Best Lecture Recorders
Thinking of buying a lecture recorder? Here are 10 essential features you should look for – and 3 very popular lecture recorders that people love and recommend.
1. Good Sound Quality
This is a no-brainer of course, but good sound quality is relative to how you use the recording so it’s worth giving some thought.
If the recording is for your personal use, then average sound quality may suffice (for e.g. distant sound, echo etc.). However, if you plan to share the recording with others or send it for transcription, you would need clear, high quality audio.
2. Sensitive, Unidirectional Microphones
Good sound quality is directly proportional to the quality of microphones in the recorder.
When attending lectures, you will be seated some distance away from the speaker (even if you are in the front row). So the microphones of the voice recorder should be sensitive enough to capture sound from a distance.
Also, if the lecturer moves around while talking then the microphones would need to have a wider range of acceptance while still blocking out ambient noise.
Unidirectional microphones are best suited for this situation. And voice recorders with two built-in microphones deliver significantly better audio quality than those with a single microphone.
3. Noise Cancellation
Most lecture halls have some form of background noise – from a general hum to loud talking in the background.
A voice recorder with the noise cancellation feature (a.k.a. low-cut filter) can go a long way in minimizing these sounds on the recording.
4. Long Battery Life
Long lectures require long battery life. Some voice recorders run on a single AA battery which may run out in the middle of a lecture.
To avoid this, a voice recorder with one or more of the following features is advisable:
1- Extra-long battery life.
2- The ability to pause a recording to replace batteries in the middle of a recording.
3- The ability to record with the recorder plugged into a wall socket.
5. Plenty of Storage
A lecture recorder should have enough storage to record several hours of lectures without having to transfer data to another device.
For shorter lectures, a 2 GB memory would suffice, but for longer (or multiple) lectures, a minimum of 4 GB internal memory or an external memory card slot should be present.
6. Easy Data Transfer
Some voice recorders don’t have an easy way to transfer files to a laptop or computer, which can be quite a pain. A practical lecture recorder would always have a USB stick, a USB port, or a memory card slot that allows for quick data transfer to external devices.
7. Convenient File Formats
Some voice recorders require proprietary software to play recordings on a computer. This doesn’t work very well when files are shared with others.
A voice recorder for lectures should be able to record in MP3, WMA, or WAV format. MP3 files are smaller with average sound quality while WAV files are larger with better sound quality.
For lectures, MP3 quality is quite sufficient.
8. Basic Playback
The recorder should have a playback function to allow you to listen to the recording. You may not use this feature for anything other than checking if the voice recorder is recording properly, but the feature is important nonetheless.
It is also important for a lecture recorder to have an indexing/marking feature that allows one to add bookmarks while recording. These bookmarks are very helpful in quickly ‘skipping-to’ parts of the lecture recorder during playback later.
9. Backlit Display
This may not be a must-have feature for everyone, but if it’s dark inside a lecture hall, a backlit display can come in handy.
10. A File Management System
If you’re attending multiple classes and don’t want all recordings to land up in the same folder, choose a voice recorder with a file management system. This would allow you to save recordings in individual folders that you can sort through easily.
In addition to these 10 features, here are some additional things one can consider based on individual needs:
- Voice activation
- Button sizes and sounds
- External microphone jacks
Keeping these features in mind, here are some voice recorders for lectures that have been rated highly by users:
SONY ICD PX333 – decent sound quality, 4 GB internal memory, and overall great value for money.
Olympus WS-801 – great sound quality, 2 unidirectional mics, long battery life, USB stick, backlit display, voice activation, and enough storage for long lectures.
Zoom H1 – excellent sound quality with 2 unidirectional mics placed in X/Y setting, USB port, backlit display, and some other very practical features.
Which other features do you think a lecture recorder should have? Leave a comment to let other readers know.
You may also like: Voice Activated Recorders