New gadgets: A handheld recorder and a microphone filter

Posted on November 27, 2007 9:48 am by | Audio | Podcasting

PMD-620I’ve been coveting the Marantz PMD-620 digital recorder ever since I saw an early model on the trade show floor at Podcast Expo. I have the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96, but I’ve been having some issues with it that led me to explore alternatives. I’m already a loyal user of the PMD-660, about the size of a thick paperback book. The PMD-620 packs most of the 660’s functionality into a package about the size of a deck of cards.

It arrived the other day and I’ve been playing with it. While the real test will come with a real recording session, so far I’m thrilled with this device. The recorder comes with stereo condenser microphones built in—no more snapping an external mic into the 24/96 jack. The sound from the internal microphones is terrific, but it’s even better when I jack in my Giant Squid Audio lapel microphone. I’ve also tried it with a full-sized dynamic microphone, which also sounds great. The 620 automatically detects a microphone’s presence and adjsuts its settings accordingly.

The unit also features a “line-in” jack, which will make it a breeze to record FIR when I’m on the road.

The display is crystal clear with a wide range of settings, and the settings are fairly intuitive to use. The PMD-620 comes with a power adapter but also runs on two double-A batteries, which resolves one of my bigger issues with the 24/96, which uses a non-replacable lithium-ion battery that needs to be recharged when it runs out of juice. So far, the power display on the 620 is showing “full” despite the several hours I’ve spent experimenting with it.

The 620 uses an SD card with no limit on storage. I have a 4GB card in the unit, which will handle about 6-1/2 hours of recording to the uncompressed WAV format. I got mine from Sweetwater, where I order most of my audio gear, for $399.97, comparable to the prices of similar devices.

Reflexion FilterMy other acquisition is an sE Electronics Reflexion Filter. This won’t excite anybody, but considering the volume of the fannoise on my Sony VAIO, I was looking for some solution that would reduce the hiss in my recording. (The computer needs to be on since I’m recording over Skype.) This filter is designed to improve the sound of the acoustic space surrounding the microphone, for people who don’t have acoustically-padded rooms (which I don’t). Sound input into the microphone passes through seven layers, diffusing the acoustic waves around the mic and keeping the sound from bouncing back. But it also does a nice job of filtering out ambient noises, reducing the fan noise considerably. Noise reduction in my audio editing software deals with the rest.

The filter was $299; I got mine at Guitar Center.

Yep, it’s been a good week for gadgets.



  • 1.Hello Shel,

    The Marantz PMD-620 seems to be really good!

    I was wondering if it's possible to record directly on your hard disk when the PMD-620 is connected via USB to your PC.
    Or the audio tracks can be recorded just on the SD card and then transfered to the PC via USB?


    Andrea Vascellari | November 2007 | Finland

  • 2.Andrea, the PMD-620 comes with a USB 2.0 connector, so you jack it right into your computer to transfer from it just as if it's a hard drive. The 660 works the same way, as does the M-Audio Microtrack 24/96. But no, you cannot record from any of these devices directly to your hard drive.

    Shel Holtz | November 2007 | Concord, CA

  • 3.Ok!

    Thank you very much for the information Shel!

    (right now I'm catching up on the last FIR the show!)


    Andrea Vascellari | November 2007 | Finland

  • 4.Very cool gadget! I love the Marantz PMD-620 digital recorder one.

    Trade show displays

    henry | February 2008

  • 5.I use the Marantz PMD-620 all the time during conferneces and lectures. It is a fantastic nifty device.

    Thanks for the information Shel.


    David Murphey | February 2008 | Australia

  • 6.Nice post Shel...I too use the Marantz PMD-620 and think it is fantastic, never had a problem with it.


    Kammy | July 2008 | UK

  • 7.i was wondering if the device can record a sound and then filter all other noises surrounding it before i buy it. for example i record the sound of a car passing by with a oil pump and a car honking, could i filter all the noise but leave only the oil pump?

    Danny Sosa | January 2009 | arlington tx.

  • 8.Danny, that's something that has to happen in the software -- recording devices record what they hear. With different microphones, you can control some of that -- using a direction mic you'll pick up mostly what you're aiming at. But completely removing something from an audio file requires someone who really knows what he's doing with high-end editing tools. You can use noise reduction to get rid of a lot of background sound, though, like air conditioning.

    Shel Holtz | January 2009

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