Digital Recorder Advice

Digital Recorder Advice

Hey guys. I’m looking to buy a digital recorder to record myself and/or others playing tunes. I’m looking to spend $250 max. I have no clue what the most important features of digital recorder are these days. What format (.dss or mp3) should I be looking to record with? Should the recorder have a mic jack or are built in mics adequate. Should I get a multi track recorder?

I have no other recording or storage equipment, but I suppose I’m looking to store my data on my Microsoft Computer and/or on an iPod type device. Model #s and/or any other advice is greatly appreciated. Thanx in advance. (For a young EE my knowledge of modern consumer technology is rather pathetic).

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

Well, if you can get your hands on one of the 3g iPods (pre-clickwheel) you can install Linux on it, and magically have a stereo recorder at CD quality. I used mine a lot for recording until the battery went dead (disclaimer, my iPods get the living crap beaten out of them through use, so this isn’t a critique of apple product)

The other option, albeit a bit more expensive, is this badboy… YUM!

http://www.whistleanddrum.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=THI.EDI.R1

No hard drives, built in stereo mic, nam nam nam!

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

First, what are your requirements for sound quality and playback options? There are some pocket digital recorders in the $30-50 range that do a fairly decent job of recording a session for tune learning. Or, for a few hundred bucks, you can get a four-track “portastudio” that lets you mix down tracks and produce a fairly listenable recording. It depends on how serious you are about the final product and what convenience features you need.

If you care at all about the final sound quality, you’ll probably need to spend at least half of that budget on an entry-level stereo mic. Than any digital recorder with a stereo input will probably do an acceptable job. In the audio chain, the transducers are usually the weakest link.

So, just like in engineering, develop the requirements first and then do the shopping.

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I think it really depends on what you’re going for. Are you wanting to be able to record cd quality recordings, or are you looking to record sessions and lessons for tune learning purposes.

The unit that pelsor gave link to is a really nice little unit. (The guy who owns whistleanddrum brings his to sessions with us all the time - quite nice!)

Personally, I use a Creative Zen Micro player (<$200). It is 5GB, and has a decent built-in mic. But it is made for voice recording, so the quality is lower. It is very small, fits in a pocket, and records better than any portable cassette player I’ve seen in sessions. I can leave it running for an entire session without having to start/stop or swap media. It has a replaceable battery, so if it ever wears out, I can get another one. It does not have a mic input, so you’re stuck with the internal mic. But I’ve never had it clip in even the loudest sessions.

There are plenty of voice recorders out there that do take stereo input, and will record better quality. I also have a Sony ICD-ST10, which can record pretty good quality, and even has a slowed down playback feature built in. But I have problems with the buttons shorting out, and it stops and starts during recording quite often.

A lot of players tend to gravitate toward the mini-disc players, but it is increasingly difficult to find ones that actually record anymore. Plus you have to worry about having a bunch of little discs floating around. There are also some issues with being able to transfer files from minidisc recorders faster than "real time", and they don’t support Macintosh computers.

Pete

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I have a spare 2G iPod that is sitting around. Can I put Linux on it and make a recorder?? if so pm me and tell me the details!!!

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Re: Digital Recorder Advice

In another discussion here, I talked about my Sony MZ-RH910 portable minidisc and ECM-MS907 Stereo Microphone. It records hours of music on a 1-gig disc, and it’s a cinch to upload it via a USB cable to my computer. The whole rig cost about $300 USD w/ some extra discs and a bag. A lot of folks at folk music summer camp use the same setup, and it really works well. The sound quality is quite good, and w/ commonly available applications, you can convert the files into anything.

I’d stay away from integrated mics. They can pick up machine noise. The Sony mic is pretty good for the price, but there are of course better ones if you want to pay more.

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

High-strung…have you ever corrupted a disc by shutting down your computer? I hooked mine up and had computer problems and shut down without formally closing the connection. Now the disc is corrupted and I cannot access it. Any advice?

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Re: Digital Recorder Advice

Jode, is that a USB disc or flash card youre talking about? If software came with it, it might include tools for fixing that problem.

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

Sorry, I meant a Sony mini-disc, connect via USB. You are supposed to disable the connection before shutting down. I haven’t looked at the support site yet, but thought I would ask the question here.

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Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I’ve recently invested in an iRiver 395 (any iRiver with line-in jack will do) and a powered stereo omnidirectional mike (unpowered mics won’t work on the line-in).

I’m really happy with the results, unlike some other Digital recorders iRivers have a large range of recording quality settings

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I am an iRiver fan having bought a H340. It has an internal Mic which is not ideal but you can plug in an external mic quite easily and record a good quality MP3. It isn’t WAV quality so you wouldn’t use it for recording a CD, but for anything else it is adequate.
My wife has the smaller (soon to be extinct) iFP790 and that is much cheaper but still records quite adequately for sessions and the like. I think this was recommended in a prior similar discussion - check the archives.

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I have an iRiver H340. It has a 40G hard drive. I have stored on it about 700 CDs and a number of audio books. I have about 8G space left. It has a built in FM radio. The device will record from the internal mike, an external mike or from the built in radio, all in stereo. Up to now I have had no problems with it, the sound quality is really good, using my own headphones, the ones that came with it are not very good. I have used it for recording our sessions, in MP3. I loaded the recordings on my PC, edited the better performances, converted them to wav filesand put them on a CD. The quality is really good. I bought my iRiver from Argos UK for £280.

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Re: Digital Recorder Advice

Or you can record on your iPod with one of those Griffin things without having to install Linux. No idea what the quality is like though.

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I’ll give another vote for iRiver - I have the model that preceeded the H340. You can record at very high quality, to WAV or MP3 (I think they may have dropped the WAV option from the new 340 but you can use high bit rate on the MP3 instead). At the folkworks week in Durham, Niall Keean said that loads of his students in Ireland seem to use the iRiver for recording sessions etc. The only minor niggle is that when using the built in microphone, you sometimes get the sound of the hard drive spinning up as it dumps data… best to use an external mic for really good results.

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Re: Digital Recorder Advice

I highly highly recommend the Olympus DS-2 or DS-20 voice recorders. Thay have built-in stereo mikes (or you can use an external mike for even better quality) and record up to 128 kbit Windows Media Audio with a 16-bit 44 kHz sample rate. They are the same except that the DS-2 has 64 MB internal memory and the DS-20 has 128 MB, which translates into over an hour of highest quality on the DS-2, and over two hours on the DS-20. Much longer record times in standard stereo (64-kbit) or mono formats. Both have USB interfaces and show up as hard drives on your device so no proprietary software required. The DS-2 is about $140 at BestBuy, the DS-20 is $199 and only sold through Radio Shack. Both can slow down tunes without changing the pitch up to 50% and can do A-B looping of tune sections.

Cheers,

Michael

Re: Digital Recorder Advice

Jode, I’ve heard about that issue, but I’ve not experienced it, and I don’t know what can be done if it happens. Sounds like a tech support call to me.

Haven’t heard of an iRiver until now. Quite a youth-oriented website, shall we say. That’s probably the future of portable digital audio, though. Big money in this concept. Can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in another five years. When my MD dies, I’ll hire my daughter as a technical consultant. I’m going to need one by that time!