Hi there,

I'm thinking of getting Sound Device's USBPre 2 as I need a new audio interface at home and would also like to start recording in the field (I heard this interface is portable).

So my question is, what do you recommend as a good audio recorder that can hook up to an external pre? I was originally thinking of the H4n but have since discovered that its line inputs are High -Z unbalanced inputs. What would be similar to the h4n but with low impedance line inputs?


4 Answers 4


The options are quite wide as there's not only the XLR outputs, but also the tape out which is 3,5mm. If you want to use XLR, then the tascam DR-40 or DR-100mkII are the most common choices. For the tape out, I would recommend the Sony M10, Roland R-05, or any of the Olympus LS-series.

If you want something with decent internal mics, then the Sony D50 is the way to go. A very fine machine, but a bit more expensive.

  • thanks for the responses guys. ive decided to go for the DR-100mkII as it is has a s/pdif in. Ill be recording the output of the usbpre's digital out. they say that the usbpre's preamps and a/d converters have the same circuitry as whats in the 7 series. so im essentially getting the same sound as a 7 series with this setup correct? the main difference being that i only get up to 96khz recording with the DR-100. Still, a much cheaper alternative than buying the 702. Aug 13, 2013 at 9:29

The Roland R26 is a good option for a portable recorder with XLR line inputs (the pres can be bypassed). The inbuilt mics are decent, but if that's a sticking point for you then definitely consider the D50. The only issue in that setup is that the D50 does not have XLR connectors. IMO, the R26 or DR100mkii is the way to go in that price range.

  • The R-26 is supposedly quite good, as is the Olympus LS-100, but they are more expensive than the other options, partly because of better preamps. Since you will be using the preamps in the USBpre, you can save some money on the other options. Aug 11, 2013 at 9:10
  • i tested the roland r26, but the limiter is very noisey, like any other Roland portable recorder. if u turn taht off, i would be better:)
    – bohitomi
    Aug 11, 2013 at 10:24
  • The limiter (and low cut) in almost all handhelds are digital, so they do not protect against distortion (possibly the D50 is different). Because of that, I can't think of many situations in which I would want to use those functions. Aug 11, 2013 at 22:04

Hi! I use USBPre 2 with D-50. Check out my setup for binaural recording: http://instagram.com/p/X9ahgnii-l/

Have a look at MixPre-D if you want more easy-to-use device in field http://www.sounddevices.com/products/mixpred/ "The MixPre-D is also a class compliant USB portable audio hardware interface for Mac OS, Windows or Linux computers"


for a pure bit bucket I'd go with a Sony PCM M10 and not look back.

  • inexpensive
  • well constructed
  • simple ergonomics
  • weighs nothing
  • sounds excellent
  • recordings can cascade from the built in 4Gb drive to an external compact SD card (super important for long 24bit 96k recordings)
  • battery life for days
  • instant on

I use mine with my mixpre all the time. Mixpre is the weak link in that chain, and only because it sucks batteries much more quickly.

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