Portable Digital Recorder
There’s Nothing Worse Than
missing out on a recording opportunity because your out in the field. This is easily solved with a Portable Digital Recorder.
OK – so you may be wondering just what one of these gadgets is. These little buggers are excellent tools to have both in and outside your studio.
They are small, battery operated self contained units that typically provide stereo and some as many as 4 tracks of audio recording.
PDR’s are Not all Created Equal
There are several manufacturers of portable digital recorders and NO they are not all created equal. In fact there are varying degrees of sound quality, microphone quality, features/functions, battery consumption and yes even video capability.
There is also a varying price range for PDR’s as is typical with most musical equipment.
Back to the Drawing Board
You guessed it – it’s time to ask yourself some questions again. If you’ve been following LRT you know what I mean. If you have no clue, well do your homework and figure it out.
Asking yourself or others the right questions is always the most important part of putting together your studio and the equipment you will use.
Most of your questions should be based around features as I know that you understand the need for quality sound and understand the built in microphones on PDR’s are part of that sound. If you need a refresher check out my article How to Record Your Own Music.
SUPER TIP #2
Skip the Video Feature! Never Never Never waste your hard earned cash on the capability of a portable digital recorder to shoot video! Buy a device for a specific purpose – multi function devices, often times, consist of lower quality individual features.
I’ve tried several and the sound quality is severely compromised but the video is decent to sweet.
My opinion is that the manufacturers offset the cost of the video features with lower end audio components to stay competitive in the marketplace. I bet I’m not too far off and may even be spot on.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that PDR’s with video capture capabilities are junk or that you should not buy them at all.
I am saying, however, that you do not want one with video capabilities for professional audio recording needs – You’ll be unpleased with the sound and the dent in your wallet if you choose that route.
There are some popular or common features on PDR’s. I will list them here with a brief explanation.
- Built in Microphone – sounds obvious enough but some are well better than others. Also some can be changed from an A-B to an X-Y configuration. Not quite sure what this is – ask me in the comments section below.
- External Microphone Input – The availability to record with your own mics and cables connected.
- Storage – most are SD card compatible
- Multi-track / Mono – pretty common across the board
- Headphone/Audio Output – Typically 1/8″ stereo
Not So Common Features
Everyone needs to make their mark in the industry and some manufacturers add more features, improved battery life, better sounding mics and so on.
Some of these less common features I listed below for your reference.
- More Buttons & Knobs – Less Menus to Navigate
- Phantom Power
- Long Battery Life
- Auto Gain / Backup Recording
Size and Cost.
Although most units hover around a common ground there are some outliers with both size and cost.
What you need to keep in mind is YOUR questions which will revolve around YOUR purpose(s) for the unit you intend to purchase.
Size – Most are nearly the same. The smallest, I find, to small to even work with and the larger ones not any more effective than me brining my portable rig (which is way better).
Cost – a couple hundred bucks into the thousands.
Why Do I Need One
Well, only you can determine if you need one and this stems from your answers to your questions.
I hadn’t purchased my first for many many years and when I did I looked back at all the lost opportunities. All those special moments I wished I had on tape. Moments that could have been used in my songs today or even built into songs.
Now I take mine everywhere – I tried using my smartphone but the sound quality is just not there (or on any smartphone so I’ve found).
I also own one of those PDR’s with video but I use it for a different purpose than quality audio recording. In fact I’ve used a combination of both before but that’s another story for another day.
So do you need one – I would recommend one and I have a few more reasons why.
Bullet points have been working so far today so I’ll stick with them – any complaints let me know 🙂
- capturing that moment – I’ve already spoken to this.
- ease of capturing great sound on the go – orchestra or solo vocalist.
- an extra audio focal point – future articles coming … think ambience in a live setting.
- candid interviews.
- sampling – your very own – no copyright woes.
- did I mention your own samples – this is huge! You never know when you’ll be in the presence of that perfect sound.
- OK – enough on samples but I figured best to throw it in one more time for those not paying attention – You Know Who You Are!
- You can utilize this in your studio too – sub mixes and such.
Keeping It Simple For You
I’m a get to the point guy, in a round about slightly storytelling way of course.
Anyway, I won’t spend time writing a book here on any given article at LRT. I will not cover my site with ads and junk or be a sell out. If I trend that way call me out on it please.
What I will do is provide you an engaging experience with minimal distractions but will add pictures now and then. I will give you first hand real life information from my first hand experience (and maybe my dreams once in awhile).
As always I will pass along opportunities or equipment that is fitting for your goals and that I know now that I’d have wished someone had exposed me to throughout my recording career.
With that said I am writing a review on a PDR that I own and will make some comparisons to another I own that has video features.
Important – In effort to streamline your viewing and navigation experience and pleasure I will be moving my reviews from the Review tab up top to the New Review Category in the Left Side menu area. Stay tuned for this.
Check both views out and let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below.
Also comment the questions you have and need answered. I will respond quickly for you! (unless I’m taking a bubble bath – then it may be a bit but still not super long)
For a period of time I will keep both active though you will find my most recent review on the Portable Digital Recorder to the left under the heading Categories and then Reviews – or – just click this link Tascam Digital Recorder Review.