Rick Allen’s music, sound effects, and sound design appears in films, radio, TV, games, and ads for Disney, American Express, the United Nations, MasterCard, Clorox, and Subway. He has earned gold and platinum records, Addy Awards, and Clio certificates. He has even designed virtual instruments.
Allen works hard but he has fun, too, and he loves field recording at least as much as he does studio work. To that end, he has three different TASCAM portable recorders: an HS-P82 8-track recorder, a DR-44WL 4-track handheld recorder with Wi-Fi, and the DR-680 portable 8-track field recorder, which offers up to 192 kHz recording.
“I need to collect raw material for my sound design work,” he explains, “and I also have studio applications. So I work at inside and outside locations, and TASCAM products are pretty darned good at helping me with both.”
Allen describes TASCAM field recorders as “hazardous duty equipment.” “They’re great when I’m going to blow up a car to record the explosion or record semi-automatic weapons fire,” he chuckles. “I don’t want to put a microphone at the target and run 300 feet of cable when I can put a TASCAM field recorder by the target and get the sound I want.”
The DR-44WL’s Wi-Fi remote control capability has proven to be a big advantage. “It’s great for nature recording,” Allen avers. “There was a cricket I wanted to record in my back yard; it was an awesome solo cricket. Every time I got close to him, he shut up. I finally found out where he was and stuck the DR-44WL in there. I walked away, and 15 minutes later he was chirping away. Since I could remote-control the recorder from my phone, I didn’t have to go back and hit record; I captured the sound while keeping my distance, and it saved me a lot of time and effort.”
“One time, on my Foley stage,” Allen recalls, “we had more than 300 empty Bacardi bottles we were going to smash and break. For that, we used the bigger TASCAM HS-P82 8-track portable recorder. The HS-P82’s mic preamps are very high quality; it’s very professional equipment. The Foley stage isn’t close to the digital workstation in the studio, so we ran multiple mics to the HS-P82 and recorded high-quality sound effects in a controlled location that was not a typical studio location.” We asked how those 300 Bacardi bottles got emptied but Allen wisely changed the subject.
Even though he has an extensive collection of high-end microphones, Allen employs far more affordable TASCAM condenser mics, as well. “We did a shootout with acoustic guitar using the TASCAM TM-80 condenser mic and a famous high-end mic, and the TM-80 blew us away,” he insists. “We also did a shootout with the TM-PC1 pencil condenser against a high-end mic, and holy cow. It was impressive. If I were a young producer starting a personal studio, I’d definitely go for TASCAM mics.”
Allen has used TASCAM mics in, as he puts it, “a lot of weird, crazy, fun situations. When you’re recording a high-SPL sound, like explosions, gunshots, or breaking glass, you don’t want to put high-end vintage studio mics at risk. The TASCAM mics are inexpensive, they deliver very high quality, and they can handle up to 136 dB, so they’re a great choice for that sort of work.”
“I remember we had an acetylene torch gas tank,” Allen reminisces, “and we had a guy cut it in half. The inside diameter of the tank happens to be the same size as a bowling ball. So we drilled a hole at the bottom for a fuse, put in black power and diesel fuel in a baggie, and dropped the bowling ball in there and lit it. It went about 300 feet in the air. We captured the explosion with the TASCAM mics, and it was beautiful. It’s another example of TASCAM’s hazardous duty equipment.”
In Allen’s business, one does not always get a second chance to capture a sound, so he needs gear he can count on. “You can take TASCAM gear anywhere and rely on it,” he confirms. “For every job and every level, TASCAM has the right tool.”