On-the-move recording: Some cheap/ugly alternatives?

Over at CDM, Peter has a good post about how it's a shame the new iPod still won't record properly, and the various alternatives - most notably the Gemini iKey and the M-Audio Microtrack. He got me thinking about all those other non-Apple MP3 players. Don't some of them have recorders built in? This piece from CNet reviews 5 flash/HD players with line-in, from $139-$299. I haven't used any of them, so I can't vouch for quality. They all record from 1/8th inch jack to MP3, so you'll need converters or external boxes to use a proper microphone. Here is a long review from a guy using an old iRiver iHP-120 (they now go for about £150), which has digital in+out, and can record uncompressed wav files (limited to max 795mb, for some reason). The desperately ugly $215 Nomad Jukebox 3 could do the same (possibly without the limit), and is reviewed here. Anyone using any of these?

I use the iRiver H340, which is an update to the IHP-120. It records well enough for voice or bootlegged shows.

The cool things about it are:
-can record from and power 'plug-in power' microphones such as the sony MD microphones
-Encodes directly to 44kHz/320kbps mp3 (not exactly 'hi-fi', but...)
-onboard mic isn't half bad

The biggest drawbacks are the following:
-no digi ins/outs
-32kHz A/D converter, so your recordings have no high end above 16kHz (what's the point of the 44kHz mp3 again??)
-no .wav recording
-no meters or in-recording level adjustment

but, if bootlegging or recording podcasts is your game, it certainly does the trick well...
I have the iriver h140 ( bigger disk ) I find it pretty fiddley to record even though your supposed to just be able to press record and it records it doesnt always respond very well, maybee i have fat fingers.

it also comes with really strange features , you can change the speed of playback and there is also a repeat button were you can select a small segment of a track to loop

the irivers arnt ugly they are just manly!
Bizarre, I just posted something elsewhere about the Jukebox 3 a few mins before reading this.

I used to have one a few years ago, before upgrading to a Zen Xtra. The recording on the JB3 was excellent, straight to WAV or to MP3 in great quality. The problems: fairly crap menu system; (relatively) small capacity (20gig unless you want to take it apart and install a new drive); and it's a monster, heavy and about the size of a CD walkman.
44khz is the standard because the human ear can sense sounds up to around 20khz, and higher freq harmonics are especially important to quick transients (like percussion, etc.)

you may not be able to hear a fundamental tone that high, but the sensation is present somehow
yeah, i know full well about the nyquist theorem and all that good stuff. i was more poking fun of iriver's half-assing in including a 32kHz A/D converter... Thanks for the clarification, though!
Please don't start talking about nyquist theorem...
I've been getting decent results using an iRiver iFP790 to record live sets and jam sessions out of the studio.

I convert the 320kbps stereo .REC files to WAV and "enhance" them using plug-ins.

I've also used in the built-in mic to do mono field recordings, and gotten fairly clean results since there is no whirring drive inside the unit, you can get surprisingly clean results. I wouldn't use it as my main field recorder, but it comes in handy during those moments when you don't have a recording rig and microphone and the person sitting behind you on the plane is snoring like chewbacca.

Best $80.00 I ever spent on recording gear.
I use a first-generation nomad which I got for something like 30$ on ebay.. I use it to make 44khz wavs... s'okay, i guess. not super portable because batteries wouldn't last long, but I need a plug for the mic pre anyway.
I use an Archos Gmini 220 for recording live shows. Works well and has a level meter. Records in wav and mp3. The only thing I dislike about it is the note taking microphone is a little obvious, so bouncers tend to spot it easy. The funny thing is I don't use that microphone at all and instead use the line in connected to a pair of headphone disguised mics.
The Nomad Jukebox 3 is the *ONLY* consumer-grade device with a bit-perfect digital input. Other recorders like the iRiver, Neuros, etc. are well known to drop bits and introduce digital artifacts.

The standard field taper setup is to run mics/pres into an outboard a/d (such as the Grace Design Lunatech or Sonosax SX-M2) into the JB3 optical in. It also has the benefit of being cheap on Ebay, plentiful space (c'mon, 20 gigs too little? Try wokring with a 4GB CompactFlash recorder!), and long battery life (22 hours.)

More info at the Tapers' Section:

The MicroTracker just started shipping *TODAY*, and the specs look good but the quality of its pre's and a/d converter remains untested. And of course it records to flash/microdrives, so there's the issue of "tape flips" all over again...
i've got the creative microzen. it's got a builtin mic and it's not all that great, it can't take high or low amplitudes very well but i mainly use it for recording short musical ideas and college lectures and for that it works perfectly. it records for some ridiculous amount if you have space open on your player...somewhere like 20 hours or something unnecessary. but i'd recomend it over the ipod mini. roughly the same size, a gig more, and comes with some add-ons free
I've got an iRiver H120. Works great for me. Once you get the hang of it, it really isn't too difficult to work with. There have been lots of reports about it skipping during recording. I've been lucky so far (had it for a little over a year), but something to consider before buying. Strangely, iRiver seems to have abandoned recording to .wav with newer models. I guess that might be taken as some sort of admission that they just didn't get it right the first time.

There's also a firmware hack out there, I found it crap as it doesn't seem to support the display on the remote, but the devout swear by the thing.
I have the Nomad and it does a very credible job of recording WAV files via it's line input. But even though it has a large hard drive it has limited RAM so it records up to it's RAM capacity and dumps that file to the drive while it continues to record. You'll have to stitch those files back together using a WAV editing program, but it works if you don't mind the trouble.
I have the original Creative Nomad Jukebox and I have used it several times for recording at home. I've owned half a dozen mp3 players, some recorders. This thing is a workhorse. It's the most reliable player I've ever used.

The Archos Gmini 400/402 is a 20gig mp3 player thats maybe $30 more than a 20gig iPod. It can record to uncompressed WAV using a line input or built in mic (very low key mic. just 3 small holes). It also has a nice color screen which can play downloaded/ripped videos. It looks a lot like a silver Nokia N-Gage, so its not likely a bouncer will take it from you at a show. As a DJ i use the line input to record sets & mixes all the time and the quality is excelent.
When iRiver iHP-120 came out I was very interested in it for field recording use. So I bought it soon.
I must admit that its hardware is outstanding if compared to the others. Digital optical IN-OUT + analog IN-OUT + usb2 in-out + uncompressed recording 16 bit/44.1 KHz + standard filesystem + no need to use specific apps to access its disk. Audio quality is very good too.
The problem is that its fimware (which is upgradable)is poorly designed and, for recording, it lacks the basic functionalities needed (rec leve; metering, on-the-fly gain adjust). In addition there is this incredible bug that make the recorder skip periodically about 30/50 digital samples during recording. This results in clicks and glitches when the skip occurs. They are unnoticeable or not depending on what you are recording of course. The bad thing is that iRiver support is quite deaf. The good thing is that there is an open source project (from Rockbox guys) aimed at providing a completely different firmware which will solve all the annoying bugs and design flaws. Such firmware is almost complete (it is a porting of a general open source fimware framework designed initially for another player which I don't remember) and people working on it seems to be very smart and skilled. So maybe in few months the IHP120 will be a good little recorder for semi-pro (!?) usage.

---dino/A M P |ang
I carry an Olympus WS-200S stereo voice recorder with me everywhere; it’s about the size of two fingers. It records to WMA format, then slides apart to become a USB flash drive so you can copy the files to a computer.

It’s not really designed for music recording (though it works as a WMA player), but because it’s small enough to have with me always, I’ve captured some cool sound effects. Also, unlike hard-drive recorders, it’s ready to go less than two seconds after you flip on the power.

I reviewed the slightly larger and more “featurous” Olympus DS-2 for O’Reilly Digital Audio (audio samples on second page).
My band's been using the iRIvier H340 with some crappy little mic to record our demos with. They're pretty decent, though there's no metering, thus rendering the whole thing a bit random.
I've got an iRiver 320. It works ok with a small sony electret stereo mic I use. I does have metering (you need to learn to use the crapy interface to find it - but it's there..

all in all it's Ok, decent quality for demos - as said above, no recording directly to wavs, so that kinda sucks.
Another happy Nomad JB3 owner here, although I sprung for the 40GB version way back when. It's been a workehorse and makes excellent recordings. Sure, it's a little bulky, but two years ago when I bought the thing there was nothing else in the market that matched it. It's only been very recently that a couple of devices have emerged that I would consider worthy replacements.
An Archos av320 is pretty versatile on the recording side of things (though I'm not sure what your definition of cheap is) - S/PDIF input, records as wav or mp3 (up to 320kbps). External mic/line input if you don't want to carry your digital preamp (can I run my mbox off of battery power or will it complain if there's no real usb host attached?) though if you're not using the digital in you may as well go with a smaller product (gmini400 records 44k wav from analog). No plugin power for the mic input though.
I just visited the Archos website. It's good to see they make no mention of the piece of garbage my brother used. It was an old hard drive mp3 player and recorder. There was so much self-noise on the recordings I couldn't believe they had released it! We tried with both the internal mic and an external one, and we were picking up the sounds of the hard drive. What a shame!
Has anyone any experience with the PDAudio?

The Nettles
After some research this week I bought the Archos Gmini 402 for recording purposes. Stunning quality. Check out Soundprofessionals.com for their pro preamp/mic/box kit for this player. Sold with or without the player.(https://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/SP-GIGATRACKER)

They also explained to me why they've picked Archos:
"It's really the only harddisc recorder available right now with line input, recording level meters, adjustable levels, and wav recording."

If you want to go one better than Sony MD and consumer mics, check it out.
Or if you have $2000 to burn, consider the new Sony PCM-D1. (https://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/SONY-PCM-D1)
or at £10 000 how about this beautiful portable beast:(http://musicthing.blogspot.com/2004/10/i-dont-care-what-it-does-i-want-it.html)
I own an original Creative Nomad (6GB) and a Nomad 3 (40GB). I laugh at all the ipod hype, since even my original 6GB unit has been recording 44.1kHz Stereo WAV's for something like 5 years. Both do an excellent job as samplers. Hooked up to a small mixer, they have been used as part of a portable studio for recording other bands in a pinch, as well as my own concerts.
I'm an idiot. Posted a Link from yourself to yourself. Sorry.
Where can I to learn abt it in detail?
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