Tutorials/Which audio recorder

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New audio recorders come out all the time, and quality and features vary between different models.

At the University of Cambridge, I prefer to use the Fosted FR-2LE with Sennheiser EW112P for professional recordings (with radio mic), tutorials are here Tutorials/Audio_recording

For research audio gathering, and quick-and-dirty audio grabbing, we use the Zoom H2, which is a bit flimsy in terms of buttons, but gives much better audio than many similarly priced digital dictaphones (some folks here have done the test).

In terms of Fostex vs. Marantz

  • Fostex saves ever so often, so (although this hasn't happened to us) when there is a failure, e.g. the power fails, you only loose a minute or so. We ought to test that. With the Marantz, you potentially loose the whole recording (we have had this happen due to a faulty mem card, but since replacing the card, we haven't had problems).
  • Fostex has a mic trim, and an input overload light. If you are feeding in high line level via the mic inputs, you'll be warned. We've had this problem with the Marantz (where people had borrowed it), and the recoding didn't come out well, without the users being warned.
  • Fostex has unbalanced 1/4" jack inputs for line level input, while the Maranz has stereo minijack.
  • The Fostex can now also do a mono recordings (requires a simple official firmware upgrade).
  • The only real advantage I can see with the Marantz is that you can change recording formats without reformatting the memory card. With the fostex, you do need to reformat the card if you want to change formats, which can be tricky if you're running out of space at the end of a recoridng, and want to switch to alower quality (and can't do this). In practice perhaps not much of a problem if you have good numbers of large mem cards. (We use 4GB cards as standard.)
  • The Marantz might take more batteries/rechargeables than the Marantz, but it also lasts quite well on batteries/rechargeables. Neither have got a good battery monitor. (I.e. none of you show you the time remaining on the battery I think.) (Btw. we always try to use rechargeables or mains.)
  • The Marantz has a nice roll-over recording mode (but doesn't guarantee seamles recording)

We never use the internal mics on either recorder, and I haven't done a comparison. I also haven't really tested the mic pre-amps in the Fostex vs. Marantz, and don't have a definitive answer to this. They are both supposed to be reasonably good.

My personal preference is for the Fostex FR-2LE, but you can obviously get good recordings with either recorder.

It's about half a year since I really looked into getting kit, so there might be something better, but I think the FR-2LE and Zoom H2 are still best value for money, and serve very well at both ends of the scale. They are our most used recorders.

We also have an H4, but I think it has too many drawbacks, and is too fiddly to operate. Use the H2 or the FR-2LE instead.

Also see Tutorials/Which mics