I'm guessing that you're talking about recording your own band, but I'll offer my $.02, as in the last six months, I've gotten into the hobby of recording live shows of other bands.
The first thing I'll say is check out http://www.taperssection.com
- there's a fantastic amount of knowledge and really good people over there. They have tons of threads on just about every recorder on the market. Just like rukinders get into all the nuances of OBELs, etc., TS'ers will get into all the details of the recorders and offer various comparisons.
With respect to the recorder, I use a Sony PCM-M10. http://www.amazon.com/Sony-PCMM10-PCM-M ... 580&sr=8-1
. It's got decent externals, but it can also take a board feed and has ridiculously long battery life. Of course, it's even better when you couple it with a good preamp and external mics.
To give some perspective on using the recorder as a standalone and then with external equipment, I'm adding some links.
The first link is the very first show I ever recorded (a friend's jazz trio in a cafe/club with tables facing the small stage):
At the time, all I owned was the recorder, but I was meeting up with another local taper and he was going to let me borrow some equipment that I had been considering purchasing (not from him, but from the manufacturer - more on that later). Due to some technical difficulties, his equipment wasn't working for the first set, so tracks 1-6 were made entirely by the recorder. It was only in the second set that I used external microphones (although I did NOT use a separate preamp, all amplification was done by the M10).
Listen to the differences between tracks 1-6 and 7-12 and see what you think.
I mention most of this in the notes section on archive.org, but for full disclosure:
Set 1 was recorded entirely by the M10, resting on a table, immediately in front of the guitarist, but off-stage nonetheless, using the omnidirectional microphones of the M10, which have a fixed position.
Set 2 was recorded using higher-quality external omnidirectional microphones, which were plugged into the M10 and powered by the M10's plug-in power, the microphones were placed onstage, next to the piano, in the DIN configuration (if my memory is correct).
So, it's not quite apples to apples, because of the different mic location and configuration, but at least it shows the M10 by itself and then augmented with external mics.
After recording that show, I pulled the trigger and bought not only the omnidirectional microphones, but a set of cariod mics and a preamp from that same manufacturer.
To continue, here's my recent pull of the band Bonerama: http://www.archive.org/details/Bonerama ... a14.flac24
Not directly comparable, because that one was done in a different venue, in an imperfect position, and done with the cardiods, not the omnis, but it may help to show what else you can do when taping.
The preamp and mics I used are hand-made by a guy in Canada, named Chris Church - you can find him on taperssection.com, just look for the user "Church Audio." He has a website, but offers great deals for members of taperssection.
Not sure what you're looking to spend, but just for a ballpark reference, I bought the M10 for $229 on Amazon. Then I got the Church Audio omnidirectional microphones, cardiod microphones, and preamp all as part of a package deal for $250, although that's only because I wanted the new and improved preamp - the basic deal gave you two sets of mics and a preamp for $200 + shipping. He runs a variety of deals periodically, but will often have a production backlog as a result.
I'm not trying to be a shill for the guy, I'm just very happy with my purchase.
And like Levar Burton used to say, "but you don't have to take my word for it..." (seriously, check out http://www.taperssection.com
- you'll find all the answers you'd ever need and then some).