Best Voice Recorders of 2017
Buying Guide and Review
Voice recorders are great for recording interviews, class lectures, memos and more. They are also useful for secretaries, for authors when they want to record their ideas, reporters, and transcriptionists. You can save time by using them to take notes verbally, instead of spending a lot of time taking notes by hand. Voice recorders also help you to create audio podcasts and record musical arrangements.
You can also use them to record memories with your family and friends. Maybe when your child begins to say his first words, or when your older relatives are telling stories. Those personal recordings can even be burned to CDs to share with others.
Now you might be wondering what the advantages are of buying a voice recorder when your smartphone records just fine. Smartphones are fine for an occasional recording, but if you will be making recordings regularly, a voice recorder is a great tool to have. If you will be making recordings a few times a week for school, work, or personal use, your smartphone likely will not have the memory space to keep all of those recordings like a voice recorder can. Not only can they hold much more information than your smartphone, but they also make better quality recordings. Voice recorders also have a much longer battery life than smartphones.
There are tons of options out there, so we want to help you to choose the best recorder to meet your needs. First, we will talk about the types of voice recorders. Then, our buyer’s guide will inform you on all the things you need to look for to choose the best recorder. Lastly, a list of the top 10 best voice recorders will help you to narrow down your search.
Best Voice Recorder of 2017
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1. Olympus VN-7200 - Winner of the Best Voice Recorder of 2017
Rated as the best digital voice recorder, the Olympus VN-7200 offers a whopping 1,151 hours of recording time when in LP (low) mode. The other recording modes are SP (standard) and HQ (high quality) to allow you to get the best sound quality in different kinds of situations. It has 2GB of storage built-in.
You can use the voice activation feature when you want it to immediately start recording when it picks up a sound and stop recording when the sound goes away. This makes it easy to record what you need without having to press any buttons. The “record” and “stop” buttons make it easy to use while the toggle wheel lets you skip through recordings to find the specific one that you want. All of the buttons are well placed for a user-friendly design.
When it is time to listen to your recordings, you can choose to listen to them 25% slower or 50% faster. This is helpful when you want to speed past certain parts to listen to a specific section of the recording. Or you may want to listen to it slower when you want to pick up certain details. The index marks feature is useful to mark a particular point in a recording for easy retrieval.
The VN-7200 is small and lightweight- easy to carry in your pocket or throw into your bag. You can carry it anywhere and use it anytime you want.
Even though it has some extra features like voice activation and 3 different recording settings, this Olympus voice recorder is inexpensive and perfect if you want a good quality recorder with a budget-friendly price tag. It is the best recorder if you want to record lectures, interviews, and voice memos.
2. Sony ICD-PX312
With 2GB of built-in flash memory as well as a memory card slot, the Sony ICD-PX312 provides tons of storage. The built-in memory gives you up to 530 hours of recording time and you can purchase your own microSD card for more storage.The battery can last for 72 hours of recording. It is compatible with both PCs and MACs so that you can easily transfer recordings to your computer. You can then save, edit, and share your recordings.
The ICD-PX312 is perfect to use as an interview recorder. You can also use it to record live music, lectures, and notes. The large display and big buttons make controlling the device very easy. It records in MP3 format up to 192kbps to guarantee high quality recordings.
Featuring a scene select system, this MP3 voice recorder allows you to select pre-determined recording modes. Then, whether it’s recording music, notes, or lectures, the device will automatically adjust to the optimal recording settings. Use the headphone jack to plug in your own set of headphones for listening during playback. There is also a microphone jack so that you can plug in your own microphone.
Equipped with Sony’s innovative Intelligent Noise Cut™ technology, ambient noise is reduced significantly so that you can hear the playback clearly. You can use the “T-MARK” button when you want to mark a specific point in the recording and be able to easily find it later. You can use up to 98 track marks.
When you want to save recording time by only recording when there is sound instead of recording periods of silence as well, simply use the Voice Operated Recording function, which starts and stops the recording when a sufficient level of sound is picked up by the microphone. The A-B repeat feature lets you mark the beginning and ending of a certain recording and then that section will be played over and over. This is a great tool to use when learning a new language, since you can listen to the speaker over and over while practicing yourself.
Use the alarm to set a date and time when a selected recording will be automatically played. When you need to make a correction in the recording, you can overwrite the section you want to fix during playback.
The Digital Pitch Control allows you to listen to the recording faster or slower without changing the pitch. When trying to find a certain point in a recording, the ICD-PX312 rewinds or fast forwards slowly to make it easier to find the part you want.
This small recording device is multilingual, with the menu language available in English, French, or Spanish. The compact and light design makes it easy for you to take along with you to class, work, etc.
This Sony voice recorder comes with plenty of bells and whistles to make sure you get the best recording. It is definitely one of the best digital voice recorders.
3. Sony ICD-PX333
The next one on our list for the best voice recorders is the Sony ICD-PX333. It has 4GB of internal flash memory which gives you 1,073 hours of recording time in LP mode. When that is used up, you can insert your own micro SD memory card for even more recording space. The removable flash memory is also useful when you want to transfer files quickly and easily to a computer. There is a USB cable included to help you to do that.
Ideal to use for business, school, and personal dictation, the ICD-PX333 makes recording easy. The Scene Select function allows you to select a predetermined recording mode so that the recorder will automatically optimize the settings for recording lectures, notes, music, and more. This ensures you get the best quality recording no matter what situation you are in.
To produce a clearer recording, the Intelligent Noise Cut feature reduces ambient noise so that only the sound you want is recorded. When you want to hear a particular part of a recording over and over, use the AB repeat feature to listen to a particular portion repeatedly.
Track Mark allows you to mark up to 98 tracks in each recorded file which can be jumped to for playback.
Sometimes you may want to edit a certain portion of a recording. You can simply use the overwrite function to add to or overwrite sections of recording.
The Sony ICD-PX333 is a MP3 voice recorder and it has a battery life of up to 96 hours. It requires 2 AAA batteries to work. The Voice Activation feature allows the device to record only when it picks up sound. This eliminates periods of silence during playback.
Small, light, and compact, this recorder is easy to keep in your pocket or throw in your bag. It is a great budget option while still offering several useful features. The Sony ICD-PX333 is a great value.
4. Olympus VN-722PC
With 4GB of built-in memory, the Olympus VN-722PC offers 1,600 hours of recording time. The microSD slot provides the opportunity to add extra storage. The microSD slot accepts memory cards up to 32GB.
The straight-forward design features a large LCD screen, speaker, land large buttons for easy use. Even beginners will find this small recording device easy-to-use. The “Simple Mode” is a great function for beginners since it makes the device only list frequently used functions and displays text in a larger font.
It’s great to use as an interview recorder or for recording reminders and notes. Of course the options don’t just stop there; it is perfect for virtually anything that you want to record.
The large diameter microphone records sound from all directions, but reduces background noises for clearer recordings. It even eliminates breathing sounds which makes it perfect to use for dictation. You can use the built-in stand to prop up the back of the recorder so that you can easily view the display and access the buttons. The stand also helps to reduce noise emitted directly from the surface resulting in a clearer recording.
You can use the different scene selection modes to use the best mode according to the setting you are in. The “Telephone Recording” and “Duplication” features can be applied when the recorder is used in combination with other accessories. You can record telephone conversations or copy recordings from cassette tapes.
To help you to easily locate a specific recording, each recording is automatically marked with a date. You can quickly find the file you want according to the date that you made the recording. You can add up to 99 index marks to easily access specific points in recording.
The VN-722PC requires 2 AAA batteries and provides 100 hours of battery life. This is an advantage over using smartphones to record since their batteries die after several hours.
Included is a USB cable so that you can easily transfer files to your computer. The VN-722PC is a MP3 voice recorder and it records up to 320 kbps.
Also included on the device is a minijack headphone output and a stereo mini jack input for an optional external microphone. During playback you can adjust the speed- slow it down for careful review, or speed it up to pass quickly through certain spots.
If you want to make sure that you don’t accidently delete an important file, you can protect certain files from being erased or edited. This protection can be removed when you choose. The “hold” function locks the buttons to prevent accidental recordings.
5. Olympus DP-201
Equipped with 2GB of internal memory, the Olympus DP-210 recorder offers 202 hours of recording time. The battery lasts for 80 hours (when in SP mode) to provide a lot of uninterrupted recording time. It runs on two AAA batteries which are included.
The large LCD screen displays all of the important information like battery life, recording progress, note dates, and more. The PLAY, STOP, and RECORD buttons are located below the screen for easy access. The built-in speaker allows you to listen to playback without having to connect it to other audio equipment.
You can use the Playback Speed Control to adjust the speed when you listen to your recordings. Speed it up to skip to a certain part, or slow it down to listen for specific details. Slowing it down is useful for dictation.
To produce a clean and clear recording, the Noise Cancellation minimizes background noises. This feature is good to use in noisy areas like cafes or when outdoors. When you want to find a certain file without sifting through tons of recordings, simply use the Calendar Search function to search for files according to date. When you want to delete some files, you can erase all of the files from one day or you can erase them selectively, one by one.
To pick up quieter sounds, you can hit the mic sensitivity switch. If you prefer to use headphones instead of the built-in speaker to listen to playback, you can plug your headphones in via the headphone jack located on the top of the device.
Since it is small in size, it is easily portable. The DP-201 has a straightforward design and is easy to use. It is great to record your thoughts, ideas, and reminders. You can easily take it along with you to work or school to record lectures or business meetings.
6. Olympus VN-702PC
Equipped with 2GB internal memory as well as a microSD card slot. Records in MP3 and WMA format.
7. TASCAM DR-40
Features a four-track recording mode to offer you several recording options. The built-in condenser microphones produce a crystal clear playback.
8. Dictopro Digital Voice Recorder
This voice activated recorder offers 8GB of internal storage. You can use the included USB cable to transfer files to your MAC or PC. The two ultra-sensitive microphones provide HD quality recordings.
9. Sony ICD-UX533BLK
Comes with 4GB of internal flash memory to give you 1,073 hours of recording time. The microSD card slot provides space for extra storage. Can record and play back in MP3, AAC, WMA, and WAV formats.
This handy little recorder doubles as a 8GB flash drive. Recordings are saved in WAV format. It can store 96 hours of audio.
Best Voice Recorder Buying Guide
Before making your purchase, there are some important things to keep in mind.
Your budget: Fortunately, many of the best voice recorders are inexpensive, so you won’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good quality one. For a little bit more money though, you can get something that has more features and offers higher quality audio, but the choice is yours.
Memory: You want to purchase a voice recorder that offers a lot of memory. Some have only internal memory that requires you to move the files to your computer to free up space on the device. The ideal option is one that has built-in memory as well as a memory card slot to give you unlimited space for your recordings. Many digital memory cards can store up to 64GBs of data. Before purchasing a memory card, however, make sure it is compatible with your voice recorder. The amount of memory you require depends on what you will be recording.
What will you use it for? If you will be using it for recording interviews, conversations, or lectures that may have to be transcribed later, you will just want a voice recorder that records clearly. You won’t need an expensive recording to get the job done. When audio quality is more important, like when making voice recordings for music production, vlogs, or skits, you will need a higher quality recorder that offers some extra features. It will cost more. However, a basic interview recorder will be inexpensive and meet the needs for basic recording purposes.
Microphone jack: Most voice recorders have built-in microphones, but the ability to connect your own microphone is an advantage. Built-in mics capture all the surrounding sounds, picking up unwanted background noise. Built-in mics are fine to use in quiet rooms, but connecting you own mic allows you to make clear recordings even in noisy situations.
Easy-to-use: The design should be straightforward and the buttons should be easily accessible.
Durability: You will likely be taking your recorder to and from school or work so it should be made of sturdy materials to withstand a light amount of abuse.
Battery life: This ranges greatly depending on the recorder. The longer the battery life, the better.
File format: This is important to consider since not all formats can be played back on every device. Some file formats take up more space, reducing recording time. These are the most common file formats:
- DSS (Digital Speech Standard)- Requires additional software to play on computers.
- WMA (Windows Media Audio)- Compressed files, and can be played using Windows Media Player.
- WAV (Waveform)- Uncompressed files that take up a lot of space. An advantage is that they are high-quality files.
- MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3)- Compressed files that have almost the same quality as WAV files but take up much less storage.
Noise cancellation is a good feature to have when you need to record outdoors or when in noisy places.The voice recorder will reduce background noise to produce a clearer recording.
Voice activated recorders stay in hibernation mode until they detect a voice, and then they automatically start recording. Since this may cause a little delay in recording, they are not ideal to use for dictation purposes. You can use them to eliminate periods of silence in recordings. They are also used to do secret recordings by surveillance people and law enforcement.
Track marks are helpful when you want to mark a certain point in a recording to come back to later.
Some recorders let you slow down or speed up the playback. You can use that feature to skim over certain parts of the recording while carefully listening to other parts.
If you want a small recording device, there are miniature digital recorders available. They are very small and sometimes double as a pen or USB.
Check out the video below to see how to transfer files from a voice recorder onto a computer:
The Different Types Of Voice Recorders
There are two main types of voice recorders:
Analog Voice Recorders
Analog voice recorders record directly onto cassettes. Once one cassette is full, you simply pop in a new one. They are the cheapest type of voice recorder. They are ideal if you don’t need to keep many recordings, since having many cassette tapes can be inconvenient and take up space. There are different types cassette tapes you can purchase, all with different lengths of time you can record for.
Since analog recorders they have to be big enough to store a cassette tape, they are bulkier and heavier than digital voice recorders. When you want to play back a recording, you have to fast forward or rewind to find the one you want. Since the recordings are not stored digitally, if the cassettes are lost or damaged, the recordings are lost. If you have a tight budget, however, an analog voice recorder may be the option for you.
Digital Voice Recorders
This type of voice recorder is the one of the most popular types. They convert sound to a digital file and do not require cassette tapes. Once you have made a recording, you can then play it on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This allows you to keep many recordings on file. The recordings can be then be published on a website if you do podcasting.
Digital voice recorders last for much longer than analog recorders and you don’t need to keep changing cassette tapes. The elimination of cassette tapes saves considerably on storage, since you won’t be storing away loads of tapes somewhere. You can conveniently store all the recordings you want on your computer and keep them as long as you want.
Digital voice recorders produce better quality recordings than analog recorders.The best digital voice recorders can even eliminate unwanted background noise to produce the best clarity. This allows you to get the best possible recording. Digital recorders are more expensive than analog recorders. They are small, compact, and easy to take around with you.
Voice recorders are useful for many things and are a big step up from just using a recording app on your smartphone. They make taking notes in class hassle-free, help you remember what happened during business meetings, record your favorite live band, allow you to treasure precious moments with your friends and family, and much more.
Since voice recorders have so many uses, choosing the best one is important since you will get a lot of use out of it. Most people are buying digital voice recorders instead of analog recorders.
One of the most important things to pay attention to is the memory storage. If you will be using the recorder on a regular basis, you may want to opt for one that has a microSD slot. Be sure to also pay attention to the file format that it records in to make sure it is compatible with your equipment. Decide if you want extra features, like a voice activated mode.
Our list of the top 10 picks are based on user reviews and will help you to narrow your search and find the best one for you.