Portable digital recorder with powered mic in and removable storage
February 20, 2008 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a portable digital recorder that is as small as possible but has a powered 1/8" stereo mic in (for a binaural mic), records uncompressed PCM at at least 16-bit 44KHz, has removable storage, and does not need special software to transfer and deal with files on a computer (e.g. it should record direct to aiff or wav on the card.)
posted by neustile to Technology (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Hi-MD minidisc fills the bill. I have the Sony MZ-M100.

- 1/8" stereo mic in (with phantom power, so to speak)
- Uncompressed PCM at 16 bits/44.1khz
- Removable 1gb discs (around 74 minutes of record time)
- Mounts on Macs & PCs as an external drive with .WAV files

Much, much more info at minidisc.org.
posted by gazole at 8:23 AM on February 20, 2008

Addendum: this appears to be the current model. It is Mac and PC compatible (like the MZ-M100 but unlike most other MD units).


Also, these things are damn small. Less than an inch thick, and about 3 or 4" square.
posted by gazole at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: hi gazole, thanks for the tip, but as stated I definitely can't have it require software to transfer.
posted by neustile at 8:36 AM on February 20, 2008

neustile, the two Hi-MD units don't require software unless you're using the Sony compression (ATRAC.) If you record in PCM, it's just files on the external storage device that you can do whatever you want with.
posted by gazole at 8:37 AM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, nice. I did not see that. So you don't need any drivers or anything at all to mount the player as a mass storage drive on any platform? (I work on embedded devices)
posted by neustile at 8:40 AM on February 20, 2008

Since I haven't used the PCM for a while, let me test it out now to be sure...

...and yup, I was wrong. My apologies. Sony, you bastards!
posted by gazole at 8:45 AM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: oh, thanks for testing! It does look like a nice device. The search continues!
posted by neustile at 8:47 AM on February 20, 2008

To clarify: yes it mounts as removable storage, but no it does not record its WAV files in such a way that you can access them without Sony's software.
posted by gazole at 8:49 AM on February 20, 2008

How small is small? A 3G Ipod-sized Iriver H1x00 with the Rockbox addition will record to either WAV or lossless compressed formats, using either built-in mic, analog 44.1KHz line input or optical SPDIF. Also provides up to 3V powered mic input. Mounts as simple USB Mass Storage. Ebay is your best bet but, because of their utility as recorders, the 40GB version still sells for $200-$300, which is some kind of record for an mp3 player released in 2003. The 20GB versions are cheaper.

Another smaller Rockbox option for straight WAV recording is the rarer Archos Ondio players. Take MMC cards (swappable) or mount as USB Mass Storage. Uses 3 AAAs. There's also the larger Archos Recorders, but these are definitely not small. They can, however, take regular 2.5" notebook drives so you bulk them up to a lot of storage space.
posted by meehawl at 9:11 AM on February 20, 2008

Edirol R-09. Uses SDHC cards (up to 4GB), will show up as a straight removable drive in your menu, and can record in either WAV or various MP3 modes up to 320k. Uses an 1/8" input - one each for line and mic. And it's the size of a deck of cards. I love mine to pieces (thankfully not literally).
posted by mykescipark at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2008

The Edirol is very impressive, even using its built-in mics. It can also make MP3s from cassette tape output. Don't pay more than $300 for one, because they go for less than that new on eBay.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:11 AM on February 20, 2008

I have a Zoom H2 ($180-200) which I like a lot. It records wav or mp3 files to SD cards; you can stick the card in a card reader or just plug the H2 in via USB and it looks like a disk drive to the computer. The built-in mics are good and it has a powered 1/8" ext mic jack. You can hear a bunch of short recording samples here - all of these use the internal microphones a few feet away from some awful noisemaker or other. Some of them have some reverb added later.
posted by moonmilk at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2008

Marantz PMD620. I just got one to replace a Rockboxed iRiver H120 that got stolen. Nicely made, too.
posted by scruss at 12:35 PM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: Whoa-- some good choices here. What do you guys think looks better: the edirol r-09 or the forthcoming (next week!) tascam dr1?
posted by neustile at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2008

Response by poster: (thanks for the product recs by the way, keep them coming)
posted by neustile at 1:46 PM on February 20, 2008

You might want to check out the stuff for sale at Core Sound. They specialize in portable recording gear of all kinds.
posted by autojack at 2:22 PM on February 20, 2008

I would also highly recommend the reviews at Transom. Those folks - all public-radio heavyweights - know their stuff.
posted by mykescipark at 11:08 PM on February 20, 2008

further to mykescipark's comment - Transom point out that the PMD620 has the annoyingly slow USB 2.0 Full Speed interface. This is true, and is the only annoyance about the device.
posted by scruss at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2008

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