Have you even wished that you had a voice recorder when you were visiting with an older relative about your family? Or wanted some way to preserve comments made at a funeral or other family event? In the old days we had to rely on bulky tape recorders that were intrusive and difficult to operate. Tape was expensive and the microphones were large and not very good. Even when the newer cassette recorders were introduced, you still had to make sure the tape was actually moving and that the small microphones weren’t just picking up noise. Today we have tiny digital voice recorders in our smartphones, or more importantly, standalone recorders with remarkably powerful microphones and in a compact size that can easily fit in a pocket or purse.
Like most things digital, voice recorders come with their own set of jargon words. This post is intended to explain how digital voice recorders work, the terminology used in the advertisements online and how to use them to make recordings of family members and events.
What is a digital voice recorder?
It is a device that converts sound, such as speech and other sounds, into a digital file that can be moved from one electronic device to another, played back by a computer, tablet or smartphone and stored like any other digital file. Just as with any digital file, you can send copies to relatives, burn copies to CDs or DVDs and use the audio files as backgrounds to video or slideshow image presentations. For example, you can make a digital recording of your grandmother and then add the digital audio recording as the background to a slide show showing images from her life. Using the proper software tools, digital audio can also be enhanced and edited like any other digital file.
One of the largest markets for digital audio devices is the business world where people use digital audio devices to take notes and dictate letters, memos and other correspondence to assistants for transcribing. The development of digital voice recorders has been significantly influenced by the previous generations of dictating equipment from IBM, Dictaphone and other manufacturers. But today’s electronic digital voice recorders have moved far beyond mere dictation into the world of high-quality sound recording.
If you do a search on Google for digital voice recorders, you might be surprised to see the huge selection of models from dozens of manufacturers. The price spread is simply amazing, from under $10 to over $10, 000. There must be some basic differences to reflect such a huge price spread. Before spending any money buying a digital voice recorder, you need to know some basics. I will ignore the very high-end extreme audio equipment to focus on small, hand-held recording devices that cost up to about $600.