The Marantz PMD661

The recorder used by me and the This American Life team.

What I like about it:

One push record

Both the Zoom H4n and Tascam recorders you have to push the record button twice before it starts to record. Because I’d always forget this and just press the button once, I missed out on recording some great interviews. It was incredibly frustrating to look down at the recorder, mid-way through the interview and realise that the record button was still flashing, and I’d forgotten to push it again. I don’t have this problem at all with the Marantz PMD 661 because you only have to push the button once to start recording.

Good preamps

The preamps in the Marantz PMD 661 mean that when you are recording you get hardly any background fuzz. To get a high recording volume out of an external microphone, the gain settings need to be on about 6. This gives you a bit of room to work with compared to other recorders (Tascam and Zoom H4n) which need to have their gain settings turned up to 10 and because of this, you get a lot of background noise. No idea what I’m talking about? Then read this article here.


The Marantz PMD 661 has an attachable strap so you can hang the recorder over your shoulder while interviewing someone. This also allows you to easily adjust the recording levels with your free hand while interviewing. You do have to be careful with the level adjustments, which are on the top of the recorder, because you can bump them and change the levels. I haven’t had that problem.


The two XLR input jacks at the bottom of the recorder, allow you to connect external microphones into the Marantz PMD 661. They also have 48V phantom power, which means the recorder can power the microphone without using batteries. While there are two in-built microphones, if you want your recordings to be broadcast quality, you’ll need to use an external microphone. For interviewing, I use this microphone.

Easy to use

I didn’t even read the manual before using the Marantz PMD 661. It’s an intuitive machine and pretty simple to navigate the menus.

Other great features:

Built-in speakers to listen to your recordings on the go Ability to record in WAV and MP3 (for higher quality recordings, always record in WAV) Easy to ready display Headphone jack, so you can plug in your headphones Tripod adapter? Stereo line input (3.5mm) so you can record musical instruments Hardy and solid unit

I must admit, when I first saw the Marantz PMD 661 I thought it looked like an ancient recorder. It’s got a bit of an 80’s box look about it. But it grows on you.

Who uses this recorder:

The Marantz PMD 661 is used by radio producers, journalists, musicians and oral historians.

Buy now

You can but the Marantz PMD 661 from here.


Memory: SD card (some people have had problems with the Marantz PMD 661 with some brands of SD card. I use a SanDisk SD card and it works fine)

Weight: 410g (14 oz) Size: (WxDxH) 3.7 x 1.4 x 6.5″ (93 x 36 x 165mm)

Outputs: Connect to computer: USB 2.0 port or you take out the SD card and insert that into your computer

Power: 4 x AA Batteries or Included AC Adapter, 1 x Lithium Battery (Backup Battery for Real-Time Clock), DC Power Input Listen: 1 x 1/4″ Headphone Jack, 2 x In-built Speakers 1 x RCA Stereo Output

Inputs: Record sound: 2 x In-bulit Microphones, 2 x Mic/Line XLR Jacks with +48V Phantom Power so you can connect an external microphone Record instruments etc, 1 x 3.5mm Stereo Line Input, 1 x S/PDIF RCA Digital Input, 1 x 3.5mm Remote Jack Recording Bit Rate for WAV: 16 or 24-bit Linear PCM Recording Bit Rate for MP3: 64, 128, 192, 256, 320kbps

Sampling Frequency: 44.1, 48, 96kHz, Number of Channels: 2 (Stereo) or 1 (True Mono)  , Frequency Response: 20Hz – 24kHz, Signal-to-Noise Ratio Mic: 65dB, Line: 85dB Dynamic Range: 85dB Total Harmonic Distortion (THD), Mic: 0.08%, Line: 0.02%

Buy now

You can but the Marantz PMD 661 from here.

Please note that the above links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. I recommend this recorder because it is awesome and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on this gear unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your radio goals.