Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone said something really important and you thought to yourself, “Wow, I really wish I could record that?” Well, with a digital voice recorder, you can. A digital voice recorder is exactly what it sounds like—it is a highly specialized mobile gadget designed specifically for recording voices, instruments, and other sounds. Most models are small enough that they can easily fit in your pocket.
Thinking of purchasing a digital voice recorder, but not sure where to start in your quest for the perfect product? Below you can compare features and prices for a variety of popular and highly rated models.
|Sony ICD PX333||View on Amazon|
|Olympus VN-722PC||View on Amazon|
|Tascam DR-40||View on Amazon|
|Dictopro X100||View on Amazon|
|Sony ICD-UX533||View on Amazon|
|Olympus WS-853||View on Amazon|
Still not ready to shop yet? Read on to find out everything you need to know to pick out the perfect digital voice recorder for your needs.
Why Do You Need a Digital Voice Recorder?
The possible uses for a digital voice recorder are practically endless. Here are just a few common applications:
- If you are a student attending lectures which cover complex subject matter, you may wish to bring a voice recorder with you to class so that you can play back the lecture later. This ensures that you won’t miss anything and that you have a chance to study the material thoroughly.
- If you are a businessperson, you can bring a digital voice recorder with you to meetings, or you can use it to dictate records. You may also find it useful for dictation and transcription if you are a medical professional.
- Are you a musician who uses a lot of sound samples in your work? With a digital voice recorder, you can capture found sounds in your environment everywhere you go.
- A digital voice recorder is handy for capturing all kinds of information and memories. You might for example want to bring it with you when you interview a relative about your genealogy, or you could bring it with you to a wedding, family barbecue or other special event. That way you can record those memories and hang onto them forever.
Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Digital Voice Recorder
After you have done some thinking about why you want a digital voice recorder, ask yourself a few more questions before you shop for a device online:
Do you really need a digital voice recorder?
These days, there are apps for this purpose available for smartphones and other mobile devices. These apps can give you the same basic functionality as a digital voice recorder without the need to purchase a separate device. They will not usually offer you much in the way of sound quality, but depending on why you want a recorder, you may not need crystal-clear recording capabilities.
What kind of sound quality will you need?
If you are a musician recording samples, you probably need the highest-quality sound you can get and the ability to export in lossless formats. But if you are a student in a lecture or a businessperson in a meeting, you likely can get away with much lower-fidelity sound.
Do you need transcription software?
Will you need to eventually convert your recorded speech to text? If so, you may want to invest in a digital voice recorder which includes transcription software or the option to download and integrate it directly. This saves you the trouble of trying to transcribe everything manually later.
What is your budget?
The price range for digital voice recorders is huge. Lower-end models are available for under $15. High-end models which include top-of-the-line features and HD audio may sell for more than $500.
Features to Look For When Shopping for a Digital Voice Recorder
Battery life and data capacity
Two things determine how much you are able to record with a digital voice recorder: battery life and data storage capacity. Even inexpensive recorders can provide you with hundreds of hours of recording time and gigabytes of storage space. In fact, some recorders even come equipped with memory slots so that you can insert an SD card and expand your data storage capacity.
Audio quality and export options
If you are a musician or you are recording for any broadcast purpose, audio quality is vital. Look for a model with an adjustable built-in microphone and the option to add an external microphone of your choice. Expensive models can support high-definition sound. In terms of file formats, a variety is good. You want WAV files to store and export lossless data, but you can also benefit from MP3 and WMA files. There will be times when conserving memory is more important than capturing and storing the highest-quality audio. Flexibility is good!
A user-friendly interface
Many digital voice recorders are notoriously hard to use. They are designed with non-intuitive menus and are a total pain to learn how to operate. Check reviews for any device you are thinking of purchasing to see whether other users found the menus, navigation, and controls intuitive.
It can be very handy if you can voice-activate your recorder, especially if you are in a situation where you want to be discreet about what you are doing.
When you are making a recording, there may be a great deal of background noise, especially if you are outside (as opposed to in a concert hall for example). Some recorders include built-in noise reduction, and may even have presets for recording in various settings.
Other useful features
There are numerous other features which you can shop for in a digital voice recorder. The most expensive models actually are like portable recording studios and may even include built-in editing functions, multiple mics for directional sound, and more.
Now you know all about digital voice recorders, and should have a much better idea what you are shopping for! Scroll back up to our product comparison table to find the best digital voice recorder for your needs!
Olympus VN-7200: Super Easy to Use
The Olympus VN-7200 is somewhat bare bones when it comes to features. But if you’re looking for a well-built, simple little pocket recorder you’ll have few complaints. When it comes to ease of use and intuitive design, few other digital voice recorders compare.
- Three button operation. Press record to make a recording, press play to play it back and stop to end playback. It’s just that simple.
- Excellent battery life. All you need is 2 tiny AAA batteries to run this recorder almost forever.
- Skip forwards or backwards with ease. Use the toggle wheel to quickly navigate a recording.
- No accidental deletions. The VN-7200 beeps to verify that you really want to delete a file.
- Excellent battery life. Listen for hours on just two AA batteries.
- Light weight. This recorder only weighs 4.2 ounces.
- Compact size. The VN-7200 is small enough to drop into your shirt pocket.
- The LED display is not backlit. You have to be in a well-lit area to read it.
- You can’t connect this recorder directly to a computer. To get the recording to transfer, you have to buy a cable that connects the VN-7200’s headphone jack to your computer’s microphone in.
Sony ICD PX333: Perfect for Students
The PX333 has many features that appeal to college students. If you have trouble keeping up with a lecture, the PX333 will help you make a recording– and the quality of the built-in microphone is quite good. Plus, the PX333 can also wake you up in the morning and store music for you to listen to between classes.
- Alarm function. If you want to use this device as an alarm, you can program the PX333 to play a different song each morning at a certain time.
- Excellent sound quality. Whether you listen via the headphone jack or the built-in speakers, the sound quality is superb.
- Comes with free software. Sony Sound Organizer allows you to program automatic podcast downloads as well as move music to and from your computer.
- Mic input jack. If you have an professional microphone, you can easily hook it up to the PX333.
- Great battery life. The PX333 lasts for up to 20 hours on a single charge.
- Expandable memory. The 4GB on-board memory system is quite large, but if you need more you can add a microSD card.
- USB compatible. Transfer files via a standard USB connector cable.
- There’s no backlight. It’s impossible to use this device in the dark without a flashlight or some other light source.
- The menus system could have been simpler. Once you get a feel for the interface, it’s not a problem. But the learning curve is steeper than it needs to be.
Tascam DR-40: Professional Quality, Reasonable Price
The DR-40 by Tascam is a portable professional quality XLR recorder that matches up quite well against high-end recording devices. If you want to set up a home recording studio, you may want to check this unit out before you buy something more expensive. The DR-40’s price is very competitive.
- True line level input. If you want to use this device as an alarm, you can program the PX333 to play a different song each morning at a certain time.
- Connect any professional microphone or mixer. This budget unit allows you to hook in just about any microphone or mixer you desire.
- Dual recording. Simultaneously record a safety track at a low db level to avoid distortion.
- Amazing battery life. If you don’t use phantom power, you can get 15 hours out of a pair of AA batteries.
- Optional footswitch. This comes in handy for switching from record to stop when playing a musical instrument.
- Very low amount of self noise. Recordings are clear and quiet.
- Easy to use. Compared to complicated high-end recorders, this one is easy to operate.
- There’s no way to individually control the left and right channels. Any volume change you make affects both channels at once.
- With phantom power on, you only get 5 hours of battery life.