SD card buying hints

Discussion in '2488 and DP-24/32 Digital Portastudios' started by Sam Trenholme, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    Not all SD cards are equal. The Portastudio DP series, like a lot of small market devices, can be a little picky about which SD cards work and do not work with it (just be glad you aren’t trying to find a SD card for your Blackmagic movie camera)

    There are a number of different make and models of SD cards out there. Only some will work with the DP series of Portastudios without problem. SD cards tend to be designed to dump or read a lot of data at once (not both at the same time). The Portastudios, on the other hand, need to be able to read a moderate amount of data (up to 4.6 megabytes a second) while writing a moderate amount of data (up to 1.2 megabytes a second). Not all cards can handle this, even if they are rated, say, to write 10 megabytes a second.

    The only way we can see if a card works is via empirical testing. Tascam has a list of cards that work with the DP-32SD but the list only lists some models readily available in Japan.

    SanDisk is the most popular brand; it’s low cost but has high performance (other users have used Lexar or other brands without problem, but SanDisk has been the most widely used). Based on the experience of users here, the only SanDisk brand which will always work without issue is the Extreme Pro line of cards. In particular, there are no reported issues using a number of generations of 32gb (and no bigger) SanDisk Extreme Pro cards; people have recorded entire albums on 2016 or the more recent 2018 vintage of these cards without issue.

    So, get the latest 32gb SanDisk Extreme Pro card. Other brands, of course, will also work, but we know the SanDisk works.

    Read the rest of this post to understand my reasoning behind this choice for a DP Portastudio card.

    (And, no, I have no relationship to SanDisk except as a customer who hasn’t had issues with their cards)

    Use a 32 gigabyte card

    The first thing to remember is this: Do not attempt to use a 64gb, 128gb, or 256gb card with a DP-24SD/DP-32SD. The highest capacity which will work is 32gb, because anything bigger than 32gb uses a technology called SDXC which the DP line of Portastudios do not support. Yes, I know, Tascam does list a single 64gb card as being compatible with the DP-32SD, but both MJK and myself are convinced, based on our own testing with 64gb cards, that this is a typo.

    Card speeds: Theory and practice

    In theory a class 6 (or class 10) card is fast enough to record and play back 32 tracks of 24-bit 48 khz digital audio (4.6 megabytes second; class 6 can handle 6 mb/second and class 10 can handle 10 mb/second).

    In practice, SD speed ratings are designed for digital cameras, where we are not reading and writing at the same time, so a card rated to be able to write 10 megabytes a second (or read 45 megabytes or even 100 megabytes a second) may not work reading 3.5 megabytes a second while writing 1.2 megabytes a second (i.e. eight tracks at 24-bit 48khz while playing 24 24-bit 48khz tracks) at the same time.

    This in mind, the only way we can know if a given card works is via empirical testing. That’s undoubtedly how Tascam makes their compatibility chart: They put a card in; record 24 tracks, then try to recording eight more tracks while playing back 24 tracks, followed by playing back all 32 tracks at once.

    People usually buy SanDisk

    While Lexar, Samsung, and others make SD cards, most people buy SanDisk cards (since they tend to be cheaper with the same speed ratings), so that brand is what has been empirically tested the most by users here (but some users have had good results with Lexar, probably better results than with SanDisk).

    Understanding SanDisk’s line of cards

    SanDisk makes several tiers of SD cards. In ascending order of price and quality: Standard (blue cards), Ultra (silver cards), Ultra Plus (also silver), Extreme (gold), Extreme Plus (also gold), Extreme Pro (Black with gold letters), and finally the very expensive Extreme Pro UHS-II cards.

    SanDisk also makes white high endurance cards designed for dashcams and other security cameras, where there are more temperature extremes and write cycles than other use cases; I have not tested these, since SanDisk only announced a U3 high endurance card this year, and that card has not been released yet.

    Use the SanDisk Extreme Pro

    In our experience, and in the Tascam compatibility matrix, anything below Extreme Pro sometimes has problems. Extreme can (and in my case, has) worked if the capacity is higher, but MJK had an issue using an Extreme card in his DP-32.

    I have never had an issue with a older 2016 vintage SanDisk Extreme Pro U3 95 megabyte/second card, and I have recorded most of an entire album on it. I will frequently record four tracks at a time while playing up to 28 tracks at a time (four tracks: A stereo synthesizer and its reverb).

    In addition, I have just run a 30-second stress test with the current SDSDXXG-032G-### card (the one I link to at the top of this posting) and had no issues. I, over three passes, recorded 24 tracks of 30 second silence. I then went back and recorded another 8 tracks of 30 second silence while playing back the 24 tracks of silence. The DP-32SD did not report any read or write errors when running this test, which gives me confidence this card can handle a complex song without problem. This is a card I bought from B&H.

    Tascam has also never seen an issue with a SanDisk Extreme Pro card, so if going the SanDisk route, I suggest using an Extreme Pro or better. Considering that 32gb Extreme Pro cards are only $14 right now, and are big enough for an entire album (115 minutes if using all 32 tracks at once, more if making songs using fewer tracks — keep in mind that one needs some free space for Audio Depot exports), I don’t see any point in taking chances with more inexpensive cards. Likewise, I don’t see the point of getting the $60 UHS-II Extreme Pro card, since one is paying four times more when the more inexpensive $14 Extreme Pro card works fine.

    Be careful of counterfeits

    Another thing to keep in mind is to buy from a reputable dealer. There are a lot of sellers on eBay and what not who will sell a counterfeit card which will not work. This is why I usually post B&H links; while Amazon directly sells the current 32gb SanDisk Extreme Pro card (the counterfeit issues on Amazon usually come from third party sellers), the chance of getting a counterfeit when buying direct from B&H are next to nil.

    I will not buy a card from eBay, even though I could get the Extreme Pro for $12 instead of $14 there; there’s too much danger of getting a counterfeit card.

    Why 32gb may be going away in a few years

    When SanDisk updated their Extreme Pro line to have 170mb/second read (instead of 95 megabyte/second read) speed, they did not update the 32gb SDHC card. This indicates that SanDisk is no longer expending R&D on the 32gb capacity cards, which is probably the first sign of them phasing out and no longer making these cards. This is why I recommend getting four or five cards right now, while it’s still possible to get them brand new at a great price from a reputable dealer. (This is just speculation; maybe they froze this card simply because they don’t want to break compatibility, and consider 32GB a line where legacy compatibility is more important than trying to squeeze more speed out of the card)

    Indeed, reviews of the only 2gb pre-SDHC card B&H still sells indicate the quality of these older cards is going downhill (one guy ordered six and got two bad apples); SDHC cards will eventually decrease in quality as everything except Portastudios moves up to SDXC.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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  2. Tyros

    Tyros Member

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    Hi
    I have 3 SanDisk Extreme Pro 32 gb sd cards all from scan computers.
    None of them work .yes they format .yes they record.But try to Master with them and they just lock the machine when the Master Comp Is used.I dont think people are testing them enough.Cards need to be tested right through to a finished Song.
    This is not meant as a Rant and Rave,Just saying My cards Dont work.
    1 Full format
    2 Import Stems.
    3 Go through to sub Master....Mastering Light flashes.Adjust tracks Ect Ect.
    4 Go to full Master Mode ........Mastering Lght On no pulse.Make adjustments.
    5 Add Master Comp and thats when it all goes wrong.

    I am hoping it is still the sd card But maybe a hard ware fault now.

    Tyros.
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  3. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    Tyros, I've been using my DP-24 to record and master (including making extensive use of the Mastering Compressor) for over 6 years; and produce professional studio quality stereo masters, all within the DP-24 internal environment. I have at least 7 Extreme Pro cards, most being 32gb.

    In all that time I've never had an issue such as you describe with a SanDisk Extreme Pro, let alone with multiple Extreme Pro SD cards. Assuming you've purchased from a known reliable source and the cards aren't knockoffs, the odds of buying 1 defective Extreme Pro card are very small; the odds of 3 being defective are extremely remote.

    If your computer successfully full-formats the SD cards, and the DP successfully full-formats the SD cards, and you're successfully tracking and mixing, the issue likely is not the SD cards.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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  4. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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  5. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    Once I got the Extreme Pro, my Mastering woes disappeared.
  6. Tyros

    Tyros Member

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    Hi..........Sam
    Considering that you had the same issue when using a Samsung SD card, not to mention when using a Tascam-approved card, I do not think the issue is the SD card being used..........
    I agree and will phone Tec support and see if they have any idea what is happening or why its doing it.
    .......Once I got the Extreme Pro, my Mastering woes disappeared. MJK....

    Wish mine did. As this machine has not been very reliable since I bought it,its a shame because I like the tascam a lot...Sold a zoom 16 to get the tascam because I thought it would be a better unit but the near constant problems with Sd card compatibility despite getting Approved cards is becoming expensive .3 exteme pro cards did not come cheap ,and then after hours of formating copying importing and then trying to master on the 3 new cards has been frustrating to say the least.
    Sorry if my first post sounds whiny but im getting fed up of trying to get this machine to work
    instead of doing some music work.
    Hopfully Tec support can help.

    Thanks for the help guys.
    Sorry if anyone is upset by my first post
    it was not meant to annoy or bother.
    I like tascam stuff,Just not this machine
    I cant trust it to finish a project.

    Tyros.
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  7. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    @Tyros van you reproduce your error on video?

    Edit: Nevermind, I see you did that. I'll review it. Thanks.
  8. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    So far, we have not had anyone report an issue which was narrowed down to their use of a SanDisk Extreme Pro 32gb card (i.e. Someone puts in a SanDisk Extreme Pro card, sees an issue, but the issue goes away when they use another card). We have seen issues which happen while people use an Extreme Pro 32gb card, but the issue happened when they used other cards too.
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  9. Findlay

    Findlay Member

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    Thanks for all this valuable info Sam. I've not had any write errors on my DP-32sd yet but will get a few of the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards. I have had a few errors on my DP-008EX, which meant I lost a few takes.... Maybe I'm being daft but I wondered if anyone had any thoughts about the micro SD HC version of this card: SDSQXCG-032G-GN6MA Extreme Pro 32 GB? For some reason I prefer micro SD and would like to know if they are OK. I've been using the plain old Sandisk Ultra micro SD 32GB so far on the DP-32 with no problems.

    Attached Files:

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  10. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    The DP-008EX is a very different animal from the DP-32SD. Instead of using a standard FAT32 (FAT16 if the card is small enough) filesystem, it uses a special Tascam-specific filesystem to store the audio, and the big cards need multiple partitions, since the filesystem can not be larger than 8 gigabytes or so, and you need a FAT filesystem partition for the Audio Depot style exports.

    I have used SanDisk cards in a DP-008 without problem, but I never did a bunch of bounces and punch ins.
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  11. Findlay

    Findlay Member

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    Thanks Sam - I'm wondering if the Extreme Pro micro sd would be good for the DP-32sd or whether it is safer to stick to your tried and tested full size card?!
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  12. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    It would probably work, but it hasn’t been tested.
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  13. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    Interesting! Thanks for sharing and please let us know if the micro SD ever has an issue.
  14. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    @Findlay Let me ask for clarification here: When you had card errors in the DP-008EX, was the card a SanDisk “Ultra”, SanDisk “Extreme”, SanDisk “Extreme Pro”, or some other card? I always suggest the “Extreme Pro”, since there have been reported issues with the Ultra and Extreme (without Pro) lines from SanDisk (when used in a DP-32 Portastudio; all lines, including the Ultra, Extreme, and Extreme Pro appear compatible with the DP-008EX based on Tascam’s compatible media list, but always perform a full format to make sure the card is not defective).
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  15. Findlay

    Findlay Member

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    Hi Sam. I had the card errors on the DP-008EX and my older DP-008 with SanDisk "Ultra" cards and the plain blue cards. I've not used the "Extreme" and "Extreme Pro" cards before as I thought at the time they would be overkill in terms of write/read speed. The DP-008 and DP-008EX just seem to perform a quick format - would it help to give the cards a full format on the PC first? Another question - most of the advice on this forum seems to suggest transferring data from the DP-32sd using USB. I prefer to just take the card out to slot in my laptop - is there anything wrong with doing this?
  16. hilltopstudios

    hilltopstudios New Member

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    I've jut recently looked at the official approved card list for the DP-32. The Ultra Plus section lists the 8GB and the 16GB as OK but the 32GB as NG. I've been using the 32GB cars for a year now without a problem. I've never even seen the file error message.

    Might have something to do with my refusal to use the punch in/out option. Back when I was using tape I could never stand the sound of a punch. Sometimes there was a slight pop at the punch point or the sound of the instrument had slightly changed or even the technique of the playing was different. I figured if I flubbed a note I should redo it from the start - never mind the clock watching producers.

    I can still to this day listen to old albums and say "there was a punch-in".
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  17. Findlay

    Findlay Member

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    Thanks - maybe the punch-ins do cause problems. I think I was using the switch a bit too quickly for retakes the other day and should have waited for the swirling write signal to finish! I know what you mean about being able to hear punches. Sometimes I can't avoid them though as I am incapable of playing the entire song without messing up - especially when it comes to bass! Luckily bass punches seem easier to get away with. I almost always have to punch harmony vocals though - and live with the slight differences. I never seem to get any pops though with the digital recorder - and none of the slight delays you also get with tape>
  18. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    "Sometimes I can't avoid them though as I am incapable of playing the entire song without messing up"

    Yay. I'm not the only one!:D
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  19. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  20. Sam Trenholme

    Sam Trenholme Member

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    Here in the US, a basic (blue, ultra, etc.) SD card is between $5 and $10, regardless of capacity (anything cheaper than $5, and the shipping costs eclipse the cost of the card, so that’s the low end). A SanDisk Extreme Pro 32gb is $14. I do not think it’s worth saving $10 to risk one’s music, even if it’s a hobby which doesn’t make money.

    I would scan the card for errors; a full “surface” scan if possible. One way to scan it is to do a full format in the DP-32SD, followed by a format in the DP-008EX. Windows and MacOS probably have ways to scan a card too.

    We have had reports of the SD card reader in the DP-24(SD) and DP-32(SD) no longer working because of too many insertions and removals in and out of the slot. Using a USB mini B (not micro B; this is a different cable than the one your older Android phone or Roland Boutique uses) cable minimizes the wear on the SD card reader.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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