Field recorders


I like all kinds of silly metal banging sounds and such, so I figured I’m going to need a way to record those in their natural habitat. Are the digital recorders around 100€ price suitable for that, or are they too low quality or missing some key features? Some examples:
A bit higher price, but interesting:

These don’t seem to be particularly rugged, though, that could be a problem? I don’t expect to use one in pouring rain or anything, but it can get cold around here during winter and some moisture can also be expected.

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Hi, i think the ones you mentioned would be fine
I bought the Tascam Dr40 which is a bit more expensive

Its main + point for me is its individual jack/xlr inputs, enabling to record with external mics, and line sources,
it also allows recording of 4 tracks simultaneously
I actually use it to get my final mix down,
The battery life seems really good, though i bought a mains adapter too…


I have the Zoom H2n. Its very nice.
Really impressed with the quality of sound it captures, and it has 4-way mics for capturing surround stuff too.

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I don’t know how about Zoom H1 and H2, but preamp in H4N is very noisy. Probably H1 and H2 have the same thing. Another thing which is extremely annoying me is very long boot up time (~25-30 secs).

Cool! I don’t have much use for the surround stuff, but it could prove useful at some point.

I found someone mentioning that the H2N only takes a couple of seconds to boot, so it definitely seems to be faster. 30 secs would be really annoying!

Overall there seems to be a lot of positive talk about the H2N, so it might be a safe choice.

And it looks nice! :slight_smile:

Booting time on the H4N is absolutely annoying. Also you have many plastic noises when you hold id in your hand. Except from these things, it’s a great device.

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I like my H1. I don’t find it noisy at all but it’s only my 2nd field recorder (after a Boss Micro-BR) so my standards are probably lower than yours :wink: The size and battery life are great and to me the sound is clean and high fidelity. I do get the plastic case noises if I’m not careful, though, and I agree these are annoying. Not nearly as bad as they were on the Micro-BR though.

The boot up time is proportionate to the size of the card. I believe I have a 32 gig card in now and it takes about 10 seconds, which is worth the tradeoff to me. With the supplied 2 gig card it was pretty fast.

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I also have the Tascam DR40 , very pleased with it , probably not the most rugged of recorders , its mainly plastic (but I am very careful with my stuff) but it makes great field recordings …
My brother , who builds microphones heard some recordings made on it and he thought the internal mics/preamps were very quiet.


I’m still on the fence on buying a field recorder as well. H6 out of my budget so I just haven’t been able to pick between the dr-40 and the h4n…hence I haven’t purchased either. :slight_smile:

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Surprised to hear the Zoom stuff is noisy, whenever I see field recorders mentioned, half the world seems to have the HN2/4/6.
I’m looking for a recorder at the moment just to feed into Live for mangling. I don’t want to spend too much, there seem to be so many on the market, with no clear winner that I can see. Granularized dog fart dub soundscapes anyone???

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not to get off-topic but there is some merit in the classic “synth fart” sound…as far as how well the synth can produce it and the quality of said sound :slight_smile:

Using the Roland R-05 here paid $100 used and it works great boots up in under 10 secs can record in various formats up to 24bit… Interface is easy to use good battery life and uses SD card… Only caveat I wish the buttons were illuminated somewhat hard to use in the dark… I have not used it much in the field but mostly straight off of my mixer…

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To help in enabling everyone, Tascam seems to be running a rebate right now.

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darn, this may force me to buy the dr-40

i have an h4n and the q3hd by zoom, both are ok, but a bit noisy.
i also have an old iriver 40gb mp3 player which accepts optical input and output, it’s about 8 yrs old and better than the most stuff out now

I haven’t had problems with the H4n being noisy, but if you have a mix of phantom and non-phantom sources (eg wireless mic receivers) on the inputs that can be problematic. This is fixed on the H6. Boot-up time is partly a function of how much stuff is already on the SD card - it reads the file tree at startup. It’s best to format after offloading data.

Also, it really pays to buy the fastest SD card a given device supports. Zoom H2n pretty good. I typically do not ever hold the recorder to prevent those inevitable transferred noises from human contact which means bringing in your pack something small that is either made of memory foam cut-up or at least cushion/shock support-like and set recorder on that. I have done this on various locations with railroad/tube tracks that make unique noises when train passes over them and using this “cushioning method” has yet to cause me noise I do not want. Wind/air is more of an issue for me in this regard.
Spend the extra money on fastest card any given device supports. Having cards rated at Class 10 make a world of difference even on a typically slower booting device.

+1 on emptying/uploading your data between recordings really is best practice. Highly recommend Izotope IRIS to do otherworldly things to your recordings that is well worth the price of a standalone usable program.

Hope this helps at least one person. Been doing field recordings since even during my USAF flying days.

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Cheers for the tips!

Has anyone tried Olympus devices? A local shop seems to have an offer on the LS-3, and buying locally is always nice. Just looking at the specs, plus sides over the H2N are 4GB internal memory (expandable with an SD card) and it’s rechargeable over USB.

Just putting in my 2 cents on the Zoom H2N. I use to record environmental sounds and also clangy clicky noises from home made percussion. Batteries last a surprising amount of time.