Voice Recorders

You may find so many intelligent smartphones on the market, these days, that you might think voice recorders are not as necessary as they once were. We reviewed dozens of recorders and we spend hours on researching and testing various models to order to find exactly what happens with this devices. And we have found. As compared to smartphones, they are more accurate. Many famous singers use these devices to capture musical ideas away from the studio. They are used even by some business professionals to record some important ideas and points in a conference.

As mentioned above, we spend hours of reviewing dozens of digital recorders and we can confirm that after a lot of research into the pros and the cons of several models, we finally picked 5 of the best models available on the market. Take a look at the matrix below and you will surely find the right recorder for your needs.

Top 5 Voice Recorders Comparison

1. Roland R-26 2. Olympus LS-100 3. Zoom H6 4. Tascam DR-44WL 5. Zoom H2n
BEST MODEL OUR CHOICE
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General Information

Manufacturer Roland Olympus ZOOM Tascan ZOOM
Item model R-26 LS-100 H6 DR-44WL H2n
Dimensions 3 ¼ x 7-1/8 x 1-5/8 in. 2.76 x 6.26 x 1.32 in. 3.1 x 1.9 x 6 in. 5.2 x 3.1 x 3.7 in. 2.7 x 1.7 x 4.5 in.
Weight 2.8 lbs. 0.61 lbs. 0.61 lbs. 0.75 lbs. 0.28 lbs.

Specifications

Microphone Types Omnidirectional,
Directional
External stereo Unidirectional,
Bidirectional
Stereo Directional (XY, MS mid mics),
Bidirectional (MS side mic)
Recording Media SD Card SD card SD card(64MB to 2GB),
SDHC card(4GB to 32GB),
SDXC card(48GB to 128GB)
SD card(64MB to 2GB),
SDHC card(4GB to 32GB),
SDXC card(48GB to 128GB)
16MB–2GB SD cards,
4GB–32GB SDHC cards
Built-in Memory 2 GB 4 GB 2 GB 4 GB 2 GB
Frequency Response 16 ohms or greater 20Hz-20 kHz 20Hz-20 kHz 20Hz to 20kHz +1dB/-3dB (Fs 44.1kHz, EXT IN to LINE OUT, JEITA)
20Hz to 22kHz +1dB/-3dB (Fs 48kHz, EXT IN to LINE OUT, JEITA)
20Hz to 40kHz +1dB/-3dB (Fs 96kHz, EXT IN to LINE OUT, JEITA)
20Hz-20 kHz

Recording Format

WAF/BWF
Sampling Frequency 96/88.2/48/44.1 kHz 44.1kHz/48kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz 44.1/48/96 kHz 44.1kHz/48kHz/96kHz 44.1kHz/48kHz/96kHz
Quantization bit rate 16 bit/ 24 bit 16 bit/ 24 bit 16 bit/ 24 bit 16 bit/ 24 bit 16 bit/ 24 bit
Recording Hardware N/A 140dB SPL 120 dB SPL (unidirectional)
122 dB SPL (bi-directional)
132 dB SPL 120 dB SPL (directional)
122 dB SPL (bi-directional)
MP3
Sampling frequency 48/44.1 kHz 44.1kHz 44.1kHz 44.1kHz/48kHz 44.1kHz/48kHz
Recording Bit Rate 320/160/128 kbps 320/256/128/64kbps 48/56/64/80/96/112/128/160/192/224/256/320kbps 32k/64k/96k/128k/192k/256k/320k bps 32/40/48/56/64/80/96/112/128/160/192/224/256/320kbps
Playback Bit Rate 32-320 kbps or VBR 128kbps to 320 kbps 48kbps to 320kbps 32kbps to 320kbps 32kbps to 320kbps
Number of Channels 6 channels 2 channels 4 channels (expandable to 6) 4 channels Stereo X/Y,
Stereo MS,
2-channel surround,
4-channel surround

Analog Inputs

EXT MIC/ LINE IN
Connector Omnidirectional (OMNI) mic,
Directional (XY) mic
Analog inputs 1/L,
2/R (XLR/TRS Combo type): XLR type (phantom powered), 1/4-inch TRS phone type (balanced/unbalanced)
XLR In,
1/8” mini In,
1/8” mini Out,
phantom power supply
Four mic/line inputs with XLR/TRS combo connectors,
phantom power compatible
XLR-3-31,
6.3mm(1/4′) TRS standard jack,
Phantom Power Compatible
Line/mic stereo mini jack with plug-in power
Input Impedance Analog inputs 1/L, 2/R : 5k ohms 10 k ohms (mic)
12.5 k ohms (line)
2 k ohms 2.2 k ohms or more 2 k ohm
Phantom power 48 V + or – 4 V/ 10 mA or less in all channels 48V, 24V, and OFF; L/R channels: 20mA or less in total +12V /+24V /+48V +24V /+48V N/A
EXT IN (MIC)
Nominal input level +4, -2, -8, -14, -20, -26, -32, -38, -44, -50, -56, -62 dBu -32, -38, -58 dBu -∞ to 55.5 dB -17.3dBu +/-2dB 0 to +39dB
Maximum input level LOW -7.5 dBu, MID -21 dBu, HIGH -26 dBu N/A N/A -1.3dBu +/-2dB N/A
EXT IN (LINE)
Nominal input level +4dBu +4dBu +4dBu +4dBu +4dBu
Maximum input level +24dBu +22dBu +22dBu +20dBu +22dBu

Analog Outputs

Phone/Line Out
Connector Headphone jack 1/4” combo jacks 1/8” stereo mini jack 3.5mm(1/8′) stereo mini jack Line/headphone stereo mini jack
Line Out
Nominal Output Level N/A -10 dBu -10 dBu -14 dBV -10 dBm
Maximum Output Level N/A +2dBV N/A +2 dBV +2 dBV
Phone
Maximum Output 35mV+35mV 10mV+10mV 20mV+20mV 20mV+20mV 20mV+20mV
USB
Connector Mini-B type Mini-B type Mini-B type Macro-B type 4pin Mini-B type Card reader operation
Format USB mass storage device class, USB audio (Hi-Speed USB) USB 2.0 USB 2.0 high speed Multi-track mode
USB 1.0 full speed Stereo mode
USB bus powered operation possible
USB2.0 HIGH SPEED mass storage class USB 2.0 high speed Audio interface operation
USB 1.0 full speed
USB bus power operation supported
Sampling Frequency 96/88.2/48/44.1 kHz 44.1 / 48kHz 44.1 / 48kHz/96kHz (Multi-track mode)
44.1 / 48kHz (Stereo mode)
44.1 / 48kHz 44.1 / 48kHz
Bit Rate 24/16 bits 24/16 bits 16/24 bit (Multi-track mode)
16 bit (stereo mode)
16/24 bit 16 bit

Power

Power Supply AC adaptor ,
Alkaline battery (AA, LR6) x 4 or Rechargeable Ni-MH battery (AA, HR6) X 4
1 x Built-in Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery AA size (LR6) battery x 4,
Alkaline or NiMH type,
AC adapter: AD-17 (DC5V/1A/USB-type) (optional),
USB bus power
4 AA batteries (alkaline or NiMH),
USB bus power from a computer,
Dedicated AC adapter (GPE053B supplied with the unit)
2 standard AA alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries,
AC adapter (AD-17, USB to AC type)
Power Consumption 500mA 2.5V 2.5V 2.5W 2.5V

Battery

Battery Operation Time
Format 48/44.1 kHz /16 bits/ 128 kbps 16/24bit, 44.1/48.0/88.2/96.0kHz 03:08:00 (44.1 kHz / 16-bit WAV) 34:43:00 (128kbps MP3) 3:08:00 (44.1kHz/16bit WAV),
34:43:00 (128kbps MP3)
Recording WAV/BWF (24-bit/96 kHz, stereo): 27 mins/GB,
WAV/BWF (24-bit/96 kHz, 4ch): 14 mins/GB ,
WAV/BWF (24-bit/96 kHz, 6ch): 9 mins/GB ,
WAV/BWF (16-bit/44.1 kHz, stereo): 90 mins/GB ,
WAV/BWF (16-bit/44.1 kHz, 4ch): 45 mins/GB ,
WAV/BWF (16-bit/44.1 kHz, 6ch): 30 mins/GB ,
MP3 (128 kbps): 990 mins/GB ,
MP3 (320 kbps): 390 mins/GB ,
WAV/BWF+MP3 (16-bit/44.1 kHz): 84 mins/GB ,
WAV/BWF+MP3 (16-bit/48 kHz): 75 mins/GB
12.5 hours Over 20 hours of continuous recording About 16 hours About 16 hours

Features

Display 160 x 160 dots graphic display (touch screen) 2.0-inch colour LCD monitor 2.0-inch full color LCD (320 x 240 pixels) 128×128 pixel oversized graphic LCD with backlight 128×64 pixels backlit LCD
Accessories Owner’s manual
SD Card
AC Adaptor
Power Cord
USB Cable (mini-B type)
Windscreen
Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery
AC Adapter (A514)
USB Cable
Carrying Case
Owners manual
SD card (2 GB)
XYH-6 X/Y capsule
MSH-6 MS capsule
AA size LR6 battery x4
USB cable
sponge windscreen
cubase LE software
AC adapter (GPE053B)
4GB microSD card with adapter (in the unit)
USB cable (80 cm)
4 AA batteries for confirming operation
Fur windscreen
Mic stand adapter
Shoe mount adapter
Soft case
Owner’s Manual
2GB SD card
2 x AA battery
Steinberg WaveLab LE software
Operation manual

Warranty&Support

Warranty 1-year 1-year 1-year 1-year 1-year
Customer Support

Voice Recorders Reviews

1. Roland R-26

As you probably know, there are so many models on the market, that finding the right model for your needs is almost impossible unless you know what to look for. After reviewing more than 10 recorders, we are proud to present the Roland R-26 as the most efficient recorder out there. What put it heads and shoulders above the rest is the fact that it uses two different types of built-in microphones such as omnidirectional and directional stereo microphones for excellent audio clarity. Also, it is able to record in up to six channels which is a big plus, considering that most recorders can only record up to 4 channels. More than that, if you want to transfer all your files to a PC, with the R-26 recorder you will be able to do that as it comes with a software that allows you complete the transfer process. Additionally, it is very important to know that it is one of the only digital recorders with a touchscreen interface which helps with navigating its advanced features. Overall, this is an excellent choice if you are looking for a quality recorder.

PROS

CONS

Large touchscreen LCD display It only comes with 2GB of storage
It can simultaneously capture up to 6 tracks of audio as 3 stereo pairs.
Easy to transfer files to your computer
High-Speed USB

VERDICT

The Roland R-26 is one of the few recorders with six channels available on the market. Specially designed for creative professionals, this model is much more popular than the Zoom H6. Although the Zoom H6 is equipped with 4 XLR inputs, most people prefer the R-26 which comes with 2 XLR inputs because it is more versatile and easier to use. Also, it worth mentioning that the R-26 only has 2 GB of storage as compared to the Olympus LS-100 model which has a built-in memory of 4 GB.

2. Olympus LS-100

It should come as no surprise that we selected the Olympus LS-100 as the second best product around. What we really like about this device is that it is more than just a simple recorder. It is also a portable recording studio which can be carried anywhere. It records audio up to 24-bit/96 kHz quality and comes with an internal memory of 4 GB. Also, it comes with XLR/TRS inputs for external microphones and voice-activation recorder. On the side of the recorder, there is an SD card slot which can accommodate up to a 64GB SD XC card. More than that, if you are thinking about using this recorder, it is very important to know that its adjustable microphone gain helps you optimize the input level of the device no matter what microphone is being used. Additionally, keep in mind that at 96kHz/24bit it can store about an hour and a half hours of audio in its 4GB internal memory, while at 44.1kHz/16bit, it can store about five hours of audio. All in all, this is an efficient audio recorder that will surely satisfy all your needs.

PROS

CONS

Outstanding sound quality Screen could stand to be a little larger
Loaded with a plethora of interesting features
Long battery life
Nice balance of facilities

VERDICT

The Olympus LS-100 is a classy portable stereo recorder loaded with a lot of interesting features. In comparison to the Roland R-26 which records up to 6 channels, this device is capable of recording only 2 channels. However, it has a better storage memory. It comes with 4 GB built-in memory. Additionally, it is equipped with a separate audio processor which helps it maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio.

3. Zoom H6

If you are looking to purchase an efficient yet affordable audio recorder, then the Zoom H6 is exactly what you are looking for. It comes with a compact design which makes it perfect for creative professionals who need a portable device. Similar to the Roland R-26, The H6 recorder is capable of tracking 6 channels simultaneously. More than that, it comes with four mic/line inputs with XLR/TRS connectors. Able to record directly to SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards up to 128 GB, this recorder may be exactly what you need: a great device specially built to satisfy all your needs. As compared to other similar devices, this recorder uses a system of capsules. The XYH-6 X/Y mic capsule allows you to perform stereo X/Y record, while the MSH-6 MS mic capsule helps you capture a fully mono-compatible stereo image. In spite of how good the other products are, we present this model as one of the most quality yet affordable recorder out there.

PROS

CONS

Interchangeable capsules Noisy preamps
Dedicated gain control for each input
Built-in effects, including lo-cut filtering, compression and limiting.
Records WAV and MP3
Can be used as an audio interface
Monitor via headphones

VERDICT

The Olympus LS-100 is the best value option on the market we reviewed. It is a great product that comes with a lot of interesting features at a reasonable price. It has become a go-to device for a lot of people in need of an audio recorder, including reporters, writers or musicians. Aside from being a good device, it is also easy to use recorder that comes with a backlit color LCD screen. This allows you to have a clear view of the screen.

4. Tascam DR-44WL

Another interesting recorder that you should take into consideration is the Tascam DR-44WL model. It is a portable audio model with WiFi that allows you to record 4 tracks of audio simultaneously with its dual combo XLR inputs and built-in XY stereo microphone. Due to the fact that it has internal WiFi, it does not need an external network, which means that you can easily control all its functions via iOS and Android app. Also, as compared to other recorders, it features dual-level recording. This means that it is capable of recording duplicate tracks at a lower volume. More than that, it can easily support dual-format recording. It is able to track simultaneously as MP3 files and WAV. Keep in mind that it records as SD cards, but it also has a microSD card adapter for other recording options. Like any other audio recorder, this Tascam model comes with a plethora of useful accessories, including a mic grip, a windscreen, a 4GB microSD, an AC adapter, 4 AA batteries and a USB card.

PROS

CONS

It records and mix up to four tracks on each audio file Doesn’t record quiet sounds as well as it records louder ones.
It has adjustable microphones
Good overall sound
. Wi-Fi control
Plenty of features

VERDICT

The Tascam DR-44WL is exactly what you need if you are a writer or a musician. It is a Wi-Fi enabled audio device that captures great recordings with its impressive features and effects. Although it is not as popular as the Roland R-26, it is definitely an option worth taking into consideration. It is quality, efficient, portable and affordable. In short terms, it is the best recorder for business professionals.

5. Zoom H2n

The Zoom H2n is another product whose incredible features place it in the 5h position. What we really like about this recorder is its stylish design which makes it a great choice for everyone. In comparison to other similar devices, including the Olympus LS-100 and the Tascam DR-44WL, the H2n recorder comes with a 2GB microSD. Plus, it is equipped with 5 built-in microphones for superior audio recordings. More than that, it has four recording modes, including stereo X/Y, stereo MS, 2-channel surround and 4-channel surround. In spite of how good the other is, the audio quality of this model is absolutely excellent. The H2n also comes with a lot of other impressive features, including auto-gain, auto-record, pre-record and data-recovery features usually used to maximize performance for the best possible result. All in all, the Zoom H2n is a good option worth taking into consideration.

PROS

CONS

Great value for money No professional XLR inputs
Easy to use
Good overall sound
Plenty of features

VERDICT

The Zoom H2n is a good audio recorder for budget-friendly. It comes with a lot of features and it runs for up to 20 hours on just 2 AA batteries. It comes with an LCD screen and a USB 2.0 port for connecting to your PC. Also, there is a menu selection and a hold power switch which makes navigation much easier.

6. Sony ICD-UX533BLK

When it comes to affordable recorders, the Sony ICD-UX533BLK is exactly what you need. It comes with 4 GB of memory which means 1073 hours of recording time and a bright backlit display that allows you to monitor the device with ease. Compared to other similar devices, it allows you to record in MP3, AAC, WMA and WAV formats. It is also worth mentioning that it measures 0.6 x 1.4 x 4 inches and weighs 2.08 oz.. This means that it is small enough to fit in your pocket. We have tested a lot of other devices manufactured by Sony and we can honestly confirm that this one is the best yet affordable Sony model on the market. It features two microphones with decent stereo imaging and records at a higher rate. Also, it has a great noise reduction filter. Overall, it is a great option to consider when making a purchase.

PROS

CONS

It has 4 GB of storage It lacks certain features
It comes with a 30-hour battery life
Great noise reduction filter
Easy to use

VERDICT

If you are looking to purchase a quality yet affordable digital recorder, the Sony ICD-UX533 is a great option to consider. It is small, easy to use and its battery will last for up to 30 hours on a recharge. It can record in MP3, AAC, WMA, and WAV formats which is a major perk considering than other similar units cannot do that.

7. EVISTR 8GB Recorder

Since there are so many types and models of recorders available in the current market, it shouldn’t be so difficult to find exactly what you need. However, in order to help you make a good decision, we present you another model that will surely meet your requirements. The EVISTR 8GB is a portable recorder that measures 3.97 X 1.06 X 0.42 inch and weighs only 62.8 grams. It comes with an upgraded design and it is similar to an MP3 player. It has a recording quality of 1536kpbs HD. Most people, especially journalists use it as it is small and compact. It is ideal to take down notes and remember things. Its optimized Menu Choice is for easy navigation. It is very easy to use. You just need to follow several steps. Press stop to save recordings, press saves to memorize them and shut down the device when the format is completed. Overall, it is an easy to use device that comes at a very reasonable price.

PROS

CONS

Excellent recording quality
Voice activated recorder and auto record
Ideal for remember things and take down notes
Records WAV and MP3
Portable device
Simple operation

VERDICT

Looking for a portable recorder? Take a look at this incredible device. It is small, lightweight and comfortable to hold in palm. It comes with an improved recording quality and an attractive price in comparison to some of its above competitions.

What’s Behind Our Ratings?


Voice Recorders
There are so many types and brands of recorders, that it can be quite difficult to find exactly what you need. But, in order to help you find a model that meet your expectations, we have gathered some of the most important factors you need to consider before making any purchase.

  • Memory capacity

  • The memory capacity of a recorder is the available storage space of the device. It determines how long you will be able to use it before transferring or deleting files. This is strongly related to the recording file (Wave, MP3). In fact, it is very important to understand that most recorders have flash memory. But there are also some forms of removable memory that are able to increase the recorder’s memory. Generally speaking, the more expensive the device, the more likely they are to have flash memory cards and built-in memory.

  • Recording quality

  • One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a recorder is the recording quality. It plays a very important role in this equation. You might think that it is influenced by the quality of your microphone. This is the truth, but it is also truth that the higher the bitrate, the clearer your recording will sound. Keep in mind that high bitrates recordings take up more data.

  • Operating system compatibility

  • Most people choose digital devices that are able to transfer recordings from the recorder to a laptop. As you probably know, this can be done only through a USB connection. Although most models have a USB connection and they are compatible with both Apple soft and Windows, it is recommended to double check this aspect before you make the purchase.

  • Interface

  • The interface of a recorder can be measured considering two different standards: how advanced the controls are and how easy the device is to use. While some of them feature a simple user interface, others come with a lot of whistles and bells. You may not need all these fancy features if your expectations are more for a simple and easy to use interface with comprehensive controls.

Before You Purchase a Digital Recorder


Digital voice recorders
Whether you need to record your lessons for an exam or you just want to record meeting, conferences and interviews, you will be surprised to discover that a digital recorder is exactly what you need. Modern recorders are small, portable and able to record many hours of high-quality digital audio that can be easily transferred via USB to a laptop for permanent storage. The market is overflowing with a broad array of models, so finding the right model can be quite difficult unless you know what to look for.

  • Recording time

  • One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a recorder is the recording time. While some devices boost of over 1000 hours of recording time, others do not have much storage and can only record 8 to 10 hours. However, it is very important to understand that the quality of the recording is strongly related to the recording time available. This means that the higher the quality of the recording, the fewer hours of recording will be available. Also, if you want the best quality recordings, you need to use an automatic voice recognition software for transcription. It is also worth mentioning that the recording time is strongly related to the memory capacity.

  • Battery

  • Another important factor to consider when buying a voice recorder is the battery. Most devices use standard AA or AAA batteries and they come with a battery life between 11 and 37 hours. Some of them use rechargeable batteries which are also safe for the environment. Also, it is important to mention that the most advanced recorders use lithium batteries, so they can be charged up between uses.

  • Audio file formats

  • Generally speaking, the more advanced the recorder is the more audio file formats it is able to support. The standard file format is the MP3 format, but there are also other formats, including the waveform audio file, the AIFF and the AU file format which was developed by Sun Microsystems. Make sure what audio file you need and make sure your digital recorder can support that file format.

Mono vs. Stereo

As you probably know, digital recorders are able to record either in mono or stereo. The difference between them is depth. The mono recordings are typically made on one track with one microphone while the stereo recorders are equipped with their microphone setup in an XY configuration. Voice recorders that record in stereo tend to be more expensive than mono recorders because they are equipped with two microphones. With some models, you will be able to record audio with AB configuration because they allow you to adjust the directions of the microphones. Also, you can record audio with an ORTF configuration where the microphones are placed away one from each other.

What it is really important to know about these configurations is that each of them creates a different stereo image. While the AB configuration provides more depth, it is important to know that the XY configuration provides less depth. There is also the ORTF configuration which is mainly focused on separately the left and the right microphones with very little overlap.

If you are looking for a smart recorder able to record voices and it is clear when played back, this is the right place to be. As you probably know, there are so many models on the market, that finding the best models for your needs could be quite confusing. However, the most important thing when making a purchase is the recording format and the amount of storage. Opt for a device with a legible screen and a menu system that is easy to navigate with. Most people are interested in recording interviews, dictation and meeting, so they need a quality device which is capable of doing all these things. It is also worth mentioning that all the devices for iOS are free and most of them come with a wide range of file formats. However, in order to find out more about these devices, take a closer look at the comparison table and you will surely find something that will satisfy your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1 What is an ORTF stereo microphone system ?
The ORTF system is kind of a microphone technique that is used to record stereo sound.

2 What does MP3 format mean?
The MP3 is a standard coding format for digital audio. It is used for compressing a sound sequence into a smaller file.

3 Should I record in stereo or mono?
Mono means one audio source, while stereo is about two audio sources. Choosing between these two recording methods depends on many things, including the number of microphones, inputs, cables and so on.

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