recording devices

recording devices

Can anyone recommend a light, small/portable and not too expensive device for recording at sessions and workshops? I have been using my mobile phone up to now but it is pretty lousy!

Thanks

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Get a Zoom H2. I’ve got one. They’re fab! And only cost a couple a hundred quid or wotteffah! Bargain!

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The Zoom H2 is amazing, better than the pricier ones I think.

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+1 on the H2. I just got one 3 weeks ago and Im very happy with it. Sound quality is excellent. If you get it from here you get a 1 gb card and a silicon cover-
http://en.woodbrass.com/ZOOM+H2+HANDY+STEREO+RECORDER+
Same price as amazon without the case and card I think

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I had MP3 but the high noise levels in some sessions created problems. Then I went for Olympus Voice Recorder - this is perfect for sessions, you’re not going to get a studio quality recording from it but with background noise in pubs that would be impossible anyway but the recordings are remarkably good especially if a small condenser microphone is used with it. It’s got handy features like it doesn’t take long to turn on, one press of a button to record, instant play back or slow down to half speed or double speed play back. USB integrated into it. http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_voicerecorders.asp?section=music
Condenser I use I bought quiet cheaply on ebay and is similar to this one http://tinyurl.com/2vk2ekr

I subsequently bought a zoom H2 but went back to the Olympus for sessions. Zoom H2 is menu based, takes ages to warm up/turn on and eats batteries. It does produce a superior recording and is best for a quiet, controlled setting.

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I have the Zoom H4 handy recorder.

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I have also been using various models of the Olympus voice recorder for the past 4 years. There are a number of models available in the Argos catalog if you want to see the features. It works very well in the workshop classroom environment and is OK in sessions. It works best if it is close to the musical source, but it is good enough for me to work out what the tune is and the version that is being played. Battery life is excellent but I did have to clean the battery contacts at one point to restore the performance.

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I use my iPhone and the voice recorder app provided with it. Perfect for recording, tagging and getting it all back to my computer with minimal fuss.

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Yeah the olympus is reliable - you put the recordings on computer with mine

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I use an Edirol R09HR, and it’s extremely good - very easy to use and CD quality (or more if you want it). It even comes with software that allows you to edit your recordings on your PC. Robust too. Not cheap, but I think it’s worth the expense.

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I’ve been very happy with the Zoom H2 I got back at the end of April. Easy to use for quick recording, but lots of options (e.g., compression) for other uses.

They’re coming out with a new model, the H1, that’s supposed to be available at the end of July, and has a list price of $99.

http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=2053

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The newest iPod nano has a memo recording mode that works okay. I’m sure there are better devices, but for the purposes of simply recording sets for me to learn from, I have no complaints, plus, it serves the primary purpose of carrying all my music to listen to while driving, exercising, etc. And talk about small.

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I vote Zoom H2 as well.

I agree it’s got a long warmup time, hard on batteries, and the menu is too small for my elderly eyes to read. But all that is compensated by the recording quality to price ratio.

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I have a Zoom H4 and I like it but I can’t say that it’s better or worse than an H2 or an Eldirol because I haven’t had those. I reckon they’re probably all good.

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I’ve been using an Olympus 480-PC for a few years now, has been reliable, and very handy - it’s quite small and fits in my purse. I use it for recording tunes, for telling myself things, and even as a voice-guide when traveling; after first Google-mapping my destination, I record each step of the instructions - much easier and safer than trying to read a map while driving.
I recently updated this thing, it’s as good as new, great little device. Not bad quality, either.

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Another vote here for Zoom H2. The negative points previously mentioned are valid but can easily be overcome. Big plusses are quality and flexibility options. It is worth taking the time to explore the options before making important recordings.

It does go through batteries but has mains power option if that can be used where you’re recording. I use rechargable AA cells. If I put a fresh set in after each hour of recording I know that I’m well and truly safe.

Recording to SD cards is another plus; you can carry as many as you might need.

From a cold start there is a bit of a warm up time but after that it can be set in standby mode so that one click starts the recording. E.g. to record at a session switch it on while players are tuning and getting settled, then press go as they are about to start.

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your probably gonna laugh at this, but i have a "toy" i got for christmas when i was young called a talkboy. its a tape recorder and as good as any.

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I have an Edirol, it’s very easy to use. I messed around with a Zoom recorder, which I thought looked really nerdy, and would never exchange for my Edirol, however it took me less than 5 minutes to have all the major functions, and even some finer adjustments sorted on it’s menu system… so it was ‘easy" to use as well by my standards.

I used my Nano to record recently, very low profile actually since they are nearly everywhere, not as obvious, etc. The recording was fine in a quiet room.

The Edirol and the Zoom however you can adjust to tolerate a louder environment, etc, worth the money if your intent is to manipulate the files in anyway, as they record in versatile and efficient MP3.

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I’ve used two different Olympus recorders, and both of them had the same problem: the .wav file that transferred to my computer played back just a tiny bit more slowly than the actual recording speed, so everything is flat. I have to open each file in Audacity and speed it up by about 2% before I can do anything with it.

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I have one of the Olympus voice recorders, it works fine for learning tunes. Initially I thought that lack of input level control was going to be a problem but for leaving on the table or in a shirt pocket at a session it would have been a hassle. It records WMA format though, so that might require conversion for some software.

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Zooms can also be set to record WAV files if quality is super-important. You get loads more music on to your SD card if you set it to MP3, and at the highest -quality MP3 setting you’d be hard-pressed to hear any difference for session-type situations.

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Another happy Zoom H2 user here. I like the option of being able to set the stereo pair as either front left/right or else front/back. A set of rechargeables just makes it through a three hour session for me.

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I’ve noticed the same play-back issue with my Olympus, now that you mention it. When I run a file through my slow-downer, I have to up the cents by about 30.

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Does anyone really record entire sessions? Also, do you then pour through every second of it at home trying to find the one tune you want? Do you listen to the whole session over and over in your car? That is some compulsion!

Sometimes if a session is in a fairly quiet environment, and only the best behaved and quality musicians are playing I will pull mine out and grab a tune or two, but otherwise I just can’t be bothered with wading through uneventful hours of my life already lived.

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I record entire sessions. I don’t listen to entire sessions over and over, but I might put one on as background music while I’m working or reading, and then maybe pick out the occasional set to put on a Minidisc and keep. You can’t predict when something special might happen, and I’ve been glad to have been recording when it did.

If somebody plays a tune or set I really want to learn I will make a quick mental note of the time, so I don’t necessarily have to pore through the whole recording.

I use a Boss Micro BR recorder. It looks very sleek and people are always attracted to it, and the sound quality is surprisingly good, good enough for my lo-fi ears anyway, but the interface is really difficult to use, and I couldn’t recommend it for that reason.

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Charl, it’s worth browsing in a local Curry’s store. You should be able to find small and inexpensive mp3 player/recorders by Logik, and perhaps a Matsui equivalent - that’s a Currys brand name. I’ve had one of those Logik devices for a few years and it gives surprisingly good recording results in a session situation. You can record in mp3 of wav (up to 22K, which is more than sufficient). The single AAA battery will last a decent time, and you could always carry a couple of rechargeables.

The Zooms, Edirols etc, magnificent creatures though they may be, are I think more suitable for studio and field recordings rather than noisy pub sessions, although they are ideal for recording a tutor’s playing at a workshop. Otherwise, I suggest they may be overkill, pricewise, for your purpose.

Another one you might consider is the Archos3, a very neat touch-screen mp3 and video player, with fm radio. It does voice recording very easily with just two taps on the screen, but the quality, although "ok", is possibly more suitable for voice than music. It records mono wav at 11K. It’s playback and menu system are superb, and you’re not likely to run out of space with 8GB on tap. It plays back most of the usual formats: mp3, wma (non protected files only), wav, ogg, and flac. One rather nice feature is that you can transmit recordings from the device to an fm radio in the same room at an fm frequency of your choice; saves having to wear headphones all the time.

One thing that applies to recording devices such as Zoom, Edirol, iPod, Archos, mobile phones, etc in a pub session is to NEVER let them out of your sight or reach - there are too many light-fingered people around. Which is why my personal choice in a pub is for a cheap-‘n’-simple-but-ok-for-the-purpose Logik which won’t be a source of too much personal financial grief if it goes walkies.

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One nice thing about the zoom (at least the H4n I have) is that you have a pre-record thing. So you can leave it in standby and if you hear something you like, you just press go and it includes the few seconds prior to you pressing the button. However, in practice, it records for ages anyway so I just let it record, and then press record to add a marker to the file.

I use mine for recording audio to go along with video work. It’s fab quality. And 11 hours on a set of 2x AAs!!

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Lazyhound, that’s a great point - thank you. Especially as when you’re recording, often you actually want to try to forget about the damn thing so it doesn’t get in the way of your playing - so while you’re not thinking about it (or even, not thinking about not thinking about it!) it would be quite easy to "lose" your ipod / phone / zoom / whatever, to the charge of the light-fingered brigade.