Digital Recorder Reviews – Handheld Field Recorder Roundup

Looking for a portable recording solution – here’s a mini roundup of digital recorder reviews…

Updated 24/06/2015

Digital Recorder Reviews - Roland R-05

There are plenty of handheld recorders now available on the market, each offering something slightly different. Just about all of them provide a convenient means of capturing high quality audio, however.

Here, we present a roundup of digital recorder reviews, highlighting the strengths and drawbacks of each.

Zoom H1 – £79

Zoom-H1

Summary

The Zoom H1 is one of the most compact handheld recorders on the market, but it still has some great features. Powered by a single AA battery (giving you 10 hours operating time), this tiny Zoom unit hosts a pair of mics in a stereo X/Y configuration, allowing you to record natural sounding performances with ease.

Although you don’t get all the bells and whistles under the sun, that isn’t always a bad thing. Just looking to record speech, simple song ideas or anything similar? This could well be the recorder for you.

We Like

  • Good sound quality
  • Auto record level
  • Tiny size
  • Easy to read screen
  • Easy operation
  • Peak indicator
  • Great value

Drawbacks

  • Lack of advanced features
  • Mics perhaps a bit vulnerable

Rating – ****

Roland R05 – £169

Digital Recorder Reviews - Roland R-05

Summary

The most affordable recorder in Roland’s range is also its most compact. Unlike the Summary
Zoom, its twin mics are arranged as a spaced pair, and additional inputs are limited to a single stereo mini-jack, and it also only capable of stereo recording. However, these limitations are also reflected in the price.

The R05 is a very compact unit built to Roland’s legendarily high standards, with truly dummy proof operation.

We Like

  • Excellent subjective sound quality with smooth upper frequencies
  • Small size
  • Great build quality
  • Built-in limiter
  • Very easy operation
  • No protruding mics
  • Superb value

Drawbacks

  • No built-in mic pre-amps
  • No 4-track mode

Rating – *****

Boss Micro BR-80 – £169

Digital Recorder Reviews - Boss Micro BR-80

The successor to the ever-popular Micro-BR does just about everything. It can record up to eight tracks, has built-in effects and an e-band accompaniment generator. It features a stereo mic, so works as a field recorder, and can even slow recordings down to be used as a phrase trainer.

All in a package not much bigger than a deck of cards…

We Like

  • Great subjective sound quality
  • Astonishing feature list
  • Great COSM effects
  • Compact and slim
  • Excellent build quality
  • As an ultra-portable song writing tool, it has no peers
  • Unbelievable price

Drawbacks

  • Effects editing slightly limited
  • Because of small size, menu-driven interface can be a little fiddly

Rating – *****

For a full range of handheld recorders, see our online store here. For more information and advice, call our stores or customer service team (01925 582420).

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Handheld Digital Recorders
Author Rating
4

Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.