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Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us

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Dan Brockett
Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Mar 31, 2014 at 6:58:27 pm

I recently flew about 1,200 miles to shoot a high profile series of interviews for the digital promotion of a feature film. Used a couple of 5D MKIIIs, Tascam DR40 for audio. Begged studio for a sound mixer but they cheaped out and said no. Shot interviews with several subjects, checked playback, was monitoring with headphones as I shot. All of the audio for the interviews turned out great, except for the one main subject. His files are No 15 below. I am completely baffled how the recorder could have started a header for the files, but then just "not saved" the files? They show a different icon then the rest of the intact files that show the standard Apple iTunes icon. What makes it weirder is that all of the interviews before and after this subject recorded great, sound great. I have been shooting with the DR40 and sometimes the Zoom H4N for a couple of years, I have never seen this happen.

High quality Sandisk SDHC media was formatted in the recorder. The executive producer is understandably not happy about it, it makes me look bad and all we have now is the camera audio from the 5D MKIII, which is low quality to begin with. The camera was about six to seven feet from subject, room was fairly quiet with the exception of some HVAC that couldn't be heard on the Tascam mics (Countryman B6 lav and a an Audio Technica AT875R) but the camera mic, of course, picked it up nicely. The noise can be removed, but the reverb and room characteristics can't. Studio will either have to pony up bucks for me to go back or live with the crappy camera audio. Have any of you ever seen this happen where the recorder writes a header, captures the audio (I was monitoring with headphones) and I pushed record, adjusted levels a bit as we shot and hit stop, no different than any of the other clips. I am baffled, it makes me want to throw the DR40 into the trash, how can I trust it again for other shoots? Do you think it could have been a bad sector on the SD card or the recorder or?

I am going to take this up with Tascam. The damage is done. I know, cheap recprder, you get what you pay for, buy a Sound Devices, always use two recorders, etc. but any ideas on how or why this could have happened? It strikes me as incredibly unlikely since all of the files on the card are intact , recorded and played perfectly yet one set of files just "didn't record" yet left perfect header information? Murphys Law that the only file it did this to was the MAIN SUBJECT! I told the producers, "Get me a Sound Mixer for this shoot" and they wanted to but the studio was too cheap and now we are paying the price. Although to be fair, this could have happened with a sound mixer as well.

Advice or comments?

A Producer Who Is Also A DP? Yep, that's Me.

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Richard Crowley
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Apr 1, 2014 at 12:29:02 am

Granted, the whole audio path in a DSLR is rather less than mediocre. But AT LEAST feed the proper lav/shotgun audio INTO the DSLR and never use the 87-cent electret capsule in the camera body. That would have at least given you a running start at salvaging good-enough audio out of the DSLR audio track.

I would be surprised if you even get a response from Tascam. As a big corporation, they have undoubtedly insulated themselves very well from the slightest hint of liability.

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Bill Davis
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Apr 1, 2014 at 5:20:48 am
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Apr 1, 2014 at 5:34:22 am


Don't old out a LOT of hope, but have you tried to dupe the card, then run the original through one of the SD Card recovery programs out there? It will only work if the problem is a bad file header or something similar in terms of the card structure, but I HAVE successfully recovered "lost" files from both SD and CF cards that seemed to have disappeared.

There are free recovery products (Panasonic AVCCAM SD Card File Recovery is a good basic no cost place to start) - and commercial card recovery options. I've had luck with both. I actually HATE many of the commercial products since they often use a distribution model of download the "free" software - have it locate your files, then be forced to pay them around $100 for the actual unlocked recovery - and that "unlock" license often expires so you have to pay it AGAIN the next time you lose files - but if the files are as valuable as yours, it might be a reasonable option.

Good luck, friend.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Bill Bruner
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Apr 1, 2014 at 8:08:38 am

Sorry to hear about your challenge, Dan. I hope Bill's file recovery ideas work for you.

This is a little concerning, because I'm taking the DR-40 to NAB with me next week. I usually back up the Tascam by feeding line out into the camera with a $27 Sescom LN2MIC-TASDR100 line attenuating cable. After hearing your story, I'm going to be a lot more conscientious about ensuring that I get good sound on both tracks.

Good luck!

Hybrid Camera Revolution

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Ken Jones
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Apr 6, 2014 at 2:09:52 pm

I have seen this happen when a unit is powered down before the "Stop" button is pressed to finalize the file. Is it possible the DR-40 was powered off or the battery ran out before the file was closed? I shoot a ton of interviews and have learned the hard way to always close files every few minutes. I stop recording on my cameras (Nikon D800) as soon as the red battery light starts to flash. I once tried to wait for the subject to finish answering the question and he droned on for three more minutes until the battery died and we had to re-shoot the whole last 15 minutes of the interview. My client was not happy! Nowadays I use AC adapters on everything if I am shooting indoors.

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Paul Ekert
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Apr 26, 2014 at 7:44:59 am

Have to say the battery running out before the file has finished writing isn't something I considered, but I will do from now on!

Sympathies to the OP.

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Andrew Black
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on May 27, 2014 at 10:29:36 pm

Hi, I just joined the forum because I had the very same problem tonight with a Tascam DR5: recorded a 2&1/2 hr concert, recording led was on, everything seemed right. When I pressed stop, got the message "Can't save file" or something like that, waited a bit, then shut off the DR and got another error message. The file is supposedly there, but with zero bytes, no way to recover it. I am soooo angry. Actually this has happened me another time, but in that case the tascam fell during recording and shut off. This time all looked ok, batteries were just recharged. I'm trying some recovery software like Recuva, but to no avail.

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Brendan James
Re: Our Tascam DR-40 Really Hosed Us
on Aug 28, 2016 at 10:57:50 pm

Hi, logging in my first time to update those experiencing the same problem with the DR-40 and possibly other audio recorders. I was able to recover my audio from an EXTREMELY important interview after dropping my recorder at the end before pressing stop. The screen read "File Write Error - press enter" and I was left with 0kb files. I thought I was hosed.
Steps I took to recover my file:

1.) Download imageUSB.exe (

2.) Create image of the entire drive *bin file - for my 32gig drive this took about 30min

3.) Import the bin file in Audacity as raw data

4.) Settings I used for my Tascam DR-40 (recording at 24bit mono)

Encoding: Signed 24-Bit
Byte order: Little-endian
Channels: 1 (or whatever you recorded)
Start offset: 1 bytes (*important)

5.) I imported a small percentage of the file (2%) just to test the settings then changed it to 100%

6.) what you are basically getting is the full data dump from the audio recorder with everything on the card. Because I formatted the card before my last session my 58min interview was right there at the top of the 30gb file! Your audio might be burred in there somewhere.

7.) Select section you want to recover and export to a new wave file.

8.) pour yourself a drink

I hope this helps someone get out of a bind like I did! I was freaking out .. next time I will get an XLR Y and record a backup to one of the cameras just in case! phew!

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