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Digital voice recorder review

January 1, 2007

in All Articles,Audio

So you want to record yourself talking? Then listen up.

Micro-cassette tape recorders have their place, but lawyers, doctors, podcasters, students, writers and composers can benefit more with a high-tech digital voice recorder (DVR). A DVR is similar to a cassette recorder in functionality, but the recording is made without audio tape. These recordings can then be easily edited, sorted, reviewed, or transferred to a PC. The digital format allows you to hold far more audio than standard 60-minute tapes. Perfect for transcribing meeting minutes, students recording classes and lectures, or doctors or lawyers doing a lot of dictating.

A digital voice recorder recommendation depends on your intended use, and level of technological comfort. To start, make sure your digital voice recorder has these important characteristics:

Recording time

A good digital voice recorder should have at least a dozen hours of recording time, allowing for many extended-length recordings. Time limits shouldn’t be an issue. This means the DVR must have enough memory to store your recordings, as well as good battery performance.

USB PC connection

The voice recorder should be able to connect to a PC via USB cable. This allows us to quickly and easily transfer our recordings to computer for archiving or CD creation. Otherwise, our audio requires tedious manual transcription if we want to save it.

Simplicity versus functionality

A simple DVR means greater ease of use, but you may be giving up functionality and options in the process. Are you a gadgety type that likes having more control over the recording process? Or would you rather just keep things as easy to use as possible?

Sticking with basics, try the $55 Sony ICD-P320. While this DVR is simple, low-cost and meets our above requirements, it also has the bonus of being compatible with “Dragon NaturallySpeaking” voice to text software. (Dragon NaturallySpeaking will read recorded voice dictation and automatically convert it to text.) The ICD-P320 is great for those who want a quality, low-cost digital voice recorder, like students or casual users.

For those who must have the best digital voice recorder, try the Olympus DS-4000. At $450, it provides all the functionality, quality and recording time needed for intensive professional users. Able to record up to 180 hours, it can sort and share recordings of up to 10 separate users. The DS-4000 comes with the handy “DSS Player Pro” software: Automatically transfer your recordings via email or FTP (a special way of transferring files between computers). It’s designed for those needing transcription services or specialized archiving. It’s also fully compatible with the aforementioned Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. The DS-4000 is recommended for doctors, lawyers, reporters or anyone with massive amounts of voice recordings.

DVR for PC

Free software is also available to turn your computer into a digital voice recorder. Get the free “Audacity” software. Make hundreds of hours of recordings, edit, add effects, and convert them into MP3 and other formats. Great for podcasters, movie commentaries, and those whose work is done primarily on a computer. See Audacity support questions and answers at the Audacity Q&A.

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