Zoom H2n vs Tascam DR-05 Portable Recorder Comparison

These handy recorders can be the best option for anyone who needs to record meetings, notes, etc.. For musicians, advanced portable recorders have extra features with which they can make high-quality stereo recordings.

It is true that any Smartphone can provide a decent recording but these can be limited to audio quality, battery life, storage capacity etc. compared to professional portable recorders.

There are many reasons why you might need a good digital portable recorder and here we compare the Zoom H2n with the Tascam DR-05 

Many well-known musicians use these recorders to capture their ideas when away from the studio.

These devices have become so attractive because you can use them anywhere to record anything. A band rehearsal, concert, a song demo or a meeting can be easily captured with these little gadgets. The first thing you’ll notice is their compact size. They’re also surprisingly easy to use and require minimum setup. Just point them at the sound source, press the record button, and that is it.

One thing that amazes many people about the modern handheld recorders is their audio quality. They sound really, really good. Much better than you might expect for its price and size.

Zoom vs Tascam Portable Recorder – What to Look For

Track Count:

A stereo field recorder should provide you with a good recording. But if you want something more advanced then you should choose a multi-channel recorder. Imagine the ease with which you can record a podcast with three guests. Or maybe you can record your band on four separate channels and after that, you could edit each track. Very nice benefit.

Battery Type and Life:

In general, all handy recorders can run on battery power. You should buy one which uses batteries that are simple to recharge or replace.

Storage Capacity – Recording Time:

You can expect less recording hours to be available if you record in higher quality format. Stereo and high-fidelity formats need much more storage and will considerably reduce maximum recording time. Basically, every advanced recorder supports SD cards, so storage will not be much limited. Different devices have different size limitations. Avoid additional costs in the future and choose a device that has more available GBs.


With digital portable recorders, price is related to the amount of features the recorder has and the recording quality the device is capable of. For example, for less than $ 30 you can get a recorder that looks like a USB, has a start stop option and 8GB of memory. Quite enough if you’re not a heavy user.

On the other hand, you can get something like the Zoom H6 or Tascam DR-100 which cost a lot more and are designed for professionals. They both have amazing sound quality if you are prepared to pay more. #ad

Tascam DR-05

This handy recorder is proficient of recording in stereo mode because it has the two omnidirectional microphones. All of its controls and buttons are on the front panel and they are really simple. This Tascam’s model is much easier to use than some similar products on the market. It also features a tuner, BPM counter and much more. We can certainly say that this is one quality piece of gear. Recordings are clear and mics are properly arranged for stereo sound. This could be a perfect model for when you need to start recording quickly because its interface is really easy to use. #ad

Like most of the other portable recorders, this model comes with a 4 GB microSD card, but it can be upgraded up to 32 GB. One major difference between this and other models is the length of the recording time. You will be able to record in either MP3 or WAV formats. You can choose from a wide range of audio recording quality including 320 kbps MP3 and uncompressed wave format. It will offer noise reduction and will record your audio clearly. With two AA batteries, you can expect up to 17 hours of recording. The DR-05 usually comes with a 2 or 4 GB microSD capable of upgrading to 32 GB. It is designed to get the best quality recordings of your audio. Read more about the best audio formats.

Many users, who owned this recorder for a long period of time, honor its stereo recordings. Musicians are able to use it in a live band setting and they can achieve good recordings without distorted noises. It provides excellent sound quality and operates well in situations with a lot of ambient sound picking it up precisely. Some users mentioned its built-in speaker and internal microphone have low volume. Others have experienced static white noise while recording. For musicians, there’s no easier way to get great-sounding recordings. This may not be the best portable recorder out there but for this price, the Tascam is a very attractive option.


Inputs: 1 Line in 1/8″ stereo jack

Outputs: 1 Line/headphone out 1/8″ stereo jack

Built-in Mic: Omnidirectional, stereo

Recording/Playback Format:WAV(BWF), MP3

Storage capacity:  2-4GB microSD included ; Expandable to 32GB

Power Requirements: 2 x AA batteries, USB (Optional AC adapter)

Battery Life: 17.5 hours

Weight: 4.09 oz. (Without battery)

Dimensions: 2.4″(W)×5.55″(H)×1.02″(D)

To check the latest price of the Tascam DR-05 on Amazon, click here



Zoom H2n

Compared to the Tascam DR-05, the H2n is a more advanced recorder and a bit higher professional piece of gear. Of course, the price is more advanced, also. When you first look at it, it reminds on regular ribbon mic. The basis of this massive form is the number of mics this thing has inside.

Unlike most portable recorders, the Zoom H2n appears with five different microphones. These mics provide four different recording modes, including 2 and 4-channel stereo recordings. There are four different settings. If you are curious, yes, you can record 360 VR audio. It has a 90-degree crossed pair of mics on the front of the H2n. This is a most common setting for any stereo recorder. Another pair of mics on the rear produces 120-degree capture. Used at the same time, all mics will provide you ‘360-degree’ surround recording. With just two AA batteries, you can expect around 20 hours of recording. The H2n comes with a 2 or 4 GB microSD capable of upgrading to 32 GB. Although the controls are not the most simple, the audio recording quality of this recorder is absolutely excellent. It has features such as Auto Gain and Data Recovery which give it an advantage over similar products. You may also be interested in reading my in-depth Zoom H2n review.

Many users were able to use this recorder in various ways, such as podcasting or field recording. They praise its longer battery life compared to similar products. There is a fair set of extra features, including a metronome, tuner, playback speed adjustment and the ability to set loop points. Its compressor and limiter features are very handy in preventing sound peaks clipping.

Some say the microphone is too sensitive that it picks up unwanted external noises such as winds. This is a common issue with high-quality mics and you need a windscreen if you are going to record in windy environments.

Compact, easy to use and high quality, this model is a perfect choice for any professional or hobbyist.

The price is more than fair considering what you’re getting.


Inputs: 1 Line/mic in 1/8″ stereo jack (with plug-in power)

Outputs: 1 Line/headphone out 1/8″ stereo jack

Built-in Mic: Directional (XY, MS mid mics); Bidirectional (MS mic), 2 and 4-channel surround

Recording/Playback Format: WAV,MP3

Storage capacity:  2-4GB microSD included; Expandable to 32GB

Power Requirements: 2 x AA batteries, USB (Optional AC adapter)

Battery Life: 20 hours

Weight: 4.59oz.

Dimensions: 2.67″ (W) x 4.48″ (H) x 1.68″ (D)

To check the current price of the Zoom H2n on Amazon, click here



I will be direct and honest with you. Zoom H2n is an incredibly good recorder. Better than Tascam DR-05? Yes, much better. I use a Zoom H2n on a weekly basis and also use for podcasting and creating Youtube videos and I cannot really fault it.

It’s not that I favour H2n just because of its sound quality and multichannel recording option, but Tascam’s recorder is somewhere in the category with the Zoom H1. On the other hand, for less money, with Tascam DR-05 maybe you could get the similar level of quality recording you would expect from Zoom. But of course, don’t forget the impossibility of multi-channel recording. After all, choosing the right product depends on your needs.

Other Considerations

What Is Audio Fidelity?

It is the overall efficiency of the sound interpreted by the digital audio recording. Also, mostly depends on the sampling rate and the bit depth.

Sampling Rate

The sampling rate is the number of how many times per second certain audio is recorded. Most digital recorders sample audio with a 44.1kHz or 48kHz rate. The highest-fidelity portable recorders sample rate is 96kHz.

Bit Depth

It is a measure of the bits of information in each sample. For example, a song recorded on a CD has a bit depth of 16-bits per sample. This is the same sample rate as most digital recorders. The amplitude of the sound wave is defined by bit depth. A higher bit depth means there is a higher dynamic value between the loudest and quietest part of the sound wave. Some portable recorders have 24-bit depths and these are known as the highest-fidelity.

Mono, Stereo

Basic portable recorders either record in mono or stereo. Mono recordings are made on one track, usually with one microphone. So when you listen to the audio with headphones, you can hear an equal mix on the both, left and right side. Recorders that record in stereo needs to have two microphones. That is why its price is higher. The difference between mono and stereo recording is depth. Stereo sound is more natural and realistic. With a mono recording, you only hear changes in the volume of the audio but with stereo, you can hear the sound more left or right.

Vox Stomplab 2G full review and demo x
Vox Stomplab 2G full review and demo

Adjust your gain settings

Without the proper gain setup, your audio will be too low or too loud and can suffer from clipping and distortion. One of the best tricks in audio recording is finding the sweet spot that will assure you the best signal to noise ratio. Some recorders have an option called Automatic Gain Control. It does its best to set the gain automatically for you. But, in many situations, it can be more harmful than helpful. Most digital recorders that feature it also give you the option to turn it off.

For optimal gain settings, it is usually safer to turn it off and set the levels manually. In the digital field, it is the best to keep the average signal on the audio meters around -20dB. It is normal if the meters occasionally bounce up to -12 or -6dB during the loudest peaks in volume, but try to keep the meters on your recorder below that. That would be the way how you get the best sound levels on your recorder.

If you are thinking about maybe getting the Zoom H2n, click here to check it’s current price on Amazon #ad


Frank Edwards

Frank Edwards is the founder and owner of churchsoundtips.com and has over 10 years experience running sound in his local church.

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