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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:28 PM   #1
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
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Pen Recorder

I film weddings and have loved the Zoom H2, but can't stand the stereo plug as it can get loose. I want XLR, but the H4 is too big for pockets. Then I remembered seeing this and thought of how nice it would be to skip the lav plug-in and skip the SD card by getting pen recorders that I could literally stick it under the tie with a tie clip -- IF the specs are right. I usually use the 44.1 kHz setting at 16 bit for weddings. Per my notes (below) they don't offer all the specs beyond the s/n ratio.

Has anyone used or heard of a viable pen recorder or similar?


Here are the notes from my search:

It has a 22050 Hz bit rate option. Here's the link:
Micro Tiny Tec Audio Recorder

This one is a little bigger:

Housing: Metal
Audio S/N Ratio:95dB
E/Q: Pop/rock/class/normal/jazz/bass
File Type Support: MPEG 1/2/2.5 Layer 3/WMA, ASF
Bit Rate: Supports 32kbps-320kbps
Tag:ID3 V1 Tag, ID3 V2 2.0, ID3 V2 3.0, ID3 V2 4.0
MP3 Encoding: MPEG 1/2/2.5
FM Frequency Range: 87.5MHz-108MHz
Backlit : 132 X 32-pixel LCD
E-book function
Line-in function
Dimension: 2.13 inches long X .87 inches thick X .87 inches wide.
Weight: 20g
Operational Temperature:-5 `C ~ 40 `C
Memory: 32M/64M/128M/256M/512M
Computer Interface: USB

This one is a pen mic:
Diasonic High End Pen Recorder
Frequency Response : 20Hz~20KHz(MP3) / 300Hz~4KHz(Voice Recorder)
Power source : AAA batteries / DC input jack 3Volts 200mA
Memory Capacity : 256MB/70 hours or 1 GB/282 hours
O/S : Windows 98SE,Me,2000,XP
Weddings | Corporate | HMC150s | FCPX | Encore | Lion
Dana Salsbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 26th, 2011, 11:45 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,342
Re: Pen Recorder

There's no way those things are worth the price!!!

I've gotten some useable recordings from a Sansa Clip (or the newer Clip+ model). It's roughly the size of a pack of matches (but a bit thicker) and has an integral clip so you can clip it inside your shirt pocket... the mic will then be on top, facing up and away from your body.

Of course there are drawbacks:
Sample frequency is fixed.
Recording gain is fixed, no AGC.
The mic "is what it is"... no specs, no way to change it.

The Clip actually records .wav files. That's good because there are no artifacts from MP3 compression. However, the sampling frequency is 24,000 Hz, half of DVD standards. That means HF response ends around 10,000 Hz, which is still adequate for voice. You'll have to upconvert the files in your audio software.

The gain issue is probably most important. I find the Clip works OK at normal conversational levels. But if someone starts to yell, it can overload. Nothing you can do about that... no gain control, no AGC, no peak limiting (at least not as far as I can ascertain).

Sansa is a well-known reputable manufacturer. The devices you listed are no-name imports from some unknown country. No reputation to back them.

Also note that the Sansa Clip sells for about $20 and upward, depending on the amount of RAM. You will frequently see them on Woot or some of the other "daily deal" types of sites, as well as places like NewEgg, etc. A much better deal than those "no name" gadgets you found.


Of course you could just use a rubber band to hold the mic plug in your present recorders. Then you have control over all the recording parameters, and choice of mics.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 09:46 PM   #3
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Re: Pen Recorder

Thank you Greg. That really helps. I was hoping that someone had a decent product. That's a good suggestion about the rubber band.

I think eventually one of the big names will realize the potential market for a tie clip all-in-one mic/recorder. Wedding videographers can no longer pick up a reasonably priced wireless and avoid interference, and all recorders have major drawbacks to them. I've always thought that the gap under the tie knot would be the ideal place for a mic.
Weddings | Corporate | HMC150s | FCPX | Encore | Lion
Dana Salsbury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 27th, 2011, 10:19 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,342
Re: Pen Recorder

Hi Dana,

Glad that helped. My advice would be to buy a Sansa Clip+, since it can use its internal RAM or a Micro-SD card. Start wearing it in your pocket, record various situations, then listen to the files and see what you think. You definitely want to be sure it won't overload in the type of situations you plan to record. Worst case, if it doesn't suit you, you've got a $25.00 MP3 player.

Tie clip size doesn't give you much room. If you want batteries that are good for a few hours, that takes up some space. If you want to be able to adjust bitrate, sample rate, recording level, etc., that requires a few navigation buttons and reasonable sized display. Then you need at least a USB connector. I think it would be terribly difficult to fit all that into something the size of a tie clip.

Frankly, I'm surprised the Sansa Clip works as well as it does, and it's much bigger than a tie clip... as I said, roughly the size of a pack of matches, but thicker. I really wish it had a higher sampling rate, and, especially, some way to adjust recording gain.

It would be nice to see a recorder built like a wireless, with a locking Lemo connector, rather than the marginal 3.5mm connectors. Aside from that, I think a lot of the Tascam DR-07. Stereo mics, mic input, line input, recording level meter and adjustable gain, selectable MP3/WAV formats, replaceable AA cells, etc., etc... all this for under $100. I wonder whether any of the sub-miniature mics, like the Countryman line, can easily be interfaced to work with it.
Greg Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 1st, 2011, 06:52 PM   #5
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Posts: 750
Re: Pen Recorder

Try a zoom H1 and a lav. Rode Lav if you have the money, or Giant Squid if you don't.

Those recorders you showed don't even record at 44.1.
My Work:
Sony FS5 :: Panasonic GH4 :: Sony PMW-EX1 :: FCPx :: AT4053b :: Rode NTG-3,
Chad Johnson is offline   Reply

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