cheap digital stereo recorder?

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Joined: 01/12/2004

Do you know anything about small digital audio recorders? I want to buy one for taping myself and interviews I conduct. I'm still using a cassette Walkman. Way behind the times. Have you any recommendations on brands and models?


Joined: 02/12/2009

There's a new crop of inexpensive stereo recorders that use flash memory. They are nice because they can be directly connected to your computer to transfer the digital audio files off of the recorder. Some have built-in mics too. But don't expect something professional and durable unless you spend more money.

The features to look for:

How high audio quality can it record? Look for the bit rate: 24 bit (vrs the lesser 16 bit). Some recorders also record directly to compressed MP3. In this price range, you'll be fine without higher sampling rates (96k), that parameter is not as important as the bit rate.

Is the connection to the computer USB 1 or USB 2.0? USB 1 is painfully slow for file transfer, while USB 2.0 is much faster then real-time.

Does it have a built-in microphone or will you use an external mic?

Another important question is durability. It's hard to judge when buying on the web. But if all other features are equal, price can be an indicator-- the more expensive model will likely last longer.

Here are some to check out:

There are more advanced models here:

There's also the idea of an add-on microphone option for an iPod. But if you include the cost of the iPod, that ends up being more expensive than those models above, lesser quality and less features. If you already own an iPod, something like Griffin's iTalk Pro might be less expensive at first, until your iPod needs replacement... And the iPod's clickwheel is great for scrolling through music, but limiting as a control for a recorder.

Here's the iTalk Pro: