, stereo flashcard recorder with an LCD screen, line and mic inputs, and the capability to interface with a computer as an external hard drive. Both machines work best when coupled with a mixer, as both lack discreet input phantom powering, and the Tascam takes line input only in its RCA inputs, not its XLRís. Running a wireless/boom combination would be impossible with either machine without a mixer and preamplification, particularly with the FR-2, can be weak.

Plugging directly into the Tascamís XLR inputs with a Sennheiser 416, I found them quieter than the FR-2ís and also got a healthier signal. The FR-2ís XLR inputs can buzz and pop when the machine is on with levels up but with one or both of the inputs empty. I couldnít recreate that problem on the Tascam. The menu navigation also struck me as more intuitive and the LCD screen easier to read; however, fans of the FR-2ís shuttle and press knob may find the Tascamís multi-button selection, mounted on the top panel as apposed to next to the screen, frustrating.

The most important thing to know about the Tascam is that it doesnít generate its own time-code, and cannot be upgraded to do so. It relies on external sync sources, like Deneckeís SBT tri-level sync box, which I used while recording. The Tascam will free run once itís been jammed, allowing you to unplug the sync box, jam a slate, or, on some video cameras, attach the box so it feeds tri-level synch directly onto the tape. The HD-P2ís low cost makes buying the box about equal to upgrading an FR-2 to time-code capability. I didnít find generating the time-code this way any more complicated than setting it on the machine, and with the SB-T box, I had a mobile source of time code that could serve a number of purposes.

I had to restart the computer while trying to download the files from the Tascamís FireWire port because the computer didnít recognize the drive. After that it went smoothly.

The release of Sound Devicesí 702T flash card recorder will put the Tascamís time-code setup and stripped down input structure to the test. The Sound Devices machine has mic/line switchable XLR inputs, internal timecode, and is housed in the same compact structure that the 744T and 722 are. However, even with the purchase of an SBT box, the Tascam set-up is cheaper than the Sound Devices and some may find the mobile, detachable source of timecode to be a more attractive option.


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