Friday, September 7, 2007

The ideal digital voice recorder (audio)

I've been searching for a new digital voice recorder. My wish list of features:

1. Connects to computer via USB, for a simple, reliable physical connection to computer so I can transfer voice files easily and quickly.

2. Windows automatically recognizes the recorder as a 'storage device', so I can transfer voice files easily and quickly. No proprietary software needed to connect to and access the recorder.

3. Records in MP3 format, so I can use any computer to play interviews back in 2, 3 or 5 years.

4. Has line-in, mic-in and line-out connectors.

Line-in for recording high quality sound from a 'line
out' jack on another device.

Mic-in for using generic external microphones (like
lavaliere mic's.)

Line-out for recording your files to any other device
with a 'line in' jack.

5. Records CD quality (128 bit)

My podcasting friends tell me that this is the minimum
for good quality voice files for radio, podcasting or
video production.

6. Has removable memory, preferably on standard SD cards.

When the recorder memory is filled up (on a long trip, or a long series of
interviews) it's nice to have the option of swapping memory.

7. Uses standard AA or AAA batteries.

8. Small and unobtrusive

When I'm interviewing someone, I always ask first if
it's OK to record.

If they are comfortable with recording, and give me a
clear "yes," I like to start the recorder and place it
on the table between us.

If the recorder is small and unobtrusive, people tend
to forget about the recorder and we establish a
personal connection. I think I get better interviews
this way.

8. Intuitive controls.

If I'm interviewing someone, I want to be able to
start and stop the recorder quickly, without fiddling
with the controls or accidentally pressing the wrong button.

Also, I want to be able to tell at a glance that I'm

The only recorder I've found so far the meets most of these requirements is the Zoom H4 mobile field recorder. Only down-side I see so far is that is a bit larger and more 'attention getting' than I'd like, and it's relatively expensive.

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