Digital Recorder Review


Of the items considered to be essential to the paranormal investigator one could argue that the digital recorder ranks among the top, if not the most important tool. Relatively low in cost and could potentially bring in loads of evidence, every investigator has a few in his collection. But with the market saturated by every electronics manufacturer throwing their hat in the ring, which is the best choice for you?

Olympus VN3100PC ($22 used – $150 new)

  • 72 hours of recording time
  • XHQ (Extra High Quality) recording mode
  • Timer recording
  • Timer playback
  • 26 hour battery life

Pros: A hell of a deal if you buy used, with decent features (mainly XHQ setting) this recorder is ideal for a new investigator or one looking for a solid back up to his or her usual recorder.

Cons: If you can’t find it used, could price itself right out of the newer investigators price range, battery life drops drastically on XHQ mode, which could hinder a night long investigation with an unnecessary lapse in coverage while the batteries are being swapped/checked on.

Coby CXR190-1G ($27 used – $55 new)

  • 1GB integrated flash memory provides up to 270 hours of recording time
  • Expandable memory via microSD slot
  • Voice Activated Recording System
  • 4 Recording-quality modes

Pros: Entry level price with plenty of space and battery life make for a great recorder. Includes 3.5mm headphone jack for quick and quiet playback for on the spot analyzing and the 3.5mm jack for an optional external microphone allows you to explore new places and take your investigation to new heights.

Cons: For those of us who’ve been to Wally World in the past few years, we’ve all seen products from this brand. Personally I’d take my chances at the Russian Roulette table. Nuff Said?

Polaroid Digital Recorder PDR300BLK ($33 used – $55 new)

  • 3 different recording options (HQ, SP, LP)
  • Voice Activated Recording
  • Edit recorded files on the fly

Pros: A big step above entry in terms of quality and durability, the large and easy to read screen is great

Cons: Bulky. You’ll need to get a fishing vest and some cargo pants to haul this piece around.

Sony ICD-PX820 ($43 used – $65 new)

  • 535 hours of recording time in LP mode
  • 2GB flash memory
  • Noise Cut function
  • Stereo Recording
  • Records nativity in MP3 Format

Pros: Currently the number one seller on a website named after a big-ass river, the native MP3 recording means low file sizes and no wasted time converting from a proprietary format. While the stereo recording makes extra sure you’re getting every word that’s spoken from all directions.

Cons: The buttons are tad easy to hit and the settings take some getting used to, read the manual and you’ll be fine, but who has time for that?

Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder ($235 used – $610 new)

  • Built-in X/Y stereo mics record at either 90 or 120 degrees
  • Four channel simultaneous recording using built in and external mics
  • Digitally controlled, high-quality mic preamp for improved quality
  • Large 1.9 inch LCD screen and improved interface for easy operation
  • 24bit/96kHz Linear PCM recording for pristine recording

Pros: Freakin’ fancy. Arguably the best digital recorder you can buy. Used by a very popular paranormal society on their shark jumping television series.

Cons: Well, I can make a car payment or I can have this digital recorder that could be considered overkill for what I’m using it for. Thank God NBC pays for this stuff and not me..

To wrap it all up almost any recording medium will work. EVPs have been documented long before the digital revolution. Showing up on reel-to-reel and cassettes you aren’t going to have to worry about a particular models EVP noncompliance, but rather the added features and to best use them in your investigations. Consider also your commitment to the field. If for instance you were new to the game and not sure if this will be something you’re going to stick with by all means go cheap. You wouldn’t buy a Dodge Viper so you can drive to the mailbox and back once a week.

Think I’m wrong? Want to add your two cents? Comment below!

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