Digital recorder recommendation?

I use a seven- to eight-year-old Sony MiniDisc to record lessons and various live performances. The sound is fantastic, especially with the above average (but by no means professional) microphone I use.

It’s not especially cumbersome, but its lack of USB interface means pulling tracks off of it requires playing things back through an analogue input in real time. There’s also a couple seconds spin up time that isn’t quite awful, but can be a wee bit annoying.

I have no experience with I-Pods and the like, so haven’t kept up on the state of digital recording at all. But given the ubiquitousness of flash drives, media players, and the notion that I don’t need a built-in microphone, I’m assuming there is a relatively inexpensive recorder out there that will match or best the MiniDisc.

I’m looking for something relatively small in size, has enough space in its drive to record eighty minutes of uncompressed sound (which would be better than the MiniDisc, but I’m assuming that 700MB is a trivial amount of storage on a device), has a microphone jack, a USB connection, and if I’m really lucky, has some sort of remote control (I have one now, which makes recording during lessons a lot easier).

Oh, and fairly cheap to boot. I’d be whimsically replacing an otherwise perfectly good, has-served-me-well unit, so it’s not really worth changing things around if I have to spend a bundle.



I hope you don’t mind me bumping this for the morning/afternoon crowd — I’ve searched and searched but all I can find are MP3 players or voice recorders. Some of the latter may have higher quality recording settings, but they also bulk up with built-in microphones and speakers.

I’ll get back to you tonight after rehearsal after I’ve polled some of the cast members who use portables. I know there’s an iPod that can take a mike and there’s some spacey looking thing that has a built-in pair of mike’s. For the moment, I’m just using the built-in camera/mike on my MacBook. It’s working out okay, but I know there’s better stuff out there. (And the files that it generates are massive!)

Just to be clear, you’re after something about the size of your hand, right?

Wow, that would be fantastic, thanks!

Yes, the smaller the better (it needs to fit in my case!). My current player is an MZ-R70, and it’s about 3” square and 3/4” deep. It’s got good jacks (for its time, again no USB) with two lines out, a remote, and a mic jack. I use a Sony ECM-MS907 mic with it. The two fit in a small pouch that is easy to carry and recording is not intrusive. Again, nowhere near professional equipment, but between the two the clarity is outstanding.

Things may have changed, but I’ve never heard a built-in mic that comes close to the 907 for range and accuracy. I mainly record djembe and other African percussion, so there are both a lot of lows and piercing highs (bells) that need to be distinguishable. I shouldn’t completely scoff at a built-in mic (there are many times it would be more convenient), but a line-in jack is really sought after.

Other things, like a color wowza video screen and speakers are completely unnecessary.

I have one of thesefor recording nature sounds. It’s in stereo, and is pretty much top o the line. Spend the extra and you will have this for a long long time. It is an extremely versitile piece of machinery.

p.s. I don’t have time to write more at the moment, but if you take a good look at the specs you may find some useful utility for spending the extra $$

Wow, that looks fantastic (drool…drool…drool) but a bit of overkill for the moment. Not that I have an extra four or five hundred samolians sitting around, of course :slight_smile:

This eight-year-old unit of mine really doesn’t need replacing, and it’s good enough such that if it’s playing back through our parlor’s speakers people sometimes think someone is playing live. Clearly I can’t record bee farts over the flapping of their wings, but that’s OK. For now. (drool…drool…drool)

Very funny !:smiley: I’ve been trying to capture owl songs but I’m not having too much luck. I’ll keep at it. I had a panasonicdigital voice recorder that was great for memos. I’m not sure if it is what you are looking for.

So far - two enthusiastic recommendations for the Zoom H4, one singer had the Zoom H2 and thought it was okay, one had an iPod with a Griffen brand microphone. and bizarrely, 5 singers have to get back to me because they don’t know what they have. (Okay, I know that not everyone is as geeky as I am, but how do you not know what you’re using?!?)
According to this article in MacWorld, there’s another mike to use with your iPod by Belsen, but I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about it one way or the other.

Off to bed, but more to come.

Are you aware that that latest MD format, Hi-MD, allows for direct digital transfer between recorder and computer via USB? Unfortunately, you have to use Sony’s bug- and DRM-laden software, but transfers are still much faster and higher quality than with the old MD format.

I used an old MD recorder for years and switched to Hi-MD a few years ago. My recorder is an MZ-NHF800, which I see you can get on eBay for about $170 (with a couple of mikes!). If you really want to stay with MD, you could probably find a used Hi-MD recorder for $100-$150 or so. (Make sure it has a mike jack!)

I was going to suggest you buy one at the top Web site for MiniDisc recorders and players,, but one look there seems to prove that MiniDiscs are really on their way out. MiniDisco used to have a large selection of MD and Hi-MD players and recorders. Now it appears they carry exactly one. And they have a lot of flash digital recorders, including several that have been recommended by previous posters. They weren’t there last time I looked.

I recently bought an Olympus WS-331M to use instead of my Hi-MD recorder. It’s called a digital *voice *recorder, but the quality is pretty good. (I haven’t tried recording music, though.) It’s smaller and easier to use than the MD recorder, and it records directly in the WMA format, which is much more convenient than Sony’s proprietary format. And although the MD recorders are small, the Olympus is tiny, a little bigger than a pack of gum. It also has a jack for an external mike, although its internal mike is fine for my purposes.

Depending on what you need to record, one of these might work for you, or the Zoom H2, which costs about the same as the Hi-MD recorder I mentioned above. It’s significantly bigger than an MD recorder or a digital voice recorder, though.