If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
While you probably have a decent voice recorder on your phone, a professional voice recorder is one of those things that makes for a surprisingly solid and versatile investment. There are a ton of different kinds on the market, so it’s easy to find one for any purpose. Whether you sit in on a lot of meetings at work or you’re a student, having a basic voice recorder can free you from feeling like you have to write everything down. You’ll get better sound quality from one of these than your phone, and it won’t look like you’re distracted.
For podcasters, videographers, and musicians, a more advanced handheld recorder is a great way to get quality sound in a portable package. These digital audio recorders allow you to plug in multiple channels such as microphones and musical instruments. We’ve selected a few solid recorders, including models that suit recording meetings as well as recording high-quality audio for music and podcasting.
1. Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder
This multitrack recorder allows you to record to 4 channels, including two XLR inputs for instruments and mics. It’s designed to capture a range of sounds, making it a versatile tool for podcasting, videography, and music.
Pros: Clear sound, two XLR inputs for mics.
Cons: Several users noted that the start-up time is slow, and that it burns through batteries quickly.
2. Tascam DR-05 Stereo Portable Digital Audio Recorder
The DR-05 features built-in microphones that are capable of handling close-range, loud audio as well as quieter, more distant noise. An automatic level-align feature evens the audio during playback, which makes it easy to listen back to things like meetings without the need for editing software. It has one 1/8” stereo input for external mics.
Pros: Works well to record live music, adjustable-angle mics allow you to either reduce or capture background noise. Writes WAV or MP3 files.
Cons: Some users found that the battery cover is prone to popping open.
3. Sony ICD-PX370 Mono Digital Voice Recorder
This compact and affordable unit is good for meetings and lectures. It comes with a built-in USB connection, making file transfer a breeze. Plus, it features four presets (music, meeting, interview, dictation) that optimize the audio.
Pros: Built-in USB, 57 hours of recording battery life, and 4GB of memory built-in, one 3.5mm jack for an external mic.
Cons: Audio quality is not as sharp as the Tascam or Zoom.