Best Portable Audio Recorder Reviews

Best Portable Audio Recorder Reviews
4.5/5 2 ratings

Having the best portable audio recorder can make your life easier if you are constantly facing the problem of missing important details when attending business meetings, lectures, and similar events. Today, there are lots of famous brands keen at producing high-quality audio recorders for different purposes. At this point, it can be very difficult for inexperienced users to find a model that would fully fit their needs.

This article has an aim to show you eight amazing portable recorders that can meet the demands of different categories of customers ranging from average students to professional songwriters. This article will teach you how to make a correct choice and what issues to keep in mind when opting for a new handheld recorder. After reading this article, it will be very easy for you to determine what model you are willing to have, as you will be well informed about the main characteristics of your ideal sound recording device.

Portable Audio Recorder Reviews

Zoom ZH1 H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder

Zoom ZH1 H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
The first thing I thought when I took this model in my hands was how ultra-compact an audio recorder can be (6.7 x 3.8 x 1.8 inches). Besides its ability to fit the shape of the user’s hand ideally, this portable digital recorder has also a number of notable upsides, such as amazing stereo X/Y mic configuration that captures perfect stereo images or track marker function.

The item also includes a 2GB microSD memory card and 1 AA battery to extend the recording time. My user experience with this portable sound recorder was an entire pleasure all its functions can be chosen with your thumb. There are no boring menus and you can do everything with a large record button giving complete control to the user, while playback, pause, marker, forward and rewind buttons are still accessible to you and your thumb.

When speaking about the connectivity of the model, you can find 1/8-inch external mic input and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port. I also find it helpful that the ZH1 H1 has an advanced onboard limiter, which allows for recording without any sound distortion (a sound pressure level of up to 120 dB). This means that you will be able to record concerts, music festivals, rehearsals, and other events without losing any audio quality.

The item goes with an accessory kit featuring plenty of useful pieces, such as a windscreen or adjustable tripod stand. The model weighs approximately 2 ounces. However, it seems to me that tiny size of buttons other than the record button can spoil all the positive impressions from the audio recorder as you can accidentally press them even without noticing and your day-long efforts can go out the window.

Pros

  • The model is easy to use.
  • It is staffed with high-quality components.

Cons

  • It records poorly when used outdoors without a windscreen.

Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder

Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder
Sony is a world-known brand, so I expected a lot from this model. The ICD-PX370 is a decent product, especially when keeping in mind its super-cheap price as for a portable voice recorder. The product can record audio in MP3 at 128 kbps, which guarantees the pretty fine quality of records.

The item’s user-friendly design is another strong feature of this device, as it goes with a built-in USB connector to make a connection to your laptop or PC as easy as never. Basically, you can even use this product as a flash drive, if you have enough free space on it. If you want to read my opinion about its recording capabilities, I will be fair by saying that this a decent model but not that good as other audio recorders in this review. Again, this can be explained by its fairly low price.

At the same time, Clear Voice technology is what helps this voice recorder to effectively compete with other models in the list in terms of voice recording. The four pre-set options dictation, interview, meeting, and music will help you get the maximum quality from the ICD-PX370 depending on the purpose of its use. The model still has a track mark feature and gives extended storage option up to 32 GB. However, this product will not be rated at all by professional musicians or those persons who usually record concerts.

Pros

  • This item has a battery life of up to 57 hours.
  • This is easy-to-use with a simple menu.

Cons

  • This voice recorder will automatically delete all hitherto recorded audio files should the battery die during recording.

TENSAFEE Digital Voice Recorder

TENSAFEE Digital Voice Recorder
This pretty-looking audio recorder is capable of ensuring excellent voice recording. I fully support the decision of the manufacturers to equip the model with the two ultra-sensitive built-in microphones to increase the quality of recorded audio. Noise-reduction technology complements the excellent performance of these two mics. It also seems really cool that the product offers its users 16GB memory or 1120 hours of recording files.

Moreover, I truly liked the way its powerful speaker, which actually sounds so loud as for such a compact audio recorder. By the way, it goes in really small dimensions (4.1 x 1.1 x 0.5 inches) and weighs just 2.56 ounces. Unlike most other models mentioned in this review, it has a micro USB 2.0 port. However, the item processes the audio in an MP3 format at 32 kbps, which is abnormally slow for contemporary voice recorders. Again, this is a perfect option just for voice recording, while professional musicians or those persons who are fond of recording songs at live concerts should better turn to more sophisticated models with lots of state-of-the-art features.

Pros

  • The item is super-cheap.
  • Its battery can provide up to 100 hours of recording per battery full charge.

Cons

  • It has no replaceable battery capability.

Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder

Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder
Working with this portable recording device was full of pleasant moments. This is a straight professional model that makes you really excited about how many things you can do with this multi-functional device in your hands. First of all, I find it so great that the product includes detachable stereo X/Y and Mid-Side capsules to turn the item in an extremely versatile portable recorder. The XYH-6 capsule allows users to do stereo X/Y recording and offers dual large diaphragm mic elements with adjustable width, so you can choose the angle between 90 degrees (gives very focused sound) and 120 degrees (ensures a wider stereo image).

The MSH-6, in its turn, provides a combination of a forward-facing microphone and a side-facing bi-directional microphone. With all these mic elements, you will be able to always capture a fully mono-compatible stereo record, which can be further adjusted after recording. The item also features newly redesigned preamps with an ultra-low noise floor, which can deliver up to 24-bit/96kHz audio in WAV or MP3 format. Moreover, I have no words to describe my appreciation of the generous accessory kit going with the model, as it contains lots of useful items including USB cable (to connect the recorder to laptop or PC), four AA size LR6 batteries, and a sponge windscreen. The item is still pretty compact (3.1 x 1.9 x 6 inches) but heavyweight (almost 10 ounces).

Pros

  • The model goes with RC4 wired remote control.
  • You receive an advanced audio recording software with the model (WaveLab LE and Steinberg Cubase LE).

Cons

  • The product is too expensive, but its batteries can give no more than 4 hours of recording.

Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder

Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder
Again, Zoom’s high-quality product fully deserves its place on the list of top-rated portable recording devices. Being a professional multitrack recorder, this item offers its users incredible recording quality thanks to the advanced X/Y microphones, a super-low noise floor, and perfectly sounding preamps (less than -120 dBu EIN). I am also more than satisfied with pristine stereo and four-channel recording of up to 24-bit/96 kHz. You can also find two XLR/TRS inputs with secure locking connectors to further improve the sound quality.

I believe that the nest feature of this digital multitrack recorder is its remodeled FX processor with ultra-realistic guitar/bass amp emulation, limiting, compression, and reverb/delay. This means that you can easily record rehearsals and live concerts with minimum sound quality loss. Moreover, the item goes with the APH-4nPro accessory kit including USB cable, splitter cable, attenuator cable, AD-14 AC adapter, and hairy windscreen. The biggest downside of the model is its bulky design (6.2 x 1.5 x 2.8 inches) and heavy weight (10.6 ounces).

Pros

  • You can use the Zoom RC4 wired remote control for comfy use.
  • The item is sold with state-of-the-art audio recording software (WaveLab LE and Steinberg Cubase LE).

Cons

  • The product seems to be very expensive and too complicated for amateur users.

Tascam DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Audio Recorder

Tascam DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Audio Recorder
This is another professional portable digital audio recorder that has lots of useful technical features. With this amazing device, you will be able to take high-quality 4-track recording (two of them will be stereo). This item is equipped with adjustable internal mics, which can take a position from XY to AB. I really like the fact that the DR-40 also goes with a pair of natural-sounding TASCAM mic preamps that target condenser microphones with phantom power and recording at up to 96kHz/24-bit. This useful feature will allow you easily to combine audio and video recording. Add to this that the item has a dual-mode recording, a built-in limiter, and automatic level adjustment, all of which are meant to guarantee clear and high-quality records.

Moreover, professional musicians will be pleased to find out that the model also goes with a built-in tuner and a reverb to enhance the process of songwriting. When speaking about its downsides, I will mention 1.2 pounds of weight, although the item has pretty compact dimensions of 5.5 x 3.5 x 8 inches.

Pros

  • The item has really strong and solid construction.
  • This model boasts multiple modes.

Cons

  • The item is still expensive enough for average consumers.

Roland R-05 Studio WAVE/MP3 Recorder

Roland R-05 Studio WAVE/MP3 Recorder
This is a semi-professional audio recorder intended to target a broad range of consumers. I am really pleased with the quality of recording this device can offer to you. Basically, it can ensure high-quality stereo recording at up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. You can either use a built-in stereo microphone or external inputs to set the audio on a record. I think that the item seriously outperforms most other models with the availability of onboard editing functions, which significantly enhance the process of creating perfect records. The product also boasts lots of beneficial features for songwriters, e.g. change of tempo without changing pitch or loop playback.

Moreover, the item is great in terms of its preset function, namely auto song split, auto record start, and auto level adjust. Most users will be definitely pleased with the fact that this device can be also used as a high-end portable audio player capable of reproducing WAV and MP3 files. The R-05 also looks pretty compact (4.1 x 1 x 2.4 inches). At the same time, I do not think that holding a 1-pound item in your hand at some concert for more than 1 hour will be so cool.

Pros

  • This easy-to-use audio recorder.
  • The item is constructed using reliable materials to promote its durability.

Cons

  • The standard battery seems to die rather quickly (nearly 1-2 hours of recording).

Tascam DR-05V2 Portable Studio Recorder

Tascam DR-05V2 Portable Studio Recorder
This particular model is an ideal option for business professionals or students. The first my impression from testing this device was associated with its easy-to-use interface and perfect sound quality. The product’s OTRF mic configuration guarantees that all the microphones will provide incredible stereo depth for business conferences or lectures. It should be mentioned that the model goes with two omnidirectional mics capable of delivering really wide stereo quality. However, this means that the option is not that good when it comes to recording a single voice.

I think that the model’s most obvious advantage is Level Align technology, which will add compression to all your audio files records made with the Dr-05 and even out uneven volumes. The product can also record directly to MP3 or WAV. Nevertheless, the item cannot be called very compact (7.5 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches), but it has an acceptable weight of 10.6 ounces. The only thing I dislike about the Tascam Dr-05 is that its mics are not adjustable at all. Again, keep in mind that this device should not be recommended to professional musicians and songwriters.

Pros

  • This portable audio recorder has an attractive price.
  • The product’s AA batteries seem to provide a long battery life.

Cons

  • The item seems to work not that good when used outdoors.

Buyer’s Guide

What is a Portable Audio Recorder?

So, what can this small portable audio recorder offer to you? As can be understood from its name, a portable audio recorder is a device aimed at recording sound. However, its functions are rarely limited to sound recording only, as most good models also offer their users such helpful features as preset modes, playing audio records, and even onboard editing functions.

How Can You Use a Travel Audio Recorder?

While most travel audio recorders seem to be very user-friendly and easy-to-use, there can still arise questions among inexperienced consumers of how to use this device correctly. Every portable audio recorder has a “record” button to enable users to start their recording. In most cases, you can also find additional buttons, such as stop, rewind, etc. Moreover, some models can also feature adjustable mics, which means that you will be able to change positions of the microphones to achieve better sound quality.

If you need to transfer audio files from your travel audio recorder to a PC or laptop, you should use USB or mini USB cable (depending on the model). The main condition for the smooth exploitation of this device is to have it charged properly every time you are planning to record audio files. Keep in mind that some models may delete the last record should it happen to you that the battery dies during recording. To prevent such situations, always control battery charge and replace dead batteries with full charge ones if possible. While conventional devices can be used for voice recording only, professional models are capable of recording a wide spectrum of sounds to allow users to record music at concerts or rehearsals and enjoy high-quality records. Most models will also enable users to play MP3 and WAV files if necessary.

How Should I Choose a Handheld Recorder?

There are so many issues you should care about when trying to opt for the best portable recorder. Obviously, you should be well determined about how much money you are going to spend on this high-end device. If your budget is less than $50, you should just opt for the most reliable option. With the budget nearly $100, you should aim at targeting semi-professional models. If you are ready to spend nearly $200 on your new handheld recorder, you should look only at professional models. Your aim should be to choose a device that can capture stereo sound.

Then, it is necessary to determine your purpose/purposes of having this tool. If you just need to record lectures or business meetings, opting for professional audio recorders would be a luxury. However, professional musicians and songwriters should never compromise on quality. The best portable digital recorder must have adjustable mics, replaceable batteries, and generous accessory kits featuring windscreens and similar useful pieces. By the way, you should make sure that the battery on your new audio recorder last really long if you want to avoid low-battery problems.