In this post I'll be taking a look at Portable Recording Setups - what might suit your needs as a wandering Podcaster.
Portable Digital Recorders
There are many brands of Portable Digital Recorders with various models out there - Tascam, Zoom, Roland, Sony, Marantz to name a few... which you get will depend on your budget and the features you need.
All digital recorders (that I know of) have a built in mic, many have a stereo pair. The built in mics work well for general use, but are limited by being attached to the body of the device. If you handle or move the recorder around while recording you'll get some movement noise issues, and if you place the recorder on a table, it'll be susceptible to bumps and variations in loudness as it sits still on the table while you and your guest move around it.
Most digital recorders will have an external mic input that you can plug a handheld mic into - usually a couple of XLR or more, but some might just have a single 3.5mm line-in connection. If the device only has one mic input, you at least can hold that mic and move it back and forth between you and your guest, reporter-style, or have the guest speak into the handheld mic and you talk into the built-in mic; if the device has more than one input, you can have more mics and get better separation of sound between the voices. The Zoom H6 with an add-on attachment can record up to 6 mics.
Digital recorders will record and save the audio file to an SD card, and may also have a USB connection so that you can plug the device into a computer and directly transfer the audio files from the device to the computer.
Some recorders can also be used as USB microphones. The Zoom H4n, for example, can be connected to a computer via it's USB cable and will be recognised by most recording software as a stereo USB mic.
Yes, that's right. Your smartphone can be used as a digital recorder!
There are many microphone attachments for the various smartphones out there, which will at the very least improve the quality of the recording over the phone's built-in mic.
Obviously there will be hardware limitations, but if ultra-convenience is top of your list have a look at Røde's SmartLav+, the Saramonic Smart Mixer, or Shure MV88/A. These are just a few, so have a look see at what works with your smartphone best.
Some of the attachments come with their own app, but otherwise there are many recording apps - too many to mention here. Free apps might only offer lossy recording formats (like MP3), or limited recording times; while paid for apps will have more features, formats etc, even basic editing capabilities.
If you do choose to go this route, then maybe get a good SD card for your phone to store the recordings on.
Here are some items that will help make your roaming recording setup a breeze...
A Blanket or Felt Table-Cloth to place over the table you sit at in order to reduce early reflections (acoustics) and also dampen bumps.
Thanks for Reading!
I'm Adam an Audio Editor & Sound Designer, with over 11 years working experience in the realms of Audio Engineering. I currently live in Cape Town, South Africa, with too many cats and dogs.