Portable recorders

Discussion in 'Digital Recorders' started by EmileD, Feb 9, 2007.

  1. EmileD

    EmileD Guest


    I'm buying a portable digital recorder, with built in mics. My options are Microtrack 24/96, Edirol R-01, Edirol R-09, and Zoom H4.

    IF you have any experience or stories, I'd like to hear more opinion about which of these would be best for recording louder things like freight trains for example.
    Which of these would best handle louder sounds, and which would in general have highest sound quality (most importantly best reproduction of higher frequencies)

  2. lontas

    lontas Guest

    Unfortunately, you will be severely limiting yourself if you intend to use only the built-in mics. They can never capture the full range of frequencies that metallic sources such as freight trains produce. I guarantee you will not be satisfied with the sound unless you also invest in some mics. If you're looking for budget options, the Naiant MSH-1's are fantastic omni condensers with a flat response and a steal at $22 each. http://www.naiant.com If you intend to record loud sounds, look for mics that have a high max SPL rating, preferably of 120 db or higher. I know you can get a high SPL version of the naiant mics for example.

    I have never used these recorders but based on the reviews I have read, they all are relatively the same in terms of sound quality. Someone please correct me if this is wrong. If you really want to be extravagant with the sound quality, look into the Sound Devices line of portable flash-based recorders--but they will cost you. Other than that, the mics you use will affect the quality a lot more than the recorder itself. Any of the recorders you mentioned plus a nice pair of mics will do you well.
  3. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    Aug 16, 2006
    LA, CA
    Check out the new Fostex FR-2LE


    (Dead Link Removed)

    Musiciansfriend says $599..... B&H Photo says $499

    Built in mics plus pretty good mic preamp.

    Just coming on the market.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    A friend of mine has the inexpensive Zoom unit with those cute little XY built in condenser microphones. He records every one of his rock band rehearsals with this little piece of crap! I told him he should just plug some microphones into his mixer and roll his rehearsals into the computer. But he told me this did more than an adequate job. I was quite skeptical? I didn't think it would sound good? But! It sounds amazing! I was quite impressed by the unit, especially for the price. It also works as an external, USB 2 Channel audio interface for a computer. It offers external microphone inputs if you don't want to use the built-in XY thingy. It's a great Bang for the buck! If I was bootlegging more concert recordings, I'd probably get it.

    Professionals Covert Orchestral Recordings
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Just to throw another option at you, consider the new Korg 1 bit DSD recorder. About $750. Seriously. Craig Anderton likes it a lot (in this month's EQ magazine). I'm wondering when it'll be available to the average man in the street.
  6. GuySonic

    GuySonic Guest

    Review of Microtrack and R-09 from mic input recording perspective at:


    Ambient, plane, train, rain recordings made with external mics/pre into MT and R-09 decks with notes at:
    Music performance recordings at:

    R-09 comes with good sounding (for some things) omni internal mics, and Microtrack comes without internal mic, maybe with cheesy sounding external plug-mic I think, but MT is maybe useful for powering some types of 12-24 (lower) voltage phantom powered mics from deck's TRS inputs.

    Most find the internal mic preamp on these decks too noisy for less than loud subjects, and only with high output type mics, but maybe worth trying out gear with different sounds to know simple 2-piece mic-deck configuration strengths/limitations.

    The kind of mics I make and use are low sensitivity types that demand having a quiet mic preamplifier with moderate high gain, so most these decks are too noisy needing external preamplifier for satisfying a wide range of recording interests.

    Those lucky enough to have a more specific higher SPL sound recording interest may find these low cost flash decks work well enough with direct internal/external mic input.
  7. iani

    iani Guest

    As an end user I should confirm EmileD's point about high noise level of these decks and add a word of caution from own experience: I made some ambient recordings of nature sounds (birds, insects, waves) on MT (Microtrack) with Soundman OKM omni mikes, and they turned out to be almost useless. The noise level is too high for delicate stuff. I gave some friend the samples to use for a music project and after trying them out, we both agreed to look for sources with less noise. Difficult matter, this low-level recording.
    Iannis Z.
  8. griz

    griz Active Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    I just purchased an Edirol R-09. Aside from reading the reviews, it was a blind purchase based on size/weight, AA batteries and simplicity of use. The unit will be used on an extended trip to China. I expect to record a lot of traditional music with it.

    It blows away all of my portable recorders (cassettes and r2r) from back in the 70s & 80s when I did documentaries. I feel lucky. For the price (300-400), it is a good purchase.

    This unit will be used for documentary style podcasts and my personal podcasts - no high-level pro work intended...but in a pinch I think it would produce acceptable results.
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