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Best Cheap Portable Digital Recorder Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 23rd March 2010
  #1
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Imadrumer's Avatar
 

Best Cheap Portable Digital Recorder

I'm looking for a portable recorder with the best sound quality between $100 and $200.

Can anyone make a recommendation?

I would like to use it for recording classes, band practices, and maybe samples.

I've seen a few in this price range:

TASCAM DR-07

Yamaha Pocketrak 2G

M-Audio MicroTrack II

TASCAM DR-1

Alesis ProTrack

Line 6 BackTrack


TASCAM DR-08

Sony ICD-SX700

Yamaha POCKETRAK CX

iKEY Audio HDR-7

Last edited by Imadrumer; 23rd March 2010 at 03:30 PM.. Reason: format
Old 23rd March 2010
  #2
Gear Head
 

check the zoom models out..get the best deal possible and you will have a good bang for bucks dig recorder..
Old 23rd March 2010
  #3
Lives for gear
 

the zoom h2 is great for using the built in mics or the line in. But if you want to make use of the mic input, don't get it - the mic preamps are bad.

The microtrack is very good but you'll need to then plug in your own mics.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #4
Gear Head
 
scaryonly's Avatar
 

although i have never used one, the Zoom R16 looks interesting. 8 simultaneous tracks for $399 and you can link two for 16 tracks. All the audio is saved to a SD memory card so you can dump it to your computer from what I understand.

looks like it could be fun, but then again ive not used it so i dont know if it sucks to use or not or the sound quality.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #5
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fader48's Avatar
 

the Edirol R-09 is the BEST.

I've owned the Tascam DR-1 and the Boss Micro BR. Both suck compared to the Edirol IMO
Old 23rd March 2010
  #6
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Imadrumer's Avatar
 

thank you for the recommendations... does anyone know anything about the iPod recorders like the Blue Mikey iPod Recorder, the Belkin GoStudio, or Alesis ProTrack?
Old 23rd March 2010
  #7
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skiltrip's Avatar
I'd recommend the Zoom H2 at this price point.

I have the H4n and it's amazing, but if you don't need to record anything but stereo files, the H2 should do the job nicely.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
+1 on the Zoom H2 using the internal mics. It has great sound and can record with all 4 mics (stereo on front and stereo on back side). A little flimsy but sturdy enough and very easy to use.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #9
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fader48's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imadrumer View Post
thank you for the recommendations... does anyone know anything about the iPod recorders like the Blue Mikey iPod Recorder, the Belkin GoStudio, or Alesis ProTrack?
I've heard/read good things about the Blue stuff for the ipod/iphone. I wouldn't bother with it though. I own an iphone and dislike the methods of getting files on and off the device. Something with removable media (SD card etc) would be better IMO

The mics on the Edirol R-09 sound great. The mics on the Tascam DR-1 picked up every little finger touch and button push on the unit. Just a few comparisons...
Old 23rd March 2010
  #10
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twentyhertz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiltrip View Post
I'd recommend the Zoom H2 at this price point.

I have the H4n and it's amazing, but if you don't need to record anything but stereo files, the H2 should do the job nicely.
I've been recording our rehearsals for over a year with the H4n and it does a really fantastic job. Super intuitive interface (which I believe was a knock against the original H4?) and great sounding onboard condensers. I haven't tried any of the others so I can't say it's better/worse than any of them but I did do a ton of research when I was buying and at the time the H4n was the clear winner in it's price range. I think it's $100 out of your price range though..

Definitely get one with a user-friendly interface. Nothing is more frustrating (imo) than spending time dinking around with your recording set up when you should be rocking, or missing a cool sound you wanted to sample because you had to navigate through 10 menus with some stupid buttons.

Good luck on your hunt!
Old 24th March 2010
  #11
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Imadrumer's Avatar
 

Has anyone tested the Alesis ProTrack?

Has anyone tested the Alesis ProTrack?

It's a recorder that works with an iPod and has condensers on it.
Old 21st April 2010
  #12
Gear Addict
 
Rappy's Avatar
 

Just bumping this thread. I am looking for a portable recorder with built in mics that will allow me to record with the mics and line inputs (4 tracks) simultaneously. It looks like the Zoom H4n is the best choice unless someone has a different recommendation.

Thanks so much,

Rappy
Old 21st April 2010
  #13
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gordonmerrick's Avatar
+1 on the Edirol... I saw one used today at Daddy's for 189.
Old 21st April 2010
  #14
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I've got the blue mikey, for the ipod. Sound quality is alright. there's a swtich for 3 gain settings, to adjust to your recording environment. It has a built in speaker so you can listen to your recordings. They record as 16/44.1 wav files. Getting the files off your iPod is a snap, you just plug it in your computer to charge, and off they come.

for the $50 price tag, it's a cool piece of gear. I've only used it twice, and recordings turned out pretty decent. I imagine i'll experiment with positioning it to change the sound a bit. Only real complaint I have is that it falls out of the ipod pretty easily. Maybe a rubber band will help that.

Here's a clip. I had the middle gain setting selected, there's no meter to check your levels. As it turns out, I should have selected the low gain setting. You live you learn. There was no thought to mic placement either. I just set it out real quick cuz this jam was happening.
Attached Files

organ guy.mp3 (3.22 MB, 2229 views)

Old 21st April 2010
  #15
RTR
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RTR's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by visa.the.dog View Post
I've got the blue mikey, for the ipod. Sound quality is alright. there's a swtich for 3 gain settings, to adjust to your recording environment. It has a built in speaker so you can listen to your recordings. They record as 16/44.1 wav files. Getting the files off your iPod is a snap, you just plug it in your computer to charge, and off they come.

for the $50 price tag, it's a cool piece of gear. I've only used it twice, and recordings turned out pretty decent. I imagine i'll experiment with positioning it to change the sound a bit. Only real complaint I have is that it falls out of the ipod pretty easily. Maybe a rubber band will help that.

Here's a clip. I had the middle gain setting selected, there's no meter to check your levels. As it turns out, I should have selected the low gain setting. You live you learn. There was no thought to mic placement either. I just set it out real quick cuz this jam was happening.
Not your fault but that thing don't sound any better than a radio shack digital hand held recorder IMO!
Old 21st April 2010
  #16
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yeah well the gain setting was too high. It's got some built in limiting, i think. Like I said, there was no set up. Just plugged it in and go. I'm actually impressed with the way some acoustic guitar turned out.
Old 21st April 2010
  #17
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d1rtynyc's Avatar
Zoom H2 for under $200. For under 300 the H4n w/ XLRs would be my choice.
I have heard all the ones you have mentioned.
Another one you might want to get if you can find it for a good price is the Olympus LS10. I love that one myself. Size, feel and sound. They go for $250.
Old 22nd April 2010
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Another big +1 for the H4N.

The biggest problem with so many other handheld recorders is that the mics distort so easily with high SPL's. The H4N is the first one I have ever used that doesn't have this problem. Even super loud metal shows. Not to mention the condensers sound great.

You can record 4-tracks simultaneously which is not typical of the others. So I will set it up and take a feed from the board and mix later to taste. It also is a full on 4-track recorder with FX and amp simulation. The built-in speaker is also a nice touch. The compressor and limiter on board also works great for set and forget sort of settings.

Oh yeah and it is a 2-channel ASIO low latency interface as well. Well except for 64-bit drivers, which they claim they are working on and to be released very soon. And it ships with Cubase LE 4, which is just fine for doing an album if you had to.

Hmm... what else, add a metronome, tuner, the ability to slow down tracks as a practice tool... The interface is pretty intuitive as well.

Cons: I wish it had a rechargeable battery or a charger built-in for NiMH or NiCad batteries. Right now I just make sure to keep AA's charged and on hand. But they last up to 11 hours in econo-mode (stereo WAV only).

The interface is a bit of a pain since it is limited by the available buttons and screen size.

Also the larger the card, the longer the boot-time. For my 16GB card it is pretty painfully long. So most of the time I keep the 1GB in there for quick recording of ideas and song learning. Then I use the 16GB when I have to record rehearsals and shows where I know I need the time.

For recording shows/rehearsals, the ability to take a board feed is amazing to give that extra punch to certain instruments. I use it all the time for idea gathering and learning hard parts in songs. I also travel with it as a practice tool or just jamming with the amp sims on board.

I think it is well worth the extra $100 compared to others, no doubt. It just replaces so many other appliances I have and it does the straight recording better than any other I have ever tried.
Old 19th June 2010
  #19
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But what about for film/video?

Bumping with a question: what would you recommend sub $300 that could be used for film and video audio recording? Doesn't matter if it has built in XLRSs, what matters to me is if the signal to noise ratio of the onboard pres are quite enough for this use, and that the recorder can do a minimum of 16 bit 48k recording.
Old 30th June 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maniac630 View Post
Bumping with a question: what would you recommend sub $300 that could be used for film and video audio recording? Doesn't matter if it has built in XLRSs, what matters to me is if the signal to noise ratio of the onboard pres are quite enough for this use, and that the recorder can do a minimum of 16 bit 48k recording.
IMHO, in that budget, there are no recorders that have useful pres. I was thinking the same thing, when I got the Zoom h4n. It's a great little piece of gear, but the input pres aren't useful unless you use a mixer.

If it's film/video you'll probably will be using a shotgun/boom combo, and for that, I think, there aren't any recorders with good input pres (in that price range).

In that price range I would try to get a Zoom 2 or 4 or a cheaper Tascam DR, or something similar (most of them are capable of recording 48k/16bit) and I would try to get an older used mixer. Mixers like Shure fp-33, fp-32 and similar (I know some of you wouldn't even touch them, but they are good for a beginning)

But all in all, I am curious about any second opinions

kecske
Old 1st July 2010
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fader48 View Post
the Edirol R-09 is the BEST.

I've owned the Tascam DR-1 and the Boss Micro BR. Both suck compared to the Edirol IMO
I spent days shopping/listening about a month ago. To me, the R-09HR (the newer version) sounded miles better than any of the competition in the sub $500 category. Quiet pres, no crispy high frequencies, very smooth and natural sounding. I haven't bought it yet, but I will very soon.
Old 3rd July 2010
  #22
Gear Head
 

I bought the Edirol R-09 when it first came out. At that time, there were only a few digital recorders available. I didn't want the microtrack because it used CF instead of SD. I read reviews of the Zoom and the reviews indicated that because it was designed for guitarists and had amp modeling, the menus were confusing. I found the R-09 VERY easy to use. Roland has also released numerous firmware updates to add features (support for SDHC, stealth mode that turns off the super bright red LED, etc). I sold off my R-09 and bought the R-09HR when it came out I love it. I use it to record practices, gigs, other people's gigs, etc.

That said, here are a couple of options. Look for a used R-09. Roland just came out with a new model so people will upgrading. The Tascam looks promising, though I have not used it so I would go to a store and try it out first if possible. Tascam makes good, stuff, so I would expect it to be top notch. MF had it as deal of the day for $99 a few months back. Even at $130, its a great deal.
Old 3rd July 2010
  #23
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musical5's Avatar
 

Yamaha CX for $79. GC had its Memorial Day sale. I grabbed one. No issues at all. The build quality isnt the greatest, but it sounds great. Re-chargable was my only main requirement.

Justin
Old 4th July 2010
  #24
Gear Addict
 
RubixGroove's Avatar
 

Really dig the Zoom H4! I guess they just make good pocket recorders all 'round the table. Props to them on that!

If they are out of your budget, do your research while you save up and put your money where you won't feel short-changed.
Old 4th July 2010
  #25
Lives for gear
Battery life test for a few of 'em.

Portable Recorder Battery Life Test Results!

ns
Old 5th July 2010
  #26
Gear Head
 

For their 4th of July sale, GC has the DR07 for $99! Does 24 bit recording.
Old 6th July 2010
  #27
I can't believe no one has suggested this.

In the USA BHphotovideo.com is selling the Sony PCM-M10 for $199. Best sounding of any deck on-board mics, one of the lowest noise mic preamps regardless of deck cost, preamp is virtually overload proof handling up to +2 dBu !!!, runs 20 hours on 2 AA, and fits with room to spare in a shirt pocket.
There's nothing in sight even close to beating it for value/audio quality at +2-4X cost in everyway I can think of.
Old 6th July 2010
  #28
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glenn Taylor's Avatar
 

I am buying a few small recorders. trying to find one my low tech writing partner in CA can put dow some vocals if I send hi some tracks. He has used a zoom H2. Puts the mp3 on the computer and I van work with it same day here in Florida. here is a little 4 track I just got. Its niceheh
GT
Attached Thumbnails
Best Cheap Portable Digital Recorder-i-3707-147-64-0-eedac25b-b06b90cc1e44794b4abe5dc10f62055c.jpg  
Old 5th February 2011
  #29
Gear Nut
 

I too am trying to choose the right portable digi recorder.

This is what I need it for:

Mainly field recording (nature, animals, people etc).

It needs to be the best possible recording quality (i.e. best mics).
1. 96K,24bit
2. At least 2GB internal mem (+SD addition)

The other MAJOR factor is PORTABILITY. I do a lot of hiking/traveling, and its' VITAL that I can carry a small, lightweight device. If it's a big one I won't use it, and so will be a waste.

SO... I've narrowed it down to:

Yamaha C24
Yamaha CX
Olympus LS11

Does anybody know how the mics compare between the Yamaha and the Olympus?

Also, anyone have an opinion whether the XY mic config of the Olympus and the CX are much better than the regular L/R of the C24?

(the C24 is the lightest/smallest, but only marginally, and if the CX or Olympus has better quality mics I'd rather use those).

thanks
Old 6th February 2011
  #30
Here for the gear
 

I've been using the Edirol R-09 for about 3 years now. The original model, not the HR. The built in mics are fantastic. I've used it for loud concerts, small acoustic shows, many band practices and speeches.

I could send you samples if you're curious to see how it sounds. I actually just used it tonight for band practice, but we went line in from a mixer. I've always been really happy with the quality of it. I've even used it as an additional mic when recording guitars.

I believe since the HR has come out the original model is around 100-150 used.

You can record just about any rate in wav and mp3. I've been using it with a 4gb card fine for a few years.
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