Today, I’m going to try something new. I’m going to first dictate this post and then transcribe it. Thought I’d try it out today, because I’m penning this particular post on best digital voice recorders for writers. I do plan to write a lot of posts this year, so I do want to see if this is a better option than staring at the blinking cursor! Let’s get to it.

Do you really need a voice recorder? Could you use your phone? Yes you can. But your phone’s audio recording capability is simply not good enough. Buying a digital recorder will save you (or your transcriber) a lot of time trying to figure out what was said. Believe me, it’s a sound investment. So, what are the 3 things you need to consider about when choosing digital voice recorder to assist you with your writing?

Interviews vs Dictation

The first thing you want to think about is the source material of your book, article, post etc. Are you going to dictate your writing or are you planning to research/conduct interviews and use that information as the basis for your book? Because, if you plan to conduct interview, you’ll need to get a recorder that is good at recording interviews.

If you plan to dictate your book, you need to get a recorder that is good at recording dictations. There are recorders that are good for dictation and conducting interviews, and I’ll recommend one below. But they are pricey. If you plan to dictate and conduct interviews, and are on a budget, you may want to buy one recorder for interviews and another recorder for dictation.

External Microphone

Will you need external clip on microphones? The in-built recorder microphones are very good at recording conversation and dictations. However, there are a couple of instances when you’ll need to buy external clip on microphones. If you plan to conduct your interviews in a noisy location: restaurants, cafes, etc, you are going to need to use clip on microphones in order to record audio without background noise. Here is a great post on how to record interviews in a noisy location.

And if you want to dictate into your recorder while you’re out for a walk, washing dishes, having breakfast, while on a treadmill, you’ll also need to get clip on microphones to keep your hands free. If you do plan to use a clip on microphone, you’ll want to make sure that the digital recorder you get has a compatible mic input.

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Writers

The Giant Squid clip on microphone is a wonderful clip on microphone that is compatible with the 3 digital voice recorders that I recommend. I used it when dictating this post whilst having my morning cup of coffee and pancakes!

Transfer to Computer

Once you’re done dictating or conducting interviews, you’ll need to transfer the audio files to your computer and begin the process of transcription; scripting the audio recording into text.  There are some digital voice recorders that do not allow you to easily transfer your audio recording to your computer.

The key feature to look for when is a USB port or microSD slot. If a digital recorder does not have one of these features, it’ll be very difficult for you to transfer your recorded audio files to your computer. Having said that, the recorders I’m going to recommend have a USB port that’ll enable you to easily transfer your dictations to your computer.

With that out of the way, what are the 3 recorders that I recommend for writers.

1.      Sony ICD-ux560

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Writers ux560

The first one is the Sony ICD-ux560. This is a great recorder for recording interviews. And also works very well coupled with the Giant Squid lav microphone for recording interviews in noisy locations. It does capture amazing sound while using the internal microphones. Has an in-built battery that fully charges in less than 3 hours. 4GB internal memory – that’s more than 42 hours of recording while using the 192kbps mp3 mode. And you can expand your storage capacity using a microSD. Very light – and easily fits into a pocket.

I could go on, but here’s a detailed review. The only major drawback of this recorder is the lack of a overwrite function – which makes it not ideal for dictation. If you plan to conduct interviews, get this recorder from Amazon. You won’t regret it.

2.      Sony ICD-PX240

The Sony ICD-PX240 is a wonderful dictation voice recorder. Unlike the ux560, it has an Overwrite and Add function. That’s the function that you’ll use to “type over” your dictations. The add function is useful for those instances when you realize that you missed something and you’d like to add it to the dictation without deleting what you’ve already recorded.

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Writers px240

It comes with a USB port that allows you to copy your dictations to your computer or power the recorder – very useful if you are recording for an extended period and you don’t want to rely on AAA batteries. And also works really well with the

With 4GB internal memory, that allows you to record 43 hours of super high quality (192kbps mp3) audio, you’ll have more than enough storage for your dictations. Runs on 2 AAA batteries, Alkaline or NH rechargeable batteries, but you cannot recharge the batteries using the recorder.

Really like this recorder, it’s inexpensive and has everything you need for dictating your book. And the sound quality is quite good considering it’s a mono recorder – more than adequate for dictations. Buy it now on Amazon.

3.     Olympus DS-9000

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Writers DS-9000

As promised, my final recommendation is a recorder that’s very good at recording interviews and dictations. The Olympus DS-9000 is a professional voice recorder that comes with a myriad of functions and features – including the ability to control it using a foot pedal! And you can upgrade to the DS-9500 that has even more features.

DS-9000 supports the Append, Overwrite, and Insert functions. The append function enables you to add a new recording to the end of a previously recorded file. The overwrite function allows you add a new recording from a selected position of a previously recorded dictation and delete the rest of the file from the selected position. The insert function adds audio into the middle of a previously recorded dictation without deleting the previous recording. 

As you can imagine, the Olympus DS-9000 is not cheap, but it does come with some features that you’ll not find on other cheaper(?) recorders. For instance, it’ll allow you to encrypt and password protect your recordings. If you are working with sensitive data, this is an important feature that’ll protect your recordings in case you lose the recorder. Buy it now on Amazon.

That’s it for this post. Hope you’ve found it useful. If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, feel free to post them in the comment section below. And keep us mind for all of your interview and dictation transcription needs.

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