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Advice on digital recorder (Zoom, Tascam, etc...)

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  • aroberts781
    Senior Member
    • Sep 2014
    • 288

    Advice on digital recorder (Zoom, Tascam, etc...)

    Hi everyone, sorry if this is a bit of a rehash of existing threads. I would love to start making more use of recording my practice sessions. I have no intentions any time soon of doing anything other than recording something, listening back immediately to self evaluate, and repeat. I want to improve my articulation, dynamics, phrasing, intonation, etc... I do not have ambitions of multi tracking or starting a YouTube channel or anything like that.

    The prevailing wisdom on this forum in recent years seems to be for handheld digital recorders with built in mics to be something like a the Zoom H4n or maybe a Tascam DR-40 for a slightly more affordable option.

    My question is this: As of February 2024, what would you recommend for very basic recording/playback purposes to help me get a decent idea of what I sound like. Is there really a benefit to spending a couple hundred bucks that I wouldn't get just recording on my phone?

    Thanks, and apologies for what might be a redundant thread.
    1976 Besson 3-valve New Standard, DE102/I/I8
    1969 Conn 88H, Schilke 51
  • davewerden
    Administrator
    • Nov 2005
    • 11138

    #2
    Originally posted by aroberts781 View Post
    My question is this: As of February 2024, what would you recommend for very basic recording/playback purposes to help me get a decent idea of what I sound like. Is there really a benefit to spending a couple hundred bucks that I wouldn't get just recording on my phone?
    You don't want to record from a phone using its built-in capabilities!! I DO use my phone a lot, but I have a Shure stereo mic that plugs into it, and software that lets me get around the "automatic level control" that the phone will use. But that is not a cheap option.

    For a cheap audio recorder that does a fine job, here is a newer version of what I use for church services:
    https://bit.ly/42yKpwc

    The mics are very good and it's easy to use.

    Click image for larger version

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    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece DC3, Wick 4AL, Wick 4ABL
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

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    • davewerden
      Administrator
      • Nov 2005
      • 11138

      #3
      Originally posted by davewerden View Post
      You don't want to record from a phone using its built-in capabilities!! I DO use my phone a lot, but I have a Shure stereo mic that plugs into it, and software that lets me get around the "automatic level control" that the phone will use.
      This short video explains what I'm talking about:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJFDBuXDXjE

      Here is a screen shot of the worst phone effect. I'm playing a crescendo / decrescendo exercise:

      Click image for larger version

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      Last edited by davewerden; 02-09-2024, 05:56 PM.
      Dave Werden (ASCAP)
      Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
      Adams Artist (Adams E3)
      Alliance Mouthpiece DC3, Wick 4AL, Wick 4ABL
      YouTube: dwerden
      Facebook: davewerden
      Twitter: davewerden
      Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

      Comment

      • aroberts781
        Senior Member
        • Sep 2014
        • 288

        #4
        Thanks for the quick replies Dave, I really appreciate it!
        1976 Besson 3-valve New Standard, DE102/I/I8
        1969 Conn 88H, Schilke 51

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        • ghmerrill
          Senior Member
          • Dec 2011
          • 2382

          #5
          I have a Tascam D-05. So the generation prior to the one Dave is pointing to. If I were to replace it, I'd probably look closely at the new one, but here's what I would want that I don't have (and it's not clear to me that the D-05X would give me, though I think not):

          • A better user interface in general (I won't get specific here, but the UIs on these handheld Tascams (and similar devices) are real PITAs that detract from their usefulness).
          • USB and Bluetooth interfaces for almost everything I might want to plug into it (even if requiring a port multiplier). For my current one, I can't plug in a great USB Audio-Technica mic I have.
          • Standard phono interfaces as well (why not?).
          • Bluetooth connectivity for multiple I/O devices.
          • Wireless file transfer.


          Basically, I'd want the ability to go completely wireless with the I/O and have an interface that's actually been designed by someone other than a coder. I'd be okay with the ability to be able to attach the recorder and work it completely through a notebook/tablet/desktop UI on a big screen (but would prefer that to be wireless as well). I've had it with all the wires/cables and the stupid multi-level button-operated tree-structured UIs on these things. Is that too much to ask in the 21st century? Would it cost more? Yeah, a bit. But it shouldn't cost much more because that stuff is cheap in terms of hardware and software. It just needs to be packaged -- after someone competent has designed and TESTED it.

          Was that a bit of a rant? Yeah, it was. But at least you didn't have to listen to my wife's rant about such things -- after a 25 year career in UI design. Her rant was so long that she wrote a book about it.
          Gary Merrill
          Wessex EEb Bass tuba (DW 3XL or 2XL)
          Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
          Amati Oval Euph (DE 104, Euph J, J6 euph)
          1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba (with std US receiver), Kelly 25
          Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K10/112/14 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
          1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

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          • Snake Charmer
            Member
            • Sep 2020
            • 53

            #6
            Phones can be pretty good or very crabby for recording. You have to try if yours is one of the good ones and which mic will do a good job with it.
            My personal choice is the Zoom Q2N (it is the same as the H2N but with a built-in video camera), sound quality is great and it easy to place anywhere for recording with the ability to stand alone and having a thread for tripod or mic stand. The camera is nice to have but if you don't need it is even cheaper. Recording is in proper CD quality, so you can hear everything going wrong with your playing. But if you get the playing right you will enjoy listening!
            Even after upgrading to a Zoom H5, which is in pro-league for sound quality (and price), I still use the compact Q2N a lot for quick recording actions.

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