Help me find a good voice recorder
June 5, 2007 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Please help me locate a reliable voice/audio recorder for under $150 CDN

I’m desperately in need of recommendations and/or research from the Metafilter community. I need a recording device to capture a line-out feed from a sound board, and record 20 minute speeches, which will then be uploaded to the web.

The device needs to be one that...
- Records in high-quality stereo
- Saves to MP3 format
- Has an external line-in or microphone jack (mini-jack works)
- Doesn’t require software to retrieve files
- Costs less than $150 CDN
- Connects to a PC computer via USB

I purchased an Olympus VN-4100 PC for this task, but the sound quality was horrible, the software was cumbersome, and the native format is WAV. Yuck. I love the look and sound of the M-Audio Microtrack, but the price tag is a tad too high. Is there another solution?
posted by Milkman Dan to Technology (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the Olympus WS-300M almost meets all your criteria.

The only thing it doesn't do is MP3s. It records in WMA format, which is better than WAV and can easily be converted to MP3s if needed.

The nice part is that it comes in two pieces, and when taken apart, it plugs directly into a USB drive without any software.

It's worked very well for recording phone interviews for me via the line in plug as well.
posted by langeNU at 3:06 PM on June 5, 2007

I was about to suggest, very similarly to the WS-300M (by description anyway, cause that Amazon link didn't work) the Olympus WS-200S. It's got 128MB of internal memory which they claim equals about 55 hours of recording time - I've found that at highest-quality, it's more like 6-7 hours.

Still, yes, it records to WMA. I'm using OS X, so I use EasyWMA to drop-convert them to MP3 files, which takes but a few seconds. I use mine to make comedy notes, so my recordings are usually only a minute or two long at a time. Still, having 5 folders to work with is extremely useful. And it has that two-part USB plug thing langeNU talked about.

Other than the WMA format, it meets all of your requirements. I've had about 4 voice recorders in the past 3 years now, and I'd recommend the Olympus WS-200 over all others. Hands down.
posted by revmitcz at 3:34 PM on June 5, 2007

If you check my answer to last week's "record my audio" question (seriously, these things are so common they need a FAQ), I neglected to mention that the software I use is Rockbox. You can install this on a wide range of small, cheap DAPs with line-in and mics, which gives you enormous flexibility in terms of storage sizes and desired bitrates and sampling frequencies. One neat thing is that Rockbox can do voice-activated recording, and you can often tweak the sensitivity.
posted by meehawl at 6:52 AM on June 6, 2007

I'll just chime in as an owner of a WS-300M.

It does everything that you described, except, as mentioned before, it records to wma and not MP3. However, you can play MP3s on it (in the music function).

The sound quality seems pretty well (I don't know how it compares, relative to other records). I've never used the Mic-line in feature, so, can't comment on that.

The main caveat is that it eats AAA batteries relatively quickly - probably after 6-10 hours of audio recording and 2-3 of music listening [combined].
posted by fizzix at 8:33 PM on June 12, 2007

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