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Best 10 Voice Recording Tools for Digital Transcription

Digital Voice Recording Tools

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To facilitate digital transcription a digital voice recorder needs to deliver quality sound recording, voice file management and editing capability, and digital transcription features. Some models come bundled with Dragon Naturally Speaking software which does automatic text to speech conversion to turn your recordings into text (Automatic text to speech conversion has some limitations though - it is usable for dictation only and the best results occur with top quality voice recording via a headset microphone and clearly enunciated, accent-less speech).

The proliferation of multifunction devices such as the iPad and iPhone has changed the landscape for digital voice recording and transcription in the past few years. Multifunction devices have built-in microphones and (in some cases) come with out-of-the-box capability for small-scale voice recording chores. For professional needs, an external high-quality microphone can be connected to the device, and a number of excellent voice recording applications are available for the iPad/iPhone and to a lesser extent Android devices. As with traditional voice recorders, voice files can be transferred to a PC/Mac for storage/transcription or, for cloud users, a number of companies are now offering cloud-based storage and transcription services. Note that depending on the model a multifunction device cannot match a dedicated voice recorder for sound quality, capacity, or battery life. (Some digital voice recorders can record over 50 hours on a single charge.)

1. Apple iPad 4th Generation 64 GB Wi-Fi Black Tablet

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The newest version of the iPad has the latest generation processor, 64 GB memory, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a 9.7" LED Multi-Touch Display and two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. For digital voice/sound recording external microphones will improve the sound quality. For the iPad/iPhone there are a number of choices when it comes to voice recording software. Audio Memos is a top-rated choice based on its superb list of features including the ability to pause, restart, and combine recordings, attach pictures to recordings, set markers, and transfer files to the cloud or to your computer via USB or Wi-Fi.
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2. Olympus DS-71 Digital Voice Recorder

Olympus DS-71 Digital Voice Recorder
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Sometimes it's the little things that get a recorder onto my best digital voice recorders list. With the Olympus DS-71 Digital Voice Recorder, it's several little things that make digital transcription easier. One is Intro Scan playback mode, which lets you quickly scan through a recording and find a specific file. Another is slow playback, which lets you play back recordings up to 50% slower than real time without distortion. And yet another is this recorder's 16 bit/44.1 kHz Linear PCM recording capability for superior sound quality. And did I mention the 4GB of internal memory and DSS Player software that's included? The price is reasonable compared to comparable digital voice recorders.
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3. Samsung Galaxy Tab 32 GB Wi-Fi Tablet

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This less expensive but full-featured tablet from Samsung comes with 32 GB memory, a 10.1 inch touchscreen, the Android 3.1 operating system, and built-in Wifi for connection to the internet. For voice recording and transcription, applications such as Tape-a-Talk fit the bill perfectly. Tape-a-Talk has editing and playback controls, can record in WAV or 3GP formats and runs in the background so, for example, at a meeting you could continue to use the tablet to show a sales video while voice recording. Choose the free version of Tape-a-Talk or, for a few dollars, the full featured pro version.
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4. Olympus DM-2 Voice Recorder

Olympus DM-2 Digital Voice Recorder
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Why is this one of the best digital voice recorders around? Because of its combination of usability and flexibility. The first thing you’ll notice is that this digital voice recorder has 4GB of internal memory which provides more than 1000 hours of recording time – and there’s a microSD card slot so you can add even more. The second thing you’ll probably notice is the 2.2 inch color LCD screen and Voice Guidance that will lead you through the recorder’s functions. What you might not notice right away is that the Olympus DM-2 Digital Voice Recorder supports multiple formats, has 12 recording and playback options and comes with Olympus Sonority sound editing software.

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5. Apple iPhone 4S

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The newest version of the iPhone boasts improved signal reception, a better camera, faster processor, and a built-in digital voice recorder which is useful for basic voice recording chores such as voice memos, etc. For more advanced voice recording duties an application such as Audio Memos can provide the necessary functionality.
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6. Olympus DS-2400 Digital Voice Recorder

Olympus DS-2400 Digital Recorder
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This is one of Olympus' top of the line digital voice recorders intended to meet professional dictation and digital transcription needs and it shows, from the customizable navigation pod through the excellent sound quality and file management abilities. Features I especially like include the large backlit LCD, file edit function (which lets you insert and overwrite on an existing recording file), the ability to place index marks (up to 32 index marks per file!), and being able to end one dictation and start another by just pressing the 'New' button. Being equipped with a 1GB SD Card and DSS Player Software are also definite pluses.

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7. Sony ICD-SX700D Voice Recorder

Sony ICD-SX700 Digital Recorder
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I really like the versatility of this digital voice recorder; you can create a podcast, play music or transcribe your recorded voice files into text easily (Dragon NaturallySpeaking Speech Recognition software is included). Sony's ICD-SX700 digital voice recorder also provides lots of recording capability with large built-in stereo microphones, multiple recording modes and up to 372 hours of recording time in LP mode. One GB of flash memory and features such as Overwrite (which let you correct dictation after playback), Add and playback speed control make this digital voice recorder ideal for academic or business purposes.

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8. Sony ICD-BM1 Digital Voice Recorder

Sony ICD-BM1 Digital Recorder
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Voice email function, add/overwrite functions, digital pitch control, incremental rewind; this Sony digital voice recorder is packed with features to make dictation and editing voice recordings easier, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred speech recognition software is included to meet your digital transcription needs. This recorder's professional quality sound, though, is its main selling point.

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9. Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium 11

Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Professional
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Once your voice files have been recorded and transferred to your PC/Mac use the Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking 11 Premium speech recognition software to automatically transcribe them into text documents. Speech recognition software is ideal for those (like myself) who are not the most accurate typists or for relieving carpal tunnel syndrome or other keyboard overuse disorders.
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10. Olympus Digital Recorder PC Transcription Kit

Olympus PC Transcription Kit
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Turn your Olympus digital voice recorder into an even more efficient transcription system with this digital voice recorder accessory kit. The kit includes a footswitch, headset and software and is compatible with DS, WS, VN-3200PC and VN-5200PC recorders from Olympus.

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