Described as an “all in one instrument trainer” the Tascam LR-10 is very compact and offers a host of features useful for someone learning the saxophone. However this little gismo goes beyond just being a learning tool.
In this review I’ll take you through how it can help both someone learning the saxophone, and the solo player using backing tracks.
I’ve owned an LR-10 for nearly a year now. However I own a number of MP3 players, so why buy another? To be honest, it was just one feature that sold me on it.
With the LR-10 you can simply ask it to play one track and stop. This sounds like an obvious feature but most other players will repeat one song or repeat all songs, but not play one song and stop.
You may be wondering why this is such a good feature? Why can’t you simply hit the pause or stop button?
Imagine that you’re playing with your band and you’ve just finished the first number. Before you’re ready, the guys start the next song. If you are using sheet music then this can be a slight inconvenience as you sort through the paperwork on the stand.
However, if you happen to be a solo performer using backing tracks this can be a real issue. The last thing you want is to have to dive for the “stop” button after each track so your MP3 player doesn’t run onto the next song.
Now you all know why I bought one! Let’s look at it’s other features.
For the student…
It’s a well-known fact that pushing the limits of your own ability is what helps you progress faster. Having said that, on occasions your current ability just doesn’t come up to scratch.
You know what I mean – you are learning a new song with a backing track and there’s this one little bit that you just can’t play quick enough. Or maybe the whole song is too fast for you. What are you going to do.
Option one: Leave it for six months and hope you’ve improved enough.
Option two: Slow it down a little so that you can keep up.
Option two is obviously the way to go and this is where the LR-10 comes in handy. Normal speed is shown as x1.0 but you can slow a track down to x0.5 (half speed) or increase it to x1.5. All this is done without affecting the song key making it a very useful feature.
You can take this one step further with the loop feature which lets you work on one part of a track without having to play through the whole song. Just hit the “Loop” button when you reach the part of a track you want to work on. This sets the “in” marker. Hitting “Loop” again marks the “out’ point.
The LR-10 will now keep repeating the loop between the “in” and “out” points you have selected. Just press the “Loop” button one more time and the LR-10 will continue playing the rest of the track.
You can combine both the “speed” and “loop” features to produce a loop that is at a speed you can keep up with.
Another handy feature for the student is the LR-10’s ability to record using the inbuilt stereo mics. You can also add various effects such as reverb etc.
The LR-10 doesn’t let you mix both your sax playing and backing track on board, but this can be achieved by using the line out socket to another recording device. You can however listen through headphones to yourself playing with the track directly from the device.
For The Musician
If you are a solo player then you can carry all your backing tracks with you in one handy unit. Songs are organised into folders much like on a PC, and you simply scroll down to find what you want. You can transfer your tracks to the LR-10 with the USB cable provided and there is also a pedal available that can be used both for recording and playing songs.
“You can combine both the “speed” and “loop” features to produce a loop that is at a speed you can keep up with.”
So with the LR-10 It’s as simple as that – an MP3 player with lots of effects and features making it useful for the sax player on the road. 2 x AA batteries give the unit plenty of life or it can be powered by an AC adaptor.
The only minus mark I would give it is for the screen which doesn’t have a back light. This is a real pain if you are in a low light room but I got around this by using a music stand light.
All in all though, this is one of the best little gadgets I’ve bought and it is my go-to device for all my backing tracks.
About the author:
Ian Sim is a keen saxophonist, performer and self confessed gear junkie!