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Digital Recorder Reviews – Handheld Field Recorder Roundup

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).

About The Author

Joe

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.