Best Portable Audio Recorders for Podcasting
Portable audio recorders can offer handy recording alternitives to recording a podcast. They also offer solutions to many common issues that podcasters run into, such as lack of phantom power, unmobile studio setups or no computer. If you’re looking for a portable audio recorder we’re going to recommend what we feel are the best portable audio recorders for podcasting.
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What is a portable audio recorder?
A portable audio recorder (also known as ‘digital recorder’, ‘sound recorder’ etc) is a portable device that can be used to facilitate an audio recording. The microphone on these devices can be very high quality and there’s usually enough memory space to record for hours at a time.
Most digital audio recorders come with in-built microphones, whilst others also have XLR ports that allow you to plug in your own micophones as well. Some digital recorders only use XLR/TRS inpust to capture sound externally.
Sound recorders are also so versitile and durable and have such high quality microphones that you can use them instead of camera microphones.
You can save the audio on the device (usually via an SD card), or you can use the audio device’s own microphones as your microphones directly into your capturing device.
Why do you need a portable audio recorder for podcasting?
Regardless of everything else, having a portable solution to recording is a great addition to any podcasting kit.
But, some portable audio recorders are versitile and powerful enough to be the backbone of everything that you do. Such as powering your microphones (no need for additional phantom power) and giving you control over the sound levels (no need for a mixer). The microphones can also be so high quality that you will simply use the sound recorder’s microphones instead of external ones.
The portability of a digital recorder is also useful if you’re out and about and need to record something. Such as bumping into a really interesting person you’ve just met or hearing a fantastic busker on the street you would like to record.
How to choose the best portable audio recorder for pordcasting?
As we’ve said before, the audio quality of your podcast is a really important element to get right. It’s definately worth paying for a better quality microphone than trying to make do with the lower quality. Of course, sometimes you have to work within a tight budget, so we’ve included the best options for you there as well.
Aswell as microphone quality, here are other elements to consider:
If you have your own XLR microphones that you would like to use, then you will need a digital device that has XLR/TRS inputs (note that USB microphones won’t work).
And if you need to be recording for long durations, then you will need to keep an eye on battery life and how much memory it holds.
All in all, it depends on how you need to use the audio recorder.
Best portable audio recorders
THe Zoom H4N doesn’t have an many flashy features as it’s newer partner Zoom H6, but it does bring with it a fantastic audio quality, durability and portability. At heart, it’s built for amateur filmmakers and musicians that need a robust audio recorder that works stright off the bat.
It’s features include 2 ports (XLR/TRS), unidirectional mix, great stereo depth, four-track recording, and more. As it’s so portable and compact your can even connect it with a camera for an audio recording for your footage.
We recommend the H4M as the allround best portable audio recorder for podcasting.
- Great audio quality
- Impressive in-built microphone audio quality
- Mics are interchangeable, external ones can be added as well
- Durable, solid construction.
- Device has got only 2GB storage space (but can use SD cards)
- May not be easy to use for beginners
- In-built microphones can be sensitive to interference from other devices
- More expensive than the H4N model
Zoom H6 is another quality, portable recorder that is highly versatile and can run on AA batteries or an AC adapter.
It has 4 phantom-powerable XLR slots for additional microphones, and comes with two interchangeable high quality microphone capsules, which can be used for the mid-side and the X/Y.
Its versatility, build and value for money makes it one of the best portable audio recorders available on the market today. May not be as suitable for beginners as the H4N, but has more funcionality if you know what you’re doing.
The TASCAM DR-100MKll is a portable digital recorder that boasts 2-channel recording and 2 XLR/TRS ports.
Locking XLR inputs make for balanced mic/line inputs to correspond with the two mics included: cardioid or omnidirectional.
Main specifications include a BP-L2 Li-ion battery, a 2GB SD card, extensive USB cable, coin cell battery (to confirm remote control operation), a remote control, and a soft case and windsock. It is very versatile, and one of the best portable audio recorders.
Although it doesn’t come with a microphone, this is a great portable recorder produced by one of the more popular audio brands on the market; Sound Devices. They’ve made a reputation of manufacturing high quality products in the past, including the Mix Pre-6.
The Mix Pre-3 has got excellent audio capabilities, a 5-track recorder that comes with an ISO (short for isolated; not mixed) mode, a built in Bluetooth connection, three auxiliary inputs, live stereo mix, with a 96kHz sample rate. It is compatible with USB 2.0 for iOS and OS X users.
Other specs include a removable SD card (audio can be saved here directly, without any need for a computer), a slot, 2-second audio buffer, and 3 Kashmir microphone preamps.
Although you will need an external microphone at hand, it’s an allround recording monster to be carrying around with you.
This is a portable recorder that is very easy to use, for both beginners and pros.
It has high quality in-built sterio microphones. It has few nice features that are pragmatic for everyday use, such as a switchable low cut filter with two levels and a pre-record buffer that can pre-empt sound occuring.
Four modes are available on this recorder (Tuner, Manual, Quick and Smart). The most interesting is smart mode, as it allows you to capture the loudest noise initially, and will then automatically set the rest for you as you go along.
Extra functions, that suit musicians esspecially, include a tuner, metronome, overdubbing funcionality and an integrated speaker.
This recorder is tailored for being on the go, as well as boasting a few useful functions useful for musicians.
The Tasca, DR-40 is the counterpart to the Zoom H4n. We prefer the Zoom H4n due to the better quality, but others swear by Tascam.
So, if you’re a TASCAM fan and don’t quite have the budget for the DR-100 MKll, the Tascam DR-40 might be your answer. You can record 4 tracks at once (2 XLR/TRS + 2 in-built microphones), but be aware that you will probably need foam covers to use external mics through the XLR/TRS ports without some noise cominh through.
Allround, a fantastic recording device.
The Yamaha Pocketrak PR7 is sleek, portable and has a powerful XY stereo microphone. It has aditional functions such as an onboard tuner, metronome, overdubbing and marker editing.
The PR7 comes with 5 presets that can be activated and set whenever needed, as well as being very easy to use.
Another great touch is the accompanying case, which some users prefer to use instead of placing the audio recorder bare in the pocket.
The Roland R-07 is a newer version of the R-05, wich comes with a few extra features such as mobile phone remote controled recording and playback, as well as a feature that creates a backup of everything (even if it’s made at a lower quality).
We would state that the audio quality may not be as great as the R-05, but wanted to include it as the additional features might be very useful for some, esspecially the remote control features.
Best budget option - portable audio recorders
For those who record podcasts every single day, the Sony ICD-PX470 is indispensable. It provides plenty of power without any frills. It comes with a ‘focus’ feature which narrows it’s audio field to one person or the speaker, and can be set to ‘wide’ which allows for broader audio pickup. It is great for board room recordings as well.
Main specs include 4GB memory which can be expanded to 32GB, USB connectivity for quick uploads to a computer, and a small stature offering good value; therefore earning the tag ‘small but mighty’. Its storage extensibility can be equated to about 500 hours of audio recording capacity.
The Zoom H1n is a very protable all in one recording device with a great XY microphone for the price you pay. As it’s on the lower end of the budget bracket it does lack a few of the features that other models offer, but it’s still a handy recorder if you treat it with care.
The Tascam DR-05X is another budget option that will serve you well.
Overall, the microphone quality is very good for the price, but you will need to look after the unit as the build quality is just not there.
What we do like is the 128GB SD card ability, this will last you forever, esspecially if you’re going away for a while (such as going on holiday, or traveling). Couple this with its compact nature and the quality of the microphones, and you’ve got yourself a very handy budget portable audio recorder.
The EVISTR L157 is the most affordable from the list, but it’s microphone has enough power to make it worthwhile if you don’t have the budget for anything else.
For the price, this is a well manufactured and easy to use recording device that will get you from A to B, esspecially if you only want to experiment.
We wouldn’t recommend it for anything more than testing, research or unimportant recordings, as the audio is not the best. The audio quality wouldn’t be the best for high end pordcasts, but would be ok for local or community podcasts.