Any way to bypass proprietary "USB"?
July 20, 2005 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I have two digital voice recorders that have a USB feature. But, it's not real USB: you have to use their damn Proprietary Software (Olympus Digital Wave and Sony Digital Voice Editor respectively) to access the files..

You plug the things in with the USB cable and Explorer does not see the thing as a drive with files, as the good Lord intended. Is there a way to get the things to appear as a usb drive? Alternatively, is there an alternative bit of software that a) isn't such shite and b) will work on both units? I currently have to carry the installers for each around with me on my iPod. GAH.
posted by By The Grace of God to Technology (11 answers total)
Best answer: Can you get the flash memory device (SD, Memory Stick, etc.) out of the recorder? If so, there are many USB adapters for various different flash memory formats that will present the files within your file browser.

That said, once you have the files you may need to decode them. Both Olympus and Sony use a proprietary codec for encoding the audio transcripts: this is why you need to use their Damn Proprietary Software, which includes the Damn Proprietary Libraries to decode the data and turn it into something else, like sound through your speakers, or AIFF or WAV files.

So far as I know, Olympus and Sony have not shared their DVR codecs with third-parties, and open source writers can't reverse engineer the codecs on their own without threat of criminal or civil lawsuits via the DMCA.
posted by Rothko at 8:27 AM on July 20, 2005

Response by poster: Ah. (Bastards. This is enough to make me into a smelly open source hippy.)

No, it's not removable memory, unfortunately.

Follow-up question: Is there a digital voice recorder that uses normal USB and has a file system?

I don't mind manufacturers packaging idiot software with gadgets, but I prefer my gadgets to allow me to access MY files MY way if I so choose. Like EVERY DIGITAL CAMERA I HAVE EVER OWNED.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:36 AM on July 20, 2005

What are you willing to spend for it? There's mics for the iPod from the 3rd generation forwards but maybe you don't want to spend that much - it's a far cry from a $50 olympus recorder, tho I don't know what level has the USB port.
posted by phearlez at 8:44 AM on July 20, 2005

Follow-up question: Is there a digital voice recorder that uses normal USB and has a file system?

Yes, but you'll pay an arm an a leg for one that doesn't play proprietary tricks, and you'll likely have to buy a separate microphone. Here is one example of a portable recorder, and another.

You mentioned you have an iPod, so I'll mention Belkin's inexpensive, if feature-limited option for voice recording.
posted by Rothko at 8:47 AM on July 20, 2005

Best answer: many mp3 players have the useful usb mass storage feature you want and some will have the voice recording feature. a pretty good one will cost only $100, or less.

in fact this was exactly my conclusion ~a year ago when I needed to buy a voice recorder for an interview; ended up getting an iriver flash-based player (which now costs like half as much for the same amount of memory ha) -- which did an excellent job recording the interview.
posted by dorian at 8:47 AM on July 20, 2005

(and yes the iriver saved the recordings as nice non-proprietary wav files; also has the option to save as mp3)
posted by dorian at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2005

Response by poster: Unfortunately, i have an iPod mini. No VRec unless I install (unsupported) Linux on it. (Which is one reason I'm doing the pyramid scheme in an attempt to get a big 'un.)

I may check out some mp3 players for this purpose and sell both of these buggers.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2005

Best answer: I have an iRiver ifp-795 (512MB, about $80 2 months ago). It required Damn Proprietary Software when I bought it but I was able to track down a UMS firmware upgrade (it's hard to find on iriver's own site(s) but searching the boards for clues) that lets me use it as a plain-vanilla USB jump drive and copy files to and fro with the greatest of ease. I really like it and recommend it highly: it has really good sound quality, nice UI, FM radio with decent reception, voice and line-in recording (haven't tested line-in though). And it uses a single AA battery which was a bonus for me as I already had a bunch of AA rechargeables for my camera. And the battery life is phenomenal. The earplugs are the only negative, but that's very much a personal thing.
posted by tiny purple fishes at 11:31 AM on July 20, 2005

The iRiver flash memory recorders are great. If you want to use an external microphone with the line-in setting, this Sony stereo lapel mic works brilliantly with my iRiver recorder:

Sony ECM-CS10, available for $40 or less from discounters like B&H

I've used this mic with the iRiver to do "soundseeing" and roving interviews for my podcast. Worked great.
posted by enrevanche at 2:12 PM on July 20, 2005

iPaqs have voice records built in that record in .wav format and can be set to record to the SD or CF slot if your device has one. Free software exists to record to MP3. Plus you get all the advantages of a PDA or PDA/Phone depending on how much you spend.
posted by Mitheral at 9:38 AM on July 21, 2005

The Creative Muvo TX series (512mb version just $75 on sale) has voice recording directly to good old plain mp3 files. You then just pop the small unit that slides out of the Muvo into a USB port and it's just like an added drive complete with all your voice files.
posted by Independent Scholarship at 9:59 PM on July 24, 2005

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