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Tascam MX 24-24: Disk-Based 24-Track Recorder/Editor

An overriding trend in audio over the past decade has been that studio recorders keep getting better, faster and more affordable. In line with that trend,

An overriding trend in audio over the past decade has been that studio recorders keep getting better, faster and more affordable. In line with that trend, Tascam-building on the success of its DA-88 MDMs, DA-45HR 24-bit DAT and MM Series digital dubbers-now debuts the MX 24-24, a disk-based 24-bit/24-track recorder/editor priced at $3,999.

Housed in a stand-alone (no computer required!) four-rackspace chassis, the MX 24-24 includes an internal hard disk. However, rather than box the user into a particular backup/interchange format, Tascam has provided an empty front panel drive bay that accommodates any qualified 5.25-inch SCSI drive, DVD-RAM or a second HD. An additional rear panel SCSI port connects to external devices. The MX 24-24 supports Broadcast .WAV and Digidesign’s SDII file formats.

The MX 24-24 is designed for either project/commercial recording or post-production. And as with Tascam’s MMR-8 and MMR-16 digital dubbers, the MX 24-24 was created as a co-venture with synchronization leaders TimeLine, so it’s well-equipped in the sync department: The MX 24-24 incorporates MIDI and SMPTE read/write/chase, MIDI Machine Control and an optional synchronizer that supports sample-accurate MDM sync (Tascam and ADAT). The unit also offers Sony 9-pin control and BNC video sync in/out ports.

Aside from the dedicated editing function keys, the MX 24-24 is only slightly more complicated to use than a DA-88. A clever arrangement of triangular track select buttons makes track arming fast and easy, and there are record-ready and signal-present LEDs for each channel, in addition to bright, 16-step LED meters for the 24 channels. Four banks of status LEDs show sample rate, timecode, record mode or sync status at a glance, while a numeric keypad speeds the entry of locate points, take numbers, EDLs, etc. The transport keys (rwd/ffd/play/stop/record) are similar to those on other Tascam recorders and will be familiar to most users. Among the unit’s other transport functions are rehearse, autopunch and looping functions, and the MX 24-24 will perform pre/post-roll and offset controlled from SMPTE or MIDI sync sources.

A jog wheel offers audio scrub/locate functions. Surrounding the wheel-just a finger’s touch away-are eight function keys (Jog/Scrub mode, Data Up/Down, Nudge, Capture, Trim, Setup and MIDI) that enable users to define edit points and navigate menus quickly and easily. Editing functions include the usual cut/copy/paste, as well as insert editing, track slipping, and wipe/clear facilities. There is also a function that allows the user to cut a section while keeping later sections of that track in sync. Users can select nondestructive (up to 100 levels of undo) or destructive (tape-style) modes.

The MX 24-24 comes as a “core” unit, and optional 24-channel I/O cards tailor the system for user needs. Current card options include TDIF (three D25-sub ports), Alesis ADAT (six Lightpipe sockets), AES/EBU (three D25-sub connectors) digital cards and an analog card with six D25-sub connectors. The latter’s D25s are wired in the standard DA-88 format, with XLR or TRS fanout snakes available from numerous suppliers. AES/EBU and S/PDIF 2-channel digital I/O are routable to/from any stereo track pair. The rear panel also has a punch in/out footswitch jack, MIDI and word clock in/out/thru, TRS balanced timecode in/out/thru and an MX Bus port for attaching an optional full-function remote or cascading multiple MX 24-24 decks for up to 192 (8×24) tracks.

To sweeten its affordable $3,999 pricing, Tascam also includes Mac and Windows 95/98/NT control/editing software, bringing full-featured editing and control to the MX 24-24. The RJ-45 100 Base-T Fast Ethernet port also permits the downloading of upgrades from the Internet direct to the MX 24-24’s front panel SmartMedia(tm) removable card slot; users without computers can load upgrades simply by bringing their card to a local dealer. Updates already in the works include tempo mapping, MIDI clock generation and support for 12-track 24-bit/96kHz recording.

Tascam, 7733 Telegraph Road, Montebello, CA 90640; 323/726-0303; fax 323/727-7635;