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Jode Steele



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy?
      #1031418 - 31/01/13 04:58 PM
Howdy,

I'm looking at buying a handheld digital stereo recorder. Something like the "Zoom H4n" perhaps and just wanted some opinion from anyone who has knowledge and experience of using these bits of kit. Which is the best basically.

In respect of what I'll be using it for, I'll mainly be gathering foley/sound fx for a game project I'm working on and also recording some random source material for mangling on Trailer Tools projects.

Any help welcome

--------------------
@Jode_Steele
verbalvigilantemusic.com


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The Elf
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Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 9162
Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Jode Steele]
      #1031420 - 31/01/13 05:09 PM
I have a Zoom H4N that I use for random audio gathering, and occasionally as an audio interface for my laptop. It works very nicely, and I can vouch for its ability to stand some rough, watery treatment ('nuff said!).

Big plusses for me are the ability to use my own mic's, 4-channel recording, 24-bit resolution and that it runs on standard batteries. I added a dead cat and a Rycote lyre-type mount for external location recording - well worth the extra outlay if you want to do the job properly.

I can't say it's 'the best', because I have don't have experience of other models, and 'best' will depend on your specific needs and budget, but if the H4N seems to fit the bill I doubt you'll be disappointed.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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John Willett
Sound-Link ProAudio


Joined: 07/03/00
Posts: 12170
Loc: Oxfordshire UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Jode Steele]
      #1031442 - 31/01/13 07:07 PM
Personally I would say no to the Zoom.

There are three schools of thought:-

1) Analogue only
Nagra SD (very high quality and very flexible with a selection of plug-on mics and cables)
Nagra LINO (cheaper version of above with fixed mics)
Olympus LS-100 (good quality, very long battery life)


2) Analogue with phantom power for external mics.
Olympus LS-100 (good quality, very long battery life)
Tascam DR100-II (good unit and popular with professionals)
Roland R-26
Marantz PMD661-II (nice review in the latest "Resolution"- but battery life is short - 5h)


3) with digital input so it can also act as a "bit bucket"
Tascam DR100-II (digital on Tascam 2.5mm jack)
Marantz PMD661-II (digital - S-PDIF on phono connector)
Sony PCM-D50 (but now discontinued) (Digital is optical)

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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Trevor Johnson



Joined: 15/05/10
Posts: 79
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: John Willett]
      #1031557 - 01/02/13 10:42 AM
The above list from John is excellent.

For a very portable device, I use an Olympus LS5 which is essentially the LS11 but without the remote control and with smaller internal memory, 2Gb against 8gb, although its also has an SD / SDHC card slot.

Their is a Rycote Portable Recorder Audio Kit, with combined windshield and suspension that will fit the LS5.

Trevor


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Mixedup
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Joined: 03/09/03
Posts: 4641
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Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Trevor Johnson]
      #1031580 - 01/02/13 12:44 PM
In John's first category, if you don't need the XLR input/phantom power, I'd much rather go for one of the smaller (and less confusing) models than the LS100. The LS5, 10, 11, 12 and 14 all do the job very nicely. The Zoom H4N is best on function for the budget IMO, and is much improved over the earlier H4. However, like many Zoom devices the output line level signal isn't great. If that's important to you then probably look at the Olympus stuff. the Tascam ones are pretty decent too. All really depends what you want to be able to do with your recorder.

And then there's the option of an iPod Touch (or iPhone, or iPad) + suitable mic attachment. Which isn't anywhere near as crazy as it sounds.


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Jode Steele



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: John Willett]
      #1031605 - 01/02/13 02:22 PM
Thanks for the thoughts fellas. A real plethora of info and recommendations for me to investigate.

Much appreciated!

--------------------
@Jode_Steele
verbalvigilantemusic.com


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Dave B



Joined: 03/04/03
Posts: 5544
Loc: Maidenhead
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Mixedup]
      #1031619 - 01/02/13 03:10 PM
Quote Mixedup:

However, like many Zoom devices the output line level signal isn't great.




Question : surely the point of all these devices is purely to be a data capture device and the resulting audio uploaded/taken and inserted into a workstation for review/editing? Is the output line level really a critical thing?

--------------------
Veni, Vidi, Aesculi
(I came, I saw, I conkered)


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Mr Gareth



Joined: 03/02/11
Posts: 4
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Jode Steele]
      #1031631 - 01/02/13 04:42 PM
The Zoom H4N is a great piece of kick, very flexible. It is, however, not the most user friendly device. I have downloaded the PDF countless times to find out to use the functions. There is a lot of scope for user error. The microphones are a little tinny at the top. Being able to record with them inaddition to the XLR's makes it a very practical little recorder.

The Roland R26 is a much superior device - user friendly, records 6 channels and has L/R & M/S microphones inbuilt - great stereo imagery. The touch-screen is great. My only issue is with surface noise from the plastic casing. Its not very forgiving there. Also it only acts are a 2In 2Out usb device.


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Skerrick



Joined: 10/01/13
Posts: 262
Loc: Sydney NSW
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Jode Steele]
      #1031675 - 01/02/13 11:20 PM
i bought myself one of these recently: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-Olympus-WS-500M-WS500-Voice-Recorder-2GB-Ta x-Invoice-on-Request-/120970917877?pt=AU_Gadgets&hash=item1c2a6db7f5&_uhb=1#ht_2573wt_1139

i got mine for about $60 and it sounds quite legit.
worth looking into, super cheap, HD stereo recording, usb file transfer.

--------------------
www.soundcloud.com/skerrick


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Mike Stranks
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Joined: 03/01/03
Posts: 3606
Loc: Oxford, UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Skerrick]
      #1031680 - 01/02/13 11:53 PM
Quote Skerrick:

i bought myself one of these recently: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-Olympus-WS-500M-WS500-Voice-R...

i got mine for about $60 and it sounds quite legit.
worth looking into, super cheap, HD stereo recording, usb file transfer.




Doesn't seem to record in any uncompressed format...


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Skerrick



Joined: 10/01/13
Posts: 262
Loc: Sydney NSW
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Mike Stranks]
      #1031682 - 02/02/13 12:42 AM
^ im not sure quite how it works in terms of file compression, but the audio quality is more than acceptable for field recordings and such. i was under the impression it was recording in 320kbps wav, either way its got tons of storage room and has a built in usb slider thing, its just a great device for the price, and you could always get a separate electret microphone for a few $$ off ebay? theyre super cheap...

--------------------
www.soundcloud.com/skerrick


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Jode Steele



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Mr Gareth]
      #1031683 - 02/02/13 12:42 AM
More stellar suggestions to check out guys, thanks.

It's interesting going through some of these recorders and seeing all the additional functions added in the newer models. Things such as tuners, metronomes and the ability to use as recorders. For my work most of these will be superfluous as I'm just after a good quality portable field recorder but it's cool to see how these things have evolved.

The Olympus LS-14 is looking like a good option at the moment but am gonna spend some time checking out comparison tests.

If anyone knows of some good youtube review/comparison videos of any recorders, link us up!

--------------------
@Jode_Steele
verbalvigilantemusic.com


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The Elf
active member


Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 9162
Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Skerrick]
      #1031709 - 02/02/13 08:15 AM
Quote Skerrick:

^ im not sure quite how it works in terms of file compression, but the audio quality is more than acceptable for field recordings and such. i was under the impression it was recording in 320kbps wav,



320kbps would be MP3. Wav files aren't defined in kbps terms. I wouldn't want ANY recordings rendered as MP3.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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John Willett
Sound-Link ProAudio


Joined: 07/03/00
Posts: 12170
Loc: Oxfordshire UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Skerrick]
      #1031712 - 02/02/13 08:37 AM
Quote Skerrick:

i bought myself one of these recently: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-Olympus-WS-500M-WS500-Voice-R...

i got mine for about $60 and it sounds quite legit.
worth looking into, super cheap, HD stereo recording, usb file transfer.




But it's a voice recorder that only records compressed sound.

Totally unsuitable for music.

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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hollowsun



Joined: 20/01/05
Posts: 5481
Loc: Cowbridge, South Wales
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Jode Steele]
      #1031715 - 02/02/13 09:28 AM
I have a Tascam DR40 which is excellent in that it has built in mics plus chunky balanced XLRs, 1/4" jacks and very easy to use. - pretty much one-button operation. I've recorded classical and also line level DI'd sampling with excellent results.

FWIW

--------------------
Website / Music Lab Machines / Blog


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Mike Stranks
active member


Joined: 03/01/03
Posts: 3606
Loc: Oxford, UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Jode Steele]
      #1031718 - 02/02/13 09:52 AM
Quote Jode Steele:

More stellar suggestions to check out guys, thanks.

It's interesting going through some of these recorders and seeing all the additional functions added in the newer models. Things such as tuners, metronomes and the ability to use as recorders. For my work most of these will be superfluous as I'm just after a good quality portable field recorder but it's cool to see how these things have evolved.

The Olympus LS-14 is looking like a good option at the moment but am gonna spend some time checking out comparison tests.

If anyone knows of some good youtube review/comparison videos of any recorders, link us up!




Don't know if you've come across THIS site, but it's a good place to find many recorders shown next to each other with the ability to compare prices - which seem pretty competitive. I have no connection with the company...


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Jode Steele



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Mike Stranks]
      #1031818 - 03/02/13 12:17 AM
This looks like a great site. Thanks Mike.

I must say one of the 'added bonuses' to some of the newer recorders is the ability to use them as an audio interface (for a laptop, perhaps). That is one feature that I would possibly find useful.

--------------------
@Jode_Steele
verbalvigilantemusic.com


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Jode Steele



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #1031819 - 03/02/13 12:22 AM
Quote hollowsun:

I have a Tascam DR40 which is excellent in that it has built in mics plus chunky balanced XLRs, 1/4" jacks and very easy to use. - pretty much one-button operation. I've recorded classical and also line level DI'd sampling with excellent results.

FWIW




The Tascam does look a good proposition. Quality over, number of functions is what I'm after and this seems to follow that ethos. Who needs bells and whistles; I just want quality sound capture

--------------------
@Jode_Steele
verbalvigilantemusic.com


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The Elf
active member


Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 9162
Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: hollowsun]
      #1031847 - 03/02/13 10:01 AM
Quote hollowsun:

I have a Tascam DR40 which is excellent in that it has built in mics plus chunky balanced XLRs, 1/4" jacks and very easy to use. - pretty much one-button operation. I've recorded classical and also line level DI'd sampling with excellent results.



I can't help the feeling that this and the Zoom H4N are so similar you have to wonder if there's some technology sharing going on between those companies!

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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robin746



Joined: 07/03/06
Posts: 36
Loc: Ireland
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: Trevor Johnson]
      #1031962 - 04/02/13 01:37 AM
Quote Trevor Johnson:

For a very portable device, I use an Olympus LS5 which is essentially the LS11 but without the remote control and with smaller internal memory, 2Gb against 8gb, although its also has an SD / SDHC card slot.




This. Best value for money and much lower self-noise than Zooms. Built very well and very portable. Built-in mics more than usable. Not many wiz-bang extra features - get the LS-100 if you need those.

I have tons of articles on this topic on my blog. Like this one.

--------------------
"The Drones" now available on BandCamp through Stolen Mirror.


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Jode Steele



Joined: 15/12/12
Posts: 35
Loc: UK
Re: Which Handheld Digital Recorder should I buy? new [Re: robin746]
      #1031984 - 04/02/13 10:43 AM
Thanks for the link Robin

Looks like a wicked blog. I'll be giving that a good reading today and checking out your audio examples. Nice touch.

I am considering the Olympus LS 12 or 14. The price is extremely low for what appears to be a top quality recorder. I like the idea of the LS 14's "Tresmic" low frequency mic. Think this would be good for capturing the many bangs, thwacks and crashes I'll be recording.

--------------------
@Jode_Steele
verbalvigilantemusic.com

Edited by Jode Steele (04/02/13 10:44 AM)


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