Best Audio Recorder Review – Top Rated Models in 2020 with Buying Guide
Recently, smartphones and their apps have developed the features needed for recording. However, audio recorders still have their particular characteristics and choosing the best audio recorder can be a tough job. We created this guide to help make your choice easier and we discovered that the Sony ICDPX370 model is the one that you should look at first when searching for audio recorders. It‘s simple and intuitive to use, but at the same time, it offers all the characteristics needed by a professional. You can record for more than 1000 hours due to the small file format that it uses. You won’t always find our first choice for sale, and if that’s the case, have a look at the Zoom H2n model.
Our Top Choice
It’s a very compact model; you can carry it in your pocket if you wish. The model is also very simple and can be effectively used by beginners, while it still offers the capabilities needed by professionals. The file format that it uses, coupled with its memory capacity means that it will allow you to record for more than 1000 hours.
The recording quality isn’t the highest and if you want to use it in loud environments it won’t be easy.
This is a great entry category option for those looking to start recording. It offers enough memory and recording time.
Because this recorder is comprised of 5 microphones that work together, it offers the possibility to record in 4 different patterns, each useful for a certain situation. You can use it in live performances, studio recordings or when taking an interview. The large internal memory allows you to record for hours on end.
Inexperienced users may find the exterior buttons that are used for navigation somewhat confusing.
Its ability to record in multiple patterns differentiates this model from the competitors and offers it an edge over smartphone apps.
Also To Consider
With very sensible microphones, capable of capturing the different nuances of a sound, this audio recorder is a great choice for those looking for musical applications too. It also offers a 3.5mm jack input that can be used for that purpose. The memory can be enhanced with a microSD or microSDHC card.
The settings can be a bit tricky to master and if you’re in a hurry you might lose the occasion to record something.
Primarily aimed at those who want to record instruments and singers too, this recorder does its job and offers enough versatility too.
7 Best Audio Recorders (Reviews) in 2020
We have selected some of the most critically acclaimed audio recorders and showcased them below. We did that by critically looking at audio recorder reviews, reading experts’ opinion and checking the sales figures.
- 1. Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder with Built-In USB
- 2. Zoom H2n/UK Handy Recorder
- 3. Tascam DR-05 Version 2 Dictaphone Linear PCM Portable Recorder
- 4. Olympus WS-852 MP3 Digital Stereo Voice Recorder with 4 GB Flash Memory
- 5. DP-006 Digital Portastudio
- 6. VN-7200 Digital Voice Recorder
- 7. Olympus Linear PCM Recorder Black
- Yearly Guide & Report
1. Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder with Built-In USB
This model from Sony offers the simplicity needed by beginners and, at the same time, the capabilities that professionals are looking for. It’s also a very compact recorder. In case you’re looking for the device that lets you record as many minutes of voice as possible, this is the choice for you.
The memory doesn’t seem too much, but the 4Gb is more than enough to hold over 1000 hours of recordings. Two AAA batteries are needed to operate this device and you get two of them with the initial purchase. They should last for almost 60 hours of use. An important and particular feature that the recorder provides is the USB output that it offers.
You can just plug it in your computer and access your files from there. The interface is easy to use and it lets you jump between files fast. You can also classify them how you want.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($39.55)
2. Zoom H2n/UK Handy Recorder
What really makes this audio recorder stand out of the crowd is the fact that it holds 5 microphones. This also gives it the possibility to have 4 different recording modes. So it’s a good choice for most situations. It can handle a live concert, but it can also be used in studio rehearsal recordings, office meetings or for recording lectures.
It offers the possibility to store all the recordings on an SD card with the capacity of 32 GB. This gives the user the possibility to archive hundreds of hours of recordings.
It has several capabilities that allow it to offer great sound results. Amongst these, you can find a chromatic tuner, compression and the possibility of low-cut filtering.
This model is one of the few that can record 360 degrees around it in order to form a “spatial audio” file that is used in virtual reality sets and on YouTube.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($163)
3. Tascam DR-05 Version 2 Dictaphone Linear PCM Portable Recorder
In case you’re looking for the audio recorder that’s suitable for capturing music, and it’s great at music playback, this one is the choice. It has microphones that are sensible enough to capture the various sounds heard in a song. The mics are omnidirectional and offer a rich ambient sound and boost the bass sounds, which is always great in music.
It’s a great choice for those musicians that are on the road and like to compose and always have brilliant ideas that need to be recorded instantly. For a more diverse input, it also offers a 3.5mm jack, where a stereo mic can be inserted. You can also add a pair of studio headphones to the recorder.
The device also offers built-in speakers capable of letting out sound at a volume of 125dB. In terms of memory, it offers 4Gb of internal memory and that can be boosted with a microSD or microSDHC card of any size. This will lead to hours of recordings.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($89.99)
4. Olympus WS-852 MP3 Digital Stereo Voice Recorder with 4 GB Flash Memory
This model can be considered to have a classic design, with features that are mostly used for voice recording. Its internal memory of just 4Gb might not seem much, but taking into consideration that it records in MP3 format and not WAV, this leads to a small size in files and thus it can hold recordings that sum up to more than 1000 hours.
It has some interesting features, amongst which the Intelligent Auto Mode. This detail makes it great because it allows it to adjust the sensitivity to the intensity of your voice. It will pick up those sounds in quiet lecture halls.
The interface offers two modes of use. One of them is for the inexperienced users and, in this case, the recorder only shows the most important information. Advanced users will benefit from the other mode, the one that offers more control over the recordings.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($53)
5. DP-006 Digital Portastudio
This device offers the solution to the cumbersome problem of having to carry with you a laptop, microphone and audio interface to record something well. It incorporates all of those and it has the ability to offer multitrack performance in something that you can carry in a small case.
The recorder uses 4 AA batteries and it will keep recording for many hours, with the condition that you don’t hook up microphones that require phantom power to it. It has the great advantage that it lets you record one or two inputs at the same time. Also, you can have six simultaneous tracks running at the same time, basically making it a portable home studio.
Coming with a tripod, you can use it at standing height, which is great if you use it in your writing space. You can connect two microphones to this audio recorder, but it also has two omnidirectional microphones incorporated in it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($149.99)
6. VN-7200 Digital Voice Recorder
When looking at the features that this recorder provides, what stands out is how small it is. It is ergonomic enough to comfortably fit in one’s hand or in a pocket. The sound quality is good and it can provide accurate recording for more than 1150 hours.
It has accessible buttons that allow the user to play, stop, rewind, or fast forward with a single touch. The recordings sound great and that is also due to the Noise Cancel Playback function that eliminates unwanted background noises like passing cars.
The interface is easy to use and it allows you to split your files into folders. You can have up to 200 recordings per folder and they can all be made in 3 different quality modes, from the lowest to the highest. All these features and its slim, black body, make it ideal for recordings while traveling.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.99)
7. Olympus Linear PCM Recorder Black
The LS-P4 model is built around Olympus’ characteristic ‘Tresmic’ three‑microphone array and that offers it an interesting look. The central microphone is incorporated to boost the low-frequency response. The fact that 3 mics are used means that, with the help of the buttons, you are able to modify the pick-up pattern to a wide or narrow one, as you wish.
Having the characteristics of a professional recording microphone, this recorder has the capability to receive sounds of up to 120 dB and it has a frequency range between 20Hz and 20kHz. It supports different recording formats, just in case you want the option between clearer sounds or saving more recording space.
The internal memory is 8Gb but, you can boost that with an SD card. This audio recorder offers you the possibility to also play the recordings via a Bluetooth-connected audio device. You can also download them on your laptop using the slide-out USB port.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($134.51)
Yearly Guide & Report
You might be looking for the best portable audio recorder, and if that’s the case, you know that size and weight are important aspects. But you might be the type of person that’s more interested in what a recorder can do to help a musician. Either way, here are some details that you should analyze when looking for a good audio recorder.
Recording time and formats
This is a concept that’s tied up with the memory aspect of the recorders. Models can record from 90 minutes to more than 1000 hours. It all depends on the memory that they offer and the formats that they can record in. External memory devices such as SD cards or even flash drives can be added to supplement that internal memory.
In terms of quality, there are 3 types: LP, SP, and HQ. High-quality recordings take up more space and thus they will reduce the overall recording time. But the format of the recording is also important. MP3, for example, is more compact than WAV format.
WAV files offer a very high quality in a raw format, meaning that they can be more easily processed afterward. MP3 offer almost the same quality. The WMA format is the one used when you want to replay your recordings on Windows Media Player, but that is a slightly outdated format. If your audio recorder uses a DSS format, please note that you will need additional software to play on a PC.
You should thus choose a device that offers sufficient internal memory, 8Gb being the norm, and additionally, it lets you add a memory card to it to supplement that memory. But, if you have a laptop with you, some models offer a USB output. So, that way, you will be able to quickly download all your recordings and start all over.
Many recorders have incorporated microphones, which basically transform them into microphones with self-memory capacities. But this kind of microphone isn’t always the best because it captures all the sounds indiscriminately. The sound produced by the recorder itself can interfere and cause noises that are picked up by the microphone.
These recorders are good in quiet rooms, but they do poorly in noisy situations. However, certain models, mostly the ones that have more than one mic, offer the possibility to adjust the recording pattern and thus allow you to focus the “ear” of the recorder on a single subject if that subject is in close proximity.
However, some audio recorders offer you the possibility to add an external microphone to them via a special jack. This lets you choose between omnidirectional, unidirectional or lavalier style mics, depending on your needs on each occasion.
Noise cancellation is another aspect that should be considered. Although some recorders have a microphone that tends to pick up noises, they do offer the possibility to cancel some of those noises through audio alterings.
Speaking about microphones, you might also be interested in getting some home studio mics to record your music better. Or, if you play the drums, check our guide on how to choose a good drum mic kit.
Setting recording levels
Every audio recorder has a way of letting you set a level at which the sounds are captured. Cheap audio recorders do that using a manual setting, and this can be achieved via rotary knobs or buttons. But there are certain models that can do that job for you. They have automatic systems that, when detecting a sound above a certain threshold, they activate the microphone.
This leads to a strong and clear sound that is right in the volume range that is most suitable for the recorder. The advantage of automatic detectors is that, if the volume changes, they can adapt and adjust the input levels during recording.
The best digital audio recorder should be able to help you in situations in which you will record for a long time. That is when the editing capabilities of a recorder come in handy. It’s always useful to place index marks on a recording. This makes it easier to find a particular passage or song. This feature can also be used to separate a recording into different files.
Because they can always be used on the road, many recorders offer the possibility to add some style to a musician’s recordings. Some let you use effects like reverb and compression and that will help the musician achieve a better-polished sound. You can use a midi controller keyboard to enhance the music in your recordings. A synthesizer keyboard is also good for that purpose.
As most singers prefer some reverb in their recordings, some audio recorders are great for capturing vocals too. But if the music is your main preoccupation, you should get some studio recording microphones if you want to record clear sounds. And to let those sounds out you will have to look at some monitor speakers too.