My digital recorders

I have three portable digital recorders, each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. The first is the Fostex MR-8 which really is a great device. It is actually a multitrack recorder designed for recording music. It records wav files to compact flash. It has built in effects and uses standard dynamic mics. I think it lists for around $300. It is extremely easy to use and there is a great yahoo support group. I got mine in "like new condition" from Ebay for $250 with two 512mb and one 128mb cards. It will run on six rechargable AA battery's or the AC adapter. It is too big to hide and weighs a couple of pounds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is my tiny I-audio U2. It is smaller than a bic lighter and weighs 1.2 oz with it's built in Lithium Ion battery. It records to mp3s or wav files of various bitrates up to 128 kbps. It records mono from it's internal mic. You need a stereo preamp for external mics. The device has great menues and a multitude of extra features, like a great little FM tuner and digital effects. For such a tiny device the quallity of the recording is incredible. I paid $115 for a "like new" 512mb unit from ebay.

In the middle is my Ripflash DX. It records to it's 256 mb memory or MMC/SD flash cards. It encodes up to 128 kbps wma files. These files are superior in sound quallity to the mp3 files produced by the little U2. It also requires a stereo pre-amp for the highest quallity live recordings. It doesn't have as many extra features as the U2 and there are a few minor quirks with it's software. It weighs around 2 ounces with the two rechargable NIMH AAA batteries I use. There is a Yahoo Ripflash user group. It is about 1.8"x2.8"x.6". I paid $59.00 for it.

Which one is best? That is very hard to say, they each have a niche. The Fostex is amazing, but much larger than the other two. It records direct to high quallity wav files and has a multitude of handy I/O. If you don't have an AC outlet you better pack a dozen extra AA batteries. The U2 is incredibly small and has a host of convenient features. The Ripflash is a little quirky, but it's recording quallity is phenominal for such a small device. Both the U2 and the Ripflash will record for hours at a time.

For totally portable high quallity recording, I choose the $59 RipFlash DX with the miniature archos preamp I found on Ebay for $25 with a couple external miniature condensor mics made for minidisc recorders found on Ebay for around $30. The files can be downloaded in seconds either from a flash card reader or the unit itself. I edit the files with Cool Edit Pro, now known as Adobe Audition. Unfortunately, I don't think it is being manufactured still.

I hope that helps someone.