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Choosing a Transcription Recording Device

If you are going to be recording audio for transcription, it is important to acquire the best sound possible for transcription accuracy. Please consider recording on one of the following devices listed in order of preference.

  1. Portable Digital recorders
  2. Digital Video Camera with an external microphone (not the built in one)
  3. Legacy Devices - Pogo Ripflash Recorder and MiniDisc recording
  4. Standard Size Audio cassette (not micro-cassettes)

We recommend investing in either a MP3 recorder or WMA recorder and a decent microphone.

If you have already recorded your audio, see our section on duplicating your tapes.

Portable Recording Devices for Digital Transcription

Currently we recommend only the Zoom H2n, Zoom H4, or the Tascam DR-05, . This set of devices when used with our recommended settings have the potential of recording 'Type-1' audio for interview transcription. We think the Tascam DR-05 is the best choice overall in terms of price, performance and size followed by the Zoom H2n.

Totally ProHighly RecommendedRecommendedCamera MicExternal MicMultiTrack Recorder
Zoom H4NZoom H2nTASCAM DR-05Rode VideoMic ProSony ECM MS907Zoom R16 Multitrack

The Zoom recorders include more professional features and record directly in the MP3 format which we prefer. Use the links above to get the most current prices for the H4 and H2.

The multi-track recorder is better for focus groups as it can record up to 8 seperate microphones simultaniously. (You would need to purchase microphone separately.)

The Sony ECM-MS907 listed above will not work with the Zoom H4.

We do NOT recommend any device that records in the DSS or DVF format. They sound horrible and will NOT qualify for Type-1 billing. The featured recorders record in the much higher quality MP3 and WAV format.

Legacy Recorders:

Recommended Setting for Olympus DS-40/DS-61 (Archival Information):

You can download the DS-40 Manual here.

Voice Activated Recording (VCVA) Page 28 of DS-40 Manual:

Turn it OFF! Never use voice activated recording.

Recording Modes - Page 30

The device comes default in "HQ" mode. The possible choices are ST XQ, ST HQ, HQ, SP and LP

Use "ST XQ" or "ST HQ" mode. Under no circumstances use SP or LP mode. These quality settings directly impact the recording quality. To get the best possible sound, use the best possible setting.

In ST XQ mode, you can record 8 hours and 40 minutes before having to download it to your computer. ST HQ mode provide 17 hours.

Microphone Sensitivity - Page 31

Use either the "Lecture" mode or "Conference" mode. Adjust as needed based on the record level indicator on the front of the device.

We also recommend using an external microphone

Low Cut Filter - Page 32

Turn this ON. This will help eliminate a lot of 'rumble' sound.

Downloading Files to Your Computer - See Page 73


Transcription Recorder
Olympus DS-40 for
Transcription Recording

Attaching an External Microphone - WS-100 to WS210 series.

Attach an external microphone to the 'Mic' IN port on the top of the device.

Using an external microphone such as the Sony ECM-MS907 will greatly improve your audio quality. The built in microphones on most of these small devices are pretty crummy.

Use External Mic for better quality transcripts.

Downloading Files from WS-100 or WS-200s

The WS-100 pulls apart in the middle to reveal a USB connector. Plug this into your computer, Windows or Macintosh and it is recognized as a 'drive'. Drag the files from the 'drive' and place them onto your computer's desktop.

Follow upload directions to get the files to us.

Be sure to back up your files before erasing them from the device!!

USB Port for accessing transcription audio.


Connected to you computer via USB cable.