11 Best portable audio recorders on the market

In video or podcast, quality, clear audio is especially important. This is where audio recorders come in to help. While more attention used to be paid to conventional recorders, now everyone is looking for a device that will bring sound quality closer to professional.

An audio recorder just gives you that opportunity. If you need to record a rehearsal, a live concert or video, a good audio recorder will come to your aid.

Audio recorders have higher quality, advanced microphones, memory capacity, and other unique features. Sometimes they are used even by professionals. This review presents the best audio recorders on the market, which have useful functionality.



best pick
Zoom H1

Zoom H1


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  • streamlined body with matte finish 
  • built-in stereo condenser microphones 
  • one-touch button controls
  • localized and intuitive menus for easy operation


 
runner up
Zoom H4N Pro

Zoom H4N Pro

 

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  • four-channel recording up to 24-bit, 96 kHz. 
  • 2 XLR/TRS inputs with locking connectors. 
  • 4-In/2-out USB Audio Interface

 

budget pick
Sony ICD-PX440

Sony ICD-PX440

 

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  • easy to use file transfer capability to PC/Mac
  • memory card expansion slot (microSD/M2)
  • ease-of-use with scene select
  • intelligent noise cut for noise-free recordings

Zoom H1

Zoom H1Zoom electronics is the market leader in audio recording devices. The functionality, sound quality and convenience of the Zoom H1 put it first.

Despite the fact that this model appeared in the market quite a long time ago, it offers everything that may be required from a recorder.

XY is the location of two microphones, which helps to get stereo sound. Lightweight, which is important when recording video/audio from different devices simultaneously.

The recorder allows you to record audio in WAV and MP3 formats and connect extra microphones.

Which is especially handy when the H1 is turned on, it’s ready to go.

All you have to do is press the record button. And further you can understand the many settings that are shown on the small display of the device. You can, for example, choose to record audio closer or further from the Zoom H1.

It is the sensitive microphone, but, is not windproof. So it is recommended that you always buy a filter for outdoor shooting with the Zoom H1.

This device will also allow you to listen to your recordings immediately. You can make it through a speaker or headphones.

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Check also 8 Best Wireless Lapel Microphones

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Zoom H4N Pro

Zoom H4N ProH4N Pro quickly became a bestseller and overtime only strengthened its position.

The H4N Pro includes XY microphones for stereo recording but offers much more. Stereo, four-channel recording, and multi-tracking.

Audio, respectively, can be recorded uncompressed (16/24-bit, 44.1/48/96kHz) or in MP3 (48 -320 KBS or VBR).

With H4N Pro, both built-in microphones and external microphones can be used. The memory of this recorder can be expanded from 2GB to 32 using SD or SDHC cards.

The LCD display makes it easy to set up the recording. It runs on two AA batteries and can record for up to 6 hours straight.

Especially for music recording, the H4N Pro has a built-in metronome, tuner, and extra sound filters.

H4N Pro takes all the features and enhances them by equipping the recorder with improved microphones.

It is a digital device for interviews, lectures, meetings, concerts and other events. It is capable of capturing sound in the frequency range from 50 to 20,000 Hz.

The ability to adjust the sensitivity of the microphone provides high-quality tracks. In the noise reduction mode, the model perceives audio stream from a broadcast source. Files are stored either in the built-in 4 GB memory or on a microSD card.

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TASCAM DR-05

TASCAM DR-05DR-05 is a budget, but very powerful recorder in terms of features and capabilities.

Unlike the XY location of the microphones, Tascam directs the microphones in opposite directions. This helps you catch the sounds around you.

Tascam DR-05 records WAV and MP3 files up to 24-bit/96 kHz. In addition to the built-in microphones, you can also connect an external microphone to the Tascam DR-05.

The recorder has an input for standard headphones. So you can listen to the recorded track immediately. Functions specific to Tascam are also present on the DR-05.

These include speed change, sound balancing, scrolling back, loop, timer and much more. Thanks to USB 2.0, the recorder is easy to connect to a computer and allows you to transfer recorded files.

The microphone sensitivity reaches up to 125 dB.

When it comes to recording music, the quality of the microphones is one of the top priorities. The Tascam DR-05 has built-in multi-directional microphones.

They provide a natural recording of the surrounding sound space. This device can be an ideal solution for musicians who want to record their rehearsals. There is also a 3.5mm jack to connect an external microphone.

Besides, it should be noted that there is a built-in loudspeaker of good quality and a built-in memory of 2 GB. When powered by two AA batteries, the device provides about 17 hours of autonomous operation.

For outdoor recording, you will need extra wind protection (pop filter). As the microphones are very sensitive to blowing out.

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TASCAM DR-40

TASCAM DR-40Tascam is ready to offer a more advanced model.

The four-channel recording is available thanks to 4 capacitor microphones located on top of the housing.

Two of them are facing each other and two are facing away. But they can be rotated, allowing you to catch sound from four directions.

In principle, the Tascam DR-40 offers four types of recording. Mono/stereo, two-channel and four-channel recording and overdub, i.e. overlay recording.

DR-40 is very easy to use, it is equipped with a display, LED sensors that state which recording mode is active.

The sound is of high quality. At the price of the Tascam DR-40 is ideal between budget and expensive recorder models. The only thing that’s inferior to the competition is probably its size.

The main feature of this recorder is professional quality recording with intuitive control. The recorder has four modes, switching between which is carried out with a special wheel.

Connection to a computer is carried out via mini USB cable, after which you can work with the recorder. Batteries are enough for almost a hundred hours of work. If the batteries are completely discharged, you can make the recorder work by connecting it to a computer.

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Sony ICD-UX533

Sony ICD-UX533The Sony ICD-UX533 is ideal for work, study, music and more.

The device has a stereo condenser microphone and 4 GB of built-in flash memory.  There is a slot to expand the memory by installing a microSD card.

The monochrome LCD display is backlit. This device is powered by one AAA battery and can be charged from the USB port.

The device’s built-in flash memory is capable of storing more than a thousand hours of audio recording. MP3 192 kbps recording mode is enabled by default.

But, you can improve the recording quality by setting the bitrate to 320 kbps. Or vice versa, you can reduce the quality settings to save memory.

The screen always shows the battery charge level and the time left to use. The time between recharges is 30 hours, making operation as comfortable as possible.

Data transfer to the computer is done via USB. The recorder has 4 GB of internal memory and allows you to connect a microSD card.

There are 2 quality modes for recording. It is also possible to manually adjust the sensitivity of the microphone. Besides, the device has a voice activation function.

It allows you to turn on recording without hands. Due to the possibility of a direct connection to a computer, the recorder can be used as a flash drive.

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TASCAM DR-100 MKIII

TASCAM DR-100 MKIIIJudging by the appearance of the TASCAM DR-100 MKIII recorder, you can guess that it is quite unlike its competitors.

It has four built-in microphones, two of which are forward and two sideways. It has the preamplifiers that have been improved since the DR-100.

Although they were already an order of size higher than those of the competition. But, thanks to them, the MKIII is able to record even more clearly even lower sound.

Besides, S/PDIF connectors make it possible to connect dedicated recording equipment to the recorder. This greatly improves the quality of the result.

The DR-100MKIII also features battery operation and USB charging, in addition to the AA battery capability.

The recorder records WAV audio: 16- and 24-bit – MP3: 32 – 320 kbps and VBR.

The intuitive electronic-mechanical control system features a display and buttons. You can record in MP3 format, search the library for the desired track, play it, rewind and delete it.

You can listen to the audio using a speaker or headphones, which are connected via a special jack. An external microphone output and a USB port are also provided in the configuration. This allows you to connect the model to a computer or notebook.

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Sony ICD-PX440

Sony ICD-PX440Sony ICD-PX440 is slightly cheaper than other gadgets on this list.

This model has no backlighting display. But it also means more cheap use of battery power.  The ICD-PX440 also has 4 gigabytes of internal memory.

This allows you to record more than a thousand hours without using an extra SD card. But, the recorder certainly has a microSD card slot.

The device supports external cards up to 32 gigabytes. This is more than enough for any task in terms of sound recording.

The feature of this model is a built-in retractable USB connector to connect to a computer. This allows you to connect to a computer at any time.

You don’t have to think about how not to forget to take the USB cable with you.  The device is defined in the system as a normal USB drive with two drives.

The first drive is a built-in flash memory and the second drive is a memory card.

The recorder is powered by two AAA-sized alkaline cells or two batteries of the appropriate type. The recorder is very cheap, from one charge it can work for several tens of hours.

Besides, the device is convenient to use as an MP3 player with very high sound quality.

The recording is made in MP3 format with bitrates from 8 to 192 kbps. You will also enjoy Sony’s proprietary technology of intelligent noise reduction. It reduces background noise.

Besides, it can speed up or slow down the playback in real-time. It can also be useful for transcription of voice recordings.

The recorder has a 3.5mm jack for recording from an external stereo microphone or line source.

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Olympus LS-14

Olympus LS-14Olympus has created a very interesting LS-14, which features the Tresmic three microphone system.

This recorder has two microphones pointing in opposite directions. It also has one central one, which helps to record better quality low sound. The battery of this recorder works 46 hours.

All these qualities have the new Olympus LS-14, which is easy to operate. With its relatively small size, it provides near-studio quality recording.

It also knows how to ‘cut off’ ambient noise and starts recording seconds before you press the ‘Rec’ button.

Besides, the recorder records concert perfectly. It allows you to superimpose the recordings on top of each other and can work as a camera recorder.

There are three microphones at the front of the recorder. Two directional, 90 degrees angle, and one non-directional, designed to capture bass.

At the back of the speaker, there is a threaded hole for a tripod or stand and a battery compartment. Two standard AA batteries are used for charging. There are also 4 small rubber feet.

All controls in the form of mechanical keys and a special switch wheel are located on a front panel covered with glass. At the top is a monochrome 1.8-inch display with blue backlighting.

Immediately below it is three small function keys. They change their function depending on what is shown on the screen. Below are three main round buttons that allow you to start recording, play a file or stop an action.

Below them is the “menu” key. It allows you to set various settings of the recorder. There is also a four-position key, with which you can navigate through the menu.

You can also change the volume, sensitivity, rewind a piece of file or go to the next track. At the bottom, there is a small “Erase” button that allows you to quickly delete files.

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Roland R-05

Roland R-05The Roland R-05 has a metal case. This recorder will not break on a fall. But, it does tend to record a lot of extraneous sounds, so it’s not ideal for recording in noisy environments.

It’s a professional compact recorder with a good bonus of binaural capability. At a glance, it looks pretty standard. But the R-05 bonus makes it stand out from the competition.

Roland R-05 is presented in a rather compact case. The edges of the case are “cut”, the recorder is easy to hold and work with one hand.

Separately, I would like to note the display of R-05. With enough information, which is able to display the display, it is very well readable.

Even working in the bright sun, you will clearly see all the necessary information on the display.

As with most Roland recorders, R-05 has a lot of features. For example, the delayed recording function, split mode, Pre Record function, and others. The recorder is charged from an AC adapter or AA batteries.

Recordings are made to an SD memory card and the recorder supports all card sizes. The recorder is flexible enough in recording modes. There is also an interesting feature, where the recorder records in two formats of recording quality, high and low.

So you can save the recordings in high quality for further processing. Low-quality recording can be emailed immediately or “put to work”.

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Sony ICD-TX50

Sony ICD-TX50Sony ICD-TX50 has earned a place in this review for better design and beauty.

It is really a very beautiful stylish gadget only a quarter of an inch thick. It has 4 gigabytes of internal memory and a microSD card slot.

When recording uncompressed audio with CD quality, it will fit approximately 6 hours of audio into the built-in memory.

If you are satisfied with the MP3 recording quality, 44 to 178 hours are available depending on the set bit rate and mono/stereo mode.

The recorder has a built-in battery that will last 24 hours until the next charge.

In the recorder’s menu, you will find the usual set of functions with a choice of preset recording parameters. It also provides activation of voice recording and much more.

The recorder comes with naturally speaking recognition software from Dragon. This program will save you time when decoding voice recordings.

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Olimpus Digital Voice Recorder WS-853

Olimpus Digital Voice Recorder WS-853With the Olimpus WS-853, you don’t have to worry about unexpected shutdowns.

It promises you a record 110 hours of battery life and 2080 hours of recording. Olimpus is powered by only two standard AAA-sized batteries.

If you use batteries in this format, the gadget lets you charge them from your computer’s USB port or charger. There is no need for a USB cable, the USB plug is built into the device.

The recorder is equipped with two directional microphones, located at an angle of 90 degrees. This system is perfect for perfect voice reception.

If there are several people talking in the room, a special function allows you to soften the volume of the closest speaker.

It also helps to amplify the speech of those people who are far away from the recorder. The function of noise suppression allows reducing the influence of undesirable hindrances.

The Olympus WS-853 has an impressive 8 gigabyte of internal memory. For sound recording, it is a lot. In addition to the built-in memory, you can install a microSD card with up to 32 gigabytes.

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Check also Best audio interfaces