Sony ICD-ux560 Review

Sony ICD-ux560 Review

[toc heading_levels=”2″]If you are regular reader of our (excellent?) blog, you’ll have noticed that I recommend the Sony ICD-ux560 as the best recorder for recording interviews, lectures, and small focus group discussions. While I highlight the key features of the Sony ICD-ux560 and give reasons as to why I recommend it, I’ve never done an in-depth review of the Sony ICD-ux560 digital recorder. So, here we go.
With the ICD-ux560, Sony made a few bold (risky) changes from their previous digital recorders. I remember my first impression of this recorder: it’s very thin and lightweight. Photos of this recorder do not reflect how light it feels on your hand and its low profile. How did Sony achieve this?

Summary: Sony ICD-ux560 Review

Sony ICD-ux560 Review
  • Pros: very lightweight; powers up instantly; amazing sound; records in LPCM format; 3.5mm mic input with plug-in power; clear, sharp, and crisp LCD screen.
  • Cons: built in battery; only 4GB built in memory; screen hard to read in direct sunlight.
  • Verdict: amazing little recorder that’s perfect for recording interviews, focus group discussions, and lectures. Stop shopping around and go and buy this beauty on Amazon!

Well, built in battery. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of recorders that come with built in batteries (more on this later). But I have to say, it is a masterstroke. I really like the weight of this recorder. I can place it in my shirt pocket and it’ll not bulge; trouser pocket (when I use a lav mic) and I forget it’s there.

But that’s not the only advantage of having a built in battery. This recorder powers up really quickly – like instantly. I’m used to digital recorders taking a few seconds to power up. The first time I powered up the ICD-ux560 it caught me off guard, like wtf just happened. I thought it had been shipped powered on, so I switched it off, waited a few seconds and powered it back on. It literally takes less than a second to come on – very impressive!

As you can imagine, I was warming up to this recorder – and kinda feeling sorry for my then favorite Olympus recorder. But I was not ready for the third surprise the Sony ux560 had in store for me. It records amazing sound. I don’t know how Sony achieved this – maybe it’s the S configured stereo microphones (which I thought was a marketing gimmick), but when you listen to the recordings, you feel as if you’re in the room: don’t know how else to explain it. I was surprised that a recorder this small, the size of a Hershey bar, recorded at a sound quality that I’d come to expect from my Blue Yeti external mic. It’s not as good, but close.

Sony ICD-ux560 Video Review

Cons

Before I share other reasons why I really like the Sony ICD-ux560 and recommend it, let’s throw some cold water on this sermon. Yes, an in-built battery was a masterstroke, but what happens if it fails? You cannot replace it and you’re left with a very light paperweight. That’s the Achilles heel of the ICD-ux560. Having said that, I’ve not had any issues with the battery in the 18 months I’ve had the recorder. The battery life on the Sony ICD-x560 is impressive; it can easily handle a whole day of recording. And I’ve not heard of this recorder having battery fails (and if your battery fails, let me know in the comment section below).

Sony ICD-ux560 Max recording times

You only get 4GB built-in memory. That’s about 5 hours of recording LPCM audio. Granted, you can record audio using the compressed mp3 format – and get about 40 hours of recording time. But I only record in LPCM format – and that’s the format I recommend researchers and students use. My workaround was to buy a micro SD card. This recorder supports microSDHC cards (4 GB to 32 GB) and microSDXC cards (64 GB or more). I bought the Sandisk Ultra 128GB Micro SDXC from Amazon, which gave me an additional 160 hours of recording LPCM audio. Problem solved – but a little pricey.

Sony ICD-UX560 back
No External Battery!!!

My other gripe with the ux560 is related to the battery. With my other recorders, I usually carry a few extra packs of batteries – just in case I run out of juice. But with the Sony ux560, I’ve been forced to carry a battery pack. I do have one that I bought for my phone. So I didn’t have to spend extra on that. And I usually carry my phone when I’m recording “in the field,” so I’d have to carry the battery pack anyway.

What I have noticed though is the battery on the Sony ux560 is darn good. I’ve never had to use battery pack to charge it. Sony says I can get 23 hours recording without having to recharge the battery. Never had a chance to test this as the recorder recharges every time I plug it into my computer to transfer the files. And you can learn more about how to take care of your Sony ICD-ux560 battery here.

A couple of weeks ago I doing a video recording outdoors. It was a bright spring afternoon and I noticed that if the sun was directly shining on the recorder screen – I couldn’t see the menus. This was the first time I noticed that the screen was hard to see outdoors, but it was only when the sun was shining directly on the recorder. If I turned around (which is what I did), or placed my left hand over the screen to create a shadow, it was okay. I normally record indoors, so not a major issue.

Which brings me to the final criticism of the Sony ux560. And this is not necessarily the recorder per se, but the lack of “accessories.” When I buy a recorder, my expectations are it’ll come with a pouch, a pair of ear buds, and a cable to connect it to my computer. When you buy the Sony ICD ux560, you only get the recorder. I tried reusing one of the pouches that came with my other recorders, they were all too big. You might want to buy a pouch for this recorder (if you have found one that works, please recommend it in the comments section below here’s one that I recommend) and protect it from accidental damage. Other than that, I could reuse cables and ear buds from my other digital recorders.

If you don’t have a USB-A female to male cable, I’d recommend you get one. And if your computer does not have a USB-A port, get the appropriate cable adapter. I once had the mishap of bumping into a recorder that was attached to my laptop and almost knocking off the laptop from the table. Learnt my lesson; I always use a cable to connect my digital USB recorders to my computer(s).

Pros

Back to the preaching. I’ve shared 3 things that surprised me about the Sony ICD ux560: thin and lightweight; instant power up; very good sound recordings. What I did know before I bought this recorder was that it recorded in the LPCM format. That’s a major advantage over other digital recorders that are primarily built to record voice. To my knowledge, this is the only recorder that records in the LPCM format in this class of recorders. A few years ago, Olympus had a few recorders with this feature, but they’ve discontinued production of these recorders (very sad!).

And that was the main reason why I bought this recorder to test it out. It also has a lot of recording options. You have 9 different options for “mic sensitivity.” That makes this recorder ideal for recording in different settings. I’ll share the settings I recommend for interviews, lectures, and focus groups below.

Sony icd-ux560 mic input

The Sony ICD-ux560 digital voice recorder with built in USB also comes with a 3.5mm mic input that has plug-in power. So you can plug in lavalier(e) microphones as external microphones – very hardy if you are recording interviews in a noisy location. After testing a 6 clip on microphones, I have found the Giant Squid (here’s my review of this microphone) to be the best Sony ICD-ux560 external microphone for recording interviews.

Remember I said that that the screen was hard to see outdoors. Well, in dimmer conditions, the Sony ICD-ux560 LCD screen is clear, sharp, and crisp. Unlike previous models, this screen has white text on a dark background that turns to dark text on white background when selected – simply brilliant. This recorder has the best clarity of all the recorders that I currently own.  The caveat is, it’s hard to see outdoors in direct sunlight.

Verdict

The Sony ICD ux560 beat my expectations. It’s a really good recorder, that’s why I recommend it. The jury is still out on what I think will be its major flaw – the built in battery. But the advantages of having a built in battery (instant power up + low profile) means that even if my battery unexpectedly dies, I’ll still go out and buy the Sony ICD ux560. Without any reservations. No wonder the Sony ICD ux560 has a very impressive 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. So, stop shopping around and go and buy this beauty!

FAQs

How do you Charge Sony ICD-ux560?

There are 3 main ways to charge the Sony ICD-ux560 digital voice recorder with built in USB.

Sony icd 560 usb charge

1) Slide out the built in USB, plug it into a computer and it automatically starts charging – even when it’s not powered on. I recommend you use a cable to connect it to your computer (see cons section above). 2) You can charge it using a USB charger. I normally use my phone charger. Connect it to the charger and it automatically starts charging. 3) Using a battery pack. Great for when you are traveling or away from your home/office. It takes about 2.5 hours to completely recharge the recorder.

How Much can the Sony ICD ux560 Memory be Expanded?

As stated earlier this recorder supports microSDHC cards (4 GB to 32 GB) and microSDXC cards (64 GB or more). The microSDXC cards can theoretically have up to 2TB. The largest microSDXC currently in the market tops at 256GB.  I bought a 128GB microSDXC for about $22 on Amazon, and it works well with my Sony ICD ux560. I also use it on my video camera. I’d recommend you buy a card that has more memory than you need – you can always share it with other devices.

Is the Sony ICD-ux560 Compatible with Mac Computers?

Yes. I recently upgraded to High Sierra 10.13.3, inserted the recorder and it popped up on my mac desktop. I was able to copy, move, paste, and rename files using Finder. The Sound Organizer 2 that comes with the recorder does not work on mac computers. Only works on most versions of Windows (up to Windows 10).  But it’s a basic audio editing program; Audacity is superior.

How Long Does the Sony ICD-ux560 built in Battery Last?

Sony ICD-ux560 Battery Life

According to Sony, 23 hours while recording in the LPCM format, 27 hours to MP3. Playback is 5 hours using the speaker and 30 to 45 hours using headphones. With 3-minute quick charge, the voice recorder can provide 1 Hour of recording.

Where Can I find the Sony ICD-ux560 User Manual

You’ll probably not need the user manual, but if do you can download the Sony ICD ux560 User Manual here.

Using the Sony ICD-ux560: Optimal Settings and Tips

How to use the Sony ICD ux560 to record interviews – optimal settings and a few tips

For a general guide on how to record research interviews, see this popular post. When using the Sony ICD ux560 to record interviews, have a pair of headphones or ear buds – that’s my first tip. The Sony ICD ux560 allows you to monitor the recording using your headphones. Plug in your headphones into the headphone jack, press record (big round red button) to start recording and then press record again to pause the recording. The advantage is, you’re still able to monitor, and play around with the settings of the mic(s) input, while the recording is paused.

Next, you need to find the optimal recording settings for your location. Finding the optimal recording setting that work best for your location enables you to record the highest quality audio possible. When looking for the optimal setting, there are two audio qualities to optimize; noise and audibility. You want to record as little noise as possible, while capturing your interviewee thoughts/opinions clearly. How do you achieve this with the Sony ICD ux560?

While the recording is paused, press OPTION (bottom right hand corner). Select Built-in Mic Sensitivity (using the play button), select For Voice. You have 9 sensitivities to choose from. You have High, Medium or Low, and each of these setting have a Wide, Normal and Focused option. Scroll through the High, Medium or Low setting using the UP or Down buttons. And scroll through the Wide, Normal and Focused options using the Forward or Back buttons.

To increase audibility, choose a higher mic setting and wide coverage. To decrease background noise, choose a lower setting and more focused coverage. A High (Wide) setting will give you great audibility – but you might have a lot of background noise coming through.  So it’s great for conducting interviews in a very quiet location. A Low (Focused) setting, will let in very little background noise, but at the expense of audibility – great for recording interviews in a noisy location.

The default setting I start with, while conducting interviews, is the Medium setting. It works well for most of my interview locations (with fans, fridge, or AC in the background). If I find that very little background noise is coming through, I change the setting to Medium (Wide) or High and see how much noise comes through. If there’s a lot of background noise coming through, I go in the opposite direction, choose Medium (Focused) or Low. One of those 4 settings works 90% of the time.

The only instance I’ve found these settings not to work well is when I’m recording interviews in a location with a lot of background noise (mostly cafes/restaurants). From experience, I always use lavalier mics – I get better quality audio. But before I got my lavs, I used a Low (Focused) setting on the Sony ICD ux560 and got pretty good audio. A couple of tips: place the recorder facing the interviewee. And place the recorder near the interviewee and use the noise cut filter. You’ll get decent audio in cafes, but I’d recommend using lav mics.

How to use the Sony ICD-ux560 to record focus groups – optimal settings and a few tips

In this post, I recommend using the Sony ICD ux560 to record small focus group discussions. Again, when recording focus groups and meetings, I start with the Medium (Wide) setting. If I hear, keep in mind I’m using my headphones to monitor the recording (see above), a lot of background noise coming through, I change to a Low (Wide) setting. Sometimes the Medium setting works, but I’ve found that the Medium (Wide) and Low (Wide) to be the 2 settings that work best for small focus group discussion and meetings.

A quick tip while using the Sony ICD-ux560 to record focus group discussions, place the recorder upright. It’s a bit of a balancing act – since the recorder is so slim, but you want the inbuilt mics facing up so that they can clearly capture all of the participants.

How to use the Sony ICD-ux560 to record lectures– optimal settings and a few tips.

The Sony ICD ux560 is the recorder I recommend for recording lectures. The setting that I’ve found to work best for lectures is the Medium (Focused) or the Low (Focused) setting. I’ve also found in some lecture halls, turning on the NCF (Noise Cut Filter) helps to cut out background noise. To turn on the NCF, while in Record Menu press OPTION, Select Recording Filter > NCF (Noise Cut). Again you’ll want to monitor the recording while making these changes to enable you get the best recording of the lecture.

Those are the settings I’d recommend using on the Sony ICD ux560 when recording interviews, focus group discussions, and lectures. To reiterate, here are the best practices while using the Sony ICD ux560. 1), use a pair of headphones to monitor and adjust settings (to optimize for audibility) while the recording is paused. 2)  By default, the recorder records in the mp3 format. Change the REC Mode to LPCM 44.1kHz. 3) Change the placement of the recorder, facing up or towards the subject(s), to reduce background noise or increase audibility. 4) The Medium (Wide/Focused) Mic Sensitivity setting works wells for recording interviews, Medium (Wide) and Low (Wide) for small focus group discussions, and Medium (Focused) or the Low (Focused) for recording lectures.

That’s it for this Sony ICD ux560 review post. Sorry it’s so long! I hope you’ve found it useful. If you have any questions/suggestions, please post them in the comment section below. Happy recording.

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Isaac

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.

115 responses to “Sony ICD-ux560 Review”

  1. recording_cat Avatar

    How long have you been used Sony ICD UX560 ?
    So I can approximate how many years I can use before battery fail. : D

    ( really love its recording sound quality )

    1. Isaac Avatar

      About 18 months. Had the same question and did a bit of research on lithium-ion battery life. How many times you fully discharge it (100% discharge) is more important than how long you’ve had it. You’ll get a minimum of 300 recharge cycles. In other words, expect to record at least 600 hours before you’ll have to worry about the battery. I’ve probably recorded about 60 hours worth of audio files – still have a long way to go.
      There are a few things you can do to extend the battery life. 1) Charge the recorder as often as possible – research has shown you can extend the battery life to 2500 cycles (about 10 times) if you recharge it as soon as 75% of the battery charge remains. And you’ll get 300 cycles if you always allow the battery to completely discharge before recharging. 2) Keep your ux560 recorder cool – do not leave it on a car dashboard or near a heat source. Store it in a cool dry place when not in use. 3) Minimize playback use, and if you do use the ux560 to listen to your audios, use headphones/earbuds.
      Happy recording,
      Isaac

  2. M Christodoulou Avatar

    Hi
    What lav mic would you suggest, will be using outdoors, not sure what noise level might be, could be windy!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      If you plan to record your voice outdoors in windy conditions, I’d recommend a clip on mic and a good wind screen.
      I’m testing out a few clip on microphones. Will let you know when I get a winner…

  3. mb christodoulou Avatar

    Many thanks I will wait, though I need to get one this weekend!!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      It’s going to be a while before I pen those reviews. Probably 6 weeks, sorry! Ordered 6 different lav mics that’ll need to test.
      I’ve been using the Movo LV1. Really like it, but the cord is 20ft long! Too bulky/messy for me. But could work for you… here’s the amazon link.
      Regardless, let me know which lav mic you get and how it worked out for you.

  4. recorder_o Avatar

    Hi,

    Could you recommend a lav mic to attach to the Sony ICD-UX560 for noisy office environments?

    Thanks

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Still haven’t had a chance to test most of them – plan to do so this week. In the meantime, try the Movo really like it: though I do think the cord is too long…

      Finally! After a couple of months of testing (yes it took that long!) I’ve found a great lav mic for the recording interviews in a noisy environment. I recommend the giant squid microphone, a very good microphone. You can find more information and my extensive thoughts on this microphone here.
      I’ve also written an in-depth how-to-post on recording interviews in a noisy environment using the Sony icd ux-560 and the giant squid microphone.

  5. Louise Clapperton Avatar

    can you use this to record telephone interviews and if so how do you do it? many thanks

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Louise, yes you can. You’ll need to attach the Sony to the T8 telephone pickup microphone. I’ll pen a detailed how-to post soon, (hopefully by end of the week), will keep you posted.

  6. Maija Avatar

    Is there a silence detection in this voice recorder?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Not sure I understand your question, but it does have a voice activation mode…

  7. Dango Avatar

    I used mine about 40 times over the course of a year and then it died. I was recording, pressed pause, set it down, and came back a few minutes later and it was dead. The files in the memory are lost unless I can get it to come back to life. The manual says it might be a dead battery, but the battery was fully charged. If you are tempted to buy one of these, just be prepared for a premature death. I would recommend downloading recordings as soon as possible to avoid losing files once it’s time is up. And if recording in the field, it might be smart to have at least two of them on hand. If you are recording for fun, it’s probably fine, but for any kind of professional work, I do not recommend it.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      40 times, that’s not often. I’d expect the battery to last at least 300 charge cycles. I’d definitely recommend that you get in touch with Sony and see if they can send you a replacement. I bet they will. Let us know.

    2. Mike T. Avatar

      The trick to “revive” this device when power slide is unresponsive is to to KEEP HOLDING down the power slider UNTIL it restart….keep holding ( might seems long…about 10+ secs.) 😉

      1. Isaac Avatar

        Will definitely try that if mine “decides” to die…
        Thanks.

      2. Ted Avatar

        Mine “died” just before a trip I was planning. Holding the slider down did nothing….downloaded files thru USB to computer a couple of times, which was the only way to get it to power on…but considered it a goner. Happened to try it again a week later and started right up like nothing was ever a problem and has been working fine since.
        Really weird, but maybe folks shouldn’t give up on the recorder too soon! Seems to have a ‘slider-on’ function glitch?

  8. nekovolta Avatar

    Hi, I was doubting between buying the UX650 or the PX470, until I found this website, which made me keep the same doubt hehehe.

    The reason I was looking for a Sony voice recorder, is that my previous recorder is a Sony ICD-SX800 but it died, and it seem I can’t repair it. I don’t understand about voice recorders, but I bought that one “by chance” almost 10 years ago and I loved it.

    My main doubt is about the battery. I really like the UX650 concept, but I am afraid I can face situations when the battery is empty, I have no way to sort it out. With the AAA batteries, I always carried a couple of the for those cases. So in this way, the PX470 fits me better, but I have to recognaise that is a nuisance to be always recharging batteries, and so on.

    My other doubt is about recording in the LPCM format. I’d never tried, and it seems it is great, but I record a lot, and I have to keep my records, so I can’t afford taking that much space in my hard disc. What do you think taking into account that I will recorder in MP3 format?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Nekovolta, both the PX470 and the sony icd-ux560 can record in mp3 format. For your use scenario, I’d recommend the px470. Here’s why. Because you plan to record using the mp3 format, it’s unlikely that you are going to connect the ICD recorder to your computer as often – since you can store a lot of mp3 files in the 4GB internal memory. And so you are likely to forget to recharge the ux560, and that’s not ideal.
      However, if you do regularly transfer your audio files from the recorder to your computer, then get the ux560. It charges really fast. Alternatively, you can buy an external USB battery pack (I have one for my phone), and use it to recharge the recorder when you’re not near a power outlet. All the best.

  9. nekovolta Avatar

    Thank you Isaac. Yes, I have to transfer the files to the computer very often, as I use the files in the computer instead of the voice recorder. I also considered buying a external battery, which I can use it to charge also my mobile and other staff. For that reason, I want to try the UX560. But as far as I understood, it seems that the UX560 is to record on the LPCM format. Do you think I can have good records if I decide to record on MP3? By the way, as I see you are an expert: do you know my previous recorder ?

    Do you think it will be too much difference between the old one and the UX560 or is the UX560 eve better than the SX800?

    Thank you very much in advance

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Never used the SX800, so I can’t really compare it to the UX560. However, looking at its specifications, I’d guess they’re very similar.
      The UX560 does record in mp3 format, and if you use the 192kbps mp3 recording format, you’ll capture decent audio. MP3 is a very good codec, it’s major downfall is if you plan to edit or convert the files to another audio format – that’s when you’ll notice a big drop in quality of the audio.

      Hope that helps.

  10. Hannah Gregory Avatar

    I am going to be backpacking across Europe and would like to record some cool conversations while I’m there, in addition to recording college lectures in the future. I’ve been reading up on recorders a good bit, and the different specs and names have been a little over my head. But this article was SUPER helpful. Thank you!
    I’ve never used a recorder before, but I am a quick learner, and this seems like a good fit: lightweight, good for interviews and lectures, high sound quality.
    Two things:
    1.) I will only be bringing a kindle and my iPhone xr with me. Will I be able to transfer the audio files to my cellphone? I’m also bringing a GoPro with a 128GB micro SD card, so I should be able to store the audio on there as well (correct me if I’m wrong)
    2.) from what I’ve said, do you agree this recorder is a good fit?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      2. Yes, the Sony ICD-ux560 is perfect for your needs.
      1. Yes, you can share the micro SD with the GoPro. With the right cable, you’ll should be able to transfer files from the recorder to your iPhone or kindle. Just head over to Amazon and look for a lightning to USB A cable to connect your recorder to your iPhone. I don’t own an XR so I can’t make a cable recommendation. Alternatively, you can get an external iPhone SD card reader and record/copy the audio files to the SD card and then use the SD card reader to transfer the files to your iPhone. I’d probably get the card reader because it’s more versatile.

      Enjoy Europe, it’s amazing!

      1. Hannah Gregory Avatar

        Okay, thank you SO much! You’ve been really helpful!!

  11. Tariq Niazi Avatar

    HI,
    Thanks for fantastic review on Sony ICD UX560. I have bought this device from Amazon.
    I have latest MAC with USB C ports, I have connected this voice recorder through Dongle that is C to standard USB for charging purpose. There is a message appearing “Connecting” wonder if it is charging in this situation . or not, or I will be able to download my recorded data on my MAC

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi. Yes it’s charging. When you charge the ux560 using a computer, it displays a connecting sign and a battery indicator. When the battery is fully charged, the battery indicator will read FULL.
      The ux560 should automatically mount when you connect it to your Mac. My ux560 mounts fine on my mac, however I own an older MacBook, that has the standard USB port, and a High Sierra installation.
      If you are using the latest OS, I doubt you’ll encounter an OS incompatibility issue – I’ve updated my iOS a few times over the years and I’ve yet to have an issue. I’ve not updated to the latest OS (Mojave?), so I can’t confirm that it is fully compatible. But I highly doubt that’s will be an issue. So if you (or anyone else) have upgraded to MacOS 10.14 I’d greatly appreciate if you could confirm compatibility with ux560. Just head over to your Finder and see if the ux560 appears as a drive folder: usually named IC Recorder and if you have a microSD in the recorder, you’ll also see a MEMORY CARD drive. If you see either of those 2 drives on Finder, you’ll be able to transfer the recorded audio from your Sony ICD-ux560 to your Mac Computer.
      Do let us know how it all turns out…

  12. Tariq Niazi Avatar

    Thanks a million buddy.
    I am using High Sierra 10.13.3 MacBook Pro 2017 with USB C.

    Yes It charged and I was able to transfer data as well. In the man while I am in a process of learning ropes on it as used to use OLYMPUS. Sony looks pretty good though, hope I will have command on it soon.

    Thank you once again for the response.
    Tariq

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Great. I used to be an Olympus fan too – now I really like the Sony ICD-ux560. It’s my go to audio recorder. And very quick to charge.

  13. Alaa Avatar

    thanks for the great review.
    how to go in voice activation mode

    1. Isaac Avatar

      To set up the voice activation mode, you’ll need to set the VOR (Voice Operated Recording) setting to ON. From the main menu scroll to Settings, Select Recording settings menu. In the Recording setting Menu, select VOR. In the VOR menu, set it to ON; by default VOR is set to OFF. The Sony ICD-ux560 does not allow you to manually set the sensitivity setting for voice activation. Instead, it automatically uses the mic sensitivity settings that you’ve have set as a template for voice activation. So, if you find that the recorder is not voice activated, use a higher mic sensitivity setting. Conversely, if you find that the recorder is being activated by background noise, use a lower mic sensitivity setting. Hope that helps.
      Isaac

  14. Vi Avatar

    Hi Isaac,

    I’m deciding between a Tascam DR-05 and the Sony UX560. The price of the two are very close to one another in Australia, there’s only a $30 dollar difference.

    I’d like to be able to record my thoughts, and conversations with people in all sorts of environments so that I can use them as a source of inspiration at a later time.

    I really do like the size of the Sony compared to the Tascam, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to buy the Sony considering the amount of features the Tascam has.

    What are your thoughts?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Vi, I wouldn’t compare the DR-05 to the ux560. The DR-05 is built to record music, and the ux560 is a voice recorder. Could you use the DR-05 to record conversations? Yes. But not very well – it’s too sensitive: you’ll capture a lot of background noise. And since you plan to record conversations in multiple environments, it’s a poor choice – believe me, I own one.
      My advice, get the ux560; it’s a better voice recorder.

  15. Ren Avatar

    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?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Ren, sorry it took so long to reply to you. But I decided to pen a post to answer your question.
      All the best.
      Isaac

  16. ELIMELECH Avatar

    does it record in MONO?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes it does, but only while recording using the MP3 48kbps(MONO) recording mode.
      If I may ask, why do you want to record in MONO?

  17. ELIMELECH Avatar

    I record lectures and produce CD’s from them for sale
    no need to be stero. Voice is goood as mono and it takes up less place
    i record as WAV or PCM not mp3
    SO I want it to be mono as 16/44 for cd quality
    thank you

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Got you.
      You’ll be hard pressed to find a voice recorder that records 16/44 wav mono. Most voice recorders that can record in LPCM come with at least a couple of microphones. The easiest thing to do would be to record in wav 16/44 stereo and then use an audio editing software, like Audacity (great, free, open source), to split the stereo into a mono.
      If you really want to save on storage space, record in wav, final output in mono 192kbps mp3 – for voice, no one will hear the difference.

  18. ELIMELECH Avatar

    thanks
    Tascam and Olympus has recorders that record in Mono as a WAV file
    16/44. I was hoping the cute Sony 560 would do the same.I know about the editing option ,I was trying to skip that step.thanks for your time.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      You’re right, they do.
      I used to own a Tascam DR-05, but didn’t have it for long enough to realize it could record mono wav 16/44!
      All the best in your search for the perfect voice recorder for your needs.
      And do let us know which voice recorder you end up getting.
      Isaac

  19. Colin Avatar

    How is the sound quality outdoors? Is there a windshield/deadcat we can purchase for this recorder? Trying to decide between the Zoom H1N or this Sony one as my first recorder. I am new to recording audio. Thanks!

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Quite good, though this is a recorder that’s primarily built for recording voice. How do you plan to use the recorder? Maybe I can offer more specific advice…
      And yes, you can find a deadcat or windscreen on Amazon. I’ll post a couple of links when I get back to the office.

      1. Colin Avatar

        Thanks for the reply. Yes, I plan to mainly use it to record voice. Sometimes I will have with a lav mic in someone`s pocket, other times it would be to record an interview or voice over. There seem to be less reviews on this Sony online then for the Zoom H1N. I love the size of this one. But is the quality of voice recording straight from the recorder better on one or the other?

        1. Isaac Avatar

          Voice recording on the Sony is better. But that’s a subjective opinion. And you can’t really compare the Sony and the Zoom H1n, they are built for different purposes (you should check this great YouTube video.
          If you can afford it, get both. They compliment each other very well. I use the H1n to capture the ambiance of the room, and the ux560 (with a lav mic) to capture the subject. I mix the two tracks in post and get very good audio.
          If you’re on a budget, get the Sony and good lav mics. The Sony is tiny, very easy to hide in a shirt pocket, and works well with most lav mics (I’d recommend the giant squid lav microphone).
          In comparison to the Sony, the H1n is huge! Personally, I find that I use the Sony ux560 a lot, and rarely use the H1n (I used to own Zoom H1 and I sold it, maybe I’ll also sell the H1n in a few months, we’ll see…)
          Finally, windscreens recommendations. Most foam windscreens are too big for this recorder (it’s only 36mm wide and most foam windscreens have a diameter of 40mm). I do use a foam windscreen on my Sony, but it kept falling off. Until someone suggest I use a rubber band to hold it in place – works very well. So, you can get a foam windscreen and use a band for a snug fit. However a furry muff/deadcat – here’s one I recommend, would fit (they come with an elastic band) and work better on the ux560.
          All the best,
          Isaac

  20. Peter Avatar

    Hi Isaac. Thanks for your review. You mentioned in the review you’ve used a Blue Yeti external mic. This has impressive specs. I wonder how you might configure a power supply for the Yeti, when using it with the Sony ux560?
    My use is couple counselling.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Peter, that’s a very interesting question. I wish I still had the Blue Yeti – sold it after I got the H1n; the yeti is not portable and it was gathering dust in a box. But here’s a possible, yet to be tested, solution. You will need to power the Yeti using the USB port. I’d connected to a 5V USB charger or a power bank – if my memory serves me right, the Yeti comes with a mini USB cable that you can use to connect to your computer, USB portable charger or 5v USB charger. Then you’ll need to connect the Sony ux560 to the yeti via the headphone jack using a male to male 3.5mm cable. So one end of the 3.5mm cable goes into the headphone jack of the yeti and the other goes into the microphone jack of the ux560. That should work.
      Let me know if you try it out.
      Regards,
      Isaac

  21. Marc Avatar

    Thanks for the detailed review! I’d like to know if this can record while recharging.

    1. Marc Avatar

      Sorry, a couple more questions: Is the battery removable? Will the device run on USB power with no battery installed? Also, is it safe to assume that a new recording is started automatically when the 4GB limit is reached?

      1. Isaac Avatar

        Nope, the battery is not removable; in-built battery.
        And yes, a new recording will start when the recording file reaches 4 GB for an LPCM (wav) file, and 1 GB for an MP3 file.

    2. Isaac Avatar

      Yes, this recorder can record while charging.

  22. Mitchel Julio Avatar

    Isaac, thank you for your great reviews.
    How can I playback the Sony UX560 thorough my NAD amplifier with RCA inputs ? What cable do I need?
    Thank you. Julio M

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Julio.
      Yes, you can use a 3.5mm male to male RCA cable to connect the ux560 to your NAD amp.
      There’s lots of them on Amazon…connect the 3.5mm plug to the headphone jack on the ux560 and the male RCAs to the NAD RCA inputs.
      Isaac

        1. Isaac Avatar

          You are welcome.

  23. Fathima Avatar

    Hi, can I use a 400GB micro SD card along with the Sony ICD UX 560? Do you think it would be be compatible?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Fathima, I’ve used a 128gb and 256gb microsdxc on my ux560 without any issues. So I’d expect a 400gb microsd to work. Any microsdxc standard card will work on this recorder, and the SD standard limits sdxc cards to 2TB. So you could upgrade the memory on the ux560 to 2tb. But we’ll never know for sure until manufacturers make a 2TB microsd card. Let us know if the 400gb card does not work on the ux560.

      1. Fathima Avatar

        I’m actually going away to a place where finding sd cards are going to be a pain, so I’ll take the tried and tested path, probably the 256Gb. But is it better to just buy a SD card that has lesser storage and periodically transfer the recordings to my phone where I can upload it? Cause I don’t have a laptop.
        Thanks in advance!
        Also, thank you cause your detailed reviews helped me decide what to buy and gave me an insight into the world of microphones.

        1. Isaac Avatar

          Yes Fathima, you do want to create multiple copies of your recordings. You don’t want your hard work to go down the drain if you lose your SD card. If you are not able to make backups of your recordings, I’d strongly recommend that you buy smaller many cards; that way you reduce the risk of losing all of your recordings.
          If I may ask, how many interviews/focus groups are you planning to record?

          1. Fathima Avatar

            Okay, but if I buy smaller storage cards then I think I might lose it so I’m not sure.
            I’d have to record about 500 hours of lecture over the next year. So I’m really confused on what size of storage I should get, considering that I’m planning on uploading it to my Google drive.

            1. Isaac Avatar

              If you are planning to record the lectures for your own personal use (listen to later etc), then recording them into mp3 files might be a better choice. And a 64GB microSD card will be more than enough to record 500 hours using mp3 format.
              If you do decide to record using the WAV format, you also need to think about uploading them to GDrive. Unless you have a very good internet connection – uploading 400GB of data is going to be pain. Google Drive tends to act up…at least on the desktop. I’ve never used it the App on my phone.
              All the best,
              Isaac

              1. Fathima Avatar

                Hi Isaac, I’m having trouble figuring out how to transfer the data from the SD card of the recorder to my phone, the plan was I’d buy an other cable and then transfer the data. But I don’t know how to do it with the otg once I finally got an otg. Could you tell me how to do it?
                Thanks!

                1. Isaac Avatar

                  Fathima, most phones come with SD card slot – unless it’s an iPhone!
                  I have inserted an SD into a USB card reader and then attached the card reader to my phone and I was able to transfer the files to my phone. Not sure if the same setup would work on an iPhone…

                  1. Fathima Avatar

                    Mine’s a one plus 3, the micro SD card reader sounds like a good idea. But I figured out what was wrong in the first place, the default settings in a one plus for an otg is disabled, once I realised that was the problem I just turned it on and viola!

                    1. Isaac Avatar

                      Glad to hear you got it to work.
                      Take care,
                      Isaac

  24. bar Avatar

    i am planning on recording in mp3 mode, will this recorder work better in a quiet room for a class if i put a microphone right near the recorder the same distance away from the speaker or will not make a difference?if yes which mic do you recommend?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Bar, the microphones on this recorder are really good. So it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference. I’d only recommend using microphones if you’d like to increase coverage using boundary microphones or if you’re a lecture and are moving around, you can use a clip on microphone and place the recorder in your pocket. Here’s the boundary microphones I’d recommend, and here are the clip on microphones I recommend.

  25. Bobby S. Avatar

    I live in a senior community with the responsibility of recording meetings in a large clubhouse. I need to hear people from way back in the room. Will this (or another is recommend device) do this?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Bobby, it really depends on the room acoustics. With the ux560, I’ve been able to record a speaker 30 ft away, but I was in a church with awesome acoustics. Conversely, in a large hall that had very high ceiling, a participant 10ft away sounded muffed. So, I’ve been impressed and disappointed. It really depends on the room. Have you thought about buying a couple of these recorders and placing one at the front and the other at the back?
      Isaac

  26. Charles Chaves Avatar

    Hi Isaac,

    Can I only use TRS mic input with the ux560? I tried recording with the Rode MicMe mic for smartphones and it does not seem to work. However, the Rode Video Micro external mic for cameras work. Im guessing I need a TRRS to TRS adapter ?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes Charles, you will need a TRRS to TRS adapter. Rode make a good one, it’s about $15 on Amazon.
      Regards,
      Isaac

  27. DND Avatar

    Hey Isaac! Thanks for all the tips.
    Just wondering, do you use low cut or noise cut?
    I’m planning on using this with lav mic on groom in wedding ceremony (mostly outside, normally with wind or background noise) maybe I should use sensitivity in medium focused?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Always use the noise cut filter for noisy locations. And the low cut for all other locations. And you might need a windscreen for your lav.
      I don’t know what lav mic you plan to use, with the Giant Squid Lav mic, I use the low mic sensitivity setting. That gives me a really good headroom for post. With medium setting, I get about 6dB of headroom; I do like more headroom than that.
      Also note that when using an external mic, you don’t have access to the focused and wide microphone sensitivity settings. You can only use the Low, Medium, and High sensitivity setting.
      All the best.
      Isaac

      1. DND Avatar

        Thank you so much for your reply and tips Isaac. You rock dude! All the best for you!

        1. Isaac Avatar
  28. Bashu Avatar

    Great review for the recorder but I need help for the next stage and that is to transfer recordings into text. Do you have any information that can help me choose a transcriber that will work over long periods of recording? Dragon equipment does not handle any constant transcribing.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Bashu, I’m not sure what you mean by constant transcribing, but Dragon Pro, version 14 and 15 (I believe) does have the option of transcribing recorded audio.
      There a lot of online services, Temi, Trint etc that provide AI transcription.
      And we do offer “human” transcription services…

  29. Siva Avatar

    will the headphone jack give a live output of what’s being recorded? like i can do a livestream with audio output via 3.5mm output while the recorder still records…? tq

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes, you’ll get a live output of what being recorded from the headphone jack.

  30. Luis S. Delgado Avatar

    Hey, I’m Luis and I’m considering using this digital recorder to record audio for large classrooms with a lot of students. The purpose is to collect data that later needs to be transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Yet, I’m unsure whether this type of recorder would work for me under such conditions. I’m talking 30 to 40 students in relatively large classrooms. I would appreciate any comments on this matter. Thanks

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Luis, if you plan to capture all 30+ students, that’s not easy. A couple of solutions. You can buy a good number of these recorders (maybe 10) and place them around the classroom. The recorder will probably capture 2 or 3 students, then you’d have to merge (you can use Audacity) all the recordings into 1 before transcription. Alternatively, you can buy microphones, chain them up to a voice recorder. The ME33 boundary microphones are great, you can chain 6 of them to a voice recorder…
      Hope that helps, if not, let me know.
      Isaac

      1. Luis S. Delgado Avatar

        Hey, Issac

        Thanks for the reply, it was very helpful. I’m considering 6 M33 chained to a voice recorder. The question now is, would it be better to use an Olympus voice recorder or would the Sony ICD-ux560 work jsut fine?

      2. Luis S. Delgado Avatar

        Thanks a lot Issac, I really appreciate it. I just read that I need a voice recorder that has plug-in power capabilities. Any suggestions?

        1. Isaac Avatar

          If you are going to use the ME33 mics, I recommend you get the Zoom H1n. It’s a great recorder for powering 6 ME33 mics. The ux560 does not output enough power for 6 mics.
          Isaac

  31. Lluís Avatar

    Hi Isaac,
    Thank you so much for this amazing review. I do fieldwork among farmers and shepherds in the mountain pastures. I need a recorder to interview them while walking around. Sometimes it is windy, sometimes sheep (bells) are around, that is the kind of environment I record in. I would interview only one farmer or shepherd at a time, two meters away or so. I was wondering if Sony ICD UX560 would work well for outdoor interviews or I should find another device.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Lluis,
      I’ve had success recording outdoor interviews, however I’ve used the ux560 with a couple of clip on microphones. I do have a great post on how to record interviews in a noisy environment.
      So yes, coupled with a clip on microphone you’ll get great results while using the ux560 – on it’s own, the ux560 will record a lot of background noise, which is not ideal.
      My recommendation, buy 2 ux560s and 2 clip on microphones (I recommend one in the post), a set for you and your interviewee. And that will give you, and your interviewee, great mobility while outdoors. Using this setup, you will get 2 recording that you can easily merge into one using an audio editing software (Audacity is a good, free one).
      Hope that helps,
      Isaac

      1. Lluís Avatar

        Hi Isaac,
        Thanks for your quick and helpful answer. Unfortunately, I cannot afford two devices but I will try using a clip on microphone or a windscreen. It should work like this 😉
        Thank you for your time.
        Best,
        Lluís

        1. Isaac Avatar

          My pleasure.

  32. Amanda Avatar

    My question is about playback. I like to record lectures and then listen to them on the device while I am driving. If the device is paused during playback and sits idle for a few minutes does it shut off? And if so, does it lose your place during the playback? On my last device, I found I spent too much time restarting the recording and trying to fast forward back to my spot. Any tips to avoid this? Also, if the battery dies, does the device lose the recordings? I thought I read that it does in another review. Even if I copy the recordings to my laptop, I like to keep them available on the device for ease of listening.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Amanda, the ux560 has a power off setting. You can set it to off and it will never automatically power off, or you can set it to power off after a set duration. When you do power it back on, it will load the audio file at the pause location and you can continue listening to the lecture from where you left off. Pro tip: when you pause the recording, place a marker so that you know exactly where you left off.
      Now, my ux560 battery has never died on me, so I can’t say if it does lose recordings. My guess is that it does not. I have the PX470, which is battery powered, and even if I take the batteries out, I can still access the recording stored in the internal memory. Personally, I like to record into MicroSD external memory which are very stable.
      Finally, the speaker on the ux560 is tiny, not great for playback (it has very tiny sound). The solution is to use earbuds or headphones and you’ll get awesome sound.
      Hopefully, I’ve answered all of you questions. If not don’t hesitate to post another comment.
      All the best.
      Isaac

  33. Owen Avatar

    Hey how loud is it?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Owen, if you are asking how loud the speaker on this recorder is, then it’s not very loud. If you plan to use the speaker for playback, the px470 has a better, louder speaker…

  34. Marcus Avatar

    Hi, Isaac. Thank you for this great review. I want to know if it’s possible to record my phone interviews through my iPhone using this recorder.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi Marcus, yes you can! Here’s a great how to post.

  35. Manish Avatar

    Will the Sony UX560 be good for recording violin practice sessions? Or is there another portable recording device that will do a better job?

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes the Sony ux560 will record violin practice sessions. However, I’d recommend you get the Tascam DR-05x, it’s a better music recorder.

  36. Singhal Avatar

    Hi. Thanks for a great review. I have been looking for a voice recorder for non professional uses. I wish to use the recorder in my pocket all day long as I am extremely forgetful and end up getting a lot flak at work and in general due to it. Will u recommend this for my use case scenario?

    Another model I looked at is tx650 as that is even tinier and seems to have decent reviews thigh a bit more expensive and a bit smaller battery.

    Olympus vp-10 seemed even better than these two as its reviews claim excellent recordings when kept in shirt pocket. But that has been very difficult to find around here.

    Would be really great if I can get your advice here. Which one would be best for me out of these three. Or May be something else? Thanks

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hi, I’ve not used the tx650 or the Vp-10. And I don’t thing the ux560 will work well for you. It doesn’t come with a clip and could be a little too large to carry around in your pocket all day. From my experience, recent Sony recorders record better quality audio than Olympus. So I’d probably go with the tx650. And I would worry about the internal batteries on these recorders, they last a long time.
      All the best.

  37. Alice Avatar

    Will this Sony recorder work with a Mac using Mojave Os 10.14.15
    Also will it record WAV files? I am doing oral history interviews, and the library I am sending them to prefers those kind of files. Thank you very much for your review of the Sony 560.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Hey Alice. I’ve tested it with High Sierra and it works, have not updated my mac to Mojave, (I’m waiting for an update to a software I often use), but I’ve never had issues with Mac compatibility. And when I bought the recorder I had El Capitan installed. So it probably works with Mojave, but I’m not 100% sure.
      However, you are more likely to have issues with connecting it to your Mac – especially if you have a newer model, unless you have the right cable. The recorder has an older USB A port, that’s not on most newer Mac models.
      For new Mac users, I recommend buying a MicroSD card, and a MicroSD Card reader (if you don’t have one), then recording or copying the files to the MicroSD card and using that to transfer the files to your computer. That’ll solve all compatibility issues.
      And yes, it does record WAV files, here’s a great post on how to set the ux560 to record using the wav format (with video).

  38. MOHAMED ELBANNA Avatar

    How long does Sony’s ICD-ux560 battery last in battery? In the case of continuous recording without stopping .. thanks

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Depends if you are recording mp3s or Wav. There’s a image on the post that shows how long the battery will last for each recording format…

  39. MOHAMED ELBANNA Avatar

    How do I transfer a voice recording to my computer

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Either slide out the usb and connect it to your computer/ or record to a MicroSD card and then connect the card to your computer.

  40. Fiona Avatar

    Does this Sony machine record in DS2? If so, is there an option to record in another format and how? Thanks 🙂

    1. Isaac Avatar

      No, the Sony ICD-ux560 does not record in the DS2 format. If you need to record in that format, you’ll need to get an Olympus or Phillips recorder (if you need a recommendation, let me know).
      The Sony ICD-ux560 does record mp3 or wav files. And this is a great post on how to set the ux560 to record using the mp3 or wav file format.

  41. Guy Atkins Avatar

    Wonderful review, Issac! I appreciate your answers to the many questions from readers.

    So…I have a question or two also. Have you used the Sony’s line input before? My only interest is recording from the output of portable shortwave radios. I have a Tascam DR-05 now, but I find that it’s plastic case radiates noise/interference (from the DR-05’s own circuitry) directly into the radio’s antenna, adding a constant buzzing sound in the background. The noise also travels on the shield of the connecting cable, no matter how high the quality of the cable.

    I’ve considered the metal cased DR-100mkii, but that seems to be wayyy overkill for my purposes. I don’t need a wide frequency range, etc., just a recorder that doesn’t pollute the line-in recording with its own interference.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yes I have, and it was excellent. The DR series Tascams have a well documented issue with radio interference.
      As far as I know, Sony, Olympus and Zoom recorder don’t have those issues.

      1. Guy Atkins Avatar

        Awesome info! Thanks so much.

  42. Jack Haines Avatar

    How many playback speeds does this recorder have? I need to record speeches and conversations, and, when I’m finished, play them back at slow speeds so I can type/transcrible them. Thanks.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      With the ux560 you have a playback speed of 0.25 times to 3.00 times. With 0.1 times increments.
      Though, I’d not recommend using the ux560 for transcription.
      It’s easier to transfer the files to a computer, and then use a transcription software for playback.
      The ux560 does come with a basic software (sound organizer) that you can use for transcription playback.

      1. Jack Haines Avatar

        Thank you, Isaac. One last question, please, if you don’t mind: which transcription software for playback would you recommend?

        1. Isaac Avatar

          The Sony Organizer is a good basic transcription software.
          We use F4, very good, but a tad expensive.

  43. Ted Avatar

    I posted this comment elsewhere, but thought it may be of use to current ux560 users having issues turning on this recorder when it is “playing dead”:

    Mine “died” just before a trip I was planning. Holding the slider down did nothing….downloaded files thru USB to computer a couple of times, which was the only way to get it to power on…but considered it a goner. Happened to try it again a week later and started right up like nothing was ever a problem and has been working fine since.
    Really weird, but maybe folks shouldn’t give up on the recorder too soon! Seems to have a ‘slider-on’ function glitch?

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