When you see a musician perform onstage, it seems as if they’re doing everything effortlessly and you wonder how they were able to get to that level of proficiency. Most times musicians are gifted with a certain modicum of talent, but everyone will be quick to tell you that behind the scenes, success and proficiency can only be achieved with a lot of hard work. This is usually hours of practice over a number of years, practice that is often repetitive. Practice, however, isn’t just about playing and rehearsing the same thing over and over though. There are ways that you can be smarter about your practice sessions to get more out of it. One of the ways is to get an audio recorder, so that you can playback your pieces and better identify what aspects of your technique and sound you need to target.
Portable audio recorders enable you to record your sounds on the go, whether you’re in a practice session or maybe when you’re out and about and inspiration strikes you but you don’t have a sheet of paper or your instrument on hand to be able to note anything down. They’re much more user-friendly than your smartphone, and are specifically designed to be able to cater to your musical needs. With all the options for portable audio recorders out there, however, it might be tricky to begin to narrow down one that is best suited for you. So we’ve gone ahead and put together our 2020 recommendations for the best portable audio recorder for musicians. Take a look below to find your next practice session accessory!
Our Favorite Portable Audio Recorders In 2020
- Aketek Sunweb Multifunctional Rechargeable 8G 8GB 650HR Digital Audio Voice Recorder Dictaphone MP3 Player FM
This Aketek Sunweb recorder is a great budget tool for those who are new to using recorders for their practice sessions. It’s extremely user-friendly–just hold the record button down until the red light comes on, release, and you’ll be good to go. The audio is extremely clear and you can record either solo performances or larger groups without compromising on the clarity of your recording. In terms of the accessories, this recorder also comes with a lapel mic, headphones, phone hookup device, and a USB cable. On the downside, it has a lower storage capacity, at 8GB, or about 650 hours. Nonetheless, that provides plenty of audio storage for the novice or amateur musicians who’s using a recorder for the first time. One reviewer commented that “you can’t beat it on quality and sound in recording as well as the fact they throw in all kinds of other goodies like earbuds, small clip on mic, charge cord to your other devices, etc. Nice little product.”
- EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder – Voice Activated Recorder with Playback – Upgraded Small Tape Recorder for Lectures, Meetings, Interviews, Mini Audio Recorder USB Charge, MP3
This handy EVISTR recorder is also a budget-friendly option for all musicians out there. It has 1536kpbs HD lossless recording quality and can record up to 16GB of audio, or 1160 hours. You can playback the MP3 / WAV file and download it on any device, whether it’s your Macbook, Windows laptop, cell phone, or other portable music device. The LCD shows you clearly whether your newly recorded track has been saved or formatted so you’ll never run into the issue or accidentally overriding your recordings. It can also be voice activated if you’re busy playing your instrument and don’t have free hands to press the buttons. While this is a fairly basic recorder and doesn’t have many of the advanced features that more expensive recorders have, it’s a good entry-level one for musicians who are getting their feet in the water. One reviewer noted that “the recorder is small and easy to operate with many nice features. It can also record high-quality uncompressed sounds with WAV format. So, it is not just for voice, and it can do music recording as well. I recorded a school music event, and it came out perfectly reproduced on my Mac for editing.”
- Zoom H1n Portable Recorder, Onboard Stereo Microphones, Camera Mountable, Records to SD Card, Compact, USB Microphone, Overdubbing, Dictation, For Recording Music, Audio for Video, and Interviews
Zoom makes great portable recording products, and the H1n is definitely at the top of the line for its products. This recorder has built-in 90-degree X/Y stereo condenser mics and handles up to 120 dB SPL so you can record anything without distortion. The onboard limiter, especially, enables the H1n to record things like concerts, band practices, and other loud environments without compromising on the audio quality. The design of the recorder also ensures that the mics will stay protected from wear and tear, without distracting from the sound quality in any way. There is a 1.25” monochrome LCD display and one-touch button controls so you can easily set and program the recorder to what you need it to do, such as playback when you’re learning and rehearsing new pieces. One reviewer commented that “it’s really an all-in-one device – a pocket or belt clip-sized recorder (for a separate wired lapel mic), a standalone microphone and a USB desktop microphone.”
The Tascam DR-05X is one of Tascam’s newest audio recorders, and it allows you to record high-quality, clean, and clear audio from wherever you are. It boasts an easy-to-use interface so that there’s no learning curve when it comes to using the recorder, even if you want to delete bad takes or add markers to note where you are, and is extremely portable so that you can easily tuck it into your bag for your instruments or other equipment. These are dual internal condenser microphones in the DR-05X so that it can pick up anything from light whispers to loud sounds with perfect clarity. But don’t worry about picking up background noise–the auto tone function allows you to make quick and easy adjustments for on-site editing. As an added bonus, when you use the USB audio interface mode, you can use the DR-05X for voiceover work. This one device allows you to work on all your creations with one tool. One reviewer noted that “it easily handled my garage band playing at full volume, and I also really enjoy the “Overdub” feature (allows you to put down a quick idea and then layer parts over top of the original). You can basically do a full fledged “multi-track” demo right on the unit. Very cool!”
- Ensure you buy genuine Tascam products! Products from sellers which say ‘fulfilled by ’ under the price might not be an Authorized Tascam reseller, and might not be selling genuine Tascam products which would forfeit any manufacturer warranties
- The dual internal condenser microphones can handle anything from subtle to loud, with sensitivity to capture every detail
- A revamped layout means operations like recording, adjusting levels, deleting bad takes and adding Markers are quick and easy
- Uses only two AA batteries, but can record for an outstanding 17. 5 hours; It can also be powered by a USB mobile battery
- Connect to a PC using USB Audio Interface Mode for voiceover work, live streaming, podcasting and songwriting with studio-quality audio