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What Are Portable Audio Recorders?

Date:2019/11/21 17:43:35 Hits:

For years, capturing digital audio was limited to expensive and bulky professional recorders. Things have changed. It’s now possible to record professional audio for under $300 (or less!) from a kit no larger than your hand.

Portable recorders differ in features, price, and form factor. Generally though, they are:

Inexpensive: from $99 to $500.

Self-contained: microphones, interface, display, power, and storage are all packed into a single kit.

Small: digital recorders are designed to be compact and portable, ranging from the size of a candy bar to paperback book.

Simple: easy to use with intuitive controls, and designed to get up and running quickly.

These features make them perfect for beginners wishing to experiment with professional audio for the first time.

A Creative Explosion

Portable audio recorders have exploded in popularity in the last five years.

One reason portable audio recorders have become so widespread is that there are many different people that use them. Musicians capture inspired riffs during jam sessions. Field recordists carry them to record impromptu sound effects. Filmmakers may strap a portable to a DSLR to collect improved audio for their indie film.

In response, the portable audio recorder market has grown to a half dozen manufacturers that offer a handful of models each. For beginners interested in recording better audio, that is a problem. Which model is best? It’s difficult to know.

Here’s the short answer: there isn’t a single audio recorder that is perfect for everyone.

That makes sense, of course. Each pro has their own needs.

So, instead of telling you what recorder is best, today’s article will teach you how to choose. Let’s learn how.

Portable Recorder First Choices

While everyone’s needs differ, people tend to think of portable recorders three ways.

The first is price. If you’re dipping your toes into the world of pro audio you likely won’t have the same knowledge as veteran production sound mixers. So, it makes sense that you want to make every dollar count until you learn more.

The second is purpose. A band that records in the studio has different needs than a field recordist recording in a jungle.

The third is feature set. A field recordist will want sterling audio for the quietest nature sounds. Musicians may want to mix tracks on the recorder itself. A podcaster will need inputs for lavalier microphones. Filmmakers may need their recorders to be compatible with the cameras they use.

Let’s learn how to choose.

Budget-Minded Portable Recorders

Planning more serious recording sessions? Just a little more cash will buy you a dedicated portable recorder with improved features.

The most inexpensive option is TECSUN PL-600 Shortwave Radio,an shortwave radio with worldwide coverage with FM stereo/SW/MW/LW/SSB reception.

Expandable Audio Recorder Options

Do you find yourself working on more challenging projects? Need cleaner sound, expert features, and expanded options?

Tascam’s DR-40X with an important new feature set: two channels are provided by the onboard microphones while the second pair are added via external microphones connected their XLR/TRS inputs. Want to add a lavalier or shotgun boom microphone to your mix? These recorders allow valuable expandability for more complex filmmaking or podcast projects.

Professional Portable Recorder Choices

Do you need to record quiet forests, distant birdsong, or subtle soundscapes?

If so, one feature is essential: a clean preamp. Budget recorders are capable of recording loud sounds. However, recording quiet ambiences reveals the limitations of the thermal noise present in any electronic device. Cheaper recorders have more of it: a broad, coarse, hiss. If you plan to record nature soundscapes and avoid this sound intruding on our recordings, you will need the top tier of portable recorders.

How to Choose a Portable Recorder

In this post we explored many portable recorder options. How do you choose what’s right for you? Let’s review:

Budget. Consider how much you are willing to spend. Generally, recorders fall into these tiers of price, quality, and feature set: less than $150, $150 to $400, and over $400. If you have cash to spare, even $50 will access more features and better sound.

Purpose. What are you planning to record? Music, crowds, interviews, or nature sounds? Will you work inside where form factor isn’t as critical, or in the field where every ounce counts?

Features. What features do you need to get the job done? How many channels of audio will you capture? Are you recording quiet sounds, or loud ones? Will you add microphones to your recorder, or will the onboard ones be enough? Do you need an audio interface to edit sound afterwards?

As we learned earlier, there isn’t a single recorder that’s perfect for everyone. Each recorder’s price, purpose, and features vary. Just the same, choosing any of them contributes something vital: the ability to share your creativity and inspiration, through sound, to the projects you join.

Field Recording
Casual or entry-level recording:Tascam DR-40X

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