If you’re here for quality, then you’re here for the right reason…
Let me explain:
One of the often forgotten devices that used to be huge not so long ago, are these portable digital recorders.
Now that every phone has this ability, you no longer have to go and get specialized devices to record sound at your leisure.
But here’s the kicker:
When it comes to the quality of the recording, things get a bit more complicated.
Today we have some pretty capable models available.
On that note, I’ve done the research and come up with the 3 best portable digital recorders.
The criteria I used was solely based on the price to performance ratio and how certain features of the recorder could impact your user experience.
Here are my 3 top picks for this category:
The 3 Best Portable Digital Recorders
|Portable Digital Recorder
Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
Zoom is an old and very familiar name when it comes to the audio industry.
Their span reaches far and wide, including portable digital recorders.
The Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder is one of their mid-tier model that brings all the necessary performance that might be light on features but gets the job done with great quality.
Let's see what makes this unit tick.
An Usual Design Provides You Amazing Results
The overall design of the Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder is rather unusual.
The microphone capsule is shielded by a light cage, and there are two microphones.
The two are facing the opposite direction from one another, allowing them to achieve full coverage of the area you are recording.
All of the essential controls are located on the side of the recorder, while the main LCD screen can be found on the front.
In terms of what it can record, choices are numerous. You can record WAV at 96kHz and 24-bit max, while 48kHz and 44.1kHz are also supported.
Recording MP3 is also possible, and the rate available goes from 48 to 320kbps.
Performance = Best Bang for Your Buck
What really makes the Zoom H1 the best bang for your buck is its performance.
It has some of the main characteristics of the Zoom H2 which I'm going to talk about next, but none of the advanced features which would ramp up the price.
The recordings are crystal, while you can also record in stereo mode thanks to the microphone layout.
Simple to use, reliable, affordable.
The Zoom H2n Handy Recorder
Compared to the H1, the H2 is a more advanced beast.
When you first see it, no one would blame you if you mistook it for a cardioid microphone.
The reason for such a bulky form factor is the number of microphones this thing features.
For the most part, the Zoom H2n is a bit more professional piece of gear that can be used for filming purposes as well as other applications where the quality of sound is key.
You Get 5 Different Microphones!
Unlike most portable digital recorders, the Zoom H2n Handy Recorder comes with five different microphones.
What that translates to are some pretty interesting directional recording patterns.
Let's just say that you can be much more flexible than you would otherwise be if you were using anything below the H2n. We are talking 360 VR audio, spatial audio and so forth.
Just by dropping in two AA batteries, you can expect some 20 hours of battery life.
The Perfect Option for Professionals
If there was a single piece of gear that was perfect for the use as a portable digital recorder, it would be the Zoom H2n.
Compact, easy to use, capable and reliable, this model packs a perfect combination of features and options for any professional.
On top of that, the price is more than reasonable considering what you're getting.
Tascam DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder
Finally, we have a Tascam model that deserves some recognition.
This recorder is somewhere in the category with the H1, but it does things a bit differently.
Besides that, you can get the same level of quality performance you would expect from Zoom.
What mostly attracts users to the DR-05 is its rather conservative design.
It's a quintessential digital recorder.
Features That are Very Easy to Use
The first thing you'll notice when looking at the Tascam DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder, are the two omnidirectional microphones. They are capable of recording in stereo mode that actually works.
The front panel is where all of your controls are going to be, and they are pretty simple. It doesn't mean that you are lacking anything, but rather that it's much easier to use than some models out there.
You get adjustable tempo, chromatic tuner, and so much more.
Performance is High, Making This a Tempting Option
All things considered, this is one quality piece of gear.
Recordings are clear, well defined, and properly adjusted for stereo.
The interface is really easy to use, making this a perfect model for those times when you need to start recording fast.
For this type of money, the Tascam is a very tempting option.
Quick Recap and Final Recommendations
What's the bottom line?
Whether you are looking for a digital audio recorder for home use, or you are someone who needs this type of device for work, any of these three models are bound to give you the type of performance you are looking for.
Want to know the best part?
I have chosen the recorders that were tried, tested, and abused over a long period of time.
Each of these came out the other end still kicking.
You might be wondering:
Why didn't I include more or less expensive models. There's a simple explanation for that.
I wanted to give you several choices that will get the job done perfectly, with an average user in mind.
That means someone who doesn't or can't commit to a much more expensive recorder, but still doesn't want to deal with cheaper ones.
With that said, no matter which one you go for, you will be satisfied with the results.
For Sales Prices:
Please refer to the table above.
I update the prices and retailers regularly.