January 9, 2021

Sony PCM-D100 | Worth Buying in 2020?

This is my long term user review of the Sony PCM-D100, the handheld recorder capable of recording pristine audio. The question is though, is it the best portable recorder ever made, and how does it compare to the Zoom H6, Zoom H5, or even the Zoom H4n?

Note: It is important to differentiate between the Zoom H4n Pro, and the H4n. The newer Pro version basically sounds the same as the H5 and H6. That being said, I’d say the Zoom H5 and Zoom H6 are still the better choice, due to the detachable mics, no SD card issues, and other features.

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  • If you have any questions or comments, make sure to leave them down below, and I'll do my best to get back to you 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing so generously and teaching so clearly. If the D100's $775 price tag is out of the question would you say the H5 is the best choice in the sub $300 range for recording quiet ambiances? I'm thinking of the Lom mikroUsi pair as described by George Vlad.

  • I am using the PCM-D100 to record nature sounds. Should I use the DSD 2.8Mhz? I still haven't found a good converter for the DSF files

  • A rich and very well made video! Bravo.

    Is there a way for this device to work for more than 12 hours in order to leave it all day in a discreet location to capture natural ambiences?
    If the recorder turns off, is there a risk of losing the recorded files?
    Otherwise do you have suggestions for small discreet recorders that we can easily use for this kind of natural recording (why not with XLR inputs)?
    Thank you for sharing ^^

  • Thank you for the interesting review, would you recommend this device for recording 1) piano solo, 2) vocal accompanied by piano? I currently have H2n and looking for an upgrade.

  • Hi, interesting review 🙂
    I was going for the Sony PCM A10, but your review and others almost convince me to buy the D100 😀
    What do you think about the A10 ? It is a lot more smaller an lighter (and cheaper) and has some modern features (like start recording at the same time that the video when plugged into a camera, or an smartphone app to control remotely the recorder), but I understand the sound quality is way better with the D100.
    Is it possible to have the D100 in a pocket like we would do with a smartphone ?

  • Hi, thanks for the great review you did. One question: The built in mics are dynamic or condenser, omni, cardioid or hyper-cardioid? Many thanks!

  • What about using XLR mic with this device by plugin it with XLR to Jack adapter? If so what kind of XLR mics could be used? Just any or have to be a specific kind?

  • great video, well done!
    I played with a Sony PCM-D100 and I found it to be very sensitive to wind noise. even with the rycote shock mount and wind protection. if the recorder gets any wind from the back ou sides you can hear it in the microphones. do you have any thoughts on this? thanks!

  • What is your opinion on this vs Zoom H6, I mostly make acoustic fingerstyle guitar music, wich often tends to be in very low volumes, as I understand it after watching your reviews sony was better at low volumes, and having the opertunety to record some nature ambience would also be very nice, would you recomend sony?

  • Thank you for te info .How doe sit compare to the ZOOM 6…what is the distance range for recording ?

  • Plenty of clicking in your audio. After every phrase where you glue audio fragments together there is a click. Match levels – make smooth transitions to avoid clicks.

  • Hi!

    I was planning on buying a recorder with this format mainly to do nature ambient recordings and voice-overs. 50% of its use would be chirping birds, rivers flowing, wind blowing through trees, etc… And the other 50% would be me talking to it from a close distance.

    I initially was going to buy the Zoom H5, but after getting to know this one, now I can't really decide. I love the H5's capsule system and its versatility, but the fact that the lower preamps on the Sony make it more suitable for outdoor ambient recordings prevents me from making a final decision.

    Another important fact, is that I'll be buying a Rode VideoMic Pro+ or Rode VideoMic Pro in the near future for my DSLR camera. Would a combination of this mic along with the H5 solve its "high" preamps issue for quiet outdoor sounds?

    I hope you can help me with this, since I am nervous about spending so much money into equipment with which I am not familiarized.

    Kindly regards and thank you in advance


  • Your review is very helpful for me, thank you. I am a teacher, planning to let my students record natural ambiences near our school, homes, places in nature or wild. I'm thinking getting a recorder to capture subtle sounds in nature. Now I am considering between Sony PCM-D100 and PCM-D10. According to your review, D100 is awesome for recording natural sounds, even if without the external MIC, while D10 supports more output MIC such as XLR. I know very little about recording equipments, and with the limited budget, I think I won't consider getting external MIC for now. Also, I read in some review that “D10 will not excel at recording subtle sounds or soft ambiences but it will be all right for medium to loud content like hard effects or dialog up close." So, is D100 a better choice for me than D10, even in 2020? Please give me some suggestions. Thank you heartedly.

  • Hello and thanks for all your fantastic videos. I need your help. I am looking for the best binaural or ambient recorder I can get in the 300 USD or less. I want to use it with video recording on my bike for all the ambient sounds around the ride. I would mount this on my e-bike and recording around 1 hour and then replace the video audio from DJI Auction camera in post. I ride at ocean edge on long bike paths and want the wonderful sound around me captured. Can you please advise what recorder I should look at for this use. So many thanks for your time.

  • Hello there I have a Cannon 600d i want to go out and make videos of our water falls.. there big and loud . I don’t know anything about what I need to buy to do this.
    I want to have two mics one low to the water and one up in the air for a clear separation of both channels for a full stereo sound like a asmr or a recorder if that is a better way to go.what setup do you recommend to do this. I would love your help/ input…..Thanks

  • Hey, thank you very much. Lots of incredibly useful data in a short bit of time. Well done. And thanks again

  • This video was amazing. Thank you so much. I only have one question, if I would like to record live guitar or record my upright piano for songs to then transfer into Logic Pro x, which would be better? The Zoom H6 or Sony? Thanks to anyone who answers!

  • would it work well if I put it in the middle of small classical orchestra, 7 cellos and human vocal , distance from players and singer maybe 3m

  • I can't decide between the zoom h6 and the sony PCM-D100, the zoom h6 got more mics attachments that I can replace and can put 4 more mics with phantom power (or 6 but 2 of them without phantom power) but I don't see myself using more then the built in microphones attachments but it's still nice to have. Now people say that the PCM-D100 got a batter quality sound then the h6 which is nice to have but it seems quite limited.

  • Great information..I am looking to upgrade my field recording capabilities. Appreciate your videos.

  • How would you compare the Sony PCM-D50 to this, if at all?

    I would like the D100 but prices don't seem to budge southward. The D50 is still a bit pricey, but more accessible to people who don't have vast $$$ resources to purchase the D100.

    A typical use case for me: I would be using the recorder to capture audio from a sound mixer (church service setting), and clean up any idiosyncrasies in post. Additionally, I would be capturing sounds from Keyboards, synths etc, to sample in my studio later. I need a high-quality, very portable, digital recorder.

    If I ever need a nice XLR mic, I imagine I could just plug the mic into my Shure FP33 3 Channel field mixer, and go from the tape or XLR output into the D100/D50 input?

  • What would your number one pick be for ambience nature recording and why? I was originally looking at H5 or h6..

  • over 500 quid and not xlr…………………………………… no timecode………………… not even a slate function……….

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