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  1. #1

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    I apologize, in advanced if this thread is a repeat. I searched the forum high and low and could not find anything substantial on portable recorders.

    I have noticed a lot of talk about direct in amp simulating software. In fact, I think Barry Greene uses that setup--along with audacity--for all of his video lessons.

    However, I don't want to fiddle with my computer. I want to find portable recorder that is small enough to fit in my gig bag, but has the fidelity to capture my amplified and acoustic tone as it truly is--since I am constantly working on cleaning up my tone.

    I want to record jam sessions and practice sessions--a portable recorder would be my best option.

    I've heard of Tascams and Zooms. What are the benefits of each.

    Anyone heard of this Yamaha:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CCOGLEQ/?tag=1010128-20

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  3. #2

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    I have that Yamaha.

    It works great. The recordings sound terrific. Easy to use. It takes an SD card. It does not have an operating system that makes the internal memory and SD card look the same. You have to pick one. I got a big enough SD card that I never have to think about switching to the internal memory. I use a USB cable to transfer to my laptop and it works fine.

    I don't know how to find them, but every mp3 I ever uploaded to this forum was made with the Yamaha.

  4. #3

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    I have Olympus, and it does great. I bought it for much money years ago. Problem is, my phone now records just as great. It seems like you dont need a dedicated device anymore, these days your phone or ipad will capable to make a quick recording jus fine.

  5. #4
    Hep, you forgot?

    I never had an iPhone.

    I'm a dinosaur

    Here's a youtube video I found comparing the Olympus to the Yamaha to the Zoom:


  6. #5
    How about this Olympus:

    https://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Linea...ct_top?ie=UTF8

    I used to bring my laptop to record lessons (when my work gave me a MacBook Air)

    So--no one uses a Tascam?

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Hep, you forgot?

    I never had an iPhone.

    I'm a dinosaur

    Here's a youtube video I found comparing the Olympus to the Yamaha to the Zoom:

    That's the one I have.

    I don't have iPhone either. Mine is very modest Samsung, and yet it does the job great. The advantage is I can record and share in a sec, upload on youtube, google drive, dropbox, take videos etc etc. I mean, I don't even have to tell it's obvious... But if it's a principle not to have a modern phone, then yes, Olympus is a solid choice.

  8. #7
    It's less a principal and more of a way to separate myself from technology--and surfing youtube--all time of the day

    I don't see that Olympus on Amazon anymore. MAN, I miss J&R in Manhattan!

    I think I'll check B&H

  9. #8

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    Does anybody remember the Iriver mp3 player that had a record setting?

    It was about the size of your thumb. I used to use it with little Sony external mic.
    Got about 20 hours on a AAA. Sounded great, although the newer ones seem to record more bass.

    They never marketed it to musicians as a recorder. Rather they marketed as an mp3 player, which, of course, it was.

    I had three or four of them. They all died the same way. The main button was attached the pc board and that connection would fail.

  10. #9

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    That was a great comparison video, thanks. The Yamaha definitely picks up a lot more high frequency sound, maybe too much. The Zoom and the Olympus sounded virtually the same. I think I'd go with the Zoom, since they're pervasive and easy to find.

  11. #10

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    I had a Zoom H2. Stopped working after a year or two.

    The Yamaha has been going strong for much longer.

  12. #11

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    My Zoom H2 is still going strong after many years and much use. The case and switches do seem cheap and fragile, but I’ve been careful with it. It’s discontinued. I’d consider another Zoom if it failed.

    I use it for recording rehearsals, jams, or solo practice sessions. I use a 4 GB SD card, and often just leave it running for an entire session, just turning it off during breaks. Once I get home I’ll put the SD card in a Windows PC, import each wav file to Audacity (freeware), and use that program to create one normalized audio file per tune.
    Last edited by KirkP; 05-18-2019 at 07:55 PM.

  13. #12

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    I do a bit of wildlife and field recording and the one I got was the Tascam DR100 mk 3 .
    It has super quiet , good quality mic preamps , easily the best until you start getting into pro-gear like Nagra or Sound Devices .
    Good built in condenser mics , phantom power , lots of useful features , I would recommend it highly .

    The Sony one is supposed to be good , lots of pros use it but it's more expensive .

    The alternative is to use a Lavalier mic plugged into your phone , Sennheiser do good ones , also I think there's a Rode specifically designed for iPhones .

    This page might help you

    Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide | Creative Field Recording

  14. #13

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    there are definitely differences..some are made for basic voice/classroom recording..others for more intricate field/hi fidelity sound recording...sony makes very well regarded ones (the pcm-d series)..used by many field recordists for many years...

    and i think tascam would be the next best after those...

    check out the sonys..even the A series


    Portable Digital Recorders

    miss j&r too!..i still use stuff i got from there

    cheers

  15. #14

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    zoom, yamaha, tascam, all good brands used by plenty of satisfied folks. Even the cheapest models provide high quality audio with fairly simple controls.

  16. #15
    i have an olympus LS-10. Works great but battery life is always an issue and it completely loses all settings when the battery dies so I continually have to reset the time/date/memory card choice, recording preferences, etc. VERY ANNOYING.

    I have a galaxy S8 but the recordings are not nearly as good.

  17. #16
    jzucker, is the LS-10 good for recording quiet practice sessions (acoustic) as well as group performances with the same clarity (fidelity?)

    I heard that the external mics on most of these portables aren't great, and that some are incredibly noisy.

    I'm still peeved that I couldn't get a good recorded sound with my Blue Snowball... live and learn.

    Like I said, I want as clear as what everyone else is hearing when I play--that type of quality or close--so I can properly critique my tone production and everything else.

    This thread has been helpful, but it seems like a try before you buy deal (and that sounds expensive)

  18. #17

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    I use the zoom H1n and for my purposes, recording a rehearsal or gig for band use, it is great. Picks up sound just fine. Good battery life with remaining time indicator. Various recording settings including wav. I use mp3 at 256 for gigs/rehearsals and hours of recording time on the storage card. I've attached a recent gig recording with it, not great placement for the whole band but everything comes through fine for our post-gig review.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  19. #18

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    I've had a Zoom H4N for 5 years or so. Sounds good and it's never given me any problems. I've never felt the need for anything else, so I can't really compare it to others.

  20. #19

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    I have a Tascam DR-22WL, and it seems ok. I really don't use it much, but it records with decent fidelity. I like the fact that it can be controlled by a smartphone app, which is useful for having the recorder stationed in the best location for recording, but still having full control from a distance.

  21. #20
    Yes it does. The mics are pretty good. Not as good as a pair of standalong dynamic mics but better than any phone mics you will find. It can also take a stereo mic input

    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    jzucker, is the LS-10 good for recording quiet practice sessions (acoustic) as well as group performances with the same clarity (fidelity?)

    I heard that the external mics on most of these portables aren't great, and that some are incredibly noisy.

    I'm still peeved that I couldn't get a good recorded sound with my Blue Snowball... live and learn.

    Like I said, I want as clear as what everyone else is hearing when I play--that type of quality or close--so I can properly critique my tone production and everything else.

    This thread has been helpful, but it seems like a try before you buy deal (and that sounds expensive)

  22. #21
    Maybe it's something as asinine as mic placement in the room. My favorite recording of myself (I'm talking about my tone--I'm not stroking my ego here, trust me) was done with a bandmate's iPhone...

    Sax and trumpet usually hog the dynamic space--and that makes recording guitar a lot harder.

    I think I'll look into the Olympus and Zoom some more--I just wish there was a way for me to test them out--I don't want to waste my time like I did with the Blue Snowball (even with changing my sound properties to DVD quality--my recordings sound like they are under water...maybe it's my sound card?)

  23. #22

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    After analyzing the offerings, I ended up buying a Tascam DR-44WL. Built quality seems better than Zoom, plus lots of great features

    1) low power consumption: I experienced up to 6 hour recording with high quality Eneloop Panasonic rechareable batteries
    2) easy navigation in the menu system
    3) quality recording in various formats
    4) ability to record 4 tracks, builtin mikes plus 2 external ones, if needed for easier mixing
    5) remote control with a smartphone
    Perfection is in the Details, but Perfection isn't a Detail (Leonardo da Vinci)

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Maybe it's something as asinine as mic placement in the room. My favorite recording of myself (I'm talking about my tone--I'm not stroking my ego here, trust me) was done with a bandmate's iPhone...

    Sax and trumpet usually hog the dynamic space--and that makes recording guitar a lot harder.

    I think I'll look into the Olympus and Zoom some more--I just wish there was a way for me to test them out--I don't want to waste my time like I did with the Blue Snowball (even with changing my sound properties to DVD quality--my recordings sound like they are under water...maybe it's my sound card?)
    Did you see my reply about this in the other thread? It’s worth checking the sound properties and turning off any ‘noise reduction’ type options, if they are on. This solved a similar issue on my son’s laptop.

  25. #24
    I tried that graham. I found that fix on Google.

    Alas--very little difference.

    It's frustrating to not have an objective source that truly captures your sound... especially when you are trying to change your sound.

    I don't know how accurate my ears are in gauging my own sound--I heard that one's inner ear adds more bass to sound, something to do with the reverberations in the skull?

    I also find that when I think I played like shite--I wasn't too bad.

    And when I felt like I was playing on fire--I listen back and it doesn't sound good.

    I need to record daily to get a better sense of it all.

  26. #25

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    I think to try and advise any further we would need to know your exact signal chain and devices from mic to computer to recording software.

  27. #26

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    The first, most important, and hardeat to get piece of "gear" you need for acoustic recording is a good space/room. Should be reasonably spacy and quiet of course. Stay out of the corners to avoid standing bass waves. Higher pitched shimmer is a lot easier to tame. Once you have that, just walk around the room playing until you find a place where it sounds good. Then place your mic/recorder where it captures that same sound. Everything that comes after that point is secondary. A cheap SM57 into a cheap Focusrite 2i2 into a cheap computer with a cheap or free DAW is way enough.Or the recorder in this case.

  28. #27

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    Any reasonable portable recorder should probably work well enough. I do all my recordings on a small Korg SOS (sound on sound) recorder, which works fine. I usually use a direct signal to the line input, but it also has a built in stereo mic which works perfectly well.

    For example I recorded my classical guitar on this track using the built in mic on the Korg:


  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by mhch View Post
    After analyzing the offerings, I ended up buying a Tascam DR-44WL. Built quality seems better than Zoom, plus lots of great features

    1) low power consumption: I experienced up to 6 hour recording with high quality Eneloop Panasonic rechareable batteries
    2) easy navigation in the menu system
    3) quality recording in various formats
    4) ability to record 4 tracks, builtin mikes plus 2 external ones, if needed for easier mixing
    5) remote control with a smartphone
    I'm reading reviews on amazon that the DR-44WL is fragile. I don't care about Wifi capabilities. That said, the DR-44WL seems to have the best mics for the price. Unless I'm convinced elsewise--I trust you guys more than Amazon

    Is the DR 40 essentially the same as the 44wl? Once again, I care about sund quality--not wifi.

    What's the difference between unidirectional and omnidirectional mics? Which would be better for recording live music (ie, jam sessions) and practice sessions?
    Last edited by Irez87; 05-21-2019 at 10:22 AM.

  30. #29
    this video was hard to find on youtube...grr

    I think there should be more mic comparisons like this:



    it's like the Zoom captures more bass to my ears.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    I'm reading reviews on amazon that the DR-44WL is fragile. I don't care about Wifi capabilities. That said, the DR-44WL seems to have the best mics for the price. Unless I'm convinced elsewise--I trust you guys more than Amazon

    Is the DR 40 essentially the same as the 44wl? Once again, I care about sund quality--not wifi.

    What's the difference between unidirectional and omnidirectional mics? Which would be better for recording live music (ie, jam sessions) and practice sessions?
    I'm curious to know more about what was the reasons to state the DR-44WL fragile ! What I can say than in hands il feels sturdy, heavier than the similar zoom beasts (not 10x of course), the builtin mikes are well protected, attention has been paid to eliminate too easy pushing of a button

    Connection with a smartphone is bluetooth, not wifi.

    Unidirectional mikes are meant to focus on a specific audio source, ignoring what is not in the narrow mike field. They are probably used for recording speech when being at a distance. I guess they are also called shotgun mikes

    Omnidirectional mikes grab all the audio in a large space,all around, possibly even from behind, probably used to record ambiance sound

    more in The Different Types Of Mics And Their Uses | Gearank

    Personnally I've always been using the two DR-44WL builtin mikes for recording jam sessions and practice, just need to pay a bit of attention to set the beast so that no wanted audio source is too far on its sides or behind

    I remember that one of the zoom (H2?) can record all around using 4 builtin mikes, a guy I play with has one but what we each recorded during the same session was about the same (we were not looking for outstanding audio quality, just to record the overal band music)

    no idea about the difference between the DR 40 and 44 but this may help
    Perfection is in the Details, but Perfection isn't a Detail (Leonardo da Vinci)

  32. #31

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    In case this is helpful.

    I had a Sony ECM DS70P, which is a little stereo mic. I originally got it to record with the Iriver, which didn't have a quality built in mic, but sounded great with the little Sony.

    The Sony sounded better to me than the mics in the Zoom H2.

    But, after the H2 died (for no obvious reason) I switched to the Yamaha. The built in mics sounded fine and I stopped using the Sony.

  33. #32
    Okay, so I finally knuckled down and got the Zoom H4n Pro -- with a starter kit (16 GB SD card, AC unit, USB cord)

    It captures voice extremely well, very much plug and play.

    Figuring out how to capture my guitar, at least acoustically, is another story.

    After some experimenting, I found that I could get a truer sound by playing the built in mics near the f-hole (bass side).

    That said, my strings sound a lot more "rubbery" than I thought they did. I play with round wounds, so that was unexpected. And treble-ly.

    Any suggestions on how to record guitar with a portable?

  34. #33

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    If it's an archtop, get the microphone(s) away from the guitar, at least 3 or 4 feet.

  35. #34
    I have an archie, but it's a through top pickup--not a floater.

    Still loudish acoustically.

    I'll try it, because I had the mic almost touching my fretting hand before.

    What about placement when I plug into an amp?

    Sorry if these questions are obvious, I've only ever recorded on crappy equipment before--like a computer mic. Even the Blue Snowball doesn't quite compare to the detail I now get with the H4n Pro.

    Hey, once I get this figured out--I can post more audio over here so we can see if Mr. Ear Training can actually play

  36. #35

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    Miking an amp can be fun. Typically you want to be about 1/2 the way put from the center of the cone, and play with distance from the cone.

    But it's all testing. You might get best pointed at center or at edge. Up close or backed off.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  37. #36

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    The following video is geared toward people who want to blend amplified and acoustic mics, but it might give you some ideas.


    Recording with built-in mics is definitely a compromise. But that H4N seems like good unit. I probably would have chosen that if it were available when I bought my H2. And it does allow you to connect two external mics and provides phantom power, so if you could try the two mic techniques in that video. Of course that requires even more gear. :-)

  38. #37
    I can't afford spendin more moolah on recording gear--this was my father's day gift to myself...

    That said, I tried moving the recorder to the center of the room... and viola--instant acoustic goodness.

    The sound I hear through my ears is very close to what I heard in the recording!

    The next frontier is figuring out placement with an amp in the mix.

    I think I can plug my guitar into the unit as well?

  39. #38

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    I think I can plug my guitar into the unit as well?
    You could connect the line out from your DV Mark to one of the H2N’s XLR inputs.

    Or you could plug the guitar into a direct box or an amp simulator pedal and do the same. The H4N does have two 1/4 inch inputs, but I doubt it would sound good to plug directly into it. (There’s no harm in trying though.)

    Your recording has a lot of ambient noise—a fan or motor, breathing, squeaking, etc. You should be able to reduce that by changing the direction the mic is pointing, moving a little closer, moving the mics away from reflective surfaces, and putting sound absorbers around and behind the mics. You can buy absorbers as in the following photo, but sofa cushions, pillows or blankets can do the job.

    Live rooms (with wood floors and minimal absorbers) are great for hearing yourself, but can make recording difficult.
    Last edited by KirkP; 05-27-2019 at 12:27 PM.

  41. #40

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    The amp line out will give you everything but the speaker/cab sound. Effects loop send will only give the preamp section out. You coud use a cheap multi-fx pedal with amp modelling to get a whole sound... maybe a little reverb and compression into a Fender Deluxe amp/speaker/cab model. From there straight into the recorder. I use a Fender Mustang Floor for this, but you could look at the Zoom MS50G for about $100. (I've never tried one of those, but the price is right.) Or you could look at those Torpedo Captor things, which supposedly do DI with speaker/cab simulation. I don't know much about them. Just throwing a few ideas out.

  42. #41

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    I tried to check out demos of the MS50G amp models, but almost every demo is so overloaded with effects that you can't hear the amp(s). I finally found this one that shows pretty much what one of the amp models sounds like. No idea which one, but probably one of the Fenders. The keys on the backing track are way too loud, but at least you can hear the guitar part on the virtual amp with only a little reverb. It doesn't sound cheesy at all, which is pretty amazing for a ~$100 device.
    Smooth Jazz Improvisation (With Zoom MS-50G + Zoom MS-70CDR) - YouTube
    So you would basically just plug your guitar into this thing and plug your recorder into the output. Or you could go straight to a PA or whatever.

    Edit: Here's another one where the guy only starts out with too much reverb, but you can still clearly hear the amp model itself (at first).
    ZOOM MS-50G - "Galactic Spaces" - 50 custom presets - YouTube
    Last edited by strumcat; 05-27-2019 at 11:53 PM.

  43. #42

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    You could try just plugging your archtop straight into the recorder, that’s how I usually record my 175, it sounds fine.

  44. #43

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    I bought a Tascam DR-05X today. Upon first inspection it radiates cheapness.

    It doesn't come with an SD card, so you can't use it out of the box. Luckily I had a 16 GB one lying around that worked ok. Strike one.

    The battery cover comes off with very little force. I can foresee a situation where it falls off when handled the wrong way, a battery becomes dislodged, and a recording gets ruined. Strike two.

    The menu system at first could not be navigated properly. I could go forward along the heirarchical structure of the menus, but not backwards. After I turned the recorder off and on, it began navigating as expected. Strike three. You're out.