Bonus Coolness Factor

Edirol R-09

edirol recorder

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  • Easy to use
  • Good onboard mics
  • Good menu & interface
  • Windscreen not included
  • Tripod adapter is optional

Optional case & tripod are terrific

Edirol R-09 HR

edirol recorder

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  • Redesigned mics are more wind-resistant
  • Easy-to-read OLED display
  • Supports 96kHz recording
  • Very easy to use
  • Tripod adapter is optional
  • Headphone cord can brush against mics
  • Still no windscreen

Multifunction wireless remote

Korg MR-1

korg mr1 recorder

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  • Outstanding audio quality
  • 40 gig hard drive
  • Rugged metal housing with leather case
  • Universal power supply
  • No hardware rec level control
  • Internal battery
  • Hard to set recording levels

1-bit audio is a huge improvement over PCM

M-Audio Microtrack 24/96

m-audio 24/96 recorder

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  • Easy to use
  • Audio quality
  • 1/4" TRS mic inputs with phantom power
  • Internal battery
  • Potential damage from phantom power & TRS jacks

Smallest recorder with 1/4" inputs and phantom power

M-Audio MicroTrack II

edirol recorder

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  • Ease of use
  • 1/4" TRS audio inputs with 48v phantom power
  • Excellent audio quality with external microphones
  • Internal battery
  • No tripod or mic-stand adapter

The smallest recorder with 48v phantom power

Marantz PMD620

marantz recorder

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  • One-touch recording
  • Mics well shielded from wind
  • Sharp OLED display
  • Awkward menu interface
  • Flimsy covers for USB port & SD card slot

Mono recording useful for broadcasters

Olympus LS-10

olympus ls 10 recorder

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  • Size
  • Easy to use
  • Audio quality
  • 2 gig internal memory + SD card slot
  • Zoom mic effects color sound
  • AC power supply not included

Outstanding battery life and great audio in a tiny package

Sony PCM-D50

sony pcmd 50 recorder

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  • Rugged and ergonomic
  • Very high audio quality
  • 4 gig internal memory + removable memory
  • Heavier than the competition
  • Cannot record MP3s
  • Optional windscreen is expensive

Outstanding limiter means worry-free live recording

Tascam GT-R1

tascam gt-r1 recorder image

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  • Swivel mics for shirt-pocket recording
  • Non-destructive overdubbing
  • Full set of effects
  • Drum patterns for practice or recording
  • Terrific time-stretching feature for learning riffs
  • Spare battery is expensive
  • No mini-tripod socket
  • AC adapter is optional

Overdub recording with drums and effects = instant demos!

Yamaha Pocketrak 2G
Yamaha Pocketrak 2G

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  • Tiny but mighty
  • 2GB internal memory
  • Well-implemented voice-recording features
  • Very easy to use
  • Highest MP3 resolution is just 160kbps
  • Tiny size means tiny display and controls
  • Audio quality not as good as other recorders in price range

Flip-up mics make it easy to record without a tripod

Zoom H2

zoom h2

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  • Front & rear stereo mics
  • Inexpensive
  • Doubles as USB audio interface
  • Feels flimsy
  • Not exactly stellar audio

Records 4-channel "surround"

Zoom H4

zoom h4

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  • 3 devices in 1: recorder, 4-track recorder & audio interface
  • 1/4" & XLR combo-connectors with phantom power
  • Tiny display
  • Confusing interface
  • It's big, Jim

It's a portable USB audio interface with effects


* Prices reflect the manufacturer's list price at the time of the review; discounts are widely available.

** Audio quality is a subjective issue, and it depends a lot on whether you use the built-in or external mics. The quality rankings above reflect overall performance, weighting performance with the internal (or supplied) mics more heavily.