The backbone of every podcast is the message you want to put through to your audience. Therefore, you must perfect every bit of your audio before releasing it to your intended target. If you listen to some of the greatest podcast shows, you won’t fail to notice one thing; their audio quality is always on point. As a result, you will find yourself listening for minutes or even hours since what you’re getting is crystal clear. If you’re about to begin your podcast show and don’t have quality audio-recording equipment, don’t expect a right turn up. However, you can always find a solution in getting yourself a quality digital recorder for the job. There are plenty of digital audio recorders that are not worth a fortune but will get your job done just right. Before we look into the best Digital Audio Recorders, let’s first answer the question of why you need a digital audio recorder for podcasting.
Importance of having a Digital Audio Recorder for Podcasting
Podcasts are slowly evolving to be one of the best sources of information across all specialties. However, their ability to deliver accurate and industry-specific information may warrant a joint conversation with a specialist or specialists on the topic at hand. That will require one or two extra mics, just to make sure everyone is content and that the information reaches out to the targeted audience in the best way possible.
Of course, there are more advantages of having a Digital Audio Recorder other than the one stated above, and we shall come across all of them by the time this article concludes. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at what you should look for in a quality Digital Audio Recorder.
What to consider when buying a Digital Recorder
When obtaining a digital recorder, you should be mindful of how you’re going to use it in your podcast. Owing to the different modes of passing information in your podcast, Digital Recorder manufacturers have come up with many options, each having the best suitability to a specific niche. Going by that, you find digital recorders that perform best in different settings like in rehearsals, live-performance venues, or even when you need to record outdoor ambiance. It is, therefore, imperative that you first determine the environment in which you’re going to use your digital recorder for the best results.
Microphone Polar patterns greatly influence how sound gets captured from different directions. Several digital recorders have an in-built omnidirectional microphone, which captures sounds from all directions. Others come with bi-directional mics that work on sounds from two opposing directions. The other lot comes with inbuilt unidirectional mics that concentrate on sounds from one direction. Again, you have to determine the nature of the sound you want to record on your podcast to get the right mic for it.
There are three possible microphone configurations on any digital recorder. They include the XV, AB, and MS configurations. It is best to pre-determine your mic’s structure to get the best possible audio in your podcast. To shed some light on this, here’s some insight into each of the microphone configurations.
The XY configuration is the most common, to begin with, and it comprises two microphones that are angled at (90-135) degrees while placed at the same point for a stereo-effect. That configuration shows cardioid microphones’ centers panned to both the left and right to face the sound source directly. By doing that, the sound will reach both mics simultaneously and, as a result, reduce phase problems.
The AB configuration is an optional microphone setup that features two cardioid mics placed inches apart and are either panned to the left or right.
The MS (Mid-Side) configuration, on the other hand, includes a cardioid (mid) microphone that directly faces the sound source and a bidirectional (side) mic that faces either left or right. This type of configuration is suitable when you are recording sound from multiple sources. The ‘mid’ gets the sound from the primary source, while the bi-directional caters for any other sound on the side.
It’s essential to know the battery life of your podcast’s digital recorder as it prevents inconveniences that may come as a result of a loss of power. Moreover, it is crucial to know the type of batteries your digital recorder is compatible with and if they are replaceable or not. Both replaceable and fixed batteries come with their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to decide what goes well with you.
The term ‘Connections’ in this context refers to ‘Inputs.’ The type and number of inputs you can have to your digital recorder must determine how you will put it into use on your podcast. Some digital recorders come with USB ports to transfer the recorded material to separate devices. In contrast, others come with separate line and headphone outputs. Depending on the type of podcast show you’re going to have, it’s you to decide on the nature of connections you’d want to have on your digital recording device.
Considering all the factors mentioned above, we have compiled a list of some of the best Digital Recorders for Podcasting and citing their pro and con features. Let’s jump straight into the list.
Best Digital Recorders for Podcasting
If you’re looking for the perfect handy digital Recorder, you should probably consider any product from Zoom. The H1n recorder packs all the essential features a recorder can possess while offering an easy-to-operate user interface. The recorder features the XY microphone alignment that captures audio in high-quality stereo format. Moreover, the H1n has an overdub function that lets you add audio layers for a more-quality sound recording experience.
Using the recorder’s playback speed control function, you can easily transcribe your music and interviews, an essential feature for your podcast show. Besides, the H1n has pre-record, auto-record, and self-time features that capture every single moment you’d wish to have on your podcast. Most importantly, the recorder comes with all the input connections you’ll need.
|Key Specs||• 1/8” Input line|
• 1/8” TRS Output
• 90-degree XY Stereo Condenser
• Built-in mics
• WAV Recording & Playback format
• Up to 32GB storage capacity
• 2 AAA Batteries
• 10 hours Battery life
|Pros||Good price-to-performance ratio|
|Cons||The plastic construction isn’t the best|
The Zoom H2n comes with a fantastic set of five in-built microphones, which offer you four recording modes to work with. Well, at first sight, you might be tempted to think that the H2n is a microphone due to its grand design. The audio recorder comes with embedded audio-enhancement features like limiting, low cut filtering, and compression, which help you perform necessary edits to your podcast before publishing it.
Here’s how the H2n’s five microphones work. Two of these five microphones assume an XY pattern that allows for stereo recording at 90-degrees. There’s one more microphone in the middle, the Mid-Side microphone. This mic becomes the center channel, recording using the mid-side technique. The remaining two mics help to create ambiance by either subtracting or adding sound waves. The H2n uses both the XY and MS microphones to record sound from all directions, making it a worthy recorder if you intend to have multiple speakers on your podcast.
|Key Specs||• 1/8” stereo jack mic input|
• 1/8 stereo jack headset output
• XY, MS, 2-channel & 4-channel surround
• Built-in mics
• WAV&MP3 record and playback formats
• 2GB Expandable storage
• Two*AA batteries; 20 hours battery life.
|Pros||• Highly flexible due to its five-mic configuration and patterns|
• The mic provides crisp-resolution audio. Long-lasting battery
|Cons||• The mic is too sensitive and might pick up unwanted sounds. |
• Poor-quality battery door
The H4n Pro digital recorder gets you recording four tracks at a go, owing to its four-mic configuration design. Moreover, you can use the mic on its XY configuration or Plain Stereo mode. You can also mix down all the four-channel recordings into mono or stereo output while obtaining independent control over panning and the track levels.
You also get to enjoy the limiter, reverb, and compressor services, which enhance the audios to whatever your fans want to hear. The H4n can also serve the purpose of a 2-out or 2-in USB audio interface.
|Key specs||• 2*XLR/TRS combo input jack & 1*1/8” plug-in mic input|
• 1/8” headphone stereo jack
• XY Stereo
• Built-in mic
• MP3, WAV, BWF recording/playback formats
• 4-channel simultaneous recording
• 2GB storage space. Expandable to 32GB
• Two*AA batteries; 6-10 hours’ battery life
|Pros||• Excellent construction quality|
• Its 4-channel recording makes it versatile
• Provides a natural-like stereo sound output
• Easy-to-use interface
|Cons||Slow boot time|
The Zoom H6 digital recorder is undoubtedly the best Zoom recorder there is. The six-track portable recorder boasts an interchangeable set of microphones, unlike most recorders where the mics are usually fixed. Moreover, the mid-side and XY microphone modules and the studio headphones that come in handy make this microphone more appealing. It would be best if you made this digital recorder your choice for your podcasting.
The microphone alignment of the H6 brings about the best audio, capturing even the slightest sounds, thanks to its interchangeable-microphone design. More importantly, the Zoom H6 is a sturdy device and far much more versatile than other same-priced digital recorders. Moreover, the recorder comes with 2GB internal storage; therefore, you should look for an external storage means.
|Key specs||• Four input lines/mics with XLR/TRS connectors|
• Six-track simultaneous recording
• WAV & MP3 record and playback audio formats
• Built-in sound editing effects like low-cut filtering, limiting and compression
• Four standard AA batteries; 20hrs record time
• 2GB storage space; Expandable to 128GB
|Pros||• High-quality audio|
• Solid and durable construction
• The option to interchange and add extra mics makes the recorder more versatile.
• Great battery life
|Cons||• The H6 might be a little complicated for a beginner.|
• The storage space is slightly small.
The DR-100MKII is Tascam’s flagship digital recorder. It loads many quality features, including an up to 24-bit/192kHz sound resolution, an inbuilt phantom power mic condenser, and a 109dB signal-to-noise ratio. The recorder’s physical construction makes it easy to get recordings just at one press of a button.
The combination of studio-quality sonic performance, an updated UI and robust reliability has made the Tascam DR-100MKII a great choice among several studio designers. Moreover, the recorder features high-definition recording that helps to bring about the ‘quality’ effect of studio audio recorders. In terms of battery life, you will get almost double the battery life of the other audio recorders as the Tascam DR-100MKII supports the simultaneous use of lithium batteries and the usual AA batteries.
|Key Specs||• 2*XLR-1/4’’ combo input, 1*1/8’’ (remote) and 1*1/8’’(S/PDIF) Digital input|
• One*1/8” TRS output and 1*1/8” headphone output
• 2*cardioid/Omni built-in micsUp to 24-bit/192kHz
• Linear PCM recording/playback format
• Up to 2GB SD storage space; expandable to 128GB
• 2 AA Batteries/PS-P520 AC Adapter/Li-Ion battery (BP-L2)
• Up to 5 hours on the Li-Ion battery, 2hrs 45 minutes on the Alkaline battery, and up to 4hrs on the Ni-MH battery
|Pros||• Crystal clear recording and sound quality|
• Long term durability even under high usage
• Low noise
• The ability to choose battery types is an added advantage
|Cons||The recorder is not best suited to windy conditions as you might require to use a pop filter|
If you are looking for a quality Digital sound recorder for your podcast, you should probably try the Sony PCM-D100. This recorder is known to be among the best in capturing audio in both uncompressed and compressed formats, with its quality pair of XY wide-stereo microphones. You get three sound recording formats; MP3, linear PCM, and DSD.
The mic’s physical construction is rugged but lightweight, making it easy to use for a long time, especially if you have to hold it by hand. The recorder uses the primary AA batteries and can last up to 25hrs. Sony has put solid-state storage in this recorder by installing a 32GB internal disk.
|Key Specs||• 1/8 & 1*Toslink (S/PDIF) inputs|
• 1/8 & 1*Toslink (S/PDIF) outputs
• Adjustable XY Stereo built-in mic
• Linear PCM, DSD and MP3 recording/playback formats
• 32GB internal storage space
• Requires 4AA batteries; 25hrs battery life
|Pros||• Captures distortion-free audio|
• The building design is rugged and wear-resistant.
• Perfect for podcast recordings
|Cons||The DSD audio format raises compatibility issues on some PCs and MACs during the editing process.|
Since picking out a single item in a market flooded with hundreds of digital audio recorders can be painstaking, the list above should help you make an informed decision. It is always imperative to have quality audio on your podcast to convey your message better. Moreover, podcast shows that have recorded steadfast growth have always laid reasonable efforts on their audio quality.
Crisp audio quality starts from your recorder. If your podcast’s audio recorder is not up to the task, now is the time to upgrade. If you seek to find a cheaper and simpler-to-use digital recorder to work with, consider trying the Olympus LS-14 linear digital voice recorder or the Yamaha PR7 pocket digital recorder. The Tascam DP006 and iZotope SP111 feature more-complex designs and can be used in any kind of environment, with the former being popular in the music industry.
Jeremy has been running several online businesses behind his laptop for the past 5 years and he has worked as a freelance web developer previously. A trained marketer by profession, he also has Ruby on Rails and web development knowledge. His forte lies in eCommerce, SEO and content marketing. He’s been featured on Vice, Thrive Global, YFS Magazine, Forbes and several other publications. He prefers to connect with people on LinkedIn.