Recording Qualitative Interviews: Mobile Phone or Dedicated Voice Recorder?

Recording Qualitative Interviews: Mobile Phone or Dedicated Voice Recorder?

Obviously a dedicated voice recorder. That’s been my default answer. But I recently got this comment from a reader of this blog:  “Have recently finished about 20 qualitative interviews and used a ‘Voice Recorder’ app downloaded to my phone. Everything was crisp clear except for one interview in a ‘quiet’ restaurant that later became noisy – so yes I agree with you about location.” And so I set out test a few recording apps on my android phone and compare them to recordings made using the Sony ICD-ux560 voice recorder. My main concern was the quality of the audio recording – from my previous experience, I expected the audio from my phone to be poor. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to get a very good recording from my phone. It wasn’t as good as the ux560, but it was more than adequate for transcription. But that was in a quiet room.… Continue reading…

Best Sony Voice Recorder

Best Small Sony Voice Recorder : TX800

Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of Sony. I’ve always thought their build quality was “so so” – owned a Sony Walkman that gobbled up my MJ tape, I was not happy. However, I now own a few Sony voice recorders and I’m impressed. Because I had such low expectations? Maybe. But Sony voice recorders have become my default first choice. Why? 3 reasons. 1) They record very good sound – sound that you’d expect from professional quality microphones. 2) Surprisingly durable, I’ve not been kind to them and they’ve lasted a while. 3) In every category, they are always priced lower than their counterparts. Better and cheaper – that’s why I’ve become a fan. Best Value Sony Voice Recorder: ux560 If you are looking for a recorder built to record everything, from your band sessions, to interviews, meetings and voice memos, consider the ux560. This is the jack of all trades Sony… Continue reading…

Best Olympus Voice Recorder

Best Olympus Voice Recorder

The Olympus brand is synonymous with voice recorders, since they introduced the Zuiko Pearlcoder – the world’s first microcassette tape recorder, in 1969. And in 1997 announced the D1000, their first digital voice recorder. My first voice recorder was an Olympus microcassette tape recorder that took me through college. Since then I’ve been a loyal fan, and the Olympus voice recorders have been my go to recorders. However, that’s changed – really like Sony recorders, but that’s a story for another day. Olympus do still make a few “niche” recorders that I really like and use. Since they discontinued production of the WS-823, they’ve not made a fairly priced all-purpose recorder that I like. If you are an Olympus fan, let me share with you 4 Olympus recorders – each designed for a specific need. And you are unlikely to find the same features in other brands of voice recorders. Best Easy to Use Olympus… Continue reading…

Best Microphone for Voice Recorder

Best microphone for recorder

Normally, voice recorders are good enough for recording interviews, focus group discussions, and meetings. Their modern internal in-built microphones have progressively become better – and at par with most external microphones.   However, there are a couple of instances when you’ll need a voice recorder microphone. Range The first is when you want to extend the range of your voice recorder – that is, you want to increase the area of coverage. Now, some recorders (for instance some Olympus models), claim that they can zoom in/out and decrease/increase area of coverage. But really, all they are doing is increasing the mic sensitivity; which increases the recording converge area but also captures a lot of background noise. If you are in a very quiet room, you can get away with increasing the internal microphone sensitivity to cover more area and record distant audio. But even then, there’s a limit to the distance you can record using voice… Continue reading…

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Dictation

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Dictation

When you think about dictation equipment, the first thing that pops in your head is probably digital voice recorders. So what is the best digital voice recorder for dictation? Well, the answer is that there’s no simple answer. The best recorder for dictation will depend on your specific needs and situation. And when you’re purchasing a voice recorder for dictation, the most important question to ask is: How do you plan to use the recorder? Are you planning to use a voice recorder to dictate short personal voice notes or memos? Do you plan to use the voice recorder to dictate reports or emails? Or dictate patient records? Depending on how you plan to use your recorder, a different type of digital voice recorder might make sense for your dictation. If you plan to use your voice recorder for everyday personal use, then you want to look for a recorder for a “plug and play”… Continue reading…

Best microSD Card for your Voice Recorder

Best microSD Card for your Voice Recorder

What are the 3 things that you need to consider before you buy a microSD card for your voice recorder? Capacity The most important consideration when you’re looking for a micro SD card for your voice recorder is the amount of storage that you’re going to need. And that’s dependent on how you plan to use your voice recorder. If you plan to use your recorder frequently, and for long periods without plugging it to your computer – you’ll need a large capacity microSD card. However, if you plan to use the recorder infrequently and you are likely to frequently transfer your recordings to your computer, you can get away with a smaller capacity microSD card. Below is an image of approximate maximum recording time you can expect from your microSD card. Having said that, the lowest capacity microSD card that I’d recommend you get is 32GB. And that’s mainly because lower capacity microSD cards… Continue reading…

Sony ICD-ux560 vs Sony ICD-PX470

Sony ICD-ux560 vs Sony ICD-PX470

“I’m looking to buy a recorder for my classes for ease and I was wondering what would be the big difference between the Sony ICD-ux560 and Sony ICD-PX470. I noticed the PX470 was cheaper and it was an amazon choice.” Ji. Ji questions got me thinking. What’s amazon’s choice? And how do we turn subjective opinion (I like product x) into objective x is better than y; or best of everything (best shaver!)? Like everyone else, I turned to Google for answers. And found out that Amazon choice label says nothing!  At the time of writing, the px470 was Amazon’s choice for the search term “sony icd-px470 digital voice recorder.” That’s a really specific search term; and Amazon labeling the px470 as Amazon’s choice tells us nothing. My advice, ignore the amazon choice tag. The second was more of an essentialist question – that some products have sets of attributes that are necessarily to their… Continue reading…

Best voice recorder for meetings

I lied! Sorry. This post is not (only) about the best voice recorder for meetings; though you’ll find the 3 recorders I recommend at the bottom of the post. But more importantly, to point out that certain voice recorders only work well recording certain types of meetings – not all meetings. Thus, in this post, I begin with a discussion of 2 things you’ll need to consider before you grab a voice recorder to record your meeting. Then segue to 3 voice recorder recommendations for recording specific categories of meetings. Location This is an important consideration. Some locations have very good acoustics – and make recording a meeting a breeze, while others are not ideal for audio recording. What are the key things to consider when looking at a meeting room’s acoustical features? The first is the reverberation of sound. Sound reverb is caused by large flat surfaces – floor, walls, and celling. The second… Continue reading…

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Journalists

A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of our clients. As we were having coffee he asked me if he could record our conversation; as a journalist, he sees stories everywhere. He reached into his pocket and got out his iPhone to record the conversation!!! Aghast, I instantly understood why we had a horrid time transcribing his poor audio quality interviews. I spent the next 5 minutes explaining to him the various advantages a dedicated recording device has over most smartphones (longer battery life, easier to use for recording, extra features focused on recording, and excellent sound quality). And I firmly suggested he acquires a digital voice recorder.  For a journalist, an iPhone is not good enough. Choosing an Audio Recorder Digital voice recorders are designed for many uses. Some are great at recording dictation, others are built for recording musical instruments. It is important to understand the unique… Continue reading…

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Writers

Best Digital Voice Recorder for Writers

Today, I’m going to try something new. I’m going to first dictate this post and then transcribe it. Thought I’d try it out today, because I’m penning this particular post on best digital voice recorders for writers. I do plan to write a lot of posts this year, so I do want to see if this is a better option than staring at the blinking cursor! Let’s get to it. Do you really need a voice recorder? Could you use your phone? Yes you can. But your phone’s audio recording capability is simply not good enough. Buying a digital recorder will save you (or your transcriber) a lot of time trying to figure out what was said. Believe me, it’s a sound investment. So, what are the 3 things you need to consider about when choosing digital voice recorder to assist you with your writing? Interviews vs Dictation The first thing you want to think… Continue reading…