Best Voice Recorder for Interviews

A selection of voice recorders we've tested over the years

Over the last 8 years, I have tested a lot of voice recorders. I’ll get to what features make a good interview voice recorder later in this post, but here are the 3 best voice recorders for recording interviews in 2023.

The Sony ICD-UX570 our overall pick for the best voice recorder for interviews

1. Sony ICD-UX570

The Sony ICD-UX570 is our overall pick for the best voice recorder for recording interviews. It’s an amazing little recorder that’s the perfect balance of features and price. Records amazing sound. And you get even better-quality sound if you record in the LPCM 44.1kHz format that this recorder supports.

Has 4GB internal memory. If you plan to use it often, get additional external memory – tested to be compatible with 256GB microSDXC cards (but a 64GB microSDXC should have more than enough capacity for most researchers).

Comes with an in-built battery, 3.5mm mic input with plug in power…if you want to learn more, check out our detailed review of this recorder. Stop shopping around and go and buy this recorder from Amazon.

2. Sony ICD-PX470

The Sony ICD-PX470 our budget pick for the best voice recorder for interviews

Great budget recorder. If you are looking for excellent interview recorder on a budget, this recorder is perfect. It records great sound, not as well as the Sony 570, but close enough. And you’ll get better-quality sound if you record in the LPCM 44.1kHz format that this recorder supports.

Come with 4GB internal memory. If you plan to use it often, get additional memory – it only supports microSDHC cards (4 GB to 32 GB). I bought a 32GB microSDHC for less than $10 on Amazon, and it works well with my Sony ICD-PX470.

However, does not recharge batteries, and has no backlight. Check out our blog for a detailed review of the PX470. Buy the PX470 from amazon, you won’t be disappointed.

3. Zoom H1n

The Zoom H1n our professional pick for the best voice recorder for interviews

The Zoom H1n is an entry-level professional digital recorder that records very good sound, better than the older H1 version. As it’s geared toward audio professionals, it’s got a lot of features. Most of which you won’t use when recording research interviews, for instance the 96 kHz 24-bit wav recording format is overkill.

Why do I recommend it? I really like the sound of the recordings. A minimalistic design – which I also like. It’s bulky but fits like a glove to you hand; perfect for recording field interviews where you’ll need to hold the recorder up. Outputs 2.5v plug-in power – enough to power most external microphones. And you can also use it as a USB microphone. Pretty nifty.

This recorder only supports microSDHC cards. So, your storage capacity is limited to 32 GB max (and it has no internal memory, so you’ll need to buy a microSDHC storage card to use the recorder).

You can power the recorder using 2 AAA batters which give you about 10 hours of battery life (and you can’t recharge batteries using this recorder). But you can power the Zoom H1n using a USB charger, which is what I recommend you do if you’re recording a long session.

If you have experience recording audio and want to step up your game, try this recorder – you won’t be disappointed. Are you are looking for a “plug and play” recorder? The Zoom Hn1 is not for you: newbies are not welcome.  If you want to take your interview recording to the next level – get this recorder from Amazon.

3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Voice Recorder for Interviews

A selection of voice recorders we've tested over the years

I own and have tested a lot of voice recorders. And I do this because researchers always ask us for voice recorder recommendations when conducting qualitative research. We also want you to record good audio because that makes our job, transcribing your research interviews, easier. Good audio saves us time and reduces your transcription costs.

Over the years, I’ve found there are 3 key features that a digital voice recorder needs to have to be a good voice recorder for recording research face-to-face interviews. And most voice recorders that we do not recommend either lack one of these key features (particularly those Chinese no brand digital recorders I see recommended on other websites) or one of the recorders we recommend is a cheaper/better substitute.

So what are these key features?

Memory Card Slot

You want to buy a digital voice recorder that has an external memory card slot – which gives you virtually unlimited recording capacity, keep in mind that qualitative research projects collect a lot of data, and the ability to easily transfer your files to a computer.

It also provides you with a more resilient storage for your data. And this is a recurring theme in this post. You have invested a lot of time and effort in the data collection phase of your research. So, you do want to make sure that the data you collect is accessible.

The in-built memory in voice recorders fails. And recovering data from a corrupted in-built memory in a voice recorder is very difficult.

It’s okay to buy a digital recorder with no in-built memory – but most digital voice recorders come with some in-built storage capacity.

Most voice recorders do not come with external memory cards. There are sellers on Amazon that will bundle popular voice recorders with external memory card, but they charge a steep markup.

The most important consideration is when buying an external microSD card is compatibility.  Note that Sony ICD-PX470 and Zoom H1n that we recommend DO NOT support higher capacity microSDXC cards. These recorders are limited to microSDHC cards with max 32GB capacity. The Sony ICD-UX570 does support higher capacity microSDXC cards.

Microphone Jack

All digital recorders have built-in microphone(s). However, using an external clip on/lavaliere microphone enables you to record high(er) quality audio.

If you foresee recording your research interviews in cafes, coffee shops, restaurants etc., you will need to use clip on microphones.

You’ll want to make sure that the voice recorder you get for recording your research interviews comes with a microphone jack. Most good voice recorders do, and they usually have a standard 3.5mm microphone jack. Some high-end digital recorders also come with a XLR input – but the 3.5mm jack is more than adequate for qualitative interviews.

Another consideration is whether the 3.5mm jack outputs plug-in power. Good microphones, for instance the Giant Squid lav mic and the Olympus ME33 (great for recording focus group discussions), needs plug-in power to function. And they get that power from the digital recorder.

So, if you plan record high audio quality interviews using external microphones with your recorder, get a recorder that has a 3.5mm microphone jack that outputs plug in power. The 3 recorders we recommend come with a 3.5mm microphone jack that outputs plug in power.

Audio Recording Format

You can classify audio recording format into two categories: compressed and uncompressed. MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, simply known as mp3, is a popular compressed audio file format, whilst Waveform Audio File Format (WAV) is a popular uncompressed (PCM) audio file format. Most voice recorders will support one or both of these audio recording formats.

I always recommend that you record your research interviews using the WAV audio recording format. The main reason is this: there’s always a noticeable loss of audio quality whenever you edit/convert compressed (read mp3) audio files.

So, you want to get a voice recorder that enables you to record your research interviews using an uncompressed audio format. The 3 recorders I recommend support the uncompressed WAV format, also known as PCM or LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation) format.

Concluding Thoughts

Our Top 3 recommendations for the best voice recorders for interviews

I’ve shared with you my top 3 recommendations for the best digital voice recorder. These choices represent my best advice when it comes to choosing a digital voice recorder to record your face-to-face interviews. Researchers are pretty lucky these days, as high-quality handheld digital voice recorders are more affordable than ever.

I hope you see something you like in my recommendations. At the very least I hope they serve as a starting point for your quest to find a recorder that’s right for recording your research interviews. Please let me know if this post was helpful to you in the comment section below. And good luck while collecting your research data!


This is a living guide, corrections, suggestions and additional data points are welcomed.


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.

103 responses to “Best Voice Recorder for Interviews”

  1. Jennifer Avatar

    Thanks, was looking for a field recorder for my dissertation research. This helped a lot!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Glad you found the post met your needs. Keep us in mind for your research interview transcription needs.


      Could you please tell me which one you favored?

  2. Sean Quiney Avatar
    Sean Quiney

    A full range of Portable Recorders and Transcription kits can be purchased from dictaphones

    1. Isaac Avatar
  3. Erik Avatar

    What about the Panasonic model RR-US550 audio recorder, do you have any experience using it?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Erik, you’ll be fine with the Panasonic recorder. I don’t have any hands-on experience using it, but it’s a good recorder.
      All the best in your qualitative research.

      1. Douglas Taylor Avatar
        Douglas Taylor

        Just be careful with Panasonic. I have a Panasonic RR-US360 (which is probably a little old), but cannot get drivers from Panasonic for Windows 10. And Panasonic don’t even bother to respond. So now I have to purchase a new recorder!

        1. Isaac Avatar

          Douglas, that’s a 15 year old recorder – I’m surprised it still works!

  4. Sofia Lily-Anne McKey Avatar
    Sofia Lily-Anne McKey

    Thanks for this info. It helps a lot when deciding on a recorder for interviews. 🙂

    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure. It’s about a year old so I do need to update it, but I am glad you found it useful.

      All the best conducting your interviews.

      1. Isaac Avatar

        Had a chance to update the post with new recorder recommendations for 2015…

        1. Mary Avatar

          My Zoom H5 is being shipped as I write. I will use it in a couple of weeks to record panel discussions in a university setting and assume the panelists will be seated facing the audience but don’t know where the moderator will be stationed. Id’ appreciate any advice on where to place the recorder (I’m not purchasing any additional microphones) for best sound quality.

          Thanks so much.

          1. Isaac Avatar

            Mary, the Zoom H5 is a great handheld audio recorder. The inbuilt mics capture sound at the center – in a half an apple shape. So if you place it in front of the panelists you’ll capture the best sound. If the moderator is stationed at either side or behind the H5 you may have trouble capturing them. My advice is to get a mic – the H5 does comes with 2 additional mic inputs. The MSH-6 capsule might do the trick.
            If you don’t get a mic, I suggest you do test run and find the best placement for the H5, (you may have to move it farther away from the podium). And on the day of recording, carry a pair of headphones so that you can monitor the recording and make sure everyone is captured.

            Hope that helps.

  5. Amelia Avatar

    Hi, just wondering if you think it is necessary to use an external microphone with Olympus WS-823 if interviewing in cafes etc. ? If so can you recommend any in particular?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Amelia,
      It all depends on the environment you are going to record the interviews. If you are going to record outdoors, you definitely need a microphone. I’d recommend you use a lapel mic. With one lapel mic, the audio level of your questions is going to be low. You can get a lapel mic for yourself and use a cable to connect the 2 mics to the recorder.

      I’d suggest you do a trial run using the WS-823 without the mics (especially if you are going to record indoors and you can get the management of the cafe to lower the background music… and play around with the ws-823 zoom settings) and then email me the trial recording and I’ll let you know if you really do need an external microphone.

      Here’s a detailed post on how to record interviews in a noisy location.

      All the best.

  6. Marry Harris Avatar
    Marry Harris

    Hi, guys! Have you ever used Roland recording devices? For example, something from R-05 series? I know they are of another price category, but I need a professional device at the moment.
    Roland is producing excellent equipment for musicians, as well as musical instruments, so I decided to choose one of his recorders.
    Is it worth? Could you please give me a piece of advice?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Marry,
      I’ve never used the Ronald R-05, but I think it’s overpriced at ~$200. The zoom H4 has more features, multitrack recording, 2 XLR/TRS inputs et al.
      If you are looking for a potable musical instruments recorder, I’d definitely go for the Zoom h4 or H5.

      Hope that helps.

  7. Ramzi Avatar

    I would like the best ever recorder for a very sensitive and accurate field works for my dissertation research. Knowingly, that sounds that are to be analysed. This mean that when the word “tell” is recorded when spoken by someone, /t/, /e/, /l/ are going to be analysed. That’s why I need the best ever recorder regarding this work.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Ramzi, the Sony ICD-ux560 will be perfect for your conversational analysis project. I recommend you read this post on how to record high quality interviews. All the best.

  8. Luke Smith Avatar
    Luke Smith

    I have transcribed an interview before, and it was not very easy. I could not hear very clearly at times, and rewinding was a pain, I needed a great recorder to do that. It seems that getting a recorder of high quality, and with a Sim card would be the best thing to do.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes, transcribing low quality audio interviews is a pain!

  9. Hazel Owens Avatar
    Hazel Owens

    I like your advice to choose a voice recorder that has both internal and external memory options. Like you said, it’s usually fine to have a device that mainly relies on external memory cards because they’re affordable for the amount of data they can hold. However, I’ve found that it’s also nice to have some memory on the device itself as well, just in case the memory card runs into problems. Thanks for the article!

  10. sara Avatar

    hi i need help if you can
    i need to record memorie & most of digital voice recorder dont have play back & re recording option lets say i record for 10 minute but in middle i need to add or remove some part from that 10 minute can i do with digital device ? same as good old cassette player that record too ?
    sry my bad english

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Sara, what you are looking for is a recorder with an overwrite function. Here’s a great post on the top 3 recorders with overwrite functions that I recommend.

      Hope that helps.

  11. Cheta Avatar

    Hello Isaac..
    thanks for your help.
    What of HccToo 8GB Multifunctional Digital Voice Recorder Rechargeable Dictaphone Stereo Voice Recorder ?
    Is it recommended for a research interview?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hello Cheta.
      I’ve never used HccToo 8GB Multifunctional Digital Voice Recorder. But a did a bit of research on it and it looks like a piece of garbage! But that’s just my 2 pence. If you do buy it and use it to record your research interview, please let us know your experience using it.

      I always recommend researchers to get reliable audio recorders, because it’s very hard to re-record a research interview. And always have a backup device…

  12. Kathryn McLellan Avatar

    Just wanted to let you know this is super helpful!

  13. Leah Avatar

    Hi Issac,

    Your articles have been so helpful! Thank you! For my new job, I am conducting around 60 focus groups (with 5 to 10 people in the room) and around 100 individual interviews. The Zoom H4n or Zoom H5 seem to be good options for recording the sessions.

    I was wondering if you had any tips or suggestions for transcription. I am new to the interview/market research field and I am a bit overwhelmed by the idea of transcribing all the information that I will be receiving. Are there devices/softwares/apps that would help with the transcription?

    Thank you!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Leah,
      The Zoom are great professional recorders, the only reason I don’t recommend them is because they are too sensitive – which is great for recording your band, instruments or vocals, but for interviews and focus group (FG), they tend to record a lot of background noise. If you do get the Zoom, make sure you record the interviews and FGs is a quiet room, and switch off any fans or AC, and run a few test runs to find the best setting for your room(s).
      Here’s a post on best recorders for FGs

      This is a great series on how to transcribe dissertation interviews and most of the suggestions hold true for transcribing market research interviews.
      Yes, transcribing can be overwhelming, and you may want to try our services (which are very reasonably priced). If you do choose to transcribe the interviews and FGs, get the right equipment (desktop, comfy chair, a good pair of headphones) and transcription software (I recommend F4 – a bit pricey but very good). BTW, voice recognition software (for instance Dragon) is awful at transcribing interviews and focus group discussions (because of the multiple voices in the audio).
      One final tip, make sure you record high quality audio – believe me, it will greatly reduce the amount of time you’ll need to transcribe the interviews and FGs (for a novice, 8-10 times the duration of the recording).

      Hope that helps.


  14. suzanne Avatar

    Hi Isaac,
    I like your tip to buy the Sony ICD-UX533BLK Digital Voice Recorder . If I’m doing a focus group with 8 people in a relatively quiet room, would I need additional microphones?
    Please advise.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Suzanne. If you get a couple of recorders, you should be fine. I’ll write a detailed post (hopefully soon) on how to record focus group discussions…
      Wrote 2 posts that you might find use.
      Here’s a post on how to record focus groups and a post on best recorders for focus group discussions.

  15. Judy Avatar

    My husband has Alzheimer’s, early stages and I want to interview him about his life and memories before they are lost. Like the blitz in London and the partition of India, things our children and grandchildren might enjoy. I will need to transcribe it so being able to pause while my flashing four fingers catch up is necessary. What would you recommend?

    Thank you for your article

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Judy, sorry to hear about your husband illness. You’ll need a software to slow down the audio and pause it. Express Scribe is a good free one. But if you plan to conduct a lot of interviews, (I bet he has a lots of stories), then you may want to spend a little money and get F4 – which is what I use. And you’ll find great tips on the blog on how to transcribe your interviews…


  16. Titus Livingston Avatar
    Titus Livingston

    Thank you for this great information. I will be able to suggest the best voice recorder to my clients.

  17. James Avatar

    I read this article and found it really helpful in finding a voice recorder. I went for the Olympus WS-853 and got it from onedirect

    Thanks for the help!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure…btw it’s cheaper on Amazon (by about £20!).

  18. Dee Avatar

    Isaac, thank you for your wonderful post and all the extremely helpful tips you have provided! I do a lot of interviews via a landline telephone and have been using the Olympus VN-6200 for many years with good results. Since I recently broke it – by formatting via the computer, doh – I am looking for a replacement and would prefer another Olympus, but the market is saturated and the choice endless. I wonder what you would recommend to someone like me, who does a lot of interviewing by phone and wants something that is simple to use, preferably with a simply interface…and great results.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Dee, I’d recommend you get the WS-853. It’s very similar to the Vn-6200.
      Although it might be worthwhile to check the Olumpus site and see if they have a software/driver that you can reinstall into the VN 6200 and get it working…
      In any case you’re due for a new recorder.

      All the best,

  19. Eric Avatar

    Is the WS-835 or the Sony ICDUX560 Mac Compatible. If not can you recommend me a device that is compatible with an apple device. Also, how easy are they to use. I am not that tech savvy.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes Eric, the Olympus WS-853, Sony ICD-PX470, and Sony ICD-ux560 are Mac compatible. Just plug in the USB, find the device in the Finder menu left column, open it, and find the recording. Then drag & drop the recordings to your desktop, or anywhere else you want to store them, click on them they’ll begin playing in iTunes. Now, your Mac/Apple device might not have a standard USB Port. That easily solved by getting the appropriate USB cable. What Mac device do you intend to use?

      And I found the ux560 to be the most user friendly.


      1. Eric Avatar

        Thanks. I currently have a macbook air and it has the usb slot. I may upgrade to a macbook Pro sometime later this year but i do not know. Thanks for the quick reply.

        1. Isaac Avatar

          Great. If you do upgrade to the Macbook Pro, you’ll need to get a USB-C to USB adapter to connect the recorder to your Mac. Other than that, it should work fine.
          All the best.


  20. William Avatar

    I am looking to recored college lectures and upload them to my computer so I can listen later on. I don’t want to go overboard but I will be recording from a distance of about 20 feet and using it about 3-4 hours a day. Which recorder would you recommend.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey William. This is a tough one, because the acoustics (large or small lecture hall?) and student interaction (=noise) will determine the quality of the recordings. My advice would be to try and get the recorder closer (3ft-5ft) to the lecturer. Nothing beats proximity. And any of the 3 voice recorders would be great.
      Having said that, that’s not always possible. I’d get the Sony UX560. It does have a lot of features – too many for me to list on the post, that you can configure it to work from 20 feet. Carry a pair of headphones, use them to monitor the recordings whilst you try different settings (I’d start with the microphone sensitivity and EQ settings) on the UX560. Also make sure you record the lectures in mp3 format so that you’ll have enough storage space for 3-4 hours of recording. And here’s a detailed post with some great tips on recording lectures.

  21. Karolina Avatar

    Hi Isaac! Thanks for a super useful post. I am just wondering what are the advantages/disadvantages of mono and stereo recording of interviews and focus groups? Can one make it easier to transcribe than other?

    Thank you!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Karolina, the only advantage of mono recording is it’s smaller in size. So if you have space constrains, (which you shouldn’t because most digital recorders have at least 4GB of memory), then you can record mono audio, but even then I’d recommend using a compressed audio format (for instance mp3) instead of recording in mono. The 3 recorders I recommend all have 2 microphones, which means that if you record in mono the recording is going to be mixed into one channel. And when it comes to transcribing the interviews/FGs you may need to convert the mono audio to stereo so that you can hear from both ends of your headphones. Believe me, you don’t want to transcribe using one ear!


      1. Glenno Avatar

        recording & listening in stereo helps (somewhat) when trying to understand what’s being said when more than one person is talking at once. I record large (25-person), somewhat rowdy meetings and a wide-panned stereo setting definitely helps.

  22. Sarah Anderson Avatar
    Sarah Anderson

    Hi, and thanks for the helpful info. I am looking to buy a recording device for outdoor, on-the-go interviews. I will be walking/hiking/picking berries etc during interviews with my informants, so have very challenging conditions for recording. What I need is a recording device with good battery and storage, and which I can attach several microphones, as I will often be interviewing/walking with several people at a time. Alternatively if the recorder is able to pick up all our voices within a 5-10 metre range outdoors. The quality does not have to be top notch as the recordings will be transcribed – so good enough for me to understand/hear what we are saying. If there are no deivces that meets these criteria, perhaps you have some other creative suggestions? What if I bought 3 cheaper recording devices and we all carry our own?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Sarah. Yes, recording outdoors – while hiking and picking berries – is not easy. I don’t know how many informants you are going to interview at a go, but if they’re less than five I’d recommend you buy a digital recorder for each informant and an accompanying lav microphone. Here’s a great post on how to use a recorder with clip on microphones. My only reservation with this method is that you will have to sync all the different audio tracks into one track before transcribing. Not a difficult task, especially if you are computer savvy…
      Does that help?

  23. Marisa Avatar

    Hi Isaac, Thanks for all the useful information you’ve posted here. I in a review of the Sony ICD-UX560 that it is not compatible with the latest Mac OS. That gets me wondering about the Olympus models you review. Have you any info? Thanks again, Marisa

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Marisa. I kow that the 3 voice recorders that recommend are compatible with mac os till El Captian 10.10 – that’s the OS I have on my Mac. I lent my 853 to a friend and her mac was running Sierra (can’t say for sure which version), and she had no problem transferring files from the recorder to her mac. Now, there are 11 different versions of Sierra and High Sierra. So it’s really hard to know if devices are compatible with all of them – that’s why I’ve not upgraded my OS in a couple of years. But most modern recorders should work with the latest Mac OS. Having said that, there is a workaround if you run into compatibility issues. The 3 recorders come with sd card slot. And if your mac does come with a sd card slot, then it’s easy enough to copy the files to an SD card and transfer them to your mac. If your mac does not come with SD card slot, your iPhone does and you can use that to transfer the files. Hope that helps.

      1. Marisa Avatar

        Hi again Isaac,
        If recording interviews into the the Sony from an iPhone or computer video conferencing software (e.g.Skype), what kind of splitter(s) will I need?
        Thanks again!

        1. Isaac Avatar

          Marisa, I wouldn’t recommend you go down this road. Apple re-engineered the 3.5mm plug – so most generic splitters will not work. And I don’t think they make one – but you can check at one of their stores. Futhermore, if you have a later model iPhone, they no longer have the 3.5mm jack, so you’d need a splitter that also has a mic out (so that you can call while the headphone jack is connected to the Sony). Again I don’t think they make one of those. There are a lot of phone call recording apps for the iPhone – that’s what I’d recommend you use. You’ll not get great audio, but it should be good enough. What’d also recommend is, put the call on speaker, place the recorder next to your iPhone, record and see what gets you better audio. My guess will be the app.
          For Skype interviews, you don’t need the Sony. I’ve a detailed post on how to record Skype interview. You’ll get surprising good recording(s) with Skype…


  24. Jill Decker Avatar
    Jill Decker

    Hi Isaac,
    I am looking for a recorder that I can use to record over the phone conversations for a radio show I have. Any suggestions ? Would like something of good quality because it needs to go as a radio show and possibly a pod cast.
    Thanks ,

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Jill, I’d recommend the Sony. Because it can record in the Wav format = very good quality audio. Now, depending on the type of phone you are going to use to record the radio show, you are going to need to connect the recorder to your phone. If you are using a landline phone, you will need to get an adapter. If you plan to use a smart phone, you’ll need a splinter and mic cable to plug in the recorder. I recommend that you read this post on how to record phone interviews.
      All the best,

  25. Cheryn English Avatar
    Cheryn English

    I have heard that the 2 Olympus digital voice recorders you recommend are not available at some stores because of upgrades. Can you tell me if there are upgraded versions of these? I heard the Olympus DM-270 was better, for instance. I will want to get transcripts from you (depending on price), and then upload the recordings themselves and also transcripts (not necessarily synched) into NVivo11. For a series of 15 interviews. What do you think would be the best for this scenario?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Cheryn, I’ve not heard of those rumors, and the 2015 models are available on Amazon. I’d love to see them upgraded, hopefully with some new features.
      Olympus have yet to replace the ws 820s series of voice recorders that were awesome – and I’d consider that an upgrade. The only advantage of the DM 720 over the WS 853 is that it does record in PCM format. But it does have smaller internal memory (4GB). It’s features are very similar to the Sony 560, but it’s double the cost! If I was looking for an upgrade from the Olympus, I’d get the Sony.
      What recorder should you get? It really depends on where you are going to conduct the interviews. I’d say, get the Sony (best for most scenarios), and if you plan to record the interviews in a noisy environment – get microphone(s). Here’s a great post in how to record interviews in a noisy location.
      Finally, there’s a new version of Nvivo, Nvivo 12…

  26. folly Avatar

    Thank you for this valuable information. I will get one for my study.


    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure.
      All the best in your research.

  27. Lew Avatar

    Thanks for a useful review.
    Re the Sony you say “Especially if you foresee recording your interviews or focus groups in non-ideal conditions (little or no background noise).” I will be working in non-ideal conditions, which I consider to be a great deal of background noise. Are you only recommending this recorder for conditions where there is no background noise? Thanks.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure.
      And sorry for the confusion – the phrasing was oxymoronic.
      I’d recommend the Sony if you plan to record in locations with background noise.
      With the right settings, it does a pretty good job of cutting out background noise.
      Here are the settings I recommend when using the Sony.
      If you plan to record interviews in a location with a lot of background noise, I’d recommend you also get clip-on microphones.
      I do plan to write a post on recording interviews in noisy locations…
      Here’s the post on how to record interviews in a noisy location.


  28. Susanna Avatar

    Hi Isaac,

    I am planning to get the SONY ICD-UX560 for my one-one research interviews. Thank you for the very helpful information on here. Is there a specific external microphone you would recommend for this model?

    Many thanks,

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Susanna, thanks for getting in touch.
      I’d recommend a clip on microphone aka lavaliere microphone.
      They are great for recording 1-on-1 interviews in noisy locations.
      I’m testing a few of them, and ordered a few more – haven’t found the perfect clip on mic:yet!
      Will let you know when I do.

      I did find the best clip on microphone to use with the Sony ICD-ux560: the Giant Squid, here’s my review of the microphone.

  29. Lucy Arendt Avatar
    Lucy Arendt

    I’m also interested in this. I bought a Sony ICD-UX560 and will be conducting one-on-one interviews. I’m assuming I need two mics (one for me, one for my interviewee) plus a splitter and will greatly appreciate your advice on both the mics and the splitter. I start my interviews Aug 6 (yikes!).

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Lucy, you’re right. You are going to need 2 lav mics and a splinter.
      I was going to recommend an Olympus one, but it only comes bundled with the ME33, yikes!
      I recommend the Hosa spliter cable (Amazon link), tested them and they work really well.
      For the clip on mics, I recommend you get the Giant squid clip on mic (link to my review). Tested it and works very well with the Sony ICD ux-560. And here is a how to post on how to record interviews in noisy locations.


  30. Jenny Claeys Avatar

    Good morning Isaac. We are an historical archive, and are recording historical letters donated to our archive. Our volunteer records in starts and stops to maintain accuracy; and we are currently using the Tascom DR-05. What we found out after listening to files, was that the audio received no amplification — we could barely hear the files after transferring them to the computer, or with headphones, and the unit itself will not play back the files. The speaker is on, no sound comes out, and unfortunately there is not a lot of help in the user guide. We did manage to figure out how to adjust the input/output levels. But we really need something that has great audio, and is very user friendly. We are not sound engineers. We will have to go back through hours of audio to boost the sound in an editing program to be able to use the files already recorded. Do you have any recommendations for a unit that is easy to use (or at least has a very good instruction manual), produces quality files that can be edited together for archival and research quality? Thanks.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Morning Jenny.
      I’d recommend the Sony icd-ux560. Very good recorder – very user friendly.
      You can find a link to the manual here .
      My only concern, with the Sony, is that you can’t record the audio at higher frequency than 44.1kHz (CD quality). And for archival purposes, you might need to record the audio using a higher frequency (48kHz or 96kHz).
      If that’s the case, get the Zoom H1n. Compared to the DR-05, it’s easier to use. Minimalist menu and quite sensitive (here are my thoughts on the H1n).
      If I was in your shoes, I’d get the H1n AND the Sony 560. Try them out for a couple of weeks, pick the one you like and return the other to Amazon and get a refund. That’s what I’d do.
      I have a feeling you’ll like the Sony…
      Kind regards,

  31. Emily Avatar

    I will be doing interviews of people for research. I would like to have crisp recordings so I have a good chance at getting them accurately transcribed. Over time, I imagine that some of the interviews will be done on a landline, sometimes over my cellphone,perhaps sometimes in person or Skype. Is there an all around recording system you would recommend that I can plug into my computer, landline or cell phone. Is this asking too much of a device? Am I looking at 2 or more devices?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Emily, a few post that will cover most of your scenarios.
      For Skype interviews, here’s a great post on how to record Skype interviews.
      Here’s a detailed post on how to conduct telephone interviews. That’s for landline and cellphone interviews.
      For in person interviews, I recommend the Sony ICD-ux560, here’s a detailed review of this recorder.


  32. Vicki Black Avatar
    Vicki Black

    I plan to interview people via a cell phone. Can you recommend the best recorder, transcriber (and anything else that I might need)? Thank you for your time and assistance.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Vicki, I’ve always recommended using a quality app for recording cell phone interviews. And they’re lots of them for iOS/Android phones.
      Currently testing out the Olympus TP-8 telephone microphone connected to the Sony ux560; pretty good. I do plan to write a post about my experience in the near future…

      Here’s a detailed post on how to record telephone interviews.
      And consider our interview transcription services.

  33. SuzieM Avatar

    Really helpful. Only query I have is, is it possible to password protect the recorder?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Susan. No, none of these recorders have that feature. Some Olympus digital recorders have a password protection (and file encryption) feature. If you’d like some recommendations, let me know…
      I’ve penned a post on the best encrypted voice recorders with password protection.

  34. Susan M Avatar
    Susan M

    Fab many thanks… thought so..probably will take your recommendation of the sony…it looks the best, and easy to use.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure.
      All the best.

  35. Dawn Goodwin Avatar
    Dawn Goodwin

    i have just brought the Sony UX560 – it states that is records for 1hr 23mins. I have 3 back to back interviews that will not exceed 1hr but do i have to download each recording before the next or will this device enable me to record 3 back to back interviews at 1hr per piece?
    otherwise your feedback has been great – thank you.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Dawn, that’s just the sticker on the recorder. Just peel it off, switch on the recorder and you’ll see the actual time it can record: more than 5 hours in WAV format and more than 40 hours of recording using the mp3 format. So yes, the ux560 will be able to record 3, 1-hour interviews. More info in this detailed review of the Sony ICD-ux560

  36. Stephane di Bari Avatar
    Stephane di Bari

    Hello, Did you try the sony TX650? it is smaller but more expensive than the 560.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Considered it, but I’ve never tested the TX650. It’s smaller, but lacks a microSD card slot and a mic plug – which limits it uses in an interview setting. I’ve heard good things about the TX650 from a wedding videographer…and the TX800 is a newer, better(?) version.

  37. Marlon Avatar

    Your analysis is really helpful, I’m considering buying a recorder for my Doctoral dissertation interviews. I would like to ask if you have any recommendation about recorders with transcription technology embedded.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Marlon, I’m not sure what you mean by “embedded” transcription technology. Some voice recorders have a “transcription mode,” which is a playback mode that has some features (like pitch control) to help you listen to the audio when transcribing. However, using a transcription software to accomplish the same goals is a better option. Sony recorders come with bundled with a Sound Organizer Software (that you can also download via this link),which you can use for transcription. But, you can only install it on a PC and it’s not a great transcription software: it’s free though.
      Some Olympus voice recorders (especially the dictation models), come bundled up with a transcription kit: software, headphones, and a footpedal. And some models will also come with a speech recognition software.
      My point is, I’ve yet to come across a transcription solution that requires you to buy a particular voice recorder, because most transcription softwares accept popular audio file formats (at least mp3 and wav). So, my advice would be to buy a voice recorder and then shop for a transcription solution. If you need recommendations on what to get, let me know.

  38. Mr Omar Khan Avatar

    Dear Isaac, thanks for all the information and for your dedication to the topic over such a long period of time – looks like the first post was 5 yrs ago, wow!
    I was wondering if you have had a chance to review the Sony ICDTX800B and how it compares to the Sony ICD-UX560 for the interview setting. Many Thanks! Omar

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Omar, thanks for the kind words. It’s been a real pleasure helping researchers find the perfect voice recorder for their project(s).
      Yes, I had a look at the TX800 a few months ago. I wouldn’t recommend it for interviews – because it limited; doesn’t have a microSD slot or a microphone jack. And the sound was not impressive.
      I think the TX800 would be great as a clip on microphone, and for recording lectures or conferences, because you are able to control it via the remote. But the ux560 is better for interviews.

  39. Jika Avatar

    Wao! this help me alot, am highly impressed

    1. Isaac Avatar

      My pleasure.

  40. Laura Avatar

    Is Zoom H1n Handy Recorder (2018 Model) compatible with Express Scribe?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      The Zoom H1n records audio in mp3 or wav format. Express Scribe supports both of these formats.

      1. Laura Avatar


  41. Dan Avatar

    Hi i found your review very useful – thanks.
    However i am looking to record interviews in a gallery setting .(not while busy) It will involve moving between exhibits so cables would not work.What do you recommend?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Dan. The H1n would work well for you. You can use it as a hand held mic.
      For a more hands free solution, use the use the ux560 with clip on mic. If you need to record your questions, buy 2 sets. The ux560 are small enough to fit in most pockets or a purse.

  42. Nuke Avatar

    would you recommend using a Y splitter to hook up 2 Mic’s to my Philips DPM-8000 for interviewing 2 People

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Sure, you can use a splitter with most digital recorders. The DPM-8000 is a good recorder. I’ve never used it with external microphones, so you’ll need to test your setup to make sure it works.

  43. Randee Paufve Avatar

    Hi there, and what a wonderful service you provide. I’ve read through everything and am pretty sold on the SONY ux560, but still a bit unsure about the microphone situation. I’ll be mainly conducting one-one interviews, likely in public spaces. I’ve been told it’s best to use two clip microphones, one for interviewer, one for interviewee, but appears this model does not have two mic inputs. In your experience, does one mic suffice for both voices?
    Thanks again so much!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi, yes I second that recommendation. You should use 2 clip on microphones when recording in a noisy location. Yes the recorder comes with only one mic input, but you use a splitter – a small cable that splits the one input into 2. I’ve penned a detailed post on how to record interviews in a noisy location (if you can’t find it let me know and I’ll attach a link when I get back to the office), that has a link to the splitter that I recommend. All the best, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  44. Erna Avatar

    Thank you this information is extremely helpful, and thanks for your dedication is assisting researchers who are looking for the perfect tool to assist in our interviews. Best Wishes to you!

  45. Vincent Avatar

    Hi, I am doing a focus group with three people. What is the best recorder to use?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      If you are looking for a focus group recorder, this is a great post to get you started.

  46. Jeremy Avatar

    Hi. (tldr; another ux560/570 vs. H1n) I was ready to buy a Zoom H1n to conduct interviews, when I found your confounded blog! Now I’m considering the Sony ux-560/570. The 1-on-1 interviews will be in a controlled (quiet) environment. FYI I really like your blog, but I don’t understand why people think the Sony is better for interviews? Is the Zoom too sensitive? Do the microphone properties of the Zoom make it harder to position vs. the Sony? The Zoom is just such a good all-round device, it could be useful in so many situations…but I know I really only need it to record voice in a quiet environment…so why the Sony? Or does it even matter? If I had more $$$ I might just get both. Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated, as you seem very knowledgeable in this area. Thanks in advance!

    EDIT: I mean just look at those criss-crossy mics on the Zoom! How can the Sony even compete? You can’t even see it’s mics! :p Also, the foam wind-guard from the accessory kit make it look like it has an afro!^^

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Three reasons:
      1. Ease of use. The ux570 is easier to use. No questions about it.
      2. Cost – currently the ux570 costs $73 and H1n $119. And you will need, at a minimum, to buy batteries and a MicroSD card for the H1n, that’s at least another $10. Accessory pack is another $25. Total $155 for the H1n. Is the H1n worth double the ux570, no it’s not.
      3. Personally, I find the off the box recording of 1-on-1 interviews on the ux570 to be better than the H1n. I think it’s from the “criss-crossy mics” which are very good for directional recording but not great for a stereo recording. I’m not saying that the recording quality of the H1n is poor, it’s actually pretty good, but not degrees better than the ux570, and there is an issue with the limiter that leads to white noise on the H1n, you will need to monitor your recording and spend 5 minutes changing settings to get the perfect recording of your interview.

      The H1n shines in scenarios where you are using it as a hand-held microphone. And if you need to record higher bitrate audio (24bit/96kHz), and the USB in/out support.
      I do like the H1n, I like how it looks. I love the feel of it in my hand. I like being able to dial down my recording to be perfect. But I use the H1n as microphone – when I’m recording a single subject; recording podcasts, voice overs, or as boom mic.

      That’s why I really don’t like to compare the H1n to the ux560/ux570, because these recorders are great in different scenarios – turns into apples and oranges…

  47. Lee Avatar

    I am conducting research where people may be required to share a single device. I want to ensure the privacy and integrity of recordings. Can anyone recommend a recording device that either allows people to make PW protected entries [inaccessible to others using the device] or is set up so that only the researcher can access the recordings? Many thanks in advance

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Lee check out this post. The 2 recorders I recommend can encrypt and protect your recordings, and the Philips recorder come with author profiles, so each researcher can store files on the same recorder and they’ll be only accessible to them.

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