Hey, I'm planning on investing in some personal audio equipment to use once the ability to borrow my university's equipment is gone! Ultimately I plan on ending up with a solid MS portable recording set up that will give me good quality recordeds with a relatively low amount of noise.

So far the Roland R26 has caught my eye, seems to have good reviews. Any comments on the mic pres on it? I think I know what to expect from the onboard mics but as I said, ultimately I want to be using it with a set of external mics so the pres need to be up to scratch.

The other option I saw was the marantz PMD 661. Its a bit more expensive so I'd be interested to know if its worth the extra money?

Also, any recommendations for entry level microphones for an MS set up would be good, still in the learning stage of things so I don't want (and can't afford to) get anything too pricey. I'll also be investing in a Rode blimp for them as well.


7 Answers 7


I was in this position last year. It was a toss up between the PMD-661, the FR LE2 and the Sony PCM D50.

I ended up going with the PMD-661 due to it's portability, good build quality, the brilliant quality screen, and the well regarded sound quality.

I got lucky and found someone selling an Oade Supermodded version second hand and in perfect condition, so the external mic/line pre-amps are super clean. The on board mics aren't fantastic, but are certainly usable in a relatively loud environment. Street ambiance etc. is fine, but clean natural ambiance you can forget about.

I've recorded some natural ambiance on it using an NT-4 and it did well, though the mic wasn't the best for the job. I've yet to try some high quality, sensitive mics with it for nature recording, but I think it will do very well.

I just love the readability of the screen and the large transport buttons, they make it very easy to operate even if it's stuck in a bag. Also the S/PDIF in and 1/8" line in are nice additions, as well as the RCA out.


A couple of points I would like to add here: 1) the Marantz PMD661..to the person who said their one twice hadn't turned on, and needed to wait a couple of hours. Very occasionally mine does that too, however, rather than wait I only need to take the batteries out momentarily and put them back in and it works fine immediately. TRy that next time you have that problem.

2) When thinking about your needs for microphones etc, and techniques for nature recording, maybe have a read of this tutorial article. It has some tips on the things to look for, and what works in different field recording situations.


  • Hi Rockit, are you perhaps working at rocksuresoundz? Your name is rockit and you also own a pdm661, just like they do? Apr 6, 2012 at 16:31

Perhaps mention what you want to use it for. Also consider how many hands you have! If you're holing a seperate external microphone or boom then you probably want something you can carry in a bag. How about the FR2LE from fostex? Really quiet preamps for the money.

  • Yeah sorry, just want it for general all round use, nothing specific other than being portable. Both the marantz and the roland have bags and straps available for them, I'll check out the fostex though, thanks! Mar 13, 2012 at 18:09

I was asking my self the same question a couple of months back and ended up buying the Marrantz. I bought a refurbished one from digital village (uk) so saved my self a good hundred pounds and i'm really very happy with it, having really nice mic preamps and onboard mic's which are ok- I haven't tested them loads but for a good general ambience or really quick recording their great. I find it pretty simple and easy to use too. Only worrying thing is that twice before it just hasn't turned on but then I try it again in a few hours and it works. I wanted to take this up with the place that I bought it but being a final year uni student I just haven't had any spare time and I can't really afford to give it to them to look at for a week as I use it pretty often.

Haven't had any experience using the Roland, but it does look decent too.

If I'm honest I do wish I had looked a bit longer at the FR2LE and other bigger devices as though it is handy being so small, having a larger recorder on a strap tends to work well.

Mic wise I use the Rode NT2. For the price I think it's they're really excellent and not sure of any other cheap shotguns that really come close. If your spending a bit more on a mic you have more options I think but the NT3 is supposed to be a good buy too.

Hope this helps


I use Marantz PMD-661 with Rode NTG2, Rode NT4 & Rode NT2000 microphones. Reliable and robust device with excellent parameters.Highly recommended.

Hear my Sound Demos.

A little help for shotgun microphone purchase: Help for buying shotgun microphone


R26 Pros: good preamps, six recording channels Cons: digital limiters and lo cuts are not great, internal mics very noisy


Tascam DR100 MKII - Aluminium casing, Good mics/ pres, quick and easy to use, incl wireless or wired remote.

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