There are two sites that publish some of the most comprehensive, thorough, and trustworthy reviews of digital audio recorders: Transom, and O’Reilly Digital Media. (Well, three if you count this blog, but I’ve only reviewed the units I’ve actually purchased, including the Zoom H4 and the Sony PCM-D50). The Marantz PMD620 has been around since late last year, and Transom published their review of the recorder shortly after it was released, but O’Reilly published their review just a few days ago.
Transom’s primary audience is radio and podcast producers, while O’Reilly Digital Media is targeted at a broader audience, including people who plan to use these digital recorders to capture music and nature sounds. So how does the Marantz PMD620 stack up?
The build quality doesn’t seem as high as some other recorders. The door covering the USB port broke on Mark Nelson’s review unit within just a fwe weeks. But the controls are easy to use, the recorder gets about 5 hours of battery life out of 2 AA batteries. The sound quality was good. There’s not a lot of wind noise when moving the recorder around using internal mics. And there’s not a ton of hiss from the preamps. Nelson posted a series of audio recordings as part of his review.
Nelson did find a few problem areas. While the recorder lets you create three presets for quickly changing your audio settings on the fly, if you want to change your settings by hand you’ll have to dig deep down into a series of menus which takes longer than it should.
This review confirms my belief that the PMD620 is a good, but not great recorder. If you really can’t afford to spend $500 for a Sony PCM-D50 or a bit more for a Fostex FR2-LE, the PMD620 has a street price of $400 and sounds a lot better than the Zoom H2 or H4. If you need XLR inputs or phantom power, you’re going to want to go with the Fostex or the Marantz PM660, but from what I’ve heard, the PMD620 might actually have cleaner preamps than the PMD660 despite its lack of XLR inputs.