Edison’s phonograph cylinder (invented in the 19th century) was the first reliable recording device that made transcription possible. In fact, this invention helped to take transcription to a new level of accuracy that was never seen before.

Nowadays, voice recorders have come a long way. Whether you need to record audio for a work meeting, lecture, or interview, a voice recorder is one of the best business tools to use. While there are other options on the market, an audio recorder will provide you with top-quality playback audio, compact and lightweight for convenient carry, relatively inexpensive, ability to record for hundreds of hours, and can easily transfer recordings to a computer.

With the variety of voice recording devices on the market, it might feel like a challenge to choose the right one to fit your needs. Do you buy one that has voice recognition software? How much storage capacity do you need? This guide will help you to know what to look for in a quality voice recorder.

How Do I Determine The Best One For Me?

Ultimately, this will depend upon you and the scenarios in which you need to record. However, there are some key questions you can ask yourself to help find the best voice recorder for your needs:

  • What settings will you be recording in?
    • Will you be outside? Inside?
    • How big or small is the room?
    • How are the acoustics?
    • Will there be multiple speakers? Will they have a microphone?
  • What specific features will make your life easier? For example, will you be recording in a dimly lit areas or at night? If so, buying a device that has a backlit screen will be your saving grace.
  • Why are you recording? Are you idea capturing for yourself or hoping to transcribe the recording? If the recording is just for yourself, you might be more willing to compromise on some features. If you or someone else will be transcribing the audio, you will want to pay close attention to the audio and playback quality.
  • How often will you be recording? If you plan on recording pretty regularly, a device that has rechargeable batteries can help to save money.

Is It Best To Pick The Cheapest One?

Simply put, no. While there are plenty of recording devices on the market, including your smartphone, not all are created equal. Of course, all will be able to record but can you hear the audio in playback mode?

Sometimes the cheapest devices end up costing more in the long run.

Sometimes the cheapest devices end up costing more in the long run. Whether it’s due to the low battery life and the constant need to buy new batteries, expensive add-ons (such as headphones) that can assist during a recording session, or replacement parts because your device can’t hold up against normal wear and tear, all of these items might seem inexpensive but can quickly add up.

At the end of the day, the price of an audio recorder depends on the features it offers. Keep in mind that a recorder with a high audio quality will tend to run on the pricier side. In order to keep the price within your budget, we recommend that you decide what features you absolutely need in a voice recorder (more on that later). That will help you to narrow down the selection along with giving you a good estimate on price point. Even if you have a small budget, you can still buy a good quality voice recorder.

Here Are 8 Points To Consider When Looking For A Voice Recorder

There are a number of characteristics to consider before buying a recording device. Some of the below factors might have more weight in your eyes than others, but when finding the best audio recorder for you, we recommend that you use the below list and compare a few different models.

1. Audio Quality

Both audio and recording quality will determine how clear the recordings turn out. The quality of the microphone and the higher the bits per second (bitrate) can also make crystal clear recording sound.

Some digital audio devices can include a variable recording setting. This means that with just a simple press of a button, you will be able to record the audio quality you’ll need. For example, higher-end recorders can even produce crisp, clear recordings from a concert hall.

Tip: Higher bitrates will take up more storage space so keep that in mind when recording multiple hours worth of audio.

2. Convenient Carry

Coming in a variety of different shapes and sizes, recorders are typically the size of a smartphone and weigh about a few ounces. If you’re in the marketing for one with additional features, those can be a bit larger and heavier (some can even weigh more than 10 ounces).

3. Ample Storage (or Memory) Space

The available storage capacity on an audio recorder will determine the length of time you are able to record before you need to either transfer files to a computer or delete them. The memory space is influenced by two different factors including: file type (mp3, wave, etc) and the quality of the recording.

An innovative digital recording device will have advanced storage methods such as a built-in flash memory. This allows for the easy transfer of files from a USB.

There are even some recorders out there that offer more memory options in the form of a removable memory card. This allows for unlimited capacity which in some situations can be very useful. More advanced recorders will allow you to organize different types of media and recordings into separate folders.

4. Ease of Sharing Files

More often than not, you’ll need to transfer files between the recording device and a computer. This is typically done through USB connection. While most should be compatible with Windows and Apple computers, we do recommend to check before using.

Additionally, there are some brands on the market that offer a different way to share files and don’t even have a USB port. Again, we recommend to read instructions and to double check the ease of file sharing before you start recording.

5. Editing Capabilities

In addition to the basic functions, most recording devices come standard with editing capabilities and other features like cue, review, and playback.

For more advanced features including cutting, deleting, and converging files, there are plenty of computer programs that can assist in that.

6. Battery Life

One of the best benefits to buying a voice recorder versus using a recording app on your phone is the extended battery life. In order to ensure your device won’t cut out or die during the middle of a recording session, it’s recommended to find a device that has a battery life of at least 48 hours. Additionally, there are some devices that have a rechargeable battery while others use normal batteries. There’s no con to any one, it all comes down to personal preference.

Tip: To prolong the battery life, you can use lower-quality audio and recording formats.

7. Voice Activation

This is one cool feature that is super convenient and avoids hassle. In voice activation, the recorder will automatically begin recording when it detects sound. Additionally, it will stop after a period of silence. To activate this feature, it’s as simple as switching an on/off button. Not all voice recorders will have this feature so it’s important to check the instructions if this feature is on your must-have list.

8. Recording Time

There are plenty of voice recorders who can record over 1,000 hours, however, recording time should always be taken lightly simply because the higher the audio quality, the fewer recording hours the device will have.

Tip: Recording time is also greatly influenced by the memory storage. The more memory capacity a voice recorder has, the more recording time.

Other features to consider include:

  • Interface: Both the physical buttons and the main navigation menu should be intuitive. Basic functions such as play, stop, pause, and record should be visible.
  • Quick Startup: One-touch buttons for powering on and recording can help to keep menu fumbling to a minimum. This means easier recording for you!

Before Going Out And Searching For A Voice Recorder Decide Which Features Are Crucial For You

Now that you know the top qualities to look for in an audio recorder, it’s time to rate them according to what you’ll need in one. For example, if you’re a journalist traveling to and from interviews, battery life and recorder size might have more weight than others in the above list. Conversely, if you’re recording for a business meeting, auto quality and the ease of sharing files might be more important.

After you’ve chosen the top features needed in an audio recorder, the next step to finding a top quality voice recorder lies in sound quality. You can answer this by listing out the situations in which you’ll need to use the recording device.

If you’ll be recording in places with bad acoustics, splurging for a recording device that can capture top quality sound would be a good investment. Once you know the settings in which you’ll be recording, you can perform research and read how different recording devices performed on audio tests. You can even go to a local electronics store to see if they have a recommendation on a specific device. Oftentimes, referrals can lead to the best product.

Extra Tip: Transcribing Your Audio Into Text

A big misconception about voice recorders is that they can transcribe your voice into text on its own. If you’re looking to do that, you’ll either need to buy expensive computer software (or a very expensive recorder) to do it yourself. An alternative is to download Rev’s free Voice Recorder app, which allows you to record audio from your phone and place an order for a transcript with a single tap.

Utilizing Rev for transcription work means that you’ll only get charged $1 per minute, receive the final transcript or file, and have 99%+ accuracy. Plus Rev is comprised of very talented transcriptionists who are able to complete an assignment in just a few hours!

The Final Word on Voice Recorders

When it comes to transcription (whether you decide to do it yourself or go through a transcription company), there are two factors you should consider:

  1. Importance of accuracy
  2. Amount of money you’re willing to spend

Investing in a quality voice recorder can help you to achieve both of these above factors.

Do you have a favorite voice recorder? What qualities are most important to you when choosing an audio recorder? Talk to us in the comments below, we love hearing from you!