Can I have my own black box?
November 24, 2009 11:39 PM   Subscribe

Is there such as thing as a personal audio recorder that has a rolling 'black box' feature where hitting the record button will start recording now, but also save the previous X minutes of recording data?

I work in a job where it's often necessary to record conversations, and sometimes by the time you know you want to you've already missing something, which then causes a bit of a stilted pause as you get the recorder going and ask someone to repeat that last bit.....


Is there an audio recorder that I could keep in my pocket, running all the time, which would only actually save data if I hit the button?

I've hit Google, but I'm not sure my terms are correct.


(and for the privacy nuts out there, don't worry, this is very legal in the context I do it.)
posted by tiamat to Technology (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Sony PCM-M10 can be set to keep the last five seconds of audio in a buffer and start from there when you begin recording.

However, if you are recording voice, you could probably pick just record everything as mono, low-bitrate mp3. Even if you do uncompressed WAV files at 44.1k and 16bit, you can fit 6 hours of audio in the built-in 4gb of flash.

There are plenty of other options - Zoom, Olympus, Edirol, etc. that will do the job as well.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:17 AM on November 25, 2009

Yeah, the storage density is so high these days that you can record hours and hours of stuff nearly 'for free' and (I assume) flag the interesting bits when something comes up.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 AM on November 25, 2009

For example this recorder does 15 hours of 96khz 24 bit PCM on a 32gb card, or 555 hours of 128 bit MP3
posted by delmoi at 12:44 AM on November 25, 2009

The Line 6 BackTrack is meant for guitarists, but one version has a microphone and might meet your needs. It is always recording, and when the memory fills up it starts deleting old stuff to make room for new recordings. You can click a button to tell it to permanently save a recording.
posted by mmoncur at 1:05 AM on November 25, 2009

The thing to remember is that if you do record everything you need a recorder that can do markers -- there's nothing more agonizing than listening through 5 or 6 hours of stuff for that *one* moment of something interesting.
posted by fake at 3:32 AM on November 25, 2009

The Zoom H2 has an ongoing buffer-If I remember correctly, it is 2 minutes long.
posted by ddaavviidd at 4:26 AM on November 25, 2009

As far as I can tell the Zoom H2 has a two-second buffer. Two minutes would be great, 2 seconds is probably not enough. 30 seconds would probably do it.
posted by tiamat at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2009

You should really ask at

Someone there will definitely have a very specific answer.
posted by fantasticninety at 6:06 PM on November 25, 2009

Taperssection is really where you want to go for portable recording questions.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:35 PM on November 25, 2009

Yes, you are right, I was confused there; I never used that function...
posted by ddaavviidd at 8:38 PM on November 25, 2009

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