The best portable recorders are essential for musicians, journalists and even individuals who like keeping important lectures, meetings and more recorded. There used to be a time that recorders were little devices that looked like radios and had small cassette tapes where conversations can be recorded. Sound quality wasn’t too good and it can barely record an hour long conversation without having to flip the tape over to the other side. Nowadays, portable recorders have gone digital. The sound quality is remarkable and it can record hours long of audio without any problem.
- 0.1 When Do You Need the Best Portable Recorders?
- 0.2 Characteristics and Features of the Best Portable Recorders
- 1 Top 10 Best Portable Recorders in 2017 – Chart
- 2 SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder
- 3 Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
- 4 TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder
- 5 Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder – 2015 Version
- 6 TASCAM DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder
- 7 Olympus VN-7200 Digital Voice Recorder (V404130BU000)
- 8 Etekcity 8GB 560Hours Digital Voice Recorder & MP3 Music Player, Built-in Loudspeaker
- 9 iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder – Premium Digital Voice Recorder – Multifunctional Portable Rechargeable Dictaphone MP3 Player (8GB)
- 10 TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder
- 11 Multifunctional Rechargeable 8GB 650HR Digital Audio Voice Recorder Dictaphone MP3 Player
When Do You Need the Best Portable Recorders?
Portable recorders have many uses and purposes. In fact, for a lot of people, having a recorder in their purse or bag is as important as having their wallet, their phone and other daily essentials. There are many individuals who use portable recorders for different reasons and among the common purposes of these small devices are the following:
- Song or Instrument Recording – Not everyone has their own recording studio. Not everyone can afford a nice mic, a recording software, a high-end computer and everything else you need for high quality song recording. These things can get really pricey and if you’re only purpose for recording your song or instruments is for personal use, sharing with friends or for songwriting, then you can settle for a portable recorder for now. The sound quality is much better than recording directly on your computer or a mobile phone.
- Better Sound Quality for Video Purposes – Most video cameras today, DSLRs and action cameras included, do not have very good audio quality. Even GoPros cannot produce audio quality that’s good enough for uploading, say an interview or a commentary video. The best portable recorders let you record audio with much better sound quality.
- Meetings, Lectures, etc. – Why take notes and miss out on the more important things just because you can’t write fast enough if you can focus on the meeting or a lecture and just record the whole thing so you can listen to it later?
- Personal Notes, Audio Journal – Instead of pulling out your pen and paper or typing on your mobile phone, you can just record your notes or your personal journal through the voice recorder.
- Interviews, Journalism Needs – Another common use for portable recorders are for interviews and journalist needs. Having recorded audio material ensures that you won’t miss out on important points and you have proof should your information be questioned later on.
It is important to mention as well that most smartphones including Android phones and iPhones have built-in voice recorder features. While most high-end smartphones actually have decent voice recorders that can produce very impressive sound quality, it is best to have the best portable recorders. Smartphones run out of battery easily. Many smartphones also don’t have plenty of memory. If you’re recording a 2-hour lecture, your smartphone will probably die at one point especially if it’s not fully charged and the recording will take up much memory space. Furthermore, if a call comes in or if someone sends you a text message, this may cause interruption with your recording.
Characteristics and Features of the Best Portable Recorders
Aside from those mentioned above, there are many other uses of portable recorders. If you’re one of those who are looking for the best portable recorder and you’re not sure of the features it should have, read on and hopefully the information below will help you narrow down your choices.
- Sound Quality
Especially if you’re using a portable recorder for recording your music, sound quality should be very, very good. Furthermore, if you’re recording a lecture or an interview, most likely, you can’t place the recorder right in front of the speaker’s mouth, so the best portable recorders should be powerful enough to pick up the sound and still give you good recorded sound quality.
You don’t want to be carrying a large and heavy recorder; it is, after all, portable for a reason. It must be small enough to fit inside your bag or even your pocket so you can easily bring it out when you need it. No worries though because most digital recorders for today are lightweight and handheld.
- Built-in Microphone
There are portable recorders that allow you to attach an external microphone but most would have good enough built-in microphones. It is better to find one with a powerful built-in microphone because having to attach another mic would defeat the purpose of bringing a portable recorder. As mentioned above, the microphone should be powerful enough to pick up sound even when you’re in a large room recording a lecture or a conference, etc.
- Storage Capacity
Storage capacity is a very important feature that a portable recorder should have. While most portable recorders already have built-in memory, some allow you to expand the memory using a memory card or some require a memory card because there’s no built-in memory at all. Even 1GB is already large enough because that can already ideally record about 15 hours of audio; however, having larger storage capacities is better so you don’t have to transfer the audio files to your computer all the time.
Most of the best portable recorders are easily compatible with Mac or Windows computers; others can even connect directly to a smartphone or a tablet for easy data transfer.
- Battery Life
Battery life is also very important. Gone are the days when you need AA or AAA batteries to make your portable recorder work. Today, most portable recorders are easily rechargeable via USB or through a power outlet. However, there are still many that use AA and AAA batteries, and these recorders have their own perks as well – you can easily replace batteries when they run out instead of having to find a power outlet to charge. Battery life should be many hours long especially if you’re just using the portable recorder to record and not to playback the audio. This is essential because you don’t want the battery to run out right in the middle of a very important recording. Ideally, a portable recorder should have a battery life indicator so you know when it’s already running out.
Top 10 Best Portable Recorders in 2017 – Chart
The SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder easily claims the top spot on this list of best portable recorders because it meets all criteria required for a great recorder. No wonder it is a #1 Best-Seller and hundreds of customers generously gave their very satisfied ratings on this product with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
First of all, it is great to know that according to users of the SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder, sound quality is topnotch. You can use this to record anything from lectures to interviews to music and more. Other features include Intelligent Noise Cut, A-B Repeat Function and Track Mark Function, among others. You can easily playback your recorded audio as the recorder comes with a tiny speaker. There’s also an LCD screen that makes control easier.
You only need 2 AAA batteries to make this recorder work. It is quite impressive that it already has 4GB internal flash memory that can let you record more than 60 hours of audio and what’s even better is that it has a microSD expansion memory slot so you can have even more storage space. Data transfer is very easy too as you only need a USB cable to connect to your Macintosh or Windows PC or laptop.
You can’t go wrong with the SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder. Sony is a reputable brand when it comes to audio equipment and a whole lot more and for many years now, recorders have been part of Sony’s best products. You can be rest assured that this digital recorder is not only a safe choice but a great choice as well.
The Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder is another recorder that has received over 500 positive ratings and has even earned its #1 Best-Seller badge. Though more expensive than the first Sony we’ve covered on this list, this recorder is very much worth every penny you spend on it. Even professional journalists consider the Zoom H1 their recorder of choice because of its great performance and reliability.
The most noticeable feature of the Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder is its set of stereo X/Y microphones that can guarantee incredible sound quality – even musicians will love this recorder. Control buttons are on the side and it also has an external mic input. You also have an input for your headphones should you want to playback your recordings. It has an LCD screen on its face and a simple record button on the front as well.
It works with just one AA battery that allows you to operate the recorder for 10 hours. It doesn’t have built-in memory but the package includes a 2GB microSD card. If you need more memory, you can purchase another microSD card as the Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder can accommodate up to 32GB microSD memory cards.
What makes the Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder worth your money is that aside from its impressive features, it has an accessory kit included in the package which comes with a windscreen, USB type AC adapter, USB cable, a padded-shell case, adjustable tripod stand and a mic clip adapter.
Hundreds of customers rated the TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder with an impressive average of 4.4 out of 5 stars. If you take a look at other sellers’ websites and professional reviews, reviews are very impressive as well. You might think that’s quite pricey compared to the first two we’ve already covered. Is it worth it? Yes, worth every penny! You will be hard pressed to find a recorder with XLR inputs that’s within this price range and if you’re a professional musician or videographer, you absolutely need this feature.
You have several options to record with the TASCAM DR-40’s four-track feature: Dual recording, 4CH (record using the built-in mic and an external mic/s) and overdub which allows you to record on an existing recording which is great when you’re trying to record a professional demo.
The TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder has a pair of adjustable cardioid condenser microphones that assures remarkable sound quality and these are adjustable to XY or AB position. The best portable recorders also come with a built-in speaker so you can playback your recordings.
Three AA batteries are required to operate this recorder and you will be impressed that despite its power, the batteries can last up to 15 hours of recording time. A 2GB SD card is included in the package but the recorder can support up to 32GB of storage. Also included in the package is a mini USB cable that you can use to transfer recorded files to your computer with ease.
Another one that managed to get a #1 Best-Seller badge, the Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder – 2015 Version is highly reviewed by customers but it has also received very high ratings on other websites and reviews from professional critics. This four-track recorder is rugged and reliable. It has, in fact, become a favorite among videographers and those recording live performances. It can support up to 32GB memory cards and works on 2 AA batteries (up to 11 hours of battery life). Like the TASCAM above, this recorder has dual mic, line and instrument inputs and it also has XLR/TRS combo connectors. Sound quality is topnotch, thanks to its built-in X/Y stereo microphones that you can adjust from 90 to 120 degrees.
You can attach the Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder – 2015 Version to your video camera or a tripod for hands-free operation. Customers who already own this also love how it can be used as an audio interface to your computer through its USB connector (with audio interface mode).
Furthermore, the Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder – 2015 Version already has built-in effects and on-board speakers if you want to playback your recordings. While this is probably too much if you’ll just be recording voice notes, it would be great to have a recorder that’s so powerful it can do pretty much everything. If you are willing to invest on a recorder and you think you’ll be using it for a long time, the Zoom H4N Digital Multitrack Recorder – 2015 Version will be a very good choice.
If you think the TASCAM DR-40 is too pricey and somehow complicated, you will love how simple yet powerful the TASCAM DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder is. You can find brand new ones at a very reasonable price. Quite impressive as well, the TASCAM DR-05 has built-in stereo condenser omnidirectional microphones (sensitivity up to 124dB SPL) which are great for whatever your recording purpose is – up to 96kHz/24-bit WAV (BWF) linear PCM recording. While the sound quality of its built-in mics is already good enough, you can still plug-in an external microphone through its stereo mic/line input with plug-in power. Its peak limiter function prevents clipping. In case there are unexpected loud sounds while recording, this function prevents distortion.
Great for those who record music, the TASCAM DR-05 has a peak reduction function and low-cut and limited filter which helps prevent distortion. If you recorded a very long lecture that was kind of slow, you’d also love how you can playback with variable speed (50% to 150%) without any change on the pitch. Even better is that you can already edit from the recorder itself as you divide and delete some recordings. It has a built-in speaker for these playback purposes.
A purchase of the TASCAM DR-05 already includes a 2GB microSD card and the memory is expandable by up to 32GB. You can use the TASCAM DR-05 with an AC adapter (not included), USB power or through 2AA batteries. You can also record hands-free as the TASCAM DR-05 has a tripod socket hole.
For almost 100 years, Olympus has been a trusted Japanese brand which manufactures a variety of products including precision machines and instruments, medical devices, cameras, voice recorders and even face creams and plastic tableware. All these years, Olympus managed to maintain the brand’s reputation as reliable and durable, as well as somehow affordable for the general population. The Olympus VN-7200 Digital Voice Recorder (V404130BU000) is a perfect example of one of the brand’s best products.
Now it is important to mention that the Olympus VN-7200 Digital Voice Recorder (V404130BU000) is meant for personal use and if you want to listen to your own recordings and not actually share it. It does not have a USB function so transferring files to your computer can be rather complicated. Some customers used Audicity then manually recorded the recording to their computer – it takes a lot of time and effort. However, this product is very good for personal journals, notes and recording lectures that you want to listen to your own. It has an impressive recording memory of up to 1,151 hours which should be more than enough for all your voice notes. It also has a voice activating feature, three recording modes and fast or slow playback options.
If you would rather have a less complicated best portable recorders that’s closely similar to what the traditional tape recorder would do, except that it doesn’t have tapes and it is a lot less bulky, then the Olympus VN-7200 Digital Voice Recorder (V404130BU000) is the best choice for you.
A budget portable recorder, you can definitely do a lot with the Etekcity 8GB 560Hours Digital Voice Recorder. It is great to know that aside from being a voice recorder, it is also an MP3 player – its 8GB memory can contain up to 560 hours of audio so you can now free your smartphone’s memory from your music and just put it here. The device, though it is very handy, has a built-in LCD display so that you can easily organize and look through you audio files.
Professional quality (up to 1536 kbps) audio can be expected from recordings in this Etekcity Digital Voice Recorder. For even clearer recordings, it has a dual-core noise reduction mode feature. Slim, sturdy and sleek made with durable metal material, you will definitely enjoy recording with this device for many years to come.
The microphones of the Etekcity Digital Voice Recorder are very impressive and powerful – you can record clear audio even if you’re up to 33 feet away from the speaker. This is perfect for church sermons, classroom lectures, meetings and press conferences. Thanks to its USB connectivity feature, you can easily transfer files to and from your recorder and your computer. Finally, the Etekcity Digital Voice Recorder is the first one on this list that is rechargeable – no additional batteries required. Battery life lasts from 7 to 17 hours of continuous recording (about 4 hours for high quality recording) and if you use the recorder to playback audio, it can last for about 3 hours.
What most users of the Etekcity Digital Voice Recorder love about this device is that it has impressive battery life and there are no time limits on recordings so even if the lecture lasts for 3 hours straight, you don’t have to worry about interrupted audio files. You can also schedule recordings through its automation feature!
The iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder is a premium digital voice recorder, the second one on our list that is rechargeable and doesn’t require any additional batteries. The iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder already has built-in 8GB memory for endless hours of recording. It is compatible on both Mac and Windows computers (plug and play) so you can easily transfer files to free up storage or edit the recordings. It is not a complicated device. The buttons you can find on this recorder are everything you need to make it record and/or playback. Its easy mode function allows you to switch from recording to listening to your music – yes, this is also an MP3 player just like the Etekcity we covered right before this.
What’s even more impressive about the iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder is that it has a voice activation feature that allows you to easily access your recording needs. You can turn this feature on and off.
This iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder is really one of the best portable recorders. It weighs less than half an ounce and it measures 9.5 x 2 x 1.3 cm. Whether you decide to use this for recording music, playing your MP3 audio files, record your voice notes or lectures and more, it definitely has everything you need from a reliable recorder. Its #1 Best-Seller badge along with hundreds of satisfied ratings makes the iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder an excellent and rather an affordable choice for all your recording needs.
Latest customer reviews and prices of iGearPro Voice Activated Audio Recorder – Premium Digital Voice Recorder
The final TASCAM that made it to our list is far more affordable than the previous ones we covered. Despite being quite an affordable portable recorder, TASCAM didn’t cut ends and features on this one as it still features adjustable stereo condenser microphones. You can record anything from voice notes to interviews and even band practice and loud concerts without worries of sound distortion as the maximum recording level of the TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder is at 125 dB. For low noise recording, the TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder has a built-in analog to digital converter. To prevent recording overload, you can switch high-level signals as well through its limiter.
The TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder is very compact and lightweight. It is chargeable via an iPod dock. Though it is compatible with iPhone 4, 4S, iPod Touch 4G, iPad and iPad 2, some users of the TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder recommend buying a converter or adapter so that you can use it on more recent models (there’s no guarantee for this though and this recommendation is based purely on customer feedback). You can simply download the free PCM Recorder app on iTunes for easy usage of the TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder on your Apple device. So if you’re taking videos using your iPhone, iPod or iPad, you will love how you can use this recorder at the same time for better sound quality.
This list ends with a very affordable yet impressive voice recorder – the Multifunctional Rechargeable 8GB 650HR Digital Audio Voice Recorder Dictaphone MP3 Player. This is coming from a generic brand so yes, you can’t expect a guarantee on quality and durability based on brand reputation. However, if you put your trust on customer feedback and critic reviews, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that this is actually a sleek and durable recorder that if handled with care, you can expect this to be of your service for many years to come. It has all the features you need from a recorder and an MP3 player and it has built-in 8GB memory that allows you to record up to 650 hours of audio. If that doesn’t impress you, considering this is a recorder that sells at a very affordable price, we don’t know what will.
This is a rechargeable recorder – no need for external batteries. The best portable recorders are very handy and portable and you can also use it as an MP3 player which is very impressive. Charge it via USB and with each full charge, you can already enjoy hours of continuous recording or playback time. Sound quality is impressive considering its price so you can use this to record not only your voice notes and lectures but even music as well.
The package already includes the voice recorder with 8GB built-in memory, a USB cable, a pair of earphones, a wired external microphone with clip (note that there is already a built-in mic on the recorder, using this external mic is optional), a telephone cable (so you can record phone conversations with ease) and a user manual. Definitely, this recorder goes way beyond your money’s worth