Professional portable recorder recommendations for ambient or vocal sampling

DANIELE

Senior Member
Hi all,

I'd like to approach to the sampling word by buying some portable recorder like Tascam DR-40X that has built in stereo mic but where I could add some external mic in the future if I would like. I'd like also to be able to use it with a smartphone or a camera (like a Sony A6000) to record high quality audio.

I'd like to record for example animals, woods ambiend sound, the sound of the sea etc...or maybe record some speech or some singing. Something that I could also put in a synthesizer for post-processing. I would also like to record musical ideas with my voice or maybe some instrument or thing.

The important thing is having the lowest noise possible while recordin (for example the classic white noise you hear in smartphone recording).

Since I would like to use it for fun and some experiments I'd lite something that it is not so expensive, like the Tascam I talked about in the beginning.

I'm looking for some advice from you guys.

Thank you so much.
 

Satorious

Active Member
I'm not necessarily an authority (I'm sure technology has since improved) - but I still love the Zoom H6 as a portable recorder. I find it really easy to use, has multiple XLR inputs and comes with two mic capsules in the box (X/Y, M/S mics). Of course you can plug other mic sources in also (great for clip-tie mics in interview situations etc) and you can record from multiple sources simultaneously. Tascam is great also.
 
OP
DANIELE

DANIELE

Senior Member
I'm not necessarily an authority (I'm sure technology has since improved) - but I still love the Zoom H6 as a portable recorder. I find it really easy to use, has multiple XLR inputs and comes with two mic capsules in the box (X/Y, M/S mics). Of course you can plug other mic sources in also (great for clip-tie mics in interview situations etc) and you can record from multiple sources simultaneously. Tascam is great also.
Ehi thank you, it seems a great recorder but it almost doubles the price of the Tascam DR-40X, I'll keep an eye on it.

Any other advice?
 

Nathanael Iversen

Active Member
Words like "professional" mean different things to different people. For people doing sampling, classical recording, scientific field work, etc, many would use devices that are priced significantly above what you have suggested. Often for the very reason that you state - they want better noise performance, which is another way of saying they want clean, good sounding preamps.

I would look at the SoundDevices MixPre series as a starting point. They have much better preamps than any of the little "handi-recorders" - which are not very "pro" in my opinion. I have the Zoom H4n for simple things, but it sounds like what it cost me (<$200).

If you want the truly high end, you can't beat the Sonosax SX-R4+. It gives the highest quality files of any recording system I have used. It costs more than most people here spend on a computer interface. the preamps and dual-gain range AD conversion produce superlative files, and because it runs on battery, there is zero noise contamination from mains power. These are heavily used by on-location classical recordists, on-set audio for movies, etc. One would typically be using high-end mics with a unit like this, so the total recording system cost is different than the "audio recorder" cost.

While the Sonosax is almost certainly not what you are looking for right now, it will give you a sense of what "professional" includes. I would start with a SoundDevices MixPre unit with the right number of channels as the "floor" of what you are considering under the term "professional".

Of course, if "better than an iPhone" is "professional", then any of the handi-recorders will do. The sub $200 ones are all about the same for features and audio quality. Getting good preamps just costs more. But for messing around, anything will do. I use the Rode iXY mic with my iPhone most often for this type of use. The Zoom doesn't see a lot of use these days.
 
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d.healey

Senior Member
I use a Tascam DR40 for field recording and sampling. The built in mics are really good and I do use them, but if I'm doing a proper session I'll run it from a power outlet and plug in an external mic.

Regarding noise, the recorder isn't going to add anything that anyone will notice, it produces a very clean sound and the ambient noise will overpower anything electrical. Whatever you record and no matter what device you use you'll need to run it through a noise remover - so remember to record 10 seconds of ambiance before and after the session.

If you're recording outdoors I recommend you get some kind of windsock/dead cat for your mic.
 

PerryD

Active Member
I have owned Fostex and Tascam field recorders. I found a great deal on a new Sony PCM D100. It was still much more than either of those recorders but the quality and built in mics are great. It can even do DSD. Battery life is much better than any recorder I have used.
 
OP
DANIELE

DANIELE

Senior Member
Words like "professional" mean different things to different people. For people doing sampling, classical recording, scientific field work, etc, many would use devices that are priced significantly above what you have suggested. Often for the very reason that you state - they want better noise performance, which is another way of saying they want clean, good sounding preamps.

I would look at the SoundDevices MixPre series as a starting point. They have much better preamps than any of the little "handi-recorders" - which are not very "pro" in my opinion. I have the Zoom H4n for simple things, but it sounds like what it cost me (<$200).

If you want the truly high end, you can't beat the Sonosax SX-R4+. It gives the highest quality files of any recording system I have used. It costs more than most people here spend on a computer interface. the preamps and dual-gain range AD conversion produce superlative files, and because it runs on battery, there is zero noise contamination from mains power. These are heavily used by on-location classical recordists, on-set audio for movies, etc. One would typically be using high-end mics with a unit like this, so the total recording system cost is different than the "audio recorder" cost.

While the Saxcom is almost certainly not what you are looking for right now, it will give you a sense of what "professional" includes. I would start with a SoundDevices MixPre unit with the right number of channels as the "floor" of what you are considering under the term "professional".

Of course, if "better than an iPhone" is "professional", then any of the handi-recorders will do. The sub $200 ones are all about the same for features and audio quality. Getting good preamps just costs more. But for messing around, anything will do. I use the Rode iXY mic with my iPhone most often for this type of use. The Zoom doesn't see a lot of use these days.
I'm sorry, I'm not motherlanguage so it is not always easy to explain what I mean.

In this case by "professional" I meant relatively to my recording devices/experience that it is almost on a 0 level.
Music is an hobby for me, so I cannot spend to much money on it. Since I am approaching sampling I wanted something to experiment without spending too much, and I'd like something better than my smartphone mic with more white noise than sound (I'm exagerating here).

Your advices are very precious anyway, I'll keep them in my mind for the future.

I have owned Fostex and Tascam field recorders. I found a great deal on a new Sony PCM D100. It was still much more than either of those recorders but the quality and built in mics are great. It can even do DSD. Battery life is much better than any recorder I have used.
It costs a lot for me right now but I put it in my wishlist.

Thank you.