9 Best Digital Audio Recorders for Low Budgets

With the latest and greatest offerings in optics, just about anyone can make a movie. Film making still takes on a balance of art, skill, and narrative, but with many new digital audio recorders on the market, getting visuals has become a lot easier.

If you want to move forward with creating an expert balancing act between visual design flow and sound design, you are going to want to take a look at the best low-budget film making recorders, starting with the 9 I’ve listed below (in no particular order).

1 – Fostex DC-R302

Fostex DC-R302 For audio options, you are going to want control, and that’s what this delivers. It creates better control, wire remote output, remote control elements, and attachment to most major cameras.

Infrared support, easy mixing, and upwards of 24 bit/96kHz stereo sound makes a nice 3 channel mixer seem even more powerful. A solid option for recording, mixing, and metering on the fly.

2 – Tascam DR-60D

Tascam DR-60D

Serious about sound? This is for you. High quality HDDA preamps, 4 track recording, mixers that you can easily change on the fly, stereo and mono sound elements, noise reduction, and seamless controls for DSLR cameras.

Professional sound is the name of the game here with Dual sound modes for backups and more. It’s a rig that is definitely at a professional level.

3 – Zoom H5

Zoom H5

If portability is what you’re after, the Zoom options are definitely worth looking into. They create a balance in a handheld platform that is made for in the field recording. 5 mic capsules, easy loading, extremes that can precisely get sound from upwards of 200 feet away, clean audio channels, and incredible resolution make this a premium offering.

With signal processing, you can compress, isolate, and create stellar edits on the fly, making this one of the best for the price.

4 – Zoom H6

Zoom H6

If you liked the H5, the H6 jumps ahead with an additional channel, extra mixing capabilities, and faster processing. Records in extremes, from a distance, allows for shotgun mic with easy input, and recording power of up to 24-bits at 96 kHz audio.

As far as simultaneous channel sound, 6 is found here, and mixed with the Zoom software, this is a serious contender for the best in regards to low-budget film making.

5 – Tascam DR-40

Tascam DR-40

As far as recorders go, this may very well be the best one for music. The 4-channel recording power allows for easy XLR and adjustable mic elements, high resolution recording. Unidirectional condensers allow you to record on the fly, and isolate pressure so that you can hear just what you want and nothing else, reducing noise and other outside elements on the fly.

Automatic changes in tempo, pitch, make this an easy one to pick up and play with, especially if you’re new to sound design. For film makers, this will help with noisy areas, concerts, and traffic, giving more control over the scene.

6 – Marantz PMD661

Marantz PMD661

This handheld recorder has been touted as being one of the best for field recording. It features 24 bits at 96 kHz recording capabilities, condenser mics with speakers, easy editing, and superbly portable. Records directly to SD, runs 5 hours straight on 2 AA batteries, and creates functionality with easy connection points.

Well reviewed, and easy to use for music, loud spaces, and quiet areas, this is a versatile option worth checking out.

7 – Sony PCM-M10


Sony PCM-M10

Not to be outdone, Sony enters the market with a good record and electret microphone on board for easy recording. Cross memory recording, automatic pitch shifts, adjustments, durable construction, and easy to plug and play formatting make this a great solution.

While it may not have the bells and whistles that some of the others on the list have, this low cost option is a solid recorder with a lot of upside in terms of portability and condensed sound.

8 – Olympus LS-12

Olympus LS-12

For the budget minded, Olympus releases a simple recorder where sound becomes simple. It has a new improved noise reduction and sound design style that rivals many high end options. The microphones are stellar here, with a professional touch to the recording specs that can take scenes to all new levels.

A good starting point at a low cost, with portability and sound quality being the major upside here.

9 – iRig


For those that want something for the smartphone, you could utilize the latest iRig Pro that goes directly into any iOS device. It’s like a portable recording studio, and has a nice range that can be used to record a full set.

Combined with editing, and compression, this has been touted as a full studio connection on the fly, and it definitely is. For recording music, this is a great option, for film making, it can allow studio quality overlay and voice recording with connection to the iOS platform.

If you’ve tucked away a few hundred dollars, you can certainly afford many of the digital audio recorders that I’ve listed here.

If you currently own or have experience with any of these audio recorders, please feel free to share your thoughts below!

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