Digital recorders are the foundation of a good podcast setup. I discussed in the last episode why I prefer to record with hardware instead of software.
Fortunately, many excellent and comparable recorders exist. When purchasing a recorder, you’ll want to consider things like how it will be used (in the field, in the studio, or both) and what kind of features are “must-haves.” The best thing to do is ask others who have experience with specific models, but the following devices are a good place to start.
Roland R-05 Studio WAVE/MP3 Recorder
Roland makes excellent products and the R-05 is one of them. My two favorite features of this recorder are its size (slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes) and the record/pause feature (allows you to pause a recording instead of completely stopping and starting a new one). The major downside is that it doesn’t have an XLR mic input. I retired it for this reason.
TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
This model is used by Alex Blumberg in recording his podcast ‘StartUp’. The Tascam offers a durable construction, 2 XLR inputs, and two sets of microphones for cardioid or omnidirectional pickup.
Zoom H5 or Zoom H6
Zoom is another brand that has grown in popularity over the years and is used by major players. The main difference between the H5 and H6 is that the H5 has 2 XLR mic inputs and the H6 has 4 XLR mic inputs. Also, avoid the H4. It has a few serious design flaws that the H5 resolves.
Personal Thoughts: I owned and used the Roland R05 for years. Its compact size is its strongest feature. However, I recently replaced it with the Zoom H6 (for in studio) and the H5 (for in the field).
Also, the Zoom H6 has the availability to run a mix-run (described above) while recording the host and guest track on different channels. This was the other reason why I retired the mixer from my setup. So, the Zoom H6 end up replacing my previous digital recorder and mixer board.
Bonus Tip: If you’re a videographer, a digital recorder is a great addition for capturing audio. Make sure your choice can fit into your existing setup.
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