Recommend: a cheap device to record concerts
September 7, 2008 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some small cheap device that will work OK to record quality audio.

I have tried: iPod 4G w/ ipodLinux to record through a microphone on the headphone jack -- that gave me reasonably good WAVs but with a terrible intermittent hard drive buzzing sound; unfortunately ipodLinux doesn't work on the flash-based Nano. my blackberry voice note recorder -- doesn't even come close I am interested in any KIND of device, or even an ipod add-on, as long as it's cheap and small and hopefully (but not necessarily) includes both a good quality built-in mic as well as a line input jack. WAV files are perfectly fine for me, but if there were a device that would give me MP3 or some other compressed format that would be killer. Feel free to recommend off brands as long as they make a device that you have used with good results.
posted by oneous to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been using the USB-only Snowball by Blue Microphones. It retails at $100 - not sure if this is along your lines of cheap, though. For the same price on eBay, you can get the microphone and the shock absorber stand. So far, I'm pleased with the results - no buzzing, decent volume. Just make sure to get the patches for the hardware (you can download this online, somewhere).

Also check out the microphone reviews at the Voice Acting Alliance.
posted by Xere at 4:02 PM on September 7, 2008

ugh, bad link. Snowball by Blue Microphones.
posted by Xere at 4:03 PM on September 7, 2008

I've been using the sweet Zoom H2 for a couple months now. You can get one for about $150 with a bit of searching. It records to wav or mp3, and has four condenser mics, and records to an SD card. It's about the size of one of the older, bigger ipods, and very light. It works just fine with my homebrewed Gentoo Linux desktop.

I got this after doing a bunch of research. There are a bunch of hand-held digital voice recorders you can get for $30-100, depending on what kinds of features you want. The downside, of course, is that they're all geared towards low-quality voice recording. The H2 seemed to be the cheapest thing around that does portable high quality recording.

The problem with mp3 players for recording is that they tend to have a shitton of electronic noise, due to having crappy mics with crappy preamps patched in to electronics designed with recording as a very low priority. Fine for recording lectures, less so for recording sound.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:24 PM on September 7, 2008

It's a bit "old" technology, but Sony invested heavily in the (Magneto-Optical) Minidisc Format. A few years ago, they updated it to HiMD, which increased the recording/playback fidelity, added native MP3 support, and increased the storage to 1GB per disc.

They record in hi-quality WAV and uncompressed PCM format.


Don't pay attention to the MSRPs... those are for initial release units. Check Ebay, HiMD (and even first generation MD units) can be had for a song.

Another great benefit is they they don't use proprietary batteries or chargers. They get GREAT battery life (10+ hours) out of a single AA battery.

As far as HiMD goes, stay away from the MZ-NH600D. It doesn't record. The lowest HiMD model I would recommend for what you want is the MZ-NH800.

Standard MD has many of the same benefits, but without the native MP3 support, and smaller disc space. Make sure to look for a recorder model (some are players, some are players/recorders) with a USB function (Net MD). I have an N505. (the N in the unit model means "Net", which in turn means it has USB functionality.
posted by Master Gunner at 4:41 PM on September 7, 2008

Though, if you want something iPod specific, I would try this... goes for about $50:
posted by Master Gunner at 4:48 PM on September 7, 2008

I've done a lot of audio recordings in the last year or so and I've found the Olympus WS-110 to be a solid little digital recorder. It's very simple to use, will record in decent quality even from inside a pocket and doubles as a USB flash drive. You can get it from Amazon for $60 right now.
posted by fancypants at 5:26 PM on September 7, 2008

I'm a big fan of my iRiver H320. People make fun of me because it's not as sleek as an ipod, but I can live with that just fine.

They can be had for under $100 on ebay. There's also a 40 gig H340. Built in mic. Stereo line in. MP3 recording up to 300-something kbps. Built in FM radio. Record directly from said FM radio. The interface is a little clunky, but easy to get used to. Batteries are relatively easy to replace if you don't mind prying off a faceplate. Charge from either an outlet or a usb port. It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Works well as a portable harddrive.
posted by msbrauer at 6:09 PM on September 7, 2008

You could also look at this thread:
posted by clueless22 at 6:28 AM on September 8, 2008

The Zoom H2 is the bomb. Get one for US$199. I have used a sony minidisc, an iRiver H120 (much better than the newer 320), portable DAT recorders and analog equipment, and I find the H2 to be the best for its price. The Olympus LS-10 is more expensive, but also good.
posted by billtron at 11:36 AM on September 8, 2008

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