Ask Doug: Choosing a Digital Audio Recorder

The Oral History in the Digital Age project and the folks at Michigan State University’s MATRIX  Center have launched “Ask Doug” to assist you in making a decision on choosing a digital audio recorder.  For more than 10 years I have taught numerous workshops on digital audio recording and oral history.  I now sometimes get over 200 phone calls and email messages a year asking “which recorder should I buy?”  I love working with individuals around the world, meeting new people and hearing about their incredible project plans.  The problem is, the answer is never an easy answer.  In the old days of cassette recorders, you could choose between the Sony and the Marantz, depending on whether you wanted this or that feature.  Now, you can purchase digital audio recorders at any price point and there are a dizzying array of variables from which to choose.


Over the years I have narrowed down the decision tree to a specific set of questions I will ask you before deciding which recorder is best for you.  Now, we have automated that process.  As part of the Oral History in the Digital Age project we created “Ask Doug” which takes you, virtually, through that process and gives you my recommendations.  Although it may feel a bit like an online dating service, this will hopefully help you in your decision making process.  This is not a substitute for doing your own homework and checking out other sites such as Andy Kolovos’s blog at the Vermont Folklife Center or reviews at Transom.org.  Thank you to IMLS for funding the OHDA project.  I really hope that “Ask Doug” proves useful in its guidance. As always, I’d love to hear which recorder you choose.

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