Audiophile recording and playback - Tascam DA-3000

Hi, some months ago I bought the Tascam DA-3000 recorder, having used a small Korg MR-1 for some years. I mainly record from my vinyl rig (Lyra Atlas – SME V – Hanss T30 – Aesthetix Io Eclipse – Einstein The Tube mk2).

I have found that even with the hassle of very big files (one LP = almost 3 GB), the dual speed DSD sound is superior to anything digital I have heard so far.

In my rig, analog blows digital out of the water, but this is the best candidate.

In a former thread, someone asked, is the Da-3000 ‘audiophile’ level. The answer is a clear yes.

This is the first digital recorder I have owned (after some DATs and others) that does not make me ashamed that my old analog and much-modded Revox A77 stands in my loft. Also, for some, the Tascam may be a good investment since its DAC may outperform the DAC you already have. I had a Stello DAC that went out the door.

However, some aspects of the Tascam are problematic, and others can probably be improved.

A first issue is connectivity and ease of use. It would be great if the Tascam could record to a hard disk, or at least play back from it. The manual says a hard disk can be connected through the USB port. I bought a Seagate Wireless Plus 1 TB hard disk to try. However, the Tascam won’t recognize it, even when I reformatted to Exfat (instead of NFTS). Perhaps it would be recognized if I reformatted to FAT32, but then I would not have any use of a big hard disk, the limit is 32 GB I think. So I am back to recording to my 32 GB Sandisk SD card, eight LPs or so, with hand written notes, what track is what title, and then carrying the card and paper to my main PC, naming folders and transferring the files. BTW this was very slow, 19 mbps, since my card reader was not USB 3 compliant, I changed, and now it is much better, 84 or so mbps.

The ideal would be to have the Tascam drive as a unit on my home network, this is why I bought the Seagate wireless, but as stated - no success so far.

Experiences with the Tascam (or similar), in this and other respects, are welcome.

Note that, the problems so far are minor, for me, compared to the benefits. The sound is usually much better than what I get from CDs or the web (excepting some SACDs). I can bring my analog rig around, so to speak, playing back on the Korg Mr-1 (or the Tascam itself, which is light weight and semi-movable). I think that DSD playback will become more easily available in the future. If Pono had included DSD, I would have bought one.
I have moved some steps further. I found a utility, fat32format.exe, that did the job – the usb-connected Seagate disk was now recognized by the Tascam. To be sure, I also did a Quick format on the Tascam. I am glad to report that disk size remained 930 GB, I was afraid the Tascam would take it down to 32. And the disk was still recognized when I plugged it back into my PC. Good news!

However, I could not quite make it work, in wireless mode – the disk insisted on coming up as a media unit, treated by the Windows media player, which does not recognize .dsf files or the like (as if DSD never happened).

Nevertheless, I now have a portable library of analog-sounding music, 250 albums or so with a 1 TB disk, that can be brought along with the Tascam or any other DSD-capable player that accepts an external USB-connected drive. Great. I don’t have to bring a little box of SD-cards, but can have it all in one place. Also, the disk works fine in USB 3 mode, files transfer at 105 mb/s - very good. Perhaps it is the battery inside - I don't need an external mains adaptor (which I hate, anywhere near my analog system), the disk works just fine connected just from the Tascam USB port.

However, I met a brick wall regarding recording to the hard disk. Whatever I tried, a message came up: “Format limit – cannot record”. As in George Harrison: It don’t come easy
Very interested in your progress on this. Want to record my vinyl to 2x DSD and was at first excited about this unit and just assumed since it has a USB port that it would also act as a DSD/PCM USB DAC and record directly to an external hard drive as well.

But... I wondered about the SD card and so I called them and they confirmed that it isn't a USB DAC at all. Bummer!!! Why not??? Maybe so as not to monopolize sales of their UD-501?

Well, they lost my patronage on that point and I decided to fence sit until something with better connectivity comes along.

But... It sounds like you do in fact have it working as a USB DAC directly from your hard drive?... How do you catalog 250 albums with the User Interface on the Tascam alone?... I was hoping to hook it up to a music server running J-River. Am I asking too much?... I've waited 30 years for digital to finally come of age and don't mind waiting a few more if this isn't ready to record and play DSD files directly to and from my computer based music server.


Hi Mark

>It sounds like you do in fact have it working as a USB DAC directly from your hard drive?

Yes. You can use it for playback from a large external drive formatted by Fat32format.exe. Although I have not (yet) managed to record to the drive, I can record to a SD (or CF) card, and then transfer to a PC.

>How do you catalog 250 albums with the User Interface on the Tascam alone?

I don’t. I just take note of what LP sides go to which dsf file. Then, when the SD card is full, I put it in my PC and transfer the files wherever I want them. I do all the folder naming and file tasks on the PC since the Tascam like all similar devices I have used is inferior in this regard.

I can use the Tascam is several modes:
1 Recording vinyl (or live music), just described.
2 As a standard DAC for playback of digital sources. I set Monitor on, and select between AES/EBU from my CD player and Spdif from my Logitech Touch.
3 As a semi-portable vinyl playback unit – bringing the drive along, I can playback ca 250 albums in 2x DSD format. Or live recordings, etc. This includes playback of LPs I borrowed and recorded.

So for me, the DA-3000 is a very good value, even if the DAC in the UD-501 is probably a bit better (and the Astell & Kern 240 more portable).

I have never used J-River. Since it seems to recognize .dsf files, it should work? I saw this debate:

Best of luck. Fully agree regarding digital coming of age. Should have happened long ago.
I looked at the Tascam and decided not to get it partially because of the small disk issue. I got a Korg MR-2000 instead. Unfortunately, they are only available used. I write to the internal drive on the Korg and then connect the Korg to a PC via usb to transfer the files to the PC. Like you, I find the digital version very close to the vinyl. I am waiting until I get a DSD DAC before doing all the conversions. I want to decide if I should do it in PCM or DSD. The advantage of PCM is the ease of declicking. As far as I know there is no inexpensive option to declick DSD. I originally was looking at a unit that connected directly to the PC through usb, but decided it was better to go directly to disk and avoid any timing issues with usb and the PC.

It sounds like you might be storing the whole side of a record as one file. If you want to turn that into tracks, you might want to look at Vinyl Studio. It works with DSD files and allows you to pretty easily separate individual tracks. It connects to an online database (can't remember which one) and offers your options to identify the recording and then imports the track titles. You can then separate into tracks, which is a manual process. But you do not have to type in all the track names. It takes a little getting used to, but I can now separate into tracks in 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the album. It also will declick your file, but requires you convert to PCM first. If declicking is of interest, you might try converting to 24/192 and declicking and then compare that to your 2x DSD. There is a free trial version of Vinyl Studio that has all the features, it just does not allow a declicked file to be output. The full version is only $29.

And, yes, J River does handle DSD files. It can also convert DSD to PCM and vice versa.
Thanks! I am on holiday now, and will take a look at the program later.
I've had the Korg MR-2000 and now the Tascam DA-3000. Both very good recorders, but I personally feel the Tascam is better, especially when it comes to digital processing. There are large SD and CF cards that are very fast too so transfer to a computer is easier. The Korg USB interface is rather outdated since it is not USB2.0 certified.

However, IMHO, both Korg and Tascam units need substantial hot-rodding in order to come close to vinyl (at least my vinyl). To my ears, the DA-3000 with all-linear power supplies, new clocking and transformer-coupled ADC input (no Op Amps) is the closest to vinyl when recording in DSD.

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev
Alex - the usb on the Korg is only used to transfer files. As long as it does that, and it does that fine, I don't see any issue with it being certified. To transfer files I just go into usb mode and move the files onto the PC with Explorer. Easier and cheaper than moving a card.

My Korg has the Busman input mods. I do not plan to use it for playback. I prefer to use J River for playback.

Comparing vinyl to digital, either PCM or DSD, is very dependent on the DAC. When comparing PCM to DSD people are usually comparing the characteristics of the DACs rather than the formats.
Dtc, sure, that is the case with the Korg, but compare to 100MB/s transfer via USB3.0 using CF or SD card that are linear powered.

I had done a very extensive work on the Korg before giving it up. This includes external linear power supply and ADC input stage, as well as other things. Still I prefer the Tascam.

I never used the Korg or the Tascam for playback. Monitoring was done through a digital interface directly to my DAC.

Sure, I agree. However, I've don't know of a PCM DAC that can perform as well as DSD.

Alex Peychev
I have a Korg MR-2000s and am waiting to see if Tascam markets a recorder with a DSD256/11.2 MHz converter with BNC digital input/output for DSD (supports SDIF-3, etc. and DSD-raw formats).

It would be interesting if the Mytek Manhattan DAC/Preamp offered SDIF-3, etc., DSD support.

Nice setup, O_holter, btw :-)
Alex - so a Schitt Loki is better than any PCM DAC :) I wish it were so. It would save us all a lot of money.

Even for a product like the Ayre, some people like the PCM better than the DSD. Different strokes for different folks. For example, I can hear a difference between PCM and DSD using the Korg as a DAC, but I would be hard pressed to say one is significantly better than the other.

Just to make things more interesting, as you know, most of the DSD DACs actually convert to a multi-bit format for final playback and some convert to PCM for playback.

Fun times.
Dtc, good points! :-)

After trying many PCM D/A conversion configurations, for me, DSD is closer to analog.

The DSD stream can actually be compared to analog, because even with a simple RC low pass filter it is already converted to analog. Don't try this with PCM. :-)

If I remember correct, the Korg has CS4398 DAC. Interesting experiment is feeding this DAC with PCM and then with same PCM information but previously converted to DSD. In both cases data is processed through the multi-level DSM, but, for some reason, DSD sounds superior. :-)

In my experience, most DAC chips (with the exception of those converting DSD to 176.4/24) sound better with DSD compared to PCM. It is probably the digital filtering involved. This is the reason why many current manufacturers use the DAC chips with external digital filter programmed to DSP or FPGA. Still, DSD sounds more analog to me. :-)

Fund times indeed.

First the good news. I brought the Tascam and harddisk along on holiday - as source in the Ming Da amp and Aurum Cantus speakers system at our cottage. It sounds great. Better than the Korg Mr1. Not surprising perhaps, but i am glad i can get such a large percent of the sound in the main system - in a very modest system like i have here. It is more open and layered than with the Mr1. Less sterile and cold than Sacd from my other source Oppo 981. Also, changing the driver tubes in the Ming Da to NOS Rca 12bh7 and 12ax7 has helped.
Dsd pcm debate - agree with both sides. Dac means a lot. But to my ears Dsd is better. Not heard top class pcm dacs though.
Happy listening!
Interesting news. There is a modded version of this Tascam available by Decware. I have 3 Decware amps and speakers. I'm very happy with their products. This Tascam might be worth checking out, as soon as I have the money.
A little update, regarding the DA-3000. All in all, in my situation, it does very well. The DAC is fairly good, not much worse than my former Stello, and in some respects better (so I sold the Stello). Mind you, I am not that much into digital anyway, since in my system, it is outperformed by the vinyl / analog source. So "fair enough" mid level DAC performance is good enough for me, and the DA-3000 used as DAC delivers that.

Also, it delivers recordings from analog - and it is this capacity that matters most for me. Especially now, when my Aesthetix Io Eclipse phono stage is in for repair. I can't play LPs but I can play the Tascam recordings of some of some of these LPs.

All in all, the recordings sound good, much better than web downloads, with the exception of some very good hi-res web downloads. Most of the problems I hear, reside in the source, not in the DA-3000. Although it is not quite the "direct" analog. There is a little extra digital "sheen", even with 2 x DSD speed recordings, especially in high dynamic parts of the music, but mainly, the recordings are much better than lower format digital recordings.

So the DA-3000 is maybe not quite a replacement for my old work horse, the Revox A-77, the analog tape recorder, but it is getting close...
Hi, any luck with the recording onto the hard disc?
Hi - an update from my side.

No, I cannot record directly to my external hard disc. But it mostly plays OK, used as a file library.

I have about 600GB of DSD files on my 2TB Seagate wireless plus external hard drive, cable-connected to the Tascam USB port. I am not sure, how much the disk can take, before the Tascam gets into trouble (too many files, out of filename space, or whatever) - but so far so good. I have had some problems though. Once, doing a huge 100 or so gigabyte copy from my pc to the Seagate, something went wrong, and Tascam would no longer recognize the disc, I had to reformat it.

But it mainly works fine and the only problem with this solution - as long as the disc and recorder cooperate - is a long starting time. The Tascam tape recorder icon starts to spin and keeps on spinning for 2-3 minutes for the Seagate disk.

On the other hand, the Tascam is then transformed into a formidable media player with a 300 album library at hand, so for me, this has been a great solution.

FWIW, I use a FAT32 formatted external 250GB SSD plugged into my DA-3000 USB port and it works fine.
O_holter, I was reading with interest your posts on connecting a Tascam DA-3000 to your Aesthetix Io. I am considering exactly the same configuration to start digitizing some of my vinyl.

As I recall, you have the Io with volume controls, correct? This is what I have in my system (but not the Eclipse, for which I envy you!).

Are you connecting the Tascam to the RCA or the BLR outputs? Are you experiencing any frequency balance problems due to impedance loading with both parallel outputs in use?

Glenn at Aesthetix told me he thought this would work as long as I’m willing to deal with managing the volume control setting. It looks like you’re actually doing it and it’s working for you. Are you still happy with the results you’re getting?
rushton, I have the Io also. I bought the a/d converter by Benchmark. I connect the Io into the Benchmark with rca interconnects and then use a digital coax cable to connect to the Tascam 3000. Its set up as a slave so it lets the Benchmark do the converting and then its passed through to the Tascam and puts it on the flash card. This does a better job than the Tascam alone. I record in 24/176 where both machines are set. I use the meters on the Tascam which are a lot better than the meters on the Benchmark for the recording level. I don't leave both outputs connected to the io at the same time when I'm recording. I think it sounds better this way. I attach a B & W portable speaker monitor connected to the output of the Tascam as my monitor instead of headphones.
Jwm, thank you for sharing how you're doing this! Since you're recording to PCM, I understand your preference for the Benchmark. I'm strongly considering going with double DSD for my recordings, so the DA-3000 makes sense for that based on what I'm reading.

I'm hoping to record while I'm listening and to have a recorder always connected for that purpose. So, I'm not surprised, but a bit disappointed, that you're hearing an improvement in sound quality by disconnecting the parallel cable to you amp when you're attaching the Benchmark. I see that Benchmark's analog input impedance (through it's XLR inputs) is 200k ohms. The DA-3000 is only 22k for the RCA inputs and 10k for the XLR inputs. This suggests that the Benchmark would be better isolated from the second parallel output on the Io, but it still is an audible degradation to have both connected. Too bad. :-(

Another question about the Benchmark... The specs show it as having only XLR analog inputs but you say you are connecting with RCA interconnects. Are you using an RCA-XLR adapter going into the Benchmark from the Io?
Yes cardas adaptors. I'm not impressed with dsd even 2x. 24/176 I feel is much better.