Today, I’m trying out something new. Using a voice recorder, I’m going to dictate this post, transcribe it, then publish it. And today is the perfect day to try dictating, as I’m penning this post on best digital voice recorders for writers. This year, I do plan to write a lot of posts, so I do want to see if this is a better, more efficient option than staring at the blinking cursor! Let’s get to it.
Do you really need a voice recorder? Could you use your phone to assist you in writing your book? Yes you can. But your phone’s audio recording capability is simply not good enough. Buying a digital recorder will save you (and your transcriber) a lot of time trying to figure out what was said.
Believe me, getting a dedicated voice recorder for writing your book is a sound investment. So, what are the 3 things you need to consider when choosing the best digital voice recorder for writing a book?
Interviews vs Dictation
First, you’ll need to think about the source material for your book, article, post etc. Are you planning to dictate your book or do you plan to conduct interviews and use your research as the basis for your book? Because, if you plan to conduct interviews, you’ll need to get a recorder that’s good at recording interviews (here’s a detailed post on best recorders for interviews).
If you plan to dictate your book, you need to get a recorder that is good at recording dictations (here’s a detailed post on best recorders for 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 dictating your book.
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.
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 to dictate 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.
A key feature to look for when choosing a voice recorder for writing a book 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 all have a USB port that’ll enable you to easily transfer your dictations and interviews to your computer.
With that out of the way, what are the 3 recorders that I recommend for writers.
1. Sony ICD-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, 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 of the Sony ux560. 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.
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.
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
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.
PS: My experience writing this post made me realize that dictating and writing are dissimilar. Once I’ve written a post, I do very little editing. But this post required a lot of editing after transcription – I guess I’m not a very good dictator! But I plan to get better, here are a couple of great posts on how to dictate. Enjoy.