Hands-On Review: Nagra LINO and PICO Portable Recorders

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Join Rob Rives in this B&H video as he test-drives the Nagra LINO and PICO portable digital audio recorders. You get to hear what they sound like in action, with recorded examples of dialog and acoustic guitar. Rob also walks you through all of the controls on both devices, and shares a great deal of pertinent information about each recorder’s features and capabilities.

The PICO is the most budget-friendly field recorder that Nagra has ever produced. It features 4GB of built-in Flash memory, built-in cardioid stereo microphones, mini-plug inputs for both external microphones and line-level sources, and it gets up to 40 hours of life from two AA batteries.

The Nagra LINO features an SD card slot that’s compatible with up to 32GB cards, and the ability to record up to 24-bit 96 kHz WAV recordings. A pre-recording feature can be set to automatically begin recording up to three seconds before you press the Record button. A case with a built-in 1/4"-20 tripod thread is available  

Both models feature switchable Automatic Gain Control (AGC) and Voice Operated Recording (VOR). AGC adjusts the input level automatically, which eliminates distortion caused by peaking. VOR is useful when you’re using the recorder for dictation, because it automatically stops the recording when no sound is present. Strong metal construction, a built-in speaker and the ability to switch between Mono and Stereo recording is also found on both devices.

  PICO LINO
Data Storage Medium 4GB internal Flash memory SD card slot (up to 32GB)
Recording Method PCM and MP3 PCM and MP3
Compression Type ISO MPEG III ISO MPEG Layer III
A/D & D/A Conversion Not specified 16/24 Bit Sigma-Delta
Sampling Rate 48 kHz PCM and MP3 44.1, 48 and 96 kHz
Playback Formats WAV, MP2, MP3, WMA WAV, MP2, MP3, WMA
Frequency Response 20 Hz - 20 kHz (±0.5 dB) 20 Hz - 40 kHz (±0.5 dB)
Dynamic Range Adjust >40 dB Not specified
MIC S/N Ratio 90 dB (ASA "A" weighted) Not specified
Mono/Stereo Switchable Switchable
File Format .WAV and .MP3 .WAV and .MP3
Playback S/N Ratio Not specified 94 dB (20 Hz - 22kHz ASA "A" weighted)
Recording S/N Ratio Not specified 90 dB (ASA "A" weighted)
Dynamic Range >94 dB (recorded file, line input 3.5V) 90 dB
Microphone EIN >122 dB (ASA "A" weighted) > 122 dB
THD+N at 1 kHz >0.02% (20 Hz - 22 kHz ASA "A" weighted <0.02% (20 Hz to 22 kHz ASA "A" weighted)
Internal Microphone Gain Not specified 19 - 55 dB
Maximum Line Input Not specified +17 dB
Headphone Output 1 x 3.5mm stereo Max 30mW (16 ohm)
Mic Filter 100 Hz 10 Hz - 40 kHz / 100 Hz - 40 kHz
Input Sensitivity 620µV to 76 mV for 0 dB recording Not specified
Mic Gain 0 - 40 dB Not specified
Mic Inputs 1 x 3.5mm stereo 1 x 3.5mm stereo
Internal Microphones 2 x cardioid 2 x cardioid
Mic Powering 3V electret Not specified
Automatic Gain Control (AGC) Switchable (On/Off) Switchable (On/Off)
Line Input 1 x 3.5mm stereo 1 x 3.5mm stereo
Power 2 x 30mW (16Ω)  Not specified
Built-In Speaker Yes, 0.1W Yes
USB Yes, mini USB 2.0 Yes, mini USB 2.0
Battery Pack 2 x AA 2 x AA
Consumption 170mW Not specified
Autonomy >40 hours >10 hours
Operating Temperature 0 - 70°C Not specified
Working Humidity 20 - 80% Not specified
Dimensions 5.4 x 1.7 x 0.5" (138 x 41 x 19 mm) 4.2 x 2 x 2.6" (107 x 68 x 24 mm)
Weight Without batteries: 0.16 lb (71 g) Including batteries: 0.5 lb (250 g)