Digital Voice Recorder Recommendations

Hi Writers,
I’m all set to travel to New York tomorrow to cover the Thrillerfest writing conference. I’m going to be writing live from the conference on this blog as well as special show dailies for our e-newsletter subscribers (sign up via if you’re interested.)

Alas, as I’ve been preparing to be the ace reporter at Thrillerfest, I’ve discovered that my voice recording devices are oh-so-last-century, as in, they *gasp* use tape.

Imagine interviewing people who spend their days dreaming up stuff like watches that detonate bombs and pens that are really surveillance cameras and—oops! (@#$#!)—ace reporter has to stop and flip the tape!

So I’m shopping today for a digital voice recording device. I’ve just about talked myself into an iPod classic with microphone attachment, but I was wondering if any of the other ace reporters out there have recommendations.

Let the recommendations begin! And don’t forget to join me all week long for the inside scoop from Thrillerfest!

Keep Writing,

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11 thoughts on “Digital Voice Recorder Recommendations

  1. Sean Chercover

    I’ve been using the Olympus WS-320M for a while and I love it. Good sensitivity, stereo recording, small size, plenty of memory, nice USB connector (and it can double as a flash drive if you find yourself somewhere without one).

    Not the cheapest machine on the market, but it has worked for me flawlessly, even after being dropped on a concrete floor a couple of times.


  2. mary ulrich

    Just finished reading Lori Foster’s book Fallen Angels. The pen recording device that Tom talked about is in her story.

    Her main character is undercover and it is the "wire" when she is meeting the villian. Because it is a pen she attaches it to her purse and it goes unnoticed which wouldn’t work with the traditional wire because of her skimpy outfit.

    I didn’t make the connection until your post.

  3. Steve C

    Hi Maria,

    Just read up on your Olympus and you got both the voice-activated recording and USB – very cool. I’ll keep that model in mind when this one wears out (or falls out of my pocket once too many times – you really have to button shirt pockets over these things).

  4. Steve C

    I did a lot of research on digital recorders a few years back and settled on a Sony ICD-B26, for the VOR – voice-activated recording, which I’ve found very helpful, especially when I accidentally leave it on.

    The thing I wish it had, though, is a USB connection to a computer, so you can download it all quickly for editing, rather than having to play it in through the microphone jack.

    Those go for over $100, though. The Olympus models seem to have it for under that price, though, and I’d probably look there next time around.

    There’s also some free transcribing programs on the net that I haven’t yet tried, but which sound promising, whether used with a foot pedal or keyboard.

    Say hey to everyone at ThrillerFest for me,

  5. Shaun Eli

    I bought the least expensive one that WalMart had, an RCA. It works well for recording my stand-up comedy shows and it’s easy to use, plus it plugs into a USB port. HOWEVER it doesn’t record wav or mp3 formats but uses its own proprietary format. So whenever I upload from the recorder to my pc I can’t just copy over, I have to convert the file, which is an extra couple of steps and takes a couple of seconds per minute of recording time…

  6. Lori

    Definitely let us know how it works, Maria. I’ve been wanting to replace my ancient recorder before it fails mid-interview. The Olympus was one I’d considered.

  7. Maria Schneider

    That’s brilliant Tom, lol!

    To update: I didn’t go with the iPod/recorder, realizing my Mac laptop may (at 3+ years old) be too dated to accommodate it. *sigh*

    I instead purchased a tiny, spy-like Olympus WS-210S digital recorder with an accessory telephone handset, all from Radio Shack. I’ll let you know how it works out.

  8. Tom

    Seeing as how you’re at the Thrillerfest and all, you’ll be interested in the latest technowizardry that’s just come down the pike:
    1. Microsoft’s new digital voice recorder that looks exactly like a pen. It also doubles as a contact-surface listening device (works through many walls and across solid, unbroken surfaces). It’s a bargain at 26 bucks. Unfortunately, it uses proprietary ink cartridges that cost $40 each, and they only last about two months. If it freezes, you have to remove the ink cartridge and reinstall it to start it again. This could be a problem during some instances where you wish to remain unnoticed.
    2. Apple has a new shoe that doubles as a scanner and fax machine. Unfortunately, it’s only being released in Bondi blue. This is a problem if you’re going to surreptitiously fax from a location that isn’t at a beach or poolside, as the shoes clash with normal business attire.
    3. Nikon has just released a camera that’s also a phone. The photos are outstanding, but the sound quality isn’t the greatest. On the bright side, your cameraphone pic quality will now beat the living socks off of all your friends. Only comes in black. (insert sad emoticon)
    4. AT&T is working on a coffee maker that doubles as a sattelite communications device. Unfortunately, the unit suffers from connectivity issues due to the fact that ALL the grounds must be kept INSIDE the filter, and, well, you know how careless people are about that.

    Just some thoughts. Hope that helps.