Best Digital Voice Recorder with Overwrite Function

Olympus DS-9000

So. Yesterday, I opened my email and found this question from a reader. “[Sony ICD-]ux560 was provided by my company for dictation purposes. Unless I missed something, it doesn’t seem to allow me to “edit as I go”.  In other words, I dictate a paragraph or sentence, review it and want to “redo” it…or I misspeak and, before continuing, I want to correct (i.e. “type over”) what I just said.  Is that possible?  If not, any recommendations for another recorder? Ren.

And it got me reminiscing the good old days of tape recorders (boy, do I miss those). When you could stop a recording, rewind, hit record and redo another take. Is this possible with modern digital voice recorders? Yes it is. Though it’s a function that only found in digital voice recorders that are primarily built for dictation. It’s commonly known as an overwrite function.

How does it work? The overwrite function enables you add a new recording to a file from a selected point whilst deleting remainder of the file after the selected point. What Ren alluded to as “edit as you go”; and very similar to what you’d do on a tape recorder.  And the recorders that I’m going to recommend below also have an add/insert function that allows you to add a recording at a selected point whilst not deleting the remainder of the file. Very cool.

The voice recorders that I recommend for recording interviews, lectures, meetings etc do not have this overwrite function. So, you’ll not find this function on the Sony ICD-PX470, Sony ICD-ux560, Zoom Hn1 or the Olympus 853. And that’s because these recorders are not primarily dictation recorders (here’s a great post on best voice recorders for dictation), for you’re only likely to use the overwrite function when dictating.

But not to worry, here are my 3 recommendations for digital voice recorders with the overwrite function.

1.    Sony ICD-PX240

Best Digital Voice Recorder with Overwrite Function Sony ICD-PX240

If you are looking for a digital recorder with the overwrite function, the Sony ICD-PX240 is your best bet. 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.

The Sony ICD-PX240 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.

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. Here is a more detailed review of the Sony ICD-PX240.

Really like this recorder, it’s inexpensive and has everything you need for dictation. And the sound quality is quite good considering it’s a mono recorder – more than adequate for dictations. Slightly more expensive than the BX140, but the USB port is worth the extra $10. Buy it now on Amazon.

2.    Olympus DS-9000

Now, the Olympus DS-9000 is a professional dictation 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. If you are serious about dictation, this the recorder you should get.

Olympus DS-9000

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 recorders. For instance, it’ll allow you to encrypt and password protect your recordings. If you are working with sensitive data (HIPPA), this is an important feature; it’ll protect your data in case you lose the recorder. Buy it now on Amazon.

3.    Sony ICD-BX140

The Sony ICD-BX140 is an entry level dictation voice recorder. It has one microphone – it only records mono audio – that has decent audio quality. It records audio into the mp3 format using 4 preset recording modes: the super high quality mode (SHQ) is the default recording mode and record 192kbps mp3s.

Best Digital Voice Recorder with Overwrite Function Sony ICD-BX140

The BX140 comes with 4GB internal memory – that allows you to record 43 hours of audio while using the SHQ recording mode.  Like the very similar Sony PX240, it has the Overwrite and Add function. Very useful when you need to edit your dictation on the go.

Runs on 2 AAA batteries, and you cannot recharge rechargeable batteries using this recorder. The biggest disadvantage of this recorder is you cannot easily transfer the recorded files from the Sony ICD-BX140 to your computer. And that’s because this voice recorder does not have a USB interface or a microSD slot. If you need to transfer the files to your computer, consider the Sony ICD-PX240. Overall a good recorder, cheaper than the PX240, buy it now on Amazon.

That’s it for this post on digital voice recorders with overwrite function. Hope you have found it useful and thank you Ren for getting in touch. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please post them in the comment section below. And please consider us for all of your transcription services needs – yes, we provide dictation transcription services.


Isaac here. At Weloty, we provide bespoke academic transcription services to qualitative researchers. If you wish to hire us, get in touch. Please note that if you choose to buy the products we recommend as a result of our research and testing, we’ll get paid some money through an affiliate commission from the retailer when you make a purchase. You can find out more here.

14 responses to “Best Digital Voice Recorder with Overwrite Function”

  1. Ren Avatar

    Thanks Isaac. Hopefully we can still return ux560 & trade for one of the Sony models you recommend.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure. And if you can’t return the ux560, keep it – it’s a great recorder.
      All the best.

  2. Bindy Avatar

    Hi Issac, I too am searching for a good quality, dependable, up-to-date (with regards to which operating systems the device is compatible with), voice recorder that has an easy to use OVERWRITE feature. The overwrite feature is a must as I want something that works similar to the old cassette recorders with the stop, rewind and rerecord feature. Having an external headphone jack slot, additional memory card slot, and USB port/cable for downloading recordings for transcriptions are other features I’m looking for too. Wishing to know if I should focus on one of the three you mentioned above or if anything new has come out this year?
    Thank you for your blogs! They have been very helpful!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      The only notable recorder that has come out in the last 11 months (since I wrote this post), is the Tascam DR-05x; which does have an overwrite function. If you are looking to record more than dictations (interviews, music etc), I’d suggest you consider it. Regardless, I really like the PX240. That’s the recorder I use for dictations. The DS-9000 is bulky and too expensive, and the BX140 does not have a USB Port.

      1. JohnS Avatar

        Any update on this?
        i.e. Have any new voice recorders come out which have an overwrite function?

        1. Isaac Avatar

          The Tascam DR-05x came out a few years ago and does have an overwrite function.

  3. Co's Undoing "Add" Doesn't Make Sense Avatar
    Co’s Undoing “Add” Doesn’t Make Sense

    “Because these recorders are not primarily dictation recorders for you’re only likely to use the overwrite function when dictating””

    Digital voice recorders are not dictation recorders? What are they then? For recording a pre selected chunk of audio? Meeting? Concert? That is a somewhat limited use of function. A decent portion of people would buy these for dictation. And the ones recommended that have this seem to be older models (and one I owned, and it was the worse digital voice recorder I have ever owned, and not even close to all the others, which were fine (and all had an add function), or have other issues.

    It’s like taking a product and removing a very inexpensive feature, to make the product useless for a good portion of the things that it’s ideally suited or needed for, and so useless to a lot of purchasers (who probably don’t even know this and buy it anyway, then work around it with much less efficiency bc they can never add to files to keep topics on point and separate, etc). Does no one take notes on subject matters, or journal certain topics, or take dictation, etc?
    It just doesn’t make any sense.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      You are right, it doesn’t.
      My guess that this is a cost cutting measure by voice recorder manufactures.
      Or, and this is probably more likely, profit gouging! I’m looking at you Olympus and Philips.
      The Olympus DS and Philips DM series come with the overwrite function; they are dictation recorders for professionals – doctors and lawyers (priced accordingly).
      Sony doesn’t bother making good dictation recorders.
      Tascam does have a wide range of recorders with overwrite function, but their recorders have issues that make it hard to recommend them.
      Zoom have no recorders that come with this function, though they do make good recorders.
      So, there is a general lack of good recorders that come with an overwrite function (and an easy way to access it); if you are in search for a digital recorder to use primarily for dictation, your options are limited.
      Definitely a gap in the market.

      1. Marc Avatar

        Hi Isaac, is that all the Olympus DS range that have overwrite? so I can try and find an older model secondhand and (assuming its working correctly) it will have overwrite?

        as you say the prices are a bit extreme

        Could you recommend an affordable dictation machine that has both password protection and overwrite? Ideally I dont want to spend £400 or there abouts. The sound quality hasnt got to be professional studio level, I just want to record notes after meetings swiftly to myself ready to write up later in the day.
        The theory being its quicker and more secure than writing in a note book.

        Any ideas?

        Cheers Marc

        1. Isaac Avatar

          Yeah, not all older Olympus DS series recorders have the overwrite function, for instance the old DS-30, DS-40, and DS-50.
          To my knowledge, all Olympus recorders in the DS-xxxx range have overwrite function – but not password protected encryption (DS-2500, DS-2600 and the old DS-4000(2004).
          I believe that was a feature introduced in the DS-5000.
          So, if you are looking for a cheap recorder that has overwrite and encryption, a secondhand DS-5000 (2008) or DS-3500 (2012), DS-7000(2012) would be a good choice, as long as it is in good condition.
          Olympus tend to use proprietary rechargeable batteries for these recorders and I don’t know how easy it is to find a replacement battery.


  4. Zevi Wolff Avatar
    Zevi Wolff

    is this overwrite function something you can only do after saving – or DURING THE RECORDING you can easily just skip back a little and overwrite…?

    thanks for the helpful article…

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes, you can do this during the dictation.

  5. Alex Avatar

    This article is missing the root cause of a recorders’ ability to “rewind and rewrite”, which is…. file types/codecs.

    The limitation is not necessarily the recorder, it is usually the limitation of the file type that recorder uses(or is set to, if you have the option)

    Typically, an Olympus dictaphone using a .DSS or DS2. file type will allow rewind and overwrite, but the same recorder put into MP3 mode, will no longer support that.

    Please check with the manufacturer.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Alex you are misinformed.
      I have Sony and Tascam recorders that do not support DS2 or DSS but have the overwrite function.
      See manufacture’s manual.

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