Choosing a Handheld Digital Audio Recorder

There are now many small, handheld digital audio recorders on the market and the prices have dropped significantly over the years.  These recorders can be very handy when you want a high-quality audio recording in a very small, portable package.  Since they are digital, there are no moving parts to wear out and the audio quality is fantastic.  With all of the choices, choosing the right one to fit your needs can be overwhelming.  You can use the following to help you narrow down which one would be best for you:

1. Use.  What will you use it for?  Recording practice sessions, concerts, recital, capturing a composition? What type of music or group will you record?  Size of group?

2. Microphones.  What type of microphone(s) do you plan to use with it (if any)? Most have built in microphones and some recorders provide power to professional external microphones; others require a mixer or pre-amp.  Some have XLR connectors, some have 1/8” mini jacks.

3. Memory.  What type of memory card does it use (SD, micro SD)?  Or does it record to a built in memory?

4. Power.  How long will the batteries last?  What type of batteries does it use?  Is the battery removable?  Rechargeable?  Does it come with an AC adapter?

5. Interface.  How can I get my recorded files to my computer for distribution, burning to CD, e-mailing, or editing? Can I use it as an audio interface on my computer?

6.  Cost.  How much am I willing to spend?  Consider any accessories you might want/need.

7.  Form factor.  How big is the unit?  Will it fit in my pocket?  Is it easy to carry? How heavy is the unit? Does it feel durable or cheap?  Does the unit have an easy to read LCD display?  Is it easy to use?

8.  Accessories.  Does it come with a case? Headphones? Stand adapter (for mounting on a mic stand)?  Wind screen? Memory card?  Batteries?

My favorite models are from Tascam. They offers good recording quality, a wide range prices, with varying recording options, and many available accessories.