I'm looking for a good, small, fairly inexpensive device that I can use to record conversations, interviews, and so on. It should produce MP3 files and ideally be something I can plug into a USB port and just suck off the file(s)--just like a digital camera. I'm only interested in voice, so quality doesn't have to be fit for studio recordings. And I'd really like 2+ hours of capacity.

Got a device you can recommend? I'd love to hear about it.

Posted by jzawodn at October 26, 2004 05:39 PM

Reader Comments
# Derek Sivers said:

Neuros Audio.

In fact I bought one for that exact thing you're describing, and it works great, but it was a limited-time project that's done now. I don't need it anymore. You can have mine if you want. I've learned so much from your MySQL book that I'd be glad to contribute it to you.

- Derek

on October 26, 2004 07:00 PM
# Ben Nolan said:

Take a look at your cellphone. My t610 does a nice job of audio recording, up to 30 minutes when the phones memory is empty.

on October 26, 2004 07:14 PM
# Sander van Zoest said:

This portable recorder might be overkill for what you are looking for, but I found the Marantz PMD 670 to be a very useful device for recording just about anything (including foley sounds for my studio work).

Another player I considered for this task was the iRiver HD series. The quality of the recording is not as good as the Marantz, but it should be good enough for voice recordings.

on October 26, 2004 07:15 PM
# Incognito said:

Hey Z,

If there are some nice ones from Samsung (Yepp).

The Yepp YP-T5H
and the Yepp YP-T5V

I don't know about the Mac compatability factor of these devices. Perfect little tool to make some podcasts!

on October 26, 2004 07:17 PM
# kasia said:
on October 26, 2004 07:42 PM
# Pete said:

This Zen has better ratings that the iPod, has voice record and comes in great colors. Read more here:

on October 26, 2004 09:06 PM
# Rasmus said:

The little iRiver flash players are great at this.


Plug in a mic and you are set.

on October 26, 2004 09:08 PM
# Brian said:

I've heard good things about the iAudio M3:


on October 26, 2004 09:42 PM
# Sriram Krishnan said:

Hmmm..thinking of Podcasting :-)

on October 27, 2004 12:16 AM
# Brad said:

If you have an iPod:

Belkin.com also makes one.

on October 27, 2004 04:18 AM
# Ben Metcalfe said:

Check out the generic USB MP3 players on eBay, such as http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=3281&item=5727969124&rd=1

There's loads of people selling them - they often go for less than $40 (for a 256MB = 36hrs of voice recording).

If you don't need that much, why not opt for a 128MB one, even cheaper?

They dock into a USB port, and show up as a drive... Perfect for the type of need you are describing.

on October 27, 2004 06:16 AM
# Mark said:

I have been using the iRiver H120 for a while as an MP3 recorder (along with an MP3 player) and I have to say that this little toy is worth the money. I played around with the one in Best Buy (they dont carry it anymore) and I was really impressed.

on October 27, 2004 06:43 AM
# C.K. Sample, III said:

If you have an iPod, then get the iTalk. If you don't have an iPod, then get an iPod and then get the iTalk. I use the recorder function all the time.

Just yesterday, I actually recorded an hour long panel discussion that my students were required to attend. I was sitting about 15 rows back in the auditorium with lots of echo and ambient noise, but even in this situation the WAV file that recorded was good enough quality for me to scrub it up in Soundtrack and edit out some vacant space, compress to .mov and post to the class's website as an 8.7MB file. I don't want to kill the link by posting it here, but if you're curious, fire me an email and I'll send you the link.

on October 27, 2004 07:54 AM
# Nelson said:

The Creative MuVo will do this nicely. Is 42 grams too heavy? :-) There's no microphone jack, but the built-in jack at least makes for legible speech.

on October 27, 2004 08:26 AM
# SkipK said:

When my father-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer I needed a device to record the conversations with the doctors. It's sometimes hard to concentrate when getting bad news and by recording the conversations we can go back and listen to everything the doctor said.

Anyway, I purchased the iRiver IFP-880 and haven't been disappointed. It hangs on your neck like a lanyard and can record up to 4 hours of voice. It also doubles as an FM radio.

on October 27, 2004 08:39 AM
# Jake Ludington said:

Edirol R-1. It doesn't hit the streets until November, but it's the best recorder I've seen in the portable market. Uses compact flash to store audio in either WAV or MP3 format. Has a few onboard audio editing features if you want to tweak the audio and just upload it to the Web. Kelly's Music and Computers has the best price I've seen so far at $110 off list:


on October 27, 2004 11:10 AM
# Dougal Campbell said:

Related to Nelson's recommendation for the Muovo, I've got a Creative Rhomba, which also fits the bill. Actually, I've got the 256MB model, and that link is to the 128MB version. But there's a price difference of about $80, and even with only 128MB, it says you get 8 hours of live audio.

Plus it's got FM radio, and when hooked up to a computer via USB, it looks just like any other jumpdrive.

on October 27, 2004 01:49 PM
# Marc Abramowitz said:

I have the Archos Jukebox Recorder 6000 and it's pretty nice for recording and MP3 playing. It's a bit older than the iPod, but it's basically a 20GB laptop hard drive in a nice USB 2.0 case with MP3 and controls slapped on top. You can replace the factory firmware with Rockboxx open-source firmware which offers a ton of new features. I love the fact that you can plug it in via USB and it appears as a regular old USB mass storage device. No futzing around with special modes or special software. It records straight to MP3 which saves a lot of space and the hassle of converting. By the way, you can take out the 20GB hard drive and replace it with a bigger one - there are instructions on how to do this on the Web.

For recording quick notes to myself, I use a Palm Tungsten T2 and it's Voice Memo feature with an SD card. I think it records as WAV rather than MP3 though. You can get 1 GB SD cards now for around $75, which will hold PLENTY of voice recordings. And you can use it as a PDA too.

on October 27, 2004 02:34 PM
# Brian Benz said:

Rio Carbon - Tiny 5GB music player, with a little, limited microphone. The only drawback that I can see is that there is no way to plug in an external Mic if needed.

on October 28, 2004 11:25 AM
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