Road Test: Tascam SS-R250N
by John Dinh.
John Dinh is the Director of Scene Change, Australia’s most awarded AV hire and production company. Scene Change has presences in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Hunter Valley, Melbourne and Sydney, and is also in-house in a number of venues. Scene Change has won the Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) National Award for Best Technical Production Service for the last six years, and were the first AV company to enter the MEA Awards Hall of Fame.
The Tascam SS-R250N is a 1U two-channel recorder/player for network applications. Its I/O includes analogue balanced and unbalanced, optional Dante interconnectivity, and microphone preamps with phantom power and ducking. Audio may be recorded to SD Card or USB stick and uploaded automatically to an FTP server. In addition, recording and playback can be controlled via SNTP, network control, the optional RC-SS150 remote control, or the free iOS/Android app.
- The Event List function contains an auto-play feature designed for audio files such as background music and announcements. The Event List can also be used to schedule recordings and file uploads.
- Dual SD memory card slots permit both Backup and Relay recording
- Automatic file closing process to avoid data loss if there is a sudden power loss during recording
- Link Playback function allows two units to operate in tandem
- XLR and RCA analogue I/O as well as AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital inputs/outputs
- RS-232C serial port with a D-sub15pin parallel connector
- Optional RC-SS150 control unit with Flash Play mode
- Playback and recording features similar to industry-standard SS-R200 / SS-CDR200
Scene Change has eight SS-R250Ns in stock, all mounted in what we call our corporate breakout racks. Each rack has an audio console, radio mics, and the recorder. They are normally out working on corporate events. We’ve relied on Tascam recorders for years, and we purchased the SS-R250Ns to update our stock to solid state recording, and take advantage of the optional Dante card.
While we could have decided to record audio on a laptop, the reason we decided not to is that you either have to dedicate a laptop for recording only, or take risks when someone then uses that laptop to do other things. That can create a pretty major point of failure. We feel it is far, far safer to have a dedicated hardware recording unit.
Performance of differing brands and sizes of SD cards and USB sticks can vary, so when we first got our SS-R250Ns we went through an extensive testing phase comparing different SD cards and USB drives. There’s so much variety in the market, and we didn’t know exactly what would work, and what wouldn’t. We found our solutions, stuck with them, and all recordings have been totally solid.
Our clients typically want their spoken word content recorded as an mp3 and handed to them on a USB stick at the end of the event. We typically set up a separate stereo record bus to feed the SS-R250N. We use both the analogue and Dante inputs for recording, depending on the gear we have on the job.
When we’re using our Yamaha CL3 or CL5 consoles, we connect via Dante. When it’s our Allen & Heath Qu Series mixers, we’re going in analogue.
Using the SS-R250N is extremely straightforward, with easily accessed front panel operation. All of our crew love them because of their simplicity. It’s even easy to name your track from the front panel. Despite us using the SS-R250Ns in live production, as opposed to install, we have managed to use the FTP server connectivity a couple of times. Both instances were for financial events that required all of the material to be uploaded immediately.
Like all other aspects of operating the SS-R250N, it was extremely easy to set-up. The files went straight to the client’s cloud with no mucking around or waiting. Another factor in our purchase was our relationship with the Tascam distributor, CMI Audio. We stock one of their flagship products, the Adamson S10 line array, and their sales team provide great service on both that and Tascam products. That relationship just makes things easier; I can order an SS-R250N today and have it in our warehouse tomorrow.
The SS-R250N is rock solid, simple, and reliable, and that’s why we have eight of them.
This article first appeared in CX Magazine August 2018 – print and online. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search our archive www.cxnetwork.com.au
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