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I am looking for a good audio interface for recording, but I don't really know what features I am looking for on an interface. I will be using it for field recording, so I don't know if it would be advantageous to use a field recorder instead of an audio interface. I know I want an XLR input, but besides that I don't know what else I want/need. I am also on a somewhat tight budget, so I'm looking for something preferably $200.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It comes down to how much control you think you need and how many inputs. If you get a Marantz 660 or Zoom H4n style recorder you get two XLR inputs and control over the levels. If you need more inputs then you need to put a mixer in front of it. Another thing to consider if if you need phantom power to your mics, or if you even need mics and want to use what is on the recorder.

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Which is better, a field recorder or an audio interface? –  daviesgeek Aug 18 '11 at 17:48
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I'd always opt for the field recorder. More portable and self contained. I can't see dragging a laptop to the field when you don't have to schlep it along. –  Bryce Alan Flurie Aug 18 '11 at 18:57
    
Ok, thanks for the input. I'll probably go with a field recorder. –  daviesgeek Aug 18 '11 at 20:17
    
I think I need two inputs, controls over the levels, and headphone jack. Also, note that I edited my question. I added that I am on a tight budget. I would like something for under $200. –  daviesgeek Aug 18 '11 at 20:48
    
You can find the Zoom for around $300. It is worth it. You can then add mics etc and it will be the basis for a pretty nice kit. The advantage it that you have usable built in mics and XLR inputs. If you get a lesser model you'll outgrow it pretty quickly. –  Bryce Alan Flurie Aug 19 '11 at 0:15
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