Digital Voice Recorders

Written by Michael Woodman

Using a digital recorder to record lectures and seminars is a strategy that can make a real difference to how much information you retain.

This is especially true if you have difficulty taking notes while listening to the lecturer and reading lecture slides at the same time. Sometimes it is easier to concentrate on listening and reading; the physical act of writing notes can make it difficult to process information you are hearing in a way that you will remember.

If you have received a digital recorder via a DSA application, you may have been given an Olympus DM770 or a similar recorder – these tools are designed to export to a PC or Mac running Olympus’s own Sonority software, but the files also work extremely well with Sonocent Audio Notetaker or Claro AudioNote.

If you are just getting to grips with a digital recorder or are considering getting one – here are some important things to consider:

  • Index Marks: Most Olympus recorders use index marks; these are basically bookmarks that you can make in your recording while listening to the lecture. (An audio file that is bookmarked is like an album with different tracks that you can skip through). Imagine making a bookmark every time the slide changes – this makes it very easy to find the slide that you want to ‘listen to’ when you get home.
  • Pause function: A very simple, yet often overlooked tool. If there is an interruption to a lecture, just pause your recording. Now, when you listen back to the lecture, you don’t have to fast-forward through the 20 minutes where the projector stopped working and everyone was talking amongst themselves!
  • Get the best recording quality: Most Olympus recorders feature recording ‘scenes’ – i.e. recording settings. You choose the setting for the environment you are recording in – e.g. lecture, small meeting, or on your own – so that you can get the best recording quality.
  • Use your recordings with Dragon: If you own Dragon software, you can dictate directly into the recorder, load the audio file into Dragon and have the notes you dictated automatically converted into text.

If you don’t have a digital recorder, it might be worth seeing if you have a basic app built in to your phone that will allow you to make recordings. Although the quality might not be as good as a digital recorder, you can still get good results if you remember to sit at the front of the lecture theatre. There are also more feature-rich recording apps such as the Conversor Pro app and the Sonocent Audionotetaker App, (designed to work with the PC / Mac version of Sonocent Audionotetaker).