Portable Recorder Lineup


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The internal mics on most recorders will provide audio quality ranging from good to great. Except for the stick-mic recorders, all recorders provide at least mic inputs. Personally, I like the robustness of an XLR connector for a mic. Many inputs use 3.5mm connectors.

Both styles of recorders may offer fixed (internal) or removable storage. Some have both. There are pros and cons to either. Fixed storage has the advantage of never being lost or the recorder not be loaded when it's used. With internal storage, power on and record. One drawback to internal storage is filling the capacity. If the recorder is used for long interviews or periods where it is not possible to offload material, the recorder can't record any more. With removable storage, a new card can be plugged in and recording can go on.

Many recorders with removable storage accept cards nearing 32GB. This allows for recording times that can approach days in length when a compressed audio format is used.

Power is another important consideration. Standard batteries and internal rechargeables have considerations similar to storage. Non-removable batteries typically charge when the recorder is plugged in to a USB port. This makes it easy to keep the recorder charged, but limits the time the recorder can be used in the field without being returned to a USB port. With common batteries, fresh cells can be installed on the fly. The Yellowtec IXM has fixed and removable batteries.

Since the first handheld personal devices (PDAs) were introduced in the late 1990s, there have been efforts to turn them into professional field recorders. The first attempts usually required add-on hardware making them awkward and bulky. Now that Ipods have become so ubiquitous, using them to record is natural. There are several software programs available for the Ipod Touch and Iphone. Adding a mic, such as the Blue Mikey, creates a practical option for field recording.

Going one step further with an Ipod, there are options to add metering and enhanced connectors to the Ipod. These docking adapters are bulkier than dedicated recorders, but if you're set on using an Ipod, there are choices. The two noted on our list are still compact.

View the comparison chart of various portable recorders.




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