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Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital oral history recorders - any recommendations?

For what it's worth, I've had good audio luck but so-so usability luck with the M-Audio Microtrack II. Finally with the latest firmware, they seem to have solved a problem where it would randomly fail during a recording, lock up and need a complete reboot. This is NOT good for a must-do field recorder. So far, after installing the new firmware and turning DMA off (a new option in the SYSTEM menu), no random failures. But I don't want to say the problem is solved until I've used it plenty. The failure happened with a variety of make and model flash cards, as has been reported by other users. From what I can tell, it may be power-supply based and not memory-card-interaction based, which means turning off DMA may or may not help. For what I used the Microtrack for this is not a problem but I did have it fail once while recording a live web stream and that was very annoying.

Given the wide variety of choices today, I would say you can probably find something comparably priced that is more bulletproof. Whether it will have the same excellent audio quality is another question. For oral history recording, to replace something pretty bulletproof like a properly-functioning cassette recorder, I would shop for durability above audio, and would favor a proven track record of durability over a new, easier-to-use but unproven device. If you find excellent for both in your price range, you are golden.

My bottom line, as a person who reluctantly retired his Sony Pressman, digital portable recorders offer vastly superior sound quality and I bet some of the newer models have been engineered for improved reliability. But the Microtrack II is definitely more finicky and failure-prone than any cassette recorder I ever owned. Also, in typical digital-device design MO, the buttons are too damn small and too sensitive to the touch!

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message -----

At 11:07 AM 2009-01-26, Schooley, John wrote:
We are looking to apply for a grant in order to purchase some digital
recorders for oral history interviews.  Up until now we have been using
cassettes.  I was curious if any of you have any experience with any
particular models, or any recommendations?  Keep in mind that these
devices will probably be used by a variety of interviewers (historians,
volunteers, etc.), none of them audio engineers, so ease and simplicity
of use is probably the most important factor.

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