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 Tascam CD-302

 Sid Vanderpool - ProAudio Review Magazine

With their history in audio spanning generations of professional studio applications it was surprising and refreshing to see Tascam, a major player in the music industry, move into the disc jockey market. Most companies entering the this market choose to start at the bottom and work their way up, but Tascam, drawing on forty years of technology and experience, chose to start at the top.

Tascam's CD-302 dual cd player gives the professional disc jockey  all the tools they have ever wanted at their fingertips. I could see by the design  that Tascam had done it's homework before going to production.

Out Of The Box
Out of the box the CD-302 consists of two pieces, the controller and the deck units. The controller is a little over eight inches high and is setup for that standard 19" rack mount. Vinyl jocks with a turntable coffin will be happy to know that the controller can be separated into two units and with the supplied legs attached, they sit at the same height as a 1200 MK2. The  deck unit is a standard three rack spaces and also will fit in a 19" rack. The CD-302 has a very road worthy case amounting to what I would say 75% of it's total weight.


Advanced beat matching control with large, automatic BPM meter

  • True instant start

  • ±32% tempo adjustment without changing pitch
  • ±32% pitch adjustment without changing tempo
  • On-board 10 second sampling on each unit
  • Turntable emulation with brake function and scratch play
  • 10 second shock RAM buffer
  • Seamless loop function
  • Incremental play function
  • Fader start function
  • Detachable remote control for each player
  • Separate RCA unbalanced outputs for each player

The controllers have a user friendly layout that even my wife's smaller hands could navigate. Scanning over the major control features, skip, search, cue, and play/pause are neatly placed in their own section to the left, a large jog knob is placed to the right of these buttons, and the 100mm pitch/tempo slider is to the far right. A bright florescent display for your main feedback dominates the top and a smaller display for BPMs is situated just under it to the left. Just below the key display is a layout of buttons for tempo sync, key sync, tap and BPM. In the first few minutes of operating the CD-302, I can tell by the feel that quality parts were used in it's production.

The CD-302 has a laundry list of features and from what I could tell, they are still being added (New Function V1.10 addendum). First off for the turntablist out there, click the scratch button and  you will find the job knob gives you some of the best sounding "scratches" you have heard from a cd player. The large weighty rubberized knob gives you a tactical feel as you move it back and forth reminiscent to a record being scratched.   This feature also gives you a tactical way to locate cue points. Click the brake and you get the equivalent of shutting off a turntable.  It might take some getting used to, but it could be the answer some diehard vinyl spinners are looking for. Pitch controls can sometimes be problematic on a cd player but Tascam has taken a new approach to pitch control with time-stretching. Time-stretching,  a feature that is mostly found on studio audio processors, gives you the ability to change the tempo of the music without changing the musical pitch or change the musical pitch without changing the tempo. All this without a loss of musical clarity.

The Mix
So you want to mix? It was as easy as using the on board tempo sync or tapping in the tempo by hand. Once a deck has the tempo  of two tracks, you can set either of the decks to be a slave and the CD-302 will automatically match the tempo and pitch of the slave deck to the master deck. If the tempos are on, it works very well. One click of the beat sync button and the CD-302 will do it's best to automatically line up the beats of the selected deck to the other deck. The manual states that you should be aware that sometimes the type of recorded material on one or both decks may mean it will take a long time to synchronize and sometimes synchronization might not be possible, but I never had a song it couldn't at least get a little close on. An excellent feature.

The sampling feature is up to par with the rest of this unit giving you a full 10 seconds of high-fidelity audio sampling. Complete with editable IN and OUT features, forward, reverse, tempo adjusted, key adjusted, looped, and not looped, it has the flavor of sampling to satisfy even the pickiest DJ.

We move on to the key pad located just above the jog knob. They are not there just for track selection. This pad you might say is the heart of the CD-302. You can adjust and personalize the CD-302 to suit your needs by using these keys and the jog knob. You may access and adjust a wide array of internal functions that include: voice reduction, braking time, auto cue, timer play, auto ready, output level, jog knob resolution, relay play, disc tray auto close, sleep mode, all of the special sampling functions and more.  These keys can also be turned into instant function keys. With the click of the clear and the enter key, the key pad is transformed on the fly to controls for the sampler, brake, blend, and voice reduce function. Just added with the V1.10 model, you may hold the clear key down and click the enter key a couple of times and the pad becomes a holder for up to 5 cue points. 

Other traditional features of the latest professional cd players are also included in the CD-302. Anti-shock memory of 10 seconds, viable percentage pitchs of 8%, 16%, and 32%, a time feature that is settable, and single play mode.      

Tascam has a beautiful new baby with the CD-302. It is packed with most every feature they could think of and more. It's sound quality is terrific and when I sat down with it, I felt as if I was test driving a  piece of high-end studio equipment. I believe the Tascam CD-302 dual cd player needs a new name. Instead of calling it a cd player, it needs to be called a digital audio control center.

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