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Round Up: Portable Recorders.

Kicked off by the venerable Edirol R1 in 2005, the range of portable stereo flash recording devices has grown hugely over the last few years, with several different manufacturers vying for our attention. The reason for this is that technology has got to a point where you can get full professional recording quality (most of them offer 24bit / 96kHz – significantly better than CD quality) in a pocket-size device. These are ideal for recording gigs (legally, of course…) / rehearsals / lectures / interviews etc. However, with such a huge range to choose from, how do you make a decision? That’s where The Dog steps in to help…

Alesis PalmTrack

The cheapest of the bunch that we’re looking at here at only £79, the Alesis PalmTrack doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as the rest, with a plastic body and slightly wobbly buttons and knobs. It is also limited to 24bit / 48kHz quality (though this should be enough for most purposes) and doesn’t have XLR mic inputs or the ability to power condenser mics. However, unlike some of its more expensive rivals, it features 4 onboard mics as opposed to 2, meaning you can record omni-directionally, and an Auto Mic Gain feature to ensure you don’t record at too high a volume.

SUMMARY: An ideal choice if you’re on a budget, but consequently lacking in features and maybe not robust enough to survive the mosh pit. Click HERE to get your hands on one.

Zoom H4n

The priciest of the lot, the Zoom H4n offers full 24bit / 96kHz recording in various formats, including Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) which is presumably popular with, erm, broadcasters. It can also last for up to 11 hours (while recording, not just on standby), meaning you could record a whole prog rock opus in one go (if you were so inclined). A really neat feature is the ability to record four channels simultaneously using the built in high quality X/Y mics and a pair of external mics plugged into the onboard phantom powered XLR sockets (which also double as jack / instrument sockets). Aaaand… it can work as an audio interface to record sounds onto your PC; nice.

SUMMARY: Offering too many cunning features to mention here, the Zoom H4n is popular for good reason. Click HERE to get your hands on one.

Roland R05

Being the same company that develop Boss, Cakewalk and Edirol products, Roland certainly know a bit about recording technology. This is exemplified in the R05, a rebranded descendant of Edirol’s original R1. Housed in a satisfyingly sturdy metal case, this unit definitely feels like it could survive the rigours of a death metal gig, or indeed a chamber orchestra recital. Features include the ability to automatically set the optimum recording level, and to detect breaks between songs and split the recorded track accordingly (meaning you don’t have to search through or split the tracks yourself).

SUMMARY: A well-built and feature-packed recorder, the Roland R05 is a great compromise between specs and price. Click HERE to get your hands on one.

Korg SR1 Sound on Sound

The Korg SR1 has been cruelly underexposed in the popular press. Why? We don’t know, but we’re going to change that, dammit! In some ways it is a different sort of product to the others listed here, with a slightly different intended purpose: the killer feature is that you can layer tracks on top of each other an infinite number of times. You heard right – an infinite number of times. This means that basically you could record a whole song in parts – layering guitars / vocals / percussion / flugelhorn / the sound of your Gran snoring etc. to your heart’s content. We think that’s very cool. Furthermore, it comes with a load of onboard rhythms and effects to help get your creative juices flowing, and a tuner to make sure your Gran is snoring in the correct key. However, there is a payoff for getting all these features – the onboard mics aren’t particularly amazing quality, and the recorder only goes up to 16bit / 44.1kHz.

SUMMARY: So much more than just a stereo recorder; a ground-breaking product. When will the musicians of the world notice? Click HERE to get your hands on one.

Yamaha Pocketrak C24

By far the dinkiest of the bunch, the Pocketrak C24 could just about fit into that ubiquitous small pocket on your jeans that is presumably intended for storing lighters for the smokers and arsonists amongst us. However, despite its diminutive stature, it records at a full 24bit / 96kHz and ships with a whole 2Gb of (expandable) internal storage. Making the most of its size, it also features an attachment clip so you can fix it to a music stand if you’re a musician, or the underside of a car if you’re a spy. An added bonus is that it comes bundled with Cubase AI software so you can edit your recordings on a Mac or PC. The only potential downside is that, with a plastic body, it feels a little bit flimsy.

SUMMARY: Small but beautifully formed, the Pocketrak C24 is nonetheless a professional portable recording solution. Click HERE to get your hands on one.

Please note that prices are liable to go up and down – check online at for the latest.

About The Author

Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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