I've been doing recordings of High School and College level musical ensembles for family and friends (and sometimes myself relying on set-and-forget) for a couple years now using only a lone Rode M3 microphone hooked into Marantz PMD660. I've managed to get surprisingly good results from this setup, but I'd love to step it up a healthy notch - and get the most bang for my buck. From everything I've read, I really should replace the PMD660 which apparently has some serious quality issues. Am I better off getting another portable field recorder such as the newer PMD661, or should I be looking into getting a little USB mic pre-amp and record directly onto my laptop? Keep in mind portability's a little bit of an issue, seeing as I need to tote this around and set it up in a tiny space. A laptop with tiny microphone adapter is about as big as I can get. The other possibility is upgrading my microphone - which might be an "and" solution depending on the cost of the whole upgrade. Since the events and venues I do most of my recordings at focus on 'performance-first' with the recording being a secondary measure, the microphone placement is nearly always shoved near the back or tucked out of sight somewhere. Whatever microphone(s) I'd look at would need to be fairly good at a distance. I imagine it would need to be a large diaphragm mic and/or one with a hyper-cardioid pattern. Then again, my only experience has been with the M3, so I really don't know! If anyone has any suggestions for either of these, any help would be appreciated!