I can second Tom's comments about the M-audio Microtrack II.
Audio quality is great, and the size and weight of the thing makes for 
discreet portability but the interface and buttons could be better, once 
you get used to it though it's easy and quick to use... no complicated 
menus to navigate through, and a simple 'one click record' functionality 
which is perfect for on-location recording.
I haven't experienced any of the locking faults Tom has described (touch 
wood), in fact it's been consistently reliable and given that it offers 
96KHz 24-bit recording you'd be hard pushed to find better value for the 
same price.

Joel Eaton

Joel Eaton TSO - Sound Resources
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Tom Fine wrote:
> For what it's worth, I've had good audio luck but so-so usability luck 
> with the M-Audio Microtrack II. Finally with the latest firmware, they 
> seem to have solved a problem where it would randomly fail during a 
> recording, lock up and need a complete reboot. This is NOT good for a 
> must-do field recorder. So far, after installing the new firmware and 
> turning DMA off (a new option in the SYSTEM menu), no random failures. 
> But I don't want to say the problem is solved until I've used it 
> plenty. The failure happened with a variety of make and model flash 
> cards, as has been reported by other users. From what I can tell, it 
> may be power-supply based and not memory-card-interaction based, which 
> means turning off DMA may or may not help. For what I used the 
> Microtrack for this is not a problem but I did have it fail once while 
> recording a live web stream and that was very annoying.
> Given the wide variety of choices today, I would say you can probably 
> find something comparably priced that is more bulletproof. Whether it 
> will have the same excellent audio quality is another question. For 
> oral history recording, to replace something pretty bulletproof like a 
> properly-functioning cassette recorder, I would shop for durability 
> above audio, and would favor a proven track record of durability over 
> a new, easier-to-use but unproven device. If you find excellent for 
> both in your price range, you are golden.
> My bottom line, as a person who reluctantly retired his Sony Pressman, 
> digital portable recorders offer vastly superior sound quality and I 
> bet some of the newer models have been engineered for improved 
> reliability. But the Microtrack II is definitely more finicky and 
> failure-prone than any cassette recorder I ever owned. Also, in 
> typical digital-device design MO, the buttons are too damn small and 
> too sensitive to the touch!
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
>> At 11:07 AM 2009-01-26, Schooley, John wrote:
>>> We are looking to apply for a grant in order to purchase some digital
>>> recorders for oral history interviews.  Up until now we have been using
>>> cassettes.  I was curious if any of you have any experience with any
>>> particular models, or any recommendations?  Keep in mind that these
>>> devices will probably be used by a variety of interviewers (historians,
>>> volunteers, etc.), none of them audio engineers, so ease and simplicity
>>> of use is probably the most important factor.