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Lifewire / Jeff Dojillo
24-bit/96 kHz WAV format recording
Smartphone control capabilities
Made of plastic
USB data transfer and charging
The Sony PCM-A10 is a beautifully-crafted digital audio recording device that can satisfy the needs of both professional and amateur content creators who need high-quality audio.
Sony has been revolutionizing consumer electronics by focusing on design and high-tech functionality. The Sony PCM-A10 digital audio recorder provides high-quality audio recording, nice craftsmanship, and advanced technology to help users capture great sound.
We had the chance to test this compact recorder and see if this was worth its asking price. We evaluated its performance, design, and user interface to see what sets it apart from its competitors.
Measuring 1.54 x 4.31 x 0.63 inches, the Sony PCM-A10 is compact and beautifully crafted. Weighing in at about 2.9 ounces, it feels substantial in the palm of your hand. The satin black finish has a nice contrast to the white lettering on its menu buttons. The buttons are stiff and have an excellent response.
The left side of the device is home to the 1/8-inch input jack and a Hold/Power button. Just below the Hold/Power button, there is a microSD slot for storage expansion and a small speaker for audio playback.
The volume controls are on the top right side of the Sony PCM-A10, just above the rehearsal button. This allows the user to test audio levels before recording. Towards the bottom is the USB release mechanism that allows you to plug the device directly into your computer to transfer data or recharge through its lithium-ion battery.
The Sony PCM-A10 microphones can be adjusted for different styles of recording. This feature is perfect for those that have multiple uses for this device, such as voice recording for film, concert or lecture recording, and sound effects.
Recording at 24-bit/96 kHz, the microphones on the Sony PCM-A10 record amazing audio. When we examined our recorded audio files on a computer, we were impressed by how these little microphones render sound.
This compact device becomes a powerful tool in the right hands. If the adjustable microphones on the Sony PCM-A10 are not enough, you can connect lapel microphones or shotgun microphones through the input jack.
When we first took the PCM-A10 out of its box, we removed the protective sticker from the display and powered on the device. A bright LCD prompted us to set the time and date with the option to remove beep notifications. Once this setup was complete, we were ready to record.
In the “Settings” menu, we were able to configure microphone sensitivity, audio recording quality, audio filters, and audio limiter. There are also pre-record options, sync record, and a VOR function that allows a user to automatically record when the inputs reach a certain level.
Connecting the PCM-A10 to the Sony REC Remote app also gives you a larger recording interface.
Bluetooth connectivity is easy to configure, and is as easy as pressing a button—we connected the Sony PCM-A10 to a pair of wireless headphones for audio monitoring. This is a unique and very convenient feature to have on this kind of device.
The Sony REC Remote app is also available for free download. This powerful app easily connected the Sony PCM-A10 to our smartphone via Bluetooth. Once connected to the app, we were able to control the Sony PCM-A10 as well as adjust recording settings from the phone screen, making the Sony PCM-A10 a powerful tool for content creators.
The Sony PCM-A10 has a great display with a menu that is easy to navigate. The “Option” button opens up this menu and allows you to customize the settings on the voice recorder. The bright monochrome display is perfect indoor or outdoor usage and the white-on-black contrast is easy on the eyes.
The Sony PCM-A10 is a delight to use and has amazing audio quality for such a small device. The ability to reposition the microphones allowed us to record rich, clean sound depending on the source.
Recording straight into the PCM-A10 is easy—it has 16GB of internal storage space, which is enough to last a whole day even when recording at the highest bit rate possible. The Sony PCM-A10 's noise reduction and limiter give the user the ability to capture sound with minimal noise.
We almost couldn’t believe how good our recordings sounded.
Transferring the recording data is as simple as plugging the device into the USB port in your computer or laptop. Personally, working on an iMac, we found it a bit irritating to plug it in due to the fact that the USB ports are located on the back of the iMac. If you’re transferring data to a laptop, connecting the device via USB is an easier process.
Reviewing our recorded audio was a joy, and it reminded us just how excellent the stereo microphones are on the Sony PCM-A10. There’s a huge difference in quality compared to on-camera microphones—we almost couldn’t believe how good our recordings sounded. The sound we captured was dense, clear, and rich, the quality you would expect from high-end microphones.
Videographers and content creators alike will certainly appreciate the step up in audio quality if they’re used to recording through their camera.
The Bluetooth connectivity on this device is a game-changer, allowing you to monitor the audio and control the device wirelessly. The Sony PCM-A10 can be used with Bluetooth headphones, which allows for wireless monitoring. Without a wire getting in your way, you can place the recorder closer to your subject or squeeze it into hard-to-reach areas where large microphones would not fit.
The Bluetooth connectivity is a game-changer, allowing you to monitor the audio and control the device wirelessly.
Connecting the PCM-A10 to the Sony REC Remote app also gives you a larger recording interface on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. The device’s menus are accessible on the app and it makes it easier to adjust settings on the fly. It also makes the recording experience much more intuitive.
When the PCM-A10 is recording, the left and right channels display real-time WAV files and a graphic EQ in the app so you can ensure the audio does not clip.
The rechargeable internal lithium-ion battery is rated to last 24 hours when recording at a reduced MP3 file format. At 24-bit/96 kHz, the device is rated to capture high-quality audio at about 6.5 hours.
When the battery is drained, it takes the Sony PCM-A10 about three hours to fully charge.
Usually selling for around $250, the Sony PCM-A10 is a pricey hand-held digital recorder. But the internal storage, rechargeable internal lithium-ion battery, Bluetooth connectivity, and app control justify the price.
As a bonus, you won’t need to purchase batteries and memory cards (unless you need them for storage expansion).
Zoom H1n Handy Recorder: The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder sells for around $120, almost $100 less than the Sony. The Zoom H1n lacks Bluetooth connectivity, internal storage, and a rechargeable lithium-ion internal battery. So, in the long run, the price of batteries and potential memory cards will increase the overall price of this unit. The Zoom H1n Handy Record is a larger device and does not feel as well-constructed as the Sony PCM–A10.
Both devices have X/Y style microphones that record up to 24-bit audio files. The microphones on the Zoom H1n have great audio quality but they are not adjustable and have only one configuration compared to the Sony PCM-A10. But despite the lack of adjustability, they are still well capable of recording amazing sound when used correctly.
But the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder has a particularly unique feature: it can be plugged into a computer via USB and used as an external microphone. This means you could use it to obtain high-quality audio for podcasts and even for recording into a digital audio workstation.
At its cheaper price point, the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder is a strong competitor against the Sony PCM-A10.
Sony ICD-UX560: Retailing for $81.99, the Sony ICD-UX560 is an affordable voice recorder from the same manufacturer. This device is very small, with non-adjustable microphones like the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder. The display is subpar compared to the Sony PCM-A10
The Sony ICD-UX560 is limited to recording 16-bit audio files and only has 4GB of internal storage compared to the 16GB in the PCM-A10. This small device has a lithium-ion battery that is rated at 27 hours depending on the style of recording and playback. The ICD-UX560 is great for recording lectures, conversations, and voice notes, but would not be suitable for users who need to record high-quality, 24-bit audio.
An advanced audio recorder with impressive microphones and tons of adjustable settings.
The Sony PCM-A10 is a well-rounded digital recording device that captures very high-quality audio. It can meet the needs of artists, filmmakers, and other content creators that want great-sounding recordings and can take advantage of the customizable settings in the Sony app.
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