General Advice on Digital Voice Recorders

June 29, 2009

Olympus Voice Recorders are among the most well known in the industry.  Models range from basic consumer voice recorders to high end recorders designed for professional dictation and transcription.  There are three series or lines of voice recorders that Olympus makes, the DS, WS, and VN series.

DS-Series - The DS-40, DS-50, and DS-61 are generally used to record memos, meetings, interviews, and light dictation/transcription, these units record in WMA format and can playback WMA/MP3.  The DS-2400 recorder is geared toward professional dictation and transcription, we would not recommend the DS-2400 unless you will be using the recorder for professional transcription and dictation. The DS-2400 records in DSS and DS2 (digital speech standard) audio format which is exclusive to Olympus & Philips. The audio files recorded the DS-2400 units can only be played back and edited with DSS software that comes with the recorder.

WS-Series - These are designed with the everyday consumer in mind. They are incredibly compact (close to the size of a 1st generation Ipod nano) and can double as a music player with equalizer. They record audio files in WMA (Windows Media Audio) format and can playback MP3/WMA formats. They have several microphone sensitivity settings and quality recording modes. If you are looking for a recorder for everyday recording (meetings, lectures, interviews, memos) and doubles as a music player we would highly recommend the WS-Series. We place these in the same class as the Philips Voice Tracer Series below.

VN-Series – These recorders will record your voice and other sounds without all the other bells and whistles. Some of these models have PC connectivity and some don’t.  They record in WMA format so these files can be easily played back using windows media player.

Philips has a professional line and consumer line of voice recorders. The Voice Tracer line is designed with the consumer in mind and can handle most recording tasks. The Pocket-Memo series is designed with the professional in mind and is geared toward professional dictation and transcription.

Voice Tracer – Incredibly well designed and reasonably priced.  These units record in MP3 format which is one of the most popular forms of audio. There are five models in this series with prices ranging from $58.95 to $148.95. All of these units have PC connectivity and are designed with the everyday consumer in mind and are perfect for recording meetings, memos, lectures or interviews.  We would place them in a similar class as the Olympus WS-Series. To view a comparison chart of the Voice Tracer models CLICK HERE!

Pocket-Memo – They record in the DSS format and are designed for Professional Dictation and Transcription. We would not recommend the Pocket-Memo unless you need them for professional medical or legal transcription. The DSS file format is the industry standard for philips and olympus professional dictation. The DSS files can only be played back and edited with the DSS software that comes with the units.

Denpa is a lesser known brand of digital voice recorder but should not be overlooked. You get a lot of bang for the buck with these recorders without having to pay extra for the brand name. These also can double as a portable music player just like the Olympus WS-Series. These record in MP3 format just like the Philips Voice Tracers do. In addition to recording in MP3 format these recorders pack a few more features than the voice tracers and other models we have listed. These extra features include:

* Five equalizer (NORMAL,ROCK,JAZZ,CLASS, PIANO)

* Direct USB connection (no cord required)

* Phone call recording

* FM Radio Playback and Recording

* AC Adaptor

* Clip on Microphone

Sony models include the ICD-BM, MX, and SX voice recorders.  The BM and MX models feature expandable memory card slots so that you can expand the recording times!  Also, these recorders are all compatible with Dragon naturally speaking, in fact many of the models include a copy of the dragon software.  When a recording is clearly dictated into the recorder all you have to do is hook it up to your computer and press play, and it will type out your recordings (when you have dragon naturally speaking installed). These recorders can be used for general use and professional use.  One of the main drawbacks of these recorders is the audio format they record in, they record in .MSV which is a recording format exclusive to Sony voice recorders.  In order to get your recording out of the .MSV format and play them on another device you will need to convert them to .WAV format and then to MP3 or WMA.


Amazing Features of New Macintosh Compatible Digital Voice Recorders

January 15, 2009

It may have been a while since you have thought about voice recorders.  The new age small tape technology was seemingly eclipsed by the newest thing in the 2000 era: digital media.  Now that digital media has peaked and calmed thanks to exciting new Apple products, voice recorders are coming back into mainstream focus.  Not just voice recorders but new high-tech Mac compatible digital voice recorders.

What do you remember about a tape recorder?  Probably that it’s slow, frustrating to work, difficult to hear and a bother to carry around.  However, new digital voice recorders have come a long way.  They are more comparable in appearance and efficiency to cellular phones or PDAs.  What are some of the best features you can look for in a digital voice recorder Macintosh compatible device?

Even the most basic systems are able to give you at least 1 GB of storage while others provide a little over 500 hours of audio storage.  Not only can you record your own voice or the voice of others, but you can also record MP3s that you hear off the radio.  Models like the Philips Voice Tracer 880 lets you record FM radio, as well as program a smart alarm clock.

A Mac compatible digital voice recorder comes with a built in microphone that can record realistic and high quality sound or a stereo lapel microphone.  However, you don’t have to worry about fussing with the little buttons just to start recording.  You have your choice or choosing a one-touch recording mechanism or a voice-activation system. With voice-activated recording features you simply start speaking and wait for the device to instantly start recording your voice.  The recorder promptly stops once it senses that you have stopped talking.  No words are lost and it picks up every word thanks to a larger stereo microphone!

These models come with large LCD screens for an easy overview of the system.  You can playback high quality audio extra slow for note taking or extra fast for audio effects.  Perhaps the best feature of all is the USB cable connection that allows easy downloading of all your MP3 and WAV files to your PC computer.  For that matter, you can transfer the files to a laptop or PDA.  You could even send these recordings as a voice message by way of email!

All of these Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders are made for Macintosh systems and are easy to carry and very lightweight.  Unlike tape recorders of the past, they are easy to carry along and hardly noticeable when placed away in a protective case.  You will want to carry a Mac compatible digital voice recorder everywhere you go!


The Advantages of a Mac Compatible Digital Voice Recorder

January 3, 2009

Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders offer numerous advantages, and the best of these can already be seen in the category title alone.  They are digitally based, meaning they do not require tapes and work instantly via digital memory.  You can hold up to 500 hours or more of recording time with popular models.  In addition, these Mac compatible digital voice recorders are compatible with most recent Macintosh Operating Systems.  Digital voice recorder Macintosh compatible systems can communicate with your home PC or PDA system and you can easily transfer MP3 files and WAV files between computers in just a few seconds.

A Macintosh compatible digital voice recorder is also lightweight and has an ergonomic design that will make it practically unnoticeable when you travel.  Other high-tech features that are worth mentioning include the adjustable microphone sensitivity, which can be adjusted to pick up quiet sounds or to focus on mainly voice signals, and yet never sacrifice the quality of audio recording and playback.

Even though you have the capacity to record confidential notes and private meetings, you never have to worry about broadcasting this sensitive information with the microphone/earphone combination for private playback.  Holding the microphone just right is never a problem, not with the microphone that fits comfortably around your tie!

What kinds of professionals enjoy the Macintosh compatible digital voice recorder?  It’s obviously important to professional writers, lawyers, physicians, students and other busy individuals who don’t have time to grab a PDA and type out important words for later remembering.  As easy as the Mac compatible digital voice recorder is to work, it also provides more complexity than you might suspect.  Models like the Olympus DS-2400 offer users a central navigation pod, a large backlit LCD, and file management options.  Users also get a 1 GB SD card for saving hundreds of hours of recording.  What’s even better about this technology is that the durability of a memory card makes all of your files safer than if they were simply stored by flash memory.

When it comes time to organize your files you can take advantage of the file creation option, which lets you end one dictation and begin the next with just the click of the “new” button.  It’s as easy as operating a PC but with excellent portability.  High tech systems from Olympus even let you overwrite on an existing recording file or insert data into a sound file without erasing it.  In addition, you get DSS Player Software, which supports most major Macintosh OS’s.

If you are working non-stop then you well know you can’t afford to slow down and type out of a message.  Save your important works with just the click or a button or a clearing of your throat with new age Mac compatible digital voice recorders.


Exploring a Mac Compatible Digital Voice Recorder

December 22, 2008

A Mac compatible digital voice recorder lets you do practically anything you need to do with audio quickly, efficiently and affordably.  The best devices have hundreds of hours of recording time courtesy of a very durable 1 GB SD card, and allow you to talk directly into the microphone. Microphones pick up high quality sound and allow either one-touch activation or voice activated recording by way of a Variable Control Voice Actuator feature.  This enables the device to start recording as soon as it senses sound.  You can adjust the microphone to pick up softer sounds or to mainly record human voices.

However, the capabilities of modern Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders do not end there.  You get a full dot, backlit LCD for easy viewing whether dark or bright, which allows you watch your recording times and battery life.  You can directly connect the system to a PC or laptop for easy and fast file transfers with a PC Link or a USB port.  With the top systems from the Olympus and Philips line of Mac compatible digital voice recorders you also get DSS Player software.

This feature allows you to save files in high compression DSS format via the DSS player/recorder.  The DSS stands for Digital Speech Standard and refers to a cost-effective but easy to use format that can convert and send high quality voice files directly to email for voice messaging.  If you’re particularly interested in this aspect of a voice recorder then try one of the Olympus models like the Olympus DS-2400 Digital Voice Recorder DS2400.  DSS software also allows you to erase single files and entire folders and is compatible with voice recognition software.  There is currently a new software version of DSS-Player for the Macintosh compatible digital voice recorder.  (Previously, DSS software was only compatible with a Windows OS)

You can also use the digital voice recorder Macintosh compatible system to record songs or commentary on the radio.  This saves you money spent on satellite radio or more expensive iPod features.  You can save MP3 files and WAV files and then easily transport them to your PC.  You can record up to 250 songs or hundreds of hours of vocal recording.  You can record your own voice for reminders later on or record an entire room full of people.

A Macintosh compatible digital voice recorder rewards Macintosh users with a device that is fast and efficient to use and a portable system that is very easy to work with.  If you are interested in a digital voice recorder but use a Macintosh system, then your time has finally come.  You don’t need a Windows compatible system to take advantage of the Olympus and Philips line of quality digital recorders and the DSS playing software.  For more information visit RecorderGear.com.


Checking Out the Newest Macintosh Compatible Digital Voice Recorders

December 15, 2008

Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders are used by busy professionals who want to record notes, sounds, ideas or even entire meetings.  What’s great about these compact digital devices is that users can record and playback instantly without having the fuss with rewinding or fast-forwarding a tape.  Additionally, the best models of Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders have the ability to record or transfer information to any PC.  This means that you can organize or edit your files and store them on a home computer, laptop or PDA.  The device can transfer files by way of a USB cable.  In addition to convenience these Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders offer superior sound quality and longer recording times than old fashioned tape players.

You are not actually purchasing Macintosh products but digital voice recorders that are compatible with a Macintosh system.  What are some of the Mac compatible digital voice recorders to look for by name?  First you have the Philips line, including models like the Philips Voice Tracer 880, the 860, 660 and 620.  Another example of a Mac compatible digital voice recorder is the Olympus line.  Popular models of Olympus products include the DS-2400 Digital Voice Recorder, the WS-321M, the VN-5200PC and the WS-331M.  Other models include Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders by Sony and Denpa.  A Macintosh compatible digital voice recorder is designed for fast and efficient use with a Macintosh Operating System.  For example, Olympus lines can run on up to five versions of a Macintosh OS, including 10.5 Intel, 10.5 PPC, 10.4 Intel, 10.4 PPC or even 10.3.9.

Prices for digital voice recorder Macintosh compatible devices can range anywhere from $60 to $300.  The higher-end models offer users more features, such as radio recording, as well as MP3 or WAV recording.  Even so, lower-end models still have many unique features that 10 years ago wouldn’t have been foreseeable at such a cheap price.  For instance, users can enjoy the benefits of large memory and voice activation.

If you are in need of a high-tech and very fast-working voice recorder then this type of device could help you in your profession.  You could use it to record important conversations, record your personal thoughts for later use, or even record songs you like on the radio for easy playback.  If you are looking for high quality audio and fast recording technology, then you can do no better—especially considering that most audio recorders are only Windows compatible.  (And who considers using Windows an advantage in anything?)

The best place to buy these new age products in online where you can expect savings up to 40% off.  For more information on Mac compatible digital voice recorders visit RecorderGear.com.


Buying a Mac Compatible Digital Voice Recorder for the Holidays

December 2, 2008

Are you looking for an original but practical gift for the holiday season?  A Mac compatible digital voice recorder may be the best buy.  Two of the most popular lines of Mac compatible voice recorders are Olympus and Philips.  These devices are digital audio recorders that records sound via flash memory and can convert it to WAV files or MP3 files for PC computer use.  (You can use a USB port for fast communication)  In years passed, the only operating system that supported this type of compression and transfer was Windows.  Therefore, news of the Macintosh compatible digital voice recorder and Mac-compatible software like the high compression DSS Player (Digital Speech Standard) were exciting to Apple fans.

What are some of the best features about these Mac compatible digital voice recorders?  You can adjust the microphone to record meetings involving multiple voices, or your own voice or even softer sounds.  With some models you get an FM tuner which you can then use to record full songs on the radio.  You will enjoy hearing the 3-D stereo sound made possible by WOW XTTM audio technology.  The large LCD screen also displays the artist and gives you helpful information.

You never have to worry about running out of tape or going over your memory capacity.  The best Macintosh compatible digital voice recorders can record 500 hours or more of high quality audio with stereo sound.  You can choose a digital video recorder with a stereo microphone that comes designed as a tie clip (and provides perfect positioning for recording) or you can use the high-tech voice activation feature.  This feature lets the user automatically start recording as soon as a voice is detected.

Not only can you record and transfer audio files, but on some models equipped with USB Mass Storage you can also store important documents and photographs.  You have the power to manipulate your audio recordings with the DSS Player and either slow them down (ideal for transcribing) or speed them up for special audio effects.  There are also built in features like a Voice Filter function and Noise Cancel function to protect your audio content from air conditioner noise and other distracting noises that distract from the words being spoken.  On your digital voice recorder Macintosh compatible system you can lock important files and protect them from accidentally being erased or erase as many files as you choose.

A Mac compatible digital voice recorder will make a great gift for a busy professional who wants to dictate important notes throughout the day or even a child who wants to record his own songs off the radio.  With all the extra features, and now a Mac-friendly operational system, expect these Mac compatible digital voice recorders to be a top seller this holiday season.


Olympus WS-321M Digital Voice Recorder Review (WS321M)

August 11, 2008

The Olympus WS-Series digital voice recorders are packed with features and have a small sleek design. The WS-Series includes three different models which are the WS-311M, WS-321M, and WS-331M. The only feature that makes these models different is there storage capacity. They hold 512 MB, 1 GB, and 2 GB respectively.


The Olympus WS-321M Digital Voice Recorder is the model that we are reviewing and it is the 1 GB version. The WS-321M was designed with the music lover in mind. It can play all your MP3 and WMA music files. It connects to your computer via USB port and can sync with Windows Media Player.


The sound quality when playing back music files is impeccable. It has an equalizer which you can adjust to different listening styles such as rock, jazz, pop etc. Music playback also has SRS Wow technology, which enhances the quality of the playback. I have compared the music playback on other Olympus models such as the DS-30 and the DS-40 and there is no comparison in the richness of the sound. If you want your digital voice recorder to double as portable music player you need to consider the Olympus WS-321M digital voice recorder.


The WS-321M runs on either one AAA battery or an NiMH rechargeable cell. The WS-321M is tiny and measures only 3.7 by 1.5 by 0.4 inches, and the sleek white outer finish makes it look a lot cooler than your average voice recorder. On the top of the voice recorder are headphone and microphone jacks. On the right hand side are the play, stop, and record buttons. On the left hand side there is a slide switch where you can switch between voice recorder mode and music playing mode. There is a round Ok/Menu button on the front of the recorder, when you press it quickly it acts as a play button, but when you hold it down it will bring you to a menu with more options. One of the coolest things about the WS-321M is its ability to break apart and plug into a USB port. There are no cables needed, it essentially turns into a jump/USB drive.


The WS-321M is designed to make transferring music from your pc to the player a breeze. You can use Windows Media Player or just simply drag and drop from any file managing utility. Since the WS-321M operates much like a jump drive/storage device your PC will recognize it as another drive when you plug into your computer. You can arrange songs by artist, album, or genre. You can create folder names for each artist. There a shuffle mode as well.


If you want to record music with the WS-321M it may not meet your expectations, the recorder is primarily designed for voice recording. The WS-321M works great for playing podcasts and your music collection but you shouldn’t buy it just for the music playing aspect. You should buy it only if you are planning on using it primarily as a voice recorder. The voice recording functions on the recorder are powerful enough for professional use. The recorder should perform well enough for doctors, journalists and businessmen.


Despite all the music playback abilities of the WS-321M, it is after all a digital voice recorder and that is what it was built for. The microphone has two recording modes for different recording environments. There is dictation mode which has a lower sensitivity and is designed for individual recording or a one on one conversation. The other mode is conference mode which has a higher sensitivity and is designed for lectures or wherever there is a large group of people. One of the neat things that you can do with the WS-321M is attach an external tie clip microphone (Olympus Tie-Clip Microphone ME-52W), you can put the recorder in the pocket of whoever is giving a lecture and have the microphone next to the speakers mouth for a higher quality recording.


Sometimes recordings can have background noise which can make playback difficult to understand. No need to worry because the WS-321M has a noise-canceling function and a voice filter for better quality playback. Noise cancel can be enabled to reduce background noise in recordings made in noisy surroundings. In effect, the function treats the loudest sounds as the most important and reduces other sounds to make dictation clearer. Voice Filter enhances the human voice by cutting low and high frequency noises during playback. Also, for transcribing your recordings, the WS-321M has slow and fast playback speed variations.


There are only a few things that I didn’t like about the recorder. Since the voice recorder is so small, the built in speaker is tiny and isn’t very loud or high quality. When using the external speaker I found myself putting the recorder up to my ear so I could hear it. If you are going to playback music or your voice recordings, I would highly recommend using the earphones that come with it. The screen size is a little bit small but it does what it needs to do. Other than that, I couldn’t really find anything else that bothered me about the recorder.


When it comes down to it, the Olympus WS-321M digital voice recorder is a well rounded unit. It is powerful enough for professional use but can also double as a fun music playing device. If you are looking for a recorder that is good enough for professional use, the WS-321M will do everything you will need it to do. The music playback abilities are a plus but I wouldn’t use the WS-321M as your primary music player.


© RecorderGear.com (Dan Robison)


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