Researching Digital Voice Recorders

closeThis post was published 12 years 8 months 28 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

I’ve been having so much fun lately. Not really. Researching products, whether on the Internet (as I’ve been doing for the last few days) or in real life (which I’ve done in the past), is a pain. Specs for one company’s product are formatted completely differently from another’s, similar devices turn out to be completely different on close examination, etc. Bah!

The backstory here is that I’ve been researching digital voice recorders. I have been thinking about getting one for a few months now, as a way of preserving all the stories my parents and grandparents tell (but only when we have company). I’ve been pondering since before my last post on the subject of anecdotes, and recently the thoughts have taken a more proactive path.

Beginning with a simple search of Google Product Search for [digital voice recorder], I’ve since found dozens of models, each with different pros and cons. Looking at the specs for each, I devised a list of requirements:

  • MP3/WAV format
  • Not WMA!!!
  • Stereo recording
  • Easy recorder-to-computer transfer
  • Removable storage, preferably Secure Digital
    • Large internal storage (as an alternative to removable media)

    Simple baseline requirements, really. I immediately ruled out a bunch of the products I had discovered.

    Olympus has a large selection of digital voice recorders, but they all record to WMA and are compatible only with Windows machines. The few with removable storage capabilities use Olympus’s xD cards, which I don’t have (and don’t wish to purchase, as that would be their only use). So Olympus is totally out.

    A lot of voice recorders turned up in my search were microcassette devices, which I don’t want (tapes? seriously). Those were mostly at Target’s website.

    I hit one jackpot when I discovered Sony’s ICD-UX80. Two gigabytes of internal memory, recording in stereo to MP3, alkaline batteries… Thought I had it made. But then I discovered another one (no, not a different Sony model).

    What I found was the Roland EDIROL R-09.

    Removable media, in Secure Digital! Stereo! WAV (and MP3)! Small! Perfect! Sure it’s nearly three times the price of the Sony, but it has theoretically unlimited storage. It also runs on AA batteries, which we already have lying around in rechargeable form (the Sony runs on AAAs).

    I found a bunch of glowing reviews for the R-09. There were a few neutral ones — mostly complaints about sound quality and durability — but those were pretty isolated. Only three out of 17 reviews were lower than 4 stars (out of five).

    Basically, this is where I should take a picture of the thing and superimpose “WANT” on it. I won’t though; copyrights, time, tools (not at my own computer right now, so no GIMP), blah blah blah. But I am planning to go and play with one at Best Buy this afternoon, where they have it in-stock (as of last night). No, probably no review until after my trip to Chicago, if I even buy an R-09.

    So, final “at home” post before my trip. I’ll post an announcement-type post with more details on the trip itself tomorrow morning before I leave.

    Update (17:16): Bought a Roland EDIROL R-09 this afternoon. I’m taking it to Chicago. I have a month to figure out if I like it or not, so we’ll see how it goes.

    Update (05/21): After finding out that my research was incomplete at the end of last month (and forgetting to update this post; d’oh!), I just completed arrangements to get a newer version of the R-09 in a month or so.


    I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

    One Comment:

    1. Excellent premises, very clear and concise details. Good points for internet product research. Looking forward to the after one month of use conclusions.

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