October 7th, 2007

Audio field recorders

Posted by Ben in Gear, Multimedia

Samson Zoom H2

With many photojournalists now using audio to complement their slideshows, the question arises of what’s the best way to capture that audio in the field?
A while back the answer would have been a small MiniDisc recorder, but technology has moved on and the most attractive option now seems to be one of the growing range of solid-state audio recorders. There’s a number of machines already on the market, ranging from glorified MP3 players with a record function, to top-end professional field recorders costing $1000s.
Of those available the main criterion in my mind for use by photojournalists is that it has to be small enough to carry easily with all one’s camera equipment. These are some of the better models:

Samson Zoom H4
Samson Zoom H2
M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 and MicroTrack II (coming soon)
Edirol R-09
Edirol R-1 (discontinued)
Marantz PMD660 and PMD620 (coming soon)
Korg MR-1
Sony PCM-D1 and PCM-D50 (coming soon)
HHB FlashMic
Maycom Handheld II, MP3 Recorder kit, N>Trans
Olympus DM-10

One of the newest on the market is the Samsung Zoom H2 which seems a very attractive machine for those of us who need to do audio occasionally but cannot afford to be carrying something large. It’s packed with features including 4 separate internal microphones able to record in surround sound. I doubt this would be particularly useful for slideshows as most users don’t have more than stereo capability on their machines, but for me the main attraction is the small size, use of AA batteries, and pretty low price compared to others. It’s now shipping and the reviews are starting to come in:

Samson Zoom H2 review – also here and here

For more on field recording hardware, this blog is quite good. Finally, don’t forget a good microphone as it’s no use having a high-end recorder with a bad-quality mic – you’ll just end up with quality at the level of the weakest link in the chain…

If anyone has used any of these, I’d be interested to know your impressions…


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