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Beginner’s guide to voice recorders

Welcome to Crowdstorm, and more particularly our page dedicated to all things voice recorder. You can browse through all the best voice recorder models on the market above, but if you’re new to this kind of gadget (often called a dictaphone) we’ll walk you through the basics below.

Voice recorders can be handy gadgets in so many situations: lectures, interviews, meetings – or just for recoding reminders or memos. While many of us will now use a smartphone for this job, both battery and memory issues mean it can be a good idea to hand this work over to a dedicated device – especially if you’re recording important information.

If you’re new to Crowdstorm, a few words about us before we move on. We gather stock information on thousands of products from all of your favourite UK online and high street retailers, then put them in one simple comparison table to let you compare them at your leisure. We’re unbiased so just give you the facts, letting you organise the results as you see fit. Happy shopping!

Voice recorder basics

Your first decision should be whether to opt for an analogue or digital audio recorder. Analogue is clearly the older technology and has the benefit of being a lot cheaper – especially if you already have tapes used for an old dictaphone.

While buying tapes for an analogue voice recorder may seem a little outdated in a digital age, they do still have other advantages. One is that their perfect for people who want to keep hard copies of their recordings, while also still having the option to rerecord over old content.

A digital audio recorder will cost you a little more, but has clear advantages in many areas. Your recordings will be saved onto the device’s hard drive, from where it can be exported directly onto a home computer. This means you’ll also be able to save recordings into external drives, giving you that hard copy piece of mind. And while a digital dictaphone itself may cost more, you won’t have to shell out for cassettes.

Comparing dictaphone details

If you want to find the best dictaphone for your needs, you’ll need to dig a little deeper and make yourself a checklist of must-have features. Here are the key extras to look out for:

  • Built-in speaker: Allows immediate playback, giving you peace of mind that your recording was actually recording!
  • Condenser: This style of microphone is more sensitive than the more common dynamic mic, and importantly results in a stronger audio signal.  
  • External mic jack: One issue with voice recorders can be the internal mic not being up to the task, especially in noisy situations. If your dictaphone has an external mic jack, you can plug a specialist mic in when required.
  • Index marking: Lets you skip to the recoding you want, so especially useful if you intend to make a lot of shorter recordings.
  • Noise reduction: Great in noisy situations, as the recorder will attempt to reduce background noise.
  • Power source: Many voice recorders will run purely on batteries, while some will also have the ability to run off the mains.
  • Recording time: This can vary greatly, from a few hours to a few hundred hours. If you’re at an event, make sure your recorder will be recording all day without needing to offload data.
  • Two-directional mic: Great for recording interviews, for example, as stereo recording helps record multiple speakers.
  • Voice activated: A voice-activated voice recorder will automatically start recording when the noise level hits a particular level. This can be useful for saving hassle and memory space.

What next? Buying your new voice recorder

Hopefully now, alongside reading some voice recorder reviews, you’ve found the dictaphone for you. Luckily the tough bit is over – Crowdstorm makes the rest of the process a breeze.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve settled on a Sony voice recorder from your favourite retailer (you’ll find everyone from Amazon and Argos to Ebay and PC World here). All you need do is click on the deal to be taken directly to the right page on their official website, where you can complete the transaction. 

And remember, from that point on you’ll be dealing directly with them – all we do is point you in the right direction.