The best gear for recording audio

Get your entire semester in .mp3 form.

Taking notes can distract us from engaging with the material being presented—be that in a classroom, an interview, or on a phone call with your bank. Rather than listening and processing information, we’re jotting it down in a way that we pray will make sense to us later.

For the sake of your participation grade, get one of these audio recorders for the upcoming school year. With an audio recorder, you can write things down at your leisure and review each class in detail when exam time comes around. If you’re having a sleepy day and need to zone out, hit record and go back to the lesson when you’re fresh.

Here are our suggestions for some great recorders currently on the market.

Sony Digital Voice Recorder with Built-in USB Voice Recorder

Basic but effective. Amazon

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This nifty recorder captures up to 59 hrs (4 GB) of audio in 128 kbps .mp3 form. It’s USB-equipped for easy charging and file transfer. Should you need more storage space, it’s also micro-SD-compatible for up to 32 GB of additional memory. Plus there are different presets for voice recording, music recording, and more. For the price, this one’s a no-brainer.

Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder

Record sound for videos or live concerts. Amazon

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Capture and store up to 128 GB of audio with this six-track pro audio recorder. It comes with two interchangeable stereo mic capsules and offers four mic/line inputs for external mics or instruments. Each track has its own volume control, sound dampening pad, and phantom power for mics that need it. You can also power this monster with just two AA alkaline batteries, and it records straight to SD, SDHC, or SDXC cards. If you want top-quality recordings of your classes, piano recitals, or podcast clips, the Zoom H6 is a great option.

Zoom H2n Handy Recorder

Five microphones in one recorder. Amazon

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This device has four advanced recording modes. Record your graduation speeches in surround sound or create audio files compatible with 360-degree VR videography. It captures up to 32 GB of either .wav or .mp3 direct to SD or SDHC cards. It is also a great choice for musicians, as it includes a chromatic tuner, metronome, and line-in jack. An onboard speaker makes it easy to play back and review whatever you’ve captured. True audiophiles can take advantage of the H2n’s effect options, including compression and low-cut filtering.

Roland High-Resolution Handheld Audio Recorder

Sleek, smart, and compact. Amazon

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This tool is more powerful than it looks. Lightweight and well-designed, it can capture hi-res 320 kbps .mp3 and 24-bit .wav audio to micro SD or SDHC cards. You can use your smart device to control it from a more convenient location or play back content using Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Scene settings allow you to adjust the recording parameters to match your scenario. Plus: this recorder might be the most aesthetically pleasing of the lot.