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Seeking advice: Mobile recorder for singing practice

miss_sophie

Active member
Feb 11, 2021
9
12
25
Hello all,
sorry, I wasn't sure where to put this thread. After I recently received such great recommendations for some headphones from the community here, I hope it is ok to ask for help in another department:

I am looking for an affordable (up to 500 USD) mobile recorder for recording myself during singing (lessons, practice, at some point little recordings).
It should: be easy to use, require no lengthy setup and be suitable for different environments (the rooms I sing in vary, from a little room at home, to a small hall and a church).
The sound I am looking for on the records should be truthful or natural. Neither "glossed over", but also not completely sterile or harsh and ugly like you get from some directional microphones. I don't have any supportive equipment, other than a Macbook Pro.


Until now I have been using a Tascam DR 100 MK3, which I borrowed from a family member. It captures everything and set up is very straight-forward, but I am not in love with the sound result, it deviates quite a lot from the real experience (I also recorded other people, so I remember what it should have sounded like). I have been looking into Sony's PCM-D100, but it is a little expensive.

Is a recorder with built in microphones - like the two mentioned - the right approach? Or would I be better off investing in a good external mic? Either way, 500 is the budget.
I am probably not going to record a CD with it or start a youtube channel:). It is mainly meant for myself, as an honest feedback, as our inner perception when singing doesn't match the outside reality and a recorder is like a second teacher. So a reliable device is quite important. If the recordings either sound too ugly or don't capture fine details and overtones, you might become frustrated or (in the other extreme) miss when you are about to leave the right track with your technique.

I would be grateful for your advice!
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,727
1,107
13,570
Hello Sophie
My brother has one of these and it's great:
But, as you can see, it's very similar to the Tascam and Sony.

They'll all record what they're given - so the mic quality is everything.
No question, a (separate) decent vocal mic would be a good investment for you.
 
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insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
853
399
5,270
Hi Miss Sophie! Have you tried your phone? Most of my ideas are recorded into my phone first. That includes me singing and/or playing guitar/piano. You can get varying results from ok to great depending on a phone. However, I'll hazard a guess that you're using an iPhone. My friend uses his to make films. They're remarkable both in terms of audio and video. A decent app will cost you around $5. That would be my first suggestion and many apps will have a free version so you can make sure you're happy with sound quality.

Other options would be either (1) a combination of a USB audio interface and a mic or (2) a USB mic to plug into your Macbook Pro. Should you go with option 1 you should be able to get a capable combo that, room permitting, will give you great sounding takes. Most interfaces will have decent enough software bundled with them to do what you want to do. Option 2, depending on a mic, can also produce decent results.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,727
1,107
13,570
Hi Miss Sophie! Have you tried your phone? Most of my ideas are recorded into my phone first. That includes me singing and/or playing guitar/piano. You can get varying results from ok to great depending on a phone. However, I'll hazard a guess that you're using an iPhone. My friend uses his to make films. They're remarkable both in terms of audio and video. A decent app will cost you around $5. That would be my first suggestion and many apps will have a free version so you can make sure you're happy with sound quality.

Other options would be either (1) a combination of a USB audio interface and a mic or (2) a USB mic to plug into your Macbook Pro. Should you go with option 1 you should be able to get a capable combo that, room permitting, will give you great sounding takes. Most interfaces will have decent enough software bundled with them to do what you want to do. Option 2, depending on a mic, can also produce decent results.
Was just about to mention your decent NT1 Insider:
 
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jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
940
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Sound Professionals with a battery box are the best for quality, but not sure of you'd call that mobile. They are the weapon of choice for bootleggers worldwide. The Edirol R09-Hr is the normal, go to, recorder of choice, though Tascam and Zoom are also recommended. Given that we haven't had any concerts for the last 12 months, there are some good bargains about second hand.
 
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miss_sophie

Active member
Feb 11, 2021
9
12
25
Hello Sophie
My brother has one of these and it's great:
But, as you can see, it's very similar to the Tascam and Sony.

They'll all record what they're given - so the mic quality is everything.
No question, a (separate) decent vocal mic would be a good investment for you.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
I was able to get the Zoom H5 for 224€ and the Rode NT1A for 155€ (both with a decent amount of accessories and return options).
I didn't have much time to test them yet, but I am satisfied with the first trial runs, using the H5 just on its own (as a field recorder, like I intended, for lessons etc.) and also with the Rode mic connected to it (which sounds lovely, pleasant, but honest, natural and clear I'd say. The Zoom on its own sounds a bit drier and has an audible noise floor, but I think it is fine for simple recordings and maybe it is just me not finding the ideal settings yet). It will take me a while to get to grips with all of the functions of the H5, as it is so compact and a little fiddly to find everything. but I am impressed by its versatility, e.g. that it could even serve as an audio interface for connecting the Rode to my MacbookPro if I wanted to play with that in the future. In total I am really happy with my purchase so far, I have the feeling I got a really good value for the price, so thanks again very much Gray!

The only thing that is weird is that the H5 comes with the cable (microUSB to normal USB), but without an AC adapter. Such a small piece of gear, I think it should have been included. When I use the H5 to drive the Rode NT1A (which needs 48V phantom power) I only have a few takes before the two AA batteries are depleted (I use NiMH eneloops).
Instead of buying the original Zoom power supply AD17, which is nothing more than an (overpriced, imo) plug with a USB slot, can I go with a cheap alternative like this? I would like a USB power supply that has an extra cable while I'm at it, preferrably a longer one, so it gives me more flexibility. I just want to make sure I don't kill the device, but it says there 5V, can I safely use this? Looks like the power supplies you use for phones and other gadgets.
https://www.amazon.de/HomeSpot-Ladegerät-kompaktes-Universal-Netzteil/dp/B01DIYZTOG/ref=sr_1_16?__mk_de_DE=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&dchild=1&keywords=usb+ladegerät+langes+kabel&qid=1617814522&sr=8-16
 
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