Portable recorder with line ins?

So after a wonderful gift from my brother, an old 80’s preamp/mixer for use in film/tv production, I found myself needing a field recorder with line in. First need to find a very strange xlr plug to get the line out of the preamp but when that is done, a simple digital field recorder, got a zoom h4n at the moment I sort of like, but the lack of line in makes me wanna look for something else. So 2-4 channels, maybe $500 or cheaper. Any hints? Any devices to avoid?

Personally i use a sony pmc-m10 behing a field mixer (mini jack line in).
The Marantz PMD661MKII seems to fit the bill too (XLR line in).

[details=zoom rant]I never understood the industrial choice behind the Zoom H4N inputs, and its a pain to explain to every h4n owner i meet the differences between mic, instr, and line input, and why in impedance hell sometimes it will record a mixer line out and sometimes it will be distorted no matter what. For that mere reason, i stay away from their entire line of products.

The family of portable recorders has greatly expanded those last three years, so you might need some time to think about your precise needs and use cases to make a choice. There is a whole Tascam lineof products that do 4 tracks under 500$.

My personnal buying “strategy” is to go for the under-200€ options, and/or save for some time and buy the over-1000/2000 € one. That’s the leap i think one needs to take for a significantly better sounding product nowadays.

Just out of curiosity, what field mixer is it ? (that “strange XLR”, wouldn’t it be a Tüchel ?)

(ps. i just realized the pcm-m10 has been discontinued :(((( )

you may find people and/or info over there : field recording thread

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It’s a SQN3, might be a Tüchel, my only experience with them is the one on the MKH816 and the 48v adaptor I have for it, but that one is much smaller I think. Don’t have the preamp here with me but I think if my memory don’t fail me that it was more the regular xlr size, seven jacks with six of them spaced equally around the seventh that was placed in the middle. But I could remember wrong (I was thinking of getting a new recorder a year ago for this but the project halted but is now on again, so haven’t really used it since then so might remember it wrong).

And couldn’t agree more about zoom, got the h4n on a cheap second hand deal, served me well but yeah, totally agree.

Googled around now for pictures and remembered the connector totally wrong. It was more close to a tuchel or din connector, and googled some more and you’re right, it’s a Nagra 7 pin Tuchel. Thanks!

the zoom h6 has 4 XLR-1/4" combo jacks (expandable to six).

I’ve never had problems with any combination of mic or line recording with the zooms (H4, H4n, H6) you just need to select the input and adjust gain.
Dead simple.

Uhm, doesn’t the h4n accept line inputs? From the Zoom H4n page:

The H4n provides dual inputs, both of which are combo connectors that can accept either XLR or ¼" balanced or unbalanced phone cables. They can handle both mic- and line-level signals as well as instrument-level signals from electric guitars or basses.


find a second-hand sony pcm-m10. the built-in mics are quiet, the line-in is transparent, the safety limiter is useful batteries last ridiculously long. the UI is great.

Might need to revisit the H4n then, I’ve tried it a few times with line in and it always ended with me bringing my computer and sound card with me or in the cases I could use a microphone level output using the XLR inputs on the H4n. Always felt like there was an impedance missmatch when using line in with it. But, I’ve just tried this a handful of times, so will give it a few goes again before getting another recorder.