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Best choice for a portable digital recorder for live music?


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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 25, 2012 12:11:41 PM PDT
chi says:
I wish to record my gigs in the jazz clubs, perhaps for a live CD release. I like a portable, durable, easy to use device that can record at a good, CD quality, less than $300, 5 hr battery life minimum, and turnkey push-to-record controls without much required adjustments (I can't control the recording while performing). Tascam and Zoom appear to be popular brands, but I saw a review of Sony PCM M10 that looked interesting. Many thanks!

Posted on May 2, 2012 1:06:08 PM PDT
Olympus LS-10 I love mine. Sips Batteries (8 to 12 hrs) Excellant performance in loud enviroments, better than CD recordings (or mp3 or wm). SD card slot. Down side Built in speakers are almost useless but I think it is trade off of speaker volume for superior battery usage.

The built in Mics work great, bass recording from the mics seems to rolloff around 60 hz.
This unit is made for boosting live music, like Blues fest and for making demo's.
Comes with cubase 4 but I prefer Adobe I paid like 250 for mine I guess the LS-11 is the newest LS-10

Posted on May 15, 2012 10:48:17 PM PDT
Pieter says:
Zoom H2n Handy Recorder

We have the original Zoom H2. It's a great digital recorder and works as a superb desktop USB stereo mic as well. Just bought a Countryman lav mic to plug in to the H2 for recording speaker presentations with commercial broadcast quality sound.

Posted on May 17, 2012 12:27:56 PM PDT
_snowcrash says:
Not sure about the best, but the M-Audio Microtrack II is one of the worst, despite having better I/O than most recorders at its price point. They only give you a 90-day warranty for the battery, that says it all.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 9:42:58 PM PDT
Eddie says:
Check out the taperssection forums.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 7:58:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2012 8:01:55 AM PDT
Mitch Hamett says:
I have had good experiences with the AK DR1.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 7:58:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2012 8:02:19 AM PDT
Mitch Hamett says:
I have had good experiences with the AK DR1.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 6, 2012 12:36:08 PM PDT
The Sony PCM-M10 has excellent battery life (I use Energizer Ultimate Lithium, but I think for standard alkalines, it's rated for about 30 hours but that could depend on operating conditions, for example set the backlight to turn off after awhile to maximize battery life). When setting the recording level manually, I prefer having a knob such as on the Sony or the Zoom H2N rather than pressing a button to increment/decrement the setting as on some others. I also have the original Zoom H2 (the H2N is an improvement and adds the mid-side mic technique) and have been pleased with the recording results I've gotten with it, but the build quality isn't as good as the Sony -- a common problem is the cover for the SD compartment easily breaks, I don't know if the newer H2N has similar problems but it does have the advantage of more mic pattern options. I also have the Edirol (Roland) R09-HR which I really like but recording level is set by depressing buttons rather than a knob and it lacks the hardware for screwing onto a standard tripod mount. Both the Sony and Zoom have this. Thus until I find a suitable clamp, I tend to use the Edirol more for recording directly from a mixer rather than its via its built in mics. There is a case available for the Edirol that adds the screw-in mount, but it is overpriced and gets bad reviews.

Another site that may be a good source of product reviews (and to find additional recorders to consider) is bhphotovideo.

For important recordings, it's always a good idea, when possible, to make a test recording. Microphones hear things differently than your ears. Although some units have a tiny built in speaker which can be used for playback, it won't be very loud, and of course doesn't provide monitoring during recording (which you wouldn't want anyway) so have headphones with you. I once recorded a concert where I forgot to change the mic sensitivity setting from high to low -- the level meters of course will tell you everything is ok, but you end up with a recording that is distorted most of the time.

If you're new to digital recording and have experience with analog recording, you need to know that you don't want to push the level (with analog tape, you do it to maximize S/N ratio). With digital, you want to keep a safe headroom, so it's best to use higher than CD quality (which is 16 bits and 44.1kHz sampling rate, although it's possible to get good results with those settings).

The ones I've used have been easy to operate. They all have menus to set various parameters and perform various operations, but basic recording is relatively simply. You generally press the record button to enter "record pause" mode and then press the play button to actually begin recording. The Sony has a 5 second buffer which actually captures the 5 seconds before you pressed play (assuming you were in record pause for at least 5 seconds). But 8GB and 16GB SD cards aren't expensive (the Sony uses microSD cards and also has a built-in 4GB memory) so beginning the recording many minutes early shouldn't be a problem.

Posted on Jul 22, 2012 11:09:33 AM PDT
I purchased the Tascam DR-40 to record a weekend conference last January. It compares with the Zoom H4. But half the cost, and I like having more controls on the surface. Where the Zoom is mostly soft menus. The DR can take up to a 32 Gig SD card. Which easily held the 4 days worth of Lectures and presentations. I used it right out of the box in a few steps. With a cable patched from the sound board, and power supplied from my lap top USB and battery back up. The DR - 40 can record from onboard mics in Stereo or from line/ mic inputs on the recorder. It also has a load of internal features and adjustments. Which I may never need. But could make a really nice portable 4 track recording set up.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2012 4:36:59 PM PDT
ColdShot says:
I like the Yamaha, it has a great sensitive mic, and the battery lasts like 12hours or so.
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Discussion in:  Recording forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  10
Initial post:  Apr 25, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 25, 2012

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