What the best digital voice recorder has
sound quality. Powerful, adjustable microphones should be built into the unit, with
additional jacks for an external mic or an external sound source. WAV file
format support offers the best lossless audio quality, though the option to
switch to lower-quality MP3 or WMA formats to conserve memory is important,
features. Noise reduction,
multiple presets for recording in different environments, multi-tracking
functions or additional mixing software, USB connectivity for downloading audio
files, and timed recording functions are among the useful features found on the
- Ample recording
capacity. Recorders should offer
upwards of 1 GB of memory standard, either in the form of built-in flash memory
or an included memory card. The best recorders offer the ability to expand
capacity via a memory card slot, though low-priced recorders may omit that
battery life. Using lower-quality
audio formats prolongs battery life, though recorders should ideally be able to
function for at least several hours at their highest-quality setting before
running out of battery power.
interface. The physical interface and menu system should be intuitive and easy to
Know before you go
What kind of sound quality do you
need? If you plan to record dialogue, sounds or music
for broadcasting or other professional purposes, it's worth spending a bit more
money for a higher-end recorder. Conversely, you don't need high-end features (such
as the ability to record in lossless audio formats) if you only plan to take
notes during a class lecture or record rough audio for band practice.
Where will you be using the digital
voice recorder? Recording in a concert hall or meeting room is
very different from capturing audio outdoors or in quiet spaces. The best
recorders have adjustable microphones and effective noise reduction to handle
difficult recording conditions.
What are your battery needs? If you plan to take the recorder on long trips or into remote
situations where you might not have access to fresh batteries, consider the
unit's average battery life on its highest-quality setting and whether it has
lower settings you can switch to in order to conserve energy when necessary.
Recorders that accept standard batteries, such as AA alkaline cells, will save you the
worry of finding an electrical outlet to juice up rechargeable batteries.