Choosing your digital voice recorder

Digital voice recorders or dictaphones are indispensable accessories in professional and private life. They allow you to save notes, record a conference, interview, concert or simple sounds.

The different uses:

  • Create audio podcasts, record sound/musical arrangements.
  • Record lectures, conferences, interviews
  • Record notes, ideas, thoughts and check-lists.

The choice of a digital voice recorder will be based on 3 main criteria:

  • audio recording quality
  • autonomy
  • ease of use.

The different types of dictaphone

The analog dictaphone

These type of voice recorder make use of mini-cassettes. The advantage is that you can rapidly change the storage medium (tape). This type of device can be used if you do not need to store data in the digital format. Being a mechanical device, it is therefore more fragile, a bit heavy (around 150 grams) and more power hungry. Its recording capacity is limited to the length of the cassettes (30 to 90 minutes).

The digital voice recorder

It operates with an internal hard drive or a flash memory and offer a better sound recording quality and greater autonomy. You can transfer the audio files to a computer and publish them on a website (audio podcasts).

The MP3 player/recorder

It is the smallest and lightest type of dictaphones. If the sound quality is not always to your expectations, this device is ideal for recording audio notes on the fly or make small interviews intended to be transcribed in writing.

The selection criteria

The storage capacity

Capacity: The disadvantage of analog voice recorder is the number of tapes you will require, if you want to keep your records.
The storage capacity of a digital voice recorder depends on the type of memory used:

  • the ones using memory chips are often limited.
  • the ones with internal memory (mini hard disk) offer excellent recording capabilities.
  • the ones equiped with flash memory have all the advantages: low power consumption, better storage capacity ..etc

The storage capacity of a digital recorder can vary from 128 MB to 2 GB, which reoresent a record time of 8 h in high definition to 250h in low definition.


Autonomy: Most of the devices are powered using AA batteries (one or two depending on the model). Digital voice recorders consume much less energy and allow longer recording ranges.


Compatibility: For digital voice recorders, it is imperative to check the compatibility with your computer (Mac or PC) and your operating system (UMS format for Linux, for example). Also check the digital audio format (MP3 and WMA) being used.


Most of the MP3 players take the form of a USB key and require no cable, as they connect directly to the USB port of your computer. The digital recorder often requires a USB extension cable.

With or without an integrated microphone?

With or without a microphone? Most the digital voice recorder are equipped with a microphone, which limits the risk of loss or damage. On some models, you can connect an external microphone, which optimizes the sound quality.

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