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Digital Voice Recorders

Barbara Bartlein

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I asked: "What is the best digital voice recorder available that offers clear sound and is downloadable into the PC?"

(Note that this question was also addressed in 2008 and 2005.)

-- Darrell Nobles

Depending on the amount and complexity of your PC audio recording here are a few suggestions. A multi-platform audio recorder for Windows, Macs and my favorite, Linux. I have tested the Linux version and the sound is good (always depends on the source -- good mic or original copy). Audacity works well: http://audacity.sourceforge.net

Also try this Web site more for information on audio:

For Mac users:

Many people will suggest purchasing CakeWalk or a professional audio program, but I have found the best results by using trial software to see what you really need before you open the package and have an extra coaster on the desk.

Record a few samples and save them in different formats (.wav MP3 and RealAudio .rm) to see what you like.

-- Bill Geist

A lot of retailers have stopped carrying them, but they're still huge in Japan (so staying with this technology over the next 3-5 years shouldn't be a problem). Best site for more info is http://www.minidisco.com.

They're fit-in-your-pocket small (smaller than the wireless lav transmitters we have to carry).

Robert Ian and I swear by them, and we recorded the Randy Gage session last week with mine. Crystal clear.

You'll probably need to find a sound editing program to import and manipulate the sound files. Robert and I are both Mac guys and use Peak. I'm sure there are a bunch of PC programs that are similar.

We both use a lav mic that connects directly into a mic input jack. We can also connect directly to the wireless mic receiver/amp for input (which we did with Randy). The Gage recordings are so crisp that you can clearly hear his jacket shift under the mic.

We're burning the Gage recordings this weekend to CD to sell to NSAW members that couldn't make his workshop. And I'm editing some of my speeches this month to add to my DMOU.com product line. So, yes, the quality is that good.

The Olympus DS 2000 isn't a mini-disc, but may be an interesting alternative, as it looks like you record to memory and not disc. I don't know about quality, however. That the Web site says it's "perfect for dictation" makes me nervous that the sound quality wouldn't be as clean as a mini-disc. But it very well could be.

I'm sold on mini-discs because I also use them for music. That they produce CD-quality sound (I burn more music to mini-disc than CD for my in-car listening) tells me that they'll record and playback CD-quality speeches.

-- Kelley Robertson

Sony has an excellent selection of great voice recorders.

-- John Kinde

I've been using a Voice-It (VT-40EA) for the past four years with good success. Having also used micro cassette recorders, I've discovered that a short 90-second digital recorder is far superior, forcing me to transcribe my quick notes...rather than collecting tape upon tape of recorded ideas that I never listen to!

-- Doug Bench

I have been using an Olympus DS 2000 DVR for some time now and think it is fantastic! I bought it for around $180 and added the 64 MB disc so that I can record up to 11 hours at transcribe speed and up to 22 hours at audio transcribe speed (can't use voice recognition tools at long-play speed).

I can download via USB port to my computer very fast and can also use in conjunction with IBM ViaVoice to turn into text. This is a fantastic tool!

Never forget a good idea again!

I am not a writer, but I have "written" three books now by dictating and converting to text.

-- George Silverman

I use the Olympus DS-3000. Buy a 64Meg card (it won't take larger) to give 22 hours of recording on long-play mode, 11 hours on the slightly higher fidelity mode (I can rarely tell the difference). Put on a Telex M-10 microphone for voice dictation that can be transcribed by IBM ViaVoice (but you have to dictate in a very quiet place. Cars and planes are out). The DS-3000 is not generally available -- sold only to resellers. I buy my recorders from Jim Cox at Crown Inc, 800/715-4227. He is a little more expensive, but gives the kind of service I need, plus is a leading voice dictation expert always available to answer my questions. The recorder costs around $500, but is well worth it. It has the dictation features you need -- like insert recording, ability to go from record to play instantly.

-- Robert Skoglund

I use my digital video camera and simply take off the sound track.

The trick is, of course, to get the audience response and my voice in there at somewhat of a balance.

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