Best Portable Digital Recorder for Live Music in 2023

Similar to our post The Best Portable Recorder for Musicians, many musicians and music enthusiasts are looking for the best portable digital recorder for live music.

Jumping straight into it, the best digital recorder for live music that we found that can handle this task is the famous Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder.

We will talk more about that further in the post but for now let’s discuss whats the significance is with recording “live music” versus a regular recording and whats the big deal about it.

Recording Live Music vs Regular sounds?

Many people use digital recorders to record a lot of foley and ambient sounds but few are really good with specifically live music.

When you are trying to record live music, there are a lot of things to consider. For example…

  1. How will the live music sound in the recording?
  2. If I am recording an instrument, will I be able to capture all the nuances of the instrument?
  3. If I am recording a live music performance, will I be able to hear everything clearly?
  4. Overall, can I achieve a clean and accurate sound?

These are the questions that you should be asking yourself before dabbling in to recording live music with a digital recorder.

If you are recording ambient and atmospheric sounds or similar then highly fine details in the recording wouldn’t really matter since your goal is just to get something recorded and move on.

Since you are looking to record live music with your portable digital recorder, then the goal is to get the best sounding recording possible.

Getting a digital recorder specific to live music is essential because quality and detail is everything. For example, many people will take a live music recording and repurpose it by using it on another record… aka sampling it.

Need that nice drum fill? Just pull out your digital portable recorder meant for live music and record it. Throw it in to your digital audio workstation (aka your DAW), manipulate it anyway you like and that’s it… you are done!

Since we consider that the best portable digital recorder for live music is the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder, let’s talk more about it in detail.

The Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder

Zoom H6 - The best portable digital recorder

As we stated here and in our previous article, the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder is a pure power house. It is hands down the best digital recorder for live music. It features a six track recorder that can record at 24 bit/96kHz in WAV format simultaneously.


The H6 also features four XLR inputs that can be assigned phantom power independently (yeah.. thats a huge deal). These individual XLR inputs can also be independently adjusted in level as well.

The microphones are high fidelity and detachable as well with any compatible microphone piece you want that works with the base of the unit. So this means you can have shotgun capsules, shock mounted capsules and many more.

The H6 includes both the X/Y and M/S capsule configuration as a standard. You can set the X/Y configurations to be 90 degrees or 120 degrees.


What sets the Zoom H6 apart from the competition in regards to live music is the audio quality. The H6 does a phenomenal job in recording all the details of an audio source.

It is great for a piano, wind instruments like trumpet or saxophone, choir and many more live music applications. It seems to pick up all the details in any recording and since it has great dynamic range, it would be easy to remove any sound that you wouldn’t need.

Speaking of dynamic range, because of how good the dynamic range is in his portable recorder, it brings the any sound to life and to the forefront. Recordings just sound dramatic in a good way.

The low parts of the recording sounds great and the loud parts sound amazing. The dynamic range creates a good blend of the quiet and high parts making things sound larger than life.

Overall, this mic is a solid one and you won’t go wrong with it at all. We feel that this is the best portable recorder for live music hands down.

Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder

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Some other great options

Zoom H4n Pro

Zoom H4n Pro

The Zoom H4n Pro is an amazing piece of equipment. It features four track audio recording and its specialized for music film, podcasting and much more.

The microphones feature an X/Y single capsule that can be configured to 90 or 120 degrees for your recording style of choice. The quality of the microphones are amazing. This is in the same Zoom family as the h6 so it wouldn’t be a question as to why this digital portable recorder is another great and cost effective option.

The dynamic range is great and live music sounds phenomenal on this device as well. If you are willing to give up on the detachable capsules, and other recording features that the H6 has, then this one is next in line.

Zoom H4n Pro

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Tascam DR-05 Portable Handheld Digital Audio Recorder

Tascam DR-05 portable digital recorder

The Tascam Dr-05 is lightweight and compact. This particular design that makes it easy to carry and store.

You can easily record WAV and MP3 over 24-Bit/96 kHz. The recordings are stored in either MicroSD or MicroSDHC cards.

Although this is an amazing recorder, a draw back is that you can not change the microphone to a different capsule.

Check it out in more detail…

Tascam DR-05 Portable Handheld Digital Audio Recorder

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So what is the best digital recorder for live music?

The best digital recorder for live music - Zoom H6

The best portable digital recorder for live music is the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder. This digital portable digital recorder is a power house and it gets the job done like we stated above. If you want great recordings, high dynamic range and crisp details, this is the one for you.

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Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder

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