hi all

3 days and counting; jazz piano camp here in london, starts saturday. excited and nervous.  anyway my question is. what do you guys use for recording devices. say you do a gig and you need to record at acceptable quality. i've noticed that with some mobile phones, when trying to record, the result is a very distorted sound. the phones i used didn't seem to be able to handle the vibrations of sound, awful distortion.  so i'm looking for some ideas about non-expensive recorders that might be up to the job (or is this wishful thinking?)

tim richards suggested taking along an mp3 recorder or other recording advice to record the classes... a great idea; i guess there's so much info to absorb and i would love to be able to go back and record classes. would probably be recording a maximum of 5 hours per day.  any ideas welcome...

:-)
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oops, 2nd paragraph .. "taking along an mp3 recorder or other recording advice"

should be .. "taking along an mp3 recorder or other recording device"....
a lot of folks use this:

https://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h2/ />
not sure how that happened, but try this:

https://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h2/
dr whack, thank you, i wouldn't have had any idea where to start. the h2 is out of my price range, but the h1 i can afford and seeing it's only a couple of days now, i'll hunt one down so i can record the classes..

thanks again.
maplin electronics over here in the uk stock them... :-)
you're welcome.  glad to help!  keep us posted
well, as planned, went for the zoom h1, maplin electronics £79,99. perhaps i could have found it cheaper with a little bit of research, but having had only 2 days to find one after being pointed in the right direction,i made the purchase to ensure i could record all 5 days of the jazz piano summer school.  ok, excitedly opened the box on the way home. at first glance (and feel), this thing looks smaller than i expected, and feels very light. my immediate reactions was, 'is this up to the job?'.. .this light, almost cheap plastic feel, had me a little concerned. i popped the battery in and intending to make a quick test recording, plugged the headphones in popped them in my ears and switched the zoom on.  

the verdict:

oh my god, this thing has insane ears. a couple of seconds after switching on you cannot believe what you are hearing. i was sat in a train and could hear every little sound coming at me. this thing has super-hero hearing ability, not kidding you. everything is heard and more, sounds that you don't realise are there; the rustle of my plastic bag, the little squeaks and creaks of the train; nearby conversation is amplified a little 'too much'.  i wondered if this would be problematic, i mean, do you want to hear every single noise when you're recording, and, would the unit be able to handle louder sounds without being overloaded, resulting in terrible distortion during playback?

with this main worry i took it to record a quick 5 minute session on a grand piano sat in a quiet hospital chapel, open to the public 7 days a week. the result? it handled the piano, very well, i stood the unit at about 2m from the piano.  despite it's incredible 'sensitivity' not any distortion in sight. this thing is amazing, unbelievably i could actually hear the action of the damper raising up and down, very clearly, as if my head were inside the piano, under the lid. when i first sat down, i put my foot down on the damper and on playback could clearly hear the soft whooshing sound along with the soft thud of wood and felt 'inside' the piano. it caught the notes perfectly, clearly.  in the jazz camp, the difference between, spoken voice and piano playing was quite substantial, no microphone is used during teaching, but a grand piano is used to demonstrate and teach.  both extremes handled, no problem, voice is super clear, very loud piano playing presented no problem.  i'm very happy with this.

when on standby the zoom h1 is in 'ready to record record' mode. all that's required is a touch of the big button on the front; no fumbling around frantically to set it up. and like the old mini-disc recorders, it automatically records immediately after your last recording, with time stamp etc. you can choose to 'mark' various stages of the recording with a button at the side of the zoom. either mp3 or wave formats can be chosen for recording, with varying output quality. the output quality affects the recording time available. i used mp3 128kbps which allows for around 30 hours of recording to a 2gb micro sd card (the zoom recognises up to 32gb). this is the lowest sound quality, and was very good for my needs. a 2gb micro sd card is provided with the zoom as well as a 'aa' battery; the battery allowed 8 hours of recording, it should allow 10 hours, though i did use the 'playback' function several times between two days of recording, so i guess 10 hours of recording for 1 aa battery is fairly accurate. pretty good output quality from the line-out jack, so you can tweak the zoom to your requirements and listen back immediately to see if you're satisfied with the output, either via headphones or connected to your console, before diving into a lengthy recording session. there is an an adjustable input level control, lo cut, and auto level facility.  a usb port allows you to connect directly to your pc and pull the recordings off the zoom using either windows explorer (i use windows, but the unit is both mac and pc compatible) or via free bundled software 'wavelab le7' (windows 7 or mac os x v10.6).

there are further features to this little beast, which i won't go into, actually, which i can't go into, because i haven't had the time to work them out, i just ripped the packaging open and used it the next day. hopefully once i get a handle on all the extra features i will be pretty happy with what i have, but so far, i cannot complain.  

a special thanks to dr whack for the heads up.
i must add that though the internet can have it's horrors, this is one of the things i like about the www... from time to time you can get advice and/or feedback on a product from somebody with no agenda, just a person willing to help another purely for the sake of helping a fellow human, with the obvious satisfaction that brings. imagine that scot, when you put this site out back in 1996, did you imagine things like this? people giving advice to each other across the globe to each other, advice about jazz, about musical instruments, about music technology, about music challenges etc etc. what a great idea and inspiration this site is.
well, thank you for that very detailed review! i'll have to check out the h1!  i think they have one that shoots video, too.  h4?
i love this thing... just thought of another personal advantage: recording directly from keyboard to mp3 or wav.. yep... i usually have to connect through my pc port and use the recording software, and then connect mp3 player and transfer via the pc to ipod etc. not a problem really... just having to make sure the computer is near the keyboard, dragging the whole thing across the room at times.  now i just use the phono output from the keyboard to the h1, super easy to set up. also i had recorded a tune in the keyboard's memory, which i normally then transfer to the computer, but now i can just play it back into the h1, and listen immediately if i'm on my way out and don't want to get into computer transfer, then transfer to hand held mp3 player. just record it to the h1 and run out the door with it and you can listen/critique on your journey :-)... so you have no excuse for being late for work now :-). so all good.  i reiterate, even at the lowest sound quality mp3 128 kbps, still very satisfactory sound output.
oh, just looked at the zoom h4 dr whack, it's a sound recorder, no video :-)
personally, i love the zoom h2 (the old one not the h2n). great great great frequency range. i have been using it primarily for solo piano and field/ambient recordings for years. sometimes for full group music too. though obviously you'd want real mics for quality.

i like how it's pocket-able and you can pretty much record anything, anywhere... bootlegs anyone

digital pianos are interesting. i have recorded a digital piano "naturally" and also direct via 1/4" line in. i find there is a little bit of internal noise regardless of the method (tried it on a few keyboards including the roland fp-4). it's also nice to capture environmental sounds too (sometimes)

i would suggest you always find out your peak volume ahead of time to avoid clipping. also i would suggest using wav recording at all times (if you can afford the space)

good luck
oops!  here's the video recorder:

https://www.zoom.co.jp/products/q3hd/
i should have typed 1/8" in (3.5mm). the output from the keyboard is 1/4"
oh thanks dr whack,


what a great tool for portable video/audio at high quality. this thing seems to be really loved by musicians; the whole zoom range.
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