In this ultimate guide, you’ll find everything there is to know about voice recorders.
After more than 70 hours of research and testing out 24 digital recorders, we’ve found the best digital voice recorders in 2018.
Take a look:
Best Digital Voice Recorders 2018
With professional quality stereo recording, the Zoom H1 was designed to be affordable and slip into a pocket for easy portability. It can be used for a variety of purposes which includes live concerts, rehearsals, audio for video, lectures, and interviews.
With the X/Y technology, the recorder allows the user to utilize a wide area while still being able to capture audio in the center. This audio is still produced with clarity and definition which makes the H1 excellent for most live recordings. This technology has two matching unidirectional microphones. These microphones are set at 90° to each other.
If the X/Y technique is not enough, the user can connect two external microphones to provide further recording ability. It can support two files types which are WAV and MP3. The WAV files are uncompressed while the MP3 files are compressed.
This recorder has a backlit LCD display and allows the recordings to be put directly onto a microSD or microSDHC card. It has an auto-level feature where the recorder will automatically control the input level. The recorder also has a USB port to transfer data to a computer without hassle.
The Zoom H1 is versatile with the ability to produce crystal clear recordings in a variety of situations.
With X/Y technology, the H1 provides the user the ability to produce recordings that are clear even in loud situations.
It allows recordings to be put directly on the microSD card for easy transfer to another device.
From a variety of reports, the Zoom H1 only has ten hours of battery life which means a second battery is mandatory.
Some experts would call the Zoom H6 the most versatile portable recorder on the market today. This recorder can handle any job including live concerts, location videography, and music production. It comes with two capsules which are XYH-6 and MSH-6.
The XYH-6 capsule permits the user to do stereo X/Y recordings. It also gives the ability to adjust the width with dual large diaphragm microphone elements. This adjustment can be 90° to give a more focused sound or 120° to provide a wider stereo image. This capsule is picture-perfect for capturing sound effects or recording classical music.
The MSH-6 capsule allows the user to create a new level of precision which can shape the sound. This capsule contains a unidirectional mic that is forward-facing and a bi-directional mic which is side-facing. The Zoom H6 has an MS decoder that these two microphones work in conjunction. This working together provides the means to capture a mono-compatible stereo image. This image can even be adjusted after recording. This capsule is flawless for television projects, films, and videos.
If these two mic capsules are not enough, the H6 is compatible with a variety of other capsules which include SGH-6 Shotgun, XYH-5 shock-mounted X/Y microphone capsule, and EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS capsule. Each of these capsules brings extra microphone power but must be purchased separately.
The Zoom H6 comes with two capsules which are XYH-6 and MSH-6 to recording basically anywhere.
It allows the user to connect an SGH-6 Shotgun microphone capsule to add a profession aspect to the recording.
With a maximum SD card size of 128 GB and a battery life of 20 hours, the user can record hours of audio and video files.
The Zoom H6 offers a variety of microphone capsules, but only two of them are provided with the recorder.
EVISTR Digital Voice Recorder- Best Voice Recorders for Students
With 8G memory, this affordable recorder can store over 500 hours of recorded files. The built-in rechargeable battery allows for twenty hours of continuous recording for a single charge. With a choice of six recording formats, this compact recorder could possibly meet anyone’s recording needs.
This unit has a built-in MP3 Player which permits the user to playback recordings or listen to music. It is also equipped with a premium speaker to give the user a fantastic listening experience. The EVISTR has an external microphone jack to ensure sound quality. It also has a line-in function to allow the user to record audio files from other devices.
This recorder has an LCD display. This lightweight recorder is pocket size to give the user easy access to the specially designed buttons. This voice-activated recorder will only begin recording when the person speaks loud enough. This feature saves storage space.
This machine also offers a feature where the user can directly delete a file from the unit.
The EVISTR has six recording types and 128kpbs quality recording to ensure the user gets the best audio file.
This recorder has an MP3 player to permit the user to playback the recorded audio data on the recorder directly.
It also has a LINE-IN function and external microphone jack which allows the person to do a variety of tasks efficiently.
This particular recorder does not support the use of a micro card to provide extra memory.
This recorder will accept microphones or line inputs with its locking XLR inputs. These microphones can be pro-grade condensers or affordable off the shelf models. The line-in and out connectors are included with each purchase.
The TASCAM DR-100mkII comes with two sets of microphones which gives it a total of four. Two of the built-in mics are cardioid, and the other two are omnidirectional. With these much power for the microphones, these recorders can delivery some excellent, clear recordings.
With a dual battery setup, this recorder can be used for hours of recording. With an aluminum frame, this recorder was built sturdy and durable. The recording features are high-end to enable musicians and engineers to demand more from the TASCAM DR-100mkII voice recorder.
It can produce two different types of files. The first file type is WAV which has a quantization bit rate of 16bit / 24bit. The second file type is MP3 which has a playback bit rate of 32kbps to 320kbps.
The TASCAM DR-100mkII has a locking XLR input which accepts balanced microphones or line inputs.
It has two sets of microphones which can be used cardioid or omnidirectional pickup.
With a 2GB SD card included, this recorder is ready to use for hours right out of the box.
Some reviewers suggest the user must practice with the unit because it can be challenging to use it.
Zoom H4N Pro
With a playback resolution up to 24-bit/96kHz, the Zoom H4N provides high performance and precise recordings. The noise floor of this recorder falls at -120 dBu EIN. With this noise level, it can produce a recording with audio at lower volumes that have fewer artifacts and less noise.
An X/Y stereo microphone comes built-in with this unit. With this type of microphone and low noise floor, it is possible to record at the Indy 500 or the fluttering of a bird’s wing. This fact makes this recorder versatile and excellent for secret recording.
It can utilize an SD card of up to 32 GB providing hours of recording time. A user can also make use of a remote for this recorder which can be convenient in a variety of situations. A fully charged alkaline battery can provide from six to ten hours of continuous usage.
It has a four-track audio recording system which is fabulous for film, music, podcasting, etc. This unit has a 1/8” inch stereo input that can be used for a microphone. It is even possible to take WAV recording that has been recorded on different devices and transfer them to an SD card. Once the files have been transferred, this unit can playback the recordings.
The Zoom H4N Pro has fantastic high-performance Mic Preamps that produces audio recordings at resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz.
With 32 GB storage and up to ten hours of battery life, this recorder can be utilized for most situations.
The Zoom H4N Pro has the capability of playing WAV recording from different devices.
The user of the Zoom H4N Pro must invest in SD/SDHC cards to begin recording.
Olympus DS-3500- Best Voice Recorder for Interviews
With a DSS Pro or DSS, a person has the ability to insert, append, partially erase, and overwrite audio recordings at a push of a button. It was specifically designed to streamline operations and increase efficiency in the workplace and other professional environments.
It has a variety of features which include security that is enhanced, integration of the workflow, flexibility, and sound quality. With a required password and 128- or 256- bit AES encryption, this recorder definitely has enhanced security for workplaces that have sensitive information.
The Olympus comes with the ODMS (Olympus Dictation Management System) software. This software works well with Nuance Dragon software which makes the DS-3500 ready to be included in any office dictation workflow. With other features such as audio codes and indexing options, this recorder is one of the most flexible on the market.
When the DS-3500 was redesigned, it included a microphone that was created for speech-optimization to create a flawless sound reproduction. This device will support WAV, MP3, DSS, and DSS Pro recording formats.
Some of the key other features of this recorder include push-button controls, LCD backlight, rechargeable battery, 2GB of internal memory, voice activated recording, volume level range from 0 to 30, and seven folders with changeable names.
This recorder allows the user to set a personalized welcome message when it is initially programmed.
Olympus DS-3500 has the ability to remind the user of important dates by giving off a settable alarm with a beeping noise.
The 2-inch color LCD screen makes this recorder the perfect gift for a person who does interviews.
The rechargeable battery only lasts for 21 hours which means a person may need to buy a second battery.
Philips DPM 6000- Best Voice Recorders for Journalists
With SpeechExec Dictate software, the Philips DPM 6000 is the perfect recorder for journalists and other professionals who conduct multiple interviews. This software organizes dictation files which allow the transcriptionist and author an excellent avenue for communication.
This pocket recorder has two microphones which will deliver superior quality for all audio recordings and dictations. It has a stainless steel design which is lightweight and ensures perfect ergonomics. With power saver features and a high capacity battery, this recorder allows the user to work longer periods of time. When the battery does need to be recharged, it is easy by using a USB connection.
The microphones that are built-in ensure the user will get superior stereo audio recordings. These recordings are crystal clear and are fabulous for speech recognition situations. The DPM 6000 has the ability to set priorities which indicated which recordings should be processed first.
This recorder also allows the user to control all of the playbacks and recording functions with a single hand. This control also permits the user to efficiently and quickly edit, insert, overwrite, etc. a file with just a push of a button.
The Philips DPM 6000 comes with SpeechExec Dictate software which makes it an excellent choice for journalists.
The built-in microphones guarantee the user will experience superior audio quality with each recording.
With priority settings, the transcriptionist and author are aware of which files are the priority.
Some reviewers were considered about the durability of the device vs. the price of the device.
This recorder is an affordable way to record needed notes, meetings, lectures, and more. It has a built-in 2GB memory that can hold up to 843 hours of audio when using LP mode. When two alkaline ‘AAA’ batteries are installed, the VN-8100PC will work continuously for up to 51 hours.
The USB connectivity of this recorder allows the user to quickly and effectively connect to a computer to transfer files. Once the files are transferred, the user can email, edit, or store the files directly on the PC.
Both WMA and MP3 files can be created with this Olympus.
It also comes standard with a large LCD which makes it easy and quick to locate files, view status of recordings, and the current battery life. This LCD also allows the user to adjust the size of the characters to personalize it.
The recorder can automatically adjust to ensure it is capturing the best sound regardless of the situation. A person can be in a conference room, large area, or in the privacy of a home and this unit will provide similar results.
With the ability to record 843 hours of audio and a battery life of 51 hours, a person would not need to recharge or empty the storage for days.
The user can connect the recorder directly to a computer to transfer files to email, edit, or store.
The Olympus VN-8100PC can record in two different file types which are WMA and MP3.
When first purchasing the VN-8100PC, the unit does not come with rechargeable batteries.
This Sony ICD-UX533 is ideal for voice recordings in business, school, or music. It is a three-in-one device that captures recordings in stereo, stores files by using a memory stick, and plays MP3 formatted music. It contains a highly sensitive S-Microphone System that guarantees less noise and a wider range of the recording.
The recorder supports a variety of formats including MP3, WMA, and AAC. It will allow the user to playback and listen to all three formats by using a 90 mW front speaker. With this device, Sony has provided the user with the ability to choose the type of recording to be captured. This ability includes choosing between music, meeting, interview, or dictation to allow for optimized setting for the recorder.
As with many of the recorders on this list, the ICD-UX533 has the ability to connect directly to a PC via a USB cable. With a large built-in memory, over 1000 hours of recordings can be safely saved. This device has an intelligent noise cut feature which enhances the human voice to get a clearer audible range.
The Sony ICD-UX533 is a three-in-one unit which captures, stores, and plays music/audio files.
It can be adjusted to provide the optimized opportunity to capture the recording regardless of the setting.
With the intelligent noise cut feature, this recorder gets an impressive clear audible range.
Some people have complained that when playback is occurring, there is not enough volume.
With this recorder, the microphone sensitivity will automatically adjust when using the Intelligent Auto Mode. This mode will automatically adjust the sensitivity based on the volume of the speaker. It is easy to set this function by selecting ‘Auto’ for the recording level in the main menu.
Olympus WS-852 offers the best for two types of users. The Simple Mode of this recorder is perfect for beginners. It displays only the most necessary information in a large bold font. This mode also limits the functions available in the menu to the ones that are most frequently used. For the more advanced user, the Normal Mode will give access to all functions and features.
This recorder comes with a built-in stand. This stand is located on the back of the body of the recorder. It is designed to decrease the amount of noise that is produced when a recorder is placed on a flat surface. It is similar to a kickstand that allows the user to read the menu without looking down.
With over 100 hours of battery life, this recorder is the best on this list. It also has over 1000 hours of memory available making it one of the best on the market.
The microphone sensitivity will automatically adjust in Intelligent Auto Mode.
It has two modes to support the beginner and the expert with just a push of a button.
The Olympus WS-852 has a built-in stand to make it convenient for the user and to reduce excessive noise from vibrations.
Some users have said that the playback and quality were better with their smartphones.
Voice Recorder Buying Guide
Why use a person use a voice recorder?
A voice recorder can be used for a variety of reasons. A student may want to record a teacher’s lecture to review later. Anyone sitting in a seminar may wish to record the workshop for later use. When conducting an interview, the interviewer may want to record the conversion to get direct quotes later. A journalist may record conversations for evidence.
What is recording etiquette?
A recording device should never be a distraction in the situation. All of the sounds and the backlight associated with the device should be off. The recorder should be in an area that is unobtrusive. Most of the time, the person recording should ask the other person if it is okay to record. Finally, it is important to label the recording to refer to at a later time.
Should a person record a lecture?
Research supports the idea of a student recording a lecture. A study found that 79.9% of students felt that it was easier to learn when the lecture was recorded. It was also suggested that recording a lecture or conversation reduced anxiety in 69% of the people who were polled.
What is the best equipment to record lectures?
A digital recorder is best suited for recording lectures. Phones, laptops, and iPads have microphones meant for close range recording. In a classroom or lecture hall, it may be impossible to get close enough to the speaker to get a clear recording. The best voice recorder for lectures is a digital Dictaphone.
Where should the recorder be located?
Even when using a Dictaphone, the recorder needs to be as close to the speaker as possible. If the speaker does not mind, a table or desk close to him or she would be the ideal location. If this is impossible, a person can sit on the side to ensure fewer people are around to dampen the speaker’s voice. It is important to not sit next to someone who is sick, because the recorder may only pick up that person’s coughs and sneezes.
Is ease of use important when selecting a voice recorder?
This feature may be necessary for certain situations. If the recorder has complicated settings or buttons, a person may get frustrated trying to use it or may not use it at all. It is also possible that the user thinks it is recording when it is not. Overall, the digital voice recorders should be extremely easy to use, so it gets used.
Should a person use a smartphone or dedicated recording device?
A dedicated recording device has various advantages over most smartphones. These benefits include longer battery life, easier to use for recording, extra features focused on recording, and excellent sound quality.
How much recording time is needed?
This question depends on what is being recorded. Some recorders can record over 1000 hours of data, but this number may not be accurate for all recorders. More time does not always mean quality. For example, a high-quality recording would use more recording time. Stereo and high-fidelity type of formats will also require more storage. It is important to note that recording time is linked to memory capacity.
Can a voice to text recorder transcribe words without issues?
Many people believe that voice to text recorders are capable of transcribing voice into text automatically. This belief is incorrect. If a person wants to transcribe the voice files, a different type of software must be used. An example of this software is Dragon Naturally Speaking.
What is the typical weight of a recorder?
Most voice recorders are compact which would be about the size of a smartphone. Many voice recorders only weigh a few ounces, but this description does not match high-quality units. The units that have various additional features are generally larger and weigh ten ounces or more.
What is the price range of voice recorders?
This question is a little tricky because the price of a recorder directly correlates with the number of features available on the recorder. A USB flash drive recorder for around $30 but a more comprehensive recorder can be $400 or more. If a person just needs a simple recorder, the $30 with only an on and off switch will work.
What is the first step when purchasing a digital voice recorder?
The first step is deciding which features are mandatory and which features are wanted. Some of the most critical elements to consider are price and sound quality. These two features should be the only compulsory features because they have the most significant impact on the final soundtrack. Some digital voice recorders have other features that are convenient for the user. These types of features will increase the price, so a person can choose as many of these features that will fit within a budget.
What are the benefits of a voice recorder?
Voice recorders are one of the few devices that allow the user to record audio into a variety of file types and qualities. Some recorders come with large internal memories while others have a place to connect external memory cards. They are cheaper when compare to other recording devices. Finally, a voice recorder is excellent for on-the-go recording due to its small compact size.
Is memory important in a voice recorder?
Memory is what determines the length of record time. Some units have only internal memory while others offer external slots for memory. When purchasing a voice recorder, memory should be a central consideration. The amount of money an individual will need depends on what will be recorded.
Should the recorder have a microphone jack?
Typically, voice recorders have microphones built-in. However, if a recorder can connect another microphone, it is an advantage for the user. Built-in microphones are great when recording in a quiet room, but connecting a microphone allows the user to get a clear recording in extremely noisy situations.
What type of file formats should be used?
File format should also be considered when choosing a recorder because different formats use more space. Some of the most common file formats are DSS, WMA, WAV, and MP3. DSS stands for digital speech standard which needs special software to playback on a computer. WMA is Windows Media Audio which is compressed files. These files can be used with Windows Media Players. WAV stands for Waveform which is not compressed and takes up a lot of space. These files are high-quality. MP3 are MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 files that have the same quality as WAV files, but they are compressed.
What is a voice-activated recorder?
A voice-activated recorder stays in a sleep mode until they hear a voice. When the recorder detects the voice, it begins to record automatically. This delay may cause a pause when recording where vital information can be lost. These types of recorders do not perform well for dictation purposes but are excellent for secret recording used by law enforcement agencies.
What is an analog voice recorder?
This type of recorder records onto cassettes tapes. The cassette gets full, and then the user pops a new one into the recorder. This recorder is the most affordable type available. They are excellent for people who do not need to save multiple recording for long periods of time. Analog recorders are much larger than digital recorders because they have to be big enough to hold a cassette. A cassette can be damaged easily, and then the recording will be lost forever.
What do digital voice recorders do for the user?
Instead of recording data onto a cassette, a digital recorder converts informational sound into a digital file. They are the most popular type of recorder because these files can be played on a smartphone, computer, or tablet. They also last longer than analog voice recorder, and they do not have the inconvenience of a cassette tape. The recordings from digital recorder are much better quality than from analog also. A person using a digital recorder can even remove background noise from the recordings.
Can the information be recorded on a smartphone?
Most items can be recorded on a smartphone, but most smartphones will not give the best results. When compared, the recording on a digital recorder outperformed the smartphone in all categories except for noise cancellation.
What kind of sound quality is needed?
The kind of sound quality needed depends on the reason for the recording. Some excellent sound quality can be found in very affordable units. If a person is recording a podcast, the sound quality has to be better than when recording class lectures. Pro-grade recorders are needed for professional broadcasts and music recording.
Are headphones needed for playback?
Headphones are not needed for playback. However, even the best recorders can only pack so much power into their small speakers. Headphones will improve sound quality which makes listening much easier.
Can a digital voice recorder be used anywhere?
Digital voice recorders are great for most situations such as classroom or conference room recordings. In noisy restaurants or windy outdoors situations, a step-up model with an extra powerful microphone will probably be needed. These models typically come with better noise reduction also.
Is a backlit screen necessary?
When recording in low-light settings, a backlight is an added benefit but not necessary. Most recorders have physical buttons that can do basic items (turn it on/off, record, stop recording, etc.) by touch alone. It is necessary to have a backlit screen if a person has to search in the menu during low-light situations.
What are notetaking recorders used for?
This type of recorder is referred to as Dictaphones. They are used primarily for taking voice memos. These memos are meant to remind the user of ideas, invitations, lists, and any other important events. These recordings are typically played back from the recorder itself.
What are dictation recorders?
A dictation recorder is used by businessmen and women to dictate information into a recorder so a secretary or transcriber can transcript the data later. For example, a doctor will use a dictation recorder for medical notes. These recorders have advanced systems for filing which makes it easy to download multiple files.
Can voice recorders record live music?
Voice recorders can record live music, but they must produce high-quality recordings. Live bands, music lessons, rehearsals, etc. can all be recorded with a higher end voice recorder. The recorder must have an excellent microphone and recording frequencies to be able to record live music.
Are there voice recorders for the visually impaired?
A variety of voice recorders are available for the visually impaired. These recorders come with features such as tactile precision buttons, voice guidance menus, and intuitive operation.
What should be considered when purchasing a recorder?
A variety of items should be considered when a person is buying an audio recorder. Budget is a critical consideration because it is possible to get a fantastic recorder at affordable prices. Memory is another important consideration because too much money is a waste of money and too little memory can be frustrating. One question the customer should ask is what the purpose of owning a recorder is. This question is vital in choosing the most appropriate recorder.
What are some additional features to consider?
Each recorder can offer a variety of features. However, three of the most vital features are voice-activated, noise cancellation, and track marks. A voice activation feature is great when a person wants to secretly record another person. Law enforcement and surveillance people use this type of recorder. Noise cancellation is essential when the recorder will be used outdoor or other noisy environments. Track marks allow the user to mark points in recordings to easily find that point later.
A person can use voice recorders for a variety of purposes. It may be difficult to choose the best version for the situation, but hopefully, this review has prepared a person for this task.