View Full Version : idiot-proof digital recorder recommendations, please!

08-03-2010, 07:14 AM
Need to upgrade from my current setup of using the voice memos function on my iPod to record uke practice sessions. I'd like something that is equally easy to use - as in, just push a start and stop button - but actually makes recordings that sound halfway decent. The bit of research that I've done thus far points me toward the Zoom H2, but if there are other similar devices that are better in any way, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks in advance!

08-03-2010, 09:48 AM
Check out the Tascam DR-07 ($99 at soundprofessionals.com) or the DR-08 ($129). Less expensive, better made, higher quality sound, easier to use. By far the best of the entry-level digital recorders for music.

BTW, check out soundprofessionals.com even if you don't plan on buying there...they have sample sound files for each of the recorders so you can compare.


08-03-2010, 10:02 AM
Thanks cpatch, sounds like exactly what I am looking for. And the "less expensive" part is quite nice :)

08-03-2010, 11:46 AM
I can't really speak to the higher quality part, since I have been perfectly happy with the sound quality of the H4 I often borrow from my son. I think the H4 and the H2 have about the same sound quality, but the H4 has more bells and whistles than the H2. Unfortunately, the bells and whistles make the H4 less intuitive to use. Any more quality than an H2t gives would be wasted on me, especially when I upload to YouTube, which I understand really craps out the sound anyway. As far as cost goes, I have seen the H2 on sale at my SamAsh several times for $100, but they don't do it everyday.

08-03-2010, 12:45 PM
Thanks SweetWaterBlue - that confirms what I suspected, the H4 probably has too many bells and whistles for my needs. I just need a step up from using my iPod to record - so the H2, or one of the Tascams mentioned by cpatch, are more in line with my needs.

As for the H2 - is it pretty much "push a button and go" as they say, or are there tons of settings to have to fiddle around with?

08-03-2010, 01:33 PM
I've not used an H2, but the demos I have seen pretty much are punch a button and play. Then punch another button to play it back, or hit a few buttons on the screen to upload. The H4 came with a 100 page manual that was pretty much unintelligible (to me anyway). I mostly figured out how to use it by pushing buttons. Now, that I know how to do it, it really isn't that complicated, and the manual almost makes sense.

A lot of the complication on the H4 comes from the fact that you can use it as a simple stereo recorder - pretty much push the button and record, but you can choose 50 different input filters for different amp simulators, reverb, etc. You don't have to mess with that if you don't want to. In addition, the H4 can also be used as a 4 channel recorder and the way you record each channel is not exactly the same (i.e. you push the buttons a bit differently), but again you don't have to use that feature. You can also choose to record from the built in stereo mics or you can use the 1/4" jacks to plug your guitar/uke/drum machine or what have you into it and you have to tell it what you want to do. There is more that you can set on input levels, etc etc, some of which I have still not used. Selecting many of these functions is very non-intuitive at first. Until you get it, it makes it complicated. I think they learned from the H4 and removed a lot of that to create H2, which is probably all most of us need.

You can also use the H2 or H4 just as a set of stereo mics, but you can chose reverb and amp effects or just feed it clean. I seldom use the H4 as a sort of tape recorder , the way I see guys like Ken Middleton doing. That is mostly because I usually record in the same place and don't really need a remote unit recorder. The H4 eats AA batteries pretty quickly, so I like to keep it tethered to the wall.

There was a thread not too long ago about a recorder and mixer that I thought looked like it would be very intuitive. It was the Teac DP-008, which is an 8 track mixer, recorder, with built in high quality mics. I don't know how its sound compares to the H2, but on YouTube it sounded good. There is a 4 track version DP-004. I kind of liked it because you set everything with knobs, so even I could figure it out easily. The 4 track is around $130.