A dedicated digital audio recorder is very useful for music practice. Using a practice recorder enables you to hear mistakes which may go unnoticed while playing.
While it is possible to record your practice on a laptop, iPod with attached mic, or even your mobile phone, a digital recorder gives a much higher quality recording enabling you to hear your performance more clearly and identify sections of the music that need extra practice. It can also then be used for making CD quality recordings of concerts and gigs without having to take your laptop with you.
This page contains links to my reviews of digital audio recorders to help you choose which is the appropriate digital audio recorder for you. You can read more about each particular model by clicking on the links, which open in a new window to make it easy to compare models. As you look at the recorders think carefully about the features you need. It is always easy when buying musical equipment (or instruments) to think "I could just go up to the next model, it's not much more and it has lots more features..." and before you know it you are spending hundreds of dollars extra on features you will probably never use! Think about what you want to achieve by recording your music practice, then buy the audio recorder most suited to your needs (and your pocket!).
As always when buying a piece of equipment, read as many reviews as possible and check the sources of the reviews. Is the reviewer someone you trust? Do they use this type of equipment on a daily basis themselves? Is the 'review' site just affiliate marketing where the most expensive product (or the product with the greatest commission) is found to be the best? Is the product given to the reviewer free of charge to keep afterwards? all these things may influence how a reviewer perceives a model.
I have not received payment, discount or goods for the reviews on this page. This is entirely my opinion from going into my local music show and looking at models after researching various user reviews on music shop websites and speaking to fellow musicians who have used a particular model.Check prices
on various sites, but also take into account the expertise of the company selling the product. I am always happy to pay a little more to an actual music company, rather than a generic 'buy it cheap here' website, because if I need after-sales support with the product it is far more likely the music company will have a technician who can answer specific questions and understands my set up.
One company I use myself is US based Zzounds. I find them competitive in terms of price, efficient and with good after sales support on the few occasions I have needed it. They also managed to deliver a product to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia within a week, which was very impressive!
I currently own the M-Audio Microtrack. I have owned the M-Audio Microtrack for about 5 years now and have been very pleased with it, although I know some users reported problems with the operating system and quality of recordings. My experience has been very positive though. It has been used for recording concerts (directly from the mixing desk and using the included microphone), GCSE and IB performances, students during both class and instrumental lesson as well as my own practice. I have not treated the Microtrack particularly gently, students have taken it home to use and make recordings and it has been robust enough to cope with all situations. The latest model is the Microtrack 2. Some people have reported issues with this updated model, and I will probably replace my Microtrack with one of the models below, as opposed to upgrading to the M-Audio MicroTrack 2 when the time comes to upgrade. At the moment I am seriously favouring the Zoom H4n at the moment... see below for reviews...more coming soon!
For more information on how to use audio (and video) to enhance your practice read Practice Makes Perfect.
Zoom make an excellent range of digital audio recorders.
Click here for information on the Zoom digital recorder range
Click here to go directly to a review of the Zoom H2
Click here to go directly to a review of the Zoom H4n
Frustrated with your practice? Read Practice Makes Perfect and hack the 10,000 hour rule. Cut your practice time by up to 25%! Make faster progress, learn pieces and scales faster, memorize more easily, and much more. "If you play an instrument you need this book!"
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