The Best Audio Field Recorders (2020)

The Best Audio Field Recorders (2020)

This is a list of the best audio field recorders I recommend and use for video production.

Let's dive right in...

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Sound Devices MixPre-3 II

Sound Devices MixPre-3 II

Top Pick For 2020!

My go-to recorder for nearly all video projects.

Sound Devices has been a trusted manufacturer of professional audio recorders for TV and film for more than 20 years. And while the MixPre is their entry-level series, they do not lack in quality or features.

There are so many things to rave about with this recorder - excellent preamps, low noise floor, on-board mixing, 192 kHz sample rate, 32-bit resolution, USB audio interface capability, USB audio input, timecode generator, various power options, optional plugins, and so much more.

The highlight for me is the ability to record in 32-bit floating point, giving you an incredible 142 dB of dynamic range. And if you don't understand what that means, that's okay. Let's just say the days of worrying about clipping, distortion, and low volumes during recording are behind us.

If you would like to learn more, Curtis Judd has an excellent review of the MixPre II series here.

Inputs: 3 x XLR and 1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS stereo jack

Total Tracks: 5 (3 inputs + stereo mix)

Max Sample Rate: 192kHz

Max Bit Depth: 32-bit

Media: 1 x SDXC Card Slot (SD/SDHC/SDXC up to 512GB)

My Favorite Feature: 32-bit floating point recording

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Zoom H6

Zoom H6 (2020 Version)

Best Bang For The Buck

When you just want a reliable recorder with a lot of inputs for a reasonable price, look no further.

I have used tons of Zoom recorders all over the globe for more than a decade. They are affordable, reliable, and consistent.

And one of the major advantages to Zoom recorders is their large selection of accessories, including extra mic or XLR input attachments.

Inputs: 4 x XLR/TRS combo connectors and 1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS stereo jack

Total Tracks: 6

Max Sample Rate: 96kHz

Max Bit Depth: 24-bit

Media: 1 x SDXC Card Slot (SD/SDHC/SDXC up to 128GB)

My Favorite Feature: 4 XLR inputs for an affordable price

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Zoom H4n Pro Black

Zoom H4n Pro Black

Budget-Friendly Option

If you're on a tight budget and only need 1 or 2 XLR inputs, it's hard to go wrong with this recorder.

I've owned 3 H4n Pros over the years. Not because they broke or were unreliable, but because I use them a lot and they're just so handy.

XLR/TRS combo inputs, +24V or +48V phantom power, built-in stereo mics, 24-bit recording, USB audio interface capability, and runs on standard AA batteries for 6 hours - a solid and feature-rich option.

Inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS combo connectors and 1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS stereo jack

Total Tracks: 4

Max Sample Rate: 96kHz

Max Bit Depth: 24-bit

Media: 1 x SDHC Card Slot (SD/SDHC up to 32GB)

My Favorite Feature:

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Tascam DR-10L

Tascam DR-10L with Lavalier Microphone

Set-It-And-Forget-It Option

This recorder/mic combo is a favorite among wedding and event videographers, and for great reasons.

The belt pack recorder and lavalier microphone go right on your talent, giving you a turnkey package for recording a single person.

There are downsides to this solution (the inability to monitor the audio without having headphones plugged directly into the belt pack being a big one), but there are some handy features that remove a lot of the risk involved with mounting a recorder directly on your talent, like dual recording with a -6 or -12 dB option to prevent clipping during loud portions and a sliding record lock to prevent accidental button presses.

Inputs: 1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS jack with screw lock

Total Tracks: 6

Max Sample Rate: 48kHz

Max Bit Depth: 24-bit

Media: 1 x microSDHC Card Slot (SD/SDHC up to 32GB)

My Favorite Feature: 4 XLR inputs for an affordable price

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Lectrosonics SPDR

Lectrosonics SPDR

Ultimate Set-It-And-Forget-It Option

This takes the form factor and features of the Tascam DR-10L and kicks on the afterburners. This thing does not mess around!

Lectrosonics has a long-standing reputation for being one of the best manufacturers for wireless and wired audio equipment for film and TV.

The TA5M inputs give you the flexibility to use a ton of various microphones and other input formats.

Inputs: 2 x TA5M (5-pin male LEMO) jacks (2 x analog and 1 x digital AES stereo capable)

Total Tracks: 2

Max Sample Rate: 96kHz

Max Bit Depth: 24-bit

Media: 1 x microSDHC Card Slot (SD/SDHC up to 32GB)

My Favorite Feature: Lectrosonics quality and reputation

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