- Wed Mar 12, 2008 8:58 am
mdr is ok for classes. they are also not very hardy so you have to be super careful with them. the mic that comes with it is rubbish and after a while will go crackly so you'll need to get a decent external stereo mic for it. the preamp on md recorders doesn't compare to a professional recorder though. you'd be better off with a hi-md but unless you get a used one, it's about the same price as a pro recorder anyway, and the zoom h2 is actually cheaper!
the zoom h2 is the smallest portable recorder out there (other than md), is cheaper than hi-md and has 4 internal mics that will do a 360 degree sound image that can be converted to 5.1 surround sound. the sound is quite decent and a lot of drummers as well as classical musicians are really happy with this setup without external mics. there is a line input and one 1/8" mic input so you will need a high quality stereo mic to plug in if you want to improve the sound, which is recommended if you want to produce a cd. the unit takes high speed sd cards capable of 8GB which is more than most people need, records 24 bit 44.1khz wav files as well as mp3 files. for those on a real budget that is what i'd suggest. it is more than enough for recording lessons, live music from crowd or direct line to soundboard, and for a demo cd.
for a professional recording or a full cd release for your band i would recommend the edirol r-09 with a high quality stereo external mic. the main differences between the edirol r-09 and the zoom h2 are significantly better preamps (although the ones in the h2 are not bad at all, i could really hear the difference), and roland's price tag. still only one 1/8" mic input on this unit.
a compromise between the two is the zoom h4. the preamp is better than the h2 and it has two 1/4" xlr mic inputs which gives you more mic choices. the preamp is not quite as good as that of the edirol r-09, but not too far off. the screen on both the zoom h2 and h4 is really small but if you're not going to use any of its advanced features, that may not be an issue for you. if you are thinking of recording nature sounds with it then be aware there is a slight noise caused by the write light on this model, which happens only when you use it with battery power. this noise is only audible in near silence (such as when out in nature). i don't think that this will ever be an issue when recording west african music and definitely not with most bands. also the h4, like the edirol, has 2 internal mics. no internal mic on an mdr. again the internal mics will do the job nicely for most things, but for the professional sound the 2 hq ext mics (or 1 hq stereo mic) on the h4 or one hq stereo mic on the r-09 are needed. if there is only about $100 difference between the h4 and the r-09, you may as well get the r-09, unless you are specifically wanting a setup with 2 ext mics or your mic(s) of choice use phantom power (then get the h4).
whatever you get, don't skimp on the external mics. prepare to spend about $400 on a set of two mics. the best mid-budget choice for a single stereo mic is the audio technica at822. the adk sc-1 and sc-2 are very decent mics that i believe you can get for around $100 each and will work with the h4 (need an adaptor to work with the other 2 units which is not recommended). also the shure sm57 is a popular choice and cheap as the sc-1. akg make some pretty good mics. rode NT5 (and NT4, their single stereo equivalent) is a great mic but is a little pricier. no doubt others will be able to recommend other good mics for this purpose.