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Olympus makes the best digital voice recorder

If you're in the market for a high-quality digital voice recorder but don't need all of the high-tech extras that tend to hike up the price of some devices, there are some great options that can deliver top-notch recording quality without completely emptying your wallet.

In this category, the Olympus DM-620 (*Est. $150) emerges as a clear top choice. Reviews tell us that the DM-620 is a great recorder for tackling everything from concert hall performances and public meetings to face-to-face interviews.

Radio magazine's Gil Wilson praises the Olympus DM-620 for its all-around excellent sound quality, citing the recorder's unique three-microphone system as a major plus. The two outer mics are mounted at an outward angle, while the omnidirectional center mic picks up amazing bass range for superior stereo recordings. Adjustable sensitivity and multiple presets make this recorder adaptable for a wide range of situations, and it picks up sounds clearly at great distances, reportedly up to 55 feet in some cases.

Though not as expensive -- or as feature rich -- as the fancier pro-models such as the Samson Zoom H4n, the Olympus DM-620 is still priced on the high-end for this category. Among its advantages, however, is support for lossless WAV audio files, something that's missing from less expensive choices such as the Sony ICD-AX412 (*Est. $75) . The Sony digital voice recorder is limited to MP3-only format support, which is adequate for most uses but won't fly if you're a professional user needing the best sound quality.

Some find the Sony ICD-AX412 a little easier to operate than the Olympus DM-620. Among other things, we've seen some user reports of issues mastering the DM-620's interface and file menu system, though most conquer the learning curve pretty quickly. Mac users, on the other hand, are annoyed that the otherwise Mac-compatible Sony ICD-AX412 ships with audio-file editing software that's PC-only, leaving them to fend for themselves in that regard.

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Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder
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Olympus 142665 DM-620 SLV Voice Recorder
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New: $199.99 $97.77   
In Stock.
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