Buying a portable digital audio recorder is a major decision. The balance between price, features, and quality is a fine line that has many different options to choose from. There are dozens of different models of portable digital audio recorders, some of which have drastically different sets of features yet sell for roughly the same price. This easy to read head to head comparison chart and guide to many of the more popular portable digital audio recorders is intended to help potential buyers more easily see these differences and make an educated buying decision.
All of the criteria listed below is important to consider when purchasing a portable digital audio recorder. While most people only consider size or inputs when purchasing a recorder it is immensely important to also consider things such as how many recording channels the device provides, whether the recorder can use removable media, and how easy it is to make changes to the settings such as the recording quality and other things.
Some digital audio recorders are able to use removable memory cards, usually in the form of SD cards, to record audio on. All of the recorders listed in the chart below allow the user to connect to a computer to download recorded audio to a PC or Mac, but what happens if the card fills up and the user does not have access to a computer to unload it? This is where removable media is important, and all but one of the recorders in our review provide it.
Being able to carry a single, flexible recording device in a pocket is a great benefit to any musician, but even with the best digital audio recorder it is still important to have options available to use external microphones should the need or desire arise. All of the recorders in our chart allow for external microphones, but only one provides full size XLR microphone jacks built into the body of the unit. In terms of recording channels, The Zoom H4n, Zoom H2, and the Tascam DR07 add the flexibility of having four recording channels available when needed.
While being small is nice, if a device is too small using the navigation buttons and reading the LCD screen becomes problematic. The larger the screen and more numerous the buttons the easier it is to switch recording modes or move and delete unneeded audio files. The readability of the LCD screen is also important, and among the models listed in the chart the Edirol R-09 is the brightest and clearest.
Use the chart below to find the individual audio recorder that you are looking for. Also included in this chart are two desktop style CD burning digital audio recorders that are found on other pages here at MusicEdMagic.
|Edirol R-09HR||Tascam DR-07||Pocketrak CX||Pocketrak 2G||Zoom H4n||Zoom H2||Tascam DR-100||Yamaha C24||Yamaha W24||Zoom H1||Zoom Q3||Sony PCM-D50||Olympus LS-11|
|Check Price at Amazon|
|MEdM Rating||Not reviewed yet||Not reviewed yet|
|Read Review at MusicEdMagic||Read Our Review |
of the Edirol R-09.
|Read Our Review |
of the Tascam DR-07
|Read Our Review|
of the Pocketrak CX
|Read Our Review |
of the Pocketrak 2G
|Read Our Review |
of the Zoom H4n
|Read Our Review |
of the Zoom H2
|Coming Soon ||Read Our Review of the Yamaha C24||Read Our Review of the Yamaha W24||Coming Soon||Coming Soon||Read Our Review of the Olympus LS-11|
|Recording channels||2||4||2||2||4||4||4||2||2||2||2 plus video||2||2|
|Multiple Pickup Patterns||No||No||No||No||Yes, 90/120/360||Yes, 90/120/360||No||No||No||No||X-Y/Wide Stereo||No|
|Best WAV Recording Formats||24 bit/ 96kHz||24 bit/ 48kHz||16 bit/ 48kHz||16 bit/ 44.1khz||24 bit/ 96kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz||24 bit/ 96 kHz|
|Best MP3 Recording Format||320kbps/ 48kHz MP3||320kbps/ 48kHz MP3||320kbps/ 48kHz MP3||128kbps/ 48kHz MP3||320kbps/ 48kHz MP3||320kbps/ 48kHz MP3||320kbps MP3||320kbps MP3||320kbps MP3||320kbps MP3||320kbps MP3||None||320kbps MP3|
|Mic setup/coincident pair/etc.||side by side||side by side||coincident pair X/Y||side by side||coincident pair X/Y||coincident pair X/Y||Side by side||Side by side||XY Coincident Pair||XY Coincident Pair||XY Coincident Pair||XY Coincident Pair||Side by side|
|External Inputs/ Line Level/ Mic Level/ XLR/ Phone||Mic/Line||Mic/Line||Mic/Line||Mic/Line||Mic/Line/XLR x2/Phone x2||Mic/Line||1/8 inch Mic/Line||1/8 inch Mic/Line||1/8inch stereo line input||None||Stereo Mini Jack||1/8 inch Mic/Line||2x 3.5mm Mic+Line|
|Phantom Power for External Mics||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|USB Connectivity||Yes w/provided cable||Yes w/ provided cable||Yes w/provided cable||Yes/ Integrated||Yes w/cable||Yes w/cable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Software Included||Cakewalk pyro Audio Creator LE||None||Cubase AI4||Cubase AI4||Cubase LE||None||Cubase AI5||Cubase AI5||None||Handy Share, Quicktime||Sound Forge Audio Studeo LE||Cubase LE4 ||Cubase LE4|
|Memory/Type||512MB SD Card||2GB SD Card||2GB Micro SD Card||2GB Internal||1GB SD Card||512MB SD Card||2gb SD||2gb SD||2gb MicroSD||2gb SD||4gb internal||8gb internal||8gb internal|
|Maximum Memory||2GB SD or 4GB SDHC||2GB||32GB SDHC||32GB SDHC||32gb SDHC||32gb SDHC||32gb SDHC||32gb MicroSD||32gb SDHC||Memory Stick Pro ||32gb SDHC|
|Batteries/Supplied||AA x 2 / not provided||AA x 2 / provided||AA x 1/ rechargable Eneloop high performance battery||AAA x 1/ rechargable Eneloop high performance battery||AA x 2/ not provided||AA x 2/ not provided||1x AAA supplied||1x AA supplied||1x AA||2x AA included||4x AA included||2x AA included||2x AA included|
|External Power Connector/Supplied||Yes/ provided||Yes/ not supplied||No||No||Yes/ provided||Yes/ provided||No||Yes/ Not Included||Yes/ included||Yes/ Not Included|
|Plug and Play?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|LCD Backlight||Yes/ OLED||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Variable Pitch Control||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Variable Speed Playback||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No|
|Included Accessories||Wireless remote control included||None||earbuds, mic stand adaptor, carry bag included||soft carry case. mic stand adaptor. earbuds, usb cable included||Solid plastic carry case, mic clip adaptor||desktop stand, mic clip adaptor,earbuds,stereo Y cable included||Clip-on style mic stand adapter||Wireless remote control, mic stand adapter, USB Cable||No||RCA AV Cable, Soft Carry Case||USB Cable||USB Cable, Lanyard, headphone to headphone cable, |