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Best Digital Voice Recorders for Capturing Great Sound

  1. Olympus Digital Pocket Recorder
  2. Philips DPM6000 Pocket Memo Digital Recorder
  3. Sony ICDUX560BLK Voice Recorder
  4. Livescribe Symphony Smartpen Bluetooth Personal Recorder
  5. Olympus DP-201 Recorder
  6. Olympus VN-7200 Voice Recorder
  7. Modea Portable Digital USB Disk Recorder
  8. Olympus WS-853 with 8GB Recorder
  9. Philips DVT6500 Voice Tracer Digital Recorder
  10. Buyer's Guide

These little digital marvels offer loads of storage space for days of recording time. Perfect for everyone from students to journalists to Moms who just need to remember shopping lists and their children's daily schedules, digital voice recorders are convenient and compact so that you can take them on the go. With built-in microphones that are sensitive enough to seek out only the vocal content you want to record and eliminate background noise at the same time, these recorders are often voice activated so that they only work when someone is speaking.

You also want a device that has USB connectivity so it’s easy to hook up to any PC or Mac so you can download and manage your recordings. Some devices are outfitted with additional features such as file editing, variable speed play back, external microphone ports, and they can even record and play multiple file formats from MP3 to WAV among others. Whether you're looking for a digital recorder to capture a busy sound environment with numerous voice speaking or you just need a device to record the audio from an important lecture, we have a variety of products at both ends of the price spectrum that we've determined to be the best you can buy. Check out our list of the top personal voice recorders in 2022.

Personal Recorders to Capture Content On-The-Go

Olympus Digital Pocket Recorder - Best Digital Voice Recorder

To start, the VN-702PC offers over 800 hours of record time on 2GB of memory, one of the longest record capabilities available of any device on the list. You record lecture notes, store personal memos, and take down thoughts at the touch of a button. The included microSD slot lets you expand your memory up to 32GB further and you can conserve space with the choice of recording in either MP3 or WAV formats.

An important component you'll want in any good recorder is USB connectivity and the VN-702PC  makes file transfer quick and easy from the device to any computer. Recording your content is also pretty simple and you can adjust the settings to reflect the type of audible environment you're in.

A built-in stand keeps the device upright to minimize sound interference from where the recorder has been positioned while keeping the large LCD display in full view for easy reference. There's even a voice activation feature to keep you from draining the battery too quickly as it automatically engages and disengages the record function when no one is speaking.

Philips DPM6000 Pocket Memo Digital Recorder - Runner Up

With an available built-in 4GB of storage capacity and a microSD card slot for expanded storage capacity, the Philips DVT1400 offers a virtually unlimited amount of record time. You're looking at around 44 days of recording on the long play mode setting, shorter at other speeds obviously.

There's a lot to like about this device, including a dual microphone setup to capture superior speech clarity, even in noisy environments. Your recordings are captured in MP3 format and you have a choice of one-touch recording with the push of a single button, or simply go hands free with voice-activated recording. All you need to do is start speaking and the unit does the rest.

Playback can be done right from the device itself or through any PC via the built-in USB connector. The time stamp feature lets you navigate and locate any recording with ease and it only requires just 2 AAA batteries to operate. One shortcoming, this is not a rechargeable unit.

Sony ICDUX560BLK Voice Recorder - Honorable Mention

The ICD-UX533 has 4GB of internal memory and comes with a storage expansion slot for up to 1,000 hours of recording time; there's also a microSD memory card for even more time if you need it. You get an internal dual-element cardioid microphone for capturing audio content with three sensitivity settings to adjust for the surrounding environment. There's also a speaker at the front of the device or you can use headphones to listen to your recorded content.

Your recordings are made in MP3 or LPCM and you can choose the bitrate resolution for sound quality, from 8k to 192k. You can also configure the unit to automatically set your record levels or do it manually to minimize distortion from loud, incoming sounds. Additionally, this recorder features file erase/protect, a hold function, a bookmark function to keep your place in any file, and a five-band EQ for MP3/WMA/AAC playback. The ICD-UX533 also lets you sync up with any PC or Mac.

Livescribe Symphony Smartpen Bluetooth Personal Recorder - Consider

You're trying to jot down important notes while the lecturer continues talking and you inevitably forget something or scratch it down improperly. Fortunately, Livescribe makes a line of smartpens based around the premise that none of us can write very fast. Available in 2, 4, or 8 GB memory sizes, the Sky works like any ball point pen but also records audio at the same time.

While you can just play back the recording and listen to the lecture over again, what's even better is the pen can remember what you wrote down when during that recording. All you need to do is touch the tip of the pen to a certain part of your notes and it automatically plays back the audio portion recorded from that position on the paper. This recorder is also Wi-Fi enabled and automatically sends your notes and the full recording to an Evernote account if you have one set up. And don't worry if this pen runs out of ink as it comes with replaceable ink cartridges.

Olympus DP-201 Recorder - Best Budget Recorder

The DP-201 gives you almost 200 hours of recording time with a storage capacity of up to 2GB; pretty good, though you'll find units with larger storage on our list. However, this recorder is our top pick because of its ease of use as well as creating great sounding thanks to noise cancelling filters which minimize background noise around you.

Finding your audio files is extremely easy with the recorder's Calendar Search Function. Simply do a search for the appropriate file by name or date and the unit will tell you exactly where it’s for immediate playback. The large LCD front display and basic function buttons are easy to read, so operation is effortless even for those who have a little trouble with their eyes.

One great feature with this recorder is you get about 70-80 hours of battery life on just two AAA batteries. There is one drawback as this recorder doesn’t plug in to a PC so you can't save audio files for posterity. Once your memory is full, you need to delete or erase over previous files.

Olympus VN-7200 Voice Recorder - Best Budget Recorder

The VN-7200 comes with three recording modes. HQ gives you the highest quality possible, while SP and LP extend your recording times of up to 1,100 hours of audio at the lowest mode. Dual playback modes let you play your recordings back at 25 percent slower speed or 50 percent faster. Creating a recording is as simple as speaking thanks to the unit's voice-activated recording function.

This recorder comes with a helpful indexing feature allowing you to bookmark specific points of an audio file for easy access. Large, clearly marked buttons let you stop and record with just one touch while a directional pad gives you total control over your files with play, skip and forward functions. There's no USB hookup on the VN-7200 but files can be transferred to any PC through headphone and microphone jacks with any sound recording software such as Audacity or Sony ACID.

Modea Portable Digital USB Disk Recorder - Best Budget Recorder

Voice recorders don't get much more basic than IGearPro's mini USB flash drive recorder. It has up to 16GB of internal memory and offers bitrate quality of up to 384 kbps in WAV format. Since this is a flash drive, the unit plugs directly into any PC or Mac to play back your audio files through just about any sound software. No need for any downloading of drivers with this unit, just plug it in and you're ready to go.

This recorder works on a rechargeable battery that requires a USB for recharging, but it cannot charge while in use so you have to pick between one or the other and unfortunately it isn’t a voice activated recorder. But for around $20, you could probably look past those issues considering how much storage and recording time you get in this tiny device.

Olympus WS-853 with 8GB Recorder - Best Digital Voice Recorder

The WS-823 is one of Olympus' most versatile models and it's hard to believe they packed so many useful features into this little device. For starters, record functions are fully adjustable with a zoom capability on the microphone that lets you enhance or decrease directivity to focus on a source of audio in an environment with excessive ambient sound. You can steer the microphone to a speaker that’s located far away or surrounded by other people talking. With the WS-823 it's much easier to pick up the sound no matter where you are in relation to it.

This recorder also can react accordingly to loud or soft recording environments, providing a voice balance function that accommodates multiple voices in a room so each can be heard clearly. Playback offers a number of options as well including a voice playback function allowing you to skip all non-vocal portions of a recording, 99 index marks for each file, and a pitch control that can change the sound and speed of your file.

With all of these functions, you may think this is a complicated device to use, but the interface couldn't be easier to understand. The WS-823 records in PCM, MP3, and WMA formats which can be easily transferred to your PC or MAC through the integrated USB port. You get 8GB of memory and a Micro SD card to expand the size of your storage all the way to 32 GB. Even more interesting here, the device has an FM radio tuner which lets you listen to and record broadcasts from any station you choose.

Philips DVT6500 Voice Tracer Digital Recorder - Best Digital Voice Recorder

There are so many things to like about the DVT6500, it's no wonder this unit made our list. First, the 3mic high-fidelity microphone array picks up sound from three directions using one omni-directional main mic and two side mics to read left/right and front/back sound to create multi-layered surround sound recordings. Second, the unit has a motion sensor to detect whether the device is standing up or lying horizontally. This helps the device adjust microphone sensitivity in order to provide you with the best possible recording quality.

Functionality is what makes this device a top pick; it's equipped with a USB port to transfer your files easily, you can record in MP3 or WAV and MPEG, there's variable-speed playback, a pre-record function that can pick up five seconds of sound prior to full depression of the record button, and voice-activated recording to conserve battery life. You also get 4 GB of built in storage capacity and a micro SD slot that can accommodate up to 32 GB of additional memory. There's one other thing you get here that the other guys don't offer - a wireless remote. That's right, you can start, pause, and stop recording even when your device is on the other side of the room.

Buyer's Guide

MP3 players allow you to listen to music on the go. You can block out others’ conversations on public transport while listening to your favorite song. You can listen to music that energizes you when you work out, and you can give a clear sign to strangers who may want to talk to you that you are busy listening to music.

MP3 players are not as popular as they once were. However, there are still plenty on the market. But how do you choose the best one for you? To help you decide, we have come up with a list of things to consider before making your decision.

Continue reading to see our suggestions.

Why use an MP3 player instead of using a mobile phone?

There are several reasons why using an MP3 player can be preferable to using a mobile phone.

Exercise

Exercise comes with the risk of breaking your music listening device. If you have an expensive smartphone and don’t want to risk damaging it, you can purchase a more affordable MP3 player. Many MP3 players have built-in clips because their manufacturer knows that most people use an MP3 player while jogging or at the gym.

Hiking and camping

When you are camping or hiking, you increase the risk of dropping your phone and damaging it. Why not buy a cheap burner phone for the trip and take a low-cost MP3 player? Keep your expensive phone at home and safe.

Save your phone’s battery

If you listen to all your music on an MP3 player, you will save your phone’s charge for other things such as calling and texting, as well as using the internet. Keeping all your music on an MP3 player will also free up space on your phone for other things like photos.

Things to consider when buying an MP3 player

Knowing what features you are looking for before you search for an MP3 player will save you a lot of time and prevent you from paying for features that are not necessary for your requirements. Take a look at the things you should consider when buying an MP3 player below.

Memory size

The memory of an MP3 player indicates how much music it can hold. Memory is measured in GBs. For example, 1GB will hold about 240 songs, and 40 GB will hold about 10,000. If you travel a lot, you may want to consider an MP3 player to store your entire music collection.

Exercise

If you only listen to your MP3 player when exercising, you may only need enough space to listen to a few albums at a time. Smaller models are great for exercise because they are more compact and contain fewer moving parts. Solid-state MP3 players are great for fitness fanatics - these devices are intended to be jog-proof. As mentioned previously, many MP3 players come with a clip, so you don’t need a bag or pockets to carry it in.

Aesthetics

MP3 players come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Although some may be less aesthetically pleasing, they may contain more memory or be more durable. Always opt for content over style.

Size

As a general rule, the size of the MP3 player will tell you how many songs it can store. The larger its size, the more songs it can hold. If you want to carry hundreds of albums with you, you will have to sacrifice how discreet your device looks.

Functions

Various added functions may appeal to you—some people like their MP3 player to do more than play your saved songs. For example, some MP3 players play the radio or can act as a USB file storage device. Other additional features include voice recording, play videos, and display photos.

Video playing and displaying photos

If opting for features that involve images, choose a device with substantial screen size and resolution. Make sure your MP3 player plays MP4 files. This is the most popular format for videos and allows you the largest variety of downloadable content. The more formats your MP3 player supports, the more content it can access.

Compatibility

Check that the device comes with the software you need to connect it to a computer. You can generally download this software at no extra cost. Some older models of MP3 may connect to your computer via firewire. However, firewire is no longer available in most modern computers. Instead, make sure both your chosen MP3 player and your computer has USB 2 capabilities for fast downloads.

Battery life

Many small MP3 players can run off a standard AA or AAA battery, giving you up to 15 hours of playing time. Larger MP3 players usually have a sizeable Li-ion battery that can be charged but not changed. These batteries provide at least 10 hours of playback.

If you are going camping or something similar and will be unable to charge your MP3 player, you may consider choosing an MP3 player with removable batteries so you can take a few spares. You can also use rechargeable removable batteries, saving you money in the long run.

MP3 players price range

You can buy an MP3 player for as little as $45 and as much as $1300. The price varies depending on the brand, hardware, and materials used.

FAQs

Is it illegal to download music from a YouTube video and convert it to MP3?

It is illegal to download a copyrighted music video and convert it to MP3. However, it is not unlawful to do the same to a non-copyrighted music video or song.

What are some excellent MP3 player brands?

Some popular MP3 player brands include Sony, Victure, Aftershokz, and apple. There are many more MP3 player brands you can find with a quick Google search.

Do MP3 players need wifi?

Most mp3 players do not need wifi. This is because you listen to songs you have saved to your device but usually do not stream music. However, you do need access to a computer to download your music onto your MP3 player.

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