Special Interest

GEAR / TECHNOLOGY => gear/tech/etc => Topic started by: bitewerksMTB on June 20, 2012, 02:44:43 AM

Title: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on June 20, 2012, 02:44:43 AM
Looking at digital recorders for field recordings. What's everyone using? I'm specifically looking at the Tascam DR-07mkII or the DR-05 which is $50 cheaper. There's another that is 4 tracks & $50 more than then the DR07. Not sure I need 4 tracks. 2 is probably enough but 4 might be a nice option if/when my 4-track tape recorder dies.
Anyone use the Tascam(s)? Or recommend another brand that is around $100-150 (some gear mailorder joints offer deals with 3 easy payments).

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on June 20, 2012, 03:17:00 AM
I'm expecting one of these (http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h1/) in the mail soon (I hope) -
They have a four-track option but I decided on this because it was cheaper - can always edit at home.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Zeno Marx on June 20, 2012, 03:30:26 AM
I've heard some surprisingly great recordings made with the Zoom products.  The majority of them have been with the H4n.  From the conversations I've read, when Tascam goes head-to-head with Zoom, they don't fare well.

interesting stuff about microphone placement:

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on June 20, 2012, 04:28:58 AM
The reviews I've read on the more afforable Zooms (except for H4n), is the cases are not very sturdy & the mic picks up little movements. I haven't come across that issue with the Tascam. I'm going to keep looking around, track down some reviews but the Tascam DR-05 is what I'm looking at. The price is right.


Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: murderous_vision on June 20, 2012, 06:15:11 AM
I have an old Sony MD and a GE cassette handheld. Both fucking rule. I paid $4 for the tape and $50 for the MD used. Deals are out there, you may not have to pay that much. Will send you those machine samples this weekend. I am actually going to make you a recording fresh tomorrow and mail you the cassette...

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: tiny_tove on June 20, 2012, 08:34:42 AM
I have been using for many years the zoom h2. despite the limited display it is excellent for any kind of recording.
I use it for studio recording, audio card and microphone for both vocals and  field recordings.
and it was quite cheap.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: FreakAnimalFinland on June 20, 2012, 08:36:19 AM
I have used H2 zoom. It's not utterly perfect for ALL things, but for price range, very good.
I have friend who has bigger more hi-fi brand, with all sorts of XLR input (for 2 microphones) etc. It is without doubt better for ultra hi-fi recordings, yet if you want to carry recorder in your pocket, and make recordings easily by simply pushing couple of buttons, then Zoom is most definitely better.
For loud sounds and big spaces, it may produce quite flat sound - which may or may not be possible to made sound better by mastering. But close range, tolerable level sounds - it can be very good. Field recordings, rehearsal recordings, saving sounds for later use (like synth, metal junk, etc).

Alchemy of the 21st Century CD all field recordings were made with H2, with no effects or mastering of any kind.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: ghoulson on June 20, 2012, 08:43:36 AM
I used the Zoom recorders for a while but they were unreliable and didn't really provide what I was after.
Managed to purchase a Roland R-05 a few years ago for €50 - now using it for most field recordings (even if I still do many with taperecorder).
http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=1077 (http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=1077)

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: WCrap on June 20, 2012, 09:38:02 AM
it really depends on what and where you want to record, if you need it for recordings outside in the field / the streets / smaller acoustic noises and instruments, or if you want to record high volumes / loud noise in the studio or live.

if it's the first, i have this one and could not be more happy.
i record everything from close-up recordings of crickets, water, cello playing or gongs to street riots and fireworks.

if it's the latter you need to look into some recorder which allows you to hook up proper external microphones, as most build-in mic's won't be strong enough or too sensitive, especially not in the price range you were suggesting in your first post.

general rule: more expensive = better product. the internal mic's of the $100-150 price range will get you a good dictaphone, but nothing more.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on June 20, 2012, 03:10:48 PM
Got mine today. Took it to work for a try-out, seems reasonable. Very easy to use, at least, and small enough to put in the pocket. It doesn't feel sturdy, it's true, but we'll see how long it'll last.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: crumer on June 20, 2012, 03:44:57 PM
I love the Zoom. Just take out a lot of 1k for loud stuff and it sounds much more present. See most of side B of Burning In Hell. Quiet birds and trains sounded good as well as giant pieces of sheet metal. Maybe using it in mp3 mode the compression made it sound 'tighter' to my ears. Always impressed with digital field recording in general, growing up four track means to die excited about no tape hiss, maybe too easily impressed. I didn't have any problem making the Zoom sound harsh or loud / clear using only simple EQ fixes, in Audacity even.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: nidding on June 20, 2012, 05:00:27 PM
I have a Zoom H4n and a Tascam DR07. While it's more expensive, I'd choose the H4n any day - it's a totally different league.
The Tascam has a lot of handling noise, but can make good albeit kinda flat sounding recordings when fairly stationary - so it's a good choice if you want the more affordable option and have the time for making your recordings ... if you're more the "record-and-run" type, then it's not the best choice.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on June 20, 2012, 08:45:45 PM
This is as annoying. Almost all of the brands are the same +/- one or 2 features. The Roland looks good for the sturdy body. As far as recording quality, I'll just be playing back through my mixer to record to 4-track. I'm sure most of these would be just fine for my simple needs. I'm not recording band rehearsels or jet engines.

Thinking of getting one of those dual tape recording decks so I can spit out weekly Mania tapes limited to 20 copies each. I think I saw one place you can pay out over 4 or 6 months with no interest.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Jordan on June 21, 2012, 12:33:28 AM
I'm pretty happy with my H4N.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: ConcreteMascara on June 21, 2012, 12:42:00 AM
My friend's got a Roland R-09HR and it works quite well. Used it to record a lot of source material for Concrete Mascara. Really crisp sound.


Oh shit apparently it's discontinued. NEVERMIND

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Half Aborted on June 21, 2012, 01:30:10 AM
Zoom H2 has always served me well (though the first one I got stopped working quite early on, luckily I was able to get a replacement. It's a very basic piece of kit, but that's fine for my needs.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on June 24, 2012, 01:41:15 AM
Just ordered the Tascam DR-07 MKII with adapter for $123 together. Good deal considering other places had the DR07 for $149 plus another $29 for the adapter.

First new piece of electronic gear I've bought in, maybe, 3+ years!


Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: martialgodmask on June 24, 2012, 02:42:12 PM
Got mine today. Took it to work for a try-out, seems reasonable. Very easy to use, at least, and small enough to put in the pocket. It doesn't feel sturdy, it's true, but we'll see how long it'll last.

What's the recording quality like?

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on June 24, 2012, 02:56:09 PM
Very good. Picks up a lot from a wide area. The stereo panning is always worth-while. Good enough for micro-sounds - I got a nice few minutes of mineral water bubbling.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on July 30, 2012, 06:56:40 PM
Ordered a Tascam DR-05 from B&H Photo last night & already received a shipping confirmation. Looking forward to getting back to some new recording despite it being too hot to shove around metal in a shed...

B&H has the best price on this recorder if anyone is looking for one.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Nil By Mouth on July 31, 2012, 02:20:18 PM
I'm expecting one of these (http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h1/) in the mail soon (I hope) -
They have a four-track option but I decided on this because it was cheaper - can always edit at home.

I have it but I can't see the four-track option. Maybe is it related to another version?

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on August 02, 2012, 11:09:04 PM
The 4-track is a different model.

Have my Tascam & pretty good so far. A couple test recordings sound good & clear; no sound from handling the recorder (borrowed a little skeletonstand-thing I can screw into the back of the Tascam). Definitely an improvement over the Sony MD I have been using for years (with the same 2 md's).

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: martialgodmask on October 23, 2012, 05:19:57 PM
So what are the thoughts now with a couple of months use of both the Tascam option (Bitewerks) and Zoom (Andrew)?

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: kettu on October 23, 2012, 05:28:06 PM
I have that little zoom in the picture. 80euros maybe and worth it. meaning if you cant afford a better one get the zoom. I havent got any experience on the fancier ones,exept dassum bought one and you could use the built in mics AND have line in xlr mics recording at the same time.thats a cool function for hardcore 3d ambience recing.

pros of the little zoom, good enough quality sound and if you brake it , its not the end of the world. I can only imagine the cussing when you drop a 400 euro machine into a cave or where ever.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: martialgodmask on October 23, 2012, 07:10:42 PM
The Zoom H1 has been on my "interest" for a while, so that's good to know. How does it hold up to "live" recordings at volume?

As a slight deviation, as I don't know whether it warrants a separate thread, can anyone comment on this:

Trying to find reviews or demos of this kind of gear used for noise/related rather than wanky guitar-based reviews feels a bit of an uphill battle, unless I'm looking in the wrong places.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: kettu on October 23, 2012, 07:28:29 PM
when I used it to digitize tapes, or running a 4-track into it, those felt a little quiet but all the live recordings were plenty loud.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on October 23, 2012, 08:39:20 PM
My Tascam has been excellant. Very easy to use, doesn't eat up battery power in a heartbeat, & recording quality is excellant. Does not pick up much handling sounds, if, any at all. Recorded some machine sounds half a block away & sounds are good (at least, from listening with headphones). Bascially I have nothing negative to say about it.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: pentd on October 23, 2012, 09:47:24 PM
so i just recently got my zoom H4n. i chose that from thomann's list cos compared to the other ones on the market this one came with a power source, adapter for mike stand, pop shield, and particularly in thomanns deal you could choose a bigger memorycard - and it was cheaper than with the normal 2gb?!?! so the tascam thing would have been cheaper, but no power adapter included.. or the other zoom, but no 4trak option.. in the end i thought "fuck dis crap" and just went for this one. after 13 years of minidisks, external mikes, power adapters, unreliable recordings (having it on rec, then play stop, md writes the table of contents, then -- ta daa -- "blank disk" aaarrrgghh wtf) i cant believe i didnt switch earlier.

still havent really gotten used to owning one. forgetting it at home, or forgetting i have it recording somewhere in the room. 

at 1st i was shocked cos i had good headphones on and walked around recording all kindsa test stuff... thru headphones i got lots of hiss and shit. i thought what a crapp. then i transfered them to computer, played back on genelecs -- almost fell on my ass. top quality mikes in such small capsules. no hiss. great separation. m/s option. looking through the manual it has too many options that i will probably never use. but who knows...

recorded recent noise gigs in helsinki at the merch table ca 6 or 7m away from amps at lowest input level. no clipping, nice separation, too bad some people were standing in front of it, moving around... high ends come and go... so not really the machine's fault, but yeah!!

so far only complaint is that with this 8gb card it takes 17-18 seconds to boot, so not a quick lightning starter. but quite a revelation, why did i wait so long. not the cheapest but for a reason!!

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Zeno Marx on February 03, 2013, 08:03:42 PM
I tried to check if this was already linked, but I didn't find it.

Zoom H4n, Tascam DR-100 MkII & Olympus LS-100 Compact XLR Recorders Compared

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: metalpunk on February 05, 2013, 10:24:19 PM
I own Zoom H4 (the oldest model I think) for about 6 years and it's perfect for me.
A lot of my friends have other models of this brand, I think I saw all of them and every model is OK, but sounds a bit different.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Leatherface on August 17, 2013, 12:21:28 PM
The Zoom H6 looks awesome!!!!

http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/h6/ (http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/h6/)

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on August 17, 2013, 02:29:16 PM
It does look tempting, but what with all the up-grading that happens at such a rapid rate, it's best to wait a year or two. By then, such models can be cheaper in price, second hand, etc.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: bitewerksMTB on August 17, 2013, 08:59:41 PM
The H6 does look pretty awesome. I'd probably look into something like that when my 4-track dies. It looks bulky if you were wandering around with it though.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Cementimental on August 19, 2013, 03:58:21 PM
Finally caved in and got the H4N, it's ideal for my purposes and finally i am getting some passable live recordings. :)

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: apewrist on September 01, 2013, 10:02:29 AM
I own a Tascam DR-40 and absolutely love it. Even though it can't act as an audio interface (unlike the Zoom H4N), that's not a big deal since it can obviously record straight up from the mixer output. Additionally, it can record from all four inputs independently (two line-ins, two built-in mics) which is a great feature. I don't know if it's better or worse than the Zoom H4N but I've read some comparative reviews and the bottom line is they're pretty similar.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Leatherface on September 14, 2013, 04:19:09 PM
How much different effects we can find on the H2N and the H4N?

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Niko on September 14, 2013, 06:00:46 PM
Dunno about H4N but there is no effects on H2N.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Leatherface on September 14, 2013, 08:54:37 PM
From the Zoom site, about the H4N:

"■Onboard effects include studio effects and guitar amp models
The H4n offers a choice of 50 studio-quality DSP effects including compressor, chorus, phaser, delay, and reverb. In addition, models of the most famous guitar amps are included. Find tone perfection with classic amp models during your recording sessions.

Amp Models
For Guitar FD Clean, VX Clean, HW Clean, US Blues, BG Crunch, MS #1959, PV Drive, Rect Vnt, DZ Drive, TS+FD_Combo, SD+MS_Stack, FZ+MS_Stack
For Bass SVT, Bassman, Hartke, SuperBass, Sansamp, Tube Pre"

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: pentd on January 06, 2014, 02:43:42 AM
so... any reports on the H6 zoom?

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Marko-V on February 10, 2014, 09:56:00 PM
Olympus LS-5 is easily the best recorder I've dealt with. If I ever lose or break it, I will buy another one without a doubt. Sound quality is good when using a good microphone. There is only mini-plug mic in connection, meaning it has a nice portable size. There's also line in connection which is good if you are using external field mixer. Battery time is really long. Previously I got fed up with recorders which used battery power like hell. I can record for hours to internal memory or SD-card with one pair of AA's. I have used LS-5 internal mics once in a while. I think they are ok but i'd rather use decent external mics. A friend of mine who records every single gig he goes to, was quite pleased when I suggested he could borrow my recorder just for a test (after two recordings he went into store and bought himself one). I mostly record field sounds and some acoustic instruments and for that use it serves me nice.
PROs: size, quality, battery time, memory options, structure (I've used it frequently for 6 years with no problems)
CONs: no XLR-connection

I also have a cheaper and much smaller Olympus LS-3 which runs on two AAA batteries for hours... and hours... and still more hours. LS-3 is so small that you can slip it easily in your breast pocket and secretly record the conversations around you (oh yes, I've done that... sorry folks) when using internal mics. There is three internal mics so you can make some form of omnidirectional recordings (I'm not too convinced about that). Mic in connection is mini plug but there is no line in connection, and the mic in connection doesn't handle line level sources very well. The windshield foam which is included in the package is a complete waste. It doesn't fit on the mics very well, keeps falling off very easily. So if you are making recordings outside or on the move, you better get a decent external mic (which I suggest getting anyway). There is two different bass roll-off settings and the harder one cuts bass off a little bit too much for my taste. Battery time is a blast and internal memory is 4 GB (+ optional micro-SD card). I have used this as a back-up recorder for LS-5.
PROs: size (very stealthy), battery time, memory
CONs: no line input, handling noise when using internal mics, "only" 16/44,1 PCM WAV as the highest quality recording format

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: urall on February 20, 2014, 08:23:28 PM
Anyone uses any smartphone apps for fieldrecordings ? 

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Andrew McIntosh on February 11, 2016, 02:20:56 AM
I recently took possession of a Tascam DP-008EX. I was considering getting a Zoom H-4, since I like the idea of having something that can record on site but with layered tracks rather than one audio track that needs to be edited later. But I settled for the Tascam instead as it was much the same price but had on-board editing including cut-and-paste, which is something I've done a fair bit of when editing pieces.

Since it's only arrived yesterday I'm not sure how good the inbuilt microphones are - they sounded reasonable enough when I tested it yesterday but needed a fair bit of boosting in volume - but if I need to get a decent microphone to go with it, so be it. I just like the idea of having something stand alone that I can do much of the mixing and mastering as well as recording with. I'm tempted to team it up with a laptop for further audio editing and use it as my main recording device at the moment, but I'm not ditching the old computer just yet.

In the meantime, it's a nice little device to have, small and light enough to take anywhere, and will be useful for more immediate recordings.

EDIT - works okay and gets a good sound but final mixdowns will need a bit of mastering once they're on the computer I think.

Title: Re: Handheld digital recorders ?
Post by: Marko-V on April 03, 2017, 05:01:14 PM
Just got Zoom H6 couple of days ago. Never owned any Zoom model before so I cannot really make any first-hand comparisons but at least it is said that Zoom has made some improvements on the noise-floor issue which seemed to trouble some earlier models.

6 inputs: two inputs (named L+R) are dedicated to Zoom's own mics (there's two different types to choose from + couple more which you can buy as extra) and four inputs for XLR/plug. So far I haven't tested how nice it deals with line in sources but there's -20 pad dedicated for that use. Apart from obligatory low cut and compression choices, there's not any additional effects and I think it's quite nice because I don't feel like paying extra for some half-assed onboard amp modeling or reverb effects which I propably never use. By the way, I was quite surprised to see how many different low cut options there was - 10 different options between 80hz and 237hz. Three different compression presets + another three limiter presets. It really bugs me that manufacturers rarely state clearly the parameters of compression settings (mainly threshold levels & ratios). They are mostly just named like 'vocal', 'general' or 'drum'... just like in Zoom's case. Luckily I found those details elsewhere (some dude emailed Zoom and asked them).

The unit itself feels quite solid at hand. Dedicated volume buttons for each intput is easy to reach but there is always a danger of turning them accidentally since they are quite close to each other. I've learned that accidental volume changing should be avoided by 'hold' fuction... BUT... H6 hold function prevents everything else but turning volume knobs which seems to me like a planning error.
As usual, many functions are hidden inside menu structure which usually is a little bit pain in the ass but longer you use the unit the quicker you get at handling the menu. But there's one thing I miss in every recorder: a quick 'undo' function. We all make shitty takes once in a while... don't we? I'm still a little confused about the whole file structure in H6. If I had a project with for example all six tracks recorded, and I feel like erasing one of the tracks... I haven't found any other way than overdubbing or silencing it at the moment of downmixing or exporting. Just an example of some practicalities which at the moment annoy me a little bit.

Screen is quite small considering you have to see six tracks there but so far I have dealt with it. The only questionable thing is the visibility in a plain sunlight. One of the most criticed aspects is the ergonomics of the unit, because the screen is situated so that if you are recording (by using unit's own mics) yourself playing for example acoustic guitar i.e. sitting in front of the unit, it's impossible to check the levels while playing. So that must have made a large amount of folk musicians mad (nothing wrong with that, pardon).
Powering is by four AA batteries or via usb connection (computer, AC adapter). I use 13000 mAh power bank which is a nice way to power up the unit especially when feeding phantom power to external microphone(s).
There's no internal memory. All data will be saved to SD card (up to 128GB - but as usual, the bigger the card capacity - the bigger chance of audio drop-outs etc. unwanted stuff). I use the attached 2GB card which is easy to get filled. Luckily I have three or four of them.

There's two microphones included in the package: X/Y mic and mid-side mic (which is a new approach to me). After quick testing both, it seems that the volume needs to be cranked up quite high on both - or get as near the source as possible. Or use external mics. X/Y mic sounds good. Mid-side has slightly more self-noise and therefore many users have declared it as a marketing gimmick with no real value of use. As far as I noticed by using just simple Audacity plug-in, the noise here isn't impossible to clean out in DAW. Besides it feels like the unwanted noise issue affects mostly side mic. You can actually adjust the level of side signal onboard (or in DAW by using free M/S converter plug-in). I really need to inspect this whole mid-side approach a little closer since it's fairly new to me. For those unaware: mid-side mic here consists of one 8-figure mic pointed to side(s) +  a directional mic facing forward. Together they create (after some confusing phasing processes etc.) a wider sense of stereo field - for example recording an artist from audience while a directional mic picks the sound from stage and 8-figure mic picks the audience ambience from left and right (if that's what you want in the end).

One more interesting thing about this recorder is that you can use it also as an audio interface via USB connection. Tested it quickly, in a stereo mode (2 in 2 out) worked fine with Windows 10 laptop, multitrack mode (6 in 2 out) made some unexpected loud sounds. There's always possibility of having driver related or settings related issues so good luck if you feel like using H6 as an audio interface. No need to try older than Windows 7 since it doesn't work that way with them (but as an external HD it worked fine with my trusted old Windows XP).
When finished with recording project, I'll propably transfer my files independently to DAW and make final mixes there, or if I feel like mixing my stuff onboard (meaning I don't need to add effects to any tracks) I can make a stereo downmix (or several of them) and export the downmixed file(s) to DAW for final mastering. As said before, there's no any fancy effects included. You can only make basic mixer settings for your project, like panning and leveling or changing pitch of individual tracks without affecting the length. You cannot make fade ins/outs, you can only trim starts/ends or divide projects - very minimal.
Talking about leveling, there's one thing that I find rather annoying. There's no master level meter. Or if it is there, it is too well hidden and there's no mention of it even in the manual. When having one stereo track it's no problem but when you have a project having six tracks full of shit, it would be nice to have some hint where the overall levels are. That's no problem if you transfer them all to DAW, but that is a problem if you feel like downmixing it.
OK, overall it is a nice product and I'm happy I got it for such a reasonable price (325€ - compared to Thomann's price tag of 399€).
PROs: Sound, enough inputs, build quality appears to be good, volume knobs are easy to reach.
CONs: Sometimes volume knobs are maybe 'too easy' to reach, 'hold' function doesn't inactivate volume knobs, no quick 'undo' function, no master level metering