What Can A Digital Voice Recorder Do?

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Digital voice recorders are the new generation of the old dictation tape recorders used to take notes quickly and easily, but they use digital memory chips instead of tapes.

Digital voice recorders, unlike generations of predecessors, don't rely on tapes. They store sound in their own internal memory. A few models do use SmartMedia cards or similar media to allow extra storage, but the vast majority don't. Depending upon the model, recorders may store anywhere from two hours of voice to more than 40 hours, although another factor that will limit recording time is the level of quality. With some models, you can adjust the quality of the sound recording, but you will usually have to sacrifice quality for extra recording time.

These are small devices, but they usually provide jacks where you can plug in an external microphone and external earphones or headphones. Otherwise, you can simply rely on the microphone and speaker already built in to the device. Like any other voice-recording device, digital voice recorders have buttons for adjusting the volume and for recording, playing back, and erasing the recorded sounds. Once you get past the basic features, it begins to get interesting!

In the world of computer sound files, there are many different sound formats, and the format(s) used by your digital voice recorder will vary depending on the model. For instance, Olympus W-10 creates sound files in WAV format, a popular format used since 1992. Devices designed not only with voice but also with music in mind may use the newer MP3 format, although you will not normally need this level of quality for ordinary voice recording. Some models may use the newer WMA (Windows Media Audio) format. Different manufacturers may also use other formats that are designed for their own hardware and software.

As you shop for a digital voice recorder, pay close attention to the format or formats used by the device. The newer formats may give you better quality and/or may do a better job of compressing the sound files so they don't take up so much room on the recorder or on your PC. But the newer formats may not yet be popular enough to have a lot of software designed to edit the sound files.

Think of the digital voice recorder as a very small computer. It stores sounds as small computer files. Most digital voice recorders allow you to store hundreds of sound files and they allow you to organize them into multiple folders. For instance, Olympus W-10 lets one store audio files in two different folders of up to 100 files in each. (It uses a separate folder for the images captured by the camera.)

Some high-end digital voice recorders are capable of recording voice at a high enough quality that it can be used with speech recognition software on your PC (such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking). This means that you can dictate your family history into the recorder, transfer it to the PC, and have the speech recognition software convert the sounds into text.

Digital voice recorders files are so much easier to download than a DAT recorder. DAT is much better quality and essential if you want to broadcast any of the recordings in the future.

DAT recorder can capture CD-quality audio, DAT recorders are popular among electronic media journalists for recording quotes to air on television and radio. Digital voice recorders can't capture CD-quality audio. Professional musicians often use DAT recorders, too. Importing DAT recordings into a computer is more complicated than importing digital voice recorder files. DAT recordings require far greater storage space, too. And DAT recorders are expensive. For example, Sony's TCD-D100 Recording DAT Walkman lists for $900. Digital voice recorders, by comparison, are often about $200. Sony recently came out with a $300 model that can capture up to 6 hours on a Memory Stick.

About The Author

Doug Rowlands has been operating his own electronics firm for the past 15 years. He has written several articles concerning Digital Video Recorders and advises how to choose the right one and what to look for when deciding on which one to buy.

You can get further information from his following site at
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