looking for a decent digital recorder for binaural recordings
January 25, 2010 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a small, inexpensive digital recorder that will work with an external microphone and hopefully uses standard AA or AAA batteries. I want to use it for making binaural recordings. I would like to make decent quality recordings, but professional quality is not essential. I will likely be using this microphone.

I've seen a couple old posts here on mefi, but I thought someone might have some newer information. Ideally, I'd like to spend under $100. Again, I'm not planning on making professional recordings. I just want to record some nature sounds, bicycle rides, theme park trips for fun. But I would like the recordings to be of decent quality.
posted by pahool to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have the Olympus WS-210S and I've been happy with it so far. It works with an external mic and uses one AAA battery. It's extremely lightweight and pretty tiny. The one not-so-good thing about Olympus digital recorders is that they record WMA files, but there are various programs you can use to convert them to WAVs or MP3s.

Also, I paid $60 for the recorder on Amazon 6 months ago, so I don't know why it costs $100 now. Olympus makes a few other digital recorders with similar specs, and they all tend to have pretty good reviews.
posted by pluckemin at 3:08 PM on January 25, 2010

I was actually coming on here to recommend the same product! We actually used them for broadcast recordings and they were just fine! It was a couple of years ago, so I'm not sure it was the exact same model, but we were really impressed by the results we got -
1. If we used a good mic
2. if we used the lowest compression setting
3. If we turned off all of the 'voice filter' settings

good little recorder for the price!
posted by munichmaiden at 3:21 PM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: How much recording time can you get from the Olympus on the lowest compression setting?
posted by pahool at 3:39 PM on January 25, 2010

I have a Sony ICD-UX70, which costs about $90 and records MP3 files at 160 kbps. It requires a single AAA battery, and has a standard 1/8" stereo microphone jack. It is simple and straightforward, and does exactly what it needs to do.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:50 PM on January 25, 2010

I'm pretty sure it was 8 hours in the STHQ mode (stereo, high quality).
posted by munichmaiden at 3:54 PM on January 25, 2010

Technical specs for the Olympus WS-210S are here.
posted by pluckemin at 4:26 PM on January 25, 2010

You might be satisfied with a MiniDisc recorder. The Sony MZ-R70 was an optimum model (review).
posted by Rash at 4:55 PM on January 25, 2010

Best answer: The Olympus LS-10 is extremely popular for this sort of application, and very popular. (I have a few friends who have them, mostly for recording practice/jam sessions, and they all seem to like it very much.) However, it's out of your price range unless you can get a very good deal on a used one. But if you can afford it, that's the way I'd go.

The one thing I'd suggest, based on my experience with a cheap Olympus recorder, is that you get one that uses removable SD cards for storage. This is the one thing that I think is totally obnoxious about my recorder, and the one area where the audio-recording device market is miles behind the photographic market. (Built-in memory is so 1997, and it should stay there.)

If I were buying a new recorder now, I'd probably look at the inexpensive Sanyos, like the ICR-FP600D and 700D. The only thing I think you need to figure out is whether they produce "plug in power" for Sony-style condenser microphones, or if they just have passive inputs. I can't find anything in a quick look at the spec sheets, so you may be out of luck there. But it might be worth double-checking or even contacting Sanyo about, since they are nice little recorders offering basically unlimited capacity at under $100.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:36 PM on January 25, 2010

Response by poster: Well it turns out I just got a great deal by getting a Tascam DR-08 on pre-order and bundling it with the mics that I was going to purchase anyway. Reviews sound good. I'm ending up getting a much better quality recorder than I was expecting to purchase at about $110 more than the cost of the mics alone. Thanks for your help everyone!
posted by pahool at 12:10 PM on January 26, 2010

Tascam DR-08


You should really think about putting something up on Projects once you've made some recordings. I find binaural stuff fascinating, and I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in hearing it.

Good luck!
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:25 PM on January 26, 2010

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