Tascam DR100 MkIII vs MkII – What’s Changed?

By August 23, 2019 August 25th, 2019 Audio, Reviews

INTRODUCTION

Although the DR100 MkIII is not a new product, it’s new to me so I felt it was worth making a video chatting about the differences between the DR100 MkII and the DR100 MkIII.

This video also takes a close up look around the product so if you’re interested in buying the DR100 and want a good idea of exactly how it looks, this is for you.

I’ve owned and used the MkII since 2012 so I’m able to compare the two side by side. After getting used the MkIII, these are the genuinely useful improvements over the earlier model.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. There are things that have been lost in this latest version too.

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DR100 MKIII IMPROVEMENTS

Let’s start with the good stuff.

  1. Much improved ADC noise levels (-109dB vs. -96dB on the MkII) should make this a true 24-bit recorder.
  2. Amphenol XLR sockets with TRS connections
  3. Digital record levels offering direct L/R channel matching
  4. Display with twice the vertical resolution.
  5. Support up to 192kHz with no special modes.
  6. Design improvement such as moving all buttons & switches off the back of the unit.
  7. Simpler and more robust battery flap for AA cells.
  8. 3 stage visual metering for both channels (-48, -6 & Peak)
  9. Line out & headphone output
  10. Improved headphone output level.
  11. XRI support.
  12. Recording tone (head or head & tail) option
  13. Faster cold startup means you can get recording quicker.
  14. Dual level recording ensures level protection.

DR100 MKIII DISAPPOINTMENTS

  1. Build quality is still excellent but the switches now rattle making this even more difficult to hold.
  2. On-board uni mics have shock mounts. They do nothing!
  3. Mic selection is now through menus. More messing about.
  4. Li-Ion battery is built-in. A point of failure with a consumable.
  5. Not possible to reduce record level to -∞ using the digital levels.
  6. No IR remote provided or supported (came in the box with the MkII).
  7. Mics are still fixed into an A/B config. This works for me but some may prefer X/Y for recording interviews etc.
  8. No multi-track support.
  9. No case or foam wind-filter supplied. You’ll need to buy that yourself.
  10. No improvement in USB transfer speed. Bigger files could really use at least USB 3 or USB C.

CONCLUSION

As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the DR100 MkIII. Tascam have not just gone for marketing winners (though there is a Hi-Res Audio sticker on the front so they’re still trying to win fools over with that one). They’ve made a real, measurable and practical improvement to design, function and performance.

The MkII is still a great recorder. Ken Rockwell tested it thoroughly some years ago and, technically speaking, it is vastly superior to the Zoom H4N. In reality, though, these are differences that you’re probably never going to hear. They just look good on paper.

Tascam DR100 MkIII on Tripod
Image: StudioLyd

To me, the upgrade is worthwhile just to get a clearer and more usable display on the darn thing. The digital levels are nice too, but not essential. It’s a brilliant recorded well worth the asking price but if you own the MkII, you might be better sticking with it as I’m not sure you’ll notice too much difference in real-life performance.

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