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What are people using to get their song ideas down quick? I would like to have a couple of instant-on (no computer involved) recorders that I can keep handy for when ideas appear. I've been using a looper pedal which is fine when I have AC power and the pedal on hand but that doesn't work when driving or out on the porch with an acoustic. It used to be the portable cassette recorder and I've still got them (somewhere) but the problem there was always keeping up with tapes.

I’m really looking for two different things:

First, a cheap scratchpad recorder for capturing ideas while driving or anywhere (so battery power is the only option) and then later being able to transfer the file to a computer to make it easy to keep track of.

The second would have the same requirements but with better quality to use it as a field recorder, no bells or whistles required, XLR inputs preferred, phantom power would be really great but I know that would kill the requirement for it to be cheap. Again battery powered is preferred, if I have AC and time to set up I can use my laptop…

Here are some that I’ve briefly considered…

Sony ICD-BX700 Digital Recorder for about $40 but Frequency Range: 260-20,000Hz? That might be OK just to hear song ideas back but the total lack of low end might be distracting.

TASCAM DR-07 Portable Digital Recorder $169 but no XLRs

The next step up is into small multi-tracks like the Fostex MR-8mkII 8-Track Digital Recorder ($250) but that one’s not battery powered and price is getting a bit high for a scratch pad.


Tags: ideas, inspiration, perspiration, song, songwriting

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Zoom H4 is what you want.
199. bucks new (price just dropped 100 bucks) high quality digital Wav, Mp3 etc., run on 2 double A batterys or wall wart, takes XLR in (with phantom power), Quarter inch, Mini plug, 2 track, mono stereo,4 track, built in Amps, effects modeling,USB out Etc. Plug in Mikes (Hi or Low) Guitars whatever..built in Mike that sounds great too.This this is amazing!
Thanks that does sound like it fits the bill for the field recorder, although the Zoom brand is not known for sound quality and two hundred is still a lot of cash. I'll do some research on it...I'm still thinking the Sony ICD-PX720 at $50 is going to be the one for song ideas but I've been using the video mode on my phone which is probably all I really need just to be able to sing the ideas and hear them back later and that's free. IT's hard to justify parting with any cash, especially since I have a laptop with me most of the time I'm not at my studio, I was just hoping there was something out there that was small and dirt cheap, etc
I own a Tascam DR-1 and love it. It's quick and easy to use.
Also, if you own an iPhone there are several amazing recorders. One is called: Note2Self. It will record whatever you want through the phone mic and will automatically email it to yourself (or wherever you tell it) as soon as you finish the recording. I cover my butt with memos to myself all the time with this brilliant tool.
McDSP also makes a really great recorder app (RetroRecorder) that sounds amazing.
Hope that helps!
Thanks to everyone. I guess there is no $20 replacement to the old cassette recorder out there right now. My phone works fine, even though it's not an iPhone I can take a memo and email it to myself. It looks like the next step up from there would be the $50 Sony ICD-PX720 and then up to about $200 which is really overkill just to remember a song idea.
Thanks and God bless


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