Just take a look on the iTunes app store, search for voice recorder and see just how many voice recording apps are out there, hundreds. So which ones are worth a look at? We will split the category of best digital voice recorder app in two; best free and best paid app. We have tried quite a few digital voice recording apps and here are our pick of the ones we like and why we like them. If you have a favourite please comment and tell us all about it.
Before we start just a word of caution. We all love our iPhone and iPads and it does tend to feel that they can do anything, kind of like the superheroes of the gadget world. What we have found is that iPhones and iPads can record one person dictation and small groups (one-on-one interviews and small meetings) really well. Larger meetings, conferences and lectures then it does tend to struggle (unless the audio is very loud and clear in the room). So for these scenarios a digital voice recorder would be a handy addition to your laptop bag.
Best FREE iPhone Digital Voice Recorder App – PocketDictate from NCH
, originally an Australian company, are famous world wide for their plethora of anything audio related software titles for Windows and Mac, well now you can include the iPhone to their list of achievements. With PocketDictate they could have just followed the crowd and created a digital voice recorder app with basic functionality. Basic being the ability to just do the minimum; record, pause, stop and play. But no in order to stand out from the crowd NCH knew they would need to emulate a digital dictaphone. The key difference in functionality with a dictaphone recorder is the ability to go back in an audio file and either insert audio chunks within the recording or alternatively overwrite audio from anywhere in the audio recording. PocketDictate does that and for free. Not wanting to rest there NCH also threw in a few other nice to have features like:
- Records in a choice of compressed wave .WAV or .DCT audio formats
- Sound a tone when recording starts (configurable)
- Sound a tone when recording ends (configurable)
- Manually adjustable recording level
- Voice activation with variable activation level – records only when you speak
- Auto deletion of files by age (configurable)
- Send files via FTP, email or to iTunes
- And the pièce de résistance - encryption of audio files making the app HIPAA compliant
This app is excellent and has been well thought out, looks great and is easy to use with virtually no learning curve to get it recording. If you need a digital voice recorder app which also doubles as a dictaphone for your iPhone then PocketDictate is the one to go for.
Many people familiar with digital dictation and transcription will know that NCH wrote one of the most commonly used transcription software programs worldwide, Express Scribe. Both the .wav and .dct audio formats created by PocketDictate are compatible with Express Scribe so if you use a transcriptionist or transcription service to process your digital dictation you can send them either file format. We recommend the .dct audio format if you plan to email your audio as that format tends to produce smaller sized audio files.
Best Paid Universal iOS Voice Recording App – AudioNote from Luminant Software
To beat PocketDictate in the paid voice recording app category you are going to have to do a bit more than just record audio. This is where AudioNote steps in as my favourite paid audio recording app, why? Because the developer has really thought about what else you normally do while recording interviews and meetings and that is take notes or if the meeting is really boring, doodle. What is really clever about the notes you write or the pictures you draw is that your jottings are linked with the recorded audio. When you play back your audio you can simply touch on your notes and the audio plays back from the exact time you wrote the note (or drew the doodle). It is the app equivalent of the LiveScribe SmartPen but at a fraction of the cost. For that reason deserves to be crowned our best paid iOS voice recording app which isuniversal app. Works best on the iPad only because of the larger screen real estate to take notes using either the keyboard or with a stylus.
Unlike PocketDictate, AudioNote’s recording functionality is basic. It doesn’t emulate a digital dictaphone but then again it doesn’t need to. The insert/overwrite features would not typically be used during the recording of a meeting, conference, lecture, interview or even focus group. AudioNote’s key features include:
- Handwritten notes linked with audio
- Audio easily shared via wifi
- Audio can be saved into folder
- Notes can be converted to PDF, simple text and even HTML with your drawings included via web gui across wifi
- Audio can be downloaded via wifi web gui or emailed from the app (.caf format)
- Also a Mac app and Android app
- Lite version available so you can try before you buy
So there you have, two excellent digital voice recording apps that stand out from the crowd.