I need help finding the smallest portable audio recorder.

I currently have the Sony PCM-M10 portable audio recorder but I need something smaller for traveling purposes. The only use I have for the recorder is plugging in a Lav mic into the mic port and recording high quality audio that way.

So to be clear, I want something as small, light and thin as possible - smaller than the pcm-m10 but retaining high quality audio recording through the mic port using a lav mic. The external mics are wasted size and weight for my purpose so I’m not looking for suggestions based on recording with it’s built in mics. XLR inputs and other things that make the recorder larger are unnecessary for me because I am happy with the quality I get out of my Sony PCM-M10. I I can match that quality I’m happy.

I just care about quality using the mic port and compact size. I’m not to technical with all this stuff and am wondering if anyone can offer me suggestions or general help on what features to look for. Top 3 recorders meeting those criteria would be helpful!

One more thing. When I say mic port I mean a standard 3.5mm mic/line. I heard the Zoom H1 might work well but even that is thicker that I’d like.

Someone makes a live recorder in the size and shape of a pen. There was a powerful executive that claimed he recorded important meetings with his and one time he pushed the wrong button and it started to play back the conversation with its tiny speaker. I know no more than that.

My Pearlcorder S701/S701 might actually be smaller than what you have. I record visits to the lawyer or doctor. I leave it hanging out of my pack reversed and it looks like the top of a cellphone.



Perhaps a Zoom H1 http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/h1/
I’ve seen smaller recorders, but not with a mic in socket.

What do you guys think of the Yamaha POCKETRAK C24?

The zoom H1 is lighter but it’s also thicker and taller which are not ideal for me. The Yamaha Pockettrak c24 seems to be the most interesting thing I’ve found. Wondering if anyone has any thoughts on that one. It also seems to be discontinued on B&H photo which concerns me.

Hopefully that was meant as a joke and not meant to make fun of me asking the question because I do use this stuff for professional work and have valid reasons for wanting a smaller recorder for my workflow.

If it’s all about size, there are “USB MP3 voice recorder Flash Drives”

Perhaps you wouldn’t need a Lav mic because the recorder is not much bigger than a Lav mic.
They are also cheap, with thousands of them shipped from China. A friend used one for recording their acoustic band rehearsals - the recording quality would not win awards, but perfectly acceptable as an audio notepad for jotting down ideas.

The forum isn’t good for product reviews particularly if you need actual hands-on experiences. The user base isn’t that good and one of us has to stop answering Audacity questions and do product research for you. Yes, that unit and the one before it seem to be discontinued items or not very popular. By the time you get done counting sizes: connectors, readouts, batteries, etc, this is about the smallest you can do without peeling off features or making other possibly uncomfortable compromises.

I do use this stuff for professional work and have valid reasons for wanting a smaller recorder for my workflow.

It’s also concerning that you seem to be dancing around the equipment use and it doesn’t seem to be note-taking which you can do with any small recorder. I believe it’s still the policy of the forum not to get involved with law-enforcement and surveillance.


Thanks for the response.

I’m not really looking for product reviews. Ideally I’m looking for a better understanding of the technical specs I need to get a recorder that serves my purpose. I currently use a sony pcm-m10 with a lav mic and basically put the recorder in a person’s pocket and a lav mic on their shirt to get high quality audio without minimal equipment on the go. All my photo gear is in one small shoulder bag that holds everything I need for my photo and video work:

a mirrorless camera system
2 lenses
2 nd filters
an audio recording system

The audio recording system is bigger than I want because I have a weak back and trying every way possible to minimize weight. It’s kind of like there are ultra-light backpackers - i’m an ultralight film maker. Here is some of the work I’ve done with the sony recorder and a lav mic:


here’s a good example of the type of audio quality I’m getting with that setup:


The problem is that there are a lot of recorders out there and I don’t have the technical knowledge to know what specs I need to get an ultralight recorder that matches the quality of the sony when using a lav mic. None of my friends are technically versed with this info. Companies that sell the products don’t really understand my needs either. I thought I’d try this forum because maybe there are a few people here who understand audio better than I do. Again, I don’t care about external mics and other features on a portable recorder. Just something that matches the quality of the mic-in on the Sony with less weight. I also don’t need particular product recommendation - I can do the research myself. I just need a general Idea of what specs in a product I’m looking for so that I can get what I need before I travel to do short films.

Rishi O.

I don’t think that you’ll get away with one of those thumb drive things - I doubt that the sound quality will be good enough.
The Yamaha device is Yamaha’s version of the Zoom H1. Other manufacturers do their own versions. They are all about the same size and generally follow the same basic design as the Zoom. Zoom are pioneers in this field, then other manufacturers bring out their own versions, which may be better or worse, but probably more expensive unless you get a good deal.

I have a Zoom H2. The sound quality is very good. It’s bigger than you want - it takes 4 AA batteries. It’s considerably lighter than the batteries.

What about those smaller digital recorders with mic inputs. Is there a reason they of lesser quality through the mic-in ports? Take the Sony ICD-SX1000 for example:


Why would that be any worse quality than the PCM-M10?


Just to close this discussion, I did end up gambling on the Sony ICD-SX1000. It’s 1/3 the weight and size of the pcm-m10 and so far I’m getting as good recordings if not better than the PCM-M10. Think I found what I’m looking for!