May 28, 2008 / music
Handheld recorders for musicians and podcasters

I've been using a dictaphone for recording song ideas and jam sessions for a while now. It's quick, very portable and does the job well. However, I'm now looking for something that gets a better sound quality. Here's some notes on current recorders out there.

Mark Nelson at O'Reilly has done some great articles on portable recorders, where I got my info from.

There is also a comparison chart and more great articles on these devices at Transom

Sony PCM-D50 * Review and sample recordings by Mark Nelson * Price: £320 ($640) * Size: 73 x 155 x 34 mm (384) (Looks chunky, but holdable in one hand. Probably too big for pocket.) * Weight: 365.1g * Pros: Beautiful sound quality. Good limiter. * Cons: Larger that I'd like. Windshield costs extra. * Summary: "To sum up: the Sony PCM-D50 is everything a field recorder should be. Although it might appear expensive compared to some of the others, consider that you get four gigs of memory included, robust construction, excellent mics, and a number of useful features ported over from its upscale cousin. If you're serious about field recording, the D50 is well worth your consideration."

Olympus LS-10 * Review and sample recordings by Mark Nelson * Transom Review * Price: £240 ($480) * Size: 131.5 x 48 x 22.4 mm (141) (looks very small, like a regular small dictaphone) * Weight: 165g * Summary: "To my ears the LS-10 did a good job capturing the thump of my big Taylor flattop. There's plenty of high-end detail, though it's not as smooth as I'd like, and I can hear a little hiss creeping in as the guitar trails off. Nonetheless, I think the LS-10 does as good a job recording music and voice as some recorders costing quite a bit more." "I like the Olympus LS-10 a lot. I'm tickled with the design, ergonomics, audio quality, and the rugged aluminum case. I even like the little carrying case; it's just big enough for the recorder and a mini tripod."

Marantz PMD620 * Review and sample recordings by Mark Nelson * Price: * Size: 102 x 62 x 25 (size of a deck of cards) * Weight: 110g (+ battery) * Pros: Optional cool remote that mounds on a mic for one handed operation * Cons: Good, but not great music recording. Good for voice. * Summary: "When all is said and done the PMD620 is a contender. Once you've taken the time to create your presets, it is sublimely easy to use. It does a good job recording outdoors; handles music recording reasonably well; and has a number of useful features for interviewing, podcasts, and other voice work."

Zoom H2 * Review and sample recordings by Mark Nelson * Price: £140 ($280) * Size: Handheld, but again not tiny * Weight: * Pros: Mini tripod included. Can use all 4 internal mics at once * Cons: Bad with external mics * Summary:

Zoom H4 * Review and samples * Price: £220

Korg MR-1 * Review and sample recordings my Mark Nelson * Price: £405 ($810)

Edirol R-09 * Review and samples * Price: £220 * Weight: 170g * Pros: Great, all round handlheld recorder for most situations. * Cons: Not as much pro detail in the sound.

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