Four low-cost recording solutions (both USB and standalone) for a novice recording artist.

My cousin Mary and I started collaborating our music.  This meant recording and transferring music files back and forth.  This is not anything Mary had ever done and she relies on her husband Gene for much of the technical know how so, I have a mission to find something that both of them will be able to use and at the same time provide good sound quality.

I’ve used a Zoom H2 which is very simple to use and can be used with the USB (with quite a bit of finessing).   If you can use a tape deck, you can use this.  The biggest draw back of the Zoom H2 is that it only has a 1/8″ plugin.  Mary uses an older synthesizer that has 2,  1/4″ outputs.  She could use a 1/8″ to 1/4″ Y adapter which will work but, provides the lowest sound quality which would be improved significantly with a digital recorder.  Standalone or Audio Interface.

Second choice is an older Zoom H4.  This has a few more bells and whistles but is still fairly easy to use and has 2 of the XLR/TR combo jacks.  While the Zoom H4n is quite a step up from the H4, (with USB capabilities) it is also a bit more complex to use.

I’m also considering the smaller Tascam PocketStudio’s. These are very basic, easy to use and very portable. They have both the XLR & TRS inputs for vocal and or instrument input and can be used as a standalone or USB recorder.  A computer savvy person can have fun with this and a novice will be able to figure it out.

The best option for sound, in my opinion, is using a USB mixer such as the Behringer Xenyx Q1002USB.  I get some of my best recordings with a mixer L/R running into my Zoom H5.  But, once again, you have to finesse the drivers to work properly.  Not something a novice is going to know without hours of research, learning the proper settings of software, hardware and finding drivers that will work.

I have narrowed MY FINAL PICKS to these four recorders.
1. Tascam DP-006
2. Tascam DR-40
3. Focusrite Scarlet 2i2
4. Behringer Xenyx Q1002USB