🎤 Need TASCAM advice

Hi friends,

I am going to send my colleague a TASCAM so he can record folktales, history, and other stories that would be good to preserve for posterity or would make good written materials. I want something that is easy to use, durable, and doesn’t drain batteries super quick because batteries are very expensive down there. I want to spend about $100. What are your recommendations?

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Are you sending a microphone as well, or just the recorder?

I do believe I see a Tascam in @msatokotsubi’s fieldwork photos here! Right next to some tempura. :shallow_pan_of_food:

I dunno, what do you recommend? I want him to have everything he needs. I assumed he could hand the TASCAM to the speaker and they could talk to it, but if a microphone works better…

@jasnathanmartin I use the zoom H4n, but they’re a little pricier. Looks like this zoom H1n is only $99, has anyone used that one?

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I like Zooms too, I also have had an H4n for ages. I found the sound quality in the built-in mics on the H4n to be good. They also have a USB-out, which is nice because if you’re working in a situation where electricity isn’t an issue you can just plug it into a laptop and record directly there. I have heard good things about the H6n, but I don’t have much reason to upgrade at the moment.

I like the protective covering on the top of that H1n; the microphones are pretty easy to knock into things on the H4n. Never tried it myself though.

@jasnathanmartin, here are some more questions you might want to think about:

  • Do you expect outdoor recordings? If so, you might want to including consider a “deadcat” (microphone cover), especially if it’s windy in the area.
  • Batteries… recharageables might be a good idea, maybe even a solar recharger, which isn’t too expensive (assuming it works…)

Sometimes you can find a package deal with things like a lavalier mic. Hugo Cardoso had really good things to say about wireless lavalier mics in Episode 4 of the Fieldnotes Podcast — about how they enable different kinds of recording (walking around and describing things). But maybe that’s only useful if video is involved, which I take it is not the case here. Even wired lavalier mics can make a huge difference in comfort level if your colleague is going to be interviewing people, though, especially the elderly, because they are less intrusive than mics, and they can produce really high-quality recordings. I’m afraid I don’t have advice about specific models, though, perhaps someone else here does? (Hugo was recommending Sennheisers, which are awesome but super pricey.)

I can’t remember if it was included in this episode (maybe it was episode 9), but something to consider on the wireless lapel mics is you kind of have to go big or go home, the cheaper ones have significantly reduced quality (in my experience & what I’ve heard from colleagues). I think for what you’re recording (narratives, folk tales) as long as you’re not doing phonetic analysis the zoom microphones are good enough.

@jasnathanmartin Let us know what you opt for! :smiley:

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My concern with the lapel mics is that they could seem intrusive or make people uncomfortable. I’ve found that people like talking to the recorder if it is sitting on a table in front of them, or they want to hold it and talk to it, but I think some people would feel weird about having something attached to their clothing. I am considering the H1N and an accessory pack with the USB cord and a little stand and a poofy foam thing.


Not personally, but I’ve seen discussion of them which was positive.


I’ve used lapel mics a fair bit and they were easy to forget about, and didn’t seem to make people uncomfortable.

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