The Top 5 Audio Recorders Reviewed
A portable audio recorder is a small device that is going to help you to record what you need on the go. The traditional voice recorders don’t have the best sound quality, but the portable audio recorders on the market today are better than ever. If you are a part of the music or media industry, then you’ll know that the best audio recorder is a must. While music and media moguls will need a good audio recorder in their work, they’re still invaluable to those who need recordings of a high-quality. You can record everything from meetings and interviews to lectures at school and the latest hits from your garage band. Audio recorders have evolved in the last forty years, from small radios with tiny cassette tapes to the portable and digital recorders that we have today.
We no longer have to deal with shabby sound quality and having to flip the tape over when you need to record on the other side. Instead, we deal with excellent digital sound quality and continuous recording as long as you have the memory for it. We live a life on the go, which means that you need the best portable audio recorder that can stay portable.
How to Choose An Audio Recorder
Several factors will come into your decision to purchase a portable audio recorder. Overall, it’s going to depend on you and your needs as to what you buy for your personal audio recorder. Some people need all the features where others don’t need as many bells and whistles in their audio recorder. The things you need to consider include:
- Your budget. Some recorders are expensive, and others aren’t, but what you can afford counts.
- Tracks. Some people need more than one track recorded at once, and so you need to decide whether you are only recording one thing at a time or not.
- Your usage. What do you need it for? Is it for occasionally recording meetings or is it for recording sounds in the field? It matters as this can tell you what you need.
With this in mind, let’s check out five products that are fighting for space in the market.
Best Audio Recorders
One of the first things that draw your eye to this digital recorder is the top panel that features a 1.9 inch LCD backlit display. All of your recording options are displayed here, and you can choose three modes with this audio recorder. You have MTR, stereo and the 4CH. The LCD panel also has the buttons you need to get it working: record, play, reverse and forward. The Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder can be mounted on a tripod and given its sensitive nature; it’s not recommended that you record handheld on this one. Otherwise, you’ll pick up the sound coming from your hands.
It’s a lightweight recorder at only 300g, and the body of it is perfect for field use as it can be carried anywhere. Whether you’re recording whispers or ear-shattering heavy metal music, this recorder has a sound pressure capability of 140dB; so you’re covered. In a similar fashion to other models on the market from Zoom, the Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder has stereo microphone options that can be changed. This way, you can point the recorder in the right direction and get the exact recording that you need. If you need time-coded audio, the Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder can be plugged into your DSLR – as long as yours has the external microphone output, of course.
Pros & Cons
- Excellent audio quality no matter where you are
- Light option for easy carrying
- Has excellent audio refining with Cubase
- Over 30 seconds boot time
- Has reported to have some inline signal handling issues
- Cannot record handheld
- Four-channel recording up to 24-bit, 96 kHz. Built-in stereo x/Y microphones, up to 140 dB SPL
- 2 XLR/TRS inputs with locking connectors. Records directly to SD/SDHC cards up to 32 GB
- 4-In/2-out USB Audio Interface. Monaural speaker: 400 mW 8 Ω
- Line/phone-line output load Impedance- 10 kω or more. Line rated output level: -10 dBu. Phone- 20 mW + 20 mW (into 32Ω load).Tempo:40.0 - 250.0 BPM
- Usb 2.0 high speed. Usb functions can be powered using USB bus power. Plug-in and Phantom power cannot be set during recording and playback. Compatible operating systems is Windows Vista and newer Mac OS X 10.6 and newer
2. Roland R-07
There are plenty of options out there for audio recorders, and the Roland R-07 has risen above the competition in a big way. It’s rated that well, that people are calling it “the last recorder you will ever need.” Whether you need a pocket mixer or a portable microphone, the Roland R-07 has it all. The most unique feature about the Roland R-07 is the face that you can monitor it wirelessly and control it from your tablet or phone.
You can even control it from your Apple Watch. The Roland R-07 is an easy accessory for anyone who is interested on being on the go while they record. For filmmakers out there, the Roland R-07 offers such an excellent recording solution that it’s perfect for gear bags on the field.
One of the best features is the fact that there is a low cut filter at a variety of stages/ this means that you can choose to remove low sounds like wind. Musicians will love the tuner and metronome settings that come with the Roland R-07 and the rehearsal function will be enough to support your next recording session.
Pros & Cons
- Top-quality onboard stereo mics always ready to go
- One-touch recording settings configuration
- Powered either by batteries or USB
- Small but powerful!
- A little on the expensive side
- Doesn’t come with the USB cable
- Doesn’t come with the carry case
- Lightweight compact hi-res recorder with Qualcomm aptX playback
- Integrated stereo microphones for excellent recording quality capture
- Bluetooth control and low latency wireless monitoring lets you control and listen to content using supported smart devices and Bluetooth speakers
- One-touch templates for instant setup in any recording scenario
- Built-in speaker for convenient playback anywhere
When you’re looking for an audio recorder with built-in stereo capabilities and voice-operated recording, you’re in the right place. The Sony ICD-UX560 BLK is small but capable enough to capture all your meetings and lectures, though some have reported that it’s not the best for larger meetings. This audio recorder is thin and light, and the settings can be optimised easily for every situation that you need to record. You can search through it for your audio files and music, and you can even monitor the recording levels as they happen.
If you put this recorder on a belt pouch or tripod, you’ll get some excellent results more than if you were to put it in your pocket. It’s an unobtrusive option as you don’t need to put the recorder up to someone’s face to get the right result. You may think that your smartphone can do the same job as an audio recorder, but you’d be wrong!
Pros & Cons
- Up to 4GB of storage built directly into the recorder
- Wide microphone to suit large lecture halls
- USB is built in for easy connection to the computer
- Capability of listening to radio broadcasts
- Reports of the USB port failing quickly
- No quick way to delete a file without going through the menu and settings
- Built in stereo microphone and voice operated recording
- Three recording options: wide/stereo, narrow/focus and normal
- Quick charge; up to 1 hour recording time, with 3 minute charge
- Easy to use user interface and recording level indicator
- Micro SD memory card slot, headphone jack & mic input. LCD backlight
4. Tascam DR-05
The biggest competitor that Zoom has is Tascam, and for a good reason. The Tascam DR-05 is excellent for the budget, robust in its features and has a variety of mic configurations. The omnidirectional microphone gathers sound from your surroundings efficiently, so you can record what you need from a considerable distance if necessary. One of the top features is the LCD front screen, which can help you to navigate through your recordings. You can change the pitch, repeat and loop sounds and get an EQ setting called chromatic tuner.
As this is AA battery-operated, you get the flexibility of using portable batteries or connecting it up via a USB or an AC adapter. This is a recorder that offers you an alternative to the popular models on the market, and it provides you with the feature of level align, which can add a compression filter to even out the uneven volume levels.
Pros & Cons
- Easy to capture sounds in meetings
- Inbuilt mics are perfect for location
- Decently priced and one of the cheapest out there
- Plastic chassis, so doesn’t feel particularly robust
- Sound can be blurry when held
- Discontinued Model replaced by Improved DR-05X
- Built-in omni-directional microphones
- Stereo mini headphone jack for external stereo microphones (provides plug-in power) / External line input
- Tempo change (VSA) function for adjusting the speed from 0.5 to 1.5 times (in 0.1 increments)
- Chromatic tuner, Powered by 2 AA batteries, USB power or optional AC adapter (Tascam PS-P515U), MicroSD 4GB card
A complete product that makes recording easy, this digital voice recorder works in MP3 format. You can include a variety of improvements which will reduce environmental noise and doing this can obtain sharper recordings. You can even use the Scene Select options, which will adjust the tape while you are in the middle of recording.
Whether you are recording a meeting or a conference, or even a concert, you can get a clear recording that sounds excellent on playback. This small model has a high-quality screen, and it’s this screen that will help you to control the record. The recorder has a 4GB internal memory, and you can store up to 60 hours of audio. The good news is that the battery life reaches 57 hours before you need to plug it back in and recharge.
Pros & Cons
- Built in system that reduces ambient noise which allows you to get higher recordings
Scene Select function that adjusts the recording parameters to your personal environment.
- High quality recording options
- Full freedom in the recorder with battery, storage and 60 hour parameters
- Not capable of external microphones that haven’t got the right power
- No backlit screen!
- Record MP3 Audio quickly and easily
- Up to 57 hours of battery life for extended recording (MP3 128Kbps stereo)
- Built-in, direct USB Connection for quick file transfer to your PC
- In the box: IC Recorder, size AAA alkaline batteries (2), Operating Instructions, Warranty card
Portable Audio Recorder Tips
This video offers some great tips for using audio recorders: