Portable Cassette Tape Recorder Recommendations
August 27, 2014 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I need to buy a tape recorder to do interviews with people in punk bands. I'd love if it was also loud enough at playback to function as an extremely crummy tape player so I can transcribe the tapes without headphones or listen to cassettes in my room (this magically started working again, but it's only hooked up in my living room).

so, I started a music blog (link in profile), and my friend is all like "I can get you into this sold out show and you can interview (lead singer) of (actually kind of famous band)" and I'd like to not look like an idiot and actually get a good interview, so I need a tape recorder.

- inexpensive
- durable; it's going to be in my messenger bag when I bike around
- built in speakers that go as loud as possible so I can listen to Mean Jeans while drinking in the park or whatever

- if I could connect it via headphone jack to my existing cassette deck to dub mixtapes for people
- available with free two-day shipping through Amazon prime

Before you tell me to "just check Goodwill!" please keep in mind that I live in Chicago and our thrift stores are way more picked over than wherever you're from.
posted by Juliet Banana to Technology (10 answers total)
Have you looked at Digital Voice Recorders? They will record in a digital format and you can just play it on your computer, phone or mp3.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:22 PM on August 27, 2014

If digital works for what you want it to work for, I have one that you can totally have. It's actually a pretty decent quality (for 2004) and was a gift from my mom who thought--hahahahahaha--that I would record my college lectures for posterity.

If you want it let me know and I'll dig it out of my bin of retired gadgetry for you. We can do a handoff in the Loop tomorrow or something.
posted by phunniemee at 2:27 PM on August 27, 2014

Do you have a smartphone? I've known several serious people who just use a smartphone for this, often with a better external mic. Is that an option?
posted by brainmouse at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2014

Response by poster: If I decide to go with a digital voice recorder I will probably take up phunniemee's offer. They definitely still make cassette recorders and I would prefer something that I can use as a portable cassette player, so I'd prefer recommendations for specific models of cassette recorders that would work for my purpose.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:35 PM on August 27, 2014

How inexpensive is inexpensive? If you really need analog, I did a quick local Craigslist search and found a couple pages of analog tape recorders for $20-40, with a median around $30. Speaking as a former music journalist, however, if you can use a digital voice recorder, it's really a lot more convenient for this task.
posted by Mr. Six at 2:38 PM on August 27, 2014

Just chiming in that I use my ipad for my professional interviews (research interviews with patients), and it is better than a hissy tape recorder (I have used both). I transcribe from my computer. The quality is really good (and not so bad on my iphone in an emergency, but the ipad is definitely clearer). I use the Clear Record app. You can also back the recording up to dropbox or email, if you need to hang on to the interviews for a while.
posted by tinkletown at 2:48 PM on August 27, 2014

There's a shop a block from me in Rogers Park that sells record players and tape recorders; I can try to stop in tomorrow and ask for for recommendations of you're willing to hike all the way up here to pick one up.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:59 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looks like they're easily available cheaply on ebay. I used to have this Sony and it did a great job.
posted by merocet at 4:09 PM on August 27, 2014

When I started interviewing people I bought a series of tape players starting with the cheapest one and working my way up to a really Dat recorder with a seperate mic.

Then smart phones came out. They're just way way better not only at recording but also playing back to transcribe and storing the audio. I can't find any of my interview tapes from 2004, but I got a sweet Dropbox full of mp4s forever since 2009 (you know, for when I write my book, lol).

Anyway just an additional vote for the cell use. No one has ever looked at me weird for recording an interview on my intelligent phone. And I've interviewed some real creeps.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:14 AM on August 28, 2014

Look at office supply store websites. They sell them. If "tape recorder" yeilds no search results, try "dictaphone" which will give a mix of full and mini cassette recorders as well as DVRs.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:28 AM on August 28, 2014

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