Olympus Digital Voice Recorder

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Records 1,000 hours as MP3 files

I’ve had rotten luck with voice recorders over the years. Quite a few micro-cassette recorders have conked out on me (sometimes while conducting interviews for magazine articles). Once, I used a minidisc recorder and ejected the disk without first stopping the recording and I lost everything.

When I interviewed Martha Stewart in her office for Wired in 2007 (here’s the article), I used both a tape recorder *and* a microphone attachment for my iPod to record our conversation. When we sat down to talk, I decided at the last second to I pull out my laptop and use the built-in mic to record the conversation, too.

When I got back to the hotel room and turned on my three recording devices, I learned that the tape recorder and iPod didn’t record the conversation (probably my fault), but the laptop recording was OK. If I hadn’t used the laptop, I would have been dead in the water. No way would Martha have granted me another interview.

When I wrote Made by Hand I interviewed a bunch of people. I used a tiny Olympus Digital Voice Recorder to interview people as we stood and walked in their yards, workshops, launch-sites, compounds, and so on. It worked beautifully. The interface was pretty easy to figure out, and the built-in USB plug was very handy. I just attached it my computer and copied the audio file to my hard drive. (I used to transcribe recordings myself but now I use Rev.com and pay $1 a minute for good transcriptions)

It uses two AAA batteries (advertised to have 110 hours of battery life), and you can switch the microphone between dictation and conference mode. The first model I bought had 256 MB of flash storage with 18 hours in the high quality mode and 69 hours in the lowest-quality mode. The latest model has 4 GB of storage and is advertised to store 1,400 hours of recording.

-- Mark Frauenfelder 06/9/17

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