There’s a myriad of ways to record your research interviews. You could use your phone, laptop, or even a camcorder. However, I strongly recommend using a digital voice recorder. Handheld digital voice recorders are compact, affordable and enable you to easily manage the audio recordings, which makes the process of getting your dissertation interview transcripts easy and cost effective.

Summary: Best Recorder for InterviewsBest Recorder for Interviews

  1. Sony ICD-UX560: lightweight and low profile; powers up instantly; amazing sound; records in LPCM format; 3.5mm mic input with plug-in power; clear, sharp, and crisp LCD screen. Perfect for recording interviews. Stop shopping around and go and buy this beauty on Amazon!
  2. Sony ICD-PX470: if you are looking for excellent interview recorder on a budget. Very similar to the Sony ICD-ux560, but larger and bulkier. Uses 2 AA alkaline batteries (no USB recharging), no backlight. If you can’t afford the Sony-ux560, this recorder will save you some money.
  3. Zoom H1n: Very good recorded sound. Lots of recording versatility – 96 kHz 24 bit wav. 2.5v plug-in power, 5v USB power, USB microphone. With accessories that you’ll need, a bit pricey, but a good professional (not for “newbies”) recorder for research interviews.


The greatest advantage of digital voice recorders over older digital tape recorder is that they have no moving parts, which make a lot of noise. Thus, your interview recordings are crystal clear, which makes transcribing interviews easier. In addition, modern handheld digital voice recorders are less bulky, can hold more audio data (up to a 1000 hours) than their analog digital tape recorder counterparts. What are the 3 key features you need to look for when buying the best recorder for interviews?

3 Things to Consider When Buying a Voice Recorder for Interviews

  1. Memory

Buy a voice recorder that has both built-in memory and a memory card slot – which gives you virtually unlimited recording capacity. It’s okay to buy a digital recorder with a low built-in memory – you can easily increase the storage capacity using an external memory card. There are many different types of memory cards; Secure Digital, CompactFlash, MicroSD just to name a few. The most common digital memory cards are microSDHC, and microSDXC and store 4GB to 256GB of data.

When choosing a memory card always check its storage capacity. However, the most important consideration should be compatibility  Always get a memory card that is compatible with your voice recorder. If you want to learn more about voice recorder microSD cards, check out this post. 

  1. Microphone Jack

All digital recorders have built-in microphone(s). However, using an external microphone enables you to record high(er) quality audio, especially in a noisy environment (here’s a great post on choosing external microphones). A microphone can either be unidirectional (cardoid) or omni-directional. Unidirectional microphones capture sound from a targeted source, while omni-directional mics capture sound evenly from all directions. Unidirectional mics can suppress unwanted noise and are great for one-on-one interviews. With a high quality digital voice recorder (for instance the Sony ICD-UX560), you can adjust and monitor the built-in microphone sensitivity/recording levels.  Ultimately you want to choose a recorder with a microphone jack, the most common and compatible jack is the 3.5 mm jack.

  1. Audio Recording Format

There are two types of audio file formats, compressed and uncompressed. Generally, higher compression means lower quality sound. You should buy a recorder that allows you to capture uncompressed audio in  PCM (wav) format.  Pulse Code Modulated audio (PCM) is a file format that store the audio in its raw uncompressed format, meaning you maintain the original recording quality. High quality voice recorders enable you to record your interviews in an uncompressed audio format.

The biggest mistake you can make!

Be Forewarned: Here’s the biggest mistake that researchers make when choosing a interview recorder: they buy one without a USB plug or external memory slot. Make sure the recorder that you buy has a USB port or an external memory card slot. This will enable you to easily transfer your audio interviews into a PC/Mac, so that you can easily share them with your transcriber. Most (cheaper/older) low quality digital recorders (for example the Sony ICDB600, Olympus VN-7200, Olympus DP-201) don’t have this feature!

And you’ll want to get 2 recorders to record your research interviews. Why? Because you do want to have a backup recorder in case “something” happens…

Best Recorder for Interviews

  1. Sony ICD-UX560

Sony ux560 on PX470

Sony ux560 on Sony PX470

Amazing little recorder that’s perfect for recording interviews. Records amazing sound. And you get even better quality sound if you record in the LPCM 44.1kHz format that this recorder supports. 4GB internal memory. If you plan to use it often, get additional memory – compatible with 256GB microSDXC cards (but 64GB microSDXC should be have more than enough capacity for most researchers). With the right settings, works well even in noisy locations (see this post on the settings I recommend). In-built battery…I could go on but here’s a detailed review. Stop shopping around and go and buy this beauty on Amazon!

  1. Sony ICD-PX470

Sony ICD-PX470 recorder for interviewsGreat budget recorder. If you are looking for excellent interview recorder on a budget, this recorder is perfect. Records great sound, not as good as Sony 560, but close enough. And you get even better quality sound if you record in the LPCM 44.1kHz format that this recorder supports. 4GB internal memory. If you plan to use it often, get additional memory – supports microSDHC cards (4 GB to 32 GB). I bought a 32GB microSDHC for less than $20 on Amazon, and it works well with my Sony ICD-PX470. With the right settings, works well enough in noise environment (see this post on the settings I recommend). However, does not recharge batteries, no backlight…I could go on but here’s a detailed review. Buy it now from amazon, you won’t be disappointed.

  1. Zoom H1n

Zoom H1n recorder for interviewsThe 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.

You are limited to 32 GB max (and it has no internal memory so you’ll need to buy a microSD card) and 10 hours 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. Here’s a detailed review of the Zoom H1n.

If you have experience recording audio and want to step up your game, try this recorder – you won’t be disappointed. If you are looking for a “plug and play” recorder, this is not for you: newbies not welcome.  If you’ll need to use external microphones – get this recorder from Amazon.


Concluding Thoughts…

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 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!

79 thoughts on “Choosing the Best Recorder for Interviews (Updated 2019)

  1. Jennifer

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


      Could you please tell me which one you favored?

  2. Sean Quiney

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

  3. Erik

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

    1. Isaac Post author

      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

        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 Post author

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

  4. Sofia Lily-Anne McKey

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

    1. Isaac Post author

      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 Post author

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

        1. Mary

          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 Post author

            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

    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 Post author

      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 (this is a good one). 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 this 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.

      All the best.

  6. 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 Post author

      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

    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 Post author

      Ramzi, the Olympus WS-823 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

    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 Post author

      Yes, transcribing low quality audio interviews is a pain!

  9. 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

    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 Post author

      I don’t know if there is a digital recorder that can do this for you. My advice would be to use any of the recorders I recommend and just keep recording. If you need to do a retake, just make an audio note (“let’s record this section again or add this to that section”). Then use Audacity to edit the recordings. Hope that helps.
      The Sony ICD-PX440 allows you to overwrite and add a recording to previously recorded digital file. However, you can only add content at the end of the recording and the overwrite function overwrites the rest of the recording. You can overcome this by first splitting the recording and then overwriting or adding a recording to the split files. But as i said, it’s easier to use an audio editor to perform the same functions.

      Hope that helps.

  11. Cheta

    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 Post author

      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. Leah

    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 Post author

      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).

      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.


  13. suzanne

    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 Post author

      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…

  14. Judy

    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 Post author

      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…


  15. Titus Livingston

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

  16. James

    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 Post author

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

  17. Dee

    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 Post author

      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,

  18. Eric

    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 Post author

      Yes Eric, the Olympus WS-853, WS-852, and Sony ICDUX560 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 WS-853 to be the most user friendly.


      1. Eric

        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 Post author

          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.


  19. William

    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 Post author

      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.

  20. Karolina

    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 Post author

      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

        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.

  21. 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 Post author

      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 headworn microphone. You can get a good headworn mic for about $20, and the convenience (hands-free) and better recording makes them worth it. 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?

  22. Marisa

    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 Post author

      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

        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 Post author

          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…


  23. 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 Post author

      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, get this adapter. If you plan to use a smart phone, you’ll need a splinter and mic cable to plug in the recorder.
      All the best,

  24. 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 Post author

      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). More details here.
      Finally, there’s a new version of Nvivo, Nvivo 12…

  25. folly

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


    1. Isaac Post author

      My pleasure.
      All the best in your research.

  26. Lew

    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 Post author

      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…


  27. Susanna

    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 Post author

      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.

  28. 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 Post author

      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!
      The good news is; you’v made me realize I need to order a bunch of splinter cables and test them.
      The bad; I’d recommend the Hosa spliter cable (amazon link), but I’ve not tested it.
      For the clip on mics, still waiting for most of them to get here…but got the Movo, and it’s not bad: I do think the cord is too long.
      Let us know if the Hosa worked out for you and the clip ons you got.

      UPDATE: FYI, 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.

  29. Jenny Claeys

    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 Post author

      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,

  30. Emily

    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 Post author

      Hey Emily, I might have a solution that would work for most of those scenarios – a TP-8 telephone mic and the Sony icd-ux560. Not tested this setup yet but I plan to before the end of the week. I’ll keep you posted…

  31. 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 Post author

      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…

  32. SuzieM

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

    1. Isaac Post author

      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…

  33. Susan M

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

  34. 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 Post author

      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

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