Equipment Catalog

Tascam DR-680 Solid-State Digital Multitrack Audio Recorder

The Tascam DR-680 records in a variety of audio file formats and fidelities — the highest-quality being 24-bit 192kHz uncompressed linear PCM stereo audio — and uses SDHC Cards as its storage medium, allowing for faster media acquisition via direct file-transfer to any computer, using the USB 2.0 file-transfer protocol. The audio files can be imported to any NLE system, such as the Department’s Final Cut Pro, iLife, or Logic software suites.

The Tascam DR-680 connects to audio equipment via balanced XLR, balanced TRS, or AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital audio inputs. The balanced audio inputs all support +48V Phantom-Power as stereo-paired inputs. Additionally, the DR-680 can also output 4 stereo tracks — 3 unbalanced stereo-RCA, and 1 digital stereo.

The Tascam DR-680’s bundled kit permits a maximum allowable recording time of 1 hour and 55 minutes at its highest recording fidelity.

Tascam DR-680 Audio Kit

The F&DM Equipment Checkout Lab releases the Tascam DR-680 Solid-State Digital Multitrack Audio Recorder in an Audio Kit package.

This package includes:

  • 8GB SDHC Class 6 Memory Card
  • PS-1225L AC Adaptor
  • UC-207 AC Cable
  • NiMH AA Batteries (16)
  • Battery Rapid-Charger
  • Mini-USB to USB-A Cable
  • Shoulder Strap
  • XLR Cables (2)
  • Manual
  • 1/4″ Stereo Adapter

NOTE: This audio kit does not come with an external microphone included! Production students are expected to reserve specialty and/or advanced external microphones separately, to be used in concert with the Tascam DR-680 Audio Kit.

Technical Specifications and Settings

The DR-680 is designed for the following audio connections:

  • Balanced microphone-level input, with Phantom-power (+48V) option — 6 mono or 3 stereo-pair L/R XLR input
  • Balanced microphone-level input, with Phantom-power (+48V) option — 2 mono or 1 stereo-pair L/R TRS input
  • Digital-audio input — 2 mono or 1 stereo-pair RCA S/PDIF

By default, all DR-680 recorders are set to record in the highest fidelity setting:2-track stereo PCM Linear Audio, .WAV format, 24-Bit 192-kHz. To engage the multitrack features, the device will have to be configured to a lower recording fidelity, as the multitrack capabilities do not support 192 kHz sampling frequency. The highest fidelity configurations possible are 24-bit 96 kHz PCM Linear BWF or .WAV recording.

External configuration settings include:

  • Line/Mic Level Switches, with independent control for analog input channels 1 through 6
  • Phantom Switch, turning the Phantom-power (+48V) option on or off for paired channels 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6.
  • Mic Gain Switches, with High/Low settings for pre-trim sensitivity adjustments
  • Multi/Stereo Button, for quick toggling between the stereo- and multitrack-recording settings
  • Track Select Buttons, for quick track selection navigation

Many of automated features of the DR-680 are accessible only through the menu system.

For more details covering the various settings, please refer to the User Guide.

Channel and Connection Settings:

The DR-680 allows a variety of different input settings, depending on the recording mode. This is particularly true as it concerns the sampling frequency and bit-width. If the combinations of settings are not properly taken into account, the user’s recording may wind up with unintended and undesirable results.

In summary there are four settings parameters to be mindful of when configuring the DR-680 for recording:

  • SAMPLING FREQUENCY and BIT-WIDTH: The resolution settings not only affect the quality of the recording, but also dictate what other settings may or may not be accessible to the user. It is particularly important to note that the DR-680 does not allow multitrack recording at its highest quality settings. The highest quality available for multitrack recording is 96 kHZ 24-Bit in either BWF or .WAV uncompressed PCM Linear audio. Users who wish to incorporate both stereo and multitrack audio recordings in the same project should take this limitation into consideration when planning their recording sessions.
  • PHANTOM-POWER CONTROL: The Phantom-Power option is controlled in pairs of inputs — not independently for each separate channel. Meaning, if you activate Phantom-Power for analog Input 1, it also activates Phantom-Power for Input 2 — and Input 3 with 4, and Input 5 with 6. As such, users should take care to properly relegate microphones of mixed power-type to inputs with the appropriate power-settings — avoiding over-powering or under-powering microphones by overlooking this pairing of the Phantom-Power control.
  • MIX LEVEL versus MIX TRIM: It is important to distinguish between an input’s Mix Level and its Trim Level. In multitrack mode, users can dictate these two levels independently from one another, and should take care not to confuse the two. It should be remembered that the Trim Level controls the signal level coming in from the input, whereas the Mix Level controls the output level, to both the monitor and the Line Out outputs. This may seem redundant, but it allows uses to use the DR-680 as mixing device.
  • STEREO versus MULTITRACK MODE: If set to an allowable sampling frequency, the DR-680 can quickly alternate between the two modes. However, it is important to note that the input channels will behave very differently in some respects, between these two modes. In Stereo Mode, the paired inputs will function as Stereo Left and Right inputs. In Multitrack Mode, the inputs will become discrete channels that can be panned between stereo left and right. When switching between these two modes, users should take care to understand how these stereo-assignments change accordingly.

By default, all DR-680 recorders are set to record in Stereo Mode. Users wishing to avail of Multitrack Mode will need to reconfigure the device accordingly.

Other Details

The Phantom-power option (+48V) for the XLR connectors should only be used for such type microphones. Engaging the Phantom-power option in conjunction with a battery-powered microphone may have particularly harmful effects, such as permanent damage to the connector due to voltage overload. Users should take care to confirm that the proper settings correspond with the microphones they are using accordingly. It is also recommended that the Phantom-power be switched off before connecting or disconnecting a Phantom-powered microphone from the audio recorder, so as to prevent any potential damage from voltage spikes and drops.

Additional Resources:

Access, Instruction, and Support

The Tascam DR-680 Solid-State Digital Multitrack Audio Recorder is provided for F&DM production students upon enrollment in one of the F&DM Department's production courses.

Access to the Tascam DR-680 Solid-State Digital Multitrack Audio Recorder, like all of the department's A/V production equipment, is mediated through the Equipment Checkout Lab in accordance with course allocation assignments, and granted on an individual basis upon meeting specific criteria.

Any and all problems experienced with the Tascam DR-680 Solid-State Digital Multitrack Audio Recorder should be reported to the Equipment Checkout Lab Specialist immediately; do not wait until returning the equipment to notify the Lab Specialist or Lab staff (See: Statement of Policies).