Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Anybody have the latest scoop on digital recording devices? I was keeping up on this up till the point when the Sony Hi-MD came out. I didn’t get one, but it was headed in the direction I want. My ideal set up would be a recorder that records in spankin’ sterio, with battery life of at least three hours, small/compact, non-proprietary transfer in mp3/wav format in firewire or whatever the USP is called. Oh, and lets say in the relatively inexpensive category too.

Any leads? Any updates? Anybody got somethin’ they like? How are them Ipods coming along (last I heard they only recorded in mono)? Are sony MDs on their way out?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

The iRiver H320 (H300 series) records extremely well and should satisfy all your requirements.

My son has one and brings it to sessions and it has proven its value. You will require a decent microphone to go with it.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?


This isn’t exactly state-of-the-art, but I’ve been using a little Buslink mp3 player, that includes a voice recorder, to record workshops, pub sessions, and tunes played by friends, to learn. The quality is not good, but no worse than my cheap sony tape recorder I used to use, and way more convenient.

I can listen back on the computer (I use iTunes on a mac) or just from the mp3 device, which I also dump CD tunes I’m learning onto.

The next step would to get some software for editing the files, so that I can, for example, isolate a tune set from a long pub session file…

I chose the Buslink, because it was cheap (about $50US), small (it looks like, and works like a simple memory stick), and (like a memory stick) uses flash memory, with no cables required. Another bonus is that I can store and transfer other types of data files as well. The one I use is only 256MB, but that’s plenty for the way I use it.

The downside is that it’s a pretty cheaply made thing; the cap has already gotten loose and fallen off, lost; the battery compartment cover is next…

Here’s a link to a similar, current, device. I hate websearches on this kind of stuff - the documentation is alays inadequate. Good luck!

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Feargal, is the IRiver sorta like the Ipod in that i could simply plug in some headphones and listen to tunes off of it; or jack it into the car stereo as I see people do with the Ipod?

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

I assume you want something little? I am so in love with my FostexMR8HD but that’s a porta studio. I am thinking of getting one of the Zoom or Tascam Pocket Studios. You can plug in two mikes, but if you don’t want to, it has a condenser mike built in. It takes the memory cards like for the digital cameras, you’d have to get at least a 512k one to get a few hours (I think) of record time and they are another $60 or so. You’d have to dump the music onto computer to re use the card.

Does anyone have one of these? I wonder at the quality of the built in mike, or if you can use one of those little stereo mikes like you can with the Sony mini disc.

I hear people have lots of trouble downloading the minidiscs to computers…crashing etc. Not sure though.

I think Eiderol (sp?) makes a recorder with two built in stereo mikes but it’s about $600. It may have more recording time, but supposed to be great quality.

I would like to be getting near studio quality recordings but have a pocket device, and with the option of plugging in a few condenser mikes if needed. The Zoom is under $200 on ebay.

For editing, you can download audacity for free, it’s really pretty straightforward and easy to do edits on. If you save things as wav. or MP3 they should load fine.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

I have an iRiver 300 series that I really like; but their customer support is—well, minimal would be a nice way to put it. Still, I, a technotwit, have learned to use it.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

I recently bought an M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 (A division of AVid) and am very happy with it.

It come with an acceptable T style stereo microphone, but can take any type of mic; either stero mini jack or two standard jack mono mics. It provides phantom power, has an S/PDIF interface; and has independant record level control for each stereo channel.

It will record either WAV or MP3 format and is very easy to use, though it took me a little while to ge used to it.

It connects to a PC via USB and shows up as a disk drive. No special software required on recent-ish PC’s

Records to standard compact flash cards (solid state available upto 1Gb) They claim 4 - 5 hours battery life.

MSRP is $500. I paid under $400 for it at The Guitar Center (USA). There is a ready supply on Ebay @ $400 with some offering free international shipping.

The device is here

I came with the audacity audio editing software, that is readily available here

I am looking for a Vivanco EM38 mic (any know where I can get one?). Studio quality mics are very expensive.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

I got an Olympus DS-20 earlier this year and have benn very happy with it. It’s a DVR but the quality is great for grabing tunes too. It has built-in stero mics or you can use an external. It will record about 2 1/2 hours at 44100Mhz (CD quality) native WMA files which are very easy to convert to MP3s. It comes with a little docking station or just plug it into you computers USB port. Retails at Radio Shacks here in the states for under $200.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Hey billiamconkey, that looks like a handy, handy device - although still maybe a wee bit on the pricey side. I’ll maybe wait and get one if the price drops a bit.

Posted by .

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

second that Ronnie P. seem to be lots of decent and fairly affordable choices out there. that’s encouraging.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Wow, Feargal, i checked out the IRiver web site ( and it appears that if you buy one that some really really hot babes will be giving you some really saucy looks. Has that been your experience? ‘cause if so maybe i should buy two. (You gotta see one where the saucy look involves a half-eaten apple.)

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

I have both the Microtrack 2496 for very high quality session recordings and an Olympus DS20 for quick session tune grabs. I heartily endorse both devices.

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I’ve got an iRiver and am really happy with it, but looks like even with an iRiver the hot babes have passed me by.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Thanks billiamconkey, that cool piece of kit, the "M-Audio Microtrack 24/96" has gone straight to the top of my list, for the attention of - SANTA!

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

wow…the microtrack looks amazing. As I understand you can plug in a pre amp and use good mikes, condensers, since there is phantom power?

Does it record the two tracks separately and then mix them down to WAV. Does anyone know can you Balance the two tracks separately before mixing down, or can you import each separately as a WAV or MP3 to an editing program?

I still need the MR8HD Fostex for recording a large session I think so we can have up to four mikes/tracks, but this would be great to carry around.

just need to save up again!!LOL! Can’t justify it now after just getting the Fostex and a few more condenser mikes!

I have an Olympus gizmo that was about $50 and doubles as a little spy camera! It is good for recording session tunes you want to learn, quality not great, but you can burn them to CD. It lasts two hours. It weighs nothing and the batteries last forever.

The multitrack would be great to take on a trip, but you’d need a bunch of the memory cards or a laptop I guess to dump them into. Same for Olympus.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

irisnevins - yes there is phantom power. You could use a preamp, but I am not sure if there is a need to - just connect the mics directly. When I was shopping for this I was looking for a device that did not require additional bits and pieces. Their web site has lots of info.

The device has independant left and right level controls for recording, indpendant "VU" meters and two red clipping indicator LEDs

The two tracks APPEAR to be editable separately. When you record, it results in a single WAV or MP3 file. When you open it in Audacity, you will see two fully separate tracks. I assume they can be edited independantly, though I have not tried it yet.

Audacity is free opensource software so you can download it for free without having Jiminny Cricket whispering in your ear. Try it on your favorite MP3. It has lots of nifty features.

(You can of course edit the id3 tags (V1 or V2) for those of you who were talking about how to categorise your tunes)

Ptarmigan & Ron P, Thanks for the kind words! I am fairly new to the The Session and throughly enjoy it, so let me say "nice to meet all of you, and Happy Christmas, or whatever else you celebrate this time of year" Liam aka BilliamConkey.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Hey Liam, welcome. That was a cracking first couple of postings Sir.

I’d say your gonna fit in here rightly!………seasons greetings right back at ya!

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

nice to meet you, Liam, welcome, and thanks for the info on all the helpful info on this thread. and thanks to everyone else too. this is very helpful.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Thanks Bill…I don’t see…is it phone jack inputs…that’s what it looks like, so to plug in xlr mikes I imagine a preamp or adaptor?

Audacity will show two tracks, but they are the same. It’s mixed into WAV. and it is one track but stereo. At least as far as I have seen, once it’s WAV. you cannot edit the separate tracks. I wonder if you can save each track separately as a WAV and import them, then edit each and then resave as a mixed file.

i am pretty well versed in Audacity. I have had Cubase and used Nuendo, they all basically do the same stuff, I just like that Audacity is more pared down. The others have a zillion things I’ll never use, or don’t think so at this point. I can edit really well in audacity. I don’t like their EQ system so much so I use another program called Diamond Cut for EQ.

This gizmo looks real tempting!!!! I am in a little crunch right now so won’t. Anyway as soon as you buy one thing, something better comes along the next week! So waiting has it’s good points!

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Iris - (I assume you are "Iris Nevins") Thanks for your reply


The inputs are:

1) Two 1/4" TRS mono jacks switchable for mic or line input levels with dual pre-amps (no external pre-amp required) with switchable phantom power

2) Single 1/8" input stereo minijack with 5V for a stereo electret microphone

The gizmo does not have XLR connectors. XLR TO 1/4" Jacks converters are available. I believe you can get them to carry phantom power properly but I myself have not done this.

The RCA connectors are for output monitoring. there is also a stereo headphone jack.


If you click the pull-down on the audacity track display, you will see an option to "Split the stereo track". The left and right channel can then be edited independently and saved to separate mono files. Similarly, you can collapse stereo tracks to mono, and you can join mono tracks as stereo.

I have tried this with both WAV and MP3 files. By mixing a jig with a hornpipe as left and right tracks in a single WAV or MP3. The results are spectacularly dissonant!

Once mixed, they can be split back into their separate parts and saved separately as two channel mono or as single channel left or right track stereo.

The MP3 and WAV files are clearly two distinct stereo tracks, not a single mixed track.

Audacity, lets you open multiple separate channels stacked in one window and edit and mix them together in more ways that I have patience for.

Am I missing something here? I am not a recording engineer, I just play one at sessions. 🙂

Can’t help you with the money - maybe Santa will be nice to you!!

Best Regards, Liam.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Thanks Liam. Somehow though when I bring in a wav. file from elsewhere Audacity does have two screens but they are identical. I can of course record into it and have all the separate trackes to edit. I will look further at the split track thing later and play with it….of course while I should be doing REAL work…..getting behind!

Santa will likely put coal in my stocking for neglecting things and running around recording sessions etc.! Really the MR8
was the Xmas gift, if early, to myself. I would like a mini version too and will get something in the near future. I am a freelance artist so the income is feast or famine! Hard to plan ahead. But things work out just fine. As I mentioned, if you wait a few months they come out with something better anyway…least that’s what I tell myself!

really though, this little machine looks great, there is so much great music that just happens sometimes you want to be able to catch it.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

I just use my digital camera which has a sound recording facility, the quality is very good if only in mono, I am listening to music we played for the set dancing last night with the camera stood in front of the speaker. It is great for learning tunes and holds 35 hours on a 512 mb card in WAV, so no need to carry extra disks about.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

billiamconkey (or anyone with the microtrack) -

Is it possible to use this device as an audio interface to a computer (for recording directly to the computer) as well as a portable recorder? I mean, if it has mic pre-amps built in, and a USB interface - wouldn’t it make sense if it could? But the question is….can it do it?

Interesting-looking unit.


Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Milosdad - How can you fit 35hrs of WAV into 512mB. Most Wav files I have come across use about 5-10mb per minute. Even CD format uses 700mb for just over an hour.
Is this because it is mono ie double the time for same megs.and then lower sampling rate for double again. This would bring us up to 3-4hrs.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?


Hmm. This is not something I have tried.

I am almost sure that that the USB connector is only useable as a file transfer interface. The device has two modes

1) Recording / playback (I use it as my portable MP3 player)

2) Connected to a PC. In this mode the record playback functions do not operate

The S/PDIF connector is a digital feed input connector.

Nice idea though.

You might like to take a look at this site which offers a professionals perspective and offers a range of interesting microphones. I believe (don’t quote me) they sell the Microtrak for $369 which is the best price I have seen, plus shipping.

All the manuals and guides are on the M-Audio site



User’s Manual (you can save the PDF to your own machine)


Regards Liam

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Liam - CORE SOUND - wow what a throw back to the past. Len Moskowitz - the guy who owns it and designs microphones - used to play in a…….soul band….with me way back when I used to play…..saxophones…..we used to meet in a rehearsal studio and worked up to our first gig when the whole band broke up. Lots of tun though. I haven’t thought of him in a while. Very nice guy.

Thanks for all the detailed info


Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

Donough, the camera is a Casio exilim EX-P600, but I dont know how it fits that much on, maybe the rate is slower than normal. It is pointless as high quality recording as it has no mic input but it does me just fine for learning the tunes without the mess of changing disks.

Re: Digital Recordng Devices—Whats the latest?

the new 5th generation ipod can now record in 22 mhz mono or 44 mhz stereo which is greatly superior to the 8 mhz on earlier models

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I’ve heard that too about the ipod but are there decent audio interfaces (mic) available for the ipod? Also - what kind of control is available while recording?

I think they will get there eventually