The 4 best portable audio recorders 2020

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The importance of portable audio recorders in various multimedia issues cannot be overemphasized. Podcasters turn to portable audio recorders when the time to record their sounds or podcast episodes comes. Even music professionals employ these tools in a variety of different contexts including musical concerts, solo recordings (voice or instruments), group rehearsals, choral sessions and more.

However, that’s not the only use of portable audio recorders. They can also be applied in various other applications, such as professional recording with cameras (onset), recording of interviews, conferences and lecture recording, meetings, and many more. To do any of these, you need a good portable audio recorder. So, in this article, we have a list four of the best portable audio recorders 2020 up to 500 USD.

The 4 Best portable audio recorders 2020

1. TASCAM DR40x

The flexibility of the built-in mics and the high quality hardware make the Tascam DR-40x one of the best portable audio recorders of 2020. Not only because the DR-40x comes with adjustable built-in condenser microphones and an extended battery life, but gives you the opportunity to record up to four tracks at the same time using the additional XLR or line inputs.

Both +4dBu line-level and mic-level are supported by the XLR/TRS inputs. The pre-amps have +48v Phantom power for different microphone types and also the built-in microphones are worth mentioning: they deliver high quality stereo recordings from quiet to loud sounds (125dB SPL).

You can use the recorder for interviews, film- and music recordings, podcasting or fieldrecording. The 2-color display is easy-to-use and the device layout is designed to make the most important buttons reachable with your thumb.

Tascam D40x key features:

  • easy-to-use soft- and hardware
  • high quality built-in mics with flexible settings (XY/AB recording)
  • external inputs mic/line with +48V phantom power
  • audio recordings up to 24-bit/96kHz
  • can be used for different recording situations
  • offers different functions: e.g. mid-side, four-track, overdub, dual-level or punch-in
  • long battery life (up to 17.5h)
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC card media up to 128GB for long recording sessions
  • MS Decoding for Mid-Side recordings

2. Zoom H5

Perfect for fieldrecordists, musicians or podcasters who are looking to get professional sound but are on a budget or do not want to pay through the nose.

The functions of the portable audio recorder lie between a budget kit and break-the-bank configurations. This device particularly excels in its sound quality and gives you top class recording even on the go. If you are ready to capture quality sound or don’t want to be let down when there’s a need for a spontaneous interview, the latest gossip at the salon, or whatever it is you want to record, the Zoom H5 is a good choice and gives you good value for your money.

Zoom H5 key features:

  • includes XY stereo microphone module
  • modular input connection for onboard mic and other input jacks
  • rubber grip helps reduce the handling noise.
  • 2 XLR/TRS combo inputs + microphone pre-amps and phantom power (+12/+24/+48V)
  • easy-to-use hard- and software interface
  • audio recordings up to 24-bit/96kHz
  • highpass filtering, compression, limiting, and M-S stereo included
  • tuner and metronome on board
  • long battery life: up to 15 hours (2 AA batteries)
  • SD/SDHC storage media up to 32GB
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

3. Sony PCM-D10

It doesn’t matter if you have an external microphone or not, the Sony PCM -D10 guarantees to deliver high quality recordings.

The PCM-D10 has an in-built and adjustable three-way microphone with a wide frequency and low noise range. So, it puts you in a good position whenever you want to record that perfect sound. And with the three recording positions, you can adapt to your specific situation.

Choose between XY for musical performances, wide stereo for recording in an open or outdoor space or zoom for interviews and discussions.

The features of this portable audio recorder include recording high-resolution sound up to 192 kHz/24 bit, built-in adjustable microphones, 48 V phantom power versatile XLR / TRS combo jacks, and two ADCs to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio for clear recordings and an analogue recording volume controller for the L and R channels.

Sony PCM-D10 key features:

  • omnidirectional stereo mics (3 positions)
  • audio recordings up to 24-bit/192kHz
  • dual XLR/TRS combo jacks
  • analog level controls preventing step noises
  • 16GB built-in memory (SD card slot: storage up to 256GB)
  • you can turn off the LEDs for discrete recording
  • controlable via smarthpone
  • digital limiter included

4. Roland R-26

The Roland R-26 was developed for professionals, especially those working in the fields of journalism, film making or music. This is an advanced voice recorder that uses two different types of built-in microphones for incredible audio clarity and can also record from as much as six channels.

While the R-26’s built-in microphones are sufficient on their own, you can also connect a separate microphone and control your recordings with the R-26. You may also choose whether you want to record in MP3 or WAV formats.

The R-26 also includes software to help you transfer your files to your PC. While the recorder is compatible with Mac, the software works only on PCs. However, that takes nothing away from this excellent voice recorder. It is perfect for a passionate professional.

Roland R-26 key features:

  • directional and omnidirectional built-in mics
  • up to 6 channel (3 stereo channel) recording possible
  • XLR/TRS combo inputs (48 V)
  • 3.5mm input for stereo plug-in powered microphone
  • audio recordings up to 24-bit/96kHz
  • SD/SDHC card slot
  • fine adjustments possible due to big input-level knobs
  • intuitive LCD touchscreen display
  • 3.5mm headphone input

Conclusion

Each of the listed portable audio recorders has their strength. It is difficult to pick one as the best of the best, bearing in mind that they are all high quality devices. However, with regards to price, portability, and functionality, the ZoomH5 edges the rest and would be our choice as best portable audio recorder up to 500 USD for the year 2020.

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